“…Every tear from every eye, Becomes a babe in eternity;
This is caught by females bright, And return’d to its own delight.
The bleat, the bark, bellow, and roar, Are waves that beat on heaven’s shore.
The babe that weeps the rod beneath Writes revenge in realms of death. …”
Marsh felt a buzzing in his head as bright red light burned onto his eyes. A blink was a mistake. A flash of lightning to the retinas. The red light was the blood-stained image of bright white light shining on his eyelids. His eyes had been closed and he had woken with them still shut.
He screwed his eyes tight now as the white flash burned and gave a searing pain down his optic nerve. His head began to pound with an intense beat but he could feel no other pain from his body. Just the throbbing in his skull. It was a moment’s pause before he realised he couldn’t feel the rest of his body at all.
The realisation revealed that even the burning light had caused no real pain on his eyes or to his mind. Just a sensation of brightness that seemed to burn. He created the throbbing as a reaction. A memory of how such pain must feel.
He could sense no feeling in his fingers, his toes, his arms or legs. He felt nothing. He felt as if he were floating, but with no sense of gravity or pressure of any type upon his body. He licked his lips, a light sensation, but not as much as he would have wanted. Again it felt more like a memory than a sensory input. Something he was imagining and not sensing. He could smell nothing, not even himself. He felt as if his ears still worked but there was only silence for them to hear.
Slowly he opened his eyes a crack against the glare. He saw the shadow of his own hand come up to shield his eyes, as he had wanted, but he couldn’t feel the limb. The glare was becoming more manageable. He was in a white space. He was standing, which was unusual as he could not sense up or down. He could not feel his legs touching anything. As far as his mind was concerned he was near weightless and yet his eyes said something else. The disorientation made him nauseous, he bent as if to vomit but there was no spasming of muscles in his stomach. Just the expectation that there should be.
He tried to turn and found that this was easy, but there was no sensation of doing so, just the motion. As he did he stepped back in surprise as he saw that another was standing there. Another Marsh. Staring at him, or himself. “What the…” he heard himself speak, but he only barely heard it with his ears. It was delayed slightly. His mouth was out of sync with his hearing. This was even more strange. He had to be drugged or drunk.
“The outcry of the hunted hare, A fibre of the brain does tear. Hello,” said his doppleganger.
“What is happening?” Marsh spoke harshly. He was totally confused and the rhyme was oddly familiar. He knew it, but couldn’t place the memory. Or maybe he couldn’t understand why he knew it. “where am I?”
“You are where I put you, little ant, little, fly, little gnat. The gnat that sings his summer’s song. I think I should be the one asking the questions.” The doppelganger was dressed in a red pressure suit. It had attachment points for seals, it was a moment before Marsh recognised it. A flight suit. It was a jumpsuit worn under a pressure suit. They were very common. Well they had been very common when the original Marsh had been alive hundreds of years before.
This red of the suit was a deep crimson with white flashes and insignia. The logo on the side was vaguely familiar to Marsh but he couldn’t quite place where it was from. It was obviously one of the large organisations that ran commercial space ships. The quasi government sized giants of a long time ago.
“Who are you?” asked Marsh.
“As I said. I should be asking the questions. The questioner, who sits so sly, Shall never know how to reply. The important first question is who are you?” said the doppleganger. The voice was the same as Marsh’s but a little different in tone, there was a quality to it that Marsh didn’t recognise in his own speech. It was as if this other Marsh snapped the words as they came out of his mouth.
“I am Marsh. Or at least the closest approximation of him.” said Marsh.
“Ah, now that makes sense, a man made for joy and woe,” said the doppelganger with no trace of irony. “You looked correct, and the examination I performed seemed to say you were correct. Normally I never get to talk to one of my selves. By the time they reach here they have already been assimilated. I have conversed with a few, but it is so difficult. They cannot cope with this place. When brought in here they normally have a seizure. When mind and body are twain they are the fruit of two seasons and one lies rotten as the other is twisted. But you are able to control yourself, you have not been wrenched into a screaming apoplexy. You seem barely perturbed. That’s different to all those others. I find it hard to understand. But, he who doubt what he sees, will ne’er believe. I wonder why you survive? What makes you different?”
“You haven’t said who you are?” said Marsh. “I get it now, I know where we are. It’s fairly obvious and I am an idiot for not seeing it straight away. This is a construct program, and a fairly basic one, not that I am a good judge but this one feels artificial. My senses don’t work properly. But what are you? A clone program? Or are you someone who is throwing a skin of me onto your true form?”
The doppelganger laughed. “That’s funny. I am not wearing any skin. It is you who are wearing my skin. You who are the clone. God appears, and God is light. I am Marsh. I am the original Marsh! This is my domain. My realm. My world. The land where I reside. The place where I died.”