Chapter 10 (updated)
Zenapharr was that of a statue, motionless and speechless. For a moment, he had to turn his mind off and stand in complete silence to process the contents of the paper held within his hand. It was handed to him from his informant, who only stated that it was a suicide note from Dr. Albert Pennington. It was very long, so he sent only the portion of the letter that was releveant to Zenapharr. The note read as follows.
“It is with deepest regrets that I admit to being a murderer, which is another reason for ending my life. As a scientist of NOSRAD, I am entitled to my duties. One of these duties included a procedure known mostly as the Injection, which had known fatal effects. Only one person has survived this procedure, and has shown great effects. But at what cost? The subject....no PERSON, known as Zenapharr Meridian agreed to the Injection not knowing the full truth of this procedure. He did not know it had fatal effects...but it doesn’t end there.
Unknown to Zenapharr, this same procedure was done to both his brother and mother...killing them in the process. We lied and told him they’d simply gotten sick. We knew that he would not be willing to cooperate if he knew this was a lethal procedure, especially knowing it had killed his family. I am a monster...I am no better than what Zenapharr became....a killer. I hope that he and others can forgive me.....if not, so be it. I can no longer live with this, anyway.
And to make matters worse, I took my mutilated son’s remains....then sewed them together in vain hopes of reviving him....what a fool I was!. And he was killed by Zenapharr....who became a killer because of the Injection! Tragedy is poetic sometimes, does it not? The winds of fate blow strangely....and ironically. I am utterly powerless to defeat Zenapharr, so I thought I could prove him wrong by reviving my own son.
Although Krane has pulled my strings throughout all of this, it is ultimately I that has made these mistakes.
I am a fool....I am a hypocrite....I might as well be dead, because I am now no more alive than my twice-dead son.”
Zenapharr barely got to the last sentence before his hand was trembling. A heat began to rise within him, filling the entire room.
“Yes, Zenapharr, yes! Feel it!" the Voice spoke to him. This time, Zenapharr did not contest. Instead, he embraced it…he....loved it. He felt that pure rage writhing inside of him and begged to unleash it. He crumpled the paper beneath his fist, almost turning it into a powder under the heat and pressure of his hand.
“Dr. Pennington....Krane….NOSRAD, you will all burn in the ashes of your treachery….
* * *
“Do not approach him, I repeat DO NOT APPROACH HIM!” The Director yelled over the communications radio. “All personnel… I repeat…do not engage with Zenapharr! Let him speak with me! You only endanger yourself by trying to stop him!”
“But sir, he’s destroying the Injection pod!!”
“I don’t care! We can build another one! I just don’t want anyone else dead! Three is enough already! I’m on my way!”
The Director hurriedly made his way down the corridor, almost to the elevator which would take him to level C where Zenapharr had begun causing a ruckus.
“Only God knows what set him off....gotta find a way to put a leash on him,” he muttered to himself. “Got everybody on pins and needles already, after this....people will start quitting. What a nuisance.” Everything had gone according to plan so far, minus the incident with Dr. Pennington. Yet, the result of his failure with his son was not surprising. He was never crazy about experimentation involving family…Albert was just too close to it.
Director Krane had high hopes for the experiment, seeing the potential genius in Dr. Pennington’s work. The fact that he could revive a dead person to any kind of functionality was in of itself more extraordinary than anything he’d seen.
Due to the sensitive nature of it all, they’d kept the Lazarus Chamber under tight wraps. He only gave Albert access to the labs and any knowledge of the labs purpose or use. The implications of biological weaponry with the Lazarus Chamber could be catastrophic. Krane always tried to push the envelope when it came to scientific development, but he took great care with who and when he shared that very same envelope.
Knowledge in the wrong hands could potentially end the world if unchecked. Luckily, the reanimation process didn’t work due to any viruses or bacteria, so it could not be spread through bites or contact. Only through the Lazarus Chamber itself could the patient be brought back. Even then...there were way too many applications or modifications that could be tampered with.
As much as it saddened him, he would need to soon dispose of the Lazarus Chamberr, it was too much of a liability at this point. The fact that Dr. Pennington was no longer in his right mind meant that it would never be brought to its full fruition. He wouldn’t anyway, after what was done to his son. This meant also that Pennington would be a liability, and would meet his end soon enough.
As he stepped off the elevator, he could already hear the chaos ensuing in the Injection Room. He braced himself for the worst...even with all the firearms, Zenapharr’s speed was uncanny and all were essentially at his mercy. But there were other ways to control someone beyond the physical.
The blue-haired assassin was yanking wires out of the walls, throwing desks around, and it was obvious he wasn’t attempting to actually hurt anyone. He was trying to get someone’s attention, and it was working.
Near him lay the three bodies of unfortunate souls who tried to stop him; and it was short of ridiculous. One had a very obvious broken neck, one was slammed into the ground so hard that he was embedded into the metallic flooring, and another was disemboweled.
“Zenapharr!” The Director called, maintaining a safe distance while moving slowly. The half-elf turned and met Krane’s gaze. Right away, the Director saw that Zenapharr’s eyes were burning red. “I’m just here to talk. You don’t have to destroy anything more, you’ve made your point and got our attention. What is it that you want?”
“You come here and speak to me about destroying something? What about my family? What about their lives you destroyed? What about countless others who were led to their death like cattle to a slaughterhouse?”
“I’m not sure what you’re referring to,” the Director feigned, now curious of what Zenapharr knew.
“My informant gave me the suicide letter from Dr. Pennington.” Zenapharr closed the distance in a split second, meeting the Director face-to-face. “I know what you did to my family. You killed them...all in the name of some science project. What should keep me from ripping this entire facility apart? From killing Pennington...” He then paused, and looked at Director Krane suspiciously. “…and from killing you.”
The Director thought quickly, fearing for his life for the first time in a while. He could pin it all on Albert, but this would not satiate the assassin. It was obvious that he knew something and the distrust was already rooted too deep...no one was safe. So, doing the one thing Krane knew how to do best, he lied. And as he’d witnessed many times before, no lie was more convincing than a lie that was mixed with truth.
“Yes. I’ve been getting correspondents from him since I’ve been here. I know all about the Injection...the people all killed during...my family being used. And then you lied to me.”
“Ah....I see. There is more to this than you think.”
“What more could there be? You lied to me. You took advantage of my family in need...then you killed them.”
“Zenapharr...you’ve stated yourself that your memory of that time is not very great.”
“True, but these are documents given to me recently. I held them in my hand, and read them.”
“You want the absolute truth, I can respect that.”
“Nothing less than the truth…but nothing more than vengeance for that very truth.”
“I understand. In that case, I have something important to show you.”
“If you so much as try....”
“It is no trick, I promise you. And if it is, you can keep my head as a trophy. You must follow me....” The Director motioned down the hallway. “Please.”
Eyes narrowed in disdain and suspicion, Zenapharr turned in the direction the Director motioned as they walked together through a set of hallways. As they made their way, Krane noticed how unnaturally hot the air was around Zenapharr. In fact, in all of the instances when Zenapharr became angry this phenomenon occurred. It was something he and Dr. Pennington noticed, but they always wondered how this manifestation was relevant.
“Zenapharr....I know this isn’t easy....”
“Just show me what you want to show me.”
The Director nodded silently in agreement and they continued. Zenapharr eyed Director Krane the entire way, hoping and waiting for anything suspicious...anything at all to give him more reason to take his life. This was the first time he’d personally ever approached Zenapharr, and so the killer surmised there must be something big at stake for him to intervene. Or perhaps he was only doing so because Albert Pennington wasn’t there.
Either way, he felt as if he was being led into something he wasn’t prepared for. His feeling of anticipation was not unfounded...there was so much that happened here that wasn’t what it appeared.
Alice had begged him to not hurt anyone, and he tried his best to do it for her. Yet, the guards had fired on him when he had started ripping the machinery apart. He acted on instinct at first, a reflex slicing the guns out of their hands. Yet, he couldn’t stop there...he felt ashamed of himself. How strange that a little girl could make him feel such a way.
“Here it is,” the Director led Zenapharr to an AV Room. Cautiously, Zenapharr followed suit. After fumbling around, the Director grabbed some tapes from a pile with the half-elf’s name printed on it.
“Hmm…a recording about me,” Zenpharr thought. “Perhaps he has something substantial to show me after all.”
“When was one of the last times your friend visited you?” The Director asked, holding a pile of selected tapes.
“I’d say three weeks ago.”
“And what information did he give you then?”
“It was a file about the Injection.”
“I see. What time did he bring it to you?”
“Around 12am.” Krane nodded, then selected a tape and placed it in the video player. It took a moment, but he fast-forwarded to the time stamp of 11:45am. More curious than ever, Zenapharr fixed his eyes on the monitor. It was him in his cell.
“Why are you showing me this? This is before he came.”
The video continued, and Zenapharr watched as he left his cell and made his way through various hallways. He crept past guards, and into a room marked Records. After rifling through the drawers, he pulled out a file and then returned to his cell. Once back in his cell, he set the paper on the ground.
“I…I don’t remember any of that…” Zenapharr remarked, genuinely confused.
“Precisely. Keep watching,” The Director prodded.
Right at 12am on the time, Zenapharr then turned to the door and was moving his mouth as if talking to someone. He then picked up the file and began reading it.
“Who were you talking to?” The Director inquired.
“My friend....he was there! You just can’t see him.”
“Oh, really?” Krane pushed a button on the panel, and it now showed them a view right outside of Zenapharr’s cell at that same time. No one was standing there, and from that viewpoint you could see Zenapharr looking out the door and talking to an empty space.
The room seemed to waver, and Zenapharr grabbed his forehead. It all seemed surreal, the colors fading in and out of his sight. When he tried to remember again, a loud whistling noise pierced him within his mind.
“Ahh,” Zenapharr clutched his head harder.
“Your mind is having difficulties understanding the difference between fantasy and reality,” The Director explained. “Your memories were damaged, as your mind is. You haven’t been quite right for a while, Zenapharr.”
“No...you…you did this to me.”
“Think about it, Zenapharr. If you imagined this friend giving you information, what other ridiculous things have you imagined? Do you have that letter from Dr. Pennington?”
“No, I...I destroyed it.”
“Exactly...you destroyed it in your mind…because it never existed. There is more you must know about yourself.”
“No...I don’t know if I can.” The throbbing ensued, and Zenapharr wasn’t prepared for anything else.
“I’m sorry but....you wanted the truth, Zenapharr. And I’m giving you what you want. Be careful what you wish for.”
“I only wish to know myself.”
“And that you will, Zenapharr. It will take a while to go through them all, but you have many other false memories. We never told you because....we were afraid your mind couldn’t take it. There has been much time since your family’s death....so I will tell you some things that you must know.” Zenapharr wasn’t completely sure that he wanted to know now, but he nodded his head.
“This is hard to say, so I’ll try to put it as delicately as possible. I know you believe that your family was killed from the Injection...but that is simply not true. Nor did they die because of a sickness. It seems that...” Krane stopped for a moment, seeming to struggle with his words.
“Get on with it...” Zenapharr muttered, wanting the truth but also knowing it would trigger another horrible headache.
“Zenapharr...I know you believe that the Injection made you a killer, but that is simply not true. You volunteered yourself for the Injection. It was your idea.”
“There’s no way.”
“Well, you heard Dr. Pennington talk about the Injection because he mentioned the memory loss that accompanied the experiment. This prompted you to volunteer for the Injection. You were our most eager candidate for the experiment.”
“What…why would I want to forget?”
“That’s because....Dr. Pennington’s son was not your first kill. He was your third.” A chill went through Zenapharr’s spine, and somehow he knew the words before the Director even said it. The look in Krane’s eyes begged him to ask.
“Yes, Zenapharr. The reason you wanted to forget....was because you murdered your own mother and brother.” At the very words, it felt like something crept inside his head and grabbed him. It squeezed his mind, and shockwaves of pain jolted through him.
“I don’t...no…I can’t....” He was now kneeling from the excruciating pain in his head that worsened. It felt like a spiked boulder was inflating inside his head.
“Your mind is having difficulty accepting the truth. Reality is sometimes harder to take then the fantasies we create. These scenarios of us betraying you....it’s all been in your head. Your friend who clued you in on some of the ‘mysteries of your past’, who said we couldn’t be trusted…all in your head. You mentioned before that this same person that helped you was somone you were supposed to kill for an assignment. You never left an assignment incomplete.”
“Zenapharr...I’m sorry. But you must accept...that you killed your only mother and brother.” This sent another wave of searing pain, and the half-elf dropped completely to the floor. He clutched his head as though it might explode. Everything within him tightened up, the room began to spin, and he felt as if he might vomit.
In that moment, The Voice came back within Zenapharr’s head. And it was laughing....laughing over and over and over....until he passed out.