I, Claudius

Hari Seldon


Silver Donator
Alpha Tester
Jun 17, 2017
Followers of Eternity
Rank: None
Service Points: 0
Lulu, sweet thing, he missed her.

He hated the rain, it made him all sentimental. Introspection had never been a thing he was good at but more and more the piles of empty bottles couldn’t keep him out of his own head. He didn’t even know what was originally in the myriad forms of glass containers scattered whole and broken about the dank room. The smell would probably have been fairly acrid and a clue but he didn’t know what the powder caked in a general way on his face was either, it made his nostrils burn so he stopped thinking about it.

A single shaft of light was filtering through where a slat in the window screen had fallen or been pried loose of its seating. He couldn’t tell if it was daylight or artificial but it was the only source of illumination and it hurt to even look at the spot on the hardwood desk he was strewn across being lit up. He contemplated spinning his wide backed leather chair around to face the window that took up that entire wall and opening everything up to see if the sudden assault would make him go blind for a while or at least pass out. He couldn’t move his leaden body from being sprawled over the desk so he looked at the table top for a bit despite the glare. The multicom screen set into the desk was broken. Some of the brass studs had been pulled out. The leather inlay was sticky under his fingers with a mixture of liquor, granular substances, half dissolved pills and undoubtedly vomit.

The sensation of touch was getting a little too meditative so he summoned up the ungodly power to sit bolt upright and immediately slumped back into the chair when he back muscles refused to engage in a prolonged effort. His neck went with the crowd and proved too weak so his head rolled onto his shoulder. Something that looked syringe like came loose from the region of his left eyebrow and clattered onto the floor. He hadn’t realised there had been anything up there or for that matter that he couldn’t actually see out of that eye. It was probably swollen shut. He didn’t feel much pain so it didn’t register beyond a minor curiosity. Squinting at the offending object didn’t bring it into better focus but he noticed the bottom desk draw was open. Things had been dumped in there from a rapidly evacuated pocket. There was a gold plated pistol, no ammo left judging by the bullet holes in the office doorframe across from him. Half screwed up underneath was a fistful of recruitment pamphlets that had partially pulped in the puddle of some fluid or other that still languished in dregs at the front corners.

One of them said something about being the best man he could be which would have made him smirk if whatever part of brain was in charge of registering that sort of thing wasn’t as dead as the bit that moved his face. It was out of site at the bottom of the pile but the part of him he had actively been trying to kill for years called up the knowledge that at least one of those garish bits of paper was from the group of gun cherishing sociopaths she used to run with was in there. Just like that he was out of his shattered body and back in some ruined executive apartment, thrust neck deep into memories that just wouldn’t ♥♥♥♥ off. A screaming match, a not the first in the day, a slammed door and the emptiness that had followed ever after. He hated the god damn rain, it always made him think of Lulu, sweet thing.

He’d been fired, or the company had fallen apart around them. He wasn’t quite sure anymore if they had found and objected to the seven or so bold faced expense accounts being used to support his excesses as the companies money dried up or if they had all been too busy gutting the place right down to the furniture to notice or care. All the difference it made was if there was a notice sitting on some server somewhere about his dismissal or one asking why he hadn’t attended the final board meeting with some crass farewell from people he didn’t know. He had stopped going in the office months before some government court had officially stamped the liquidation. Had the bankruptcy happened this year or last? Was it a decade ago that all happened? Two? It didn’t make one iota of difference to him at the time what happened, he thought he’d already lost enough. A wall of powerful narcotics, violent company and emotional scars kept out all the noise as the mighty corporation that had sold across the stars followed so many other such illustrious whales of bureaucratic nonsense up onto the beach to die under its own weight. Now it was nothing but a sun baked skeleton recorded only in some account log buried on a forgotten server. Caught in his own petty turmoil he hadn’t noticed that the corporation was gone till the bones were bleached. If you’re falling down a lift shaft do you notice if the building you’re in happens to be falling apart at the same time? The smoke from the ruins of your professional life is hard to distinguish from the smoke from the ruins of your personal life, it was all just smoke in the end. It wasn’t even fair to lay it all at the feet of some great loss of bliss. Things had possibly been good at some point but nothing could realistically have been so great to create this immense emotional gulf with all its deprivation. Not even Lulu, sweet thing.

It wasn’t plain when he had started to pass beyond the realms of viability as a sentient being but the more he languished in the sound of the damn rain the longer ago it seemed. Maybe he was born this way, a little tear inside him that had been ripping apart every second that ticked away. None of it could be helped, it was always going to happen, he had always been counting down to collapse, no one to blame. Even what he remembered feeling was probably a fiction to patch the break where real sentiment should have been. Wasn’t a good cover, certain to fail just like the rest of his psyche. For all his supposed outbound lavished affection the returns had been tenuous or a blatant affectation. Nothing was as specific in his mind as it should have been, it was like remembering a story someone else had told him. Had he really loved her? He couldn’t even be sure that was actually her name. Could he be sure he had sold his company for her, fought for her, died for her, been so lost when she left?

If it was all an invention it begged the question of what he had really been doing all that time. It was possible no time had passed and it was all a memory of a lifetime created in the brain’s white out flash when rebooting from a breakdown. Better to cling hopefully to the dream that all his destructive behaviour was trying to fend off the memory of a broken heart or a life preordained to disintegration than have to wake up to recovery. Be flawed to the core, no one could be expected to get better if they were inherently incapable. If this was the point of inducing a comma, of punching his brain with anything he could bring to hand then he had made the choice between the two yet again, he would stay down. All options had the same chance of being true, feasibly not for the first time he would stick with the loss and unclear memory which would fade when the scant moments of drug fuelled inner clarity his body could withstand ended and he was spat out into the outer world where he wouldn’t even have the shape of her shadow to recall as his motivation and he would have to push himself to this point of collapse again to think of Lulu, sweet thing.

The rain had stopped but the light wasn’t shining through the gap anymore. God knows how long it had been but he could feel his throat was dry so that mattered more. A plastic cup of green liquid was on a side table so he reached for it and discovered halfway that his right arm was handcuffed to the locked top draw of the desk. It suggested that he must have been sitting quite a long time if he could move beyond brief spasms of effort again and the concept fascinated him so that he forgot to stop pulling the restrained arm until something in his shoulder made a wet popping noise and he lost the use of it again which in retrospect he felt was something he was more capable of dealing with right now than having two functioning limbs. Groping around on the floor with the one arm he felt it was responsible for him to be operating at this point in time he managed to find a knife that worked on the flimsy latch after a few painful misses. Spinning his chair now allowed him to reach and down the cup full of what turned out to be some species of cleaning fluid. It stayed down so he was likely about as fine as he was realistically going to get. Spurred by the thought he did the technically difficult thing of lethargically jumping to his feet like it was a personal insult to the world in general that he was capable of the deed. He got the whole movement wrong though, keeled over sideways, tried again, fell the other way, tried again and got the balance right more by eye than the normal internal mechanisms. During the grasping at the throat moment of the coughing fit that followed the exertion he contacted a bandage around his neck and poked at the edges till his finger found some wet puncture. There would probably be more wounds and scars but that was a problem for the cloning process to sort out assuming that was still a thing for him, didn’t exactly mean much either way.

He was wearing a jacket which was okay over what had probably been a nice suit once upon a time which was all to the good but the real moment of totemic communication with the universe was the magazine his prying fingers found in the pocket. It had just one round left in the clip. Kismet was playing cute with him so he retrieved the capacity to sneer from the appropriate bit of his cranium just for the occasion. He liked it enough that he left the expression where it was as he took an odd stumbling constitutional to the doorway. He tripped on something as he passed into the well-appointed living room and after finding and flicking on a switch saw there was a body splayed unnaturally on the floor face down over a dark stain. He paused for a moment sure that there was supposed to be some sort of emotional response to finding corpses on floors.

The moment passed without anything turning up so he let the whole thing go and rifled through the pockets of the dead for whatever he could trade for a credit, the next binge wasn’t going to happen unless he found some money… or more bullets. He wasn’t sure he would remember or come across the reason for the sprees before he got into the memory haze again, the only thing he was certain of right now was that there absolutely would be another binge. Probably the only thing he shared with the rotting chunk of meat beyond geography was a hair colour but given the couch by the door looked bright pink to him he couldn’t be sure that his eyes were up to making accurate calls on colours or to be frank if his hair was the colour he thought it was. He still couldn’t smell anything and he had a growing suspicion that he had lodged some glass in his face during the staying upright debacle in the office but he didn’t check. It just wasn’t worth finding out.

The front door lock had been shot off and he didn’t recognise the hallway any more than the rest of the place. He’d probably forced his way into the poor ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥’s place and dropped the guy while aiming at angry panda fairies. Just as well there wasn’t an effective CPC unit in the neighbourhoods he frequented, not that he would have been bothered if they knew about his brazen criminal activity in the more salubrious past. Chances were he owed some money to someone nasty and furthermore the rampage that had ended here wasn’t a subtle affair so the CPC might be best of serval bad options. He had never been a quiet drunk let alone a subdued… violent addict? Mobile psychotic? Whatever he had been for however long he had been it to get wherever it was that he currently was. He pottered around a bit in the room until he managed to make some stuff catch fire and bashed the sprinklers until they stopped working with the butt of a gun. To nearly the last detail it was a choice he had in all likelihood been called upon to answer before: Leave and go through the process culminating in coming to in some other person’s house or getting caught in the blaze?

This time around he didn't really make a judgement call on the matter and let it be a coin toss between the casual hobble he was making for the door and the speed the conflagration would consume the surroundings or reach something that would explode. He was mildly disappointed when he made the stairs at the end of the hallway and slowed his pace which meant he was fully peeved when fresh “open air” brand gases hit his lungs before a fireball consumed him. To make things worse the rain had started again, he could hear the white noise hiss it made even if he couldn’t feel the dampness as it seeped into his clothes. He passed his first living person a short way down the street, they gave him an odd look and ran away at which point he realised he had the gun in hand and his ribs hurt not just from industrial scale damage but because he had been breathlessly gibbering to himself in French (which he didn’t speak) between attacks of suffocating laughter. It was funny how humour snuck up on you like that and it just made him laugh more. He was sure he used to laugh all the time.

He’d track down that thing he was looking for tomorrow. It had to be worth it, had to be. He’d really look this time just on the off chance it wasn’t all made up, that whatever it was, was real.


All for the confused memory of...

He really hated the rain.
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