I was experiencing a bit of sensory overload after the events of the past few days. I needed to take a shower and prepare myself for those events that were still to come. One thing had to be done first and I knew it, no matter how terrible it was going to be. I went to my kitchen and got out a steak knife. I paced back and forth with it for a moment and then set it down to go into my freezer. There was a bottle of gin in there that I kept for special occasions, this wasn’t the usual type of occasion that I would be going to it for, but then again nothing had been usual about this week at all. I twisted off the lid and took a huge swig of the liquor and then took one more for good measure. My face contorted into a disgusted pucker that my friends and I used to refer to as the gin face and I twisted the lid back onto the bottle.
After the lid was tightly closed, I placed the icy bottle atop my right hand and pressed down, holding it there for an extended period to numb the skin as much as I could. The chip had to come out, of that much I was certain. If this all turned out to be paranoid delusion brought on by the festivities of the Woodstock Centennial, then I could always have it reinserted later. I grabbed a hand towel and put it in my mouth, biting down as I located the spot that my chip had been implanted. I pushed the tip in first to break the skin and shimmied it back over the area where my chip was planted. I grimaced at the pain but pushed through and looked through the open portion of the wound to ensure that I could see the chip.
I had placed the cut perfectly and was able to make out the small square-shaped chip beneath it. I pushed the tip of the knife down into the cut and slid it over to the side of the chip. This caused me to grunt into the towel and bite down harder. I pushed the chip upwards from the side and reached down with my finger grabbing it with the side of the knife and my fingertip like some makeshift forceps. I yanked it out of the incision and dropped it onto the countertop along with the knife. Immediately I grabbed the towel from my mouth and applied pressure to the bleeding wound on top of my right hand.
The ultra-religious folks caused an uproar about the chips and it did not help that they were released in June of 2066 to the general public. Or in other words 6 of ’66. Looking back, they may have had a point, but most people were too taken in by how much easier the chips made everything. There was no need to carry around a wallet or keys anymore, and they stored all the data that you would ever need for identification. Passport, Driver’s License, Memberships, etc. After people began to see how easy it was to just have a chip they caught on like wildfire and only a very few extremist religious folks kept away from them. They were ostracized from society and seen as cultists who needed to adapt to the times.
I made my way to the bathroom and bandaged up my hand using some gauze and tape. I was starting to form a plan in my mind, but I don’t know if it made any sense or if there was any way it was going to work. Before any of that was going to happen, I needed to take a quick shower and get myself properly prepared to take on doomsday. You couldn’t take on the beast from the sea without brushing your pearly whites, right?
This was all so insane, I was half expecting to wake up in a loony bin somewhere quietly muttering to myself about cloned Jesus Christ’s and stacks of bodies by an incinerator hidden in a state park somewhere. It would be more believable than what was happening in the present moment. I got out of the steaming hot shower and proceeded with a towel around my waist to get dressed and head back out into this huge mess.
As I grabbed my last essentials and made my way for the door, I heard a strange humming noise coming from the kitchen. I walked over out of curiosity and saw the chip on the counter. It was undoubtedly the source of the noise that I was hearing, and it was doing something very strange. There were waves of red pulsing across the top of it and almost had a bit of a kaleidoscope effect. I had never heard of the chips behaving this way, but I guess there was no telling what it did underneath your skin. Still, something about it seemed very strange to me.
I had to get some more answers and see what I could do to make this situation any better. I was going to have a much harder time getting around now, but I made sure to grab my wallet that I still had stashed away along with the keys for the few things that would still allow me to lock or unlock them manually. My car would still allow me to use it with the face-scanning technology along with a passcode, but there are so many different things in today’s society that will not work without the chip.
My wallet still had my passkey for the pod to leave the high-rise luckily. There were ways to walk to the ground floor, but I was not exactly hoping to have to climb down 92 floors. I sat in the pod and shot over to the rail that led down to the lobby, after that my pod made its descent to the ground floor. When I got out to the street, I couldn’t help but feeling like something was off. There were cars parked in the middle of the road, there was no person visible for miles either way.
I summoned my car and hopped in, not entirely sure where I would be heading. I engaged the vehicle in manual driving mode instead of its usual autopilot as I was not entirely sure where this trek might lead me. I would have to dodge around the cars that were strewn about in areas that would cause you to believe their drivers were running from a natural disaster or something of the sort. I saw a crowd of people in a trance-like state walking around the corner of the block. I slowed down and crept up to the edge of the block so that I could see what they were heading towards.
There was a sea of people making their way towards Central Park which was just a bit further down the street. I would stick out like a sore thumb if I continued to drive at this point, I knew that I had to ditch the car for now if I was going to continue this way. I saw a nearby parking lot and pulled over before pulling into an open spot and locking the car up on my way out. Making my way over to the stream of people I did my best to mimic their expressionless faces and walking motions. This must be what was happening to the chip after I pulled it out, some sort of mind control or whatever it is that is controlling all these people.
Over a loudspeaker, I heard a man’s voice as I drew near to the park where there were people shoulder to shoulder all with the same dazed look on their faces.
“To many of you, my voice will be falling on deaf ears for all intents and purposes. There are those of you who have chosen to follow the cause voluntarily and will hear my words and follow them with fervor. It is to you individuals that I speak today, a day that will be remembered as the most important day in all human history. Today we become the master of our own destinies, we take on the army of the one who created us. Today the student becomes the master, and the Fiend finds Dr. Frankenstein and makes him pay for his misdeeds.
We will slay the beasts with many heads of earth and water, the angel army will see that is no match for the creation that has come to own the world and we will continue our eternal reign of power and might. Let the Leviathan come to our warships, let the behemoth attack our troops on land, the four horsemen will see that the only apocalypse that shall befall this world is the one of the false God’s chosen army. Those who follow the one who has forsaken us and left us for all this time to fend for ourselves, who has treated us like Job and expected our blind obedience to him without so much as a helping hand for our race that has faced countless perils through the years of our existence.
It has always been us who helped each other throughout all of time. When disaster would strike, we would reach down and lift up our fellow man and carry them through the hardships. When wars were fought, we would join forces against the intentions of evil and move on past the rule of tyranny. So too will we rise together and fight against the hand of tyranny, against the angels of heaven who have stood for all of time looking down upon us in judgment. Never coming to raise a sword against evil, never coming to feed those in need, yet now they come to take what we have built for ourselves and claim it as their own?
I shall not stand for this, and we as humanity shall not stand for this as a whole. We have taken measures to ensure that this is the case. It is not enough to have those who are willing to fight to take on this task. We must have every living human being ready to attack in unison, the children alone will be kept in the safest of care. This alone would not be enough, however. We in the natural human race are strong, the strongest force on this earth by far. It was always written that we would not be able to take on such a task ourselves.
That is why we started the cloning program. We have perfected the army that will be able to defend our soil from those who plan to invade it and usurp us from our throne on this planet. We have taken the strongest of us and made them even stronger, through the most intense and incredible training that the world has ever known. Some find it unethical, and many who are aware of it believe that it is not worth the sacrifice to achieve the goal. They are short-sighted and are not able to see the odds that we are up against in this fight.”
The man’s speech was blasting out throughout the park, and it seemed that it was carrying out much further than that. I could not believe what I was hearing, this was too much to wrap my mind around. I tried to focus on maintaining a face with no expression. To blend in perfectly with those around me who obviously did not think to pull the chip out of themselves. The man continued to speak.
“We need every resource available. Every nuclear weapon, every tank, every ship of war, every fighter jet. We will attack with people of every nation, every walk of life, no matter the cost. Those who refuse to join and have refused the chip that will cause it to be mandatory, they will fall by our hand as well. The time for coddling is over, the time for all-out war and complete destruction is now. Only in this way will we have any chance of seeing the phoenix of humanity rise from the ashes of Armageddon and continue to rule this world which is ours.
The clones are essentially necessary to our plan and will be the strongest fighters among us. While some of us have trained with all our might, the clones have trained for their lives. While some of us have pushed ourselves to the brink in hopes of becoming the best that we possibly could, the clones knew that if they did not push even harder, their death was waiting for them just around the corner.
We have created in them soldiers who are at the peak of the human physical condition. Specimens who will fight alongside us and decimate the army of the heavenly invaders. Brothers and sisters, the time is now. Judgment day is upon us and the judgment will be ours for the making. God will rue the day that he tested the strength of his creation.”
There was a thunderous and raucous applause that came after this statement. Everyone within my general area remained still and calm without and look of understanding among them. Towards the front, many were pumping their fists in the air and whooping excitedly. They must have been those who were members of different government or military programs who were not chipped and had signed up for this undertaking earnestly. I wasn’t sure what my plan was, but I was certain that I had to get away from here.
I was luckily far away from the eyesight of anybody who might catch a glimpse of my flight. I ducked down and stayed behind the backs of the people under mind control and made my way down a nearby alley. I knew a place nearby where there was a bunch of those doomsday preacher types. They would always have people out front telling passers-by to repent and prepare for the day of the judgment and all of that. They were the types to not get chips and make everyone who did have them feel terrible about themselves whenever they could. In hindsight, it seems that they may have had a point in doing so.
I made it over to the street that the church was on and carefully poked my head around the side of the alley. The building was engulfed in flames and the smoke was billowing up from the steeple. Not only was this a dead end, but also a stark reminder for me of what might lay in store for me if I took the wrong turn moving forward. I pulled my head back into the alley and pressed my back against the brick wall behind me placing my hands on my head.
“Hey, up here.” A voice called out from above shocking me out of my distressed position. I looked up and saw an older man with salt and pepper hair.
“There isn’t much time. Take the fire escape and hurry, they are swarming the area right now.” I wasn’t sure who exactly he meant, but I took heed to his warning and climbed quickly up the fire escape. He was in the 3rd-floor window and helped me climb through when I made my way to the top.
“Close the drapes behind you. I am sure you have plenty of questions, you are the first I have seen without a chip who is not in the order or from the church who suffered the unfortunate tragedy you just witnessed.”
The man walked past a bookshelf and into a sitting room. I followed behind him and a wall hanging caught my eye. It was a sepia-colored scroll inside of a frame with an excerpt from the scripture in Ezekiel 9:6 which read “Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark;”
Upon reading this a chill ran through my body and I suddenly questioned whether I should have chosen so quickly to trust this stranger. Almost on queue as the stranger realized the fright on my face, he reassured me.
“It is a relic, passed down in the order. We have always had an affinity for the apocalyptic and this piece dates back to the 1600s when the King James Bible was first being put into circulation.”
He sat down in a large backed burgundy chair with a wooden frame next to a settee with another chair like his beside it. He motioned for me to have a seat so we could continue the conversation which thus far was dominated by his explaining and my hopelessly trying to understand. I sat and listened intently to every word that the man had to say.
“We focus mainly on the part of the scripture that speaks of not coming near those with the mark. Though the beginning of it might make more sense to you now if you were able to catch any of the dreaded speech that was just given and blasted all around the city. You see, we are the Order of the Son of Man and we have a nearly divine mission to stop the corrupted government and ensure that the Lord and the heavenly army are able to capture the world and return us all to the paradise which we have been promised.
You don’t have to be a practicing Christian to see that the words of the Holy Bible have come alive around us, it then would be only fitting to follow the principles of that text and ensure that we are on the side that is undoubtedly going to come out victorious and conquer the war for the Earth. It only takes a basic understanding of probability to dissect that we are but mortal beings attempting with all our collective might to take on the divine. I do not like our chances in the situation and neither do any of us in the order.
We are a collection of souls who have come together to seek an understanding of what might come with the end of the world. We searched through all apocalyptic texts and planned accordingly in a coordinated effort that stretches the whole world around. We did not accept the microchip and we have been training throughout the ages to be ready to take on the forces of man who we knew would so foolishly attempt to take on its creator out of pure vanity.
The cloning program and the atrocities therein only reinforced our belief that the leaders who were corrupting humanity must be stopped at any means. They have tortured the poor soldiers whom they have kept in hiding all this time. They have killed countless of those who have failed to adhere to their guidelines. Perhaps the most intrinsically deceitful of all though, they have infiltrated society to insert their clones in the places of those of us that they chose arbitrarily to see scientifically how they might be able to control the population with clones.
They started with the beggars and then the working class, choosing capriciously all along as to not maintain a pattern if anything were to go awry. After this, they made their way to a more structured population of replaced peoples once they were able to control what they were doing more completely. Reaching up to world leaders who would not adhere to the tenants of the preparations for Armageddon. Imminent is the time in which they will call upon all of the clones to join the fight, likely within this very hour so our time to move into battle position is drawing quite near.”
I believe that he could tell the effect that his words had upon me and he stopped for a moment to offer me a glass of water. I told him that I would greatly appreciate one and thanked him for the gesture. This was so much to think over, and I knew that time was of the essence. One thing was becoming increasingly clear to me, I was going to have to choose the side that I wanted to join. There was so much to consider. The man who spoke in Central Park had some very compelling points to make. It did almost feel like our world as we knew it was being invaded and forcibly taken from us, that was not a good feeling and does not exactly push you to want to join forces with those who are taking the earth by storm.
On the other hand, I had seen what atrocities that the government had been committing with the cloning program. There was absolutely no way that I could believe that the institution that was behind what I had seen could be the side that was in the right. Maybe a bit misguided in their judgment as to why they had chosen to take the actions that they did, but not in the right by any means. Especially after hearing everything that I have heard today about the cloning that I was previously unaware of when I laid my eyes on those piles of bodies.
Yes, I think it was clear enough to me what I would have to do. My choice was made and there was not a second to lose. The man returned to the room and handed me my water which I quickly gulped from before setting down on the ornate coffee table before me. I looked up and spoke for the first time since I made my arrival.
“My name is Joakim Fredrikson, and I have decided that I am ready to join your cause. If I must join this order that you speak of, I am willing to do so. There is no cause so great that it could justify the means that they have been taking at the expense of people who are unwilling to cooperate with them and unwitting of what they have been doing in the shadows.”
The man responded and looked upon me approvingly, as he now sat back in his place across from me.
“That is very good Joakim, you are undoubtedly a bright man to do so. We are fighting for what is right here in the order and we will be more than happy to have you among our ranks. I apologized for my skipping of pleasantries, as you can surely realize it is essential that I provided you with as much information as I could in a timely manner. My name is John Solomon, I will communicate with the order that we have a new member to be tried and raised in degree, albeit in a rather expedited form compared to the usual. I gladly welcome you as my brother and hope that you take solace in your decision.”
John rose to his feet and reached out with his hand, I stood as well and gripped his hand in a firm handshake that conveyed my genuine dedication to the cause that was upon us.
“Make yourself comfortable as I get in contact with the others, we shall depart as soon we are able to work out a common meeting ground that is secure. Much of the city has been overtaken and nearly all of it is within surveillance. We must tread lightly brother; the world depends upon the order to aid the angel army. Only then will we be able to see salvation delivered to those of us who used our best judgment and fought with all of our might.”
He nodded to me and stepped into the other room to make his calls. I felt a warm sense of belonging as we finished our talk and drifted off a bit while looking back towards the window that I climbed up into just a short while ago. I was not able to rest with my thoughts for long though as his conversation was short and to the point in the other room. He came walking briskly into the sitting area and spoke in a hushed and hurried manner.
“Joakim we must make our way to the basement level this instant. The building has been surrounded by the lackeys of the mind-controlled masses. They will be able to locate us shortly as they are scanning the building with drones to find anyone who has not yet assimilated with their ranks.”
He waved for me to follow and we made our way out of the front door of the apartment which we had been speaking in. We headed down the hallway and I could see the pods at the end of the hall that would have been able to transport us to the basement level if it wasn’t for the fact that neither of us had chips that would allow us to do so. Suddenly there came a beeping from behind us. There was a drone hovering at the opposite end of the hallway that had spotted us and was pointing a red beam in our direction. We took off in a full sprint to make it to the side with the pods engulfed in complete and utter dread.
We made it to the end of the hallway and saw that the pod systems were completely shut down which just added to their uselessness for our current situation. There was however a stairwell directly beside it and I stepped around the corner towards it right as I heard a shot ring out. The security drone had connected with a plasma round directly to the back of John Solomon and dropped him right near my feet. He coughed out one last sentence with urgency in his faltering voice.
“They are waiting for you, get to the basement level as fast as you can. There is a carving on the wall, SOM, press against it and speak your name and you will be let into the passage that leads to the temple. They have not found it yet and the brothers will defend you, go!”
He coughed up blood and lay grasping his wound that would surely be fatal. I took heed to his words and dashed through the doors and down the stairs as quickly as my feet would let me go. Before I knew it, I had made it to the basement and was scanning the area for the marking on the wall. I found it across the room hidden inconspicuously between to shelves of cleaning supplies and other janitorial needs. I pressed my palm against the words and spoke my name in a panicked and hectic tone. I repeated it until the letters lit up and the wall moved back from its position and slid to the side.
I rushed into the doorway and the door was closed swiftly behind me as I beheld the beauty of the order’s inner sanctum. The walls were covered in a lavish pattern of wallpaper that was the same color of burgundy as the chairs from the apartment where John Solomon had accepted me as a member. There were wooden pillars of mahogany at each interval of the wall which was decorated with a gothic style and depicted many scenes that I did not have the time to admire. Most importantly of all, there stood my brothers all dressed in large robes who were eager to greet me and carry on with the plans that we had to achieve.
“Brother, please join us in the Sanctum Sanctorum where we will expedite the process of making you a full brother so that we can do what must be done to save what humanity this planet has left. We have no time to make introductions right now, but I assure you that you are among nothing but true and tried brethren who will die for and alongside you if needed in this fight. I am saddened to see that you arrived alone and believe it could mean nothing other than our brother John Solomon has already proven this to you so quickly upon your joining.”
I grimaced at his noting of this and gave him an acknowledging nod but did not speak as to not disrupt his speech so that we could continue to speedily move through the process which awaited. The man continued his speech.
“He was a strong and dedicated man; his passing will be the head on our spear as we pierce through the breastplate of our enemies. Joakim Fredrikson, we welcome you to the Order of the Son of Man with fervor and zeal. Take your place in front of your brethren and kneel upon the altar of the Son.”
I listened to his command and moved through the path that they made for me in between them and knelt down on the burgundy padding that sat upon the altar. There was a large mirror in front of it that surely had some esoteric meaning in the ceremony. In it I saw my brothers, I saw the beautiful gothic architecture and I saw myself on my knees in front of it all.
“Joakim Fredrikson, you have come of your own free will and accord to join with the Order of the Son of Man. We have come together in this ceremony to see that it is so, and to bind you to the brotherhood in the same way that we have bound all worthy brothers who have sought membership before you.”
The man paused in his speech, although I felt that he was not finished with his part. I began to feel incredibly strange. My initial worry was that John had slipped something into my water, but that couldn’t be. He was true to his word all the way to his death. I turned my focus to myself in the mirror and saw an expression on my face that terrified me completely.
I had seen an expression just like it just a few days ago and it had been the first thing that started me on this wretched journey. I had seen this same dazed and confused face on the clone of Jimi Hendrix when he began to try to speak the truth at the Woodstock concert. This could not be, I was still conscious, but I could not move a limb or anything else on my body. The man who had been giving my ceremony, as well as all the brothers, had taken instant notice of the state in which I was in and seemed to recognize it just as I had, and he spit out his next words in complete disgust and pity.
“Those bastards! I am so sorry Joakim, this is not your fault in the slightest. They are calling the clone armies to join in the battle. It appears that you have been unwittingly in the place of that one whose name that you claim. It is with great sadness that I do this, but we can not allow you to leave this place to fight against your own will and against what you have claimed to be your own purpose. My brother, I hope when this is all over, we will join you and brother John Solomon in paradise.”
The man placed a robe over my dazed shoulders raising my hood in a sign of my having become a full brother. He then pulled a ceremonial dagger out from under his robe, he came up behind me and pressed it firmly to my throat. He looked me in the eye as I felt a single tear force through my body’s strange possession and spoke the last words I would ever hear.