Seek the Synthetic!
All around the Necro, the massive city state, were those glaring signs and flashing photos of extremely happy people enjoying themselves in various ways. Seek the Synthetic! Do not deny yourself pleasure, for isn't that why we are here? You, me, all of us – we are here to seek! YES!, said a billboard dusted in pink and bold green glitter with a slimy tone, we seek the Synthetic! Do not deny . . . and on and on it went.
Forever. Never-ending. Time is nothing, for there is nothing.
Jonah's eyes rolled back in their sockets as he laid back on the soiled and musty smelling couch, yet he did not care. His eyes moved under their lids as the drug seeped through his body, seeking, always seeking for that precious blood to infect. Last week, it was orange. This time – blue. Each one held their own satisfaction. Their own . . . whatever the fuck you wanted. Jonah, just like so many others, did not give a fuck. He felt his eyes continue to move as the Synthetic caressed his mind, nerves, blood, everything, then politely and quickly killed a little more of his true self. Seek the Synthetic, and so he did. He felt himself being caressed by hands, cold and sybaritic, and he could do nothing about it. He no longer wanted to have emotions. Emotions were for those who wanted to . . . suddenly, his eyes flew wide open as a word crossed his eyes. That one word. He looked around the room, searching for any sign of intrusion; nothing stirred. In fact, nothing had moved within that room ever since she left.
“Pandi,” he spat in the room. “Always fuckin' Pandi. Always leaving me, always never caring.” He touched the spot where he took his last fix and sighed. Gone all too soon, he thought. The Synthetic never lasted long enough for him to hold those cold hands, kiss them, and tell their owner that he loved it.
“I love . . . it,” he whispered.
“Always Pandi,” mumbled Pandi under her black hood as she walked down Lazarus Street, one of the main thoroughfares in the Necro. The winds felt colder than normal; of course, that was to be expected since the city was a modern necropolis. Deny the feelings, deny yourself, and Seek the Synthetic. Pandi stopped to look at a storefront window that displayed all forms of the Synthetic. Take your choice!, screamed the billboard in the window. Nothing is sacred! Only the Synthetic gives that which you most desire. Pandi growled then moved on. Fuck the Synthetic, she thought. I know of something else. Something different. Something lost.
Jonah stared at himself in the mirror, hoping to see what it was he searched for. His dark purple eyes seemed to look through the mirror and beyond the concrete walls. His pale skin glowed under the harsh lights in the bathroom, yet he had gotten used to it by now. Pandi couldn't; that's why she left. Pandi wanted something else.
“Well, I hope you get it,” he whispered in a spidery voice. “She doesn't exist; I kept trying to tell her that.” He left the bathroom and returned to the living room of his cramped apartment to sit on the couch once more. He pushed up his sleeve and stared at the now faint marks, the “kisses” left by the Synthetic, and grinned. “I have all I want,” he croaked as he leaned his head back. “Pandi chases nothing. She doesn't exist.”
Pandi smiled as she stood before the black wooden door. It seemed so out of place in the Necro, yet it gave her hope. She placed a hand on the door and felt the warmth emanating from it, then pushed with all her might. The door gave way without a sound and soon, she was in. A single light hung on the wall and as she walked towards it, the door silently closed behind her. Pandi pulled back her hood to reveal her long black hair pulled into a tight ponytail, showing off the top of her tribal tattoo that ended just above her butt. She looked at her all black attire then walked down the hall, past the light as instructed. Jonah gave up because he no longer believed, she thought as her boots made no sound on the black wooden floor. He gave it all to me and I willingly took it. I believe. As she walked, other lights turned themselves on, giving off a soft and inviting glow. The lights gave her assurance that she was on the right path. Don't stop, they seemed to say. Move forward. That which you seek is here. Pandi wanted to believe.
Jonah began to scream as the images reappeared on his arms. The Synthetic was not enough!, he thought as he jumped from the couch and began to throw himself against the walls. She called to him and he wanted to be deaf. She knew what he needed and he refused. I don't want to believe, he thought over and over as his slender frame slammed into the walls. Yet with every moment of pain came Her voice. She called to him, letting him know that he was still loved and needed. After all, She said to him as he slumped to the floor and cried, the War is coming. He looked at his arms again. The symbols had returned. She needed him. Pandi had made it. He closed his dark purple eyes then disappeared.
After what seemed to be an eternity, Pandi reached another door at the end of the hall. She placed a hand on the door and almost smiled as the warmth embraced her. She pushed and the door opened without any resistance, revealing a large room with twenty seated robed figures facing a woman who stood on a small stage. As Pandi walked in the room, she noticed that the woman's skin was bright white with strange designs on Her body not covered by Her black clothing. A strong and inviting scent compelled her to walk towards the woman; none of the robed figures turned to face her. The woman, tall and graceful, locked Her dark purple eyes on Pandi's face.
“You came,” She said as she raised a tattooed hand in the air.
“I had to know.”
“And now that you are here . . .”
“Ex Libris.” The woman smiled as Her hair, long black locks, began to move on their own. As Pandi moved closer, she realized that Her hair was actually strings of words that rose and fell. “Ex Libris.” She reached the woman and bowed low.
“You came because you believed,” said the woman. “Do you remember what it used to be like?” Pandi stared at the woman's arms and saw the words slowly moving on Her skin. Yes, she thought, I do remember what it used to be like. Books, words, knowledge. Reading for hours and no one disturbing you. No one asked you why you had a book. No one questioned the search for knowledge.
“Then, if you remember what it used to be like, will you fight with us? Fight the Synthetic and the destruction of the mind?” Pandi looked up into Her eyes, nodded yes, then turned to face the robed figures. Dark purple eyes, the sign of the Followers of Maven, Goddess of Knowledge, stared back at her. She felt Maven's hand on her neck and suddenly, her skin felt itchy. She rolled up her sleeves and saw words bleeding black on her skin.
“They tell the tales of Before,” whispered Maven, “when I was worshiped in plain sight.”
“Before . . .”
“When the world was made of words,” chanted the robed figures.
“Before . . .”
“When the Word was Truth.”
“Before . . . “
“When those who Sought were revered.”
“Ex Libris!” All turned at the sound of the new voice at the door.
Pandi smiled. “Jonah,” she said as Jonah pulled back his sleeves and allowed the words to be seen. Maven smiled as her High Priest walked, no longer a slave to the Synthetic, towards Her.
“The War begins now.”