What to do after wrestling with a serpent – Part 3
A drone flew over head making a buzzing zipping type of noise that quickly alerted you to its presence and was just as quickly gone again as it continued its predefined security circuit. They were harder to hear from within the walls of the Psy Ward where Eric was still being held, but the sounds appeared and disappeared sure as anything rhythmic. It had frustrated Eric at first as it felt like the maddening soundtrack to his demise for no other reason than the fact he was doing something slightly different, though not wholly unusual, than your standard third lifer by keeping all of his memories intact and not taking on any alterations for his original form. Now it mattered less. The Clerks has finished their lengthy evaluation of over two months now and found nothing that could legally allow them to keep him.
Instead of the mechanised Clerks that had escorted him into the Psy Ward, Eric was treated to an escort by the head Clerk. Some sort of way of mild apology whilst also keeping Eric away from the Clerk who had originally interred him. It was clear from the evaluations that Eric hadn’t lost his mind, but he was highly likely to act violently to that particular Clerk. This head Clerk who was escorting Eric, called Head by his Siblings of the Order, was silently walking Eric back over the moat he had originally crossed and into a new building which led outdoors.
A light canopy of a leafy green crawling plant partially covered the courtyard which greeted Eric at the exit to the Order’s compound. Daggers of sunshine pierced the canopy at random intervals providing for a joyful sight indeed after days spent staring at a floor, ceiling and walls that were identical. As he strolled through the courtyard with his escort he breathed in the salty fresh sea air and enjoyed the slight lashings of the refreshing breeze. In the distance he could see the deep blue ocean, most likely of the Pacific. The island was truly beautiful.
Eric wasn’t sure if he had been here before or not. He had of course been rebirthed once, but it’s a memory they remove far before any forms are ever filled in. Probably before he even left the compound or a compound on his first rebirth. Logically you’d think the Order had more than one location for rebirthing so as to be able to quickly move in the event that someone discovered their compound, but it was impossible to know.
“I trust there won’t be any trouble stemming from your visit,” the Head asked.
“Trouble is usually in my nature,” Eric replied with the smirk of a mischief maker, before sending this was no times for jokes and added, “But there won’t be any trouble for me here.”
The Head has obviously expected some response like this in the end, but it was always a good final test. “Very good then. We shan’t be seeing you again, so please do enjoy a long and fulfilling final life and rest in peace thereafter.”
With that he bowed and left Eric standing on a small cliff edge overlooking the water.
What was probably hours but could have been months or years for all Eric knew passed and the last memory he had was of the water crushing around him. He had been successfully rebirthed, which was one small, but significant step. There was always the possibility that he’d be caught up in the bureaucratic process of the Order and be stuck in some compound until his dying days. At the very least he had not suffered that particular fate.
Waking up after rebirth is a odd sensation the first time and as with anything do strange, slightly easier the second. Still, being walked to a random location and having your memory wiped back to the point for your death is a lot to handle. The word ‘lost’ doesn’ quite cover it. It is indeed a good place to start, but being lost is some sort of journey leading to a realisation that you don’t know where you are. Whether it’s being physically or mentally lost, this holds true. Instead, the feeling Eric had was what you have when you realise you are in fact lost, instantaneously.
Pain lingered fresh in his mind as he looked around the pub he now, miraculously he felt, sat in. This was a traditional pub that could easily have been the same in the 20th century as it was now. There were three cask ale pumps positioned in the middle of a bar that looked as though it had been made from an ancient tree. Eric sat in a small cubby off in the dark corner next to the toilet entrance. He wondered if leaving him near the stink of toilets in an outdated drinking establishment was the Order’s way of making a joke.
As thoughts and memories cane flooding back into his head much like the water rushing into his submarine, his demeanour changed from dumb struck to pensive. While the toilet positioning was surely a joke, he also thought that the pub was. Unfortunately for their little joke, Eric loved pubs of all shapes and sizes. They had drink, people, limited music and no food to distract. This was not to be mistaken as a dislike of food, Eric loved food, he just wanted food separate from the pub, where you went to drink.
Eric stood up and approached the pre lunchtime pub, the calm before the lunchtime storm of ‘quick ones’. The barman nodded as he approached and wordlessly gestures as if to ask what drink Eric wanted. A pint of Guinness is what Eric wanted, so he pointed to the sleek extra cold tap and that’s what he got. No fuss, exactly as Eric liked. He remained at the bar, in the far corner of it away from the barman where he found a stool to rest on.
His Guinness did that lovely thing it did where the bubbles descended and slowly the black and white parted from each other signalling that it was ready to drink. Eric took a big sip and sighed with contentment. With that dip, it felt felt to him as if he was free from the crushing sensation of his death. The Order defined rebirth as when you’ve back in the form you’ve requested, but this was the true rebirth for Eric.