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TWO WEEKS LATER…
 

 “I DON’T WANT TO TAKE IT ANYMORE! I DON’T, AND I WON’T!”
 “Won’t you calm down? Please, you’re not making this easy for anybody,”
 “Why must I conform to others? Why can’t I do my own things?”
 “You can’t do these things because you just can’t. Is that so hard to understand?”
 “It may be for you, but it is not for me! The fact that you are killing thousands and millions of people a day, is insane! Don’t you have any more feelings left?”
 “I do have feelings! Why do you think I am doing this?”
 “You are doing this because YOU ARE NOT HUMAN!” The next thing was a rough push from Calven. Max stumbled backwards and hit a wall.

 Calven was dumbfounded. He had never hit anyone in his whole life and he just did a few seconds ago. He slowly brought his hands, palms upward to him. He stared at them, then looked at Max. He walked slowly to Max, who was massaging the back of his head. Calven kneeled down and asked, “Max, are you all right? I’m sorry I pushed you,” For a long time nothing came out from Max’s  lips.

 “Max-“ Calven’s words were cut off by a push away from him. Calven was surprised at Max’s outburst. Max stood up and looked at Calven straight in the eye, his fists clenched tightly.

 At that time, Calven realised that the Max he was looking at was hardly the Max he knew. This was a Max who was full with rage, hurt and sheer anger.

 “First you push me, then you apologise. First you are sane, then you hurt me, then you want to APOLOGISE?” Max’s words got louder and louder.  Calven got up and said, “Then what am I supposed to do? Kill you? Fine, kill me. Kill me and we’ll be even.”

 There was a deadly silence between the two of them. Calven went closer to Max, “What, afraid to kill me? Go ahead, kill me and let your anger be free. I deserve to be killed, right?” The threatening voice hardly moved Max. Instead, he bent his head downwards. Calven went closer and hissed in Max’s ear, “Go ahead, Maximillion; kill me now and be rid of all your doubt and fear. If I’m alive, I’ll confess that I was the one responsible. So what are you still waiting for? Kill me,”

 Suddenly, Calven was pushed away by Max. Calven felt himself slam against the cold, hard wall.  Max grabbed his collar and stared with a cold stare, “You made me do this, Calven. You made me take this job and I’ve been suffering ever since! I hate this work! I hate Dr. Jessi and everyone else! I HATE YOU!”

 “I was trying so hard to keep my anger and to stop attacking you. I was about to forgive you when you had to make me angrier! YOU WANT ME TO GO INSANE??! ARE YOU? WHEN WILL YOU EVER REALISE THAT OTHER PEOPLE HAVE FEELINGS?” Max slammed Calven against the wall as he screamed. Finally, he let go of Calven and stepped back. Calven panted and stared at him.

 “You’re one of those people with feelings, aren’t you? Well, that’s a pity, Max; because I am not like you. But suddenly, you’ve changed me. I thank you for that, Max.” Calven smiled. Max was puzzled for a moment.

 Suddenly, Calven dived for the drawer nearby and pulled out a gun. He brought it to his eyes and aimed straight for Max’s head.

 “Don’t you dare think I’m scared to use this, Max. I have used it before, I can use it again,” Calven threatened. Max saw the intense madness in Calven’s eyes: They were not his. Max shook his head, telling Calven, “That is not you, Calven. The Calven I know is sane and rational and goes with his decision. You are the insane part of him. You want me dead and you’ll stop at nothing,”

 Calven laughed madly, pulling the trigger, “How right you are,”



 Kelly, Cerein, Lelis and Deina were laughing and joking merrily when they heard a loud noise. All four of them were startled by the deafening sound and jumped slightly. Cerein asked, “What could’ve happened?” Deina guessed as she scrambled to her feet, “That sounded like a gun,”

 Lelis got up and started running out of the room. Cerein shouted, “Lelis! How do you know where the noise came from?” Lelis turned back and answered, “I have no idea. I just let my legs do the job. And maybe they’re right,” Kelly understood and ran after Lelis. Deina and Cerein followed suit and ran after Kelly and Lelis.

 Lelis’ feet brought her to the Mainframe room. The rest of them were bewildered. Kelly looked at Lelis, “The noise came from here?” Lelis shrugged, “Maybe, but we have no idea what two boys can do without a girl to calm both sides down,” Cerein slid her card through the slot next to the door and pushed the door open. What they saw next left them staring in silence.



 Calven was unconscious on the floor, the fingers on his right hand wrapped loosely around a gun. Max was on the other side of the room, gasping for breath on the floor.  A lone hole was a few feet above him. The room was neat, except for an unclosed drawer.

 Deina rushed to Max while Lelis and Kelly went to check out Calven’s condition. Cerein said, “Make sure both of them are in stable condition. I’m going to find Dr. Jessi,” Then, Cerein ran out of the room.

 Deina kneeled down and gently asked Max, “Max, what happened? Can you speak?” Max looked up at her, “I’m fine, Deina; just a few bruises here and there. Don’t worry about me-“ Max fainted after that.  Deina shook him, “Max! MAX!”

 Kelly whispered to Calven, “Calven? Can you hear me? Were you trying to kill yourself or Max? Can you hear me?” She checked his pulse while Lelis carefully pried the gun away. At that crucial moment, Cerein came in with Dr. Jessi. Dr. Jessi herself gasped at the sight.

 “Stop standing there! Kelly, Lelis, help carry Calven! Deina, you and Cerein help carry Max! Make sure they both go to the hospital! Hurry!” Dr. Jessi instructed.



 Calven felt light enter his eyes. He opened them wider and saw a different surrounding. Instead of the Mainframe, he saw white. He sat up straight and felt pain at his head. He asked himself, “Where am I? What happened?” He tried to remember what had happened. Try as hard as he could, he couldn’t. He heard the door creak open behind him. He turned around and saw Dr. Jessi enter the room.

 “Dr., how did I come here?” Dr. Jessi went closer to Calven and looked at him, “You don’t remember?” Calven shook his head and felt pain at the back of his head.  He massaged his head carefully and slowly as Dr. Jessi sat down and talked to him.
 “Max told me what happened. Do you want to know?” Calven nodded his head. Dr. Jessi started, “Max couldn’t take the fact that you were killing thousands, maybe millions of people every minute of the day because of your suggestion,”

 “But that’s the only thing we can do-“
 “I’m not done yet, Calven. After that, both of you put up a struggle. You took out my gun from your drawer and was about to shoot him,”
 “Did I-I mean, did I-“
 “You did fire a shot, Calven. Lucky for both of you, he avoided it in time and it just hit the wall. Suddenly, you fainted and that was when the girls came in and saw both of you. I need you to tell me the truth, Calven. I thought I could trust anything to you, Calven. You took my gun from my drawer, didn’t you? Where did the bullets come from? I left it empty ever since the last time I used it. Why did you take out my gun?”

 Calven was silent for a moment. He looked at his hands and a sole thought entered his mind, “What was I doing to myself?” Dr. Jessi stared at him and then left. Before she closed the door, she said solemnly, “I’m disappointed in you, Calven,”

 The words hit Calven hard. It was as if his whole world had crashed at that very moment.  Slowly he put his head between his knees and started to cry.



 As Dr. Jessi walked out of the room, Cerein noticed Dr. Jessi’s serious face. She asked, “Dr., how is he?” Dr. Jessi placed her hands on Cerein’s shoulders. She told Cerein, “If he is slowly going insane, then I might have no choice but to dismiss him. Cerein, I’m telling you this first: I’m leaving for Jupiter tomorrow. I’m anxious to reunite with my parents, my brothers and sisters, and most importantly, my husband and children,”

 Cerein was shocked by Dr. Jessi’s words. She never expected Dr. Jessi to leave so soon, and she never knew that Dr. Jessi was already married.

 “Dr., how can you leave us here all by ourselves? Why aren’t you staying?’ Cerein demanded. Dr. Jessi smiled weakly, “I trust you to take care of things, Cerein. You have been a part of the MainFrame for almost 3 years; longer than Lelis or Deina.

When there was just you, Calven and Sammy, you still had the natural ability to make the computer do your bidding. Even when Sammy’s gone now, you are still the best in this. If this is the first time you’re being left alone with the computer, I would hardly sleep a wink; but you’ve been in a similar situation before. I trust you with this duty,”

Cerein bowed her head down, “I don’t deserve your trust, Dr. Calven is still the best leader we have. He knows when to make decisions and when not to follow them. Perhaps he’s just pressured. Dr., don’t make me the leader, please,”

 Dr. Jessi knew Cerein’s character. She was one who was willing to take orders, but never give them. When she was chosen as assistant, she already protested against her position. She never wanted to take responsibility for things. Dr. Jessi laughed a little and said, “I have much trust in you being the leader as much as I trust Calven, Cerein,” Then  she walked off, leaving Cerein behind her.

 She looked at the door in front of her that led to Calven’s ward. She quietly opened the door and saw Calven sobbing. Her face softened a little. She closed the door behind her as she walked off, leaving Calven in his sadness.



 Kelly was left alone to guard the mainframe. She grumbled, “Irresponsible idiots! Oh, sure, they all run off to see everybody’s conditions, leaving me all alone! What, do they think I’m a robot?” She looked behind her and saw Cerein. She glared at Cerein, “Where’re all the lazy people?”

 “At the ward. Kelly, let me take care of the computers for a while. You go and see Calven, OK?” Cerein suggested. Kelly jumped out of her chair and ran for the door. Before that, she warned Cerein, “This is not what you think, OK?” and ran off. Cerein shrugged, “Then again, I never know what she’s always thinking,”



 Kelly slowly pushed the door open. She saw Calven standing, facing the window. She continued to stare at him in silence when a sneeze caught her nose. He turned around and saw Kelly holding her nose. Both of them stared in silence for a moment.
 Kelly noticed how Calven had grown so tall at that time; maybe because she was slouching. His spectacled face enhanced his serious expression, his eyes looking straight at her. She couldn’t believe that this was the same Calven that she had seen about two years ago.

 Calven looked at Kelly’s surprised expression in her eyes. All of a sudden he had realised how Kelly had grown since he met her when they were 14. He seemed to notice everything about her: Her long, black, silky hair; her eyes masked by a pair of spectacles; her fair complexion, her graceful movement.

 Finally, Kelly shouted, “I just sneezed! No need to kill me!” Her nose still being hidden by her hands. Calven stared in astonishment at her words. Finally, he reached for a tissue and handed it to her.

 “Next time, learn how to use a handkerchief,” Calven sarcastically said. Kelly reached for the tissue and blew her nose. After disposing of it, she responded, “It’s not my fault I couldn’t find any handkerchiefs or tissues in my room,”

 “Probably because your room is so messy,” Calven replied.
 “At least my room isn’t full of darkness like yours! The minute I enter your room, I feel instant doom,” Kelly looked away from Calven, facing the wall.
 “Makes me wonder if that’s the real reason you came in; to tell me that my room’s dark and gloomy,”
 “If this is how you treat visitors, I’ll leave you here alone and see how other patients are getting along,”
 “Chances are, there won’t be a next time,”
 “Well, here’s your chance to stay in the hospital longer,” Kelly looked back at Calven. Both of them frowned at each other.
 “How come you didn’t go and visit Max?” Calven asked.
 “He’s fine, unlike you,”
 “Well, that settles it, right? I’m sicker than him, and you pity the sicker than the sick,”
 “Why are you so hostile?”
 “Why are you so irritating?”
 “Why are you so impolite? I come in here, you don’t say hello, you don’t ask me to sit down,”
 “Because I believe that men and women deserve equality,”
 “You believe that I should be dead,”
 “You noticed,”
 “I hate you,”
 “So do I, that makes us even,”
 “You’ve been crying,”
 “I have not. I’ve been rubbing my eyes too much,”
 “How long?”
 “For some time,”
 “You’d be blind by now,”
 “So I have,”
 “You admit you’ve been crying,”
 “Five minutes. I don’t want to talk about it,”
 “I didn’t say I wanted to hear it,” Kelly leaned against the door, arms crossed. Calven eyed her suspiciously.
 “You aggravate me so,”
 “Thank you. I’m glad to be of service,”
 “Have a seat,” Calven pulled a chair for Kelly while he sat on the bed.
 “Why the chivalry?”
 “Simply because you’re a girl,”
 “You wanted me dead,”
 “That was before. This is now,”
 “Aren’t you the very kind guy,”
 “I am?”
 “Hardly,”
 “Whew. For a minute there, I thought I was softening,”
 “I dread. When you sink, I sink and we’ll both be exposed,”
 “Where would I be without you?”

 “Dead,” For a moment, both of them gazed into each other’s eyes in silence. Slowly, Calven reached for Kelly’s hand. He grasped her hand tightly as he brought it to his cheek. For a while, Kelly was shocked at Calven’s action.

 “Calve-“ Kelly was cut off by a sudden kiss on the top of her palm. She felt her cheeks turn red as she saw Calven holding her wrist as he pressed his lips on the top of her hand. For a moment, none of them moved. She allowed her hand to be kissed and Calven sat at the edge of his bed, holding her wrist as mildly as possible while he kissed her hand.

 Calven felt something else that never existed in his body rush in him. He did not know what that feeling was and he was curious to find out what would happen if he experimented with that feeling.

Slowly, he drew back from Kelly’s wrist and placed her hand on her lap. He stared at her face, so full of expression. He could tell that she had a mixture of feelings in her. Happy, shocked, angry, all these were swirling around in her.

 “I’m sorry if I caught you by surprise, Kelly. I didn’t mean to act that way,” Calven apologised. Kelly sat there motionless, then spoke, “There was something inside you just now, right?” Calven was confused.
 “Huh?’
 “I mean, that strange feeling you got that made you act that way,”
 “I’m sorry about that,”
 “Apology not accepted. You don’t have to apologise for what you have done, Calven,”
 “It’s just that I’ve never had that feeling before and I was curious what  would happen if I did put it to use,”

 “Be careful, Calven. Too much curiosity leads to heartbreak,” Kelly whispered. Calven nodded, “I’m glad I won’t be here any longer, Kelly. Life is too hard for me to cope. All my life I’ve been sheltered from everything, so I never experienced any feelings. Now, this new feeling comes along and I wonder what does it do,”

 “It just causes heartbreak, Calven. Whatever you do, don’t ever get that feeling again. If you must, pour it all out now,” Kelly caressed his cheek with unhappiness, tears streaming slowly from her eyes.
 “You have experienced this feeling before?” Calven asked.
 “I am now and I don’t ever want this feeling. Ever,” She clutched his hand as she tried to hold back her tears. Calven closed his eyes.
 “Neither do I, Kelly. We’re comrades,”



 “Lelis?” Cerein looked at Lelis enter the MainFrame. Lelis took a chair and locked her hands together as she closed her eyes, elbows on the edge of her keyboard, head bowed. Her eyes were closed as the screen showed no sign on change.

 Cerein just stared in silence. Casually, Lelis mumbled, “These are one of the times when I want to cry and cry and nothing can stop me,” Lelis’s hair shadowed her eyes and all that was seen was only her mouth.

 “Maybe that’s why I cut my hair, Cerein; to show that I want change. I want everything around me to change, including myself,” She brushed back her now-short hair and stared intently at the screen once more.

 “I used to think that I was special because I couldn’t cry. All of a sudden I don’t feel that way anymore. Instead, I feel like a freak. Cerein, remember how you used to tell me what makes a person chosen? I just don’t feel chosen anymore,” Cerein  looked at Lelis with concern.

 “I got a letter from my parents. Seems that they no longer mind me being a volunteer. Cerein, you have no idea how happy I am. I’ve been waiting for that news for so long. However, that happiness does not have any meaning left in me,” Lelis’s voice quavered.

 “They cloned me. I don’t know how, and I don’t want to know. All I know about this clone is that she can cry and I can’t. I don’t understand all this, I thought they were my parents. How could they do this to me? They said they missed me and that’s why they cloned me. If they missed me how come they just didn’t order me to go back?”

 “Life is a mystery,” Cerein said shortly and went back to her computer.

 “That’s not the point. I thought parents are supposed to love you? If my parents love me, why did they do this? Sometimes I wish I wasn’t chosen. Then all this wouldn’t have happened. Then again, I wish I was dead,”

 “If you wish you are dead, you are not accepting yourself, Lelis. You are not chosen after all, like me,” Cerein advised, eyes fixed to her screen. Lelis turned around and asked, “What do you know about being cloned? Your parents love and support you. You don’t know  what it’s like to be thought special and then someone else takes that place,”

 “Believe me, I do,” Cerein calmly said.
 “When?”
 “Before Calven. Now, I am indifferent,”
 

 
 Hop on to Apocalypse - Part Four! (last episode!)
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DJ Lesser (jndoris@tm.net.my)
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