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[Fiction] Neil Preston: Another World: For My Body Is Hollow And I Have Lost My Mind


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A Preface

To those who have been here a long time, it probably has not escaped anyone's attention that I no longer post on the Opnet boards. What may have escaped that attention is that I so rarely read these posts either. This story comes so late because I haven't seen these characters for a very long time, and in a way, I've missed them growing up. It's a little disheartening, but my passions have moved to other things, and I don't regret it.

That's why I'm not going to tell a story about a Nova. In fact, none of the stories I'm going to tell are going to be in the Aeonverse. Instead, I'd like to translate these characters into different universes, different settings. The stories of Another World are stories about the character, in a setting in which they may not be what you first thought.

Naturally they don't fit perfectly, and I've not aimed for that. Instead, I've tried to take the themes of the characters, the core of what makes them such interesting characters, and tell a story about that.

To me, Neil's main theme, echoed so heavily in these stories, is man sacrificing his life for the life of others. His humanity, his mind, his quantum power, all to help others. Actually, it goes further than that - he trades his past health for the present health of others, a dangerous sacrifice to be sure. A healer who heals by taking the wounds of others does not heal lightly, and I suspect that Neil never has.

What you are about to read may not make a lot of sense to people. It's set in the world of the RPG Unknown Armies, and chronicles a night in the life of another Neil Preston, in a world where the insane ones find power in paradox. Destruction Creating, and all that jazz. Enjoy.

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Some people think it amazing that an emergency room runs as smoothly as it does. People of different backgrounds, beliefs and ability levels somehow work together in such a regimented and fluid way to bring people back from the brink of death, or to save a person's limb, or to keep a person sedated for the good of the world.

A child is injured in a car crash. At the scene, it doesn't look good. The child's barely breathing, their ribs are cracked if not outright broken, her leg was found at an angle that no leg should ever be found in, they're certain she's got a concussion. The Ambulance, thank god, makes it to the hospital, and the Doctors and nurses of the emergency room go to work, stabilising the child, finding the most important tasks and doing them, taking a grim paramedic report and turning it into yet another happy story, complete with bunny rabbit.

At least, that's what so many people think. I know it's not true.

They don't know it, but I have the most important job here. Those fucking doctors think they pour their life into their patients, but they don't have a fucking clue. My body is a fucking road map of scars to prove it. I'm the guy who waits at the front desk, waiting for the paramedics to bring in yet another victim of today's crazy world. At least, that's what they think I do. What I actually do is help them to survive before the doctors ever fucking see them.

It's easy, you know. I'm surprised so few people do it. You see, the way I figure it, everyone's got a bit of energy inside, ya know? When you're healthy, you're uninjured, you've got a lot of it. But when you're sick, you get hurt, a bit of it fades away. What I do, is that when I cut myself, I learn to hold on to that bit of energy. It's gone from me, I can't ever use it again. But someone else can.

But now, I'm lying here, I think I took too much out of me. You see, a few hours ago, that little girl came in from that car crash. I saw her at the gate, and I knew, just knew, that little girl hadn't actually made it. She'd died on the way over, and you could tell - her brains were in her hair, her chest was flatter than paper, and her leg... well, I'd bet jelly had more life than that leg.

But I couldn't stand that.

See, the girl? It wasn't like she looked like my sister. But she was wearing a pink dress, like my sister did. And even though she was dead, her energy gone, I couldn't just fucking leave her like that. I just couldn't. I didn't know if I had enough energy in me to help her, but at that point, I didn't care. Usually, the DOAs I don't waste my time on - the dead can't take the energy of the living. But her... I had to help her.

What I do, it's kind of an obsession. Since I found out I could do this at med school, I started looking at all the way you could hurt yourself. You see a stethoscope, and see how you could burst your eardrums, you see a tongue depressor and see how you could stab yourself with enough force. You look at a glass of acid, and see how much damage you could do if you swallowed it. You start looking at guns, and really appreciating what kind of damage they do, the nuances of the actual flesh destroyed beyond recovery that are different for every model. A fishing hook becomes such a versatile tool when applied to the flesh, slicing, pulling...

It's not a good idea to go cutting yourself at the hospital; people generally start asking questions, and it's just better if people leave me alone to help people. A little cut here, A little bruise there, and I can help those who come in to live, Noone gets hurt except for me, it's all good. Usually, I do some cutting when I get home, and let it heal for a bit before I go to work, so noone's the wiser. But I saw this girl, and I knew the free energy I was holding onto wouldn't do it.

So I did the stupidest thing I'll ever do in my life. I walked into the storeroom, and grabbed myself a scalpel. I put my hand on the girl. Then I slit my throat. After years of cutting up every other part of my body, it came really easy. The thought came into my head that at least I had the luck to do this in a hospital.

But I felt that energy rushing out of me, something big, and I practically threw it into this girl. Because I couldn't let her stay dead.

I think it worked.

I hope it worked.

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