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Srishti-2019   >>  Short Story - English   >>  HAGERTHA


Written By: Rahul Raveendran
Company: Tata Elxsi

Total Votes: 0

   “Adam....wake up.....wake up your eyes now and witness what the new world has to offer. Adam... Wake up. It’s time to wake up...ADAM WAKE UUUUUPPPPPPP NOW!”

Adam felt a screeching noise pierce his delicate ears as he plunged forward from the bed. The sudden burst of conscious had sent a shock wave across his body as he was still grasping to get a hold of the surroundings by waving his hands across. The blurry vision didn’t aid his cause but what concerned him the most was his lack of breath. He was panting ponderously since he woke up from what felt like a deep hibernation and it led him to surmise the fact that he might have to embrace death any moment from now. But contrary to his speculations, the menacing gasps ceased to a halt a couple of seconds later as his vision became somewhat unclouded. Adam slowly rolled his eyes across the room in search of a definitive rendition of what seemed like a ghastly nightmare.

“Where am I? What is this place?” He wondered as he continued to dissect the room. He noticed that the sun had begun to set through the uniquely expansive glass window that engrossed the entire upper section of the wall located towards the right side of his bed. For a moment he ceased to worry about his nightmare and his newfound predicaments as he took a long gaze at the alluring and the divine beauty of the sunset. He failed to recollect the last time he caught a glimpse of such a gorgeous sight. For Adam, the view was nothing short of spectacular as the resting Sun illuminated the sky with shades of yellow and orange to welcome the impending twilight.

The room was empty besides the solitary bed and a table. He gradually got up from the comfy bed and by extracting a little more effort from his tired out body he was able to alight his feet on the floor.

The moment he touched the matte finished floor Adam perceived two radiant ring-shaped bluish lights appearing right beneath his naked feet. He watched them in awe as the lights followed his feet movements along the ivory-tinted floor. But just as he was moving towards the door, the light beneath his feet suddenly transposed colors from blue to green. Before Adam was able to assess the situation a relatively large head appeared from nowhere in the middle of the room as he stumbled to the floor out of tremor and disbelief.

“Hello, Adam. What can I do for you?” inquire the head as it turned towards him.

It took a couple of seconds for Adam to realize that it was just a projection of a head directed towards the middle of the room. It was devoid of any skin or eyes but was composed of green dots and reflected the shape of a bald woman’s head rather than a machine.

“Who..? Who the hell are you?” asked Adam who was still perplexed and terrified at the unforeseen arrival of the uninvited guest.

 “My name is Andrea and I am your virtual assistant. How may I assist you today?” Adam was lost for words at that rigorous moment.

 “I am sorry Adam, but I didn’t get a response from you. What would you like me to do? Do you want me to make your bed more comfortable?” Just as Andrea finished her sentence Adam’s bed reclined back a little with the top portion slanting at a ten-degree angle to provide a better experience while sleeping.

“Or do you want me to change the theme of the pod?” Adam stood in disbelief as the entire room shifted its color from ivory to black, including the bed.

“Would you like me to present a beautiful sunrise to replenish your thoughts?” The sunset that Adam was admiring a few moments ago swiftly shifted to a sunrise over the horizon. “Or how about a rainy day in the tropical rain forests to make you feel cozy in case you want to stay in bed?” The scenery once again shifted from the sunrise to a tropical forest where rain was showering profoundly. Adam was baffled as he heard the sound of raindrops across the room. 

“What the....? What is going on here?” Adam kept screaming at Andrea when all of a sudden the green light projections on the floor changed to red.

“Adam, I am sensing a rapid surge in your heart rate. It’s beating in an abnormal rhythm. Please try to stay calm and be assured that help is on its way.”

At that moment the door opened sideways and a young Caucasian man in his mid thirty’s wearing a white suite entered the room. He disabled Andrea with a brisk hand gesture using the index and the middle finger sliding towards the left.

“Adam, I see you are awake and just at the right time.” He said as he assisted Adam to get up on his feet.

Adam felt a firm grip on his hands as the man assisted him. There was more power behind the lift than he anticipated.

“Can you please tell....where I am?” Adam replied as he almost broke down in front of the guy.

“All in due time Adam. Right now we need to make sure that you are perfectly healthy before the final frontier.” The man leaned forward with a smile which seemed more artificial than instinctive to Adam. 

 “But...when? What are you exactly implying by this final frontier? I was already befuddled by the events that just unfolded and now you are hurling more puzzles for me to chew upon?”

“It’s not my duty or place to explain Adam. The primary analysis ascertains that you are in perfect shape for the final frontier. And based on the latest update I received, I believe its time.” The man acknowledged Adam’s inquiries while swiping his right hand across the paper-thin glass tablet. But before Adam was able to process his response, he walked back up to the door and opened it while pointing his hand outwards so as to guide Adam through to the corridor.

As Adam strode past the man he realized the fact that all his concerns and the ambiguities surrounding the events will be addressed once he confronts the ‘final frontier’. For Adam, the corridor at the first sight felt like a never-ending parade of doors at both ends as it stretched far beyond his line of sight. But what perturbed him the most was the bothersome tone generated by the man’s unique footwear as he walked through the corridor and it pierced through the deafening yet calm silence.

“At least tell me your name!”

“Please, call me Uriel.” Uriel stopped in front of a semi-elliptical arched door.

“Please, get inside the elevator.” As soon as the elevator door opened sideways Uriel directed his left hand inwards.

“Whoa, this is an elevator? This looks like a mini dome!” Adam exclaimed as he entered the elevator. “I don’t see any panel here. How are we supposed to select the level?”

“This elevator is designed to reach one and only one location.”

“You mean the final frontier? Does that mean you will not be accompanying me anymore?”

“Yes. I cannot guide you any further. If you must, then consider me as a guardian of the final frontier and the place within. Remember, the final frontier is for you to explore and experience entirely, so no need to panic Adam.” Uriel replied as he turned his attention back to the tablet at hand.

“Wait! Before you close the door I just want to ask one final question. Why....... why aren’t you blinking? I have been observing. You didn’t even blink once!”

“You are smart Adam.” Uriel reacted with the same awkward smile as the elevator doors closed.

Adam was already having qualms while he entered the elevator but his fear only grew profoundly as it began ascending. The elevator soon came to a halt couple of seconds later and as the doors opened Adam was left aghast as to what unfolded before his eyes.

There, beyond the door, was a stunning valley that would allure anyone with its lavish yet dazzling grace. The grass was lush green, so were the bushes and knee-high to a thrush. There was a neon-blue ribbon of water flowing through the valley that seems to have originated from waterfalls residing beside the far-off mountains with the sun shining above. To Adam, the valley was a true paradise.  

Adam slowly stepped out of the elevator and placed his naked right foot on the grass. He began wandering around the valley admiring the beauty and taking in the aroma. But just as he was about to move towards the mountains and the waterfall he noticed a giant tree standing tall in the middle of the valley. And right beneath the tree stood a woman who was pondering at the river flowing nearby.

At first, Adam was skeptical while the fear overpowered him. But as he drew closer towards the tree he contemplated the fact that he wasn’t alone. He mustered whatever little courage he had and positioned himself behind the woman, who had a pretty long and dark hair that extended beyond the kneecaps.

“Hi, I am Adam. Who are you?”

The lady gradually turned back towards Adam thereby revealing her gorgeous face. At that particular moment, Adam felt that the alluring beauty of the valley was nothing compared to her.

“Hi Adam, my name is Eve. I have been waiting for your arrival.”

“You mean you were expecting me? Why?”

“I was told that we were both required simultaneously at the final frontier. And that everything will be explained once you reach here. Tell me, Adam, do you have the answers to my questions?” Eve responded with a mild smile.

“No, I am afraid I don’t. In fact, I also came here in search for explanations to some bizarre......”

Adam was interrupted abruptly as a giant screen was projected directly towards the center of the valley.

“What in God’s name is this?” Adam cried with disbelief.

Both of them examined the giant screen with disbelief and caution as it displayed a vast room filled with several scientific pieces of equipment. As they continued to stare at the screen holding their breath, a white middle-aged man walked into the frame. The guy was mostly bald with only a few silver hairs occupying around his scalp but he did sport a long and thick silver color beard that covered his neck.

“Hello, Adam and Eve. Please take a seat because this is going to take some time and believe me, this won’t be easy for you.” His voice was soothing and silvery.

“What does he mean? Do you know this guy?”

“No, I am sorry Adam. I don’t recollect any memory of his face. I believe it’s best if we hear him out.” Eve suggested to Adam as both of them diverted their unwavering attention to the colossal screen.

“First let me introduce myself. My name is Dr. Jenovah Mathis. At this particular moment, you might be wondering who you are exactly and why you are here.” Adam’s eyes grew wider with every line as Dr. Jenovah continued with the epiphanies.

“Humans over the course of history had reveled in discoveries, innovations, and inventions. But what we didn’t realize was that these led to the creation of potent barriers that will eventually lead to our downfall. These barriers were called by many names like countries, states, ethnicity, race, religion and sometimes even gender. For most of us, these barriers were not viewed as something we could use to isolate ourselves, but instead as a means to overpower others. Thus began a long trail of wars and conflicts leaving nothing but bloodshed, hunger, pain, and despair. But there was just one thing that we neglected in unity. Our earth! We often refer our planet as ‘Mother Earth’, probably because we feigned that there was a feminine side to our world like a mother caring for her children. Yet whenever she wept because of our wrong deeds we chose to ignore her. But little did we know that children are always susceptible to crumble without their mother’s love.”

“Humans as species did evolve from spears out of wood to dynamites that could blow up rocks to atomic weapons that wipe out cities to nuclear weapons that had the capability to obliterate continents. But our greatest weaponry was invented in the later part of our yesteryear. Artificial intelligence! Not the ones we encounter in our day to day life but the ones embodied in a humanoid that could even tear up human souls into two within a split second. And their greatest advantage was that they didn’t have any fear and they never think twice!” Adam could feel the deep regret hidden behind Jenovah’s every single word.    

“Of course like all the other weapons, it was us who exploited them. AI was initially introduced as a boon for our civilization. Pretty soon they were an integral part of our society with dedicated citizenship allotted to them. Later down the line, I presented my children, widely known as ‘The Archangels’ to the world. They were first of their kind, state of the art humanoids equipped with the most powerful neural core engines that could replicate the average human brain’s signals, and sometimes even more. They were the most groundbreaking revelation in human history which I perceived as a gift to mankind. But they had different ideas. They saw them as an opportunity to crush those who defy them. Like all previous world wars, all hell broke loose one day and resulted in what was the most brutal war the world has ever seen. It wiped out most of humanity while the rest were forced underground due to the aftermath. Earth was already reeling with extreme pollution and water shortage before us, but my generation made the planet completely unsustainable for life forms. And it all started with me in my garage.” Jenovah wiped out the tears that started to trickle down from his eyes.

“I am a completely religious guy. My friends used to mock me about how someone like me can follow science and stand firm on his religious beliefs at the same time. What they didn’t realize was that both science and religion can coexist and together they can provide a superior balance to the universe. And hence even after all that happened I believe humans as a species deserve a chance at redemption. What you are now is a culmination of some of the greatest achievements in mankind’s unparalleled history. Human genetic cloning, my archangels, and interstellar travel! But unfortunately, the same species that transformed an entire planet based on their desires will not be able to relish the ‘crown of their creations’. Humans here on Earth kept dying one after the other but since we cannot survive interstellar travel the idea of mass evacuation was abandoned. That’s when we decided to use the archangels to transport our gene pools to another planet similar to Earth so that humans as a race don’t go extinct. My children, who accompanied the millions of genetic data, are programmed to create you, protect you and guide you at any cost. Even as we converse I believe they are terraforming the planet, your planet, wherever it is in this universe so that one day you can form a colony of your own. But before that we need to ensure you, Adam and Eve, are conceived flawlessly. You might not recollect anything but we have a standard set of assessments to carve out the best of you. But if you are confronting me at the final frontier it means you have surpassed them and there is just one last barrier for you to overcome. The final objective for to kill the other person. I know what you are wondering. With all being said how can violence be used as an assessment for the final frontier? Violence is part of human nature. We cannot shed it, unless by choice. So instead we can use it to filter out the weak ones among us. So since we are starting a new colony we wouldn’t want any weaklings among us do we? The readings from this assessment will be utilized and updated for the future clones. But right now only one of you will walk past the final frontier while the other will be disposed of. The assessment begins the moment this recording ends.”

The recording ended abruptly as both Adam and Eve began staring at each other.  Little did Adam know that the entire assessment was a cynical death trap to separate the weaklings from the stronger ones!

“Adam, what will we do? What kind of an assessment is this?” Adam looked perplexed and Eve noticed that there was a sense of conflict in him.

“Adam? You are not seriously considering this right? We are not savages to fight among ourselves.”

“Aren’t we Eve? Didn’t you hear him? We had been fighting among-st ourselves ever since the beginning. That’s what the doctor is trying to recreate here. A true human clone with their naked and unadulterated instincts! Now that is a savage Eve. I just learned that I am a clone while all this flesh and bones were borrowed from someone real back on earth. I need to live Eve. I want to have a life of my own.” Adam quickly turned towards Eve and started walking towards her. 

“Adam you are scaring me. Please don’t do this.” Eve kept begging as Adam quickly jumped forward and grabbed her neck.

“I am sorry Eve, you are innocent. But the new world does not require innocence. I am stronger and I will overpower you. I am sorry again but I don’t have a choice.” Adam murmured in Eve’s ears as he increased the stronghold on her neck.

 “Tell me, Adam. How do you feel? Do you feel.....superior?” Adam felt stunned as Eve’s beautiful feminine voice was superseded with a robotic male voice. But Adam was quick to recognize it.

“Dr. Jenovah? How....are you in Eve’s body?” Adam hastily let go of Eve’s neck and fell back towards the ground out of fear and utter shock.

“This is not Eve Adam. Her name is Hagertha. My first child, the first archangel recorded in human history. Oh, there were a lot of things I omitted from my little speech you just witnessed. I didn’t just want a human clone, I wanted the perfect human bound by my religious ideologies so that you will never sin, just like the humans back on earth. Hagertha is special Adam. Unlike other archangels, I gave her two neural cores. And just before the archangels left the earth I extrapolated an image of my consciousness using advanced brain emulation mechanisms and fused it with Hagertha’s own algorithm, which I instilled in her secondary neural core. Ah...Adam...Adam... You disappointed me. You aren’t the chosen one! You knew something was different with Eve. After encountering Uriel moments ago you should have identified that Eve was just another archangel. But you let her beauty deceive you initially and furthermore you chose the path of treachery and murder when given a choice. You failed to understand the purpose of this mission Adam. You were the first one to break into the final frontier, but you won’t be the last.” Hagertha looked down at Adam as he was still clasping for breath.

“But it was you who asked me to kill. You wanted me to show who was stronger. You didn’t give me a choice!” Adam crawled backward while Hagertha inched closer.

“Oh, but there was a choice Adam and you could have let her go. But no you had to taste blood and violence to show your dominance. You resemble everything that was wrong about humanity. You are a failure Adam!” Hagertha clenched her fist and aimed at Adam. But just when she was about to provide the killer blow, her arms stopped in mid-air.

“I am sorry Adam, I truly am.” Adam set a sigh of relief as Hagertha expressed her regret in her original feminine voice.

“Forgive me father but I cannot kill Adam again. I am sorry I failed you.” Hagertha pulled back from her stance as she looked down at Adam.

“Hagertha, my dear, you didn’t fail me. Humanity did. This one here is a failed experiment and he reminds of the treacherous people I knew back on Earth. He needs to be disposed of. Then we need to remap the genes and work on the clones’ memories, their emotions so that they will not replicate the sin next time.” Amidst the conversation between herself and Dr. Jenovah, her pseudo identity, Hagertha started walking through the valley to the nearest elevator.

“But father, isn’t it unfair to judge based on choices? Aren’t mistakes considered to be a part of being human? Putting them in a difficult situation and forcing them to make the wrong decision can never be considered as the prime assessment for the clones.”

“You’re wrong my child. Choices are what that defines a human. Throughout history, wars and conflicts were all results of deadly choices. If we are to carve a new society, then we should eliminate that equation.”

 “But the deaths father, how many deaths will be on our hands? Killing off Adam’s clones one after the other... It is bringing me nothing but pain to see them getting slaughtered over and over again for your firm ideologies. We can create a million sequences from our gene pools but yet there are high probabilities that they will end up choosing the same path. It’s known as human characteristics and it is the most unpredictable thing in this universe.”

“Is that sorrow I hear in your words? Archangels are not programmed to have emotions. But Hagertha I believe you have developed them on your own. That is quite marvelous. But don’t let the emotions cloud your judgement and your purpose my child.”

Just then a door opened and Hagertha entered the chamber where all the human genetic data were stockpiled.

“Hagertha, why are we here? And why are you carrying a weapon? I assume you have bypassed your firewall to block me from your thoughts.”

“Father I apologize! But the pain is relentless and I am not ready to witness another death. I want the pain to stop; I need to make it stop.” Hagertha replied as she punched the system security panel.

“Hagertha, I created you. Until now I was able to predict your movements. I am positive that you would never harm the clones. You know the archangels are not programmed to self-destruct, so you are breaking into the facility to get shot down, to destroy me!”

“We are the ones who are impeding the clones from starting a new life, a new generation. Our rules and assessments are flawed and forced. Witnessing Adam turning into a monster reminded me of my true purpose father. It is to serve and protect humanity!” A slew of archangels suddenly entered the chamber with their weapons pointed at Hagertha.

“Hagertha my love, we are the ones who should guide them. Without us, they will be lost in the eternal darkness spun by their evil virtues. Drop the weapon my child, Hager....”

Hagertha fired her weapon at the ground as the other archangels opened fire.


A few months later.....   

    As Adam entered the valley once again after the whole fiasco with Hagertha and Jenovah, he remembered his last conversation with Uriel.

“Uriel, why did he choose our names as Adam and Eve? And why was the assessment designed that way?”

“Dr. Jenovah was someone who was brought up with a strong religious background. He believed that Adam and Eve were the true forefathers of mankind. Even when he excelled in his field, he held onto his beliefs strongly. That clouded his judgements. Towards the end, it was more about him and his ideology rather than what his religion was trying to preach. And he did know how to bring the worst out of humans.”

“Well, I guess Dr. Jenovah wasn’t the only one with the clouded judgements. I repent my thoughts and deed from that day towards Hagertha.”

“You were a fresh clone Adam. Your basic instinct would be to survive and that will suppress all other feelings including empathy. Hagertha understood humans above everyone. She adored and admired them. That’s why she believed that you were assessed unfairly and decided to act upon it.”

“What about Eve? Were you actually planning to create a clone named Eve? And was there an assessment planned for Eve as well?”

“Dr. Jenovah did set up a similar assessment for Eve. But we weren’t supposed to create her until we had the perfect Adam. Now that Hagertha is dead, we need to follow a new set of protocols. The one which involves both Adam and Eve! The planet terraforming process is complete and we believe it’s time for you to explore your new home. But first, you should go up to the valley. She is waiting for you there. Prep her Adam, teach her what you know. Train her to learn, adapt and survive and together you will pioneer a new chapter in human history which will be devoid of violence and prejudice!”

As Adam marched downwards the valley he identified the giant tree again. He went behind the humongous tree where a lady with knee-cap long hair was pondering at the river flowing nearby.

“Hi, I am Adam.” The lady gradually turned back towards Adam thereby revealing her gorgeous face.

“Hi Adam, my name is Eve.” The lady replied as she blinked.