Return Engagements: Book Three (Part Thirty One)

The process of dying took longer for me than it did for my friends, but that was to be expected. And, mercifully, the next day was spent mainly being barked at by impressive suits, while a team of specialists, I was told, would be coming to get answers out of me. The truly degenerate thing about the whole exercise was that they really didn’t expect to learn anything from me. They believed that I had been speaking openly. What they needed was for me to fear them and to make a show of subservience.

I smiled, said nothing, and encouraged entropy to continue its work. There was some pain involved, but nothing serious. I think it was from tissues shifting more than anything else.

The experience, as a whole, wasn’t terribly unpleasant, though it did become boring as my brain lost its usual energy. I could feel my bodily systems degrading and slowing, which was troubling (I had spent my life fighting such things, after all) but mostly just intermittently.

On the third day I had more barking monkeys. One or two of them wanted me to sanction what they were doing to me. They repeatedly asked, “Can’t you understand why we must do this?” Most of them, however, were angry apes in suits, requiring a display of subservience. That’s when the thought struck me that they could easily have picked me up in Brooklyn, but they specifically didn’t want to.

And so I grasped that an insulted dominant isn’t satisfied to destroy an opponent in secret. The upstart should be slain in his place of power. The perp walk isn’t just to frighten the plebs, but to satiate the filthy blood lust of the dominants.

But now I was almost done with the primates. I closed my eyes and thought only of my post-primate friends from the park, growing and becoming. I suppose the guards thought I was asleep, but soon enough I was probably lapsing in and out of consciousness. In actual fact, I was dying very rapidly of old age.

I can’t say that the process of death was without any terror, but the terror was mainly a body-driven reaction, and, for me at least, of short duration.

At some point in the process, my body had a last-chance reaction to shutting down. It was strong, but not really overpowering, at least with my body already in a weakened state. I recognized what it was and reminded my body (my inner parts were what I addressed, more in concept than in words) that it was okay, the best choice, and that we’d be back home, waking up, in just a few minutes.

And then… and this may have been the most miraculous part of the whole adventure… my inner parts believed me. They calmed down and let go. I know I took a deep breath just then, but that’s the last clear memory I have of 1948.

My guess is that I expired half an hour after my last deep breath, but that’s just a guess. To me, there was just a deep breath; it released one last pocket of tension, and then I slept; nothing more.

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