Chapter I: Requiem Aeternam - Fifth Instalment
Warning: The following story contains the depiction of violent scenes and also, adult language. Reader discretion is advised.
This is the continuation of Madness Serial: The Hand of Madness Chapter I: Requiem Aeternam - Fourth Instalment
“It was an accident. If you’ll file charges for me, you wouldn’t,” Constantine points with seriousness from the other side of the room.
“Even the impulsive Achilles yielded indulgently to the old King Priam when he begged for the corpse of his dead son. Your benevolence is no less fascinating to me than Achilles’.”
“Achilles’ single moment of indulgence honoured Patroclus’ memory more than a wrathful crusade. He avenged the death of his beloved friend only with forgiveness. We must forgive as we have been forgiven. Our humanity depends on our ability to see ourselves reflected in our neighbour.”
“Are you a believer?“ I question him when listen to him talking with such compassion. “I've tasted a smidgen of religiosity in your arguments as the words dropped from your mouth,” I say extending my arm to reach the glass of water in the cabinet next to my bed.
“What you’ve savoured is instead a concoction of beliefs,” he elucidates, bringing me the glass and directing the straw inside it towards my mouth. “No. I wouldn’t define myself as a religious person. But yes, I’m a believer. I believe in compassion, and love, among other things.”
“You do well. For a world of infinite possibilities, definition also means limitation,” I answer him. Then I drink a sip of water. “Compassion and religion are concepts often linked and so is sacrifice. Violence and blood spring to mind when thinking about sacrifice. Ergo, for compassion to exist, there must be violence. Man cannot relish the sacrificial flesh and blood of religion without incurring animality.”
“Light implies darkness. Violence and compassion are possible and paradoxically the most natural features in mankind. Good and evil coexisting within us. Don’t you believe so?” he says sitting down in my bed, right next to my feet.
“Good and evil result in a narrow Manichaean view of the world. These are nothing but made-up words. Violence is neither good nor evil. It’s in our nature as a mean and instinct for survival.”
“It sounds like you worship violence instead of religion,” he suggests trying to turn the conversation against me.
“We are violent by nature. Many gods are usually presented as both benevolent and brutal. But it was the man who created the idea of god, wasn’t he? The violence the wolf employs to devour the lamb is the same violence the lamb applies to pluck and chew the grass in its path.”
“The ingestion of a living being without religious ritualism or nourishment purpose comes down to an egotistical act. Humans refrain from eating each other because they don’t need to. Yet, the treason to our species hides in our inherited cannibal nature. This waits patiently for our politeness suit to fall and our cornucopia to scarce.”
“I think cannibalism is outrageous even for mankind’s distorted ethical standards.”
“We’re but animals well adapted to the ever-expanding artificial habitat we call society. We fake and conceal our true natures under our well-constructed masks and our boundless desire for superiority. We’re raised and tamed by the expectations of the world.”
“Alienation and dissociation, as pathologies, serve to evade us from our painful realities. We continually deny to ourselves through them. In your case, your morality and compassion seem authentic to me. And although I don’t know you, I’ve got this feeling of knowing you beyond this life.”
“Maybe we know each other from beyond this life,” he says sighing.
“I hope our memories may overcome and transcend the illusory trap of reality that way,” I reply to him while he stays silent and then smiles at me.
Benedict Shepherd leaves the room following the hurried steps of Ambroise Crow. The doctor leads him to his personal office to talk more privately. Benedict knows Ambroise since they were young and both were in college. Ambroise even assisted Margaret —Benedict’s wife— to bring Constantine into the world. Besides of director of Saint Thomas Hospital, he’s also a renowned geneticist.
In the clean corridors, they have a sneaky chat by asking each other about their families but mainly about their wives.
Arriving at the office, Ambroise opens the wooden door decorated only by a plain and simple rectangular skylight. He invites Benedict to come in first. Then he enters after him, before that, though, Ambroise gives a glimpse of the corridor to make sure they won’t be interrupted. Closing the door, Ambroise asks for Benedict’s cape and beret to hang them on a wall mounted coat rack. Full of restlessness, Ambroise invites Benedict to take a seat on one of the two black leather chairs in front of his desk. This is bare and clean. A portrait of his wife is all decorating it. They both sit down and then, Ambroise, full of curiosity and without wasting time, asks:
“Benedict, what’s going on?”
“Do you remember Ulrik?” Benedict asks getting straight to the point.
“Ulrik? Of course, the deserter who disappeared without leaving a trace,” he says nodding as remembering a distant time. “What this has to do with him?” he immediately adds without being able to figure out what Benedict’s talking about.
“Well, I’m telling you this although your rank is not high enough. Yet, I must tell you, you’re being considerate for a higher grade. The man bedlying in the company of my son, we’ve been tracking him down since a time ago. We believe he’s the one whose return we’ve been waiting for.”
“It would honour me they doing so,” he expresses surprised. “I’ve been looking forward to this. And yes— I remember now,” he says leaning over the desktop staying thoughtful. “Ulrik’s last name was Madsen, like this young man’s. It’s him!“ he exclaims rising euphorically. “That would explain why there’s no information in the databases about him and also, the fact he survived such a violent accident. It’s because that’s not his real name. Do they know he is here?”
“They don’t, Ambroise. And that’s why I need your help. This has been my pet project since a time ago. I’ve been investigating him in secret. I didn’t want to report anything until being positive.”
“Tell me, Benedict, what do you want me to do? I’ll do it without hesitation,” he inquires with great zeal.
“I’ve been looking for an opportunity to get a DNA sample from him to corroborate his identity. Now, for the grace of Highest, we’ve been given such an occasion,” he says smiling. “I want you to do a blood test and compare it with this sample,” he adds taking a small glass tube out of his coat’s inner pocket. This seems to contain crystallised blood.
“Is that blood from—?” he asks taking the tube from his hand gently.
“Yes. It is,” Benedict confirms interrupting him not allowing him to ask the question.
“It’s such an honour for me! But I don’t know if I am worthy,” he points contemplating the glass tube in wonder.
“Oh, we are! We’re fated to be amongst the gods. This accomplishment will lead us to greatness. Be discreet, neither he nor my son can suspect any of this. I’ll inform the Great Commander as soon as we get the results. He will be pleased.”
“Rest assured. I barely recognised Constantine. He seems a righteous young man. It’s incredible twenty-one years have passed. I remember how difficult it was to bring him to the world,” he notes making remembrance with some nostalgia in his gaze. “I realised he seems to get along well with him. Is this part of your plan?”
“Believe me, Ambroise. They both finding affinity is just the way it was revealed to me it would happen. This is how it’s supposed to be. He’s the key that will unlock the doors of the future. He’ll bring the Wandering Son to us.”
“What about the killing? The Red Book? Any word on Vilhelm?” he questions with some concern.
“We know nothing about Vilhelm. We assume he must be dead by now as the others, but now we have found the whereabouts of this young man, we can finally know if he's the one behind all this hunt. All this bloodshed won’t be in vain.”
Continues in Sixth Instalment