Reinholts. The name swam through Richard's head. He didn't even recognize the name. Richard had no association with this man, Reinholts, at all. Yet, here he was, walking down the streets of New York City, sharing a body with him.
Oh, Mr. Bradshaw, you do too have association with me. Our paths crossed years ago. Reinholts' voice echoed through Richard's head.
So I'm sharing a mind with you, too. No privacy. No thought was unheard by Reinholts.
Try not to look at it that way. Pretend that I'm a little bird sitting on your shoulder, which you talk to.
Richard forgot to try and think his reply, and spoke aloud. 'How are you like a bird?'
'Oh, so you'd rather speak out loud? That's fine. I'm not a bird. I'm your captor.' Reinholts also used Richard's voice, Richard's mouth. A passing man, possibly on his way to work, judging from his suit and tie, glanced over at Richard. 'Mr. Bradshaw, look! We have an audience. Let's go warn him about the invasion, shall we?'
No, I won't do this. This isn't happening. Richard hoped the man would leave.
Reinholts insisted, speaking in a cheerful voice. 'Alright then, I'll do it.' Richard felt his body lock up momentarily, and then all feeling left him. The next thing Richard knew, he was walking towards the man, only he wasn't controlling his body; Reinholts was. He had taken control.
Very good, Mr. Bradshaw. You're learning. Reinholts reached the man. The man tried to look away, but Reinholts side-stepped in front of him.
'Hi there.' Reinholts grinned widely.
'Err, hello.' The man looked uncomfortable.
'What's your name? I'm Richard.'
'I'm, err, Douglas.'
'Douglas? Well, good morning, Douglas. Isn't it a nice day to die?'
'Die? Yes, I suppose so. Err, when you say 'die', what are you inferring?'
'Oh, you know. The apocalypse, the imminent death of every human on earth. You'll all be dying this week, you know.'
'Really? Is there any way to, um, protect ourselves, then?'
'No, you'll all be killed. Or turned into slaves to mold this planet to fit the needs of the Zoc't'vicians. If you're real lucky you might survive an extra two or three weeks before collapsing and ultimately dying of exhaustion. Torture's a possibility too, or dissection. Who knows? Either way, you'll be dead.'
'Right, then. Well, I have to go to work now. Nice chatting with you, bye.' Without saying anything else, the man turned and tried to steadily walk away. His walk turned into a jog, and the man's briefcase came unlatched. He didn't even stop to pick up the papers that scattered out; the man just kept jogging away.
That went well, don't you think, Richard? I think I can call you Richard, don't you? After all, sharing a body is quite intimate, and we should be on a more personal level with each other.
A personal level? Then what's your first name?
You can call me C. Reinholts, if you so desire.
That man will probably tell all of his friends about the lunatic he met who told him about humanity's impending death.
I hate you.
Richard, Mr. Bradshaw, Dr. Bradshaw…You don't even know me. How can you hate me?
I'd like to ask the same to you.
But, Richard, we've been through this, I know you better than you know yourself. Now, think about it. You're the one who appears to be doing all this. You'll be arrested soon, and then the real fun will begin.
What are you talking about?
Absolutely nothing. But I must say, I do enjoy the fact that I can read your mind, while you can't read mine. With that, Reinholts continued to walk down the street. He stopped at the loose sheets of paper that the man had lost from his briefcase. Reinholts bent down, and picked a sheet up. It was a resume.
Look at this, Richard, the man was heading towards Edison University, the same university you were applying for…Well, well, well. The same teaching position you wanted. Seems like you and this man have quite a bit in common. Quite a bit in common, indeed.
Just shut up.
In response, Reinholts chuckled, and resumed walking. Soon, he had reached Edison University. Reinholts entered the office, and walked straight to the reception desk. A woman in her mid-twenties sat behind the desk.
'Hi, welcome to Edison University. What do you need?' The woman wore a fixed smile on her face, stretched to unnatural proportions.
'Well, hot stuff, first you can give me your number. We'll trade.' Reinholts leaned close to the receptionist and winked.
'Eugh, you're like, what, 40? Forget it. What do you want, creep?'
'Very well, let's talk business. You're going to die. You, along with the rest of this pitiful mish-mash you call a society, will all be dead in a week.' Reinholts stared straight into the woman's eyes, without wavering.
'Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to leave. Please leave or I'll be forced to call the cops.' The receptionist looked more than slightly disturbed by Reinholts.
'Oh, you'll call the cops, will you? What have I done wrong? Told the TRUTH?' Reinholts roared the last word, and several people out on the streets looked through the door to see what was going on.
Please, please just turn and walk away. Don't do this to me. I need this job. Please. Richard's mind was reeling. He didn't know what else to do besides plead.
Oh, don't worry, Richard. It will get worse than this. It will get much worse. This is only the beginning of your new, personal hell on earth. Soon, you'll be wishing you were dead. Soon, you'll look back on today and marvel that you had gotten this upset, this emotional, over a meaningless job. Oh yes, you'll beg for me to kill you. But I won't. And do you know why, Richard? Do you know why, Mr. Bradshaw?
You'll do it because you want me to hate myself, my life, and this world.
Excellent guess, Richard. I must say, you were close. You see, I want you to relish dying. While the rest of humanity is being slaughtered, I want you to watch them, and envy the fact that for each and every one of them, it's over. They don't have to suffer anymore. But not you, Mr. Bradshaw. You will. You will watch as every human is crushed beneath the mighty Zoc't'vician race. That, Richard, is why I won't kill you.
'Go ahead, babe, call the police. I dare you. Do it. Call 911. You won't do it. I know you won't do it. Here, let me do it for you.' Reinholts reached forward and grabbed the phone. He dialed 911, and handed the receiver back to the woman, who took it, and slowly raised the phone to her ear.
'Hello, 911? My name's Rachel Ockham. I'm calling to report a…' The receptionist's voice seemed to fade out as Reinholts began to talk to Richard again.
Well, Richard, it seems that you're going to jail now. Now the real fun will begin. Will you spread the word, or shall I do the honors once again?
Fine. I'll help you. Richard could almost feel Reinholts' surprise. Almost. Or maybe he had imagined it.
Yes, Richard, you most certainly imagined it. Before you regain control, I hope you realize that I will still be watching, and if you stop for even just one second; if I feel one weak thought, you will lose your freedom again. Do you understand me?
Alright, yes. I understand you. Let me have control of my body again. Almost instantaneously, Richard felt sensation throughout his body again, as his mind reconnected with the nerves. It was exhilarating, after having absolutely no feeling, just existing. Richard flexed his fingers, and blinked several times, savoring the ability to use muscles again. While Richard was doing all of this, the woman, Rachel Ockham, was on the phone, keeping a close eye on Richard.
This could be his chance. Maybe Richard could run, and Reinholts wouldn't be able to react soon enough. Maybe.
That's it, Richard. I gave you one chance, and you couldn't follow my guidelines. One simple rule, and you violated it. I'm taking control back.
Wait! Richard's mind began to race. I didn't mean to think that. It was involuntary! I'm only human. I may get urges, but that doesn't mean I have to comply to them. That's part of being human, knowing what to listen to and what not to listen to.
It never ceases to humor me how you humans use the phrase, 'Only human.' I believe that says something about your worthiness to survive. You use your very existence as an excuse for your imperfections. I'll let you maintain your freedom, for now, Mr. Bradshaw. But this is your last warning.
How are you separated from the rest of humanity? You're human too. Reinholts didn't reply, and so Richard brought his attention back to the receptionist.
'So, how about that phone number, honey?' Richard grinned widely, and reached across the desk to stroke the girl's hair. He was already going to be arrested as it were, so Richard saw no reason as to why he should contain himself.
The receptionist dropped the phone. 'Get away from me, you pervert!' She reached under the table, and to Richard's surprise, pulled out a small black tube. Mace. Before Richard could react at all, the receptionist had sprayed half the bottle into his eyes.
Immediately, Richard dropped to the floor. No matter how much he attempted to rub the mace out of his eyes, the burning sensation remained. It seemed as though the more Richard rubbed, the worse his eyes burned.
God, help me! Without intending to, Richard was screaming for Reinholts' help.
No, Mr. Bradshaw, I don't think I will. I must say, I do quite enjoy watching, no, feeling you suffer. Richard couldn't reply to this. He was too preoccupied with trying to clean out his eyes. Not even expecting a response, Reinholts continued. Don't worry, Mr. Bradshaw. Soon the authorities will arrive, and then you'll forget all about this. Oh, yes. Then the pain will become worse than you could imagine.
Clawing at his eyes, Richard began to scream in almost unintelligible words. 'Run! Get away! Protect yourselves! The apocalypse is coming! You'll all die! It's the apocalypse!' Richard felt himself fading, for no reason. His vision was blurring, and his body was responding sluggishly. Before everything completely faded, Richard managed to utter one last word.