Authors: Lewis E. Aleman
Tags: #Thrillers, #Science Fiction, #Fiction, #Action & Adventure, #General
Published by Megalodon Entertainment, LLC. (USA)
First Printing: December 2009
Copyright © 2009 Lewis Aleman. All rights reserved.
All rights reserved under the International and Pan-American Copyright conventions. No part of this publication may be reproduced, or transmitted by any means in any form (electronic, photocopying, mechanical, recording, or any other method), without the specific written permission of the author. Please, direct questions to [email protected].
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is a work of fiction; all of its characters are inventions of the author. Any resemblance to the living or the dead is entirely coincidental.
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“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."
“What is apparent is not always certain, and what is possible is not always apparent.”
has watched the whole thing unfold since the media were leaked the information. Sensationalism has exploded out of all media outlets, interviewing everyone from Rhonda’s former costars to childhood friends and expert plastic surgeons. The same pictures are recycled every half an hour with minor updates, eclipsing all other news of national and world significance.
The television is a flickering tormentor, basting him in a painful glow like a live bird in an oven. It slides over him, slowly burning up all of the fluid of life left inside.
He has remained in shock, having trouble believing that this would be happening to her. For nearly his whole life, he had known that Rhonda and he were supposed to be together. Somehow with her face gone now, the dream has floated away from him.
When he was in college, he imagined they would meet when he moved out to L.A. He’d be a famous television writer, and they>d be at the same party. He would know what to say that none of the others could imagine. He would know the one thing that would make her cling to him as if all of her future happiness were within his mind.
But, time passed.
Then he imagined he’d meet her in his thirties. By that time, she’d be bound to be divorced, and he could make her believe that she could love again. He’d be the only one with the right words.
The next decade crashed quickly, just like most of his experiments had, taking his credibility along with them. That’s when the solution presented itself. That’s when his hope was rekindled. That’s when people stopped calling him eccentric, and that’s when they began to look sad whenever mentioning his name.
Her life has been documented on his walls. Pictures and articles have formed a homogenous collage tinted with loneliness. Even in his worst mental trials, he could recall her birthday, her most embarrassing moment, her first acting job, and where she met her first husband.
Surprisingly, Chester never tried to contact her; he never wanted to be one of those crazy fans that only made her shake her head and want to hire more security. He wanted his opportunity to be untainted without a pathetic, fanatic past. The only letter he ever sent her was an anonymous one following the death of her son. He wrote the kindest words he could envision, but he didn’t want to attach his name to them. Not until she knew him for real. Not until she met him the right way.
So, he waited.
Dreams turned to the vision of spending their middle aged and retired years together. He knew her everyday activities; he knew they would get along well. His work could be ignored if it were for her. And, her company would be enough to entertain him. It would be a victory over the last two decades of his life. A triumph over every harsh word that had been thrust upon him.
But, all of the dreams of being with her in the future have crumbled away with today’s unusual surgery.
Now, he knows he has to complete his project. The one that placed him in a straight jacket for several years of his life. The one that estranged his own mother from him. He let it go for himself. Now, he’ll pick it back up for her. God help us all.
Chester knew how to beat the paradox all along. The never-ending war of the physicists debating over defying the laws of conservation of matter, the arguments of the philosophers worrying about losing continuity, and the theologians’ warnings of treading on God’s domain; he knew he was the one to prove them wrong.
He knew it long ago, since the first truly lonely day, and he knows it still.
The only paradox that he cannot overcome is that, if he succeeds completely, no one will ever know he has done it. His name will never be in history books. His work will never be studied by those to come. But, right now he doesn’t care about posterity or proving to the harsh world that he is indeed genius.
Like his hero, Nikola Tesla, his key work will be hidden from the masses and repeated by none. Perhaps it’s best that no one can duplicate his hazardous feat. But polar to his role model, he chooses to sacrifice his work for love.
The last few days have been a flicker of things that he has never wanted to see. Dreams being defiled rips at a person’s fragile inner fabric, but it also frees that person to act boldly and unfettered by the fear of having something to lose.
The media has gorged itself until bloated on the story of a downtrodden starlet whose life has become so grim as to sell her own face to sustain herself. The same images of the ordeal have been regurgitated and reconsumed in a vicious cycle. One would blame the networks, but if the ratings didn’t support the inordinate coverage, they would move on to another story.
The first picture of the actress, with the highest bidder’s face attached where her famous countenance used to reside, was treated with the importance of the moon landing or a worldwide armistice. It almost made him laugh in the middle of his preparations when it was announced that the picture was a forgery. The security at the French hospital had made several dozen arrests of members of the press trying to catch her in their lenses. Thankfully, no one breached her room as she recovered.
The first legitimate images came from the official press conference of Chrétien DeVeaux, the winning bidder of Rhonda’s famous face. It happened merely three days after the surgery and against the surgeon’s recommendations.
Mrs. DeVeaux still didn’t have control of her newly-purchased face. She did none of the talking, but just stood there modeling the famous visage she had bought, trying to keep her mouth closed and free of drooling while her spokesperson fielded the barrage of questions. The drool proved to be unstoppable but was restricted to a skinny, shiny stream down the left corner of her lips.
Sometimes that which one wants to see least is the hardest from which to look away. It was a meek moment thrust into audacious light when Rhonda Romero, the fallen star and facial donor, exited the hospital two days later. The clicking, the flashing, the calamity of it all: it was both a sad intrusion and a powerfully obscure perversity.
The only one guiding Rhonda on her way out was her mother, who loudly instructed to the gaggle of sensationalists that her daughter could not speak due to the surgery. It did nothing to stop the questions directed specifically to Rhonda. The mother had to repeatedly push away microphones that were dangerously close to her daughter’s newly swapped face.
Harvey Price, her only agent over her whole career, one whom she had not heard from in over ten years and who rarely returned her calls for much of the two years before that, tried with mixed success to get the reporters’ attention.
persistently stayed close to the scene as soon as he heard of the unbelievable transaction involving his old client on the news. He pleaded with both her and her mother to set up a big press conference whenever they would listen to him. He was certain she could at least turn this thing into landing a few movie roles. He stated that they needed to cash in on the public’s renewed fascination with her—now that she’d sold her face, she needed to sell herself too while there were still buyers.
At this, Rhonda’s eyes clenched tightly, an old woman’s voice raised in protest, and a button was slammed down for the nurse. Morphine slightly helped half of her pain.
As she writhed in the bed and the agent was retreating to the hallway without a trace of regret on his expensively-manicured brow, her thoughts wondered what life may have been like if either her or her mother were better at running off dirtbags.
But, then again, Rhonda knew that if her mother had that strength, she would never have been born.
Her exit from the hospital was earlier today, capping the end of Chester’s tolerance for watching the story being commented upon by well-spoken, polished vultures who gleefully raped that which was sacred to him.
The transplant was deemed a success by the morbidly curious eyes of the world. Few cried out in protest of breaking a natural boundary, but the voices of those that did protest were not granted much airtime, being in the group that is typically ignored and ridiculed by those who make decisions.
But, his eyes cry with the persistence of a cracked dam. Seeing the face he has cherished for decades from afar attached to a foreign landscape of bones and artificial cheek implants, it is a if someone has made a ghastly marionette out of his love’s corpse, and the world snickers as it dangles and bounces in its grotesque dance.
It is the end for him. He doesn’t want her now, and she has been all that he has desired.
One might deem him shallow—a worshiper of her body only. But, that is not it. He would still love her if she had met any manner of horrible accident. Disfigured, he would love her still. Brain damaged, he would love. But, this is self-mutilation. It is the highest form of prostitution, and it touches the part of her that he has always deemed to be untouchable. She has willfully sold that which represents herself and that which she could offer to him. He could’ve loved a reconstructed face if she were injured, even a transplanted one, but he can’t imagine kissing another woman’s face that Rhonda was paid to take in exchange for her own.
Even if he could grow to love her new face, this self-inflicted tragedy has to have taken its toll on her, scarring the part of her that could make her love again. He owes it to her to save her from it all, not just to help her deal with it.
If his hope of being with her now is thwarted beyond repair, why does he continue to toil? He reasons that, if he can’t have her in the present, he’ll look to the past.
Refusing to stop until he has either broken an unnatural boundary or his mind, he toils.