Do not wander into his domain, for you will come out changed. Different. Not who you were, with no hope of getting back to before. Sympathy is foreign, and you will receive none.
Be careful when wandering through his lab, little one. You may not come out at all.
You meet a man on a street, in a city. Nondescript- he looks like any other man, any other college kid. But you’re drawn to him. His glasses glow faintly in the dim evening light as he stares motionlessly at a patch of flowers at the concrete, the orange blooms beside a small engraved rock. The building it’s before is scheduled for demolition- you walk past it every day. In fact, you know it should have been demolished years ago. It’s strange.
"Any particular interest, in this building?"
"Used to live here."
He can’t possibly be that old.
He nods. “Cellar’s still got great structure. Left some things behind there.”
You give a slow, responding ‘ohhh’.
He kneels, rolling rocks in his palm, and sets them apon the flowers, gently touching the engraved rock. There’s a pervading scent from him- you can’t place it.
"Frankincense and myrrh."
It stirs something in your memory. “For the dead?”
"The Egyptians would wrap their mummies in soaked linens. It is to respect the dead- and keep their bodies fresh."
He stands, a smile curving over his lips.
"Tell me your name."
You can’t remember. That’s…very strange, right?
"What is your number?"
It comes out naturally, and your voice sounds so foreign to you. Robotic, tired, emotionless.
"And how are you doing today?"
"I’m doing very well. I’m tired, though."
He places a hand on your shoulder, and you lean into the touch. It’s such a gentle touch, and it’s confusing to you. How long has it been?
"You may sleep now."
Your eyes close, and you know the world’s fading around you, and as you fade away- you smell frankincense and myrrh, and in some small part of your brain, the deep recess where you’d blocked away all the bad in the world-
You know the scents are to respect you. Because you’re dead.
And it feels ok.
DRX stands from the monitor, raising his eyebrows slowly. His head glances back to lifeless girl on the table, a scowl setting in. She’d been useless- too willing to die, too willing to accept the fantasy of being in a normal life. It wasn’t what he needed from these experiments.
He turns back to his monitor and hooks up, scrolling through notes and codes to find the simulation’s error- he needed no peaceful death, after all. He focuses, and there’s a whirring click at his back as claws protrude through the holes in his sweatshirt’s back, elegant and fluid, as if the metal turned to liquid. They gather the girl in their grasp, looping her waist and arms. She’s given a shake- and no heartbeat flashes in his glasses. Dead. Lot of good she was, he notes sarcastically. The table flips up on command, a water system rinsing away whatever indecent traces her skin had left on his working surfaces, and she’s tossed into the chute with the rest of the trash to be recycled, lifts his glasses, stare at the white room.
It smells of the dead. He’s stopped noticing.
Frankincense and myrrh. To preserve the dead.