Daniel the Dead had removed his sleep long ago, but he could still dream — though, in his case, it was more like being attacked by dreams. His dreams were hazy moods, vestigial mental acrobatics he was no longer capable of. He was assaulted by emotions. He was, to say, experiencing a subconscious guerilla war of feelings.
He’d isolated his medial temporal lobes (as he was installing new ones) and cut away at his amygdala time and time again, but he could not escape these dreams of panic and unthinkable grief.
It bothered him. And more to the point, it bothered him that it bothered him.
Daniel the Dead realized he’d been flexing his hands, opened and closed, again and again. Recently he had tried to graft himself to have four arms, but they other two arms simply wouldn’t work, they hung there uselessly, and he thought of erectile dysfunction, now it was arm dysfunction, and he laughed and laughed and ripped them off. Why not?
It didn’t hurt.
He’d tried putting in a third leg (besides the one god gave him, bless ya, oh lord we do give thanks) but that didn’t work either. He was starting to run out of improvements. If he got any faster and stronger he wouldn’t be able to move without darting across the room or do the delicate microsurgery he thrived on. Just the other day, he’d been extracting a living fuckclone’s eye, as neat as could please, and he moved the scalpel a bit, just a fraction of a microbe over, and it gashed right into the fuckclone’s eye socket and into the brain beyond and the fuckclone had begun to scream the world oracle over and over again, gibbering and senseless, the scalpel sticking out of his eye like a fence post, before Daniel the Dead gently snapped his neck.
Just the other day.
Daniel2 knocked on the door frame. “You rang?” He stood there, light tan blazer over an unbuttoned blue shirt. Daniel the Dead didn’t have to turn around to know who it was. Daniel2 arrived with an aura of complex, uninhibited hermaphroditicism, a creature between genders, a rebus, a freak, a mutie in a circus of psychotics. Brought to life by the alchemy of a mad machine and a madder scientist.
And damned if Daniel2 didn’t look good.
“Have you considered my offer?” Daniel the Dead said, not looking at himself, “Our mutually beneficial arrangement.”
“If you’re talking about how you want to dissect me while I’m still alive,” Daniel2 scowled, “then I’m going to pass.”
“It’s not a dissection. It’s an open analysis.” Daniel the Dead spun on his chair. Daniel2 stepped back, hand rising to his mouth. He’d never seen Daniel the Dead without his bandages.
Above his neck, a crusting, suppurating red fracture. It was implanted with several clicking tiny mouths over the largest, tooth-choked maw. Two eyes swam in a pulsing brain, and blue, livid nerves crawled everywhere. Yet it still suffered a dreadful absence — it wasn’t a face, just a placeholder, a spec house without a roof, something lonely and terrible and not alive at all.
“C’mon, sweetheart,” Daniel the Dead said, and the tiny mouths embedded in the muscle beneath the exposed brain whispered sweetheart in their invisible voices, “it’s for science. For the integration. Telepathy brings us closer together. The joining of the flesh will bring us closer still.”
Daniel the Dead stood up, and his body of open wounds and grinning red savagery flashed behind his open shirt.
“I know what joining of the flesh means, motherfucker,” Daniel2 replied, raising his hands in a fighting stance.
Daniel the Dead smiled, with his terrible jaw full of teeth, and it seemed every open wound on his body smiled with him.
“It means I eat you alive,” he said, thoughtfully, “It means we are all Daniel, and we are all one, and you will feed me and become me and feel me.”
His giant enhanced legs slammed him down, and his foot, clawed and rotting, was on his neck. Daniel2 stared up at this freak colossus, this horror that he, they, had become. Daniel the Dead, abomination. He leaned over himself, his spines curving, his brown eyes shifting loosely. They had no sockets to anchor them. They stared into Daniel2’s green eyes, and he waggled his tongue at himself, leering.
“Stop it,” Daniel said.
They both looked up at that, but he wasn’t there.
Daniel2 shoved Daniel the Dead’s foot off him, and stood back up, brushing himself off. They looked at each other again, and Daniel2 opened his mouth, and closed it, turned around, and left the room. Daniel the Dead walked back over to his table, and picked up a scalpel. He stared at it, bleakly, for a couple seconds, and then jabbed it into his arm, hard.
There just wasn’t anything to say.