The Survivor
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In the darkest levels of an unnamed facility in the middle of the Gobi desert, there was a basement untouched by everybody else, containing the last hope of a forgotten ambition, and that hope was cocooned within a frozen sarcophagus, awaiting its re-release into the world.

If we were to open the sarcophagus today, we'd find it empty, for the being that was previously asleep inside it was now on its way to the staircase, buck-naked and still shivering from the cryonic containment unit and not minorly angry that nobody had bothered to store a set of clothes when he was first interred.

He did get a shotgun, however, and he used that to blast the door away after less violent attempts at exit were attempted.

The man took his first step forward into the light of the underground bunker and appreciated smelling the musty pine scent he was familiar with before his long sleep. Thereafter he caught the scent of fire, and the sound of an alarm from the main corridor. The sound of the alarm was peculiar in that it was like a long, drawn-out low braying, like its batteries were running out of power.

He walked out of the forgotten hallway and found the warm, orange glow of the uncontrolled fire reflecting off the eggshell walls more remarkable to his right. Out there, he could now see that something was on fire.

Now, the man, which was still naked, slowly walked towards the burning pile. On the way he found a labcoat on top of a vending machine. Feeling very warm, and also feeling the circulation return to his more delicate member, he thoughtlessly took it and wore it. There was no nametag, but by wearing it he felt that it once belonged to someone important. Perhaps because he was wearing it now he'd be important, too. Which he was!

He realized he couldn't remember anything and that he needed to get the information to know what he was supposed to do. However, there was nobody around, and without someone to help him, he fancied himself dying there alone, unless he could get out of there and emerge to the surface level.

Frantically, he began running, taking lefts and rights at random, hoping that chance would guide him to a staircase, escalator, or elevator upwards. It took him forty-five minutes of his own reckoning to rightly feel that his method of escape was inefficient; for another forty-five or fifty minutes he tried finding his egress by methodically exploring the layout of the underground level, until he was too tired to continue and collapsed outside a locked room that was the office of Mr. 'Gone Fishing.'

It was very easy for him to slide into despair at that point, for the man was not only naked, but hungry and thirsty, too. Moreover, he recalled that he was an addict to certain drugs, and the absence of his favorite substances in his system was leading to withdrawal. He began moaning. Then, he took a nap.

When he opened his eyes, the man closed his eyes. Dimly registering that this was abnormal, he then found out that he was someplace atop his actual, physical body, and that he was looking down at himself, which alone would be a notable experience, which was compounded by the realization that his physical form may be dying. His skin was very pale and his mouth was beginning to foam around the edges.

In panic, he tried to enter his body again, in a process that he didn't know how. Unlike in the cartoons, his "ghost" could not "re-enter" his body by "swimming" into it. He was practically hitting his body with his head back and forth; from what he was seeing, that was like a camera spastically zooming in and out.

Startled though he may have been, after a few moments of staring at his motionless body, he had accepted the fact that he had just died.

Very quickly, too, though, the ghost of the man realized that his immaterial form may phase through solid matter, so he did.

He emerged onto the surface of the world in a large, mostly empty work area. There was nobody around, and apart from the cubicles which were as silent as the dead, there was little to be interested in. He seemed to have awakened to an abandoned era.

His "ghost" lingered there for a minute until he could "hear" the undoubtable sound of someone walking nearby. As a force of habit, he quickly moved behind a cabinet, crouching (or crumpling, in his new ghost form). He waited for the source of the footsteps to enter his field of vision, hoping that he would somehow help him regain his memory.

What a terrible predicament, however! He was dead! The memories physically stored in his brain were now unaccessible and without his brain he could not regain his lost data at all. Also, he was wondering why he could still think, feel, and retain his personality despite being bodiless, and all of the other drivel that he recalled about the soul, the consciousness, and life after death. There was no room for thinking of those in his line of work.

A figure made its way past his position, and the ghost of the man saw the ordinary-looking person enter the second cubicle to the right. Feeling despondent, and also curious, he went out of his hiding place and entered the cubicle, though not before "swimming" up to the ceiling to see who was inside the other cubicles. Each - empty.

His curiosity led him to examine the person - possibly a reseaercher - more closely. He was, again, an ordinary-looking man with brown hair and Canuckish features, possibly in the late-twenties. He had neat hair, an average frame, and brown shoes. His countenance was jovial and gave the impression of a very carefree, and very gormless, personality.

Something stirred in the ghost-man's equivalent of a brain. Almost impulsively, his spiritual form dashed towards the physical man like trying to phase through solid matter, except that he did not find himself at the other end of the body. Rather, he (the ghost-man) discovered that he was facing someplace else when he had just been facing the man a second ago. He tried "swimming" again, but fell out of the seat.

The next few moments went by in a blur, and could be described in this aptly chaotic manner: He had possessed the man, and was now the pilot of his physical body. He jerked forward, hitting the bridge of his nose on the edge of the desk and feeling pain very sharply. He had a fit of epileptic movements, evident from the spastic shaking of his eyes and the fall of his chair and several writing implements from his table. He heard, or swore to have heard, clicking in his (new) brain, followed by a sensation of "twitching neurons" and "a war of conflicting electric potential" in his synapses. He found himself face-to-face with the man, screaming at him, only for the emotion to disappear and be replaced by an expression he could recognize himself with. He had killed the man, and the face he had just seen was his soul being supplanted with his own.

And as suddenly as he hijacked the body of the researcher, he found himself back on the seat, breathing heavily. The weight of the lungs were different than that in his original body.

He took many minutes to reclaim his bearings, which were shaken very much by this new possession, and he struggled to think with his own thoughts, as some were still frozen in the brain from the administration of its previous owner. He thought of a cat, an address, porn, and several other things he had never thought of. The address was for the researcher's apartment. Without a memory of the purpose of the building, there might probably be a clue found in the researcher's belongings, if he and they worked for the same thing.

He stood up, walking slowly, and found nobody else on his way to the exit, which was barred by a long wooden plank, which he promptly removed. Only until he started to descend the stairway off the building did he realize that he was in the middle of nowhere in a desert. Parched, traumatized, and tired, the man collapsed, his new body tumbling the rest of the steps down, until the feeling of hot sand on his cheek bade him goodbye from the conscious world for a while.

(CONTINUED IN Spidermen, The Reanimated Series)

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