The Lazarus Effect
Chapter 1: Death is only the Beginning
I traveled a strange road that led to crossroads I'd never seen before. There was the sound of running water, as if a river was near. I followed the sound until I came upon an old bridge built over the river. There was a man sitting against a post, apparently taking a nap.
“You want to see what's on the other side, Jake?” The man spoke, his voice smooth as silk.
I didn't know who he was, but he knew my name. He wore a brown derby that covered his eyes, as he peeked from under the brim. Come to think of it, he was dressed in clothing that was worn by people in the 1800's. Strange indeed.
“Always the right guy, aren't you? Good friend, good lover, and excellent officer, yes?”
I was taken aback by his casual tone. “Do I know you? I don't know what's going on, but have you seen my friend, Cain? He's about my height, blue eyes, short blond hair?”
“No, I'm afraid I haven't, but I'm certain that I will soon enough. Say, how did you find your way here? I don't usually see your type at my front door.”
The man sat up, and gave me a once over, making me feel rather naked. He rose to his feet, and dusted his clothes, and with a big grin pointed across the river.
“You see, those who cross this river never return. They have a quality about them that makes themunique. They lead extraordinary lives, and most leave a legacy after their names. I am most pleased to see them cross this bridge, and get what they deserve. Do you know who they are?”
I stared at the bridge he now blocked. I tried to push past him. He shook a finger at me, and even with all my strength, I could not make him budge.
“Who are you? Why do you prevent me from crossing?!”
“Who I am is not important. What is important, is that you are not like those who cross here. You are not welcomed here, Jake. And for that, I believe someone will owe me a big favor. Let's say, that it's a business, and my business has been booming in the last three hundred years. Tell them that I do not need any help reaping the dead, and if they keep sending me good guys like you down here, half dead, and innocent, I will start tossing them ALL back.”
I felt my lungs burn, and the blue river of cool water changed into a river of lava, spewing heated gas in the voices of the damned. I was sucked into a white light, and the next thing I heard was the panicked sounds of voices all around me.
“He's back! Let's get some lines into him, O Positive and IV STAT!”
I could see the doctors and nurses soaked in blood, and some even cheered, while others cursed.
“We almost lost one of the good ones.” The doctor mumbled, shining his penlight into his eyes.
Jake's thoughts were still on the man waving from the bridge.“Is that what I am, O reaper of death?”
I spent my first night at the hospital in deep sleep. It was decided that a medically induced coma, would allow the swelling to go down in my head. I was shot once in the chest, then once in the head. Ironically, it was the shot in the head that saved me. I was a veteran of Earth's latest conflict, sent home with metal plate grafted onto my skull, and even my lover never knew this.
In the dim lighting of my room, a shadow crept up to my bed and touched my hand. Immediately I opened my eyes, and found myself back at the bridge, staring at the other side.
“You again?” Said the man in the derby hat. “Now if you really want to cross this bridge, I'd be happy to tell you the endless ways you can do this, but I'm afraid you would fail.”
“I...was shot.” I touched my head, and my chest. “Why...?”
“Asar. My name is Asar, at least in this century. It keeps people on their toes. Look, kid, I can tell that you are not all there right now, hell, you were far more clear minded when you were dead.”
“Yeah, you died on the way to the hospital. But the really interesting part was watching you scare the b-jeezus out of the Coroner. I may be seeing him soon enough.”
“Shot?” I had no memory of being shot, not to mention waking up in the morgue.
Asar tapped me on the shoulder. “It has been quite a while since I've had a live one try twice to cross this bridge. When your time finally comes, you will not fear me.”
“Believe me, it's far stranger to me.” I blinked, then looked at Asar. “You said, that you have not seen Cain? If he's not here, then where is he? In Heaven?”
Asar laughed, “No, murderers rarely go to heaven, unless there are special circumstances, like self-defense. Your lover is MIA and he's not the first. And while you and I are on the same plane at the moment, I want to expand on what I told you before. The number of missing off the Scrolls of the Dead has increased in the past centuries, and you are the perfect man for the job.”
“Job? What sort of job?”
“I need one with your experience to direct these pain in the ass souls to this bridge.”
I began to laugh.
Asar began to tap his foot. This was not what the Lord of the Dead was expecting.
“Forgive me, but I believe you have the wrong man. For one thing, a soul, or ghost, cannot be seen with the human eye. And second, if I was to even consider this job, how the hell am I supposed to do this?”
“Ah, I see. You think the old goat has lost his mind? Not at all. If you can see me, then you can see them. Wrangling them and sending them to me, is where you will be perfect. But I sense you're about to be awakened..”
“Wait! How will I..?”
Asar began to fade, as I was roused by the sound of a familiar voice. It was my partner, Detective Carlos Santiago.
“Whoa, my friend! Take it easy, nice and slow.” Carlos held me back from falling out of my bed. “I see I've arrived just in time, who were you chasing, some perp?”
“Carlos. Have you forgotten your partner? Man, I hope you didn't lose any brain cells with that shot to the head. If you did, we're both screwed, you're the brains of the department.” Carlos laughed.
“Water..please.” I motioned to the tray table next to me. “I was dreaming...that's all, Santiago.”
Carlos handed me a glass of water with a straw.
“Where were you at, partner?” Carlos looked into Jake's eyes which darted around the room.
“Thank you. I was having a strange dream, and well, I feel as if I've been asleep forever.” I tried to move, but I was hooked up with many sensors and all of them were going off. Of course this brought the nurse.
“Detective Santiago, I'd appreciate if you would for once, obey hospital regulations and visit during visiting hours! Mr. Thomas requires peace and quiet.”
Carlos made a face. “Sorry, Alice.” He winked at the middle-aged nurse, “I was just on my way home from work, and wanted to see if Jake had awakened yet.”
“Well, he's awake now.” She glared at him. “With all these alarms going off, you're waking the whole ward!”
“It's alright, nurse...Alice was it? Detective Santiago actually just saved me from falling out of bed.” I said as she tucked me in. Someone entered the room, a doctor by the looks of it.
“Ah, so it was you who lit up the board. I'm glad to see you're awake, you sleep like the dead. My name is Dr. Kendall. I am the Chief Neurosurgeon who operated on you after you were resuscitated. I was shocked to see the dent on the metal plate in your head. This actually prevented the bullet from killing you. Not that being shot to your chest wasn't enough to kill you. Let's take a look at you, how do you feel?”
No wonder my head was still ringing, as the pen light was once again in my eyes. I felt the doctor's cold hands on my neck as he began to examine my collarbones and the wound on my chest. There was a chill in the air, and I trembled. I looked over at Santiago, noticing movement behind him.
“H-How long was I out?” I winced, as the doctor looked under the bandages on my chest.
“You were placed in an medically-induced coma, Jake. It was necessary, due to the swelling in your brain. It surprised everyone that you had a metal plate in your skull. It was excellent work, by the way.”
“How long?” I looked at Santiago, who shook his head.
“You've been asleep for nearly a week. Can you tell me, what is the last thing you remember?” Kendall once again examined my eyes.
“I remember going on a walk with my friend, Cain...” I looked at Santiago. “Oh my God! Cain! Is he alright?!” I could feel my eyes begin to fill with tears, “I couldn't find him, I've been looking for him..”
“Looking for him where?” Santiago said rather sarcastically, “Jake, Cain is dead.”
“Detective!” Dr. Kendall protested, “A little more tact on your part, perhaps?”
No. That wasn't right. Not Cain! Then
something caught my attention behind the three men, as if the shadows seemed to move on their own.
“Dead? How? When?!” I looked down at my hands, “W-We were walking, and...and...”
“Yes, my friend, he shot you...and now he's missing,” The voice of Asar whispered from the corner.
Santiago looked at the doctor and nurse and gave them a nod. He sat next to me and looked me in the eyes. This was the part of the job all officers despised, informing a person that their loved one was dead. I know that look. I've worn it myself a thousand times.
“Jake, Cain shot you, and then committed suicide.”
Chapter 2: Day of Remembrance
In all my years of service, I never imagined myself laying on a slab being poked on, while the Coroner spoke over my body. It was a strange experience to say the least. His voice seemed far away, yet I slowly was able to make out what he was saying.
“September eighteenth, 2312, Case number 777-666, is a twenty-nine-year-old Caucasian male, who was the apparent victim of a murder-suicide. Found by the side of a road, Detective Jake Thomas was pronounced dead by the On Duty Field Coroner, and taken to the underground morgue beneath the Los Angeles International Police Department.”
I slowly opened my eyes and moaned. Doctor Paul Peterson nearly jumped out of his skin, it sounded like he hit something.
“Jake?! Jake, hang in there! Oh God, you're bleeding! How is this possible? How can you be alive?! Dear God in heaven, where the hell is the team?!”
Paul placed his hands on the wounds on my head, and chest. I heard the team running down the halls.
“It's Jake! Jake is alive!” That was Santiago's voice.
“How could there be such a mistake?” A different voice said. “There was no pulse, no heartbeat, and he was not breathing....his liver was cold. Doc, his eyes were fixed and dilated!”
“Forget that Ron, let's get him to the hospital, is the shuttle ready?!” Dr. Paul yelled out the door.
“E.T.A. three minutes!” That was Lieutenant Garrett. “Is he really alive?”
“It appears as though Jake has unfinished business in our world, Lieutenant.” Dr. Paul breathed hard, as he and the medics had me ready to go. “Let's move out!”
It was the beginning of a new century, 2312. The end never came on that cold December day in 2012, and many a star gazer and theologian stood side by side, waiting to see who was going to be right. If the stargazers and the Mayans were correct, that night they would all go out with a bang. Whereas, if the theologians were correct, the heavens were going to open up and a great tide of humanity was about to vanish in the rapture that would take them all to heaven. This always made me laugh, thinking that one little flying saucer would have ruined everyone's day. Well, perhaps not for the stargazers.
My recovery was slow, and laying around staring at the ceiling tiles was just not for me. It gave me too much time to think. I did not take the news about Cain very well, and this only made me work that much harder to get out of the hospital. Sitting in a psychiatrist's office for hours of counseling twice a week, sometimes made me wish that the metal plate in my head was capable of tuning him out. I found it amusing to tell him my thoughts about the end that never came back in 2012. The shrink didn't find that as funny as I did. But it always lead up to the same two questions.
“Why don't you tell me about your work, Jake?”
“I investigate old cold cases.” I spoke while taking a drag from my cigarette. “You know this already.”
“True, but how do you feel about going back, in light of what happened?” The shrink raised his eyes over his notepad.
“We're done here.” I crushed my cigarette in his ashtray and left. It was always the same. Talking about Cain was still a sore spot.
As I recovered, I dove back into my work, because it was all I had. Cain was gone, and all he left me were more questions.
December 21, 2312. Three months later...
I sat in a row of seats, decked out in my dress blues among a sea of spectators. The man giving the speech dabbed his forehead with a handkerchief.
“Today, we have gathered from every source of people, and every race under the sun. Today is the wake up call we all prayed to get. A sharp contrast to the one we feared on days, when our friends, family, and loved ones, were late getting home. When the wicked were taking lives, or when the unconscionable touched our souls. We've come together this day, to bring back the lost, and lay them to rest for all time in Heaven, and send the evil that walks the Earth through the gates of Hell for eternity. For those of us who believe in these realms, it is a badge of faith we wear on our chest. For those, who do not, it is for the pleasure of knowing that the lost were never forgotten. So, as we come together today, on this Day of Remembrance, we ask the powers that be, whether it be Almighty God, or the god of your own choosing, to bless our newest ally in the war against crime. We say a grateful Amen, and let it be so.”
I looked around as the great crowds raised their heads, while others raised their arms to the heavens, as a loud Amen was spoken before the roar of applause filled the venue. On the other hand, there was a group of men sitting in the front row with solemn expressions on their faces. Weathered, disciplined, and eager to be anywhere else but in those seats. At least that is how it appeared to me. I, on the other hand was eager to see this day finally come.
“Damn, that man can sure rile up the masses!” Lieutenant Garrett glared at the podium, where Chaplain Blackcoat stood waving and smiling at the audience. The middle-aged Head of the new N.D.E.D. spoke under his breath, which made us all laugh from our seats.
We were listening to the Lieutenant's minor rant through our embedded hearing software. All active duty officers who made Detective status were fitted with the high-tech software. Gone were the days of ear pieces, plugs and hard-wired devices, as each new century brought us newer tools in the war against crime. Today was one of those days.
“I still think it's ironic,” Carlos said rather loudly, as he got closer to me.
“What's that?” I waved him away. “No need to shout man, you're loud enough in my head as it is! And you had that garlic crap for lunch again?!” I made a face as the pungent smell of garlic hit my nose.
Carlos laughed, “Hey, my Madre makes the best angel hair pasta in the world, don't hate genius!” Carlos punched me in the arm.”
“So you were saying?” I rubbed my arm.
“Oh, yeah, the irony that our resident man of the cloth is named, Joe Blackcoat. You know, like the old days when people still rode in horse buggies.”
“Holy Joes, Blackcoats, and Devil-Dodgers.” Lieutenant Garrett rolled his eyes. “Yes, he truly fits the mold.”
We all nodded as Chief Patrick O’Brien rose and walked to the podium. He looked down and gave us a pointed look. It was his turn to speak, and if there was one thing he hated, it was speaking in public.
“If someone had told me, that our cold case vaults would someday be empty, I'd say they were crazy. Moreover, to add that they would become a thing of the past, I'd say they were drunk and buy them one for the road. But as we see before us, this magnificent building we call our home away from home, we can look forward to making that crazy drunk's words a reality. The Janus Corporation is about to unveil their latest tool, as they assist the men in blue, to uphold the law.”
A second round of applause roared, as Chief O'Brien shook the hand of Janus CEO, Raymond Lemoine and returned to his seat. He was a rather tall man, with long dark hair tied back and stunning sapphire eyes. I thought his name was ironic. Monk, advice protector, a fitting name for one who collects information.
“Thank you, Chief O'Brien,” Raymond spoke into the microphone. “The Janus Corporation is founded on the ancient form of gathering information, and recording it. A Scribe would best fit our founding father's intent, now made a reality in the twenty-fourth century. Our foundation is based on the ancient description of the Roman god, Janus, that is identified with doors, gates, and all beginnings, depicted with two opposite faces. Our mission statement reads:
'We believe everything on earth has a beginning and an end. Thus, there is a need to have all knowledge researched, categorized, and depicted in both the positive and negative light it brings. In order that mankind may walk the path of righteousness.'”
I had that mission statement drummed in my head by Mr. Lemoine, who continued to talk. The images of Janus disappeared into a slide show of their new product of which I've had the privilege of assisting in developing.
“Janus is the unlocking and opening of doors to the future, based on knowledge gathered since time in memorial. What does this mean to the men and women who defend our world? Simply put, knowledge is justice. What once took months, years, and sometimes an eternity to prove or prosecute, will become a thing of the past.
“We have developed a new age infrastructure for security, consisting of a super computer think tank. It has every crime ever recorded entered in its data banks. It does not matter the type of crime, or the severity. It is a means in which the police can utilize every minute of every day in a more efficient way, wasting not a moment that could otherwise be used to save lives.
“This super computer, S.O.U.L. stands for Statute Of Universal Limitations, created by our Criminal Division, which houses Earth's vast wealth of knowledge in every discipline. For the Universal Justice System, S.O.U.L. meant that Lady Justice would remain blind, and this knowledge would make the world a safer place.”
Mr. Lemoine's long winded speech was enough to put anyone to sleep. But not for me, I was very interested in what he had to say. I, after all, helped create S.O.U.L.
I was a part of an extraordinary project, because this was not an ordinary Tricentennial, this was something altogether different. At the time of my incident, we were celebrating three hundred years since my particular section started to handle the Cold Case Department. To many, a Cold Case was another word for the forgotten. Many imagine boxes and files with little or no leads, collecting dust in the basement. They wouldn't be wrong, if not for the fact that after three hundred years, something good was about to happen. I just didn't know it at the time.
It all stemmed from one case dubbed, 'The Lazarus Effect,' in which the survivor of a murder-suicide reported having a near-death experience after being diagnosed clinically dead. He claimed he'd been thrown out of hell, for being a preemie, and was subsequently institutionalized after numerous claims that he was being haunted by the ghost of his late lover.
His dead body was found face down in his bathroom stall, drowned. Of course, it was impossible to drown on your own, and tests proved he was not sedated. No drugs were found in the man's system, and there were no injuries to his body. The only thing found was a message written in the man's own writing:
“Death is only the beginning.”
Of course, back then, the supernatural was never legally considered a crime. Who could prove it? I often thought about that, considering my own story.