Daniel R.

The Final Experiment

Five souls, gathered from different times, and different spaces. Collected without their knowledge to participate in the most important experiment since the creation of Earth, the Final Experiment. A Roman, Barbarian, Knight, Highlander, and Future-man find themselves in an open field in front of a great castle. A disembodied voice speaks down upon them. It informs them of their task.

“You do not know me, and you do not know each other, but I know all of you very well. You were all chosen to perform the task set out for you. Behold the grand castle before you. Within the great edifice is the door to your salvation. Keep hope my friends, your success lies upon it. Remember, I shall be watching you.”

The five characters gazed around, taking in their surroundings.

Knight declares, “But of course! This is Avalon, and we are in search of the Holy Grail!”

To which Barbarian responds, “No, fool! This is another quest for me! After this quest lies Valhalla! You are just obstacles in my path.”

Highlander interrupts dourly, “Why must we fight when we are all doomed? I can see the end of our quest, it only ends with our demise, there is no Grail or Valhalla in this cursed land.”

Future-man then brings himself to attention. “Of course you primitive men can't comprehend that this is merely a simulation, a virtual world meant to test my wit.”

Roman raises his voice, “At the end of our quest lies none of those; Elysium is waiting behind the towering walls of the castle for me. We will never reach our goal by arguing. We must push forward. Let us begin our quest and discover what fate awaits us!”

“As you now enter the great castle, beware the spirits which haunt the halls. The specters of this realm become of the flesh once again. Be brave, have hope, and you shall prevail.”

Barbarian is the first to cry out “Stand aside, for I shall slay these demons with ax in hand!”

“It is I who shall vanquish these foul beasts, simple barbarian. Step away that my sword does not accidentally cross your throat,” responds Knight menacingly.

Roman interrupts their quarreling, saying,“Brother Knight, brother Barbarian, we must not fight amongst ourselves! We must work together to vanquish the enemy. Side by side, ax by sword, we must march together through these legions of the damned.”

Future-man adds, “He's right. In this virtual world, our wits and co-operation are what will get us out, not our single-minded pride and stubbornness.”

Highlander speaks up dishearteningly, “Why must we fight our way through the hundreds of spirits before us? There is no hope that we will survive, be this world real or fantasy...”

“Good, my friends, good! As you have now come thus far, it has come time for you to make a decision. One of you must part from your ranks and leave the mortal world of the flesh. It is all of you who must make the final choice! Be swift! The end to your quest lies near!”

Barbarian is again the first to speak. “Let it be known that I won't be the one to die here, honor and glory rest upon my name! What about the morbid one, the one who always speaks of our end?”

“Don't speak to me of honor and glory. I've fought and wounded on the side of right. Your honor and glory are nothing more than a huge ego. Nothing more than stories lie upon your name,” retorts Highlander.

“Whining fools! Your pride clouds your judgment! Although I despise admitting it, Barbarian is right. This Highlander has been nothing but a burden since the beginning of our quest.” said Roman.

“Enough of this childish bickering! It is time that we move on. The faster we reach our goal, the faster we can leave this virtual world.”

Highlander gives in sullenly. “Alas, I know when I'm beat. I sacrifice myself that you all may go on. I shall see you in the afterlife. Some of you, I imagine, earlier than others.”

“My friends, now that you have made a great sacrifice, the end of your quest is here. Your final task is to pass through the correct door. Behold before you two doors, one of wood, the other gold. Behind one lies the end of your quest, behind the other, Oblivion. A proud and brave soul makes the first choice. Let collective wisdom guide your decision.”

“I can finally lay down my ax as I march through the gates to Valhalla. The first door, plain and old, cries out disgrace and shame. The golden door... Yes! It cries out my noble name. It is through its golden arches that I shall complete my quest,” says Barbarian boldly, as he marches through the golden door. “Damn! What evil place can this be? Why are the heavens so black? Time is crashing down upon me, like a big blanket of death. This can't be a dream, I must be awake for when the Valkyries take me to Odin's side!”

Knight is the first to speak. “We have been saved, our journey is now over. The barbarian’s pride led him to his doom, and led us to our destiny. Come, my friends! Our fate lies behind the wooden door!”

“At last it is over, I can finally rest. I'll be rid of this virtual world forever, and be back in my home.”

Roman speaks last, saying, “Let us make haste! Elysium lies beyond its simple wooden frame.”

“My friends, you have chosen wisely. Your quests are now at an end, but it is now time to tell you of what has really happened. I come from a place of no time and no space, my name is Forever. My race came from your own. In my time, there is no emotion, no happiness, no hate, no sadness, no joy, everything is replaced with machines. The oxygen we used to breathe ran out, the planet we used to live on was destroyed. We had to create an artificial home for ourselves. Everything that used to be real became fake, eventually, our emotions too. The Final Experiment was created to rediscover these lost emotions. My race shall remember what you have done today forever, but you shall wake up wondering if it was a dream. I too am many miles from my home, and have grown weary. It is time to go home, the quest finished, the circle completed. Now I must rest...”

A Roman, a Knight, and a Future-man awaken. Their quests completed, the line between dream and reality is all in their own eyes. Roman wakes up in his Elysium, Knight wakes up having found his grail, and Future-man wakes up having completed his virtual challenge.


Copyright 2002-2007 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2007 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.