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Morphic

For more information on this story and a full list of chapters and extras, click here. Please note that Morphic is rated R (M if you prefer Fiction Ratings) for strong language, violence and other sensitive subject matter.

Extra: Dave and Mia Discuss Horror

“So, Mia,” Dave said as he started the car, “how’d you like the movie?”

She thought for a moment. “I liked the bit where the guy had to cut his eye out.”

He snorted. “You would.”

“Also with the Houndoom killing the woman. That was nice.”

He winced a little. “That was pretty brutal, yeah.” He paused. “How about the Scyther bits? I’ve got to admit that was why I took you.”

“No,” she said. “That was lame. It was all CGI.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Well, that’s obviously necessary if you’re going to have a person cut in half.” He paused until it struck him that maybe she didn’t find that obvious at all. “You know, because otherwise they couldn’t get any actors for the part,” he added. “It’s all special effects. Nobody would want to be in the movie if they had to be actually gutted for it.”

She nodded, looking out the passenger side window. “That’s too bad.” After a moment she turned back to him. “But a real person being cut in half wouldn’t look like that. It was stupid.”

“I don’t think a lot of people know or want to know what a real person being cut in half would actually look like, Mia.”

She shrugged. “I could tell it looked wrong.”

“Well, there’s a career for you. Gorn movie special effects. I’m sure you’d be great.”

Mia’s lips curled into a grin as she looked out the windshield. Dave fleetingly wondered if, with time, her social skills and understanding of human ethics might actually improve to the point that she would be able to get and hold a regular job. Probably not very likely. He’d sometimes toyed with the idea of trying to get her into programming – provided she could keep her mind on it, he imagined her bizarre hyperlogical brain would probably be good at it – and seeing if she could earn some money off freelance work online for people who had no idea who or what she was. But that was a question for the future.

“I didn’t like the main character,” Mia said after a while. “He kept doing things that made no sense.”

“Oh?” Well, he supposed experiencing mental anguish over being forced to watch one’s family tortured and slaughtered would probably never make sense to her. “Like what?” he asked anyway.

“Like when he started stabbing himself with his pocket knife. It was painful and he could have died.”

Dave looked at her. It was funny how, after all these years of knowing she had no sense of humour whatsoever, he still always kept checking if she was joking. “I’m, ah, pretty sure that was the idea,” he said eventually.

“Why would he want to be in pain?”

“He didn’t want to be in pain. He wanted to be dead.”

“That doesn’t make sense. You can’t want to be dead.”

“Yes, you can,” he said patiently. “He was living out the most fucked-up horror scenario the scriptwriter could stuff into one film, and he’d rather die than experience that because he’s a normal human being. Just because you wouldn’t want to be dead doesn’t mean –”

“That makes no sense,” Mia repeated. “You can’t want to be dead. Wanting something means you’d be happy if it happened, but if you’re dead you don’t exist so you can’t be happy about it.”

He thought about it in silence for a few seconds. It occurred to him that he was sitting in his car arguing for the merits of suicide with a ten-year-old girl. That was a little fucked up.

“Maybe he was religious,” Mia suggested after a while. “Then he could have thought he’d be happy after he died.”

“It’s not that,” Dave replied with a wave of his hand, trying to get his thoughts in order. “If I were him and honestly thought killing myself would just put me into some cheery blissful afterlife while everybody I cared about got tortured to death, I’d…” He trailed off. “Well, point is, that’d be a fucking nightmare. Meanwhile, not existing means you don’t have to spend an eternity living with the memory of it anymore, and yeah, there’s definitely a sense in which you might want that.”

“But that doesn’t change that it happened,” Mia said.

“No, but because you’d be dead, you wouldn’t care anymore. Dead people are selfish pricks that way.”

“Dead people don’t exist.”

“That was a joke. Jesus.”

There was silence.

“So you’d try to kill yourself if that happened to you?” Mia asked after a while, tilting her head.

He winced. “Uh. Yeah, I guess. Seems less painful than the alternative, in any case.”

She considered it. “But he was just in pain. He didn’t even die.”

“Well,” Dave said, “for my parts, I’d try to stick the knife somewhere fatal. That’s where the guy in the movie went wrong.”

Mia nodded slowly. “So it was because he was bad at anatomy.”

He paused. “In a sense, I guess you could say that.”

She was looking thoughtfully at him now. “What if you didn’t have a knife?”

“Oh, Jesus.” He scratched at his hair. “I don’t know. I mean, what would you do? How the fuck are you supposed to know what you’d actually do in some situation like that?”

“I’d kill them,” she said, like it was the simplest thing in the world.

“Well, okay, but what if you had no –” Though it wasn’t like she needed to be armed. “Look, what if they’d just cut off your scythes, or something, and…”

“I could still fight them. I’m strong.”

“There’d be too many of them, okay? Or they’d have, I don’t know, knocked you unconscious and then tied you up with unbreakable rope beforehand. What would you do then?”

She considered it for a moment. “Nothing,” she then said, shrugging. “There wouldn’t be anything to do.”

“Nothing,” he repeated. He took a breath and expelled it in a sigh. “Yeah, I guess I’d be doing nothing too.” He stared at the road ahead. “Well, fuck.”

“What?”

“Nothing.”

“You’re lying.”

He looked at her in exasperation. “Look, Mia, can we please just talk about something other than being stuck in a bad horror movie?”

She tilted her head. “Why?”

“Well, it’s just…” He gestured vaguely at her. “Imagining that… This stuff could never actually happen and it makes me queasy, okay?”

“It could happen. There are plenty of nutjobs out there.”

“Mia, just…”

“Many of them want the Pokémorphs dead. And you, too.”

“Will you just shut the fuck up about that? Christ.”

She looked at him but didn’t say anything; after a moment she turned towards the passenger-side window.

He sighed, rubbing his forehead. “I’m sorry.”

“That’s okay,” said Mia, her tone indifferent as ever. Knowing her, she probably didn’t even know what he was sorry about. He didn’t know why he bothered.

“Maybe we can see another movie sometime,” he offered as he stopped the car to let her out.

“That would be nice,” she replied before she slammed the door.

Page last modified July 14 2017 at 16:44 GMT