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This is a long shuttle ride for someone like me.  So much to think about.  Unsure what to make of it all.

When I first heard the words "make us whole," I felt like a rat on a sinking ship.  Infinitesimally small.  

I just wanted to get through it alive.  But the voices came, and a dark cloud of inevitability crushed the air in my lungs.  I sympathize with the dead, those who sat down and resigned themselves to their delusions.  The satisfaction of giving in must be rewarding; more than one smiling corpse I passed on the blood-streaked streets of the Sprawl.  That is, when there were faces left to be recognized.  More often I saw broken half-fragments of the dead, scraps of flesh ripped from their jawlines, grinning their exposed teeth and sinewy ligaments.  But the expressions of those maimed were anything but placid.  The creatures and their sordid victims twisted in a dancing mockery of life, and I felt small.  So small.

But as the terror threatened me, each narrow escape a tower growing in height and precariousness, I began to take in the full scope.  The bodies, the creatures, the people I see when I close my eyes, the ones I was unable to save, they're nothing more than ants.  Wandering insects in a mound, working until some great hand deigned to pour saltwater in the carefully cultivated catacombs.  

And that godly hand is the Marker, the overseer of all of this.  I hesitate to call it a ringleader, or apply any seal of intelligence to it.  I'm not entirely sure it thinks, in the way we know the word.  Call me crazy, but I sensed a terrible instinct as I fought my way through the creatures and approached the artifact in person.

Faced with the flaming twin pillars of the Marker, I wasn't sure what to think.  Caught in the dead space, safe for the time being, I had a moment to observe.  The voices in my head, the persistent headaches, my strained muscles and tired joints quieted for a moment.  The flaming spiral, the source!  I'm loathe to admit it was beautiful, more enrapturing than I could possibly understand.  But there was another side to it.  The needle of fear that had seeded itself in my throat the instant the Kellion shocked out to aid the blacked-out Ishimura had gestated to a pulsing, raging beast of terror.  The child in me cried, longing desperately for it all to end.  But the soul of me, if there is such a thing, was enrapt by the Marker and all it was capable of.

And in all that power, all that incomprehensible mystery, it spoke to me.  Asked me a simple question, as if I could ever grant such a request.  Whole; what did that mean, whole?  What could I offer it?   A shudder rocked me.  I stepped out of the dead space in utter revulsion.  My stomach was turning.  Was it another trick of the Marker's erroneous signal?  Because I didn't feel small any more.  I felt big.  Larger than life.  Larger than the galaxy itself.  The Marker had asked me.  Me!  As if I had such a power to grant the artifact its request.

The feeling snapped and retreated the moment I drew my plasma cutter and stepped back into the necromorph-filled fray.  What had overtaken me?

Philosophy has never been my strong suit.  Born in a practical age to a practical father, seeking to apply myself in a practical field, I've never given much credence to any modicum of mysticism.  But I can understand why Unitologists feel the way they do about that thing.  That despite the outcome, an outcome where death is a relief the living are too afraid to partake in, there is a larger force at work.  I can't understand that force, only its power.  But my practicality drove me to survive and shut that damned thing down.  There is no good to be had from the Marker, despite its seemingly singular attention on me.

I turned towards the shuttle dock, where I'd face Tiedemann and in turn, myself.  Thinking back on it now, as this shuttle careens from remnants of the Sprawl towards nothing at all, I don't know what to think.  Only that without the Marker, without my Nicole, I somehow feel hollowed.
I haven't written in forever, to be honest! I had these half-formed musings while listening to Russian Circles on a long car ride today, and tried to write them down in some kind of manner that's pleasant to read. So tell me what you think!

And writer buddies, if you have no idea what Dead Space is, sorry, I don't think this will make very much sense.

Isaac on the infamous post-DS2 shuttle ride, musing about his minute in the dead space before the last battle. There's a pun of sorts in the last sentence. I think it's important, something no one really wants to think about, really. As much as we and Isaac may hate it, there could be more at work than just curb stomping.
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:iconleksbronks:
leksbronks Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2011
First off, the most fascinating aspect of this story is the in-depth look into the psychological effects the Marker has had on Isaac from a 1st person point of view. It's one thing to understand what the Marker is doing, but much more interesting to hear one's direct experience of it. Not just what is going through his head, but his physical pains - the headaches, his exhaustion, etc. Very believable, but all stuff that wasn't really made obvious through the events of the game itself.

And I really like the suggestive dancing between good and evil - "I felt big. Larger than life. Larger than the galaxy itself. The Marker had asked me. Me! As if I had such a power to grant the artifact its request. The feeling snapped and retreated the moment I drew my plasma cutter and stepped back into the necromorph-filled fray. What had overtaken me?" I too see this as a very plausible scenario; Isaac is starting out as a 'hero' so to speak, but he is human, after all, and fallible. Easy to persuade, the longer he is in contact with the Marker. He is becoming more and more of an "anti-hero" than an actual "hero".

Not to mention that as I read that part, I totally got a Wheatley flashback from Portal 2. "Wow, look how small... and insignificant... you are!" I totally had this idea for a scene later in Enigma where Isaac starts having these kinds of thoughts towards Ellie, and this sparks a turn in their relationship where she realizes how dangerous he really is to her (and he starts getting paranoid that she's a threat to the Marker). I don't know if you've been reading Enigma or not, so I won't go any further on that.

One of the biggest problems that I had with DS2 is that I don't think Isaac was portrayed as "infected enough" - compared to the way everyone else reacts to the Marker, I naturally assumed that Isaac would react in a very similar fashion. I understand that their reasoning behind this is that the Marker doesn't have the same dementia effect on smarter people; at least, how they explained it in the game. But still, Isaac was just a little too stable for me. Of course if he flipped out it would have made him less endearing of a character, and that would affect the person's take on the storyline, but still... in reality, I don't personally believe that Isaac would have been quite as level-headed, even being a Maker. Or if he was, he was being very emotionally bottled up about it. I would expect him to have some major reflection, just like this short story, at some point. This is the kind of stuff that I'm sure Visceral would want us to be thinking, but can't necessarily squeeze into the context of a video game. Something like this would make for an excellent narrative at the start of a movie, were DS actually made into one.

Also, you have a very nice flow to your writing. I especially liked your metaphorical lines like "But as the terror threatened me, each narrow escape a tower growing in height and precariousness..." it seems like lines like that poured right out of your mind. And your references to "dead space" used as a general adjective really keeps the theme together.

"... from remnants of the Sprawl towards nothing at all..." - I LOVE that line.

The only critique I can give about this story of yours is that it was just too short. Just as it starts to get interesting, it ends. You should expand upon it, if you are ever so inclined to do so.
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:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2011
WOW ESSAY COMMENT THANK YOU :D

But yeah, this could easily be longer, but I didn't have it in me at that particular time. Any longer and the musings of interest turn into long boring rambles, too. But maybe one day! I'm practicing getting into Isaac's head for his slightly humorous Ask Isaac blog on tumblr, I guess. xD Someone asked the question "Make us whole?" and I was thinking about it on the drive. Anywho!

Yes. Isaac's tiredness is possibly the focal point of my like of the character. I think already in DS2 he was getting so tired that he was opening up to the Marker, or just the situation. He killed two people with really scary ferocity (or REALLY REALLY SCARY ferocity, if you used the javelin's alt fire like I did, hehheh). I think all of DS2 was like him holding is breath as far as mental stability goes. There are a few times he gasps for breath, and bad shit happens at his hands. But he probably will try not to think about it. Most engineer-types won't dive into someone's arms for comfort and cry it all out, so he'd probably find a lonely place to sit and go over the memories, possibly changing some of them or forgetting others to fit in the puzzle frame of what happened. Ya know? (Even though another part of me wants him to cry into Ellie's chest and for it to be all better.) But yeah, they kind of started DS2 out with the crazy vibe, especially in the "Previously on Dead Space" movie doobly. It would be SUPER GRATIFYING if they did an introspective sad thing in DS3, that's for sure.

And Marker dementia effects smart people and regular folks in the same degree, just in different ways. The assortment of crazy doctors in DS1 are proof enough for that. But then the plant lady in Extraction was seemingly untouched, so was Lexine. People who aren't hit hard also exist. Nate, Isaac, Tiedemann, etc. Plot things aside, maybe it's just like any other disease. Levels of resistance are arbitrary.

And thanks for the comments on the lines. xD The particular line about the precarious tower exists only because I couldn't say "Every narrow escape was a hand pulling out all the wrong Jenga blocks." >_> (It's true).
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:iconleksbronks:
leksbronks Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011
NP, gee the least I could do was to give you an honest review, since you've been so kind to me thus far, though not sure I deserve it! :)
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:iconkeyanadrake:
keyanadrake Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2011  Professional Writer
I totally second Denlm. :)
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:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2011
Thankz
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:icondenlm:
denlm Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2011
Ah, as you guessed, I don't know Dead Space. So, yep, I was confused. I will say though that you created an ambiance that was hypnotic. I felt compelled to read--and I was afraid for him--even without knowing why. Glad you are taking forays into writing again. This just might pump you up for more. I hope, anyway.
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:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2011
Thanks for muscling through it even though it's DS. Basically Isaac is a really strong character, like well developed. First and only character I've ever played that has PTSD from the first game, haha. I can't say Isaac speaks to me, but the philosophy of the situation really does.
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:icondenlm:
denlm Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2011
It shows. Like I said, even without knowing the role play from before, I was drawn to the guy and felt for him.
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:iconzoven:
zoven Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
This is really intriguing. I really love the way you write. I'm not as inclined to comment as I don't write myself and I feel at a loss for words but I read a lot ( just this week I went through 3 books ). It's interesting how you bring the character to life, especially since in the first game I don't recall him talking if at all.
Nice, really, nice job. ^^
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:iconlunaticstar:
LunaticStar Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2011
Thanks! Yeah, in DS1 he doesn't speak, but he does write text logs. His style is kind of brief and practical, which mostly emulates that they're descriptions of game objectives, but yeah. xD
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