Science fiction yarn with speculative reincarnation and real environmental concerns woven in the pattern.
Jack Bronson lay on the bed next to the window.
The attending physician on hospice duty that night pulled the stethoscope off Jack’s chest for the last time. He drew the privacy curtains back. He approached Margaret Bronson, “All life support systems have been removed. It’s only a matter of time now.”
Margaret winced. Her first instinct, a flush of anger, told her she should tell the doctor to keep his mouth shut. Anger drained away in an instant when she realized Jack could not hear the doctor’s words.
“This is what Jack wanted,” Margaret sighed, hating the sound of her voice referring to the man she loved in the past tense. She sniffed and brushed away a tear.
The doctor left. Margaret moved closer to the bed. She held onto a once strong hand now evolved into a lifeless, organic mannequin.
Margaret tightened her grip until her knuckles whitened. She took Jack’s thumb in her mouth. She bit down hard. The metallic taste of blood filled her mouth.
It was no use. Jack could not see her smiling face. He could not feel her smooth skin. He could not hear her soothing voice. Nothing she did would bring him around. He could not …
Margaret sat back. She reached for her purse and took out a bandage. Margaret placed it on the bloody teeth marks. She let out a deep breath, broad shoulders relaxed.
On her smart phone Margaret checked the reminders application. The entries would keep her busy:
- Death certificates
- Funeral arrangements
- Contact family members
Margaret edited the entries, filling in the details—seven copies, name, telephone number and address of Archer’s Funeral Home, Jack’s relatives phone numbers and email addresses. Margaret’s eyelids grew heavy. She set the phone on her lap and pushed the recliner back. She drifted off to sleep.
A noise woke Jack. Feint at first, it built into a high-pitched drone. The instant Jack realized the noise was the even tone of his flat-lining heart rate monitor a bright light illuminated the veins in his eyelids like a neon spider web.
Jack opened his eyes as the whirlwind of light and sound formed a ball around his head. He sat upright. The ball expanded into a ragged, elongated cone.
Jack saw Margaret sleeping in the chair. He tied to call out, “Maggie! I think I’m feeling better!” It was no use. His tongue did not receive the involuntary command to make sounds by pushing against his teeth and rolling off the roof of his mouth. Mental impulses did not translate into words. What the hell is going on, Jack thought. Am I dead? Is this the light you’re supposed to walk into? If it is, how can I move into the light if I can’t move?
Far away, at the center of the universe, the last rays of the light spilling off Jack’s head faded into a black hole. A thought wave entered the mental receptors of an anti-matter organism: Prepare carbon based life form subject Jack Martin Bronson for extraction.
Quark 8500, the anti-matter life form assigned to Jack Bronson’s case, activated the retina scan.
Jack felt the light reaching deep into his eyes. It burned as it bored into his brain stem.
Jack’s life, from the first sights he saw and sounds he heard, to the second the doctors removed the breathing tubes and pulled the needles out, rolled from his eyes in a series of still images stretching to an infinite vanishing point.
Holy shit! Jack thought. It’s true.
On the last frame Jack blacked out.
Quark 8500 issued a brainwave: Existence recognition completed for case number 125 to the tenth power. Subject verified. Life seed germinated and ready for insemination.
Quark One, the central node on the cosmic neural network, accepted the brainwave. Prepare for reclassification into holding status, Q-One waved back to Q–8500.
Jack’s existence pattern, the memories and emotions making up his life, every pain and every pleasure, compressed into a single seed of golden light. Q–8500 absorbed the seed as it passed into the irresistible tug of anti-matter.
Jack’s seed continued free-falling until the molecules in the anti-matter space fabric making up Q–8500’s body pulled the seed to a velocity exceeding the speed of light.
The seed approached an egg shaped planet deep within Q–8500’s galactic core. Deep blue seas. Green mountains and brown deserts. White, wispy clouds. Q–8500 adjusted the egg’s position with a thought wave, tilting it on its axis until the polar region on the narrow end aligned with the approaching seed.
When the seed struck the upper atmosphere the initial blast melted the ice cap in an instant. A massive shockwave rippled from the epicenter, forcing a wall of water over 4,000 cosmic meters high across the surface from pole to pole.
The tidal wave subsided, leaving Jack’s planetary egg submerged in a giant ocean. Only the peaks of the highest mountain ranges poked out of the surface.
Q–8500 waved to Q-One, Germination complete. Initializing incubation procedure.
Q-One waved back, Affirmative, standby.
Q-One focused on one of billions of organic connectors embedded in its desktop. A facet in the diamond face read Case #125+10. One, director of the Universal Carbon Life Form Recycling Department, analyzed Jack’s most recent existence on the third planet from the supporting star in a solar system on the edge of a remote galaxy in a fraction of a millisecond.
One routed the data to 8500. 8500 absorbed the images, sounds, tastes, sensations, thoughts, and emotions streaming from the core of the big cosmic brain to the wall of the black hole to 8500’s body.
One received the verification wave. It searched available coordinates and timelines. It chose a set of coordinates and converted them from cosmic measurements—black hole relative dimensions—to Earth relative dimensions.
A full-size, three dimensional rendering of the Earth materialized then hovered above One’s polished diamond desktop. One spun the rendering with a wave of its thought.
The Earth slowed. When it came a rest a push pin formed in the ground and terminated in the upper atmosphere. Earth relative coordinates—Latitude: 43° 22′ 34.9” N. and Longitude: –4° 06′ 34.8″ W. rotated around the base of the head. On the top of the head the words Upper Paleolithic Era: Initial Universal Expansion (Big Bang) minus 4.543 billion years scrolled along the circular edge.
The tip of the pin stuck into a land mass the carbon based life forms known as humans would call Spain.