365 First Drafts

"It's like cardio, but for your brain."

Month: January, 2016

Everlasting Life

Remember how I said that I loved surprises? Forget I said any of that.

I just stared at Jinn after she dropped that little bomb on me at the dining room table. It was like getting slapped in the face and told that something obvious was right in front of my face the entirety of my adult life and I never noticed it.

How is it that my ex-wife was not only a Prime, but also the one person Han and his Society were actively fighting? Then, of course, I asked the obvious question. The one that I had been asking since the beginning. Why me? Why did Han and his people have such a big interest in recruiting me into their club? Once I asked that, everything started falling into place.

Something budged in me just then. All that built up anger and frustration took hold and suddenly the coffee mug sailed across the room and crashed into the china cabinet, breaking one of the little glass windows. Yeah, I didn’t take this very well.

Jinn’s eyes widened. She clearly wasn’t expecting this kind of reaction. She stood up and moved back from the table.

The table was much too large and heavy to knock over easily, so the candle holder and the silverware was next on the list to get flung angrily to the floor.

“Stop,” she said, her voice rising above the clamor. “You need to–”

“Fuck you,” I said in a surprisingly calm tone. “All this time you were just using me. Using me to lure her out. Who even knows what else you lied to me about?”

She held her hands out in front of her and never tore her eyes away from me. “You have to understand that there’s no way for us to find her. She’s destroying people’s lives and we think she’s trying to control the Worldmind.”

“You think or you know?” I yelled, moving closer to her. “How the fuck do you know?”

“My grandfather taught her how to transfer. She was one of us!” she began to yell the closer I got.

I went around the table, grabbed her by the throat and pushed her into the wall. At this point, I was completely out of the driver’s seat.

“Bullshit! I was married to her for fucking ten years! How the hell did I not know any of this?”

But I knew the answer as soon as I had asked the question. The Sandra I knew, the one I was married to, was not a Prime, she must have been a channel. Han and the others had explained the difference between being a Prime and a channel. As a Prime, we were kind of like a source of consciousness for all the other versions of ourselves. Channels were like shadows of that consciousness.

Being this close to Han’s granddaughter I noticed the bandages underneath her shirt. Testaments to the injuries she received in India from those gunmen. Injuries she was still recovering from. I shifted my grip from her throat to the area around her clavicle and above her left breast. I put my weight into it, grimacing.

She screamed and something about that shook me out of the moment. It reminded me of the way Sandra had screamed on the boat the day we lost Max.

In the back of my mind, I was wondering why she had even let me get this close to her. From everything I had seen, Jinn could handle herself. Even having just been shot recently, she had already proven to me that she was tougher than she looked. Why wasn’t she fighting back?

That question was answered almost immediately following her scream when I felt Khalil’s arm wrap around my neck, pulling me away from her.

Instinctively, I reached up with both hands to loosen his steely grip. I heard the groaning sound of wood against wood as we collided against the table, pushing it away. I caught a glimpse of Jinn moving away quickly before Khalil shifted his weight and hip threw me to the floor. This was not like practice.

“You will stop now,” he said.

I coughed and nodded, putting my hands up in a sign of surrender. When I looked back up after a moment I saw Khalil’s open hand above my head. I took his hand and he pulled me to my feet. The adrenaline was still pumping through my veins, so I felt no pain at the time. He didn’t need to know that, though.

As I got to my feet, I used the momentum to slam my fist into Khalil’s face, causing him to wince in surprise and let go of my hand. I immediately started running to the door leading out into the patio.

“Don’t let him–!” Jinn yelled. “We need him alive!”

I got partway around the pool and to the fence before Khalil charged at me like a bull. I tried to throw him into the Olympic pool in the same way he had thrown me to the floor, but he was over two hundred pounds of pure muscle and my footing was all wrong.

We both went tumbling into the warm water of the pool.

Everlasting Life

I don’t remember much of what happened while I was in the Worldmind. It felt much like a dream does, hazy and unfocused. I can remember, though, how it felt. Being joined with everyone else’s mind was almost euphoric.

Imagine experiencing every emotion all at the same time. Now imagine doing that once for every living being on the planet. Pain, happiness, sorrow, despair, elation, love, hope–all felt simultaneously. It was dizzying.

When I woke back up I was in a large bed at someone’s house. Jinn was sitting nearby, toying with her phone. She glanced over, saw me and then went back to her phone.

“Oh. Hey,” she managed. “About time, sleeping beauty.”

I sat up feeling like I had slept through an alarm and I was late for work. “How long was I out for?”

“About a week,” she said. “Enough time for me to get patched up and get flown out to San Diego. What happened to you?”

I propped myself up on my elbows and frowned at her. “Didn’t Yuan tell you? It was the Sight. I used it on the plane ride over. Side effects, right?”

“Uh, no, actually,” she said. “That usually doesn’t last this long. We thought maybe you had gone into a coma or something after you didn’t come out of it after twenty four hours. So what happened?”

“I saw…shapes, people, colors,” I tried to remember. “I think it was the Worldmind. I was there.”

“We’re all in the Worldmind,” She shrugged. “Happens when you use the Sight. That’s normal.”

“No, you’re not getting it lady,” I clarified. “I was inside the Worldmind, free to move around. I felt everything all at once.”

She looked up from her phone. “Wait, that’s not possible. You haven’t even learned how to transfer yet…”

“So it is possible,” I said.

“It’s not…plausible,” she corrected. “Not for someone as green as you. I need to call my grandfather.”

She got up and left the room, tapping on her phone as she went.

I took a moment to look around and take in my surroundings. King sized bed, master bedroom with rich furnishings. Slow churning, but ornate looking, ceiling fan. On the walls hung expensive looking paintings instead of family portraits. Sunlight filtered in through gaps in the thick curtains that framed a set of french doors on one side of the room. Outside, a crystal clear olympic sized swimming pool. Either I was in the nicest timeshare on earth or I had finally found heaven.

I heard a door close as I looked out into the patio. Jinn was talking on the phone with Yuan in mandarin. Though I couldn’t make out what she was saying, it seemed pretty clear that they were talking about me. No doubt they were discussing what I had just told her and were freaking out about it a little. I guess no one else had been able to do what I did. Which was weird, considering I had done it entirely by accident.

Walking out of the room, I went into the adjoining living room. The entire house was populated by well worn furniture. Someone lived here, at some point. The photos on the counters and walls confirmed that. Looking at the large grandfather clock next to the fine china cabinet, it was nine in the morning.

I followed the smell of fresh coffee brewing to a large open kitchen and helped myself to a cup. Nearby was a magnet on the refrigerator door. The photo contained inside the magnet depicted a young asian girl with dark hair and dark eyes in a cap and gown holding a diploma. Jinn, I thought. Was I in her house or her parent’s?

Going back out to the living room, I took a seat at the dining room table and sipped my coffee until she walked back in from the back yard patio.

“He wants to see you and ask you questions,” Jinn said.

“He could just call, you know?” I said.

“He likes to do things in person,” she explained. “You understand.”

“No, I don’t,” I admitted. “I don’t know what the hell is going on with all of this. I finally just learned how to use the Sight and suddenly I’m getting bombarded by millions–no, billions–of feelings all at once. And no one in your little “society” is telling me anything of use.”

She took a seat next to me at the table. “Ok, what do you want to know?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” I said. “How about everything? To start, why don’t you tell me who this other Prime is and why she’s so pissed with you guys?”

“You already know who she is,” she said. “You were married to her for years.”

The realization was almost too much. Jinn looked at me and I just froze. The Prime that had tried to kill us was Sandra.

Everlasting Life

Frank drove Khalil and I to a small restaurant in chinatown, where Mr. Han was waiting. We walked in together through the front and made our way to the back, through a small kitchen and into an even smaller office. Yuan sat there at the desk, on his cellphone. He finished his call and stood up as soon as we came in, an expectant look on his face.

“Any tails?” he asked Frank.

“Nah, I checked. Whoever it was, we lost ‘em a long time ago.”

Han motioned for the lone chair in front of the desk. I prefered to stand with my arms crossed. Frank sat, instead. Khalil closed the door and stood closeby with his back to it.

Han sat back down and fixed me with a look. “Have we anything to say since our last conversation?”

For once, I was all out of questions. All this Prime business was becoming more of a problem than a benefit. Already I felt as if I had wasted three months of this life, all while waiting patiently on how to use Transference. At this rate it would take another three months before I learned what I needed to learn so that I could check out of this place permanently.

“Nothing then? Nothing at all?” Han pursued.

“Figures,” Frank said. “All that yapping before about wanting to talk to Mr. Han and now the cat’s got your tongue?”

“You lied to me, so what’s the point?” I said, finally.

“Actually, I didn’t. I merely kept information from you,” Han said, steepling his fingers. “There’s a fine difference, one that you don’t seem to appreciate or understand.”

“Oh, I understand. You didn’t want me to know because you’re planning on using me to fight your battles against this Prime or that Prime. We’re all just chess pieces to you, aren’t we?”

“My granddaughter was almost murdered the other day,” Han said, his voice rising in anger. “She was shot trying to protect you. Tell me, do you still think I care so little about your life or any of theirs?”

“Look, Yuan,” I said. “I’m sorry that happened, ok? But I didn’t ask to be—”

I started to rub my eyes. My muscles felt sore and I felt a massive headache coming on. I leaned on the door frame, unable to say or do much else. When I opened my eyes next I felt dizzy. My knees started shaking and I stumbled a little as I moved toward Han. The others saw this in time and Khalil grabbed me before tripping over Frank in his chair.

“You are exhausted. You forget that you both have been awake for over twenty four hours with very little sleep in-between.” Han stood up and motioned for Khalil to open the door.

My head reeled as Khalil grabbed me and put my arm over his shoulder.

“No, sir,” he began. “We rested on the flight over. It must have been the Sight.”

“Ah, using the Sight for the first time can be disorienting,” Han said, his voice echoing and getting farther and farther away. “Get him to a bed, he needs rest.”

I slipped away somewhere in there. They were still talking and I was long gone so all I got were muffled sounds that faded away. It felt a lot like dying. How you just sort of feel like you’re hovering in this darkness, no sense of whether you’re coming or going.

Next thing I knew, I woke up surrounded by light. I looked around and saw people and animals shrouded in different colored lights. Looking down I saw myself and my multi-colored Prime aura. There we were, floating in this giant void.

I wouldn’t remember it until the next time I used the Sight, but this was it. I was in the Worldmind and for just a few moments, I was connected to every living thing.

Everlasting Life

I like surprises. Yes, even the bad ones. And life never disappoints. Just when you think you have it all figured out, life comes back with something new and says, “Aha! Didn’t think that was coming, did you?” After all this time, I still treasure the feeling of being surprised.

But when Khalil revealed to me that our enemies could use Transference to jump into anyone’s body and control them I just about lost my mind. I didn’t say anything for a while and just rolled his words over in my head. I was hoping that I had heard him wrong, as the thought of a body hopping murderer was completely terrifying.

“A Prime used you to strike at us,” he said.  Khalil wore this look on his face, like he wasn’t supposed to have told me that. No doubt Mr. Han and his Society were trying to keep me in the dark until they felt the time was right to tell me all the details.

We were finishing up at the baggage claim and heading to the curb outside for pickup when I finally had a response to what he dropped on me.

“Is that why you killed me? Twice?”

Khalil didn’t answer right away, but confirmed my suspicions with a look and a nod. “Yes.”

We looked for someone carrying a sign that said “Han”. When we didn’t find any, we headed outside to the curb to wait.

“These people can jump into my body. Why haven’t they just used Transference to jump into your body, or Han’s?”

“Primes cannot take control of other Primes,” he explained. “Ordinary people and other versions of us, yes.”

“Channels,” I said, remembering what Jinn had explained to me months ago. “They can control non-Primes and Channels. But why? Why target us, what’s the point?”

Khalil said nothing as he spotted a dark sedan pulling up to the curb. Driver stepped out and waved at us. “Yo!” he yelled. “C’mon, he’s waiting.”

“We’re off to see the wizard again,” I said as I walked up to the car. Khalil gave me a strange look, clearly not getting the reference.

“I need to speak to Yuan right away,” I said, putting my baggage in the trunk.

“Yeah, no shit buddy,” Driver said. “Gonna take you there in a minute, buckle up.”

Khalil rode shotgun while I slid into the back seat.

“No,” I insisted. “I need to talk to him. Like right now.”

Driver made a motion with his hands as he began pulling away from the curb. “Fuck do I look like to you, his secretary? I’m just driving you to him, pal.”

“Listen, fuckface” I said, my temper rising. “We’re having a day here, ok?”

“Oh, you’re having a day, huh? Jinn almost gets killed but you’re the one having a bad day?”

“Just…” my words trailed off. He was right, I was freaking out right now and I wasn’t the one who was worst off. “Just put him on speakerphone, ok? Please? I just want to talk with him.”

Driver looked to Khalil and received a reassuring nod. He wasn’t too thrilled about it, but he selected a few functions from the interface on his wheel and spoke to the car’s dialing system. “Call Mr. Han.”

“CALLING…Mr. Han” the system parroted.

After a few audible rings, he picked up the phone. His voice was hollow and grave when he answered. “Hello. Frank?”

“It’s me,” I said. “We have to talk, right now.”

“Where is she?”

“She is safe, Yuan,” Khalil cut me off before I could answer. “They will bring her to you when she recovers.”

“How bad is it?” Han asked. “How long?”

“Maybe a few weeks. A month?” Khalil offered.

“It was that bad,” Han said more than he asked.

“Yeah, well, we need to discuss something right now, Yuan,” I cut back in. “You got some explaining to do about all this. Khalil here clued me into your little problem with these other Primes. What is it that they want and why are they targeting us?”

The line went silent for a moment before Han responded. “This is not something we should be discussing right n–”

“Yeah we need to talk about this now, because it’s not everyday that someone tries to murder me while I’m in the middle of doing yoga.”

No one said anything.

“I know about them being able to jump into different bodies. They used another me to get to you guys and that’s why you had Khalil kill me. Now please explain to me why these people are at war with your people.”

“There is no group. We are talking about a single individual that is responsible for these attacks. Another Prime, like us,” he began to explain. “She is likely the one behind what happened in India.”

“She?” I asked. “Well, what the fuck does she want?”

When Han’s voice came through the speaker, his tone had changed. Instead of sounding weary, his tone was grim. “She seeks to control the Worldmind.”

Everlasting Life

Like most average Americans, my grasp of geography was pretty bad. This changed with life in the Society. In three month’s time I had flown to three different countries and began learning almost two times as many phrases and terms in other languages. I needed to be prepared, they told me. I scoffed at the idea, never thinking any of it would become useful.

When we touched down in Sri Lanka for the connection flight to Perth, I found that what little Tamil I retained from my training was useful, if just in dealing with customs and airport security.

No, that isn’t gunpowder you’re detecting on your scanners–it’s cow manure. Because I totally worked on a farm. In India.

Khalil was in full paranoid mode and wouldn’t let me out of his sight for more than a minute. We even went into the men’s restroom together. For once, I wasn’t annoyed by his professionalism. This time around even I was feeling the pinch after they missed us back at the temple.

While we waited for our connecting flight we grabbed a few drinks at the bar and caught a short nap at the terminal. We took turns staying awake and keeping a lookout for anyone overly interested in us. Aside from security, everyone else pretty much left us alone.

It was smooth flying all the way to Perth. A short layover and yet another connecting flight put us in San Diego by the start of the next day. We arrived groggy and jet lagged at the airport, but rested.

I had wanted to ask Khalil about the Worldmind, but I didn’t think he cared. Imagine my surprise when he casually brought it up in conversation with me at the baggage claim.

“Did you see them?” he asked, searching for the right words. “Did you see…the lights?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I saw ‘em,” I said. “Are those auras what Yuan and these guys say they are? The Worldmind?”

Khalil nodded. “That is their theory.”

“You believe it?”

He shrugged. “What else can it be?”

It sounded naive, but it made complete sense when you considered what we knew. I was still curious about these other Primes and what they could do that the rest of the Society couldn’t figure out.

“What about the Primes, Khalil?” I asked. “What is it that they can do that we can’t?”

He looked a little guilty talking about it. After India, however, Khalil seemed to have a little more appreciation for me. I think it had something to do with the fact that I held my own against our attackers and helped save Jinn’s life. Maybe, also, was the fact that I didn’t hold a grudge against him for having killed me in the past.

“Yuan taught them, just like he teach us,” he offered. “They found out to transfer different from us.”

“Different?”

“Yes,” he said. “They transfer into other people.”

Everlasting Life

We stopped in a small town outside the airstrip and, at Khalil’s insistence, switched cars. He also insisted on taking all of our weapons. “For customs security,” he said.

“What if they come back for us?” I asked. He just looked at me, expectantly. I didn’t push the issue and handed over my handgun.

Jinn was in and out of consciousness, so she didn’t really have a choice in the matter.

I watched him leave the SUV and disappear around the corner. Minutes later, he came back driving an old Volvo. We had to be careful moving Jinn from one vehicle to the other, but once we got her in the Volvo, we ditched the SUV in a crowded parking lot and hauled ass to the airstrip.

Han’s people tended to Jinn as soon as we pulled up. They gently brought her out of the car and placed her onto a stretcher before wheeling her away into a large white van. Private medical team. I wouldn’t see her until after the trip back to the states, a few days later. When I did she looked like nothing had happened to her.

Say what you want about money not being unable to buy you happiness, it can definitely buy you everything else. Peace of mind, comfort, security. If it wasn’t for the fact that Jinn’s grandfather was a multimillionaire, we would’ve been sitting in an Indian prison right about then. And in Jinn’s case, she might’ve been dead by the time emergency services arrived.

Khalil drove the car into a hangar while I grabbed our bags and made my way onto the tarmac. I thought about what Jinn had said in the car. How other Primes had found a different method of Transference. Did these guys find a way to physically transcend one reality to the next? If that was the case, why did they feel the need to use people like me as their instruments? Why go after Mr. Han and his Seeker Society in the first place?

Too many questions, as usual. I needed to stay patient. Learn what I could about Transference before checking out of this reality altogether. What Han and his people were doing here was really interesting, don’t get me wrong. But I stopped caring about the big questions a long time ago. All I wanted now was to use the rest of my time to live as peaceful a life as I could. Somewhere far, far away from whatever was going on here between Han’s Society and these other Primes.

The jet’s crew took our things into the aircraft and got me to my seat. Because they had been prepping for takeoff since we had departed the temple, we were ready to fly in no time.

“Jinn’s stable,” Khalil said to me as he came into the cabin. “She’ll be on the next one over.”

The flight out of India was smooth and quiet. There was ample seating for about fifteen or so people inside the main cabin and we were offered food and beverages from takeoff to landing. After having flown coach for most my lives, flying in someone’s private jet never quite got old for me.

Khalil sat by himself, as he normally did, a few rows up from me and mostly just looked out the viewport windows.

After a short nap, I attempted to use the Sight again. Everything began to feel colder and muted. All color was lost and replaced with gray. This time, I was uninterrupted and able to see the difference between a regular aura and a Prime’s.

Most people’s auras were a solid color like green or yellow. These would change slowly from one moment to the next. I found out later that these changes were dependent on the person’s moods. Prime’s auras were a weird mix of colors that were constantly fluctuating. More rainbow than one color, they were easy to spot in a crowd of regulars.

No wonder Jinn was able to spot the other me at her grandfather’s funeral, I thought.

Another strange thing about auras was that their shine seemed to project upwards from the body like a sky light. Immaterial, they extended beyond physical objects and never seemed to have a boundary. Think of a colorful, wavy outline of a person whose light ascended upwards as far as your eye could see.

Glancing over at Khalil, I saw that he was still peering out at the passing clouds.

I too looked out my viewport window and used the Sight on a hunch. I saw not a few, but thousands–possibly tens of thousand–of differently colored auras twisting, joining together and branching back out in different directions. As we flew over Chennai on our way to Sri Lanka, there were millions of these auras shifting and moving like highways of light.

I finally saw what the Society was trying to understand. I saw the Worldmind.

Everlasting Life

Khalil’s words echoed in my mind as my first experience with the sight was slowly wearing off. Color was returning to the world, my body was beginning to cool back down and the quickly fading auras from the two dead gunmen were now gone before my eyes.

“She’s been shot,” I said as I stomped back into the room from the hallway. The yogi appeared to have died from the multiple wounds he sustained, but Jinn was still alive.

She had been shot and was bleeding from a hole in her chest and an exit wound in her back. She needed a little help getting to her feet and down the stairs. Other than that, she trooped through the rest. Yuen’s granddaughter was tougher than a bag of nails.

We moved as fast as we could out of the temple and into the car located in the alley. Khalil drove while I sat in the passenger seat, gun at the ready. Jinn laid down in the back seat and made a call.

“Ok, who the hell were those guys?” I loudly asked no one in particular.

Khalil didn’t say anything, at first. When Jinn spoke, she didn’t address me so much as she did whoever was on the phone with her.

“Amateurs,” Khalil offered. “Hired muscle from other Primes.”

“And why are we being targeted by other Primes?” I asked.

No one answered my question, as usual, but the fact that they wouldn’t answer my questions fully actually shed a little light on some of them.

Previously, the Society sort of alluded to the fact that they had had problems with Primes in the past and that, initially, they weren’t sure if I had been working for them or not. Which was the half assed answer they gave me for why Khalil had to kill me before abducting me in another reality, just so then Jinn and company could ask me to join them in unraveling the mysteries of the universe or whatever.

Before, I was willing to let unanswered questions remain unanswered questions. I was only with these jackholes so that they could teach me to transfer from one reality to the next without having to die. But after a pair of gunmen attempted to murder us in broad daylight, I felt that I deserved some answers to these questions, fast.

“Alright guys,” I started. “We’ve been traveling around for months. I’ve done everything you’ve asked me to do and did it with a smile on my face. So how’s about one of you start to answer my questions, for once. Why are there people trying to kill us while we do yoga?!”

“Because there are Primes out there who don’t want us interfering with their plans,” Jinn said, having finished making her call. “They’ve discovered other means of Transference that we haven’t learned yet and that makes them very dangerous people. They’re not interested in what we’re trying to do and they often seek out other Primes or channels to Primes and use them against us. People like you.”

A light bulb went off in my head. Khalil said that he had killed me two times before the Society caught up with me again and offered me a spot at their table. I only remember him having killed me the one time at the car garage.

“These other Primes…used me against you guys?” I asked.

“Another you, yes,” Jinn replied, shutting her tired eyes. “This is why we killed you. We thought you were working for them.”

I thought about this as we drove. Someone else out there knew I was a Prime and somehow got me to try and kill these people. Was I capable of something like that? How is that possible?

“They’re prepping the plane for us now, Khalil,” she said. “Get us there fast.”

Our silent driver glanced at Jinn in his rear view. “You’ve been shot. We need to get you to–”

“No hospitals, no questions,” she interrupted with a grunt. “It was a clean shot through and through. Just need you guys to help patch me up on the flight out. Airstrip should be about half an hour’s drive. Don’t get pulled over.”

Everlasting Life

After leaving New York, I think the only time I managed to sleep soundly was on an airplane. Usually, it’s the other way around for most people. Of course, I’m not like most people. My mind is constantly haunted by the fragile, fragmented and, frankly, unreliable memories of countless tragedies and deaths in the many lives that I’ve lived. If it wasn’t for the fact that the non-stop training I received was so exhausting, I would’ve needed to take a xanax in order to get a wink of sleep.

Firearms training from a former Master Sergeant in White Sands, New Mexico. Self defense sessions with an Israeli Krav Maga expert in Cherry Hill, Pennsylvania. Yoga classes from an actual Yogi in Andhra Pradesh, India. The memory of the next couple of months blurred together in my mind to form my very own 80’s training montage. I laughed about it later, thinking that all I needed to get me through it was the “Eye of the Tiger”.

It was mostly fun and games until the incident at the temple.

Jinn and I were a few weeks into these private yoga classes, which were supposed to help teach me the basics I needed in order to use the Sight. The old yogi had started with breathing and meditation techniques. Khalil had been standing guard at one entrance but had been overwhelmed by two men armed with tasers. Despite being six feet of muscle and bad attitude, Khalil was not immune to multiple debilitating uses of electric shock.

We were in deep meditation at the time. Or at least I was. I had finally managed to dip my toes at the end of the pool and begun to see what using the Sight was like. Everything around you goes cold and gray when you slipped into it. This was because your entire body heats up. It felt like having someone inject iodine into your bloodstream. Waves of warmth washed over you and before you knew it, when you opened your eyes again, there were colors and shapes that surrounded the people around you.

Jinn heard the sounds of someone clumsily running down the corridor towards us and called out to Khalil. She knew something was up when she got no response. By the time they skidded to a halt at the end of the corridor outside the room, she had drawn the pistol that was tucked away in her purse. There were no doors in the temple, just archways, so she was able to get a bead on them before they recognized us as their targets.

The two shots she fired were deafening in the small room, causing the yogi and I to be ripped out of our meditations. They also proved to be deadly to one of the men, adding a large splotch of crimson to his already loud colored and long sleeved shirt. He fell back against the wall and left a trail of blood on it as he sank to the floor.

The other shooter fired at us as he stepped into the room. Jinn, already crouched in a ready position, sprinted to the wall and fired back. Each of their shots missed the other.

Already in a sitting position, I instinctively dropped sideways and grabbed the floor. The shots meant for me found the yogi, instead. The old man looked down in disbelief after the force of the impact knocked him onto his back. I shook my head as the world around me turned gray with the Sight. Great timing, as usual.

The shooter winced and shot wildly to his side, hitting Jinn and spinning her to the ground.

There was a gun tucked away inside my backpack near the window. At that moment, however, there didn’t seem to be enough time to get to it. When the adrenaline hit, I got up and rushed right at this guy.

I came at him low, like I was running to tackle him. It was a lucky move, on my part, because he had fired where my chest and head would have been. Unfortunately, he was bigger and stronger than me, so tackling or moving him was not something I was able to do. I settled for reaching for his gun. We stood there in the archway pulling, kicking and struggling for control of it for what seemed like an uncomfortable amount of time.

Suddenly, the training hit me.

Get control of the gun. I slid my hand over the barrel of the gun and pulled it away from my body, twisting my torso as I did so.

Distract your attacker with pain. Maintaining a tight hold on it, I twisted back and quickly jabbed at the side of his face. Instinctively, he winced and relaxed his grip on the pistol.

Disarm the attacker. With my free hand, I cradled the pistol from the back and, with both hands, twisted it free from his hold. Stepping back, I brought his own weapon to bear on him.

We both looked at each other at that moment, nervous about what the other was thinking of doing. He had slowly begun to put his hands up when his eyes kept darting over my shoulder to the stairway that lead down to the main area of the temple. I thought it was a trick to try and get me to let my guard down.

The loud bangs that filled the corridor suddenly corrected that notion. My eyes shut themselves by instinct, a habit I was trying to break. When I opened them again I saw my attacker lying dead on the floor, in a pool of his own blood, next to the other shooter.

Looking over my shoulder I saw Khalil at the edge of the stairs, his gun drawn and a pained expression on his face.

I barely made out the words he spoke through the ringing in my ears when he said “Time to go.”

Everlasting Life

They called themselves the Seeker Society. This is because their main purpose was to seek out answers as to the big questions. Why are there Primes? How are they able to transfer their consciousness from one self to another in an alternate reality? What else can they do? What’s the bigger picture?

Han and Jinn walked me around their Stuyvesant office, which was just one of the many buildings that Mr. Han owned in Manhattan. I felt completely out of place with my jeans, t-shirt and jacket on, but no one blinked an eye when I walked into the large corporate style board room and had a seat. They talked with me for hours, answering some of my questions and showing me what the Society was working on around the world and in other realities.

The Seekers had groups of people working for them all over the place. My guess is that most of them did so unwittingly. There were others, however, that I felt were in on our little secret from the beginning. This one group of physicists located in Norway, for example, they were the ones who originally had come up with the shared consciousness or “world mind” theory. Those guys I felt were told about Primes from the start. Of course, proving to someone that you were a Prime must have been quite a trick for these guys.

Although I learned later that when a Prime is able to transfer their consciousness into another reality without dying, the previous inhabitant is often disoriented and doesn’t remember what happened or how they got to where they were. Since Han’s Society is able to jump back and forth anytime they want, it’s possible that they used that to convince others that Primes and their abilities were real. It’s a stretch, sure, but I didn’t rule it out completely.

I also learned about the Web. This was a mishmash of lines that, at first, didn’t make any sense whatsoever. Once they explained to me how it worked, though, it became a little easier to understand. The Web was a map. It was a map detailing all the different realities that they had discovered. It also represented the shared mind consciousness theory that they supported. The Society had named and numbered each and every one of those realities. According to their friends in Norway, there were seemingly endless amounts of these realities. Endless in the sense that none of us would be able to visit them all within our lifetimes. When zoomed out, the whole thing resembled a Jackson Pollack painting. To say it was complicated didn’t even begin to cover it.

After my little education about the background of the Society, Mr. Han, who told me to start calling him by his first name, Yuan, warned me that being part of their group also meant learning how to defend myself against possible threats. No matter how many times I pressed him about it, he wouldn’t tell me more about these “threats”. He said only that since he had founded the Seekers there were other Primes who had attempted to sabotage their operations. These Primes had knowledge of the Sight and Transference, which made me think that perhaps they were once part of Han’s group. Because of this, he said, I needed to be trained and not just on how to transfer or use the Sight.

Yuan was busy man, though. He didn’t have the time to both teach me, run multiple businesses and operate the Society. So for my training, he was going to appoint his own granddaughter to accompany me from place to place. This decision struck me as odd, to say the least. This guy didn’t know me at all, had enemies that were potentially following him around, trying to kill him and he sends his granddaughter to travel with me around the world to receive high level training on how to defend myself. Why was he so interested in training me? What could I possibly have to offer the Society? I didn’t even know how to the use the Sight or transfer my consciousness.

All of these questions were on my mind as Jinn escorted me out of the building and into a cab bound for Chelsea. Han was setting me up with a brownstone there for the time being. Over the course of the next couple months, I would be flying out with Jinn and Khalil to different places for my training.

I had to bide my time and let things play out. Only with time would I start to unravel all the details they were keeping from me.

Everlasting Life

When first trying to understand what this whole never ending life cycle thing was, I joined all manner of different cults and religions. Despite not getting any answers about my particular problem, I learned a lot. Mainly, I learned that everyone needs an outlet of support. Because all of life is completely random and absurd, all human beings require some type of support in coping with the soul crushing and inevitableness of death.

This support can come in different vehicles. There’s the vice wagon, which includes pleasures like sex, mind altering drugs, alcohol, etc. There’s a friends and family car that has seemingly infinite seating inside. There’s a big crowded train for religious and spiritual dedications. And lastly, there’s a crotch rocket for anyone too scared or too brave, depending on how you look at it, to shoulder the road of life alone with no support for the spectre of mortality.

In the end, I learned that my quest in trying to understand my unique problem was pointless. So what if I missed out on the mysteries of the universe? What did it matter if I never learned why I continued to live after death in these alternate realities? Time was still moving forward and, eventually, I was going to die in all of those realities. I decided that I was going to live as much as I could in each and every reality that I found myself in. Because what is the point of life if you can’t live?

Now, I’ve done a lot of stupid things throughout all of my different lives. But joining this little group of Primes was probably the stupidest decision I ever made. Granted, I didn’t have much of a choice. If these people actually knew how to travel between the different realities, I had to know how they did it. If they could teach me how to travel like they did, it was possible that I could find a reality where things could have turned out differently for Max. I could get my son back.

To do this I’d have to ride a train and then jump off of it and onto a car.

After I agreed to join Mr. Han’s little group, he started to explain the ‘rules’–which were really more like suggestions–going forward.

“Yeah, let me guess,” I said. “The first rule about Prime Club is that you don’t don’t talk about Prime Club?”

Most of them just sort of looked at me.

“What, nobody got that?”

Han smiled out of politeness, I feel. Driver chuckled, though.

“See? He gets it.”

In no reality was I ever a stand-up comedian. There’s a good reason for this.

“You are making jokes because you are nervous,” Han said. “Unsure about who we are, what we do and why we do it. But you will soon understand why.”

“You’re trying to make sense out of all this,” I said looking around the wreck of a factory we stood in. “I get it. Been there, done that. I don’t really need or want any explanations about how or why we’re able to do what we do. All I want to know is how you’re able to control where you can travel.”

“What you call traveling, we call Transference,” Jinn said.

“Whatever. Tomato, tomato.”

“Transference is part of a theory,” Han explained. “A theory which states that all living things are bound by a shared consciousness.”

Oh shit, I thought. Here we go. All aboard the spiritual express!

“This network of consciousness expands beyond this world, and even this universe, to other parallel realities.”

“When you die your consciousness has nowhere to go,” Jinn said. “Which is why it arrives in another reality where you do exist.”

“Fascinating,” I lied. “Can we get out of here, please? I think there’re rats crawling around in here.”

They looked around, nodded in agreeance and began to walk back out towards the van outside. Jinn disappeared and came back after a few moments in a nice Crown Victoria. Han and I sat in the back while Khalil and Driver took off in the van ahead of us.

We didn’t speak much on the way to the office building in Stuyvesant. I had time to think about all the stuff Han and Jinn had talked about. Pretty sure I didn’t understand all of it, let alone remember it correctly.

Nevertheless, I was looking forward to learning how to control this ability I supposedly had as a Prime. But I wasn’t planning on sticking around after that. Sure, I was already on the train, but only until my stop came around.