365 First Drafts

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

Month: February, 2016

Everlasting Life

Fatimah in Arabic means “the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad”.

Everyone in her life always made a point to remind her of that. It was a daunting bar of expectation that seemed to rise higher every year.

“How could you dress that way?” her mother said once. “You’re shaming your namesake, child.”

“There’s nothing perfect about you, girl!” her brother used to tease.

“I thought girls named Fatimah were supposed to be more respectful,” the case officer said during her first arrest. “You’re lucky, in another time we would have cut your hand off for stealing. Now you just get a few lashes.”

“Whatever,” she said before telling him to eat shit and die.

Fatimah wasn’t like most girls in Saudi. Most girls at sixteen didn’t receive twenty lashes for shoplifting eyeliner and a candybar. It was five, originally, but the judge added fifteen more for what she said to the case officer. And to the judge.

They weren’t the only ones who were outraged by her behavior, however.

Many of the people attending the gathering were shocked and not just because of the punishment or the fact that it was being carried out against someone so young. No, they were shocked because she laughed when she received her punishment. It was an odd mixture of loud screaming and laughter that no one was really prepared to hear. An odd response from an odd girl, many would say later.

A video of the event made its way online. In it, Fatimah was dressed in her yellow hijab while a man in a black balaclava and a long beige salwar kameez presided over her punishment and administered the lashes with a short wooden whip.

She spent a week in her room after word got around about “the girl who laughs”.

Threats of rape and death followed. There were letters stuffed under the front door of the house, the occasional rock coming through the living room window or the phone calls at random times where a man would scream at her and call her a whore. To say nothing of the emails and the comments that existed anywhere the video was posted.

But Fatimah was different than most girls her age. After a week of hibernating in her room, she left a different person.

She was someone who felt emboldened by the outrage of others around them. In America, they would have called her a “rageaholic”. In France, they may have called her a provocateur. In Saudi, they just called her blasphemous.

She found courage online from some who didn’t condemn her for what she did or how she reacted to it. Foreigners, mainly. Many of them girls her age or older.

“Be yourself,” said MPhilly1968. “And don’t apologize to anyone for it.”

She began dressing differently. Her hijab gone, she would leave the house in v-neck shirts, tank tops and torn jeans. The typical make-up she wore was gone, now replaced with black lipstick, heavy eyeshadow and foundation that gave her paler complexion.

At first she was able to get away with looking like that in public since she stuck to leaving mostly at night when her parents were asleep. A few people made comments here and there but there were no major confrontations on the streets. It was different when, months later, she went out in broad daylight.

Her brother, Ali, tried to stop her before she left the house. First he demanded to know what she was doing “going outside like that.”

“This is me,” she said. “Fucking deal with it, ok?”

“You’re going to get whipped again!” he yelled after her.

Not good enough, she thought. The daughter of Muhammad had to do better.

On her seventeenth birthday, Fatimah was accosted by a group of men and women at a local market square when she broke into a parked car and tried to steal it. Using a rock wrapped in her hijab, she shattered the car’s driver’s side window. This immediately activated the car’s alarm, temporarily paralyzing her with surprise.

That wasn’t supposed to happen, she thought.

She climbed into the driver’s seat after overcoming some of her fear and began looking at the fuse box underneath the steering wheel but stopped and quickly looked up and over the dashboard when she heard the sounds of shouting. There were people standing and looking in her direction. Fatimah decided to ignore them and step up her efforts to start the car.

The beeping that the alarm emitted brought on a flash of memory and a strange sense of deja vu. It stopped her again after she found the two wires she needed. She remembered being in some kind of accident, she wasn’t sure. Impossible, since like most women in Saudi, she never drove anywhere because of the law that prohibited her from doing so.

Someone pulled her out of the car and threw her onto the floor as she had begun scraping together the two wires needed to hot wire the Audi.

An altercation followed involving the owner, the owner’s brother and his wife.

Fatimah left the woman with stitches along the bridge of her nose and bottom lip. The brother’s finger had been fractured and the owner suffered contusions to his groin and face, robbing him of a few teeth. Fatimah herself was beaten bloody, some of her clothes having been torn off of her body.

Later, at the police station, the same desk officer from before stared at her bloodied face as she was carried into the station by two officers, arm-in-arm, her clothes in tatters. She smiled through bloody teeth at him as they brought her directly to detainment.

Weeks later, a new video was posted online. The title read “BLASPHEMOUS LAUGHING THIEF WHORE LOSES HAND”. In it, Fatimah screamed and cried.

“If Fatimah the daughter of Muhammad stole, I will have her hand cut off.”
Bukhari Vol. 4 : No. 681

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Everlasting Life

The walk from Johannesburg had all but broken Anton’s spirit. Leaving the city was difficult in and of itself, but watching the others fall to the Afrikaner Corps’ weapons had almost destroyed his willingness to keep going.

He walked along deserted dirt roads, away from the main ones that lead into the cities, and made a game of counting the pieces of trash and debris he found along the way. It was more of a way to distract himself from thinking about what had happened just a few days ago.

After the crackdown they lost two day laborers trying to get out of Soweto. The NP’s police were scouring the streets, shooting at anyone out past curfew. He blamed himself for that.

The others had insisted on waiting until the days following the riots to slip out of the city and make the trek to Hoop. But Anton was convinced that if they didn’t make an attempt to get out of the city soon, they would all get rounded up eventually following one raid or another. For him it was only a matter of time.

Looking at the crumpled rusted cans lining the side of the path, Anton was reminded of the bodies he saw strewn by the wayside when he and his family had first made the trip to Johannesburg.

The bus was packed to near capacity, forcing his family to sit or stand in different areas apart from one another. By the grace of a stranger’s kindness, Anton and his father were offered the opportunity to sit with one another. Anton excitedly sat next to the window and looked out for the majority of the trip. He slept through most of it, until the reports of gunfire ahead woke him from his sleep.

When the bodies began to come into view, his father, a survivor of Sophiatown, placed his calloused hands over little Anton’s eyes, trying to shield him from the sight. But Anton never closed his eyes. Instead, he gently pulled on his father’s hand and peeked through a gap in his fingers, catching sight of fire, blood and the unmistakable Afrikaner Corps uniforms. A hush fell over the entire bus as everyone realized that they weren’t looking at someone else’s unfortunate fate as much as they were looking at their own possible futures.

Anton closed his eyes, trying to block out the memory. His body exhausted, his mind began to wander as he continued to march. The thunderous scream of a tortured man forced him to snap open his eyes and spring to attention. When he looked around, however, he saw or heard nothing.

Another waking dream, he thought. Am I losing my mind out here?

He ultimately decided that he was becoming somewhat delirious, having walked for a day without food. He stopped to urinate when he spotted a bent, broken and rusted metal drum near a cloister of bushes and weeds. Feeling the need to rest, he pulled a tattered rag he found among the debris and laid on it behind the bushes. Laying in the shadows, Anton tried to busy his thoughts by thinking about reaching Hoop.

To the English, Hoop sounded like a silly name for a town until they understood that the word meant hope in Afrikaans and that it was one of the only places where colored people were allowed to govern themselves in South Africa. Of course, when the National Party granted Hoop that sort of autonomy they also stripped anyone living there of their South African citizenship.

This didn’t change anything for Anton, who grew up never feeling like he belonged in his own country. To him, there was still hope to be had in Hoop, since it was also where Anton and his allies were receiving support for their actions in Johannesburg.

He thought about the others. Made up of street urchins, trade union laborers and farmers–most of them kids–the fourteen had gotten it in their heads that they could fight the NP at their own game. They would unite at the heart of South Africa and they would create a resistance so fierce that no one would be able to ignore them or their message ever again. Moved by their courage and recognizing their struggle as his own, Anton joined them almost immediately.

Leading up to the recent riots in Soweto, the rumor from Hoop had been that something big was going to happen. Talk of thousands of marchers taking up arms against the NP in the areas west of Johannesburg was the boldest rhetoric he had heard since Mandela’s assassination. He believed, along with many others, that this was a necessary action they needed to take in order to triumph over apartheid.

He thought about the others and how they would have wanted to be part of something like that. Anton would do this for them. He would survive the trip to Hoop, alone if he had to, and start a fire for the cause.

Everlasting Life

Shelly had just started to ride her bike when she had an episode and fell over onto the street, skinning her elbow.

She didn’t register the pain or even notice the thin red scrape on her elbow. Instead she looked around frantically, worried of seeing that “I told you so” look on her parent’s faces. She breathed a sigh of relief when she heard Nathan calling out to them so that they could watch him perform some trick or another. While they were busy watching him, she collected herself and got back on the bike.

She forgot how many of these episodes she had had over the past couple of months. They came and went randomly and without warning. Though she knew it wasn’t normal, she was afraid of saying anything to her parents. They started, she remembered, around the time they all had gone to the supermarket. This was where the bicycle had first caught her eye.

For months she had begged her parents to get her “the pink one, with the pink things on the handles.”

“They’re called tassels, sweetheart,” her mother said.

“Yeah, those!” Shelly said, smiling.

For months she begged and for months they denied her, afraid she was too young to start riding a bicycle at age of four. She didn’t agree. Especially since Nathan was almost five years old and was already riding around the neighborhood. Crying didn’t help, she knew that. So instead she opted to take Nathan’s bike from the garage one day and show them that she was old enough.

She waited for them to be at work and for Nathan to fall asleep watching tv before slipping outside with the neon green Mongoose that belonged to her brother.

Remembering how he had ridden it, she mounted the seat and pushed off with her leg. Her feet on the spokes, she instinctively began to pedal. She rode on the sidewalk without wavering once and completed a circuit around the block in under five minutes. This was surprisingly easy.

She got that from me.

After riding around the neighborhood half a dozen times, Shelly came back to the house. She placed the bike back inside the garage and waited for her parents to get home from work.

Nathan was awake and looked upset. She knew what was coming next.

“Where were you?” he asked.

“Outside,” she said.

“Yeah, with my bike.” It wasn’t a question.

Shelly shrugged and plopped down on the couch, watching whatever was on the tube.

“I’m telling dad when he gets home,” he warned.

Shelly simply smiled and said nothing.

Dad got home first, his truck being something you could feel through the walls anywhere in the house from the driveway. He called out to them as he usually did after a long day, hanging up his keys and putting his hardhat on the dinner table as he entered.

“She took my bike, dad,” Nathan said right away. Tattletale.

“That’s it?” he asked. “That’s what I get when I come home? No ‘hey dad, how’s it going?’ No ‘hi, daddy?’”

After they collectively hugged his big and smelly arms, he went into the bathroom to shower and lie down for an afternoon nap.

“Don’t get full on junk food,” he warned. “Your mother’s cookin’ tonight.”

She waited until mommy came home a little later, just before it got dark, before going into the garage to take Nathan’s bike back out again.

“Hey monkeys,” mommy said as she walked in the door. “Where are my kisses?”

Shelly and Nathan slid off the couch to hug and kiss their mother.

“Mom, Shelly took–” Nathan started to say.

“Look what I can do, mommy!” Shelly interrupted as she grabbed her mother’s wrist and led her to the garage.

“What can you do, shuggie?” her mother asked encouragingly.

Curious, mommy stood there and watched as Shelly mounted Nathan’s bike again and rode out to the edge of the driveway.

Her mother had a knowing look and smile on her face. Part of her admired her daughter’s persistence while simultaneously making a mental note about how crafty and resourceful she had become in such a short time. Just like daddy.

“Ok Shelly, you win,” mommy said. “We’ll get you a bike.”

Shelly closed her eyes momentarily and took a deep breath before she pumped the pedals on her bike and returned back to the house. The tassels on the handlebars flapped and twisted in the wind, bringing a smile to her face. The joy and freedom of riding her own bicycle helped her to forget the things she had seen and heard during her episodes.

Images like the world being wreathed in flames or the voices that argued in her head.

Everlasting Life

I didn’t say anything.

For some reason the impenetrable blackness of Nowhere made me think that if I didn’t say something Sandra wouldn’t know that I was there. This, of course, was completely wrong and I knew it. In Nowhere, you didn’t so much as see or hear anyone as you did feel the presence of their consciousness. But also, at this point, there wasn’t much to say.

I had tried to reason with Sandra before and it hadn’t gotten me anywhere but dead. She was much more experienced at being a Prime than I was and, perhaps as a result of this, was incredibly dangerous and psychotic. The time for talking was over. My passive thoughts became active and aggressive ones that I leveled against her.

My first attempt caught her off guard. Because I was the only other Prime to have found this place, I was also probably the only one to have opposed her this way.

Making contact, I immediately began getting impressions from her. Thoughts and images. Memories. Most of them were murky and distant, making it difficult for me to see them. In addition to these, however, were her feelings. Melancholy, rage and helplessness blended together to form a type of hatred for life I’ve never experienced before, even in the worst periods of my lives.

I felt her consciousness reel away from me, angry and murderous thoughts bubbling to the surface where I could read them.

Sensing my hostile nature, her thoughts grew poisonous barbs that punctured and shredded any attempt I made to smother her consciousness with my own. So by the time I re-focused my thoughts for another attempt, she had already adapted.

“You’re trying to control me? In here?” Her voice reverberated in my thoughts like thunder. “You’re crazier than I thought. Or maybe you’re just desperate, trying to hold onto this illusion we call life.”

“For fuck’s sake, Sandra!” I screamed back. “If you hate life so much, why don’t you just stay in this fucking place and leave the rest of us alone?”

I already knew what she was going to say, but I asked it anyway. I needed to stall, keep her mind fixated on our conversation while I continued to absorb more of her into me.

“Staying here isn’t any more of a solution for dealing with the absurdity of our reality than sticking your head in a hole. Life’s completely meaningless. There’s no point to any of this!”

I felt my consciousness begin to stretch and break the longer I concentrated on hers. With every passing moment, Sandra’s toxic thoughts were infecting and fracturing mine. Despite this, I was learning more and more about her plans for the Worldmind.

“You can’t still believe that,” I said, continuing to stall. “Life’s always worth living. It’s only meaningless if you don’t allow it to be meaningful to you.”

“Oh please!” she laughed. “Stop with the half assed platitudes, already. ‘Life is what you make it?’ Which one would you like? The one where you suffered tremendous pain or the one where you suffered an enormous amount of pain? As if there was any choice to begin with.”

That’s right, I thought. Keep talking. I was catching glimpses of memories that showed multiple Worldminds and what looked like tethers connecting them together.

“There’s no real you or me just as there’s no definitive life for anyone. I’m gonna fix that, permanently, by hitting the off button on this shit ride. But first I’m going to fucking break and scatter your pathetic mind, because you of all people deserve it.”

Flashes of her thoughts and feelings merged with mine. I saw people–an entire world–tearing one another apart through her eyes. I saw a nuclear holocaust that enveloped the entire planet. That’s when I realized that I was already too late. Sandra had already destroyed a Worldmind and she was getting ready to do the same to others.

That’s around when she made good on her promise and shattered my consciousness.

Everlasting Life

The merging was slow, but thorough. I wanted to know, intimately, if and how it was possible to possess a multitude of people. Using the nexus to do this seemed like the only way how.

This resulted in my consciousness being in five different places simultaneously. I became aware of all four of my subjects’ thoughts and emotions.

Janek had called one of his friends and told them that he didn’t know where he was or what he was doing there, surprise and mild panic in his voice. Stein had chalked his memory loss to his established ailment and stared at the messages he received from his son, somewhat perplexed. Anders and Maren shared another cup of coffee at the apartment and discussed at length what they thought all of this business with Primes and Worldminds could mean to their established theories. They were simultaneously scared of what might happen, should Sandra succeed in destroying said Worldmind, and elated that their contributions to physics were not done in vain.

As the merging continued, their knowledge and their memories soon began to meld with mine. Other thoughts from other people began to creep into my consciousness, jarring me and forcing me to pay attention back to the nexus.

The focus I was maintaining on keeping the billions of thoughts from overwhelming me was beginning to slip. I wasn’t strong enough to control this many people at once and keep the rest of the source from ripping me apart. I needed to dial it down a lot.

Isolating both Janek’s and Stein’s auras, I willed them to move farther away from me. Their lights twisted away and drifted back to join the billions of others that moved around the field I had created around me. I focused instead on Anders and Maren’s auras, continuing to merge my consciousness with theirs.

Through their eyes I saw the both of them shake and convulse as my possession was beginning to take place in full. Before long, I was completely in control of the two physicists. This was how she could do it, I thought.

If Sandra could do what I had just done but on a much grander scale, she could conceivably possess multitudes of people and have them kill each other or kill themselves. All the while absorbing their memories and knowledge.

I needed to find a way back to the reality where Jinn had managed to kill my possessed body. This was the reality where Sandra was laying the groundwork for her plan. If she succeeded in destroying a Worldmind, no one was safe in any reality.

Slowly, I retreated my consciousness from both of the physicists and withdrew from the Worldmind’s nexus. As my consciousness dared to drift farther and farther away from the source, I realized that I was seeing the earth, other worlds and space itself in the grayish haze I was already accustomed to from using the Sight. The Worldmind was the sole source of color in this grayed out layer of reality. Billions of differently colored auras joined together to form a nearly perfect sphere around the planet.

I imagined the all-encompassing blackness that was Nowhere. A starless, colorless and formless reality that existed outside of the Worldmind and, it seemed, outside of reality itself. Having absorbed Anders and Maren’s knowledge, I theorized that Nowhere must be some kind of oddity in the continuum of time and space. A pocket dimension where Sandra could go before making the jump to another reality. Possibly a place for her to hide.

I focused everything on Nowhere and watched as the gray landscape of space and the cosmos blurred and plunged into complete darkness around me.

The experience left my consciousness feeling somewhat disoriented, at first. It was always like this in the Nowhere. Absolute blackness with nothing but your own thoughts to keep you company. Well, almost.

“Oh, look who’s back,” she said.

Everlasting Life

I bid my farewells to both Maren and Anders before I left the latter’s apartment. We had spent hours discussing what was happening and what solutions I could take to put an end to Sandra’s agenda. At the end of it we realized that we had more questions than we did answers and not a lot of time on our hands.

While they would have wanted to keep me around in Janek’s body and explore what I could do with Transference, it was clear that they understood the danger everyone and everything was the longer we took to develop a plan. The longer we waited to act, the closer Sandra would come to achieving her murderous goals.

I left Janek at a local bus station bench with no recollection as to how he had arrived there. Using what Nayan had taught me about achieving Transference, I closed my eyes and made the connection to the dreamlike state of the Worldmind.

As my consciousness drifted away, I became aware of every life force that existed around me. They stood out as beacons, wreathed in different colored lights that rose into the heavens and beyond. This time, I followed the lines of the Worldmind and used my speed in this state to follow their subtle and intricate movements around the curvature of the planet.

A rollercoaster of light is the closest I can come to describing the experience.

It didn’t feel like it took long to find the nexus point. Imagine a cornucopia of lines composed of different colored lights meeting together to form a massive cloud of thought. This was the source–every living creature on earth was connected to this thing. If there was a way to kill every living thing, this might’ve been the place to start.

I braced myself with warnings I had received from Nayan. After having discussed with him my attempt to follow a tether of consciousness to the source, he had warned that something like this would be akin to trying to navigate an intersection of wild rivers with a small boat. If I screwed this up, I could end up drowning in a sea of thoughts. Alternately, I imagined, my consciousness could be torn to pieces and scattered around the world. I would effectively cease to be myself anymore, if something like that was possible.

Fuck it, I thought. It’s now or never.

Moving into the source was a cacophony beyond understanding or description. Every thought, impulse and emotion seemed to pass through me all at the same time. This was it, I realized. I was interacting with every consciousness within the Worldmind.

If moving into someone’s stream of consciousness was akin to walking into a waterfall, this was similar to being sucked into a whirlpool at the bottom of an ocean. This was it, this was the moment where I was going to lose everything forever. I was drowning, trapped in a bottomless pit of thoughts and emotions. The image of a victorious Sandra towering over countless deaths, hands dripping with blood appeared in my mind as a prelude to final death.

Ironic isn’t it? Dying from the very thing you’re trying to protect. I was all but resigned to just let the flood of consciousnesses wash over and do away with me finally, when another image began to surface amidst all the chaos.

Nayan in deep meditation, floating above a river of blood. Inside him I saw his Atman, his eternal self. I then imagined myself doing the same, hovering over the churning rivers of thought. Suddenly, the noise ceased and I became aware of a large barrier that surrounded my consciousness within the source.

Remembering Anders and Maren back at the apartment, I then was aware of their ever thought. Both of their tethers appeared before me, bending and moving away from their adjacency to the other conscious minds of the Worldmind.

I focused on Janek and Stein as well and saw their consciousnesses begin to gravitate toward me. Before me now were four different streams of thoughts that I could conceivably possess. So next I did the unthinkable. I began to merge my consciousness with theirs.

Everlasting Life

Neither Anders nor Maren knew for certain what the implications would be if a human being’s consciousness clashed with another’s inside of something as feebly understood as the Worldmind. But they had theories.

The basis for these theories posited that a human consciousness was composed of energy and light. Light that was similar to radiation in that we couldn’t perceive it with our eyes. This suggested the seemingly correct assertion that human consciousness could exist outside of the brain and, indeed, beyond death. This, according to both physicists, was the prevailing concept that led them to develop the shared consciousness theory in the first place. After all, they explained, energy could never be destroyed, only transformed.

Because of this, they imagined that if both of our consciousnesses were to collide in the Worldmind one of two things would happen. Either we would merge, somehow, or we would repel one another. If the former happened, they couldn’t offer any ideas on what that would mean. If the latter took place, they imagined that would mean our conflict would continue indefinitely.

I imagined a never ending cycle of violence where we would use others’ lives as pawns in a cosmic game of cat and mouse. In this eternal struggle, Sandra would always have the upper hand due to her experience. After all, I had just learned how to use Transference, but Sandra had been using it for years and had killed countless people in her travels. I wondered how long it would take for me to become just like her. The thought chilled me to the bone.

“Stop, stop, stop,” I said as Maren and Anders continued to bounce theories off of one another. They both stopped and looked at me, waiting for an explanation and hoping that I had some kind of solution they hadn’t thought of already.

The fact was that none of this was helping and the more we talked about it the more nervous I became about what would happen if I had failed to stop Sandra in the Worldmind. Most of that fear, of course, came from the unknown. None of us really knew what she was planning on doing or how she was going to do it. All we could do was speculate and make plans.

“Well, she’s planning on destroying the Worldmind, right?” Anders offered.

He was right, of course, Sandra had told me so when our conscious selves were floating around in the void outside the Worldmind after she had possessed my body and was killed by Jinn.

“Yes,” Maren conceded. “But how and why just the one?”

“The void,” I said, licking my lips. “Wait, wait wait. When Sandra possessed my body and was killed we both ended up in this place–a place outside of the Worldmind. She called it the Nowhere.”

Anders made a face. “And what did this ‘Nowhere’ look like?”

I explained how it was a giant void full of blackness with no light or substance whatsoever, just our consciousnesses interacting with one another.

“Fascinating,” Maren said. “But how is it possible for thought to exist somewhere outside the shared consciousness of a Worldmind?”

“I have no idea,” I said. “She knows, though. When we were there she bragged about how no other Prime–not even Nayan–knew of its existence.”

“But you do,” Anders said. “Clearly.”

“Yeah, but I don’t know how to get there.”

“Do you think that she could use the Nowhere, as you put it, to destroy the Worldmind?” Maren asked. “Maybe destroy it somehow from the outside?”

The question hung in the air, but we all knew that there was only one way to find out the answers to all of these questions. In order to learn everything about Sandra’s insane plan I would have to absorb all of her memories–all of her knowledge–through Transference. That was step one.

This was the biggest risk I would ever take. Mostly because I didn’t know how I would come out at the other end. Would I still be myself after absorbing every one of her memories? After having possessed other people in my travels, I had come away each time with a little piece of them inside of me. Inside of my eternal self, as Nayan would say.

I tried to imagine what I would be like after absorbing Sandra’s consciousness into my own. Again I wondered how long it would take for me to become just like her. It chilled me to the bone.

Everlasting Life

We went over the details of the situation for some time in Anders’ apartment. There was discussion over how Transference worked and how to access alternate dimensions through it. If it was anything like entering into the Sight, I imagined it couldn’t be that much different. The truth was that in order to move from one reality to the next you needed to have some next level kind of concentration and I just wasn’t there yet. This was a problem, considering we didn’t know how much time we had left before Sandra would be able to carry out her plan. That was another subject of conversation altogether, of course.

What methods could we use to stop a Prime? Specifically, what could we do to stop a Prime like Sandra?

When discussing the concept of Primes with Maren and Anders, I realized that, to my knowledge at least, Sandra, myself and Nayan were the only three Primes who could use Transference to jump into a body other than our own. Yuan, Jinn and Khalil hadn’t been able to do that. Sure, they were able to transfer into another reality, but only to inhabit another version of themselves. In a way, we were oddities. Living exceptions to the cosmic rules regarding Primes.

Anders offered the idea of drugging Sandra in whatever form she happened to posses and then lobotomize her, keeping her in a perpetual vegetative state. This sounded like a good idea until I was reminded by Maren that this would only serve as a half-measure to stopping her permanently.

“By keeping her in that state, you’re only treating the symptom instead of the disease,” she said. “Eventually that body will wither and die away, freeing her consciousness.”

Maren suggested freezing her body forever. To her, the only way to entrap someone with an immortal consciousness like Sandra’s was to place her current form in freezing conditions for as long as possible. The ideas ranged from sticking her in a meat locker to dropping her off in the coldest part of Antarctica.

By using machinery to keep her frozen, I felt, you were only prolonging the inevitable. With time, machines broke down and societies would collapse. The only problem with Antarctica, Anders and I saw, was that temperatures would change over time. She’d thaw out and continue on merry way.

“Time,” I said. “Maybe that’s it…”

Both physicists fixed me with an inquisitive look.

Primes like Yuan and Jinn, were constrained to one form. Yuan was always Yuan no matter what reality it was. He couldn’t deviate from that. Because of this, he had a finite lifespan. His consciousness would survive for only as long as his oldest channel would live. For Sandra and I, this was not the case at all.

We were effectively immortal. Our channels could fade away and we would be free to continue living through others, robbing them of their time and free will. There was seemingly no way of stopping someone like me or Sandra. You couldn’t detain us or keep us in a vegetative state for long before we would be free again. Not physically, at least.

“I think I know what it is that I have to do,” I said. “Unless I become her eternal jailer, the only way I’m going to be able to stop Sandra from destroying this Worldmind or another is to try and confront her inside of the Worldmind.”

Everlasting Life

Anders had as many questions for me as Maren did. After I explained everything I knew about Primes, Sandra, Yuan’s Society and the Worldmind, he berated me with one question after the next.

“What does it look like?” he said. “The Worldmind, I mean.”

I thought about it for a moment and slipped into the Sight for a few seconds.

“Like a multi-colored web of light,” I said. “In a way, it resembles a massive tapestry of yarn. Except that all the strings meet at one point.”

“They converge? Fascinating,” he breathed. “Are they connected? One Worldmind to the next?”

“Yeah, they are,” I said, remembering the Web. “In fact, you guys drew up a complicated map in another reality showing how each Worldmind is connected to each other through some kind of tether.”

“So the multiverse is real,” he said to Maren. “We were right.”

“How are these realities different from one another?” he asked me.

“Well, they’re all different in one way or another,” I said. “For example, in this reality none of you are famous for your theories.”

“More like infamous,” Maren said, sipping a cup of coffee.

“And where you’re from, we’re famous?”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

Anders got up, walked over to a window and looked out onto the street.

“The implications of this are enormous,” he said. “If you’re able to travel to different realities and take the body of anyone you want…”

“Well, I haven’t really gotten to that stage yet.” I said. “I can hop into a different body in this reality. I haven’t yet figured out how to jump dimensions.”

“…it could mean infinite knowledge,” he continued.

“Infinite life,” Maren added.

I hadn’t thought about it the way they had, but we were getting ahead of ourselves.

“Ok, listen, we’re not focusing on what we need to focus on, alright?”

After they calmed down, I got Anders’ input on the Sandra problem.

“So this Sandra woman is, like you, a Prime?” he asked.

“Yeah.”

“…and she wants to unravel the worldwide consciousness that exists between every living being.”

“Correct,” Maren said.

“Impossible,” Anders said. “Even theoretically.”

“I’m not so sure,” Maren said, pointing at me. “Think about it. When he uses the Worldmind to access someone’s body, he learns everything about that person. Everything that they have ever experienced, he’s experienced.”

“You’re suggesting what then?” he asked.

“I’m saying that if the Worldmind can be accessed through a nexus point of some kind, it may be possible for a Prime to access all the sentient beings in that network at the same time.”

“So she gains their knowledge,” Anders said. “I fail to see how that could collapse the entire consciousness.”

“She’ll kill them,” I said, Sandra’s plan dawning on me for the first time. “If there’s a way for her to control everyone and everything in a Worldmind, she’ll do it. Then she’ll kill everyone in it.”

Everlasting Life

The drive to Anders’ apartment in Maren’s car was a short one. Though we talked sporadically about Sandra and the Worldmind at large, we didn’t really cover any new ground. Maren was the one asking the questions, curious about the details. Specifically, she wanted to know what drove Sandra to be so destructive.

“That, I feel, was my fault,” I said. “I created Sandra the day our son drowned. She blamed me and the worst thing is: she was right. It was my fault.”

Maren stopped asking questions for the rest of the drive.

Anders was living in a one bedroom apartment across the street from a walled in park in Grønland, a less than desirable neighborhood in Oslo. Maren said that she hoped this meeting wouldn’t take long. During the day, Maren explained, Grønland was fine. But at night–particularly for a woman–it was not a safe place to be.

We made our way up the staircase and located the door to his apartment on the second floor. Maren knocked and called out to Anders but there was no reply for several minutes.

“Maybe he stepped out for a bit?” she offered.

“I don’t buy it,” I said. “Call him on your phone.”

Maren called the number she had for Anders and we huddled up close to the door and listened. There was a slight muted sound of a phone vibrating and buzzing on a flat surface nearby.

“Who goes anywhere without a phone these days?” I asked.

Maren was about to knock again and call out when I raised my hands and signaled for her not to say anything. I made a motion for her to cut off the call and step back from the door.

After having told her about my run-ins with Sandra, Maren followed my instruction without question and stepped away, concern in her eyes.

I took a breath and stared at the door. Reality around me began to blur and gray out as the Sight took over. Looking beyond the front door and the mass of clutter inside Anders’ apartment, I saw a single faint aura sprawled on the floor.

“Someone’s on the floor in there,” I said. “Watch out.”

Maren said nothing and watched as I prepared to kick down the door.

Janek Holmberg was a twenty four year old college dropout whose parents had paid for everything. Janek was a quitter when it came to mostly everything in his life, except for football. Or, as we Americans know it, soccer. Despite having a small frame with slight musculature, Janek’s legs were carved out of wood.

The flimsy door took two firm hits before giving way. I went in first, pushing my way past the now crooked door and the collection of junk that filled the hallways. Anders’ apartment looked like he had begun to pack for a move and never finished.

The crash must have woken him, because he had begun to pick himself off of the floor and was cursing up a storm.

“What the fuck–? Who the fuck are you?! What are you–?” he stammered as I stormed in.

“Oh good, you’re alive,” I said. “It’s safe now, Maren! This bum was asleep on the floor.”

“Maren?” he asked, surprised to see her enter. “What are you doing here? Who is this guy?”

“This guy?” I said. “This is the guy who’s about to blow your mind, Andy.”