Finally there was someone who knew I wasn’t crazy…
But how could I be sure about him? When we got into the thick of the forest away from the tribe, Mike opened up, and wacko never sounded kookier:
“I was 92 years old when I was able to afford a then-recent breakthrough in drugs called Static Aging. It meant that my biological aging was frozen. I was coupling it with a treatment called Perfected Health. I was able to stay alive indefinitely, barring an accident or being murdered.”
“You sound like you’re from the future, Mike,” I say. “Nothing like that is available where I’m from.”
“You’re so time-oriented,” Mike warns. “Anyway, years later techniques became available whereby people could reverse aging. So I restored myself to a younger state and continued living on and on…”
“I was about to ask why you look my age. But why not younger?”
“Health is what’s important, not age. Eventually it’s not even about maintaining the same body! As my lifespan stretched on it became possible to transform our bodies in any number of ways. I became many fantastic things and lived in amazing places I never dreamed of seeing.”
As we walked on we came to a break in the trees and approached a deep canyon, where we stood on the edge of a magnificent drop-off.
“By the time I’d lived a thousand years local space was taken over by The Big Sky. It’s too much to go into now… but the point is, no matter what I do I will have to get older. In fact I’m probably going to have to let myself get up to 110 or 112 years old before it’s over. And guess what? So will you.”
“Yeah,” I note, “because apparently I can’t die!”
“Death can’t happen to anyone –from one’s own perspective,” says Mike. “Only other people can die. But there are critical crossroads where corresponding alternate realities connect. Fate has us all in the grip of a fully lived life.”
“‘Fate?'” I repeat skeptically. “Are you talking Gods and stuff?”
“Nature. The way things are. That’s all. All creatures have limited existences within their environments. Relatively speaking, some live for hours, some for days, others for months, and in the case of humans we are biologically fitted to live 110 years on average. What no one has been able to tell you before is that every creature and every human is going to experience all of his or her years regardless of how things look to anyone else. Even if a tornado kills you and you’re dead to the whole town, you’ll wake up tomorrow with a headache. Most of us would ‘wake up’ in a very similar situation to the one we just died from, the next frequency up or down the scalar web, but not you. In fact, it seems that you don’t even have to die in order to switch over to a coexisting reality. All you have to do is fall asleep.”
“Not even,” I correct him. “A couple of times all I did was blink! But if you ask me, what I’m going through is more like some kind of afterlife – and a scary one where every day is a new threat of some kind.”
“There is no ‘afterlife’ but there is ‘other-life’ – meaning a continuation of life elsewhere despite death. But it’s not supposed to be happening wild, like what you’re going through,” Mike assures me, his hand on my shoulder. “Then again, if you hadn’t gone through the last three weeks you wouldn’t be believing a thing I’m saying, would you?”
“I’m not believing anything right now,” I admit. “All of my beliefs are under suspicion.”
“Well you can believe the following,” Mike says authoritatively. “In order for you and your point of view to exist, every electron composing your atoms must have multiple possible locations. Research tells us that’s the only way the result is a stable pattern identifiable as you. In the Big Sky, sciartists call a stable organic pattern an individuon.”
“Why are you here?” I need to know. “Why are you teaching me this stuff? How are you going to help? Why am I bouncing around the universe?”
“Because you’re in trouble. I’m betting that your individuon is off-kilter. It just so happens that each individuon generates a reality matrix occupying a self-referential universe, widely regarded as ‘consciousness.’ The objective elements of that reality are shared with all harmonic variant universes, that is all other people and animals, while the subjective elements of that reality depend on you. Conversely, each individuon is an object to other individuons – so all individuons are effected by all harmonic variant universes to some degree.”
“Is there going to be a test?” I laugh nervously, my head spinning. “What, you discovered all of this just by living for so damned long, eh?”
“The only reason I retain my memory of alternate realities is the quantum tunneling implant placed in my hypothalamus by my cosmic mentor,” Mike says mysteriously. “I’ll bet that sounds stupidly weird to someone who’s only aware of one lifeline. Anyway, he gave me a new name when he learned how long I’ve lived. He calls me Everborn. He came to me upon my first death at the age of fourteen. He was a strange old man claiming to have the ability to grant special powers to those he was drawn to. He felt somehow that I should be given rare insight into the truth of existing, and that my special power would be that assurance, the awareness that I can never actually die until I am old.”
Doctor Bijaksana! Of course. “I’m headed for a long and complicated ever-after if this keeps up,” I lament.
“There is a “you” in every harmonic universe, riding a parallel alternate reality and connected by the same individuon,” Mike, or ‘Everborn’ says. “So you are virtually immortal, by volume of sheer numbers. But don’t worry. There’s one thing I can do for you. When you awaken tomorrow, wherever you find yourself, my mentor will find you. When he does, he will try to end your torment…
“Anyway, this place is pretty nasty, don’t you think? So, before they sacrifice your wife in the morning (What?!) I’ve been here long enough and I’m takin’ my only way out. But I promise you,” Everborn says as he steps off the cliff and falls away, “we’ll meet again!”
Why would he do that?
Okay then. Disturbing.
I walk back to the village to spend a precious night with Onamandla. I’m going to savor ever single second of it…
Because the next time I wake up I’ll be on an other Earth.