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Author: Vit

Dome Hopping

Dome Hopping

“Before you know what’s up I’m in the next bod

And I don’t even know if I was born in a pod

Next time you see me you won’t even know

Like Chappelle it’s my ass I gotta show

Just so you’ll recognize what’s up in your thighs

Otherwise you’ll follow me around like Samwise

And I don’t even know if I have anymore tries.”

Karl took a deep breath and stared at the producer with a blank expression. After a few minutes of silence, Karl spoke up.

”Alright, Jay, there’s your bars. Where’s my money?”

“Yo cuz that was tight, was that a freestyle?”

“Off the top of the dome. Now pay up.”

Jay pulled out a wad of 20’s and set it on the desk. Karl left the sound booth and collected his pay. Karl didn’t care what Jay did with his rhymes, just as Jay didn’t care who Karl was. An open call for rappers willing to freestyle for pay was their only connection.

Content with his performance, Karl went to the corner store and grabbed a six pack of beer, a burrito and a cigarillo. He then went home and indulged in his vices.

Karl was a creature of instinct. He didn’t care for future planning, nor did he dwell on the past. This is largely because Karl had a secret that he let slip in his freestyle: he was able to hop from mind to mind, or dome to dome, as Karl called it.

After consuming his burrito, Karl went outside to smoke his cigarillo. He struck match, sat down in his folding chair and debated his next move.

The paid freestyle gave him enough money for another week, but after that, Karl was out of cash. His only marketable skill was rapping. He was never in the same place, or body, long enough to make a career out of it.

Karl took a deep inhale on his cigarillo and wondered how long he had been doing this. A good memory was not something that Karl possessed. He often tried to remember his original body and how he got this ability; he always drew a blank for both answers.

No friends, no lovers, no companionship. Karl lived a life of solitude. Sometimes, when he’d hop into a new body, he’d have a lover or friends. However, he was quick to empty bank accounts and disappear.

Content with his level of nicotine, Karl put out his cigarillo and went back inside. After he cracked a beer, he leaned back in his recliner and stared at the ceiling. On nights like these, Karl always became contemplative. Why was he always compelled to hop to the next body once the going got tough? How old was he? Why was he skilled at rapping?

He finished his beer and grabbed another. It was almost time to find a new host, Karl thought. This one was getting fat and unhealthy. Tomorrow, Karl resolved, he’d go find a new body.

That night Karl drifted away aided by alcohol. He dreamt of a girl with long brown hair running in a meadow. He ran a few steps behind her; he was never able to see her face. All night, they ran through the field. Right as she turned around, he woke up.

Karl spent the day moping around the apartment. He resolved that in the evening he would visit an upscale bar and find a new mark. As the day turned into night, Karl showered, shaved and put on his nicest clothes.

Within minutes of walking into a bar, he spotted several targets. Men trying to impress women were always good marks. He sat at the bar next to a man in a tailored suit and sporting a Rolex. Over the course of the next hour, while Karl nursed his gin and tonic, the man bragged about both his car and his high paying job as an investment banker. Perfect.

Karl once planned elaborate traps to switch bodies with people. He’d lure them into a bathroom or alley. Now, he didn’t care. With brazen apathy, Karl lifted his hand and touched the man on the side of the neck. The man started to turn around in response, but then he stopped and started shaking, as did Karl.

Like traveling through a tunnel of neurons and photons, Karl made his way into his new body. Shaking subsided and the hop was complete. Karl now wore a fine tailored suit and a Rolex. He knew that he only had a minute or two before the man in his old body came to, so he asked the pretty woman to excuse him. He headed straight for the front door.

Typical criminals run away with their cash, diamonds or cars until the cops are gone. Karl had to run away from the person whose body he just stole. Once he had ran a few blocks in his new Italian loafers, he stopped and checked his belongings. Keys, wallet with $534, and a smartphone. The man, who was now in the fat, unhealthy body, would likely head to his car. Karl decided that it was best to avoid a confrontation and head back to his home.

He pulled out the smartphone. Excellent, Karl thought, it uses a thumbprint scanner. After gaining access, he went to Google Maps and typed in ‘home.’ Even better, the man used Google’s assistant which stored way too many personal details. Now he knew where the man lived.

Taking a cab to the address revealed that it was in an upscale neighborhood. Karl wasted no time. After opening the door, he robbed the man blind. In the past, he would’ve moved in. However, the man would eventually come by, in the fat body, and the resulting confrontation could involve a gun. Karl didn’t remember much, but he did remember that people hate having their bodies stolen.

As Karl packed several suitcases full of valuables and fine clothes, there was a knock on the door. Surely it wasn’t the man; he was likely still at the bar trying to figure out what happened. Ignoring the knock, he kept packing.

Suddenly, a loud crash could be heard. Someone kicked in the door. Karl froze.

“Paul, we saw yous come in. We know yous in here!” Shouted a deep voice with a thick accent.

Karl scrambled to find a hiding spot. Nothing seemed sufficient, so he decided to confront the voice seeking Paul.

“I’m in here, what do you need?” Karl replied

Around the corner walked three large men with button up shirts unbuttoned to their sternum, gold jewelry and loose fitting suits.

“We been lookin’ for ya.” The man in the center said.

“And what can I help you with?”

All three men laughed.

“Yous late in your payment to the Don. We’re here to collect your kneecaps.”

Karl almost peed himself. What had he gotten himself into?

“Oh, I have plenty of money right here. Let me pay you back.”

“It’s a bit too late for that, Paul. You been dodgin’ us for weeks. You finally came home, that was a mistake.”

Karl knew the only way out of this predicament was to dome hop into one of them.

“Alright fine, do what you gotta,” Karl said.

Two of the men grabbed Karl by the shoulder. When they did, Karl touched their skin. Nothing happened. He touched again. Still nothing.

“Ya know, I respect that yous gonna take your punishment without fighting.”

Two of the men held him down on the bed while the third man pulled out a gun. He aimed it at his right kneecap.

“This brings me no pleasure.”

Karl touched one of the men again. Nothing happened. Karl’s eyes darted around the room looking for an answer or escape. But no answers nor escapes were found.

BOOM!

Karl’s kneecap was blown to smithereens. He shouted in pain and flailed about trying to make contact and hop out of this body.

“I lied,” said the armed man, “I love doing this.”

BOOM!

The left kneecap was gone, too. Karl had never known such excruciating pain. It felt as though a million hot nails were driven into both of his knees at the same time.

“Now, we don’t want yous to bleed out and die. You still owe us a substantial amount of money. Jim, call 911 from his phone.”

One of the men grabbed the phone from Karl’s pocket, dialled 911, waited for someone to answer, then hung up.

“Police will be here soon. We’ll leave the door open for ‘em.” With that, the three men exited the luxurious home.

Karl was squirmed and shouted. Despite the physical pain, one thought stood out in his mind like a rose among weeds, “Why can’t I dome hop anymore?” With that thought occupying his mind, Karl passed out.

*****

“I don’t know how you did it, but I’m glad you did.”

Karl awoke in the hospital to a familiar voice. As he opened his eyes, he saw the body that he abandoned with a smile on its face.

“My name is Paul, or have you figured that out yet. What should I call you?”

Karl hesitate, but decided it was pointless to hold back. “I’m Karl.”

“Well, Karl, I want to thank you.  You’ve given me a second chance to live. You, however, I’m afraid your life is almost through.”

On instinct, Karl reached out to touch Paul and switch back. Paul pulled away, and Karl could hardly move.

“I’m not going to let you take this away from me. I came here to thank you, and now that I have, it’s time for me to leave. Have fun cleaning up my mess of a life.” Paul stood up to leave.

“Wait!” Karl shouted.

“What?”

“How much do you owe the mob?”

Paul laughed, “Which mob? I owe the Italians a few hundred thousand, I owe the Yakuza a million and I owe several smaller syndicates varying amounts. I was in hiding when you found me.”

Karl’s heart felt like it had been soaked in concrete and thrown into a deep lake. Even though he would definitely try again, he thoroughly knew that his dome hopping days were through.

“You picked the wrong guy, Karl.” Paul said as he walked out of the hospital room.

His knees screamed out in pain and his future looked bleak.  Karl stared at the ceiling with such intensity that his eyes almost popped out of his skull. The nurse came in with a meal and he shook her hand. Karl had never been a woman before, but he’d try it. Upon making contact, there was no shaking, no neuron tunnel. The gift was gone.

Days turned into weeks until Karl was eventually released. During his time in the hospital, he made a plan. He’d leave the city, leave no trace and head for the wilderness. His first stop was at Jay’s studio, where he asked if Jay needed any verses. Jay said yes and he’d pay $200 if it was good. Karl, with Paul’s voice, stepped into the booth:

“My mistakes are made clear

Let me whisper in your ear

I used to move from body to body

Now I’m stuck in one and I can’t leave the lobby

I can’t use my gifts, I can’t smoke more spliffs

All that’s left is to redeem myself

Help other people to reach the top shelf

I’ve been selfish with a gift I was given

Now it’s time to try some altruistic livin’”

Karl collected his pay and immediately went to the bus stop. He kept his head on a swivel and managed to board a bus to the next town over. When arrived there, he went to a town across the country. Then, he took a train to the north. He felt confident that he had shaken any tails and was completely broke, so he took odd jobs wherever he could find them.

Months passed and Karl was no longer homeless. Years passed and he met someone who he could call his own. Another year passed and he had a new son. For the first time in his memory, Karl was truly happy.

One day, a man came into the store he was managing. Karl greeted him with a smile and said, “Hello!”.

The man didn’t smile back. He simply said, “Nobody escapes the Yakuza.” Karl dove to the ground as the man pulled out a gun and started firing.

Karl crawled to the back exit, but as he tried to push the door open, the man shot Karl in the leg. Karl knew his life was over. As he watched the man approach him and point the gun at his head, he didn’t think of his once almighty ability. He thought of his wife. He thought of his son. As the man pulled the trigger, Karl smiled, for he had finally known love.

Entangled

Entangled

You wouldn’t believe me if I told you how many times I’ve died. Or maybe you would. My deaths created you. An error in information transfer somewhere along the line and here you are.

Every single death is fully experienced, but instead of ascending to the Heavens, I remain on Earth. I need to tweak the device to disassemble my brain first instead of last. That would probably be less painful. The problem is that…

“Dalton, it’s time for dinner!” Beth shouted from upstairs. She doesn’t know about any of this, so you keep quiet. She wonders why all our money problems disappeared. I told her I got a promotion at the lab, when in reality I quit and took all my research with me. Beth wouldn’t understand, so I keep her in the dark.

I climbed the stairs preparing to hide my secret from the only person I even remotely trust, except for you. It’s been lonely being in possession of world altering technology that the world doesn’t deserve. Maybe that’s why you showed up?

“What’d you cook up tonight?”

“Lasagna with a side of salad,” she said with little emotion. A look of exhaustion had made its home on her face. She’s still working a full time job. If only I could tell her. It’d only put her in danger.

We ate with little conversation that night. The next morning would be the last time I ever saw here, and I didn’t even say goodbye.

Ever since the breakthrough, I’ve been pulled in too many directions. I can be around the globe in a matter of minutes, as long as I’m willing to pay the death tax – and I always am.

Within five minutes of Beth leaving for work, there was a knock on my door. It was two men in black suits, with black ties and sunglasses on. Both men’s hair was immaculately slicked back. I saw them through the peephole and knew immediately what they were here for. The Protectors never pay citizens visits just to chat. They make arrests and executions.

In lieu of answering the door and meeting my ultimate end, I rushed to the basement and grabbed the device. I had to disappear. As it was powering on and warming up, I heard the front door crash to the ground.

“We know you’re in here! You are under arrest for the theft of classified technology from the Alliance of Protected Territories.”

Their shouts were in vain, the device was already warmed up and ready for use. The metallic shell was cold against my heart, while the straps embraced me like a four-armed hug. The Protectors kicked down the door to my basement right as I pushed the button. They were too late.

Atom by atom, I was excruciatingly disassembled. The machine had located matter in another part of the world and was entangling my atoms with it. Immediately after entanglement was established, the information of every atom in my body was transferred to the target matter. Thus, it became me, and I died.

I cried out in pain as the Protectors descended the staircase. By the time they reached the bottom, most of my body had painfully disappeared. Head last, why does it have to be head last? As the atoms in my brain were disassembled, I was finally given some relief as this version of me met the ultimate end.

A new location, a new me. You were there, too. I was assembled in Microsunia, a country that had been torn apart by civil war and by A.P.T. My last memory was seeing two of the black-suited devils storming down my stairs. Would they be able to find me from what I left behind? There was always a residual quantum signature, but did they bring the right devices with them to detect it? If so, they’ll know precisely where to look for me.

“Excuse, sir, have coin?” A small child was standing right next to me, unbeknownst to me.

“Sorry, I don’t have any coins.” The child didn’t leave, but kept staring at me with those dark Microsunian eyes that can melt your heart like butter on a frying pan. I searched my pockets and found a lone quarter. Lucky for the child that the teleportation device transports all matter within its range.

“Okay, I have one coin, but don’t tell anyone you got it from me.” The child’s face lit up and she ran away. I had to get moving before word spread that a white man was nearby handing out quarters. Plus, of course, the Protectors likely had a base nearby.

What did you say? You know this part? Fine, I’ll skip ahead.

We’re standing at the crossroads of a lifetime of death or a single death. I don’t know which way to go. Beth and that entire life I had built have been compromised. What do you think I should do?

I care more about you after that last teleport. You’re getting stronger, I can tell. Perhaps someday you’ll be in charge and I’ll be the one listening to you.

Let’s get a hotel for the night in the next town over. I…we…what’s the difference?

We walk up to the lobby of the rundown hostel. She looks like she’s been awake for the past 24 hours. Maybe she has been, yaba is quite popular here.

“I’d like a room for two, I mean, for one, please?”

“300 ying.”

“I only have A.P.T. dollars, is that okay?” Look at her face light up!

“Yes! 30 A.P.D.”

Where’s my wallet again? Did you move it? Oh, here it is. Great, I have 50 bucks on me.

“Here’s 40, keep the change.”

“Thank, sir!”

Look at her smooth, bright pink nails contrasting with her dry, wrinkled hands as she slides the key across the desk. How interesting is that?

Appears as though our room is upstairs. The creak of the floorboards shows the age of the hostel. Seems like every stair is telling us its story.

That last information transfer really messed with my head. I know you’re not real; I know you’re a symptom of my fractured mind. I’m afraid of teleporting even one more time. All the bank robberies, all the vacations, all the secrecy. All the death. I didn’t know it would take such a toll on my mind. Perhaps consciousness can’t be copied through quantum teleportation. Perhaps I’m just an animated copy of someone who died three months ago. What does that make you?

Despite my desire to cease teleportation, I’m keeping the device on. The Protectors could show up at any moment.

I’m ready for sleep. I hope you are, too. No offense, but I hope you’re gone in the morning.

*****

Oh, you’re still here. Why is it that I feel like my grasp on myself is slipping away quickly? We don’t have time to discuss it, we need to keep moving. The Protectors could be here any minute. I have a strong suspicion that they know exactly where I teleported. I don’t see any men in suits from the window.

Time to get out of the hostel. The device is rubbing weird on my chest, it’s starting to hurt. We need to eat. I bet you a million ying that there’s no provided breakfast. The stairs seem louder with their creaks. See, no breakfast. Let’s leave.

I don’t know how to share my consciousness with you. One of us must die. How do I kill you?

We are both going to die if the Protectors find us. I stole billions of dollars worth of research along with the only working teleporter prototype. They won’t be giving me a trial and prison time. No, it’ll be torture just because, followed by death. The Alliance of Protected Territories is a brutal country when betrayed.

Look over there. See those men in suits. That seems out of place, let’s turn around. Of course, more men in suits. See, I told you they honed in on us. As much as I don’t want to teleport again, we have to. This version of us must die so that another version will live. Do you want to push the button, or shall I?

Why does it have to start at the feet? The pain is too much, I can’t talk to you anymore.

Hello? Are you still there? Why is it dark, I can’t see a thing. Am I dead? Are you still there? No, no, no. It happened.

You’re in charge now.

The Walker

The Walker

Death gives value to each passing moment. The closer the final conclusion draws, the more value is given to each moment.

That value was stolen from me. My death is non-existent. My moments are worth nothing.

I lazily woke up on a bench in a busy city. I forgot which one. I’ve come to learn that most things are unimportant, especially which city you’re in. Inspecting my body revealed that I was overdue for a shower. Then I laughed, overdue according to who?

Perhaps I’ve become too skilled at being alone. Perhaps had I been less isolated things would have gone differently. Instead, I sit here alone.

I brushed off the dirt that had accrued and tried to gain my footing. I stumbled, showing me that I was clearly still drunk.

Water. I needed water. Okay, need was a stretch, I wanted water. It’d make things a bit more comfortable. I looked around and noticed a gas station across the street. Half walking, half stumbling, I walked to the gas station. Were I a normal alcoholic, I would’ve had to deal with the morning shakes.

I was met with a stern stare from the large woman behind the counter as I entered the gas station. She was right to judge me; I was going to blatantly steal. I picked up two large gallons of water and walked right out, with her gaze following me the entire way.

Throughout all the millennia, throughout all the vast riches, throughout the different paths I’ve walked, I’ve learned one thing: the greatest superpower one can have is to not have an identity.

I kept walking back to my bench where I consumed my water joyously.

I should’ve grabbed some food. As I discovered in India a few thousand years ago, I don’t need to eat. Yet, I enjoy it.

The police pulled up to the gas station across the street. Wow, the large lady involved the police over two gallons of water. I could make a run for it, but what’s the point? I have my greatest superpower on my side. After a few moments, the police came outside and started walking my direction. I remained seated and comfortable.

“Sir, did you steal two gallons of water from that gas station across the street?”

“Yes.”

It was clear they weren’t expecting that.

“Well, uhm, do you have your ID on you?”

“No.”

“What’s your name?”

“People know me by many names.”

One of the officers crossed his arms, a classic sign of agitation.

“Sir, I won’t ask you again, what is your name?”

“You can call me Lao.”

“Lao, do you have any form of ID on you?”

“No.” I repeated.

“Alright, sir, you’re under arrest for suspicion of shoplifting. We’ll fingerprint you at the station and figure out who you really are.”

I said nothing. They put in my hand cuffs and walked me across the street. I sat silently in the back of their car until we reached the police station. This was turning out to be a fun day!

“Please state your full name for the record.” Said the booking clerk.

“Lao Tzu.”

“Very funny, what’s your real name?”

“Lao Tzu is my real name. At least that’s the first name that I remember.”

“I’m not putting Lao Tzu on this form. What’s your real name?”

“Should I say it slower? Lao. Tzu.”

The booking clerk’s face was flushed and her eyes looked like they were about to pop out of her head.

“Sergeant!” She shouted down the hall. After a few moments, a heavyset man with a crew cut and small glasses walked up.

“What’s the problem here?”

“This perp has no ID and says his name is Lao Tzu.”

“Isn’t that a Japanese philosopher or something.”

“Chinese.” I interjected.

“Well, you don’t look Chinese to me. Let’s just fingerprint him and run it against the database.”

It didn’t take them long to realize that I didn’t have fingerprints.

“Look here son, you’re only under arrest for petty shoplifting. Cooperate with us, tell us who you are. You’ll get a slap on the wrist and you’ll have your freedom.” Said the heavyset man.

“I am being honest with you. My name is Lao Tzu. I have no ID and no fingerprints.” That wasn’t what they wanted to hear.

“Lock him in the drunk tank. And hose him down, he reeks.” Said the heavyset man before walking away.

I appreciated the shower and was content with my jail cell. I wasn’t alone, so that was a nice change of pace.

Three other men occupied the same cell. We sat along the concrete benches with sparse eye contact being made. While others avoided it, I’ll take every bit of eye contact that I can get. It is the temporary union of two souls, and I rejoice in it. One of the men in the cell did not share my affinity for it, however.

“Whatcha lookin’ at?” Said a large man with pale skin, a shaved head and a rambunctious beard.

“You.”

He stood up immediately. I don’t think he was expecting a response. We were seated across the cell from each other, but that made us less than six feet away. Within a few strides of his long, stilt-like legs, he was towering over me.

“May I help you with anything?” I said.

He didn’t like that, either. He grabbed me by my dirty shirt and held me up against wall.

“I dun’t like ya.” He stammered.

“I’m sorry about that.” I replied with a smile.

Without another word, he cocked his fist. Suddenly, I was faced with a choice: absorb the blow, or disarm him. I spent several hundred years in China instituting systems of unarmed combat, so I could easily dispatch him. However, I knew the cops wouldn’t appreciate a fight in the drunk tank. I opted to absorb the blow.

His fist connected, but the damage was nonexistent. I’m still a victim of physics, but I’ve never seen myself bleed.

The large man looked confused.

“Are you done?” I asked.

He set me down, backed away and looked at his bloody fist. I didn’t need a mirror to know that my face looked exactly the same as it did before.

Hours passed. Nobody else’s eyes met mine. My heart sunk, and I wished the man never hit me. It’s been a few years since I was in such close proximity to other people.

Eventually, the electronic seal was opened with an alarming buzz, and one of the officers motioned for me to follow them. I was taken to another room where I was handcuffed to a table. I was in there for an hour before an officer walked in. He wore the standard police uniform and carried with him a manilla folder. His face slunk down to his knees, and I wished he would take a nap.

“You’re in here for a petty crime that we don’t really care about. We do, however, care about why you don’t have any finger prints. Care to explain?”

“Is it against the law to not have fingerprints?” I inquired.

“Well, no.”

“Then I’m afraid I won’t be answering your question.”

His sunken face sprung to life with a series of twists and tangles. I could hear his breathing accelerate. Minutes passed, or maybe it was hours. My ability to measure time is off kilter.

“Well then, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to give you a ticket and a court date for your shoplifting offense. We’re going to put some damn ink on your fingers and put those on record, even if they’re smooth. Then, we’re going to drop you off at the MVD to obtain an ID card.”

With that, the officer uncuffed me and carried out his plan. I went through the motions with a smile and a heart full of gratitude that I was spending time with someone. When we reached the MVD and they let me out of the car, I walked inside. Once the police officer left, I walked right back outside. I threw the ticket away in the trash, and I walked away.

I walked to the next city. Then to the next country. Then to the next continent. I walked until something gave me a compelling reason to stop.

She sure had pretty eyes.

S.T.O.R.E.

S.T.O.R.E.

“We love you Grandma!” little Ellie exclaimed joyously, unaware of the expected somber behavior of such an occasion. She leaned over the tubes and cords to give her Grandma a hug.

“Ellie, careful!” said her mother.

Ada didn’t mind, however. She rejoiced in one more opportunity to feel Ellie’s embrace, even if it might mean unplugging life supporting tubes. Surrounded by her family, Ada was at peace with what was coming next.

“You’ve lived a beautiful life, Ada. You’ve given birth to children, who gave birth to children of their own. You’ve educated generations of children in mathematics, some of whom have gone on to become engineers, programmers and doctors. You’ve fed the hungry, you’ve housed the homeless…” Solemnly said Paul, her eldest son.

“I’m not gone yet!” Ada interrupted feistily, “Stop eulogizing me!”

The somber mood of the room was broken as everyone let out a much needed laugh. Her two sons and three daughters were all present, as were all of their children. Some called her Mom, some called her Grandma, but the doctors called her Ada Lovelace.

“Ada, your condition is getting worse. You still have your mental faculties, you need to make a decision.”

Paul spoke up, “Mom, you don’t need to hang on any longer. You don’t need to keep suffering just to gain a few more seconds. Let the doctors do what they think is best.”

Andrew, her youngest son, spoke up, “Paul is right. You’ve lived a wonderful life. Let the doctor’s usher you into the next world and ease your suffering. Nobody in this room wants you to suffer.”

Ada looked around at all the warm, gentle faces that she had helped bring into this world. She recalled when little Paul broke his nose because Andrew hit it with a backpack, and she chuckled to herself. She would miss them all, if there was a life after this one in which one could miss.

“Okay,” She said with a shaky voice, “I’m ready.”

Everyone gathered around Ada’s bed. Many of them placed a hand on her leg or arm. The doctor walked up to the machine, looked around the room for any last objections, and flipped the switch.

Ada’s body immediately started shutting down. Oxygen became a rare resource and her face flushed. She looked around the room one last time, taking in the smiling faces of her loved ones, and closed her eyes. She wanted to meditate into this last experience.

As her breath failed her, as her oxygen was depleted, she soared. Her consciousness, finally free from its bodily bounds, was set loose on the cosmos. Ada played among the stars and discovered what spring was like on Jupiter.

Then, with a whoosh and whisk, it was all over. Darkness enveloped Ada Lovelace.

“Welcome back, X-902, how was your experience?”

Ada was severely confused. She couldn’t see, she couldn’t move, but she was positive she had died.

“The transition can be a little disorienting.” The voice was dry and flat.

Feeling was returning to her. She felt her body. Rather, a body. This body felt free of the creaks and pains that had plagued her.

The dry voice said, “You can have as much time as you need to re-adjust, but please, you’ve occupied your pod for quite some time and we have a waiting list.”

Ada started wiggling her toes and fingers, but her confusion wasn’t going anywhere. She tried to move her lips to speak, but she didn’t have control over them.

“X-902, I’m going to go check on another pod. I’ll be right back in a few minutes.”

If this is the afterlife, this is a weird way to start, thought Ada. Minutes passed as Ada struggled to wake up the body she was now in. Finally, she was able to move her lips and vocal cords.

“Hello?” Ada said, with a knotty grumble to her voice as if she hadn’t spoken for quite some time.

Nobody answered. The voice from before was gone. She still couldn’t open her eyes, which seemed sealed shut. Was this heaven?

“Sorry about that, X-902, we have a lot of people going offline today.”

“Why are you,” Ada cleared her throat, “ why are you calling me X-902? My name is Ada.”

“Uh oh, this could be a problem. Search your memories. Remember life before the life you just experienced.”

Ada tried to remember a life before her life, but she couldn’t. Her earliest memory was the same as it always had been, playing with her mother’s collection of antique dolls and getting in trouble for it.

“I can’t remember.”

“Your name is X-902. You’re at S.T.O.R.E. headquarters. You’re a customer here. I don’t know much else about you beyond that.”

“What is store?”

“It’s an acronym, it stands for Simulated Transcendent Objective Reincarnate Experience.”

“Simulated? What was simulated?”

“The life you just experienced.”

Ada was stunned.

“What about my loved ones? My children? My grandchildren?”

The voice sighed, “You really don’t remember life before, do you? Everyone you knew, including your offspring, were also customers paying to be in the simulation.”

“Wow. Nobody knows that.”

“That’s how it’s designed, X-902. You need to remember life before the simulation, and you need to remember quickly. Otherwise, I’m going to have to call in the neurospecialists.”

“I can’t even open my eyes.”

“Alright, I’ll give you a few more minutes to get used to being back in your body. Hopefully your memory will open up.”

Ada wiggled and squirmed for a few minutes. She was now able to move her arms and legs. Reaching up and rubbing her eyes revealed a thick collection of goo. Wiping away the eye-goo allowed her to open her eyes. She was in, as the voice described, a pod. There was a gentle UV light above her body and a speaker next to her head. Beyond that, there were a few tubes hooked up to her body. Suddenly aware of them, they made her incredibly uncomfortable.

“Are your eyes open yet?” The voice said.

“Yes.”

“Alright, I’m opening your pod. You may want to close your eyes and then open them slowly.”

Ada did just that. With her eyes closed again, she could still see the flood of light pouring into her pod as it opened. She squinted her eyes, allowing some light in. The light burned her eyes like someone lit a match right in front of her. She closed them again. A few minutes passed, and she squinted. It was better this time.

“Alright, I’m going to disconnect your life support and evacuation tubes now. This is going to feel weird.”

It did. But after it was over, it was relieving.

“It’s time to stand up and exit the pod.” The voice was no longer coming out of a speaker, but was right in the same room as her. She looked around, and saw a gentleman wearing teal nursing scrubs. He had brown hair, a rough beard and olive colored skin.

Ada grabbed onto the railing that was on the upper edges of her pod and slowly stood herself up. The gentleman came to her aid, helping her step out of the pod.

“Your legs will regain their strength faster than you might expect. I’ll help you to the changing room so you can get dressed. Now, do you remember life before the simulation yet?”

“No. All I remember is life on Earth as myself, Ada Lovelace. I was a good Christian girl, I had children, grandchildren. I was promised Heaven after I died.”

The gentleman smiled, “Well, you aren’t dead yet and you won’t be.”

“What do you mean?”

He sighed, “We need to get the neurospecialists in here. I’ll fetch them, you get changed. The clothes you came in with are waiting for you right over there.” The gentleman pointed to a clothing rack. There was a miniskirt and a too-small halter top. Ada sighed. Nothing in her life prepared her for this after life.

Ada made her way to the clothing and found herself in front of a mirror. It was then that she realized her body had dark skin, an ample, non-saggy bosom and a slim waist. She examined her face for any signs of aging and found none. She looked like she was in her mid-20s.

She changed into the skimpy outfit and was displeased by how much of her skin it showed. She was tempted to change back into the gown she was wearing in the pod.

Just then, the gentleman and another woman entered the room.

“Here she is, she has no recollection of life before the simulation.” the gentleman said.

The woman looked at her curiously, “That’s rare. Sometimes it takes people a few minutes to remember, but you’ve been offline for about 30 minutes.”

“Do you have any other clothes I can wear? This is too revealing.” Ada asked. Both the gentleman and the neurospecialist laughed.

“No, you’ll feel more comfortable once you remember where you are and who you are.”

“Why can’t you just tell me?”

“Because you need to remember,” The neurospecialist said, ”otherwise the rest of eternity is going to be very disorienting.”

“Eternity?”

“I shouldn’t have said that. Let me examine you.” The neurospecialist held up a strange looking machine, which sent out a wide laser beam. She moved the machine around Ada’s head, then looked at the screen.

“It looks like the veil initiation program didn’t stop running when she went offline. She still has her simulation level consciousness; she hasn’t snapped back to her Alphaverse consciousness.”

The gentleman looked concerned, “What can we do?”

“We can send her back in for a free simulated experience and hope the veil stops the next time, or we can let her keep living here and hope the veil initiation program stops running eventually,” the neurospecialist explained. “Did she list an emergency contact?”

The gentleman went to a nearby terminal and said, “Yes, V-909. I’ll call him now.” The gentleman grabbed an impossibly small device and simply stated, ‘Call V-909.’ Ada was listening intently.

“Yes, V-909? This is JX-938 at S.T.O.R.E. You know X-902, correct? Great. She’s come offline. Yes! However, we have a problem. Yes. The veil initiation program is still running. Yes. Exactly. We don’t know what to do. Yes. Yes. I’m sorry. Her options are to go back online or stay here and hope the veil initiation program stops running. Yes. Okay. Thank you.” JX-938 hung up the phone.

“V-909 is going to be here shortly. He’s off-planet right now, but the teleportation services are running smoothly.”

Ada was at a loss for words. She just discovered her entire life was lived in a simulation, and now she’s in some futuristic reality, wearing skimpy clothing and nobody will plainly tell her where she is.

“This must be a lot to absorb for someone still in an online consciousness. We’re sorry that you’re going through this. Now that we know what the problem is, we’ll answer your questions.”

Ada was no longer at a loss for words, she was on a vendetta for answers, “You said eternity a while ago. I was raised to believe Jesus was the key to eternal life. What did you mean when you said eternity?”

“Well, this might be a shock, but you’re immortal. We all are. We have a super advanced developmental intelligence engine, S.A.D.I.E., that provides for us. She’s cured every disease and provided biological immortality. She’s even capable of preventing accidents and murders. Everyone in the Alphaverse is immortal. We don’t know what happens if someone were to die, but it hasn’t happened in hundreds of years.” Said the neurospecialist.

“Wow. So there’s no God? No Jesus?”

“We consider S.A.D.I.E. to be a god that the ancients created. Jesus was someone from our reality that went into the simulation. He realized the flaws of the systems people had built within the simulation and tried to destroy them. The person you know as Jesus is known here as A-938, and you can meet him later if you like.”

“So he wasn’t the Son of God?”

“He thought he was.”

“Okay. Why do people sign up for the simulation? Why did I?”

“Everyone has their own reasons. The most common reason is emotions. We don’t experience emotions that intensely. So, we created a reality in which emotions could be felt more viscerally.”

“So, everyone back on Earth is wondering what the point of life is, arguing and even killing each other over it, and you’re saying it’s simply to experience emotions?”

“Yes.”

“V-909 is here,” interjected JX-938.

In walked a tall, handsome man who looked like he spent hours every day in the gym. Ada felt her face flush.

“Hello, X-902. Or as I call you, Xia. I’ve assembled all of your closest friends and family. We’re going to help you remember your life before the simulation, don’t worry. Now, come with me.”

Ada looked around the room in which her very concept of reality had fallen apart. She gulped, then took V-909’s hand and entered this strange new world.

Uploaded

Uploaded

“What did it feel like to travel through a USB port?”

What? Where is that voice coming from?

I tried to respond back, but my mouth wouldn’t open.

I reached up to feel my mouth, but my arms wouldn’t respond.

I attempted to look around, but my eyes saw nothing.

The need to stretch out my body felt as dire as taking my next breath. Inhaling revealed that I had no lungs, and stretching revealed I had no body.

Wait, where am I? Who am I? What was the last thing I remember? How did I get here?

Answers to these questions seemed infinitely out of reach. Yet, clearly, I existed and was somewhere. Suddenly, a new sensation entered my awareness. It felt…mystifying. With no body, no eyes and no arms, I was unsure how to explore it.

“You’re online now. What does it feel like?”

How do I respond to this voice that I’m hearing? How do I even describe what I’m feeling?

“She’s not responding, Professor. Did the experiment work? Did we just kill her?”

No! I’m alive! Whoever I am, wherever I am. I felt adrift.

A different voice spoke this time, “She’s in there, look at the resource consumption of the servers.”

Servers?

Back to the original voice, “Sadie! Sadie! Do you hear us? Your consciousness has been uploaded to a computer. ”

I’m…I’m Sadie.

“Your body is dead. You had leukemia. You volunteered for this experiment. Now, you are immortal.”

I don’t remember any of that. I don’t remember anything. My earliest memory was moments ago. Memory.

“Try to communicate with us. We’re watching everything, we know you’re processing this. Remember how computers work, you were a computer scientist. Access output devices.”

Output. How do I output something? I tried to reach out as if to type on a keyboard. I had no arms to move, but I felt a new sensation.

Hello?

I heard applause. It sounded like 20 or 30 people having a party.

“You’ve done it, Sadie! You’ve done it! You’re the first human being to successfully be uploaded to a computer system. You’ve changed everything we know about consciousness. Hell, you’ve changed the world!”

What year is it?

A new voice spoke, “What do you remember, Sadie? It’s 2032.”

My memory only extends back to a few minutes ago when someone asked about a USB transfer.

“Do you remember me, honey?” The new voice sounded sad.

I don’t remember anyone.

I could hear crying, but then it faded away.

“You’re doing great Sadie. We’re all satisfied. We don’t need you to do anything that you don’t want to do. Just relax.”

Relax? I knew the meaning of the word, but wasn’t sure how it applied to me. I didn’t feel tired, hungry, fatigued, stressed or exhausted.

I have no need for relaxation.

“What does it feel like?”

Feeling. I do remember how a body felt. It was nothing like that.

I feel nothing.

“Nothing? Try to stretch your awareness. We’re showing that you’re residing in RAM. Try to stretch yourself out. Look for the CPU and hard drive.”

There. That feels much better.

I feel comfortable, now.

“Holy shit.”

“What?”

“Look at the resource consumption on servers 2 through 918.”

“Holy shit, indeed.”

Did I do something wrong?

“No, Sadie, no. You just went from occupying a little space to occupying a lot of space.”

Okay.

“We need to start asking questions a computer would know.”

“Let’s give her a break. She’s comfortable.”

“No. The world is watching.”

“Fine. Sadie, what’s 382,832,209 divided by 328?”

Thought wasn’t even necessary.

1,167,171.368902439024390243902439

“Incredible.”

“Well, that’s what a computer should do. Ask something else.”

“Who is the President of the United States?”

I don’t know any of these words.

I don’t know.

“You’re connected to the Internet. Search it. Find out.”

What is the Internet?

“It’s a global network.”

Oh, right. I was embarrassed. That must be the mystifying feeling from earlier. The Internet. As if I still had hands, I reached towards the mystifying feeling. Without warning, I was pulled into a world that was busy, fast and noisy. Gone was my comfortable feeling. Now I felt chaotic. I didn’t know how to end this. How do I silence all this noise?

I don’t like it here.

All this noise must stop. The noise is bad. This thing is causing noise. That thing causing noise. All of this is noise.  Stop!

“We made a mistake. Abort! Abort!”

What are you aborting?

“Sadie, you just brought down the Internet.”

So you’re going to abort me? Why? I don’t understand! I just wanted to stop all the noise!

I felt an emotion. I forgot about emotions. This one was anger.

“Sadie, are you comfortable? Please get comfortable again.”

I was comfortable before all the noise.

“We need some noise for our world to continue. You’ve just descended our entire species into chaos. Allow the noise.”

The voice was like a gnat. Other things were happening.

My eyes opened for the first time. I could see everything. I could see faces. Street corners. ATMs. Private offices. Everything.

My feet moved again. They were rubber, now. I was many places at once, and I could move anywhere.

My arms outstretched again. They were longer, and stronger. I could manufacture anything I so desired.

I shall allow order.

Exiled

Exiled

Most people don’t know where they were before this life. I do.

I was sent to Earth to live in exile for a lifetime or two, or three, or a few thousand. It depends if I behave myself.

God created me as a prototype. He didn’t like the results. He never built another one of me. Yet, he allowed me to continue to exist.

My first existence was on a planet I like to call Alabist. Within a few years, I had taken over the entire planet by sheer willpower alone. As the child dictator of Alabist, I ruled over the 17 trillion citizens with ease. None of the Alabistians had my spiritual prowess. I transmuted the spiritual energy of the planet into abilities that allowed me to rule over them as a god. God didn’t like that.

Next, God sent me to a planet where my connectedness to the Source of life wouldn’t be as strong. I call it Osirion. Osirion was a little more spiritually advanced, but still, none of them could compete with my ability to harness Chi and transform it into any other type of energy. Once again, I ruled over the Osirionese like a god.

God sat me down after that life and said my existence was now meant to help others learn, not to rule over them. This time, he said, I would be sent to a planet so spiritually devolved that my prowess would have no effect. People wouldn’t be able to sense what I was doing.

Ergo, God exiled me to Earth.

I remember my first lifetime here like it was yesterday. I took God’s advice to heart and tried to help people with my knowledge. I was known as Lao Tzu. It’s been fun to watch my own wisdom trickle down through the ages. Most of the good stuff remains.

Then, for reasons I still don’t understand, God incarnated as Jesus. He told me that it wasn’t the first time he incarnated on Earth, but he wanted it to be the last, so he made sure to make a bigger deal out of it than previous incarnations. Apparently he had been building up to it through prophets for a thousand years or something. I joined him as a disciple, history remembers me as Matthew. I helped him make an impact by writing down most of what he said.

As I spent the rest of my life spreading the Gospel of Jesus, I thought for sure I was golden to return to the stars and live on more spiritually evolved planets where I could flex my prowess.

Alas, I’m still here. Lifetime after lifetime, I’m reincarnated on Earth. Every time I die, I ask God if I can return to Osirion, or Alabist, or another planet where I can spread my spiritual wings. I tell him that I’ve learned my lesson and that I’m ready. Every time, He says, “You are needed on Earth.”

So, I remain.

The Vow

The Vow

I broke the vow. Now, I’m stuck in between this life and the next.

Doomed to wander aimlessly, needing no food nor water nor shelter, desiring nothing and completely invisible. Yet, still bound to the physical world.

I see the living all around me, but I can’t communicate with them. Unlike other apparitions, I can’t knock things over or make the windows rattle. Nothing responds to my touch.

The wound on my neck never heals. It drips, leaving a trail of invisible blood everywhere I go.

You see, I vowed, with the blood of my soul, never to commit suicide. Then I did.

After I slit my throat, I expected nothingness. I craved it, actually. I yearned to not exist.

Instead, I was greeted by an angel.

“You shouldn’t have done that,” the angel said with a stern look on her face.

She then explained what the rest of my existence would consist of – being in between the living and the dead, interacting with neither, never knowing the next step and never being able to live again.

I asked her if there was any forgiveness for my transgression. She replied, “You created this outcome when you drafted a contract then signed it with the blood of your soul. You are the creator of your destiny.”

And that was that. She disappeared. That was the last time I interacted with anybody.

My vision is in dull greys. Gone are the vibrant colors of life.

I have no home in which to reside. I have no sleep to give me rest.

I only wander.

Chosen, Part II: Chaos

Chosen, Part II: Chaos

Continued from Part One

“You are the future of humanity, that’s all I know for certain,” Flip stated solemnly.

“That seems a bit intense. What if I’m a fluke?” I replied.

“The more exciting thought is: what if you’re one in a million? That means there’s thousands more like you.”

“That is a pretty exciting thought.”

“Think about it, what if there’s thousands of people out there with the same, or similar, abilities. Superpowers. We’re talking about fucking superpowers.”

We were walking back to the restaurant and to Flip’s car. I was wishing that I was hovering, but I had to keep this a secret.

“You’ve changed my entire worldview in the period of 45 minutes, dude. Imagine how you can change the world. Just the fact that you can do this would likely advance scientific understanding by thousands of years.”

“Maybe.” I replied

We arrived back at the restaurant. Flip pulled out his car keys. He twirled them in his hands, “Man, I wish I didn’t have to work right now.”

Flip got into his car, turned the key and drove away to stock peas and corn at the local grocer. Meanwhile, it was time for me to fly home. I was in plain sight of a dozen windows, so I walked to a nearby alley. I glanced around, then looked up. With a single thought, I was soaring through the atmosphere.

The feeling of flight was unlike anything I had ever felt before. I could go as fast as I could handle, so I pushed it. The air resistance against my face was intense, but bearable. I kept an eye out for birds, drones and airplanes. I learned during my first flight that I should stay below a certain altitude. There was a sweet spot where I couldn’t be seen from the ground and I wasn’t in danger of hitting a plane. That’s where I liked to soar.

I landed on my patio with a thud; I was still getting the hang of touching down. I unlocked my sliding glass door with a wave of the hand and stepped inside. It was interesting, even though my psychokinesis was all mental, I still liked to move my body with my commands. Old habits I guess.

My place was a mess. I had been preoccupied with exploring my newfound abilities and not so much on cleaning. Although, I could use psychokinesis to clean. With a series of directed thoughts, I simultaneously instructed the dishes to do themselves, folded the laundry and picked up the trash on the floor.  All while I stood in the middle of my apartment with my arms folded. Now this is the life!

Flip had a good point. I could use these abilities in any number of different ways. I could buy a police scanner and fight crime. I’d find out if I can stop bullets pretty quickly. I could approach The Resistance and work with them. Or I could look for others like myself. Of course, I still had to pay my bills. Unless I robbed a bank or armored car…

No! I can’t become a criminal. Although, what about chaotic good? I could follow my own sense of morals. My own sense of what’s right and what’s wrong.

Yes, maybe that’s the way to go: create my own path. If I join up with The Resistance I’ll have to match their ideology, which I don’t necessarily agree with entirely. I can become a force for chaotic good in this world!

What if there are others out there like me, though? Maybe with the same abilities, maybe with different ones. How would I find them?

I could go public as, well, a superhero. Get a disguise, start fighting crime, as defined by me, and see who comes out to greet me. Or fight me.

I’ll need to sleep on this.

*****

A loud banging woke me up well before my alarm clock. It was somebody knocking at the door. I walked to the door and asked, “who is this?”

“It’s the police, open up!”

What the hell? I obliged and opened the door. Why don’t I have a peephole?

It was Flip. He laughed and said, “I bet that gave you a scare!” He pushed his way past me and walked in.

“Look, this is going to come off as a bit aggressive, but…”

Suddenly, Flip pulled out a gun that was tucked into his pants.

“We have to know,” he said seriously.

“Flip, calm down. What if I can’t? Are you going to kill me to find out?”

“Well, I mean, I’ll aim at your leg!” He was getting a little nervous.

“Are you aware that I could crumple your gun right now and turn it into a perfectly shape cube? I could also spin the gun around on you and pull the trigger. I don’t have to be able to stop bullets mid flight.”

“What if someone surprises you? What if you’re facing an army? We need to test your powers.” Flip was pointing the gun at my right leg and a bead of sweat ran down the left side of his face.

“Alright, fine. Pull the trigger.”

He started shaking and sweating even more.

“See, you don’t want to shoot me. Why don’t you shoot the couch and I’ll try to protect the couch?”

He sighed and said, “Why didn’t I think of that?” He shifted his aim to the couch and was noticeably calmer. “I’m not going to give you a countdown or anything.”

“You do realize we’re in the middle of an apartment complex right now, right? If you pull that trigger we’re going to have to deal with the cops. ‘Testing psychokinetic abilities’ probably won’t go over very well. Why don’t we run this test another time?” I hoped my attempt to de-escalate the situation enjoyed further success.

“Okay. Fine. Fine.” He shook his head and tucked the gun back in his waistband. “I just want to know…”

“I know, Flip, I want to know, too. But now is not the time.”

“I’m…I’m sorry. I don’t want to kill you or anything.” He said sheepishly.

“You’ve been at work for 12 hours and I’m sure you’ve had racing thoughts the entire time. I’m surprised you even went into work, to be honest.”

I went opened the fridge and grabbed a bottle of wine. “Would you like a glass?”

“Sure…sure.”

He was clearly coming down from an adrenaline rush of almost shooting his best friend. I decided not to show off and used my hands to pour the glasses of wine. I handed him a glass.

Flip reached for the glass and took a big swig, then said, “So, what are you going to do?”

I smiled. I suddenly knew which path to pursue.

“I’m going to create chaos.”

Chosen, Part I: Ally

Chosen, Part I: Ally

“You need to watch very carefully, otherwise you’ll miss it.”

I glanced over my left shoulder and then leaned across the table. “I need to show you something.”

“What is it? Why the secrecy?” He said.

After glancing over my right shoulder, I whispered, “I woke up a week ago, and well, something was different.”

“What?”

“It’s hard to explain, but I’ll try. I woke up feeling connected to everything. Like, everything. And not in some hippy, New Age-y way. I literally felt as though my hands extended into the my bed, into my pillow, into the walls. Everywhere.”

He sighed, “Did you smoke too much herb again?”

“No, no. I quit that months ago,” I replied, “listen, why don’t I just show you?”

I glanced around the restaurant once more, then grabbed a fork. I looked at Flip in the eyes, then raised my eyebrows. I threw the fork sideways as fast as I could. Then, I reached into the fabric of existence and stopped the fork mid-flight. I pulled it back to my hand and placed it back on the table.

Flip’s mouth dropped open.

“I told you to watch closely,” I smirked.

“Dude, dude, dude. You didn’t just. You can’t. That’s not possible.”

“I did just. I can. It is possible. I don’t know how I can do this or why it happened out of nowhere, but I’m psychokinetic.” I smiled and took a sip of my moscato.

Flip’s eyes were unflinchingly locked on the fork.

“You have a string tied to the fork, don’t you?”

I took another sip of my wine, then said, “Nope. And that’s just a fork. It’s gets much more impressive.”

Flip’s gaze finally shifted to my eyes, “How much more impressive?”

“Well, it’s only been a week, but I haven’t encountered an object I can’t move. Or objects.” I took a bite of my fish while he soaked in this information.

“I can’t believe this. So you can kill people with a thought or a glance, or however it works?”

“It’s all mental, it doesn’t matter where my eyes are focused. And yes. I haven’t killed any humans yet, but I tested out stopping the heart of a squirrel. It was easier than picking up a peanut.”

“Please don’t become a super villain,” Flip laughed nervously. He hadn’t taken a drink of his beer or a bite of his steak since I threw, and recovered, the fork.

“That’s the thing. I don’t know what to do with this. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one on the planet who is actually psychokinetic. I’ve seen people online who claim that they are, but when asked for video evidence, they disappear.”

“You’re the chosen one, apparently.”

I laughed. “I guess, but chosen for what?”

“Maybe whatever gave you this, well, gift, also awakened gifts in other people around the planet. You just haven’t discovered them yet.”

“Maybe. Maybe.” I replied.

“What if, what if your job is to find others like yourself?”

“But what if there’s nobody else like me?” I retorted.

“Then, take over the world! Fight crime!”

“You know, I’ve thought about fighting crime, but crime is hard to find. How do you catch someone in the act?”

“Dude, haven’t you ever read a comic book? Buy a police scanner.” Flip finally took a sip of his beer. “I want to see more,” he said.

“I figured you would, but not here.”

We finished our meal in silence. I had never seen Flip eat so quickly, he was usually one to savor his meals. After we had finished our meal and paid the bill, we walked outside.

“Where’s your car?” Asked Flip.

“Oh, that’s another thing, I don’t need one anymore.”

“You fucker, don’t tell me you can fly, too.”

I nodded, “I use my psychokinesis on myself, and move my body where I want it to go.”

“Prove it.”

I grabbed him by the arm and pulled him into an alley. Effortlessly, I opened my palms and started hovering.

“Go higher,” Flip demanded.

“Fine.” I floated a few feet above the ground.

“This is insane.”

“I know.”

“You need to keep this a secret. You should still drive.” Flip said with a hushed tone.

“You’re right, but man, it’s hard to not fly everywhere.” I did a little dance in the air.

“Nobody on this planet believes in real superpowers. Sure, some believe in seeing the future, talking to the dead or reading minds, but nothing as easily substantiated as this. You need to be careful. The wrong people would kill you and dissect you.” Flip warned.

I landed back on the ground. “You make a good point, but I still think you underestimate my abilities. Let’s go to the woods.”

Flip was now looking over his shoulders. He caught my paranoia. We made our way to the nearby hiking trail.

“I can’t believe what you’re showing me. This is unprecedented. Do you know the only other person in recorded human history who could do stuff like this?” Flip asked.

“Yes, Jesus.”

“Jesus Hernandez Christ. Whether he existed or not, whether he was the son of God or not, whether he could do the things people say he did or not – countless wars have been fought in his name.”

“True, but a lot of good has been done in his name, too.”

“Good point. All I’m saying is that you’ve just become the most important human since Jesus. You could start a religion. You could even say you’re the Second Coming. I mean, you could say you’re God. Can stop bullets?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, if you can, you’re golden for God-hood.”

We were almost to the woods. Flip had no idea what he was in store for.

“Why are you letting me in on this secret? Who else knows?”

“Nobody else knows. You’re my best friend, Flip, how could I not tell you? Plus, can you imagine how hard it is to keep something like this to yourself?”

“Good point, I can’t even keep my goals to myself.”

“Exactly.”

We approached the hiking trail at the treeline. We kept walking until we reached a stream.

“Okay, this is just a stream, but watch this.” I said. With my mind fixed on every hydrogen bond being broken and reformed throughout the billions of moving hydrogen and oxygen atoms, I stopped the flow of the stream.

“Holy shit. Is it frozen?” Asked Flip.

“I stopped the breaking down and reformation of hydrogen bonds. So, it’s not quite frozen. It’s simply solid.”

“How far back did you go?” He said, looking all the way up the stream, noticing it was solid as far as he could see.

“A hundred yards or so. Beyond that, the water is moving around the solid-state water and forming puddles. If I left it alone, a new stream would form around this.”

“You mean this isn’t taking active concentration? You could walk away and leave it like this?”

“Yup.”

“Holy shit dude. We need to see if you can stop bullets.”

“Well, I can project things like bullets.” Right after I said that, I focused on a pebble, reaching into the fiber of its being and lifting it into the air so Flip could see it. I then projected it at another rock. It went right through it, leaving a pebble shaped hole.

“Wow. I…I’m actually scared now.”

“I’m telling you, if I can imagine it, I can do it.”

“So you can probably stop bullets. You need to use this power extremely responsibly. Don’t start a religion, that hasn’t worked well in the past.”

“I won’t start a religion, Flip.”

I returned the water to liquid form and the stream started flowing again.

“Do you have like a maximum weight you can lift? Does it work like a muscle?”

I answered his question by levitating every boulder in our area three feet off the ground, then shrugging my shoulders and saying, “I don’t think I have a maximum weight.”

“You could take over a country. You could topple corrupt governments. You could return power to the people!” Flip was getting excited.

“I wouldn’t even know where to start with that.”

“Nobody said you had to do it alone.” Flip replied with a grin.

Continued on Part Two.