Microwave, Penicillin, chocolate chip cookies, LSD and X-rays. Do you know what all these things have in common? They were all invented by accident. Science doesn’t always find what it was looking for; and sometimes things end up being discovered that no one ever anticipated.
To call us ‘scientists’ would be a bit disingenuous, as we were only college students when this all occurred. Adam was a psychology major sure, but I was nothing of the sort, focusing instead on business marketing.
Adam was a good friend; brilliant with a mind that seemed destined for studying the abstract and poorly-understood phenomena that plagues humanity’s subconscious. He was particularly fascinated – and some would say obsessed, with the concept of ghosts and the afterlife.
It seems like every conversation we had together would eventually delve into the metaphysical realm. Now I’ve never been particularly religious, and neither has Adam as far as I’m aware, but this made it all the more fascinating. He broached the topic from a scientific perspective, at least that’s what he always claimed. Sure, his biases helped influence his beliefs as is true for any of us, but the way he explained it to me started making me view things in a very different light.
He brought up the concept of shared hallucinations; a psychological phenomenon in which individuals would hallucinate the same or very similar things. There was a lot of overlap between schizophrenia and starvation-incurred mirages, but apparently, that wasn’t always a necessity. Sometimes people would just see or remember the same thing, despite the reality being very different.
The Mandela effect is a popular modern-day variation on this subject; or at least some believe it is. It’s still not a well-understood condition now, but back then, it was virtually unknown in the world of psychology. Adam’s theory posited that these shared hallucinations were not the result of psychosis or delusion, but rather something he called a ‘web consciousness’.
He gave the example of an experiment in which lab rats were conditioned to fear the sound of a bell. The rats would hear the bell ring, and then be given a miniscule electric shock to cause them pain. Over multiple repetitions of the process, and the rats soon came to associate the ringing of the bell with pain; thus, causing them quiver in fear.
Those same rats then mated and produced a new litter, and that litter in turn did the same. The 3rd generation of rats were then immediately quarantined from the others after birth, and when they heard the ringing of the bell, they also displayed signs of fear. Somehow, the grandchildren of the original rats who were subjected to the shocks were instinctively afraid of the sound of the bell, despite never having actually heard it for themselves or being zapped.
This was theorized to be the result of genetic inheritance; in which the children would inherit certain personality traits from their parents much like they would with genomes and DNA. Adam thought it was more complicated than that though.
He believed that not only was their DNA passed down, but also fragments of their memories in what he described as the aforementioned web consciousness. He believed that each living organism generated a certain aura, which could be subconsciously interpreted by other organisms.
He compared it to how dogs seem to instinctively distrust some people, or how cats have been reported to act unusual before natural disasters strike. A sort of sixth sense which allows them to be warry of dangers that they themselves may never have physically encountered.
Adam seemed to think that shared hallucinations, reports of ghosts and sightings of paranormal phenomenon were really just the lingering consciousness of something that had passed on. He thought this web consciousness was the left-over electrons from brains that had since been flung back into the universe when their original host had expired.
“What do you think consciousness really is?” He asked me that one day as we sat in the library cramming for upcoming exams. I thought for a moment, but realized I didn’t really have a good answer for him, so I just shrugged.
“I think it’s a trick question. I think the question is the answer. Being aware of consciousness is in and of itself, consciousness.” I was then suddenly reminded of the famous quote from Latin philosopher René Descartes.
“I think, therefore I am.” Adam snapped, and a smile grew on his face as he pointed back to me.
“And it’s as easy as that.” He went on to tell me about the famous particle slit test; a set of experiments in which scientists would propel protons through one of two slits. The protons would pass through one or the other when being directly observed, but when left to their own devices, they would somehow simultaneously pass through both and neither of the slits. This framework of bizarre and seemingly contradictory outcomes went on to form the framework for what we now know as quantum mechanics.
There’s a lot more to it than that, and I very much suggest looking into it for yourself if you are unfamiliar as there’s simply no way I can do the topic the proper justice it deserves. Adam seemed to take two important lessons from this experiment though. One – reality is altered simply by observing it and two – reality is far stranger than it seems.
I didn’t get a lot of studying done after that, as Adam and I delved into a long conversation about all sorts of topics. It went on for hours, with him continuing to dive deeper into the rabbit hole of his various theories.
That conversation turned out to be at my expense, as the following day I flunked my exam. I was then forced to consider the prospect of paying thousands to retake the semester, or consider alternate options.
It was a bit of a low point in my life, as for the following weeks I fell deep into a malaise in which I struggled to find direction for my life. I of course didn’t blame Adam for my failure, and knew it was really my fault for being ill-prepared. That was why when he reached out to me with a unique proposal, I listened.
Adam had this idea for his thesis that of course, revolved around his theories on the web consciousness. He believed that this phenomenon was vastly more complicated than science was willing to admit. He thought the explanation of DNA inheritance and genome blueprint was only part of the equation, and he wanted to prove it.
He had already assembled a team together, and wanted my assistance in conducting an experiment that would support his claim. I didn’t know what exactly he intended to do, but I was definitely curious to find out.
He gave me an address, and on the specified day I arrived at an old, almost decrepit building that looked like it hadn’t been occupied in years. I wandered up to the entrance, and found Adam already inside with a group of others.
Adam greeted me with an emphatic hug and exuberant smile, and introduced me to the rest of the team. There were three others; Mark, Steven and Cassie, and all of them were students of the college as well. We got acquainted to one another, and soon after Adam revealed the details of his plan.
He explained that this theoretic web consciousness could be deliberately accessed by a sentient mind only if it were devoid of external stimuli. His belief was that the corporeal inputs clouded transcendental cognition. A lot of fancy words to say that basically, our physical senses were a distraction employed by our mind, and to access the web, the binds had to be temporarily severed.
A lot of you may be getting vibes of the famous internet tale known as “Gateway of the Mind”; and I’ll admit, Adam’s theory was quite similar. This was well before the publication of that story however, and Adam planned on going about it in a much different fashion.
I felt a bit of a chill creep down my spine as Adam spoke those words, but Adam made sure to assure us that the procedure was safe, and even cathartic. Adam ushered us around to a separate room where there were four large pods connected with a network of wires. Adam explained that the pods were something called sensory deprivation tanks.
For those who may not be aware; these tanks are large containers filled with water and Epsom salt. The concoction is mixed in a way to allow a human person to float effortlessly upon the surface of the water. The temperature is also adjusted in order to meet the perfect threshold in which the epidermis cannot register it’s presence. They are also sound-deadening and completely devoid of light. Once the lid on the tank shuts, all sensory inputs on the human brain are essentially nullified.
Users of these tanks often describe the experience as incredibly soothing; like a tender neural massage that allowed the brain to enter deep state of relaxation. This was a process used by many for meditation purposes, but Adam’s variation had a few twists in the recipe.
Four of us would enter the tanks, and once the lids shut a device which he called a ‘sub-auditory metronome’ would be activated. It was a small timer that produced a tone which was too low in volume for human ears to perceive, but it would apparently help synchronize the rhythms of our heart beats and allow us to resonate on the same frequency.
In addition to that, Adam emphasized the fact that enhancing our perceptive capabilities was also crucial. He planned on doing this by providing us a dosage of a serum he called ‘Forbidden Fruit’. Wasn’t exactly a subtle reference, and when he revealed the extensive list of multi-syllable ingredients in the concoction, I felt my heart skip a beat.
I can’t recall all the ingredients he used to make it, but there was one which I do remember. Dimethyltryptamine Most people know it simply as DMT, and it is one of the most potent hallucinogenic substances known to man.
Adam expressed that this particular substance was a way of jumpstarting the psychokinetic abilities of the pineal gland. I realize now how batshit insane all of this may sound, but at the time it made sense to us. If I’m being honest, I didn’t expect anything to actually come of it. I was just looking to have a good time.
All in the group – aside from Steven who was there only to supervise, were very well-versed in the usage of hallucinogens, myself included. Just name a drug honestly, and I can bet you that I’ve tried it at some point. That may be another reason why I flunked out of school, but that’s beside the point.
I had heard of DMT before, but had never tried it. We all thought that if nothing else, this would be a fun and unique experience in the realm of psychoactive experiences. Looking back, we had no idea what we were signing up for, and I still don’t think I fully understand the ramifications.
Steven was an aspiring neurologist, and as such, he was quite knowledgeable in cognitive process. He and Adam had hand-built an array of neural transceivers and the correlating computer equipment to archive the findings. I have no idea how Adam managed to fund; let alone acquire all of the gear, but at the time I didn’t think to question it.
Next thing I know, the four of us are getting suited up with wires, harnesses and patches before entering the designated tanks. The first time we decide to forego the use of Adam’s Forbidden Fruit in order to acclimate to the tanks.
I got into mine, and was kind of amazed at how my body just floated effortlessly on the surface. After the lid was shut it became so dark that I couldn’t see my hand an inch in front of my face. I maneuvered around a bit until I felt comfortable. I couldn’t see or hear anything, and after floating motionless for a while, I couldn’t feel the water anymore either.
I then felt my mind enter a deep state of Zen, where all my worries just seemed to fizzle away. All the stress of finding a career and paying off my student loans just simply vanished. It was like the world beyond that tank had just ceased to exist.
The longer it went on, the more my mind drifted. Spiraling cosmos of fantastic stars and galaxies swirled in my mind. Serene rivers poured forth, as my subconscious envisioned realms of animals and nature living out their lives free from the petulant worries of society. It was beautiful the first time, and the 15 minutes just flew by in what felt like seconds.
I exited the tank, feeling really good; inspired and at peace. I could tell by the smiles of the other group members that they were in a similar tranquility. It was just a pure, earthen serenity.
Steven confirmed that his equipment was functioning effectively, and we couldn’t wait to take a second trip into the tanks. We ended up doing it two more times just to ensure we were accustomed. We rounded out that first day just talking about the experience and getting to know one another better. The others were a very lively, freethinking and intelligent bunch, and I felt myself connecting with them from almost the moment we first met.
The second day came, and we really got down to business. The procedure was the same as before, only this time we ingested a moderate dose of Adam’s drug. I was a bit nervous, as it was my first time trying the substance, but Adam insisted he had done it countless times before which put my mind a bit more at ease.
Most people smoke DMT to extract it’s effects, but that wasn’t really an option in our tanks. To combat that, Adam and Steven had developed another, more direct method in the form of patches that would be placed upon the skin. They were kind of like those skin-soluble nicotine patches that people use to stop smoking, but loaded with the Forbidden Fruit compound instead.
This proved to be a vastly superior option. The patches were time-delayed, meaning once they were applied to the skin it would take five to ten minutes for the drug to really kick in.
We got into our pods, and one by one were supplied with the patch which we stuck directly on the center of our foreheads. Steven closed my lid and I positioned myself in the center of the tank. I lingered there a few minutes in complete silence, almost wondering whether my patch was a dud. The moment that thought manifested in my brain, it struck me like a typhoon.
For those of you who may be familiar with DMT, you’ll know that there is really no way to describe the experience. It is without a doubt, the most profound and extraordinary thing I have ever experienced. Simultaneously beautiful and horrendous, like my feeble human mind had been allowed a glimpse into the cosmic secrets that control existence.
It felt like my entire life had been spent without the proper tools to experience reality, like a blind, deaf and mute person finally stricken with all those capabilities at once and increased by a magnitude of billions.
All at once an endless pantheon of innumerably vast visions swallowed my mind like a single drop of water into a vast dark ocean; unified and undefined. In an instant my ego and entire concern for my material being was infinitely transcended into the vast swathes of an eternal abyss.
I no longer mattered to myself. I was nothing, and no one. A meager molecule of a thought within a galactic hurricane of synapses that spanned fathomless eons and countless lightyears. The realization of my infinitesimal existence struck like thunder, leaving both an unrivalled haze of existential dread and a feeling of utter catharsis beyond that of any flesh. I was the immovable object being struck by an unstoppable force and rupturing forth into a blooming supernova of endless potential.
That undefinable vortex of souls that blossomed from the calamity took shape in a manner which I could recognize with only the most rudimentary of senses. It was simply something beyond description. Something so far beyond my own possible understanding or any ability of grammatical definition I may possess that there is no suitable allegory.
It was beyond god, beyond existence, reality, dimensions and all concepts within every mind that has ever been conjured. An eternal lexicon of non-Euclidian geometry and indescribable wonders. The only possible modicum of description I can apply to it is to simply say that it was everything. All things that ever were and all things that would ever be.
I was suddenly catapulted by some unknown force through the dust and ashes of the glowing ethereal void. Time no longer had any meaning, as in the moment I understood that this was all there ever was. An unending canopy of existence that had molded everything from the massive hypergiant blackholes to each single atom that composed them. I wish I possessed the ability to properly articulate what I experienced, but such words and concepts do not exist.
It is not something which can be adequately told, only experienced.
A sudden flash blotted out everything, and I felt myself awaken in a body. Cacophonous blasts of metal and gunfire illuminated ashen skies with sparks and cinder. Men in filthy, drab uniforms scurried around the trenches surrounding me, doing all they could to hold off the onslaught. Bright red swastikas dawned on their arms and unified them as brothers on a last stand.
I felt the rifle in my hands, and smelled the sulfur burning in the air. A cold rain dumped a torrent upon us, joining with the barrage of mortars, bullets and shrapnel. In the distance I saw the silhouettes of men, and above them, planes barreling towards the decrepit compound which I found myself within.
I understood then; that was the moment I died.
The jets belched forth a hailstorm of bullets, all but eviscerating the compound in which I dwelled. I saw the men around me, whose names I knew, and faces I recognized being shredded by molten led and ravenous flames. They screamed and writhed around as they were eviscerated like fish in a blender.
I then felt an impact tear through my neck, and my head slump to the side. I felt my mind grow weak, and pain greater than any I’ve ever known constrict me. I collapsed to the ground; face pointed skyward as the breath left my lungs for one final time. The pain was immense, but then it faded away.
“Greg… Greg can you hear me?” A faint voice echoed through the darkness. They repeated the question again, and I felt the touch of someone against my skin. Slowly my mind coalesced and the room around me became clear once more. There I saw Adam and the others staring back at me with concerned looks.
“Are you okay?” Adam asked. After the subconscious onslaught that I had just been endured, there was only one way I could think to respond.
“Ho-ly shit.” They told me to take it slow as I exited the tank, but I couldn’t stop my mouth from moving. Everything I’d just experienced was so intense that I just couldn’t help but tell them all about it.
I told them everything I saw in as best a manner as I was able. I’m sure for them it came across as mostly incoherent gibberish, but they seemed nonetheless as enthused as I was.
Once I finally shut up, Cassie emphatically recalled her experience. She described herself walking through some dark, cold forest as the snow gently fell around her. She mentioned seeing carvings on the trunks of trees, and strange ornaments hung in the branches that whistled as the wind blew through them. Somehow, she said she knew where she was going and that she was in danger. Wherever that was, she was struck through the chest with something sharp before she could reach it, and woke up.
Mark had another fascinating story to tell, about him travelling through an expansive desert on a moonlit night. I’ll save most the details because I don’t want this to drag on too long, but rest assured his story was every bit as detailed as mine and Cassie’s.
Adam didn’t really say much about his experience, but there was no hiding the smirk on his face. He and Steven seemed content to listen to the rest of us, and absorb all they could. As we talked, I became somehow enamored with a certain phrase that kept ringing in my head; like a song which you can’t help but sing.
‘Heimo de Ulrike’
We called it a day after that, and each of us went our separate ways for the evening. I remember feeling an odd sense of euphoria for the remainder of that day. Fresh off my first trip was like I had been introduced to an alien planet that I couldn’t wait to explore again. Being on the Forbidden Fruit felt almost more real than reality itself.
The next few days were spent doing pretty much the same exact thing. Steven monitored our actions and adjusting the metronome and other variables as deemed appropriate while the rest of us glimpsed a plethora of worlds.
It was truly extraordinary, and the glimpses I had then were some of the most visceral things I have ever seen. I climbed towering frost-laden mountains, trekked through dense swamps in blistering heat. Rode horses across the expansive plains of a wide-open frontier, sailed across an endless sea aboard an old brigantine bound for distant horizons.
The more I experienced, the more I began to feel as though the visions I was experiencing were more than that. They seemed deeper somehow, as if I was being allowed glimpses into the lives of others or absorbing fragments of their memories. It sounds ridiculous I know, but those same words just refused to leave the back of my mind.
‘Heimo de Ulrike.’
I got home one night after yet another day of wild trips, and finally decided to google the phrase. I thought for sure it was some quote in another language, but to my surprise it came back as a name. My blood ran cold as I saw the website it pulled up.
The link rerouted to a page titled something about the known identities of soldiers enlisted in the 3rd SS Panzer Division, Totenkopf. Known colloquially as ‘death’s hand’, they were one of 38 divisions of the Waffen-SS under the command of Nazi Germany during world war 2.
These were some bad dudes, responsible for numerous war crimes perpetrated for the Nazi regime primarily in Poland. They are well known for their brutality, having been responsible for numerous massacres of Polish civilians in and around Warsaw. They controlled the capital of Poland for nearly the entire duration of the war, and were finally removed only by a combination of Soviet forces along with rebellion of Polish citizens in the Warsaw Uprising.
It was in this battle in which I found the name Heimo de Ulrike. He was a low-ranking soldier enlisted in Totenkopf, and was apparently killed via airstrikes in the Warsaw Uprising. Goosebumps sprouted on my arms as I realized his death was eerily identical to the vision I experienced.
I didn’t know how to explain that. Before this all began, I had never heard of Totenkopf or any of this. As far as I’m aware, I’ve never watched any documentaries about it or read any books on the subject. What I’m trying to say; is that there’s no real explanation as to how my vision was so accurate, and how I even learned the name Heimo de Ulrike in the first place.
I planned on telling Adam about what I’d learned, but didn’t get the chance for some time. I meant to do it first thing the following morning, but when I arrived, Adam hurriedly ushered us into the tanks. He had deep bags under his eyes by that point. I don’t think he’d been sleeping very much. Mark and Cassie seemed lethargic as well, but none of us protested.
We took a double dose that day upon Adam’s recquest, as Steven monitored once more. Yet again I was bombarded by glimpses of another’s life. This time I was a physical laborer in what I assume was Egypt. It was a vast sandy desert, with a large river splitting the landscape betwixt a city of bronze and clay.
I tasted salt on my lips, and my tongue was dry and flaky. A deep desire to quench my unyielding thirst permeated all thoughts, and the desert heat and aching muscles only furthered my desperation. The vision ended with me feeling exhausted and lightheaded, before falling into the sand and watching the world fade around me.
I felt especially drained as I hauled myself out of the tank that time, and I began to wonder whether the repeated ingestion of the drug was starting to weigh heavy on my body. The five of us sat around the usual table, but unlike the other times, no one seemed to want to speak. We just sort of sat there in silence for a minute, before Cassie suddenly spoke up.
“I don’t think we should do this anymore.” She paused, and I expected Adam to push back on her words, but he said nothing. No one did, so Cassie continued.
Compared to the other elaborate ones, this one seemed rather asinine. She talked about living in a trailer with her parents. She said they weren’t exactly the loving type, and mostly ignored her altogether. Her only real joy came in the form of an 88 Jeep Wrangler which she had been working on rebuilding. Her story ended with her going to bed and simply waking back up in the tank.
Upon conclusion of the story, I noticed Mark brandishing a perturbed grimace. He seemed to stare at Cassie in disbelief, as if she had just proclaimed the moon was made of cheese. I didn’t understand his confusion, and his next question only furthered the mystery.
“What color was the jeep?” He asked.
“Dark green.” Mark seemed to hesitate, and his unnerve grew more apparent on his scruffy face. He asked probably a dozen more questions relating to the details of the Jeep; like the engine size, distinguishing features and whatnot. All of which were answered without delay from Cassie; and all of which made him grow all the more horrified.
“But… that’s my jeep.” Mark finally stated with a bewildered look. Cassie just solemnly nodded, and looked hi in the eye.
“I know… I was you.” The room fell completely silent then, and I felt my jaw strike the floor. Mark then slowly shook his head.
“That’s not possible… I’m me, how could?” Mark just trailed off mid-sentence, and none of us had an answer for him. I’m not sure I even have one now.
“How do you have my memories?” Once again, no one answered his question.
The experiment was put on a brief hiatus to allow all of us to recuperate for a little while. A few days later an early-morning phone call jostled me from a dee p sleep. I reached for the landline, and squinted to see Adam’s name illuminate on the telephone receiver. Once I answered, he wasted no time in telling me the grim news. Mark was dead; apparently, he passed in his sleep from a sudden aneurysm. The news was devastating.
We all attended his funeral a few days later, and wept the abrupt loss of our friend. Part of me wondered whether our actions, and the Forbidden Fruit compound had contributed to his premature demise. That thought has haunted me ever since.
Our little experiment was essentially discontinued after that. After the funeral we all just sort of lost contact and got on with our lives. I managed to find myself a job sometime later, and tried to just forget what I had been through. Little did I know at the time, the experiment was never officially closed; and Adam had continued his work.
Years went by, and I had all but forgotten about the experiment entirely. I had a family; a good job and my wife was pregnant with our first child. I hadn’t spoken to Adam or anyone else from the project since Mark passed, but then I got that phone call.
A raspy voice on the other end revealed himself to be Adam. He sounded unwell, but it was good to hear from him. We talked about the usual trite semantics of reconnecting with an old friend, before he told me something which caught me like an unexpected sucker punch to the gut.
“I think I know the truth.” I didn’t know what he was referring to at first, but I was then suddenly struck with a typhoon of memories that rushed through my mind. Goosebumps sprouted on my skin, and my heart lurched in my chest. I thought for a moment, and asked a question which I already knew the answer to.
“You never stopped working on it, did you?” Adam sighed on the other end.
“It’s all that has ever mattered, Greg.”
He and I agreed to meet a few days later. I honestly wasn’t sure I wanted to, but I didn’t feel I really had a choice. I needed some sort of closure for what happened all those years ago.
As the sun hung low in the sky, I walked into an old diner at the edge of a Podunk, midwestern town; finding it all but devoid of patrons aside from one vaguely-familiar face seated in a booth on the far end. He looked haggard, with deep bags under his eyes and a thin, balding head of greyish hair. His skin was pale, and frame emaciated, as though he hadn’t had a proper meal in weeks.
His eyes met mine, and he stood to greet me; grunting as his back made an audible cracking sound. The two of us met, and even his hug felt as though his strength had faded greatly. Gone was the handsome young aspiring psychologist I had known in college, and in his place was a vagrant wearing the face of my old friend.
“It’s good to see you again, Greg.”
We spent a few minutes discussing the unimportant details of our lives as the waitress brought us some fresh coffee. I asked about Cassie and Steven, but Adam admitted he had lost contact with them years ago. We both knew why we were really there, and after a few minutes meandering around the topic, Adam finally just spit it out.
“I think I know what happened to Cassie and Mark.” Adam then explained that he believed that our little journeys had given us glimpses of alternate lives. The visions we experienced were more than that. They were memories, of lives we had lived before. A normal person would’ve been skeptical of that answer, but after all I’d seen and ruminated on for years, I knew it was the truth.
“So, there is reincarnation?” I asked and Adam nodded brandishing a stoic grimace rather than a proud smirk I expected him to wear. I thought about it for a moment, but it didn’t make sense.
“Then, how did Cassie see Mark’s memories? They were both alive at the same time, how could it be reincarnation?” Without missing a beat Adam retorted.
“Because it goes beyond that.” He paused and took a sip of coffee. His glance then slumped downward as he folded his hands on the table.
“Millions of people all over the world claim to have near death experiences, what’s the one thing they all come back saying?” I thought about the question for a moment. Memories of him and I having countless conversations on the metaphysical flooded back. One answer then sprung out at me, as if I was destined to find it.
“We are one.” Adam nodded.
“We are one.” He echoed. He paused and then uttered a slight chuckle.
“I used to think that was nothing more than them trying to be pseudo-philosophic, or a quote which was meant to convey some deep meaning about love and hope. But now I know; there’s more to that statement than I ever could’ve imagined.
It’s not just reincarnation, it’s eternal carnation. All sentient beings comprising one everlasting soul. Each and every one of us, no more than single glimpses into it’s creation; like neurons in one universal matryoshka brain. Each life we live just a single fragment of the eternal consciousness. At some place in some time, I am you, and you are me. That’s how we were able to see the lives of others, how Cassie was able to see Mark’s…” He trailed off, and his eyes fell upon me with a somber glint.
“And how I saw yours.” My heart sunk, and I stared back at him in disbelief. I wanted to ask if he was serious, but everything I’d learned and suspected already provided me my answer. After all the lives I’d seen and lived, all the things I’d learned; it would be foolish for me to question. I had always known the truth; it had just been buried by comforting lies. Despite all of that, hearing it declared to my face was just too much to handle.
I shook my head, and Adam detailed things from life. He spoke about the marriage to my wife, the birth and details of each of my two daughters, and other detailed memories that I thought belonged only to me. The phrases he used were things I even would’ve said.
“Stop…” I stood from the table, and turned to leave; feeling my heart race and head pulse. Adam made no attempt to stop me, but he asked one question as I walked away.
“I saw you die; do you want to know how?” I thought about the question and my meager existence when faced with the unfathomable prospect of eternity. Everything in our lives is governed by entropy, and all things that are, eventually die. From the smallest of single-cell organisms to the most massive of stars. All things end… or perhaps they just change into something else. Regardless, I was not prepared to reckon with my own mortality, and I chose the darkness.
“No.” I spoke only the single word, unable to even meet his gaze again. I walked away, hearing him speak one final sentiment which I imagine are the last words I’ll ever hear him speak.
“Until we meet again, my friend.”
That was almost fifteen years ago now, and I have pondered these things ever since. There’s a lot I don’t understand, and a lot of questions I still have, but I suppose that’s no different from the way my life has always been. Some questions are just never meant to be answered.
The greatest philosophic conundrum in my mind will always be, ‘why is there something instead of nothing?’ Why does anything exist? There had to be a catalyst; a spark which burst into the inferno that birthed existence. All these religions and great thinkers claim to have the answer in one form or another, but I can’t help but wonder whether any of them have seen what I have.
I have tried to write this account more times than I can count, but it never felt quite right. There was always something that seemed to be missing; some crucial piece of finality that I could never find the appropriate words to properly transcribe. However, it appears I may have no choice than to publish this essay devoid of the final substance I believe it deserves.
I believe my time in this life has grown short. I received a bouquet of flowers the other day while at my office. I laughed at the unexpected gift at first; thinking it was some kind of prank. But then I read the note.
“Until we meet again, my friend.”
Adam knows the day and means of my death, and his gift can only be interpreted as a final farewell from an old friend. My hour of judgement draws near. I do not know how or when it will occur, and I will not dare ask. If I am forced to reconcile my own dwindling mortality, then I would rather do so without the crippling knowledge of foresight. I have made my arrangements, and just hope now that those I leave behind will not dismay too greatly.
For those of you who have read this far, I realize your skepticism may dominate the ideas I have put forth here today. I would not take insult to this; on the contrary, it is what I have always expected. This is not something that can be proven, or measured by any scientific method. It is an experience unique only to the person that beholds it.
It cannot be told, only experienced.
In all honesty, I have no reason to sway you into believing the things I have written here today. There is no point, as it would change nothing in the grand scheme. Life will go on, and then it will end, and then it will begin anew. This is our fate; forever and always a part of one infinite whole that diverts and twists through all iterations.
We are one.
The idea of eternity has always terrified me in a way I don’t know how to convey. The thought of going on and on forever and ever until the end of existence itself is almost maddening. I used to think of death as a comforting thing; an eventual endless sleep that would take me into the arms of comforting oblivion. No more pain, no more stress or heartache, or disease or suffering.
But now I know, I will have to experience all of it. Every second from every life across every time and space. They are all mine, and all yours. We will live every moment from every person, because truly, we are all one.
Someday, you will awaken in a new body, and you will be given the name Greg Earnest Kruger just as I have. You will meet a man named Adam, and he will become a good friend of yours. You will participate in the ridiculous experiment he has conjured, and climb into the sensory deprivation tanks just as I did.
Then you will learn the truth which cannot be taught.
Perhaps you already have. Perhaps you were me before I was me. Perhaps you yourself already know these things to be true, and perhaps you have written this tale before. But if not, then at some place in some time, our roles within this story as orator and observer will be reversed. Then you will sit down and tell this story, and I will listen.
Until we meet again, my friends.