Written by Brian Olson (E-mail comments to PXTS92C@Prodigy.com)
Dr. Marks was working with much more excitement than usual. In the
small one bedroom apartment he hammered and drilled away. Things were
finally happening; his dream was finally coming together!
The fifty-three-year old scientist had been working with his theory
since he was a teenager. Actually, it was his father's theory, although
Dr. Marks felt that it was passed on to him after his father's death.
Working with complex mathematical equations all of his life, his father
could only have dreamed of this day: the day that two generations of
hard work would finally pay off.
Marks stopped drilling, got out from under the device, and admired
it. His long, white coat was a little dirty, but it was so trivial
compared to the fact that his dream was coming to life that he paid it no
mind. In his mind's eye, he saw the result of his work, the world a
better place. He looked at the bronze plate on the front of the large
machine. It read simply "For you, Father", and it brought back a flood
of memories that every time he looked at it, Marks escaped into the past
to when he was a young boy and his father was trying explaining the
theory to him.
It will no longer be called a theory, Marks thought to himself. It
will be life.
Bouncing back into reality, Marks realized someone was knocking on
the door. Perfect, he thought. He couldn't wait to show off the
invention that would put his father's theory to work.
He began the process of unlocking the door. Knowing Marks had to
turn five locks, the person at the door stopped knocking. There were
actually only two locks when Marks moved in a year ago, but he had since
installed three more to protect his creation when he was gone. Anyone
who knew Marks also knew that made no sense, since Dr. Marks rarely left
the apartment. And the people in the building knew he was there because
they have been hearing him hammering and drilling all day and night for
the past six months.
When he finally turned lock number five, the person waiting in the
hall pushed the door open. Marks backed up quickly, a reflex action to
protect the machine with his body. In a split second, though, he knew
who it was: his landlord, Mr. Johnson.
"Marks, you look like some bum from the street," Johnson remarked,
his way of greeting someone. He took a good look at the scientist: his
white coat was filthy, he hadn't shaved in about a week, his white hair
was messed up, and his darkened eyes gave the impression that he had not
had a wink of sleep in the past ten years.
Johnson was six-foot-three, and Marks was five-foot-three. The
landlord was also very wide and obviously didn't miss too many meals, and
had a rather irritating deep voice that Marks could only compare to the
sonic boom of a space shuttle flying overhead.
"Do you know what day it is," asked Johnson as politely as was
possible for him.
"It's Tuesday, April 19, 1994, a day that will be remembered
forever," Marks replied, only thinking of his device.
"Well, I remember that day, 'cause I was supposed to get the rent
from you in the mail," Johnson replied, thinking only of the month's pay.
"I'm sorry, sir, I forgot about it. I have the money here, and will
pay you now." Marks walked a few feet to a small coffee table, where he
pushed stacks of papers onto the floor and found some cash lying there.
Johnson rolled his eyes at this.
After counting the right amount of money, Marks handed it to
"I'm tired of having to come over here to get the rent!" Johnson
"I'm sorry, but I'm glad you're here, sir"
"You are?" asked Johnson, genuinely surprised.
"Yes, you see, my invention is complete"
"I've been meaning to talk to you about that thing. The people are
sick of all the noise, and frankly, so am I. I've got more complaints
about that thing," said Johnson, pointing to the device, "than I have
about all the drug dealers here!"
"But sir, like I said, it is complete. I want to tell you what it
"It looks like a vending machine turned into a dog house," remarked
Johnson, saying the first thing that came to mind. Indeed it did look
like a cola machine with a dog house entrance at the bottom that could
fit one person.
Ignoring the comment, Marks continued. "It is a device that breaks
down neural and temporal energy barriers," Marks stated with pride.
"Huh?" If anyone could understand what the scientist had said, it
"Well, you see, my father's theory is this: when we die, we are
reborn again. At the instant of death, our aura, our spirit, is released.
However time is not a factor for our spirit, so it can be reborn again
in a different time, or even the same time. The theory states that we
each may have as many as twenty different lives overlapping in the same
time frame. I could have lived, died, and my spirit was reborn as you."
"You think you might be me?"
"It's possible. I could also have been George Washington or Martin
Luther King. We don't know, though, because each new life is separated
from the other by energy barriers. If I am you in another life and
neural barriers are broken down, our auras would connect because we share
the same soul. Similarly, by breaking down temporal barriers and making
linear time no longer a factor, the auras of our past lives will connect.
This will give us the memories and knowledge of our past lives.
"I could have twelve other lives at this moment and not know it, but
breaking down those barriers will make me know it. That," Marks
concluded, "is what my device does."
Johnson decided to recap. "Your machine destroys energy barriers and
throws the laws of time out the window so all of our present lives all
come together as one and we remember all of our past lives?"
Johnson let out the biggest sonic boom of a laugh Marks had ever
heard. "But do you know how to program a VCR?"
The brilliant man was about to say "Yes, I can program any VCR
without looking at the instructions," but he realized Johnson's comment
was another pathetic attempt at humor.
"Hello!" called old Mrs. Duncan from the open door. She lived
directly above Marks, and had never complained about the noise.
Marks couldn't help but notice how the kind old lady's call was
much quieter than Mr. Johnson's normal speaking voice. Anyway, the
excited man thought, she'll appreciate my work. "Come in, Mrs. Duncan,
please come in!"
"Yeah," added Johnson, "Einstein here's got an ingenious machine!"
He continued to chuckle to himself.
They laughed at Edison, they laughed at Einstein, all the greats,
Marks kept telling himself. "Actually, Mrs. Duncan the theory started
with my father, you see, he..."
"Is this what you've been doing in here?" the woman smiled,
motioning at the device. "It looks like a soda pop machine."
Thank you for that bit of insight, thought Marks. Johnson started
"You know, red doesn't really go with this room, you should have
painted that gadget blue," offered Mrs. Duncan, just trying to be helpful.
"Well, I didn't paint the front of it red, it's a plastic plate. I
bought it that way."
"What does it do?" asked the old woman.
Marks never thought she'd ask. "Well, it's actually quite simple if
you think about it. Basically, the theory is people can be reborn after
they die any time in history, and you might have up to twenty other lives
happening right now in the present. My machine takes away the barriers
that separate all your lives. All twenty of you will think as one person
in twenty different bodies."
"Oh, really? I've never heard of that before," said Mrs. Duncan.
"Yes," the excited man continued, "and not only will your lives from
the present connect, but you'll remember all of your past lives, too.
And you'll have all the knowledge and experience of every one of your
"When are you gonna' start this thing," Johnson asked, still smiling.
He had the ugliest smile Marks had ever seen.
"Tonight, I will activate the device, and make my father's dream
"Well, I think that's nice," said Mrs. Duncan. "Oh, I forgot, I
came down to ask you if you wanted some fish."
"Yes, my son David sent me a few salmon he caught, and I can't eat
all of it. It's just me upstairs, I'm only one woman."
Only one person? thought Marks. Don't you get it, woman? You're
going to be twenty people after tonight! "Yes, thank you Mrs. Duncan,
I'd love some fish."
"Okay, I'll bring it down later."
"I'm sorry about the noise. I hope it hasn't kept you up."
"Oh, don't worry, Sonny. I couldn't hear a garbage truck crashing
through the building." And with that, the sweet old lady walked out the
door. "Bye!" she called after she was out the door and out of view.
"What's that smell?"
Marks turned to see Johnson sniffing the air. Marks did the same,
to see it he could detect the odor. He figured out what it was Johnson
was smelling. "Oh, it's gasoline."
Johnson looked Marks straight in the eye with no expression. "Your
time and energy breaking machine is gas powered?"
"We'll yes, that's how it runs." The doctor felt another one of
Johnson's laughing fits coming on.
He was right. Johnson burst into uncontrollable laughter. After
about ten seconds, he began to recover and walk toward the door. "That's
great!" the landlord said, still in recovery. "That's just great!" After
vanishing out of sight, he said again, "That's great!" and was gone.
I'll show all of you. You'll all thank me for all my years of work
and my theory. I mean my father's theory. Then you'll thank both of us
for what we did for humanity. And Dr. Marks waited.
That evening, Marks held a private ceremony to dedicate the greatest
invention mankind had ever built - private for the fact the doctor was
the only one in attendance. He celebrated with the party hat of his
thirteenth birthday and the salmon Mrs. Duncan had brought down.
At 10:00pm that night, he was ready to activate the machine that
would change humanity forever. Just before he would press the button on
that machine though, he picked up an old photograph of his father. This
is for you, Dad. My theory is going to be put in action. I mean your
theory, of course, and my work. Well, you worked, too, but you must
admit, not even you put as time and energy into this project as I did. I
do deserve most of the credit.
"IT'S TIME!!!" Marks called to the world. He walked over to the
machine. It was a pity he could only press it once, but once those
energy barriers are gone, they won't come back. He lifted his hand and
got ready to push the button on the front on the device. Then he stopped.
He had not decided on which finger to use. People will probably
remember this day well, and it will be recorded which finger I use to
press the button. Then he made his decision. For some reason, he felt
it was much more dramatic for him to use his thumb.
He lifted his arm again, brought his hand closer to the button, then
clenched his fist. After a few seconds, he drew his thumb, and proceeded
to the button. "HERE WE GO!!!" And his thumb pushed the button.
The device hummed for about a minute, then abruptly stopped. "It's
done!" he said, and then sat on the couch only a few feet away from the
machine. He closed his eyes, and prepared for all of his lives to become
one, as would happen would everyone else in the world.
Suddenly, it happened; he began connecting to other people who also
was him. It was his other lives of the present. He knew now that he was
fourteen people at present.
...fifteen, sixteen, seventeen,...
He sat there, things becoming so much clearer as he had eighteen
lives in this world at present. He now couldn't wait to find out who he
was in the past.
But wait, he had more than eighteen lives in the present. According
to his father's calculations, the limit was twenty at any given time. He
felt another and another. That was twenty.
All twenty people knew everything any of them had learned or
experienced. These people lived in a variety of different places, and
all nineteen were surprised to find out they are a brilliant scientist in
another life. A few couldn't even speak English until now.
What? Marks thought. I'm him? It was true, Marks was also his
landlord, Mr. Johnson. At home in bed, Johnson woke up.
"He was right," said Johnson. "I mean I was right!"
Marks and Johnson, and the other eighteen people were now one mind,
as they always really were, just separated in different bodies. Twenty
of him were ready to find out who they were in the recent and distant
...twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three,...
Apparently, my father miscalculated.
Nobody on the planet had any idea of what was going to happen.
Marks' brain was now remembering some of his past lives.
I don't believe it, thought the Marks brain, I was my father. It
really was my theory!
...one hundred-six, one hundred-seven,...
Mrs. Duncan too? Marks realized he was his kind old neighbor. Now I
understand the theory, thought the Mrs. Duncan brain.
...three million, four million,...
He had not counted on being so many people.
...two billion, three billion, four billion,...
Billions and billions of minds connecting, realizing they were the
...finally, Marks and everyone else alive knew who they truly were.
Marks had lived as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, and
every other president of the United States. He was the ruler of every
nation in the world, every country that had ever existed. He was Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr., as well as James Earl Ray.
He was the killer that had strangled Rachel Bowman in Minnesota, as
well as Rachel Bowman herself. He was Lt. Johnston, who spent his entire
life trying to find the killer, but had died in a car accident when a
drunk driver ran a red light. He was Eddie, the drunk man that took the
detective's life and ended his own a week later.
He had been Neil Armstrong, who took that historic first step on the
surface of the moon, and Jerry Trosper, a New York police officer and
incredible fan of Armstrong.
He was the rich man without a heart and the poor man in need. He
died on the operating table at the hands of himself. He delivered pizza
to himself daily. He killed himself in battle, saved himself during a
crisis, comforted himself when it was necessary. He gave himself soup
when he was sick and thanked himself for it. He stole his own car and
sent himself to prison for it.
He was the judge, jury, lawyers, plaintiff, and defendant. He was
the teacher and the student. He had been the father, daughter, mother,
He was everyone. Everyone who had ever lived at any time was him
in other lives, reincarnations overlapping on themselves. All humanity
since the beginning was one mind, one spirit, one lone soul in the vast
sea of eternity.
And from that day forward, the world became a lonely place.