Dr. Marcom removed his feet from the top of the desk when Kyle entered his office. Still sitting, he motioned to the chair in front of him.
"Please," the doctor said, his mouth half-full of food. "Have a seat."
Kyle sat down on the same chair from his previous visit. He eyed the lunch on the doctor's desk, sushi lined up on top of two wooden getas. Ultra-rare bluefin tuna rested upon balls of rice. The chopsticks he held in his hands were connected together with a chopsticks trainer.
Dr. Marcom finished chewing his sushi and swallowed. "I have some good news for you," he said.
Kyle's gaze remained focused on the chopsticks trainer as the doctor placed them on top of the getas and moved them aside. Grabbing the space globe in his hands, the doctor placed it on the middle of the desk and pressed a button. The lights stole Kyle's attention away from the chopsticks.
The fireflies had returned to their jar, each one representing the fleeting souls of a particular era. They danced around each other, never touching and completely oblivious to any existence except their own. Dr. Marcom pressed his finger to one of the lights. All of the others ceased to be as quickly and spontaneously as they had first appeared. The one that remained clung to his finger as if desperate to avoid nothingness.
"This light represents a person's energy in the vastness of space and time," said Dr. Marcom. "By using the knowledge we now know about the universe, we are able to track where a person's energy goes after they die."
Kyle had heard this part already. Wanting to skip past the lengthy explanation, he asked, "So that represents Elizabeth's energy?"
"Yes," said the doctor. "According to our calculations, we believe her energy has passed on to the late 1900s."
"The past?" said Kyle. "But you're not sure?"
The doctor took his finger off the globe. A new generation of fireflies appeared, instinctively taking over the circuitous routines of life and death established long before their birth. Kyle remained focused on the one light that had existed in darkness, now moving freely among the rest.
"You have to understand," Dr. Marcom said, "that although we can calculate where a certain energy signature has gone and where it will go, there is no proof we can offer you that definitively states that she used to be Elizabeth."
Kyle laughed. "I knew this was too good to be true," he said. "You almost had me believing in all of this."
"But it is true," said Dr. Marcom. "We have done many tests, all of which have proven that a person's energy is recycled. It's a fact."
"It's a little coincidental that Elizabeth's energy went to the past, considering you knew all about how much she loved old-fashioned things, isn't it? It's almost as if you're just telling me what I would like to hear."
Dr. Marcom smirked. "I understand. Let me assure you, I did not fabricate any of this data."
"So you're asking me to have faith in theories."
"In a sense, yes. As with any pioneers, there will always be a degree of uncertainty. This may be a brand new procedure today, but in the future, it will become revolutionary. You will be the first to prove the existence of a person's eternal energy."
"Maybe in the future, but in the past, this won't exist."
Kyle stood up and walked to the window. He looked out at the city like he did earlier from his balcony. Technology may have changed the way things get done, but humans have always been the same. Whether it be the past or the future, any chance to be with Elizabeth again was better than the present, where she will forever be gone.
"So how do I send my energy to be with Elizabeth?" said Kyle.
"Well," the doctor hesitated. "In layman's terms, we would need to alter your energy signature to match the part in hers that decided where to go."
"But would altering my energy make me less compatible with her as a soul mate?"
Dr. Marcom winced at the word 'soul' and regretted using that word in the first place. He would have to figure out a different way to dumb things down for future reference.
"No," he assured him. "If anything, it would make you even more compatible. We're changing you to be more similar, not different."
"And if I refuse to change anything, would that mean I can't be reincarnated in the same place as Elizabeth?"
"It's not impossible," said the doctor. "But why leave it to chance when you can make it a guarantee?"
Kyle thought about this for a moment.
"If a person's energy is always recycled," said Kyle, "then it stands to reason that eventually our energies will return to this point. So no matter what I do, I will always end up here again."
"That's one theory," said the doctor. "But I disagree. As I explained before, time is not linear. There is no line, so it cannot possibly become a circle. There is no such thing as fate, only volition. The whole point of what we're doing is to create the destiny we want."
"But what happens when that energy gets used up?" said Kyle. "It has to end eventually, right?"
Dr. Marcom smiled. He reclined in his seat and laced his fingers together. "In Hinduism, they call it moksha. The liberation of the soul from samsara. Maybe you know it by the Buddhist term, nirvana. It is the escape from the cycle of death and rebirth. They consider it to be a state of perfection."
"Right. So what if Elizabeth is in moksha? What if her soul has been liberated? Does that mean I will follow her into nothingness?"
The doctor sat up straight. "Look, I want you to forget all these concepts from the religions all over the world. There is only one right answer, and that is that energy is eternal. Once it is used up in this time, it is born in another."
"So you're saying there's no such thing as liberation."
"I'm saying there's no such thing as moksha."
Kyle glanced out the window and noticed two birds perched next to each other on a wire. One turned to the other and scratched its head with its beak.
"As for liberation," the doctor continued. "Well, that really just depends on your definition of the word."
YOU ARE READING
After Kyle's wife, Elizabeth, passes away, he finds out about a revolutionary new procedure that claims to track and control reincarnation. As he struggles with his grief, two options open up to him. Should he follow Elizabeth into the next life? Or...