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This Week’s Prompt: 113. Biological-hereditary memories of other worlds and universes. Butler—God Known and Unk. p. 59.
The Prior Research: Lives Well Lived
Sam had always insisted there was something special about him. We’d known each other since primary school, and he insisted that, really, he had to be a faerie child. That some day, his parents would take him aside and reveal that he was secretly the magical prince of England or something. Because in those days, England was about as fantastic as fairy land. When he gave that up, he fell into the idea that he was actually some long lost heir to one or another obscure noble post—he even became fascinated, when the Romanov’s perished, with the idea that somewhere in his family tree there was some trace of blood that would grant him the Russian throne. That such a claim was…irrelevant given present circumstances wasn’t a concern of his. He was sure that some lineage of his had destined him for a higher position than a bank clerk.
“It really is a phenomenal science.” Sam told me one day, gesturing to a freshly printed book—Researches in Reincarnation and Beyond. “There’s entire worlds of knowledge we might be missing out on. All of those secrets locked up in here.” He tapped the side of his head for emphasis.
“Mmm. Sounds…well, sounds like some nonsense. When your dead your dead, Sam.” I said frowning. “Till God calls you or something like that.”
“Oh, that’s an old-fashioned way of looking at things. I’ve got the journals from France if you want to read them. They’ve found mediums everywhere, and in fact there’s a demonstration coming to town soon. We could go, find out our spiritual history. Why, I just read a case where a woman’s fear of spiders was explained by her last life having died to a black widow bite!”
“Fearing death by spider doesn’t require psychological necromancy, Sam.” I said, dropping two cubes of sugar in the coffee.
“Alright, but I read another account—this woman, she refused to speak to men with red hair. That’s strange isn’t it?”
“A bit.” I said, mixing the cubes.
“Right, well, it turns out, in her life as a queen of Ireland, her husband had red hair and cheated on her, and the resentment stayed with her! Isn’t that amazing? She even spoke Irish! And she’d never been to the island!”
“That is…impressive.” I had heard there were parts of Ireland that still spoke Celtic, but reciting it from nowhere was incredible. “So, you want company for your visit to the traveling circus?”
“Oh no, not just that. I have a better way. Many of these books, they focus on the new state—but you don’t need a doctor to enter another state of mind. In India, they would drink a liquid or smoke a pipe to do it.”
“Opium and cocaine exist, yes.”
“Yes, well, I’ve come into the possession of a substance—it took some finding, some asking after and some trips abroad—”
“Ah, so that was why you visited Europe last year.” I said, taking my first drink, the coffee accelerating my mind in tandem with the thought.
“Yes, and to see of course the wonders of Rome. Anyway, the substance, it has properties—it allows one to expand their awareness into their past, as a hypnotist does. And I need someone to be with me, to record what I see and say, so I do not forget when I come out of the trance.”
“I am of course willing to compensate this volunteer handsomely for their time.”
And so I arrived at Sam’s apartment that evening, fresh from working from one madman to assisting another. The stairs rattled and creaked as I climbed up them. At least for Sam, the price was better. I stopped on the third landing, and rapt my knuckles on Sam’s door.
Sam was dressed in…well, I assume a bathrobe and a heavy towel on his head. There is a very slim chance the turban was genuine, somehow. He was sluggish as he looked into the hall.
“I doubt anyone followed me, Sam. Now…did I get the time wrong?” I asked, looking at my wrist watch before looking back at him. “I hope I didn’t interrupt anything.”
“No, no, come in, come in.” Sam said, leaving the door opened as he turned around. “I’ve been purging my system—refining my internal chemistry so the substance has the greatest possible effect. I’ve also been doing practices to open the mind, meditations to avoid any unnecessary clutter.”
Sam’s apartment smelled of steam and sweat. There was a coat of incense to cover the smell, and windows open to the rainy weather outside. The discordant smells, the heat mixed with waves of cold hair outside, and Sam himself sitting down in a chair, slumped over in self-induced illness, drove home my second unspoken role. While yes, I was to write what Sam rambled and raved during his hallucinations, I would also be on hand to call for help should the worst happen or witness if Sam failed to recover.
“Now, the solution will last three hours at most.” He said, taking a small vial of liquid from his robe. “I hope you have a steady and energetic hand.”
“For the agreed sum, my hand might as well be a type writer.” I said, taking a seat at a round coffee table near the window—one of the few places conspicuously clear of clutter and books and notes and charts. I sat down, with my pen at the ready to transcribe, nodding for Sam to begin.
The substance took approximately thirty seconds to fully effect Sam—early symptoms, such as an increased lethargy, and his fingers tightening around the arm of his chair, began after two seconds. Still it took thirty seconds, more or less, for him to begin describing scenes. He saw first terraced fields of rice, flooding—he saw a family, his father an ailing old man that he cared for, his mother long go, and his own son a lazy fool who meant well. But the splendor that Sam had hoped for evaded him—he seemed to be a simple farmer, even as he peeled back the layers of a life time in East Asia.
He recounted then a life time as a sailor on the monsoon winds, riding along the India Ocean. He saw many women and men at ports of call, he saw great wealth trade hands, pirates fended off. He saw cities that stood proud along the shore with temples unknown to him except in his texts by reputation—but he and his new ‘memories’ disagreed on what they meant, which was Buddhist and which was Hindu and which was Muslim. He left that life and continued downward greatly disgruntled.
And found himself recounting an old life, a life longer than the prior two combined, living as an old painter in Greece. He lived a quiet life in a monastery—he painted icons and images carefully, with Byzantine colors and techniques. His master piece, an icon of Revelation, where the dragon descended down in crimson colors. He was serene in his age, but as he remembered his youth, he grew in exuberance—he entered the monastery late in life, his youth spent fighting and drink in the countryside. But still, no golden circlet.
History was glimpsed through his lives, although rarely could he tell when and where—wars and plauges and famines flew around him, but with only one set of eyes at a time, he could not piece together where he was or which they were. Somethings he didn’t even understand—he perished from unseen blows, illnesses that escaped his understanding and diagnosis. Some lives a man, some a woman, some neither, some both, some long, some short. But over thousands of years, of seeing wonders and arts, in worshipping a hundred ways, in the fullness of time, he was not yet a king. Each of these spans took approximately three minutes or so, with Sam speaking faster as time went on.
Thus with frustration he took a second dosage, determined to delve deeper—having passed the first farms in some river valley that spirits took kindly too. Places the rain was common, and the crop came in well. He hurried across steppes, his mind traveling to plains and forests and savannahs, to hills and icy peaks. And it was then that things began to change. His coherency began to decay, and motions and sections began to drift together. He mentioned red lights, red foxes, or strange sights—but the details were unimportant to him it seemed.
Sam found cities again, but far from the lands he knew. He described great windows of diamond, looking out onto green seas that seemed like flowing jade. There were ships as black as night that sailed, crewed by him and his four-armed brethren. He had sailed to distant islands, past gates of red gold. He had warred with a monster with blood ren skin and iron armor, who swore to find and slay him in a future life, when he saw him again. Sam had scoffed, not believing in the past what he thought now. Still, for his heroism, he received victorious sacrifices—but no crown. So, he plunged further down.
And it was as he continued downward, recollecting and refining through time, seeking his sense of royalty, that I noticed a shift in the air. The smoke from incense grew thicker, the room grew warmer. Sam began to sweat, the incense dying his sweat deep red. I ran to the windows and tossed them open as he no longer formed words, just syllables. A heavy cold wind rolled in, and I turned to see it toss and coil around Sam, the candle lights glowering at me as the wind roared. It began to rain outside.
This story ended up drawing more on the Frank Long story Hounds of Tindalos then my original research would suggest. I had at first an idea for a story that was about multi-life grudges, hypnotism revealing that a patients phobias were in fact from fear of multiple enemies oaths of revenge coming true. I think I prefer this version, even if the ending is a bit rushed. Definitely one to return to for Patreon.
Next time! Lights on the marsh!
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