I swear I was just minding my own business. I could understand if I was someplace I wasn’t supposed to be, but for crying out loud I was hanging out in the same place I’d been using for months. Months! It wasn’t like there was a terrific view, but I wasn’t there for external stimulation anyway. External stimuli tend to fog the thought process. There I sat, leaning against the wall in my usual spot, not hurting a fly, contemplating the human hand.
Oh, I know it’s been done before, even become cliche, but that does nothing to stop the amazing feats of design and engineering inherent in the structures of the human body. I marveled at the way the musculature and skeletal structure was designed to work in conjunction, focusing generated power into the thumb and forefinger, vastly increasing the grip strength that played such a huge part in our ability to use tools and eventually wield the weapons that enabled the human species to achieve and maintain dominance above larger and more powerful creatures of the Earth.
That’s when I felt it: sudden pressure all around me. My arms, the very hand I was contemplating, were crushed to my sides by something I could not see. The pressure increased, rings of invisible force surrounding me, squeezing the very life out of me. I panicked. I tried to struggle but couldn’t move, couldn’t cry out, couldn’t do any of the things I tried to do. Then, just as it occurred to me that what I really needed to do was calm down and think, things got worse — so much worse that the panic came back, stronger this time, washing through me like a storm tide.
I was being moved.
The pressure about me increased as I was lifted,my feet kicking below me evidence that my lung-crushing paralysis was not quite total, though I was too busy trying to scream to even notice. My head was tilted slightly backward; I had tried, when I realized I was in motion, to see just where I was being taken but that rhythmic, squeezing pressure like a living thing across my forehead and face had sealed my eyelids. Now, as the increasing pressure distorted my features, my eyes were forced slightly open and I glimpsed what lay ahead.
Above me, at what appeared through my slitted eyes to be a great distance, a circular portal filled with white light was slowly opening.
I tried to scream, struggled to draw a breath, to lash out against this force that held me but all I could do was kick my feet as I was drawn closer to the white portal. The pulsing pressure grew, increasing until I thought I might die silently screaming my terror out into my own head, when suddenly, with a sudden rush and sensation of motion, like a diver breaking the surface of a pool, I was through the portal and into the brilliant white light.
Cold. The first thing I registered was numbing cold, a temperature of such frigidity it was entirely beyond my experience. My eyes were blind, overwhelmed by the brilliant radiance surrounding me. I could feel something holding me, something powerful but physical, cradling me. My limbs were pulled taut, arms and legs extended, and I had the sensation of being examined, intimately, from crown to heel and everything in between with not even a toss to my personal modesty. My body was in such shock from the cold I could not even protest, my lungs unwilling to draw a breath of the frigid cold surrounding me. I forced my eyes open just a bit, straining against the blinding light that pinned them firmly shut.
Flat, round eyes stared down, unblinking. Above those eyes rose a hairless dome, marred only by a pair of straight, vertical lines, one to either side of its bulbous forehead, as if its huge skull had been designed with corners. Where there should have been a nose and mouth were nothing but a few shallow crenelations with no opening of any kind. It towered over me, filling my field of vision from end to end. My eyes opened wider as I stared back, trying to comprehend the creature that held me even as my body flexed, curling in upon itself to fend off the terrible cold.
Then, to my shock, it spoke!
“Well, Tammy, I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’d say you just gave birth to an eight-pound baby boy! Congratulations.”
My God, I thought, it all makes sense now! The warmth, the feeling of belonging I’ve felt! I’ve been so busy all this time contemplating philosophical issues, exercising my brain on weighty matters, it never even occurred to me to wonder why I wasn’t really exercising my body! I was in the womb? Wait… this — this must be reincarnation! This is what it’s like? I… I have so much to say, so much to tell now that there are people to hear! Foreign Policy, the whole Middle East issue — I know just what to do! No, wait, the National Debt! I could clear that in just three years, with minimal fiscal reforms! I have to—wait! What is that?
The huge being — the doctor, I now knew, had reached out a hand to accept what looked like a pair of shears. No… they were shears! He thrust them forward, toward me. I saw the ropy cord stretching away from me and guessed his intent.
No! Wait! That’s attached to m—
Like water draining from an unplugged sink I felt thoughts and memories swirling away into nothingness, siphoned away through the severed cord of life I had, until now, taken for granted.
No! I have to tell them something!
Great thoughts and concepts whirled away to be lost in the void, replaced by great wodges of empty nothing. I opened my mouth, frantic to say something, anything!
Dammit! I… goo? Goo ha dugaa…