The Last Life of Kyra Sant
Chapter 1: The Leap to Innerspace
The story of how this tale came to me is here. I’ll do my best to tell it succinctly…
Dying from hypothermia takes a long time. At first I think I can make it through the night. But then I stop thinking. Just feeling. Cold. So cold. Hours pass. Eventually I release from the body. I hover over it. I see a woman in a wagon. I was almost over the mountain pass. Oh well...
Now I'm a man walking the corridors of Rome. Suddenly there's a pain—a sharp, deep stab of a knife through my back. Blood rushes out of my body and I topple over. It's the loan shark. I didn't pay. I was going to, I was going to...
Now I'm drunk on martinis, crashing my car into the ravine, my wife and daughter inside. Feel the crunch of the car pinning my legs. I made a mistake, I made a mistake...
Now I'm a man being tortured. They're asking me, over and over, for information on the rebel group. I am telling them the truth, that I do not know. They do not believe me. "I'm telling you, I do not know. I'M TELLING YOU: I DO NOT KNOW!" On and on it goes... I die in the cell, feverish and shaking from wound infection...
Now I'm dying on the battlefield. So stupid, all this war. Why did I ever think it was heroic, now my family must go on without me. Why did I take the bait, the coins promised, the dream of glory...
Right before the death fades into another, I see it in the distance. It's some sort of pulsing orb. I float up towards it. I recognize it as the hypersphere containing all my death experiences. I'm absorbed into it and I feel every death I've ever had, simultaneously. All the defeat, all the pain, all the regret. Claustrophobic, I start to panic. Where does it end, where does this suffering end??
"Kyra," I hear a voice. It sounds familiar. Who's Kyra? I go towards it. It's saying—
"Breathe, Kyra. BREATHE!" It's Miriam. She's finally in transmission range. In an instant, I remember. I take a deep breath in and hold it. I twist my consciousness around, in, and out of the sphere, freeing myself from it. I breathe out. I made the jump. I'm at the gateway.
Miriam flips the switch to begin my assimilation back to the present space reality. The DMT-858 begins flushing from my system. I feel the tubes in my veins, the mask on my face, the warm salt liquid of the floatation tank.
"Only five lives before you found it, that's good," she says. Five lives is good for you, is what she means. Why do I get so caught up there? Sometimes I have to go through a dozen lives, one time I went through forty-seven. Just wake up! I berate myself silently. Just wake up, just wake up, just wake up.
Miriam can sense my disappointment. "You'll find a consistent jumping point. Maybe it's that knight life, that one has surfaced several times now," she says thoughtfully. Through the neuroimaging monitor she can get a rough sense of what I can see.
It's ok, you're still in training, I tell myself, switching to a reassuring voice. Constructive self-talk is a major part of the training. Spiraling in negative self-referential patterns takes you to a bad place real quick in innerspace. "You're adept at navigating when you're not emotionally charged," Miriam had said at my entrance interview. "But you'll need to cultivate a positive relationship with yourself. The strategies that earned you top marks in school will not get you where you need to go here."
I have two weeks left of this training unit. By the end of the unit I need to reliably be able to get to the innerspace gate from one death remembrance. Then the training moves onto innerspace navigation. Getting to the gate is just the first step, stop fucking this up, I berate myself, then correct: I am progressing. I can do this. I am doing this.
"Isn't dying once in those lives enough?" I mutter to myself, unhooking the tube from my arm and the neuroimaging circuits from my scalp.
"Death experiences are the most reliable gateway to innerspace, Kyra. You know this," Miriam says with gentle disappointment. I shouldn’t have said that. Miriam, with her soft spot for underdogs, has been the nicest—well, the only nice person—in the research unit. I don't need to alienate my only ally.
Maybe Miriam is nice because she’s spent so much time in innerspace. Innerspace is the route through which all consciousness is connected. My experience is linked to yours is linked to every living organism. We're all one and we're all connected, and now we have the technology to navigate—well, at least start to navigate. We're called researchers because originally we were researching things like alien species we haven't contacted yet, cataloguing new realms of knowledge and experience. But ever since the war with the Demenides, we should be called something else: spies.
War devours every research budget, but at least we still have funding. Now when we go to innerspace we're monitoring the Demenides, getting any intelligence we can on their strategy and whereabouts. Sometimes we tap other alien species to see if they have any insights that can improve our weapons or defense shields.
Morning training is over and I head to the changing rooms. The pressure's been getting to me. I want to excel, I need to excel. The dream to be a researcher is all I've ever lived for. As soon as I learned you could get paid to transport your consciousness somewhere else, merge with other consciousnesses, learn things not yet known... I was hooked. After that day I did pretty much nothing but study and train mediation and astral projection. There’s only a dozen researcher spots open for the thousands who apply. I have to give everything to make it.
Now here I am at the local training center. I've made it this far, but I need to make it through the training. Less than a third of the trainees make it to novice researcher, still others are lost along the way. Some are lost to madness... exploration can take its toll on the psyche.
I focus, breathing in and visualizing: I am excelling. I am progressing. I will make it.
I am believing the things I’m telling myself.
Chapter 2 »
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