Dreams of Yesterday
Darrel Wilmington found himself living alone by his middle age, residing in a studio
apartment on the outskirts of a city. His home was bare of amenities, apart from the
essentials. A bed, a table, condiments in the fridge. A carpet sticky with stains.
On Friday nights, Darrel had begun to form a ritual. He would pace the floor of his
studio drinking his favorite gin strait from the bottle, playing a game with himself to see how close he could get to his bed before he blacked out.
Darrel didn’t enjoy drinking, he just didn’t have anything better to do. Alcohol
became his friend. His reason for being. For being tired. For being alone. For being
Tonight’s Friday came early. Darrel, dragging his feet across the carpet, had reached a point where he was unable to lift them. Over the last half hour he had emptied an entire bottle of gin, dropping it on the nightstand next to a container of aspirin.
His half stammered eyes stared at the drugs, contemplating his choices. Picking up
the container of pills, Darrel ripping off the protective seal in a frenzy, pouring the entirety of the package into his hands.
Cupping the white circles, Darrel brought them to his mouth with a slowing precision.
Portraying a man dying from dehydration, cherishing that very first sip of water. Darrel inhaled deep, causing the compound’s chalky aroma to coated his sinuses, while mixing with the stink of gin still lingering on his breath. Closing his eyes, Darrel tipped his head back and swallowed the sum, mashing the pills between his teeth with a maddening
The drug’s sensation was faster than he had expected. Disorientation was first,
followed by a drooping of his eyes, causing them to losing their focus. An overwhelming sensation of vertigo filled Darrel’s entire being as his disintegrating stomach lining began to from its protest.
He fought the urge to vomit, forcing himself to continue the course he had chosen.
His vision began to blacken, sending signals to a body that no longer adhered to any of his commands. With the introduction of the massive overdose, Darrel’s years of
mistreating his organs had lead to multiple hemorrhages throughout his body. Setting off an irreversible chain reaction that could no longer be stopped.
Darrel felt his face hit on the floor. Motionless, he knew there was no use in trying to get up. He could feet the life within himself beginning to fading. The pain of decay
rupturing his body. After a moment, Darrel Wilmington was dead.
But Darrel didn’t stop feeling. The life of Consciousness kept him whole within the Mirage of his surrounding. A perspective, impossible to be experience by any Form.
Darrel left his body, drifting aloft in sensations he could not understand, his mind a fuse, set ablaze long before the day he was born, leaving behind a trail of ash following him to his next destination.
A shock startled Darrel’s mind into being. He could feel a pair of eyelids obscuring
his vision, he urged them to open. His sight was hazy, a contrast of shapes and shadows littered his focus. Minutes passed as Darrel’s eyes adjusted to his surroundings, and what he saw filled him with a deep, utter, panic.
Looking back at Darrel was the slick complexion of a bald gray face. At the center
were three pupil filled slits, spread apart like pedals on a flower, taking the shapes of a falling drop of rain. Translucent eyelids blinked across their wet surface, breaking Darrel from his daze.
He struggled to move, but Darrel’s head and body were being retrained by flaps of
hide. As he fought against the straps, they tightened, causing a numbness in his limbs.
The entity in front of him began to speak. Darrel could see now, that below the being’s eyes was a mouth jutting with mandibles, each clicking in a rapid succession.
Darrel squirmed against the noise, unable to comprehend the sounds he was hearing,
and yet, he understood them. The longer Darrel listened, the more the garbled clatter began to become clear. “Durran,” [_kik-kik. _]“Durran, can you hear me? Durran?”
The question: [_Who is Durran? _] popped into Darrel’s mind a fraction before he
remembered, that the name, was his. “Yes,” he answered, “I can hear you Pel.”
“You recalled my name. Good. That means you’re beginning to regain your senses.”
“As expected. This won’t take much longer. Give me a second and I’ll release you.”
Durran waited for the tension in the restraints to subside before sitting upright to inspect his body. A long torso, shooting off two clothed and booted legs, had a mesh covered arm on each side. He looked at his hands, they were three fingered, each appendage an
opposable thumb, with skin the same slick gray as Pel’s.
“How do you feel?” asked Pel as he removed a metal halo from around Durran’s
head.Durran responded witha groan, rubbing histhird eye. “Exhausted.”
“That’s normal,” replied Pel, helping Durran to his feet. “You lived the life of Darrel Wilmington much longer than anyone had expected.”
The two beings were standing in a facility massive in size, dwarfing the area of any
small town. In every direction were rows of armchairs, similar to Durran’s, spread out over the floor in a gridded pattern. Each chair hosting the body of a being relative in appearance to Durran and Pel, their sex’s indeterminate, all with metal halos attached to their heads.
In front of Durran, the facing wall was composed of a seamless pane of glass,
arching outward from the ceiling, clear and crystal. A blue azure sky drifted across the view. Durran walked to the glass wall. Clouds could be seen crossing the entire scope of glass, defiant in their listlessness.
Putting his palm to the window, Durran peered down the building’s two hundred
story drop. “How goes the war?”
Pel came up from behind him, “ about the same as when you left.”
The serene view of sky was contrasted by an array of carnage down below. Spanning
the desert plains, dark craters erupted from nothingness to consume entire legions of a mechanical army. Silver ligaments swirled deep into the chasms of crushing blackness, staining the landscape with their plight, forever disassembled.
Hydrogen explosions littered the battlefield, eliminating infantry and artillery alike, driving back forces in dire need of reinforcement. Off in the distance Durran could see a tare carved into the fabric of the universe, it’s size a reflection of the battle below.
Millions of opal blotches spilled from the tare in a continuous flow, each a liquid
consciousness, engaging in a never ending assault with the mechanical army.
“We build our drones as fast as they replenish their forces,” said Pel. “The defensive line is being held, but we’re running out of time. The enemy seems to have an endless supply of troops. While we-”
“Are on a course of exhausting the building materials we use to create our machines.
I remember Pel.”
“Then maybe it’s time we start talking about a contingency.”
Durran tuned out the words of his friend as he spoke over Pel’s voice. “If we only
knew where they were coming from. Then one of us could live a life of theirs, gain some kind of understanding of what they want, and maybe, find a way to end this war.”
Pel spoke again, his voice filling with irritation. “What they want is our utter
destruction. Do you really need to live one of their lives to understand [_that? _]”
Durran returned his focus back out the window. He had heard the argument Pel was
making from the others of his kind, all of them believing that their society was no longer capable of handling the war’s dire circumstances.
Durran had lost count of how many times he’s had to reminded his fellows, that
situations like this were littered across their ninety-nine thousand year history of peace.
That at each obstacle confronted, their people had endured with the knowledge obtained through the chairs they used.
“Why do you think our ancestors developed the soul cycling technology?” asked
Durran, speaking with an air of superiority. He continuing without waiting for Pel to reply.
“Our people have the ability to experience the lifetimes of other intelligent beings we discover throughout the multiverse. It’s what’s allowed us to deepen our sense of empathy.
And as our empathy grows, the greater our understandings become. Not only of the
species we encounter, but of ourselves as well.”
Durran pressed one of his thumbs against the glass, allowing his mind to delve into
thought. “When the vessel of another species is chosen, a baby, for one of us to be born into, we are ensuring that our submersive will live out the entirety of that being’s life with no memory of who or what they were. Allowing them to bring back an unparalleled,
_unbiased _ knowledge. Knowledge, that our kind has used to maintain a true peace for the past ninety-nine thousand years.” Durran looked into Pel’s eyes. “We still have decades to find out were our enemy comes from. What makes you think our system won’t lead to the end of this war?”
Pel walked closer against the glass, looking down. “We don’t have as much time as
you think Durran.”
Durran blew out a sigh, shaking his head. “Your allowing fear to impede your
“Of course I AM!” Pel’s voice resonated throughout the observation floor, distracting the other attendants from their assigned hosts. Pel cleared his throat, embarrassed by his outburst. “Apologies for my lack of decorum, Durran, but you don’t know what it’s been like while you’ve been gone.”
“Do you want me to get back in the chair and experience life as an attendant?”
“I’m being serious.”
“So am I, but I suspect things would move faster if you just told me.” Durran’s eye’s glanced back down to the battle. He continued to watch the chaos happening bellow him, unable to soak any of it in.
Pel pressed on, cursing Durran for not giving him his full attention.“I take it then, your suicide means the human race is also unsuitable?”
Pel’s people had developed a contingency plan in case the war against the Solubles
didn’t go their way. A race of beings from another dimension was to be selected to birth the remaining consciousnesses of Durran and Pel’s species. Saving their souls from what they believed, would be utter obliteration in an afterlife of nonexistence, if the Solubles were the ones to take their lives.
“Well?” said Pel, with growing anger rising in his voice. “Is the human race
Being reminded of the human race, Durran felt a longing to return his mind to the life of Darrel Wilmington. The anger and pain brought on by the depression he’d experienced during Darrel’s lifetime, had given Durran a sense clarity he didn’t know existed. Giving him the idea of this sentence: Thoughts of suicide weren’t as rare as he’d once believed.
Durran could now see those same emotions dwelling within Pel, and in the many
others surrounding them, but he still had to answer Pel’s question. “The human race is a lot like we were a few thousand years ago, perhaps like we are now, always wanting to do the right thing, but struggling, to find a way to follow through.”
“Hence your suicide?”
“. .yes.” Durran looked away, disgusted with his own self defeat.
During the pause that hung between them, a missile collided with the arched window,
rippling an explosion of fire across the outer glass. A yellow fluorescent light appeared at the center, surrounding the expanding flame’s momentum, absorbing and dispersing the
kinetic energy, while reducing the blast to a dismal, puff of smoke.
“Things are getting worse, Durran. I have been confirming rumors that the council is
drafting a surrender.”
Durran’s eyes grew wide. “Impossible. We’ve calculated there’s another nine
hundred years before our supplies run out.”
Pel walked away, gazing out the window. “Our calculations were wrong. We could
lose the war at any time now.”
Durran laughed, loud enough for the rest of the facility to hear him.“I don’t believe it!” “Keep you voicedown!”pleaded Pel, as he turned Durran away from theirpeer’s
prying eye’s. “Durran, how long have I been your attendant?”
“Do you trust me?”
“I’ve never had a reason not to.”
“Okay then. Trust me when I’m telling you, we are all in great danger.”
To Durran, Pel’s claims seemed outrageous. But considering he’d been asleep, he
knew there was a possibility things could have changed. “What do you have in mind?”
At the back of the observation floor was a line of doors, one for each of the
attendants. Pel lead Durran through his own. Behind was a corridor, heading straight back.
Both sides were lined with multiple exiting archways, each leading into other separate laboratories. Pel’s personal experiments.
He led Durran to a door at the end of the hall, placed three thumbs next to the frame, causing a keypad to appeared. Durran watched as Pel’s thumbs entered a thirty digit
combination, striking the pad with perfect agility. A vibration began to rumble from the floor beneath their feet, the vibrations being caused by multiple rooms shifting into new positions within the building. “It took me weeks to figure out the code to get this
laboratory out of storage and up to this level.”
“What is it?”
The lab clunked its self into place behind the door, shaking the wall. “Must be pretty old to make that kind of racket,” said Durran.
“It is,” replied Pel. “One of the oldest.”
The archway opened, releasing centuries of stagnant air from the darkened room. As
Pel entered, the lights above flickered on against the surface. A yellow dinge draped out across the ceiling, casting every silhouette into a shadow.
The room was empty, except for a pair of soul cycling chairs at its center, constructed side by side. Both chairs sprung yards of rusting cables spiraling out from their backs, every cord connected into one of the surrounding four walls, disappearing behind the
mangled decor of dials and switches.
Looking at the chairs, Durran thought the technology resembled that of centuries
long ago, a complete precursor to the equipment on the observation floor. Durran knew that building soul chairs side by side was only necessary when two people were to join the same dimension as siblings. To his knowledge, that procedure hadn’t been attempted in over four thousand years.
One of the walls of the lab was constructed with a set of monitors at the top, designed to reconstruct the data being lived by the people tied into the chairs. A main keyboard node was located underneath the center, extending outwards over the floor.
Pel headed over to the wall, a determination within his step, activating the different power switches. Durran roamed towards the two chairs, lost in his own thoughts. He
hadn’t noticed at first, but there was a reinforced glass divider separating the chairs from the rest of the laboratory, surrounding them inside of its square.
Pel saw him waiting.“Hold on a second,” he struck a few keys. An error warning
flashed on all the screens. Pel leaned back without turning around, speaking over his shoulder. “Durran, what’s your access code?”
“You know already my code.”
“Yes, but I need you to say it anyway.”
“Alpha. Omega. Zero, zero, one, forty-two.”
Pel turned a nob and a section of the glass dissolved into a rectangular entrance,
allowing Durran inside. He went over the chairs, inspecting their structure. “These are prototypes.” He looked at Pel. “Second age?”
“Do they work?”
“I haven’t had the chance to test them yet, the tandem system makes it impossible for one person’s code to work.” He struck a few more keys, “but all the readings check out.
They should function properly, once they’re activated.”
“Pel, how exactly are these chairs going to help our people?” Durran was intrigued
by the nostalgia of the laboratory, but their race had evolved past this technology
centuries ago, he didn’t see how going backwards could do them any good.
“. .they’re not for our people.”
“Then why bring this lab up here?”
“They’re for us!”
Durran stopped what he was doing. “I don’t understand.”
“This lab isn’t just a prototype, it’s _the _ prototype. Those are the fist soul cycling chairs that were ever used.”
Durran was unimpressed. “I still don’t see what that has to do with anything.”
Pel continued his symphony of movements as he spoke, while numerous indicators
and lights flashed to life along each of the walls. “Remember your history Durran. The scientists that built this place were concerned with the safety of their subjects.”
“So they built a system where two people could be sent into a dimension to live as
siblings, I already know that Pel.”
“But did you know there was an immortality lock built into the back up?”
Durran looked at the chairs, studying their outline. “How is that even possible?”
“I couldn’t tell you. The technology was discarded when this lab was put into storage.
But think of it Durran. This is our way out!”
Durran shook his head. “I don’t see how.”
Pel twisted around, a crooked smile etched into his face. “Did being a human dull
your senses? I’ve learned how to _unlock _ the immortality state. We can affect the bodies we’re born into, live forever in a dimension of our choosing! It doesn’t matter if this world fall apart, because our minds will already be inhabiting our new vessels. Don’t you get it Durran? This is our salvation!”
“And what about everyone else Pel?”
Pel went back to the keyboard, a scowl forming on his face. He muffled a reply.
“What about them.”
“What about them!?” shouted Durran. “How can you say that? Our civilization is one
of the few that has created a culture valuing understanding and intelligence. We’ve
obtained a social harmony. Why wouldn’t you want to save that?”
“Because this society isn’t perfect for all of us Durran! Life is always better for the submersives, but never the attendants.”
“Pel,” Durran’s tone had softened after hearing the anguish within his friend’s voice.
“You can become a submersive at anytime. There is no law saying-”
“There doesn’t have to be!” Pel slammed his fists against the controls. “All they have to do is deem someone, unqualified.”
Durran didn’t reply. There hadn’t been a case of an unqualified individual in over two thousand years. Being a submersive had become part of their people’s way of life, a rite 7
of passage, that most volunteer for at least once in their lives.
Pel continued, “do you know how many people there are who haven’t become a
“Nine! Nine, people out of our entire race!” Pel turned around to face Durran. “Do
_you _ think I’m unqualified!?”
Durran stared at his friend. Looking at Pel as he was now, he could no longer be sure.
“I’m not capable of answering that question.”
Pel threw his hands up into the air, going back to his controls. “Well it doesn’t matter, your here now. We can put things into motion.”
“Listen Pel. I’ll admit, I am intrigued by your proposal. But you have no idea if these chairs are even going to work.”
“This _will _ work. It has to.” As Pel spoke an alarm siren went off throughout the building, a repetitive high pitched screech. The lights overhead changed their color, oscillating between bright and dark reds.
“What’s that?” asked Durran.
Pel walked over to the other side of the lab to a vacant square on the wall. He pressed his hand into a seamless panel. A viewing screen expanded out from the material above his hand, powering on. “Computer, show me the cause of of this alarm.” The screen filled with color as an image began to form. The depiction was of a one sided war raging on the battlefield below.
Every single drone of the mechanical army had stalled in its place, taking no
defensive action against the encroaching alien invaders. A tsunami of opal liquid spread across the landscape wiping out the machines in droves, with no signs of robotic
reinforcements in sight.
The screen switched images, showing the outside of the building. The invading army
had reached the front doors. Pel pointed at the picture. “Do you see that Durran? It’s happening right now! Our government has surrendered.”
“. .I, I don’t believe it.”
“Use your eyes Durran. They’ve abandoned us!”
“It just doesn’t make any sense…”
Pel walked over to Durran, grabbing him by the shoulders. “It’s time to make a
decision Durran. Do you want to stay here and die, or come with me and live forever?”
Durran looked at the screen, pictures that couldn’t be a lie, he didn’t see what else he could do. If the invaders were already inside the building, it would only be a matter of time before they reached the upper floors. He looked back at Pel. “What else needs to be done for the preparations?”
The pincers on Pel’s face lit up in a smile. “I need you to program our destination, I have to monitor the walls while the coordinates are inputted.”
“Alright. What species did you have in mind?”
“They can be unstable.”
“They’re the only suitable race with extrasensory perception. I don’t want to lose our third eye, do you?”
“No,” said Durran, activating his chair.” I’d prefer to keep mine as well.”
“Okay then, lets hurry.”
Durran got into the chair closest to him as Pel continued to make a few more
adjustments. He use a control pad on the chair’s arm to input the destination instructions for both of them. Moments passed, the sirens unending blare ringing within their ears, Pel asked, “are the chairs ready?”
Pel got into his chair as they both lowered the metal halo over their third eye.
Glancing over, Durran could see Pel’s face trembling with excitement, he saw the
emotion as tactless. Considering at that moment their people were in the throes of
Pel stretched a fist out to Durran. “There’s one more thing.” He turned his hand over uncurling his thumbs, revealing two white pills in the cusp of his palm.
“What are they?” asked Durran, already knowing the answer.
“What the hell for?”
“To make sure we aren’t forcibly brought back here. I’ve programmed the room to
descend back into storage once the chairs have fully integrated our minds. But we have no idea what the invaders’s intentions are or if our people will try to bring us back. I want to make sure we stay where we’re going. Forever.”
Durran looked at the monitors. The glittering sea of opal essence, of the enemy’s
flood, poured into the building. Durran stuck out his hand. “Give me the pill. Everything is ready, all we have to do is turn the system on. Once we’re under, our consciousness will adhere to the dimension selected. Are you ready?”
Both men watched the other as they each took the cyanide at the same time. Pel
initiated the chairs’s bonding program. Durran closed his eyes waiting for the end to come, calculating the cyanide would take about four minutes to circulate throughout his body. He breathed in slow, waiting for the chairs to send them to their new lives.
A clattering of wreckage resonated from outside the walls. The noises headed in their direction, bursting open the front door of the lab. Soldiers from their government pilled into the room with striking efficiency. A voice from behind was shouting orders.
“Spread out! The cease fire code came from this laboratory! I want you to detain
The realization of what was happening struck Durran like a freighter train crashing to his skull. He looked over at Pel. “You? How could you? How could you use my
authorization code to send out a ceasefire signal?”
Pel’s expression grew wild with delight. As he pressed back into his chair, he shot his head back, releasing a torrent of laughter. His maddening cackle, a reminiscent sound of an addict’s final hit. He looked over at Durran. “You’re the only person I knew I could convince to speak their code out loud Durran. It was wonderful! But I can’t let our
transformation be interrupted. This world died long ago, I refuse to go out with it.”
Pel raised a finger above the control pad located on his chair. He pushed a button just as a solider was entering the doorway within the glass. The substance resealed,
amputating a soldier’s foot right below the knee as he attempted to cross the threshold.
The screams of pain were muffled by Pel’s disturbing laughter bellowing outward. He
saw Durran looking at him. “What? They’re all about to die anyway. And it’s not like
we’re going to remember this.”
“You think so?” Durran hunched over his own control pad, typing as fast as he could.
He could feel the cyanide starting to take affect in the limbs of his body, he knew he didn’t have much time. Durran commanded the restraints on Pel’s chair to latch together, immobilizing him there.
“Durran! What are you doing?”
“Making sure you can’t stop me.” Durran was continuing to type, “I won’t be able to
save our people thanks to you, but I’m not going to let either one of us forget this.”
Pel fought against the binding of his chair. “Stop it Durran! There’s no telling what those memories will do to our minds!”
Durran stared at his once oldest friend with eyes of disgust. “You should have
thought of that before you gave up on this world.” Durran pushed the button to initialize the changes. The chairs began to glow a tinted auburn.
Through a hazy vision Durran saw the soldiers banging against the glass in a rage,
the last inklings of his world faded to black. Durran wondered if the cyanide would take his life before the soldiers got through the barrier, he doubted it.
Durran closed his eyes. He could feel his mind drifting away from his body, entering
into a plane he could not understand. He felt a wave of serenity wash over him, telling himself he would be alright. His next thoughts were of Pel.
A fuse ignited inside the mind of Durran, from a spark left burning ever since the day he was born. Leaving a trail of ash behind him, Durran said goodbye to his world, free of spirit, as he traveled on to his next destination.