Hurtling through the void, I found myself back in the darkness of pure thought again. This time, however, I realized that something was different. Now, I was floating in a kind of infinity of space, all around me there were lights. Billions and billions of tiny lights, some brighter, some dimmer than others, all flickering around in a great swarm, swirling formless and aimless as if they couldn’t see, or touch or smell anything. Then just as I realized that I too was one of those flashes of light — brighter than some, not as bright as others — the flickering ember that was me disengaged from the mass of lights and found itself hurtling through the blackness.
With my increased awareness, I could sense that I was in a stream of other lights, all headed who knows where, but as sure as a laser beam or a photon travels in a straight line, all of us tiny individuals of brightness were headed somewhere. And as I looked out in the darkened abyss of I could clearly see other streams of light heading away from the frothing mass of light, which I now understood were the last fragments of earthbound humanity. We were being processed and sent… somewhere. I could clearly see six other streams, but being a fragment of consciousness, hurtling at the speed of thought, through an abyss of mortality, I will admit that my understanding was limited and that I might have missed a few or miscounted, and if I had to guess, I would say that there were probably 10 streams of disembodied souls shooting through the cosmos.
Ten-sided dice, ten streams of light; it made about as much sense as anything, which was none at all. And I could freely admit to whatever part of my rational thoughts that was processing the idea, that I was just guessing without any kind of data or knowledge to go on. Magical thinking. But there was nothing else to do as I the blackness surrounded me, and the blinding ball of light that I assumed was the remaining mass of unprocessed humanity slowly fell away in the distance behind me.
How long I traveled like this, I can’t say. I tried to exchange thoughts with the other lights streaming around me, but they didn’t seem as aware of themselves as I was. Instead, from what I could tell, they lived in dreams of their lives. I touched one light and saw it reliving going to the office every day despite hating every moment of it. I touched another light and saw for a brief moment lived through him having an affair with his best friend’s wife. Other times, I felt things completely outside of my own experiences. Walking across what I assumed was an African Savannah being careful not to wave my arms so that the Hyenas wouldn’t think my appendages would fall off and attack. Cleaning a mud flat at a shrimp farm. Working as a child prostitute in a brothel. Coming home to a loving husband after the death of my brother. Playing frisbee on the beach with my dog. Masturbating into a sock to internet porn and hoping my mother wouldn’t open the door.
There was no way to tell time except thought experiencing brief moments in hundreds of lives as I jostled the golden memories on a gilded highway of light. It would have been easy to lose myself. It would have been easy to become something other than myself. To become a raving schizophrenic madman consumed by all the consciousness around me. I could tell that I was the only soul I touched experiencing this input; the only soul that I touched that was aware. I didn’t know what it meant. But as the days stretched into weeks, stretched into years, I somehow managed to hold onto myself.
And then something changed.
Up ahead in the distance, as the Eagles might say, I saw a shimmering light. The new light rose up out of the void like the swirling circling mass of now-extinct earth-bound unprocessed humanity had once been left behind into a bleakness of the immaterial.
I could see a planet headed towards me. The photon-like path of the souls of humanity was headed straight for this mass. And it was beautiful. A translucent light show of life and energy. Massive overwhelming and slow, the brown of plate tectonics quietly overwhelming in its silence. Everywhere there was the blue of water… covering the atmosphere in clouds, and in the oceans and rivers and lakes making war against the shores. And the wind rippled and ripped and eddied in its rage and joy. Fire was hidden, until I looked deeper and deeper and then I saw, that everything had been built upon fire, and when I pulled back there was fire in the sky, and I realized that for all its quietude, all of the other elements owed their existence to Fire, though none would ever admit it in their never-ending battles.
Overlaying everything, was a deep and mercurial green of an energy I could tell was plant life. And flashes, elusive and clustered, of the white of living souls like my own.
The beam shot close and closer, and I realized that this planet was much bigger than Earth had been. Easily twice as large. Easily three times as large. Gravity would be a bitch. But then there was just so much life down there. Somehow the planet’s inhabitant’s managed.
I also wondered what the people who lived here looked like. Did they have giant giraffe necks and beaver tails? How would they cope with the influx of a billion humans? Somehow I don’t think, what was it… Xa’dar Corporation had asked permission to relocate us here.
Even closer now, I could see that the diaspora of humanity had settled in a shell around the planet. From the looks of it, there was already a shell of souls in place. Every once in a while, a light would detach from the earth and float up lazily into the waiting cloud of souls circling the planet. Every once in a while a void on the planet would appear, and a spirit would drift down from the waiting cloud of souls and fill the void.
Or at least that is how the process must have been supposed to work.
Instead, a native soul from this planet would drift down lazily towards filling an earthbound void, and a swarm of human souls would target that same void. A quick battle would happen. The earth souls were much much brighter than the souls of the native beings of this planet, and would force the natural process out of the way. When one disembodied earth spirit was dominant, all the others would back off and float back up into space to await their next try. A small fragment of the winning Soul would eject and the soul would dim, making the remaining bit of the spirit much dimmer and weaker. As dim and weak as the native souls.
A stream of these fragments seemed to gather in space, and then as I watched, started to stream back through space in the direction I’d come.
With my consciousness intact to a limited extent I could choose to follow the pull to be born into a void waiting for me down below. The more I watched what was going on, the more I noticed certain things. Some of the voids waiting for souls to fill them were much bigger and stronger than others. Most of these voids were pinpricks, but the waiting steams of humanity didn’t seem to care, they filled them as quickly as they came available anyway. Some of the voids were monstrously large, and no matter the brightness or light of the human soul that tried to fill them, soul after soul reached them and were snuffed out trying to fill these containers.
I also noticed that none of the native souls that were in orbit with us were strong enough to fill a container. Waiting for human souls overpowered them every time. But then idly as I watched the spectacle below, I saw a human light fill one of the smaller waiting voids, watched it grow and merge as all of them did signifying completeness, and then moments later, I watched as that soul got flushed out again, and join the waiting mass of weak natives floating enfeebled and powerless to rejoin the world of their birth until whatever process the Xa’dar Corporation had initiated was finished.
Watching them as I did, I could tell that some voids were stronger than others, in areas that were more grouped than others, surrounded by lights that were brighter than others. Some lights almost never went out and burned brightly unchanging through the days. Other shined like novas and then faded for years before fading away. In its own way, it was beautiful and compelling.
There was one last thing that I noticed as I watched. Some of the souls that filled a void, not only fought off the other earthbound souls but at the end of the fight, seemed to have enough strength to fight off loosing the extra glowing energy that the Xa’dar had attached to them before it detached and streamed back into space. The human souls that were able to do this were rare. Maybe 1 in 1000 but, when they merged with a void, on earth, they grew extra bright.
Finally, I could no longer just observe. I needed to act. There was a continent that I chose, that from my remembered geography didn’t look hostile. Lots of green energy. Lots of white energy that was in large clumps I assumed were cities. The lights didn’t blink out frequently so I made a guess that there wasn’t a lot of war. In small “community” I chose, by freak accident three other souls had managed to hold onto their Xa’dar light recently, and there was a very strong void that happened to have all the elements I’d cataloged through patient guesswork to be the best of hosts waiting to be born.
Joining the swarm of souls fighting over the void was easy. In a way, I felt a lot like a sperm fighting over an egg, and I suppose that in essence was what I was. From watching past spiritual combat, I knew all the best moves. Unbodied Ju-jitsu you could say. It was easy enough to overpower the unthinking masses and then the fight to hold onto my energy was much harder. Now I understand what I would lose if I let go. That energy that the Xa’dar was pulling away from me held all my memories and personality. It was who I was. If I lost it, I would be born as a blank slate. Knowing this I fought to hold on to that energy even harder.
Until I eventually won. I felt my consciousness fertilizing the emptiness and I became.