I've always believed in reincarnation, even before I knew the word for it. Maybe it was because I've lost so many friends of so many species- uh, sorry. Maybe I should be a bit more clear.
I'm a human. A male. Straight, but non-binary. Asexual, specifically. Yeah I'm interested... WAS interested, I guess, in females- but not for carnal purposes. Just... not what I'm interested in.
Uhh... sorry. The blood loss is kinda... I'm not thinking clearly and I know it. It's like it's cloudy inside my head.
Like my brain is bobbing on top of fluffy water. No, not fluffy... just... pool water, I guess?
I haven't had much energy lately anyway, my internal organs have been shutting down for years. That's why I'm on this hospital bed.
I don't even know who that was that came in here- I can't reach the emergency call button and I don't have the strength to scream. Plus, the oxygen mask cuts out most noise I could theoretically make... Whoever it was, I'm too groggy to be able to tell even what gender or race they were- stabbed me. In the kidneys. Which failed, which got me into the hospital. Kind of redundant, don't you think...?
I'm... right. Species. Trees. Dogs. Spiders. I'm not specist. Species racist. I guess the only real friend I ever had all along, even since I was very young, was Death. It always came for my friends, so I guess it's my turn finally. So... tired.
Keeping my eyes open is getting really hard. I can feel them fluttering open, but they don't open far, and everything is blurry and dark. My consciousness fades, and it feels like a deep sleep is rapidly taking me over...
The next thing I know, I'm not sick or injured anymore. I'm sitting in a comfortable white chair, with white tiles that look like they're made of linoleum, but there's real grout in between them. I have a pull-tab ticket in my hand.
I look down at my ticket number. It just says 'Next' on it. Okay, so that's me. I'm sure this used to have a number on it. I turn it over and look at the other side. Nope, blank.
I get up from the egg chair- both the material AND shape are... egg-based, for some reason. The chair almost seems to hover on top of a little white plastic stand, but it really is a giant hard-boiled egg with part of it cut out so it's shaped like a chair from the Jetsons. I walk up to the lady at the booth window and sit down. When I do, either I shrink, or everything else gets bigger. I stand up in shock, and everything is normal sized again. The lady tells me to sit down and she and everything else becomes huge. Obey, huh? It's like the seating is a mega-sterile doctor's waiting office (complete with blue LED lighting) but the service windows are government-themed. Exaggerated government-themed.
"What did you die of?" The lady asks.
"Yeah, that's... I'm not entirely sure. Murder? Kidney failure? Bleeding to death? I guess all of that at the same time. Within the same inch."
She wiggles her fingers in midair, which looks like typing, but there isn't a keyboard. She seems to be staring intently at something, but I don't see anything. Maybe it's an even higher technology than I heard about on Earth? I know they were starting to experiment with holographic computer interfaces...
She finally says something. "Bacterial infection in the heart."
"What!? How did that even get infected? I never had surgery or was wounded in the chest or anything!"
"It says here that there was a hole in your heart, and that hole got infected. That's what killed you."
"I... okay well, the 'hole in the heart' thing was just a joke I used to flirt with cute doctors and nurses with when they were checking my heartbeat because of my blood pressure. They'd place the stethoscope on me and I'd say 'if you notice a hole in my heart that's normal because I don't have a girlfriend'. It wasn't really a real thing, so how'd it get infected now?"
She reached to where she had pretended a screen was, and grabbed at nothing, and turned... once it was facing me, I saw what it was. It was a computer screen- my status window, and cause of death- but the entire monitor and screen were made out of carved stone. So my death and cause of death were literally written in stone. Fine. She turned it back to herself after she noticed me read it.
She responded. "Okay, obviously there's a problem here, but you see I can't change anything. Let me call a supervisor."
A dark and ominous cloud began to seep through the linoleum floor tiles and out of the grout of the ceramic tiles behind her. They coalesced, and a voice that sounded like a mechanical voice echoing down a long hallway emnated from it. While it talked, bursts of glitter and party streamers flew out of it and unravelled all over. I couldn't really understand what the horrifying party cloud was saying, but it was clearly talking to the lady at the window. Was this supposed to be a supervisor? She was turned around in her chair, so maybe the cloud was just something I was supposed to be afraid to look at so I didn't interrupt the conversation. The conversation takes awhile and I can't sit still that long, so I fidget with whatever I can get my hands on.
There's a little nametag thing in front of the window, but there isn't a name on it. The lady turns around and scolds me to put it back. She turns back around and talks to a handful of floating glitter. That's strange, but I guess it's okay...
There's a poof of white smoke like from the oldest type of camera that used black powder from the base of where the cloud was, and it's gone, and so is all the glitter and streamers that were... really starting to pile up! The lady turns around.
"Okay, so we can't help you. But you can be compensated. Well, see you later." She flicks a nearby light switch into the 'on' position, which makes the sound of a toilet flushing.
Time stops, or at least it seems to. Nearly instantly, but just slow enough for me to notice, the light shed from the surrounding light sources seem to brighten, though the lights themselves don't change. The light reflecting from the tiles and everything else brightens significantly, and then everything is pure white.
The sunlight is blinding, but then it fades. Okay, it doesn't fade, but I get used to it. I'm around 20 years old, wearing dirty, ripped clothes, and I smell like feces. I'm holding a hoe and standing in a dirt field, with a row of planted corn in front of me. I feel the wind, and I feel something flop around on my upper back. I reach with my left hand and feel a hat, so I put it on my head. It's made of straw.
Heh. Straw hat. In my previous life, I was quite the dork. I actually preferred to call myself a 'hypernerd'. Nerd, geek, otaku... oh yeah. I'm pretty rockin'. But now I'm in medieval times? And a peasant. So, I went back in time a few hundred years? That's my reincarnation?
I hear a voice, but can't tell its direction. A lady walks up to me. She's wearing... it's the lady from the window. "So, will this work?"
"I get a choice? No this isn't okay, these people and this time period had no hope or freedom or social justice or any of that."
"Social... okay." She pulls a piece of toast out of the pocket of her dress and a quill pen from a pocket on her other side. She begins scribbling. On the toast. It makes scratchy sounds like she's carving into toast- finally something that makes half sense at least.
It happens within a single second of paused time, but the few shadows present darken and spread, until everything, even the sky, is drenched in pitch black emptiness.
Light begins to enter my eyes. I'm standing in a cave. It's dark. Dark enough that the only thing letting me see is a medieval-style lantern on a small, but durable chain, that I'm wearing like a necklace. I'm still a peasant. I'm still holding the hoe!
I throw it on the ground, and put down the lantern on a nearby rock outcropping, so I don't need to carry the stupid thing and it illuminates better since it's on a higher position. Looking around, I see a stalagmite... stalagtite? The one on the bottom that points up. I put my straw hat on that. There's something in my pockets too... I didn't realize it before, but I guess... I've had it there for a bit, now?
There's a boulder halfway sticking out of the ground, which looks like I can sit on it. So I do. I reach into my pockets and pull out a bunch of corn seeds. Okay, so apparently peasant-me wasn't done working? But why was there grown corn that was in perfect rows, while I had seeds to plant? Something about growth time seemed a bit off, so forget that. None of this had made any sense at all. If not for my previous life's schizophrenia, I'd probably have gone nuts by now. Nuts to you, reincarnation! I beat you to it.
I hear footsteps coming from behind me, so I turn around.
It's the lady from the window.
"Alright, so, we might have found something else for you." She doesn't wait on a response at all, and instead looks like she's Swiping, but I don't even see a screen or anything again.
Just as before, everything whites out.
I'm stepping out of the shower, totally naked, able to feel the humidity from the recently shut-off showerhead. I have a towel in my hands- white, but it's partially wrapped around my head.
I'm female. Flat-chested. Hey, hey! Just my style. But...
The lady from the window opens the door to the bathroom. I don't just roll my eyes- I roll my whole head in... uh... flabergastedness? Is that a word?
I ask before she gets a chance to say anything stupid and random, "So, are we gonna just keep jumping around? I mean, I can tell this is the future from my first life, but (I'm distracted by my own voice, such a cutey, plus the looks and voice make something happen to me down there) uh... I probably shouldn't reincarnate into someone who turns me on."
The lady glares at me. "That's your own problem." She looks to be pretending... okay it isn't pretending at this point, it's just... she looks like she's flipping through pages of a notebook, but whose pages are made of stone. They're obviously heavy. "Alright, I got something else."
While remaining conscious, I black out again.
I'm in the cave again. I see my straw hat, and lantern. Some of the corn seeds that were in my previous pocket had fallen out next to the boulder. Now that I'm nude, and wet... and wet... I can tell there's a slight draft in the cave, and it's pretty cold. The towel now just feels damp and cold and mildewy. It probably isn't, but it feels like it is. I take it off and look at it, fluff it out- nope. No mildew. But since I already flung unnecessary items around here, and it's the same place, I lay the towel out on the boulder. Before I get the chance to sit down, there, of course...
"Alright, I found something else. Might work. Mind you, I get off work in about fifteen minutes, and have paperwork to do before that. So I can't just spend all day goofing off with you."
I reply, "I thought that time was linear? Why did you bring me from 2020 to what, 1500, to 2300, to...? Some sort of cave back and forth?"
She just stares at me blankly for awhile. "You aren't allowed to be in the waiting room more than once. So, we put you here while we prepared other lives." She added, "Plus, time IS linear. Just you shouldn't be so strict about how you think of it- YOUR timeline IS linear. Earth's timeline IS linear. Someone else's timeline IS linear. Don't consider the them all to be the same timeline. No, not different dimensions or realities or anything- though this world isn't part of either. Just don't think of every timeline running parallel to each other, and you'll be fine."
"But I teleported... reincarnated? into various people in various points of their lives- so, did I just reincarnate into an adult, or was that a glimpse of who I'd be, or...?" The lady from the service window started to answer, but I interrupted. "Wait! Not everyone is sentient. Right? Some people, or animals, or plants or bugs or whatever- are, and some aren't, and science is too dumb to realize that and instead looks at the intellectual complexity of an entire species' general intelligence..."
"Yeah. That. Those people didn't have souls. They weren't sapient. So you didn't displace anyone, or kill anyone, or get a body that wasn't at that part in its own time, or whatever. You just entered an empty vessel. Machines made of meat going through the motions. If you kept those lives, you would have changed them drastically. But you lost interest. So we'll let someone else take them." She looks at her computer screen again. The one that isn't there. Or is, but made of granite. And holograms. And feathers. And toast.
The cold is getting to me now. Man, if my towel wasn't damp...
She clicks with a mouse I don't see, and-
A gigantic thing smashes the ground next to me!
I try to jump out of the way, but my legs don't seem designed for that. So I scurry... scurry?
Yep, I'm a spider! That's fine. They're pretty empathic, at least the ones I had as pets and friends were.
It's a newspaper, and someone just destroyed my web, and is trying to smash me!
The lady from the window starts walking up to me, but I have to run to get into the crack in the wall so the human (assuming) doesn't kill me with a newspaper.
It already smashed my egg sac, so my babies won't be born.
Luckily, the lady from the window's slow, apathetic walking seems to be based on where I am and how fast I move, and not on anything else, so she still catches up to me even though she stopped walking, and I'm running as fast as I can.
"Sorry, end of life span. I hit the wrong button. Oopsie doopsie, poopsy!"
I don't yawn. My species lacks that ability- I don't even have lungs. Just like when I was a spider! But my vision is at a much higher vantage point than it was before, and also there are bushes. Which I can see over. It's kind of hard to breathe, actually. But I can't take a deep breath, since I have no lungs.
My back hurts, so I try to pop it like when I was a human. But that doesn't work, and I don't know why I'm hurt. If I am. I try to turn my head, which also doesn't work. My pedipalps... wait. Wait. Hold on one minute... Okay I'm pretty tall. Well, three feet tall, or at least that's my head's height, if the plants are as big as I think they are.
The lady from the office window walks up to me, and says she only has ten minutes left; she was approved for overtime since there are extenuating circumstances. But she still needs to get me finished.
"Is this life okay? What do you think? I picked it based on your adult nature, and excitement for insects shown by your relationships in your first life and previous slice-of-life of a soon-to-be mother spider."
"Oh hot damn, yeah! I can tell this is prehistoric time. Earth's oxygen content decreased which is why insects got smaller- and I always worried about my pet spiders. Specifically, that some asshole would kill them when I wasn't around to fight for their protection. But then I learned about prehistoric bugs from the most ancient of times, spiders six feet wide, centipedes nine feet long! This is a GREAT time to be alive!"
She smiled. "Glad to hear it."
"Yeah, but why does my back hurt? I can't see it."
"Oh. The third major planetary extinction event for Earth is happening. You're suffocating. You will give birth to children, most of whom will die. But some will live and evolve into the spiders you were used to."
"Huh. Yeah. So..."
"Right." She looks like she's scribbling on a wall calendar, then ripping off pieces, licking them, and attaching them to something. I don't see any of what she's interacting with. Is she making a paper mache sculpture as a form of filling out paperwork?
Still almost black? There is... hey! It's my lantern. The one that appeared as a stupidly gaudy, uncomfortable, heavy necklace.
Already waiting for me, sitting on a chair that I can't see, is the lady from the service window. What the heck was her name...? Right. The placard didn't say. Neither did she, and she didn't have a nametag.
"So, I'm told that you have to pick one of the lives I've shown you, and I can't show you more. You can go back and see them again if you want though- about five minutes after you saw them the last time."
I just nod my head. Frantically. "Oh but not the-"
She cuts me off. "Not the ones that are already dead at that point, of course not."
I'm the giant prehistoric spider. My legs just start to hurt a little; must be worsening asphixiation. But I can still breathe, but that was promised until I lay eggs. My surroundings fade, and...
I'm the hot chick. My towel is gone, but I know where it is. It's on a rock in a cave. I grab a nearby bathrobe, which seems way too big for me. Or maybe the right size, but I like big fluffy things and not form-fitting. The bathrobe belt is attached and within the decorative belt-loops, which is fine. I grab it but I don't have time to put it on. Instead, I'm...
Standing in a field of slowly growing corn, but without my hat or hoe. Confused and somewhat clumsy on my feet, I run towards a wagon, and try to grab it, but miss since I fade out and...
I'm a... caveman? Wearing clothes. With pockets full of corn seeds. Holding an oversized cotton-terry robe. I was never a caveman before! There's a dead mammoth in front of me, but I'm definitely confused and lightheaded now, and I rest my left hand on its tusk. I black out...
And I wake up in the cave. Near the stuff I left. The mammoth's corpse makes a huge thud and is smashed up against the cave wall, nearly filling the entire cave tunnel. If I tried, I could get around it, though. I don't even feel the need to put the robe on this time though, since I'm clothed. I fling the robe at a rock spike near my hat. It hits, but doesn't stay there. Instead it falls off and is on the rocky floor of the cave.
"Sorry, sorry. I'm completely checked-out, mentally. I just wanna go home." The lady from the service window says to me from the shadows (okay I'm saying that so my inner-monologue sounds more dramatic; it's a cave; clearly it's from the shadows!).
"Okay, just leave me here. This is fine. It's fine."
"This world isn't like your other one- it's full of magic and monsters and you said you didn't like being without technology or something, right?"
"Right, whatever. That. It isn't here."
I sigh deeply. "Can you just combine everything in me here, so I don't have to choose, since you're so pressed for time?" I pick my own pockets and let the nearly overflowing amounts of seeds dribble out of my pockets in a manner that's very Shawshank Redemption, akin to the gravel scene. "Also, magic? Monsters? Have you even GLANCED at my file?"
She growls aggravatingly, pulls out a knife- which is beautiful, by the way- the handle is an oversized AA battery (Okay that... means that isn't the battery size. Whatever.), and the blade looks like it's partially opaque black plastic, but with a tiny blue light in the crossguard, its light travelling along a clear glass circuit-like blood groove, and the blade itself has glowing red runes that look daedric. Anyway, she walks up to me and stabs me in... can you guess where? I'm sure you can!
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