FIGHTING OBLIVION

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Money will buy anything these days.

Submitted: June 12, 2015

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Submitted: June 12, 2015

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I wish I could tell you that everything turns out okay in the end. I wish I could tell you that time will pass and you will move on. I wish I could tell you that every dark night has a bright morning. I wish, I wish. I wish I could promise you a fair and just world. I wish I could tell you that all clichés are true, that every cloud has a silver lining and every person is a diamond in the rough. I wish the world operated like that. It’s a nice dream.

Here’s another cliché: money can’t buy happiness.

I’m here to tell you that that line in particular is corporate bullshit. Anyone who tells you that being wealthy won’t make you happy is lying. That is not to say, however, that it is impossible to be happy if you are not fabulously wealthy. It just tends to make things easier when there’s a steady number blinking in your bank accounts. So when I say that money buys happiness, perhaps I should rephrase it to money buys time. These days, time equals happiness. The more time you have, the more money you can make. It’s sort of a vicious cycle, I guess. You need time to have money, and you need money to have time. Maybe that’s why all the Incarns are so disgustingly rich: they’ve been given as much time as they need.

I think the word used to be reincarnation. You don’t really hear people call it that anymore; ReIN, the leading company in giving people another life, decided to nickname it looping. Stupid, I know, but there’s not much to be done about it. The rich—royalty, businessmen, actors, etcetera—loop back so many times that we call them the Incarns. All the knowledge from their past lives moves with them, so that when they jump into the world, they already know pretty much all there is to know. It certainly tips the playing field in their favor. The rest of us just try to hold on for dear life.

Most of us don’t really get the chance to come back. Sometimes you’ll hear about someone saving up enough to loop back as a nun, or maybe a teacher if there’s a discount at ReIN. There are a few other reincarnation companies, but they’ve got nothing on ReIN. I’ve lost count of how many lawsuits have been filed for bad loops. Those are the times when someone is reborn with a missing limb, or they come back missing a piece of themselves. They’ll have moments when they know who they are and what their past life was, but most of the time they remain lost and confused. Déjà vu, in a way. It’s like buying gas from the small stations on the side of the road that have ridiculously low prices: sometimes the gas is decent, and sometimes it ruins your car. It’s a gamble a lot of people are willing to take. No one wants to die, I guess.

I wish I could tell you that money can’t buy you happiness, but it does. If anything, it buys time, and I think most people would agree that a second life, a second chance, would make them very, very happy.

 

. . . . .

 

 

The price of looping heavily depends on who you want to loop back as. A teacher might cost you your house. For a doctor it might be your house, retirement, and the family car. Higher end jobs are simply unattainable for the majority of the middle class. The lower class isn’t even offered a chance. They die and don’t come back. Period. No second chances, no extra time, nothing. One final exhale, and that’s it.

Most of the Incarns loop back into their own family so that they will still have their own money. They tell ReIN, who to send them back, then the Incarn goes to rewrite their will so that their own future self will inherit all the money upon the present self’s death. It sometimes ends up that an Incarn’s child will become their future parent. Inbreeding at its finest, I suppose. Looping into your own family line is astronomically expensive, but for Incarns it is a reality. For the rest of us, it’s difficult to imagine that much money.

I do not enjoy the notion of dying and not coming back. The idea of an eternal abyss, an eternal nothing, terrifies me. Perhaps it’s not the prospect of dying that scares me; perhaps I love the feeling of air in my lungs, and sun on my skin, and rain, too much. Perhaps I simply cannot let go of life. I know that I will not be able to afford looping a second time, but right now, in this moment, I am not worried about that.

It’s all insurance.

The man sitting across the desk from me hands me a glass screen glowing with three short sentences, one below the other. A list. Options.

“Touch what you want to loop back as, and it’ll go into the server,” the man tells me. “The money will automatically be transferred from your account after you have made your selection. No refunds.”

“No refunds,” I repeat dryly. “Just in case I change my mind, right?”

He doesn’t even blink. “Just in case.”

Insurance.

I look down at my options and wonder what this screen would look like if I could have anything I wanted. There are rumors that Incarns aren’t even handed a screen; they tell ReIN what they want, and ReIN tells them a number. For people like me, it’s the opposite: we provide a maximum amount, and they give you a list. For your budget, we have this, this, or this. They all suck, but it’s better than dying! I know I sound a little bitter. I don’t mean to be. I should be grateful I even have a chance.

“Do I need to give you some time alone?” the man asks.

“Yeah,” I say, then flinch at my own voice. I add, “Please.”

He nods and gives me a short little bow—an actual bow. Jesus. No wonder ReIN does so well for themselves. Flattery can move mountains.

The door slides shut softly behind him and I stare down at the small screen in my hands again. It seems odd that I am deciding my next life before this one is even over, but that’s just how ReIN is. Dying is a side effect of living, I guess. And reincarnation is a side effect of dying. We’re raised to believe that. We’re taught that if you can afford it, you can have it. Extra lives are included and wrapped up nice and pretty. Not even death is a certainty anymore. All you need is a little money to bribe it away.

This pathetic loop is draining every penny I have. I said earlier that I will not be able to afford looping a second time, and I meant it. I can barely afford it this time. I will likely lose my apartment in a few short weeks when the landlord discovers I have nothing left. Neither of my parents will take me in, I know. They both find ReIN disgusting, and perhaps they’re right. It’s certainly unjust. Unjust and stupidly expensive and undoubtedly corrupt.

But hey, everyone wants a second, or third, or fourth or fifth or sixth chance. Everyone wants to keep on living.

That’s the thing about us humans, I guess: we never want to let go. More than don’t want to, we can’t. We’ll do everything in our power to keep things the same. We’re stupid, stubborn creatures with no concept of learning to move on. How ironic is that? We invent the words and can’t even perform them. Move on. You’d think it would be easy. Hell, you’d think it would be possible. It never is, though. We can never move on. We stay stuck in our ruts and shovel all the money we have into a company just for one more shot at life. I have no doubt that the Incarns will keep looping until the earth falls in on itself. Maybe death will finally manage to keep a hold on us then. Until then, however, we continue to slip from its fingers.

The glass screen is heavy in my hands.

Or maybe it’s just the decision.

I am, after all, determining my own future. People used to say that we couldn’t really decide what will come next, that things happen of their own accord. Maybe they’re right and I was born into the middle class for a reason; maybe I’m just a statistic. This time around, nothing was in my control except this choice. Next time, everything will be.

And that’s what ReIN is really all about: taking control. They take control of me by draining me of my life’s savings, and I take control of myself by deciding who I will loop back as. Fuck wanting more time, we want to make our decisions our own. Here’s another cliché: the only things guaranteed in life are death and taxes. This one is also incorrect. My being here, sitting in an uncomfortable chair with a glass screen heavy with choices resting in my hands, is proof enough of that. This is me deciding that I do not want to fall into oblivion.

Oblivion, I know, cannot be avoided for forever.

But I’m postponing it.


© Copyright 2019 berktree. All rights reserved.

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