In her club are several who, while waiting for new hearts, have been revived half a dozen times. She herself has visited and been brought back repeatedly from the dead. Her first revival was an adventure unique; her second a reprise of the first; her third unprecedented in its feeling like one of a series; her fourth like waking from sleep.

First death is a quick and vivid narrowing of focus from the already limited scope of life at large to something just bigger than the traffic light she can’t seem to take her eyes off of. The universe collapses to the space within her skin; eternity is this interminable moment. She sees a point of light turn green to amber, amber to red, but all in the present; hears nothing but the single pulse of her last heartbeat crescendo in her ears; feels with a terrifying intensity an unspeakable pressure bursting the bones of the world, now, and now, and now. Revival to the paper-thin world of the never-dead is a monumental cheat. It’s impolite to say so, and she knows it, but there’s no life after “death.” Survivors leap directly out of hospital beds into burning buildings, plummet from tall buildings into madness, hurtle into hopeless love, desperate to exist in the arms of their own kind.

The lesson of the second death, and the third, and all subsequent deaths, is different from the first. Death isn’t death, it’s one of a series of deaths. Time stretches out between the deaths and a light from the future once again casts a shadow on the deaths of the past.

The six-timers know what the never-dead may intuit in times of mortal crisis: we wake up every morning from the dead; each little blink is a glimpse at oblivion.

Copyright © 1999 David Hodges

Advertisements