Standing in the hallway of the hospital in China that my father works at, I look into a room to see a black man in a red and white polo suffocating a patient by pressing a pillow over the patient’s face. The patient squirms before his leg gives one last protesting kick and the black man locks eyes with mine. My hairs stand on end. The man pulls a gun and I sprint down the hallway, dropping my backpack with my belongings. I turn right down a hallway and jump over a food cart. I can hear the footsteps chasing after me. I punch through a doorway to a staircase, run down two steps and vault over the railing. I feel the man running down the stairs behind me as I vault railing after railing, taking flights instead of steps. I reach a long corridor, at the end of which is a green door and a yellow door. I sprint towards them. Which one do I choose? Which one does he think I’ll go through? I need to go through the opposite. I burst through the green door to another hallway. This place is a maze. I don’t want to die. I see the exit sign and hear doors open and close behind me. Outside, the hospital’s lobby reminds me of a resort somewhere in Central America: a breeze runs through the open-air space, tickling the palm trees scattered about. We’re high up, probably five stories above ground, and a blue sky with white clouds breathes beyond the hospital’s walls. I sprint towards the escalators that lead to China’s streets. My friend Nilan comes to mind. I think he lives in China. I’m almost free. About to step onto the escalator, I’m bounced back by an invisible force field. Nearly falling to the floor, I remember the vest I have on: all hospital visitors, patients and staff must wear a force field-synched vest when on the premises. I see a female staff member.
“Miss, you have to take this vest off me. I’m in danger!” I shout to her.
“Ok, calm down,” she says as she unlocks and removes my vest.
I run down the escalator. At the bottom, freedom awaits. Shit, I don’t have any of my things: phone, wallet, passport. I need to give someone in the hospital my e-mail address, so I can get my stuff back. I run back up the downward-heading escalator. A wedding ceremony has commenced in the lobby. My dad wears an orange blazer and bow tie with black pants and my mom’s in a white dress. I run towards my dad with a piece of paper that has my e-mail address on it, and I feel the black man’s presence. I look up to see the man in his red and white polo staring at me from a balcony two floors up. I bolt back in the direction of the escalators as the man leaps from the balcony, tucking and rolling onto the ceramic floor. Wielding his gun, I’m within shooting range. The escalators are close, but they no longer signify freedom. This is it. Mike, you have to teleport. I know you’ve never done it, but it’s your only hope. Otherwise, you die. I visualize a beach in Hoi An, Vietnam: the palm trees, the waving ocean, beautiful azure, the smell of sea salt. Get there! I feel myself on the beach, my toes sinking into the sand as a bullet rips through the right side of my lower back and I crash face first onto the ceramic floor of the hospital lobby. The beach fades as I try to hang onto it. Get there! My consciousness slips in and out, blood pours from my torso, the pain unbearable as my eyes fixate on the escalator. The man straddles above me and presses his gun into the back of my neck. I feel the gat’s warmth against my skin. Fade to black.
Nothingness. Stillness. Where am I? Is this death?
“I think so,” a small being that I can’t see, yet somehow know is green in colour, telepathically responds from the upper right section of this black void.
I’m dead? Now what?
“We’ll see,” he telepathies. I have no body, just consciousness in an infinite, empty space. I don’t know what to do, and I’m not sure anything can be done. How long does this last?
“We’ll see” the being telepathies.
This is strange. I’m really dead . . . Black, weightless, clean, vacuum, nothing, a green being that I can’t see, empty and complete. My life didn’t flash before me, but I’m no longer human, no longer Michael Sanders.
Red and white and dark, I sense an umbilical cord and feel something kick. I’m inside the womb of a human and I feel like an embryo. Am I being reincarnated already?
“We’ll see,” the being telepathies. So soon: death is short-lived.
I feel something leave the womb and I hear a doctor’s voice outside the woman’s body, “Well, you did it again. That wasn’t so bad, was it?” he says and I know he does so with a smile on his face.
Done what again? Die again? Be born again? Have I been reincarnated many times?
“Maybe,” the being responds. How many times have I been human?
My arms suddenly feel crossed and pinned to my body, though I don’t really have arms and “body” isn’t the right word. I try punching my arms free, but nothing. It’s completely dark again, black but with a hint of brown. I sense a glimmer of green in my future, but I don’t even know what future means anymore. I feel more like a seed now and my arms are actually hopeful roots. Am I a plant?
“Yes, you’re the seed of a plant,” the being telepathies. But, I just figured out how to be a human. I can’t figure out how to be a plant now. I hope this isn’t real.
I sense a smile from the being, but I don’t know how. I visualize my roots spreading into the soil around me. Darkness will become light as I eventually extend from the soil and into the sky, but the timescale this will transpire on is long. So long. I try punching my arms. There is nothing to do but try to spread my roots and think. I am a plant. I am consciousness floating in infinity, once a human and now a plant. I am infinity. I am a way for the universe to know itself. Infinity within an anecdote. This is it. I’m now a plant. Michael Sanders is gone. I’m no longer him. I died, visited a womb and now, I’m a plant. Fuck. Wow. It’s all so real. It kind of makes sense and isn’t surprising. Amazing. This universe. Everything . . .
Do I ever get to engage with other consciousnesses? I don’t have the patience for this. I wonder what kind of plant I am? I have to keep punching my roots so that I can find out. I try punching my roots with maximal force, exerting every ounce of energy inside me. I squirm and budge, but my roots are pinned. I guess it’s going to take some time . . .
I punch with all my might, trying to burst and explode, and finally, my roots and arms break free and I wake up in a bed. It’s dark and moonlight seeps past some blinds. Where am I? I sit up in the bed and look around. Three windows, a bookshelf full of books and a television. I notice my human body. Who am I? The lower right side of my back aches from the gunshot. I press my hand against it in hopes of alleviating the pain. I’m Michael Sanders and I’m in my bedroom.
A note to the reader: I came to around 11:40pm and remained awake, thinking about this dream for three hours. When I woke up the following morning at 8:00am, the lower right side of my back still felt as though I was recovering from a gunshot wound.