A few weeks ago I had a blog posted on the Transmundane Press website as part of blogging leading up to their Transcendent release, which will come out soon. I am reprinting it below for everyone to enjoy.
Are We Really Alone?
When I was a kid I used to try and fix times and places in my mind to reassure my later self that I was, in fact, alive on that date and time. I remember doing it on my way to school more than once saying “on this day (whatever day it was) at this time (whatever time it was) I was walking to school. Or riding my bike. Or the subway. Whatever it was I was doing I wanted to put a pin in that time.
That was a long time ago, when I was in high school and prone to flights of fancy. Life had a dreamy quality as though it wasn’t quite real to me. Part of it was that I had been hit by a car at the age of seven going on eight and by all rights I should have died. I lived my life for many years after that on the concept that I was on borrowed, or perhaps stolen, time. If that was the case how could I be sure any of it was real? Perhaps I was living in a modern-day version of the Twilight Zone and nothing about my life was true. Perhaps it was a dream, or a fiction, the last moments of a dying mind stretched into infinite moments.
That is partly what led me to writing my story “The Only One Alive” that is featured in the Transcendent anthology. It is a story about a man who may or may not have accidentally stumbled across the truth when he states that he can’t be sure anyone else exists. My hero, a somewhat unreliable narrator, isn’t sure what to believe or who to trust beyond himself. Once his thought is expressed his life goes sideways and appears to be fulfilling the prophecy that he is the only one that exists.
It is a crazy concept—or is it? The only head we live in is our own and there is no way to be sure what another person is thinking. We have a social construct, and a trust in those we love and who love us, but there is no way to be sure. We take it on faith that people are saying what they mean. We believe that things are happening outside of our purview—logic tells us it must be so. We cannot see gravity but our feet touch the ground instead of floating into space. We do not know for sure that the sun is rising in other parts of the world before it rises in our time zone. Flat earthers refuse to believe that the world is round. It seems illogical. But there’s a bit of a madman in all of us. I suspect there must be more than one person reading this blog who has wondered the same thing. It is at once both appealing and terrifying to go down that rabbit hole.
Those moments as a teenager still stand out, even if I cannot recall the details. It reminds me that life is not a dream, even if the only moments I can ever be truly sure of are the ones I am living right now. I thought the same thing on those long-ago mornings when I needed to be certain that I was alive in that instant. Those moments passed and were replaced with others, some more vivid than others but all of them real. In the end, I wasn’t the only one back then and I’m not the only one now.