by Dan Charles Wild
Daniel Charles Wild, otherwise known on reddit’s writing forums as user BecauseISaidSoToo, is a long-time contributor to Tall Tale TV. The short story ‘Moving On’ is one of the many wild tales included in his brand new short story collection, ‘Stories For Imaginary Friends’
Other TTTV Stories by Daniel Charles Wild
I was a participant in a recent clinical trial studying the phenomenon of near death experiences. Due to my upbringing, my experience was unusual and I’d like to share it with you.
I died, but that’s okay. The distinction between life and death isn’t as clearly defined as it’s been in the past. The crossing over in my case was completely controlled and I was closely monitored. My blood was gradually cooled to match the temperature of the saline solution I was submerged in, and my heart rate was lowered to the point where no detectable brain activity was registered, and at that point I was contacted by what some have called a spirit guide.
These sorts of entities typically appear in a variety of forms to the dying. The way they’re perceived and the messages they share vary widely depending on the subject. For example, people revived after a near death experience claim to have seen angels, religious figures, deceased relatives, etc. The conflicting and confused descriptions from survivors go a long way towards explaining why the general public and scientists have dismissed these reports for so long. But despite these variations, there were enough antidotal examples to generate significant interest in the scientific community.
The researchers honed the mechanical means of trigging the phenomenon, and they perfected the chemical cocktail required to help the subjects retain the experience. Still, they struggled with an uncontrollable variable. The subjects’ experiences—even those that considered themselves atheists—were always filtered through the blinders of their culture and religious upbringing. A scientist posed the question: How would a person with no dominant belief system interpret an NDE? For example, would a child raised in a highly controlled environment with general knowledge of all the world’s religions but no prevalent belief system, describe the experience more objectively? Theoretically they’d be able to communicate with the afterlife directly without the cultural baggage caused by societal induced expectations. The man who asked the question was my father. My mother, 6 months pregnant with me, was also on the team. In a sense I guess I was too.
The team created an educational curriculum, and my parents raised me to be superficially knowledgeable about all the world’s religions and theories about various afterlives. It was a bird’s eye view of the topic, with no spiritual or religious preferences displayed whatsoever. Seeking to control one more variable, I wasn’t exposed to my grandparents, elderly relatives, and we had no pets. The hope was that by not having exposure to those who might proceed me in passing, I could be protected from possibly seeing them on the other side.
Perhaps it was a strange upbringing, and one I hadn’t consented to. But really, what child does? Still, I knew when I became a legal adult, I could explore various faiths in more detail, if I so desired, or I could participate in the experiment with as clean of a slate as possible. When I turned 18 I made my choice.
I knew that my parents would take every precaution to make the experience as safe as possible. I was their child after all, and I know they wanted to bring me back. The hope was that when I crossed over I’d have no expectations, and thus when I was revived I’d have had an objective and impartial experience. I had no idea what I’d see and I felt no fear. Still, I was excited and curious. This was what my parents had raised me to do.
I remember the feeling of being lowered into the darkness of the saline tank, my blood being cooled, and my heartbeat slowing down. Then I was a bodiless awareness floating in darkness. Far off in that infinite nothingness I saw a distant light—merely a spark, but one that seemed to be increasing in size as I rushed towards it or it rushed towards me. Then, I was surrounded by the light, and in it I could see a shape approaching. It was a figure of light and energy, and it welcomed me without words. It was an ambassador from the other side, and I could feel its joy at meeting me.
We communicated wordlessly, and this is what it shared. Physical reality is an incubator for self-awareness. That for intelligent self-aware entities to come into being, it’s necessary for them to form in a realm in which there was space in which to navigate, linear time in which to change and grow, and other emergent beings and physical limitations to learn from and be tested against. The physical realm was a womb, nest, and nursery—a literal space in which awareness could be generated, grow, and mature, until it was ready to be released by death to be born anew into a larger immaterial realm, to an indescribable and unimaginable destiny.
Earth, a beautiful thriving blue gem, was one incubator of life among many—but it was threatened. Within a few generations it would become increasingly uninhabitable and hostile to physical life. The ambassador was tasked with passing that information along to me—to us. They wanted us to know that while Earth was our cradle, all planetary dependent life was inherently fragile. The universe was an unfriendly place for planets. Meteors, solar flares, environmental changes, the flipping of magnetic poles, the discoveries of uncontrollable energies—all these things could make them inhospitable. So, for all intelligent species, there came a point where they were warned about the fragility of their cradle, and that it was time to move on.
The ambassador told me all life is precious, and in the darkness of space there are infinite bright lights to rush towards. The universe is waiting and it welcomes our arrival.