The Egg Theory

By: Andy Weir

You were on your way home when you died.

 

It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail. Your body was so utterly shattered you were better off, trust me.

 

And that’s when you met me.

 

“What… what happened?” You asked. “Where am I?”

 

“You died,” I said, matter-of-factly. No point in mincing words.

 

“There was a… a truck and it was skidding…”

 

“Yup,” I said.

 

“I… I died?”

 

“Yup. But don’t feel bad about it. Everyone dies,” I said.

 

You looked around. There was nothingness. Just you and me. “What is this place?” You asked. “Is this the afterlife?”

 

“More or less,” I said.

 

“Are you god?” You asked.

 

“Yup,” I replied. “I’m God.”

 

“My kids… my wife,” you said.

 

“What about them?”

 

“Will they be all right?”

 

“That’s what I like to see,” I said. “You just died and your main concern is for your family. That’s good stuff right there.”

 

You looked at me with fascination. To you, I didn’t look like God. I just looked like some man. Or possibly a woman. Some vague authority figure, maybe. More of a grammar school teacher than the almighty.

 

“Don’t worry,” I said. “They’ll be fine. Your kids will remember you as perfect in every way. They didn’t have time to grow contempt for you. Your wife will cry on the outside, but will be secretly relieved. To be fair, your marriage was falling apart. If it’s any consolation, she’ll feel very guilty for feeling relieved.”

 

“Oh,” you said. “So what happens now? Do I go to heaven or hell or something?”

 

“Neither,” I said. “You’ll be reincarnated.”

 

“Ah,” you said. “So the Hindus were right,”

 

“All religions are right in their own way,” I said. “Walk with me.”

 

You followed along as we strode through the void. “Where are we going?”

 

“Nowhere in particular,” I said. “It’s just nice to walk while we talk.”

 

“So what’s the point, then?” You asked. “When I get reborn, I’ll just be a blank slate, right? A baby. So all my experiences and everything I did in this life won’t matter.”

 

“Not so!” I said. “You have within you all the knowledge and experiences of all your past lives. You just don’t remember them right now.”

 

I stopped walking and took you by the shoulders. “Your soul is more magnificent, beautiful, and gigantic than you can possibly imagine. A human mind can only contain a tiny fraction of what you are. It’s like sticking your finger in a glass of water to see if it’s hot or cold. You put a tiny part of yourself into the vessel, and when you bring it back out, you’ve gained all the experiences it had.

 

“You’ve been in a human for the last 48 years, so you haven’t stretched out yet and felt the rest of your immense consciousness. If we hung out here for long enough, you’d start remembering everything. But there’s no point to doing that between each life.”

 

“How many times have I been reincarnated, then?”

 

“Oh lots. Lots and lots. An in to lots of different lives.” I said. “This time around, you’ll be a Chinese peasant girl in 540 AD.”

 

“Wait, what?” You stammered. “You’re sending me back in time?”

 

“Well, I guess technically. Time, as you know it, only exists in your universe. Things are different where I come from.”

 

“Where you come from?” You said.

 

“Oh sure,” I explained “I come from somewhere. Somewhere else. And there are others like me. I know you’ll want to know what it’s like there, but honestly you wouldn’t understand.”

 

“Oh,” you said, a little let down. “But wait. If I get reincarnated to other places in time, I could have interacted with myself at some point.”

 

“Sure. Happens all the time. And with both lives only aware of their own lifespan you don’t even know it’s happening.”

 

“So what’s the point of it all?”

 

“Seriously?” I asked. “Seriously? You’re asking me for the meaning of life? Isn’t that a little stereotypical?”

 

“Well it’s a reasonable question,” you persisted.

 

I looked you in the eye. “The meaning of life, the reason I made this whole universe, is for you to mature.”

 

“You mean mankind? You want us to mature?”

 

“No, just you. I made this whole universe for you. With each new life you grow and mature and become a larger and greater intellect.”

 

“Just me? What about everyone else?”

 

“There is no one else,” I said. “In this universe, there’s just you and me.”

 

You stared blankly at me. “But all the people on earth…”

 

“All you. Different incarnations of you.”

 

“Wait. I’m everyone!?”

 

“Now you’re getting it,” I said, with a congratulatory slap on the back.

 

“I’m every human being who ever lived?”

 

“Or who will ever live, yes.”

 

“I’m Abraham Lincoln?”

 

“And you’re John Wilkes Booth, too,” I added.

 

“I’m Hitler?” You said, appalled.

 

“And you’re the millions he killed.”

 

“I’m Jesus?”

 

“And you’re everyone who followed him.”

 

You fell silent.

 

“Every time you victimized someone,” I said, “you were victimizing yourself. Every act of kindness you’ve done, you’ve done to yourself. Every happy and sad moment ever experienced by any human was, or will be, experienced by you.”

 

You thought for a long time.

 

“Why?” You asked me. “Why do all this?”

 

“Because someday, you will become like me. Because that’s what you are. You’re one of my kind. You’re my child.”

 

“Whoa,” you said, incredulous. “You mean I’m a god?”

 

“No. Not yet. You’re a fetus. You’re still growing. Once you’ve lived every human life throughout all time, you will have grown enough to be born.”

 

“So the whole universe,” you said, “it’s just…”

 

“An egg.” I answered. “Now it’s time for you to move on to your next life.”

 

And I sent you on your way.

I Read/Write/Watch Horror to Cope with My Mental Illness

I always enjoyed horror though I never considered myself a fan of horror. I remember watching Tim Curry portray Pennywise the Clown in “IT” (1990) when I was three or four. I pretended to sleep while my parents (and I) watched the film “Dr. Giggles” (1992) about an escaped mental patient who kills with a surgical theme when I was six. I saw the film “Return to Cabin by the Lake” (2001) about a murderous screenwriter as a teenager. These films standout because they reminded me of suppressed trauma. Repressed memories that only recently returned.

I recall watching many films and having no emotional response. Scenes that made most tear up left me feeling numb or indifferent. I felt out of place and segregated from everyone else who had ‘feelings.’ Even horror films didn’t scare me or make me jump. I felt I knew the scares were coming. In high school and the first few years of college, I was described as ‘creepy’ by many of my peers. I could easily sneak up and scare others. I’d walk behind them for several minutes before they noticed me. One friend remarked after going through a haunted house it didn’t scare them because they had known me for so long.

I didn’t become an avid reader until my late 20s, but I’ve always had interest in writing. In the first grade, I wrote a detective story. It had all the tropes of film noir though I didn’t know what those were at the time. Film noir has similar elements to horror with suspense building and dealing with killers without the fantasy elements. I always enjoyed reading the works of Edgar Allan Poe and he is considered the creator of the detective story.

Many of the stories I have written or plan to write deal with death in one way or another. Some may not be called horror stories but still have death somewhere. I have written a few detective stories as well and they’re much better than that first one in the first grade. Serial killers, murderers, monsters, and people who’ve lost their minds take center stage in many of my stories. These are the topics in which I am most interested. Why do I have this fascination with killers, monsters, and madmen? Why would anyone want to think about these horrors?

I believe this is my way of coping with my own trauma. Upon writing this, I am 32. My trauma began when I was four. It had such an impact on me, I had to begin anger management counseling when I was six. We were cleaning up one day in class to go to recess. I was putting away a puzzle or something and this other boy tried to help. I told him I got it. He helped anyway. I got angry and hit him with a chair. I reacted with violence because I was exposed to violence at home. I thought that was the best response.

As I’ve aged, repressed memories resurfaced, and I’ve started to feel. I tear up during emotional scenes in romantic comedies or dramas. I can feel my heart racing during chase scenes in horror or action films. Horror films and horror fiction remind me of the violence and terror I experienced as a child without causing a panic attack. Writing horror fiction, I believe, is my way of dealing with the trauma and getting all the pain out. My mind has tried to pull my repressed memories forward through horror fiction. I think this is why horror is becoming even more popular as so many traumas continue in our chaotic world.

I am not the only person to experience this and this is not exclusive to PTSD. People with different anxiety disorders have a similar affinity toward horror fiction. Here are a few other articles I’ve found on the subject.

How do you feel about horror when it comes to your mental health? Is it helpful as it is for me or do you struggle with watching or reading horror?

Photo Credit: James & Carol Lee