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Author since 2013 2Stories 0 Followers

I’ve been here before.

Felt the sweat beating down my brow.

That God awful sound. Droning on and on and on.

The room is cramped. The people in it are loud. Noisy.

“…and you find this watch on the beach. What the watchmaker analogy alludes to is… ”

Blah, blah, blah.

Philosophy of Religion.

Jesus Christ.

Each week it’s the same shit… over and over and over again. Nothing changes. I wake up… I go about my day. Then I enter the Edwards building… fourth floor. Tucked away in the furthest corner from the elevators. The department of Philosophy and Religion. Across the hall, room 428. I sit in this same seat and lose myself in thought.

Professor McPherson sitting at the head of the room. His thinning hair combed over. It bobs and bounces as he speaks. A smug little grin on his face. Most of the students don’t understand this shit. He knows it. We know it. So he sits up there explaining it over and over again. Week in and week out.

And week in and week out, they stare at him. Like goddamn deer caught in the high beams of an approaching vehicle. Eyes wide – frightened – looking, but not seeing. Not understanding what it is that’s barreling down the freeway at them at eighty miles per hour.

They don’t understand. And so he explains this shit to them every day. In a seemingly infinite loop without end.

Temporal paradoxes. First cause arguments. Pascal’s wager. Watchmaker analogies.
It’s pitiful. It’s all the same.

Then there’s Ben.

For the love of all that is holy… there’s Ben. Awkward and sheltered. The kind of guy that most girls don’t notice… and who can blame them?

He sits in his little corner, arms folded and his head laying on the desk.

Two semesters ago, he and I were best friends. We went to high school together. Preschool too. I’ve known him as long as I’ve known myself.

Then she happened. The pretty little blonde sitting at the front of the room. Mileena – Ben’s first great love.

Only… she didn’t notice him. Because who would? He never says anything in class. He sits in the back and he keeps to himself. He retreats to his room after classes are over – and ventures out only to eat or go to work.

He keeps his headphones in as he walks across campus – dressing in greys, browns, and blacks. Keeps his fucking hoodie pulled up over his head even during the summer.

People don’t notice him because he doesn’t want to be noticed. He wouldn’t know what to do if someone did notice him.

And here he is pining over this girl he wouldn’t even talk to.

So what do I do? I try to be a good friend. I try to stimulate conversation between them. I try to set him up.

Only it doesn’t work.

Well. It doesn’t work for him.

I find myself in the storage closet – this pretty little thing on her knees.

He says it’s my fault.

“And what about predestination? If God is truly omniscient – shouldn’t he already know what you’re going to do before you do it? So then, are some people created just for the sake of being sent to hell? Are our lives mapped out?”

No one gives a shit.

My fault? Mine?

Seventeen years of friendship flushed over a girl. A girl that wouldn’t give him the time of day. But it’s my fault.

My fault that he couldn’t say “Hi”. He couldn’t smile or wave. My fault that she was easy.

“Some people point to déjà vu as evidence of predestination?” McPherson drones on.

“Well that doesn’t make sense,” Mileena says.

“Doesn’t it?” McPherson smiles. “Think about it this way – if our lives are mapped out – if everything we are and everything we will eventually do is set out before hand, wouldn’t it be beneficial to be able to read that future?”

“Sure. But assuming that God does exist – He would be the only one with omniscience.”

“But we were created in God’s image – were we not?” Someone else chimes in. “If scripture is to be believed. So, couldn’t it make sense that we could harness some of that?”

Mileena tries to keep from laughing. Her small frame convulses softly for a moment. “I guess. But how would that even work?”

McPherson is still smiling – watching his students ramble over shit that doesn’t really matter.

“Well the soul is spiritual energy, right? Living on the same plane of existence as the Creator. I mean, there is no real physical evidence of a soul – so if it exists, it has to be a higher state of existence, right? What if it can occasionally see glimpses of the road mapped out for us? What if déjà vu is our soul trying to communicate with us?”

Someone else chimes in at this point. “Or what if it’s other spiritual energies? The souls of those dead trying to help… or even mislead… the living?”

“Or even memories from similar events in past lives?”

“There’s always the obvious explanation,” someone else suggests. “Psychic energy? Precognition? Maybe it has less to do with predestination and more to do with reading our own futures.”

Different students were speaking up – all giving their bullshit explanations for déjà-vu.

“Some physicists think that time is infinite – it’s the big loop. If it’s infinite than every moment in history has already happened. We’ve all already been here – already discussed this. In this same way. Who’s to say that Déjà vu isn’t residual energy from the past?”

“Residual? … Residual energy? Are you even listening to yourself? It’s psychological,” I say flatly. “Or neurological. Neurons in the brain misfiring, making you believe you’re retrieving a memory when you’re trying to create a new one.”

“Ah,” McPherson laughs. “We have the skeptic.”

“It’s not skepticism, it’s science,” I look around me at my peers. They look at me like deer caught in the headlights of oncoming traffic. “People with certain types of epilepsy have been shown to experience déjà-vu more often than people with normal brain activity. Activity in the temporal lobe is essentially getting crossed. Your brain has a mini-seizure… ” I tap the desk and drag my finger across it. “Instead of storing the memory, they’re essentially trying to complete the process backwards. It’s a glitch in the system.”

“Why then,” McPherson asks, “Do people without epilepsy experience déjà-vu?”

“Why do people without cancer experience fatigue, sudden weight loss, or fever? Is cancer the only explanation for these symptoms? No. That doesn’t make sense… ”

Still the same blank stares.

“Look. Think of it this way. The brain is like the motherboard of a PC – if the wires are crossed, if it’s not put together correctly – the system experiences problems. But a perfectly functional motherboard can have issues as well. It can be affected by the outside world – or even what’s inside. A virus can cause glitches in the system as well as a crossed motherboard. Heat and wear and tear play roles in it. The brain’s the same way. Sometimes neurons misfire for other reasons… then you have déjà-vu. Or maybe the neurons don’t misfire. Maybe you’re trying to recall a previous memory, and you just fail to. You land in Paris and see the Eiffel Tower. You see it and it triggers a memory – maybe you recently played Bioshock: Infinite and the memories of the shots of the Eiffel Tower in the game were triggered. Only you can’t quite get there. It’s there… but it’s not. Like Presque-vu – the tip of the tongue phenomenon. It’s there, but you just can’t quite figure it out, you know? So you just end up with a sense of familiarity with no real connection to any memory.”

I hear laughter. From behind me.

Ben. “You always have an explanation for everything, huh?”

“It’s not just my explanation,” I defend my stance. “This is what the research shows.”

“Research once suggested that cigarettes were healthy. Psychologists – for a long time – suggested that homosexuality was a mental disorder. Your science isn’t infallible.”

“I’m not claiming that it is – I’m just saying that it holds more merit than these bullshit explanations.”

“All of these explanations: how can you be so sure yours is the right one?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“You didn’t. But your condescending tone did.”

This had to do with her. This was the first time that Ben had spoken to me since that day.

Awkward little Ben.

“You know what I think it is?”

“I have a feeling you’re going to tell me.”

“Déjà-vu is like a check point. You made a mistake here the last time you passed through. Something happened that wasn’t supposed to happen… ”

Definitely about her.

“And déjà-vu is your soul’s way of telling you to make a different decision. Maybe you shouldn’t have been so condescending. Maybe you shouldn’t have hurt someone you care about. Maybe you shouldn’t have come to class today. Maybe you shouldn’t be here at all.”

“Christ, Ben. Are we really going to do this here?”

Mileena chews her thumb at the front of class. McPherson is on his feet now. “Alright boys, we need to calm… ”

“We need to what?!” Ben is on his feet now. His hand is in his pocket. He withdraws it quickly. I see a flash of silver and ivory. A revolver. “We need to calm down? Maybe you should sit down, you pretentious asshole.”

“Ben… ” McPherson’s hands are in the air. “Ben, put the gun down… ”

“And you… ” he turns the gun to me. “Maybe you should think before you act. Think before you speak… before you piss off the wrong person. Maybe you… maybe you should keep it in your pants.”

McPherson takes a step forward – Ben swings back to him and pulls the trigger. The sound is deafening – everyone recoils in terror. The bullet whips through the air and pierces flesh – tearing through his shoulder.

I can smell the gunpowder. The scent creeps up my nostrils and rests on the back of my tongue. A sharp metallic flavor.

He’s going to shoot you – my mind tells me.

Ben turns the pistol back to me. “Déjà-vu is essentially your soul telling you that at this moment in life… you died. And now, you’ve reset… and you’ve survived back up until this point. You have to make a different decision. You have to do something that will save your life… ”

He inches across the room. His finger on the trigger.

“We all exist in our own universe. Nobody ever dies… they just cease to exist in certain universes. There are, essentially, an endless amount of universes. In each one… a different decision leads to a different outcome. Déjà-vu exists in those moments that bridge the gap between one universe and another. If you have déjà-vu… then last time you were here, you made the wrong decision.”

“Ben… I… I’m sorry. I didn’t mean… ”

“You didn’t mean? You didn’t mean to what? Whisper sweet nothings in her ear? Brush the hair from her eyes? Bend her over the janitor’s desk?”

Take him out – my brain screams. He’s going to shoot you… let him get closer.

He inches towards me – his thumb pulls the hammer back on the revolver. “Or maybe you just didn’t mean to tell me?”

He’s an arm’s length away now… I lunge forward.

The sound of the revolver firing fills the air again. I feel the bullet rip through my stomach. I feel my legs grow weak and I feel myself toppling to the floor.

“It’s okay… ” Ben assures.

That’s when that familiar sense creeps over me.

“Maybe you’ll make better decisions next time.”

I’ve been here before.

Felt the blood trickling across my skin.

That God awful sound. The hammer locking into place… but I’d never hear the boom of the revolver.

The room is cramped. The people in it are silent. Terrified.


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