Spirit jump

He was fine, and then he wasn’t. It started as a cold, or maybe the flu. A sore throat and weakness in his hands and feet, the afternoon after work. He thought he was just tired after a long week but it was only Tuesday. Brian felt well enough to go to his job on Wednesday only because that was the end of his work week. If he’d not been off from Thursday on, there would be no way he could have pulled himself together.

Brian owed it to his patients to be at the top of his game every day, to be alert and attentive. Machines couldn’t do it all, shouldn’t do it all. You needed a person to notice the subtle signs of a person regaining consciousness too soon, of them experiencing pain and unable to do anything about it. That was part of his job as an anesthetist, to safely ferry them across the dark waters of that chemical sleep during their operation.

He’d done his job well for seven years. He’d never lost a patient due to his error. Sure, some had died, but it wasn’t his fault. The surgeon made a mistake, an accident happened, a hidden deficit in the constitution of the patient made itself visible. Things happened that were beyond his control.

Some people were barely held together. Some people were sicker than even they realized. A shell, a façade, a thin veneer was all that stood between them and utter collapse. It wasn’t his fault when they died. He just happened to be there, like a bystander at an accident.

It was a little like that on that Tuesday, that meaningless day, that between day. Nothing happens on a Tuesday. The only problem is that sometimes nothing is something. Without noticing, without thought, he was infected by something worse than a virus, more insidious than a disease. It wasn’t even something that would show up on a blood test or an MRI.

It happened like this:

The patient was infected, possessed if you will, by a spirit. It had caught him and was riding him, like how the fleas rode on mice during the bubonic plague. The mice weren’t infected – the fleas were. The mice were just vehicles, taxis if you will. They shuttled the fleas around faster than they could have on gone on their own. In return, the fleas left the mice pretty much alone. They didn’t even know they were being used.

The same was happening here. The patient was the mouse, the evil spirit was the flea. It hadn’t badly affected the patient – that wouldn’t do. You can’t use them up too soon, they’d wear out. Then you’d have to find another one, sooner than you might want.

This was a spirit of complacency, of smugness, of self-satisfaction. It was a belief in a job well done in spite of evidence to the contrary. It was insidious, spawning vanity and a total lack of hubris. It said “all I have accomplished has been by my own hand, and mine alone”. It invited no disagreement and produced no diligence. There was no need to double check your results if you were convinced they were perfect. There was no need to try harder if you knew you were better than everyone else.

It produced vision problems, but the vision was of the heart, not the eye. It made the “mouse” see everyone and everything as lesser than. Instead of being better, it made everyone else appear worse. It made its victim feel higher by making others appear lower. Average was suddenly an accomplishment.

It caused alienation, of course. Nobody wanted to be around a goody-goody and “I Told You So”. And that led to stress, to dis-ease. The problem wasn’t a virus but a victimhood, a sense of lesser than, of isolation. People separated from others became sicker more often, and for longer. Humans were made to live in community, after all.

The patient suffered from stomach problems – losing weight, loose stools, frequent vomiting. It was part of the stress of the dis-ease, the particular form of illness his spirit assumed. The same spirit could cause cancers, or heart disease, or anemia for instance. It didn’t matter. Genetic tendencies were just indications of possible failure, weak spots in the wall of immunity. The disease was just a manifestation of an excess or lack, an imbalance of nutrition, movement, or something more nebulous. “Failure to thrive” isn’t just about infants. A soul lack, an empty yearning, a hole, these wore away at any possible wall a person might have. Aimless, loveless – a life without meaning was a death sentence.

None of this mattered when the last transfer happened. Brian was strong in body and soul, regularly walking on the track and with the Lord. He took care of himself and of his spirit. This is why it was such a surprise when he got sick.
The spirit hadn’t been listening when plans were made for exploratory surgery of its “mouse”. That was part of the specific character of that spirit – an unwillingness to listen to anyone or anything. So it came as a huge surprise to it when the patient began to go unconscious as the anesthesia took over, paralyzing his body so the surgeon could work. It bolted, like a startled colt, unsure, unaware, suddenly stronger than it already was because of fear.
It was afraid, not of dying, because that was impossible. It wasn’t corporeal, so there was no body to die, to decay. No, its fear was of a deeper sort. It was of ceasing to be, of existence itself. The spirit had to be in a body – any body, to exist. This is why spirits resisted being cast out. So when the fog of anesthesia began to cloud its victim’s eyes, it panicked.

Spirits need skin to skin contact for transference. That is how sexual disease spirits infect new people. That is why lepers are segregated. So when the panic gripped it, choking, struggling, it jumped to the one person who was touching its previous vehicle.

This was Brian, the anesthetist, who was holding the gas mask to the patient. The transfer was sudden and sure. Normally Brian would have been immune to such a spirit, but this was not a normal situation. The fear of having its existence snuffed out as instantly as a candle flame, spurred it on, made it more violent. Brian had no chance against this force.
In the same way that mothers gain incredible powers when their children are in danger, the spirit became unstoppable, irresistible. It barreled into Brian the same way a linebacker runs into his opponent.

Brian was very spiritually strong, so the force of the unexpected attack was not enough to knock him down. He felt something shift, slide sideways, and lock. The feeling was a lot like what Obi-Wan Kenobi felt when Alderaan was destroyed – a great disturbance in the force. This was what Brian first thought it was – some outside event, some terrible, horrible occurrence, a victory of dark over light.

It was a month before he admitted he was the one who had been defeated. By then he was unable to work. His gait was slower, his reaction time tripled. He couldn’t respond to sudden changes quickly enough to prevent disaster. A missed a step lead to a fall instead of a minor correction. While inconvenient for everyday life, this inattention could be deadly at work, where patient’s lives were in his hands.

His speech was slower too. He used to be garrulous and outgoing, but now he was unsure if he could remember how to say what he wanted to say. Words were slippery or sluggish or not there at all.

It took him six months of struggle to admit he needed help, even though the doctor still couldn’t tell him what his disease was. He felt a little like the woman in the Bible who had bled for over a dozen years and doctors hadn’t be able to heal her. If only he could be like her and touch Jesus’ robe! In the meantime he’d have to settle for the leash of his therapy dog.

Eye contact

The parents never knew. To them, their children were kind. Sure, they were quiet around strangers, but that was to be expected, even desired. It kept them safe to be wary. They were sure their children were polite to any and all. Little did they know that their children’s eyes lit up only for them. Otherwise they were as cold as the grave, as dangerous as ice on a March pond.
It was easy for Jenny’s mother Stephanie to brush off concerns from her Mother’s-day-out program. They told her how little Jenny was hostile to the workers, that the other children stayed away from her. They were scared of her. Her eyes bored through, searching for hidden darkness. The children had never seen anything like this before. The adults had, those with sons who come back from the Army, scarred in body and soul. They made it back in body only. A part of them was still out there, searching for the enemy, always alert for danger. Some went one way, and jumped at every car backfire or firecracker blast. Some went the other – went dark. Kill or be killed. Do unto others before they do unto you.
Jenny’s eyes were like those folks, but she was only five. She had no reason to look that way. Both of her parents were loving and kind. There was no abuse of any sort. She was well provided for, wanted for nothing. Maybe if she’d had a sibling they would have noticed, the signs would have been heeded. Probably not, though. Siblings are always suspect. The petty rivalries and squabbles that naturally ensue guarantee that unfavorable reports were always seasoned with a handful of salt.
The boy named Arnold was the same. He first spoke on his fifth birthday, his eyes still dead. He was intelligible only to his grandmother, who translated his muttered birthday lunch plans as “a visit to McDonald’s” and not to “Aunt Dee” as he’d said. Even she didn’t understand why he said this, because the clerk’s name was Judy at the restaurant they frequented.
The problem was that he wasn’t here in this place. Neither child was. In bodies in this dimension, but otherwise elsewhere. Or else-when. Perhaps they weren’t defective, but inadvertent time travelers, unaware of their failure to truly be in one place at a time. How would their caregivers notice, after all, what with their own distractions? Perhaps these children were the newest iteration, designed by natural selection to never be truly anywhere. It was a good psychic defense against the insensitivity that was now endemic.

Possessed by drugs

If you get caught with drugs, you are charged with possession. But I believe it would be more accurate to say that you should be diagnosed with possession. You are possessed.

You don’t do drugs. Drugs do you. They act upon you quietly and insidiously. They end up taking over your life. They don’t enhance it – they take away from it.

Perhaps if we saw drug use as possession we would be able to actually treat it for a change. We would no longer see it as a lack of willpower but as a dangerous force that takes up residence inside you and makes you do things that you wouldn’t normally do.

It is important to understand that this doesn’t start off as a passive action. You, sober, make the first move. You, sober, are the one who first starts using drugs. They don’t have a hold of you at that point. So you have control at the beginning.

This is the same as with possession.  You have to allow that demon into your soul for it to harm you.  Once you do, you are in big trouble.  Just like with drugs, you’re in over your head very fast.

Alien Walkers (short story)

All the ones who had survived had learned to incarnate. There was no other way to relay the information back – the signal wouldn’t cross the membrane barrier. It was sink or swim as best you could. It was a sure way to weed out the ones who couldn’t adapt quickly.
It was an ugly way to go for those who couldn’t shift, who wouldn’t, who didn’t know how or didn’t think to. Their thin gray bodies desiccated in the Terran environment, reducing them to a wrinkled mass of flexible chiton in a matter of hours. Or the crushing gravity pulled Them down, rendering Them unable to move, unable to find enough nutrients to support Their hummingbird-like metabolism. Their silica-based skeletal structure was far too flimsy for this planet, so much larger than Their own, with so much more gravity. Or Their eyes, large and round like ostrich eggs, black as a waterless well, were quickly blinded by the intense rays of a sun three times larger than Their own. The natives who saw one of Them as They truly appeared were either seeing one who’d just arrived or as a thought hologram.
They’d had some preliminary forays the safest way possible (for Them) over the years using that technology. Why bother with a true hologram which required a transmitter to be physically present, when the same information could be simply beamed directly into the brains of the intended audience? Getting the signal right had taken quite some time. Too many otherwise sane people had been reduced to drooling idiots after they saw one of Them this way. They all had to be institutionalized, blathering on about aliens contacting them. These were the ones who had money, or relatives with money, of course. The rest shuffled off the chains of modern life and took to living in shacks they made out of cardboard and adopting rats as pets. Fortunately, they didn’t know the difference. To them, the rats looked like the pets they had abandoned when they went walkabout.
Some of the early visitors to Earth chose to “walk” into those unfortunates after the fact. They were like abandoned cars – all shell and no spark. The visitors were taking advantage of their loss. Best not to leave a good vessel to waste, they thought. Sure, the person was alive, after a fashion, but it was no life worth living. There was no return trip from the place their mind had gone. Back where the visitors came from it was considered a mercy to not let a friend or family member continue on with such an empty existence. There, early termination was normal. Perhaps the soul / body match was off. Perhaps it was the wrong timeline to incarnate in. Better to nip it in the bud before it grew into an ugly weed with thorns and rotting fruit. There just wasn’t space, money, or time for that kind of indulgence in their homeworld.
As a result, there was no homelessness, no poverty, no addictions of any kind where They came from. There was no pandering, no excuses, and certainly no jails. One example of self-or-other harm was enough. There was never a second. If the citizen didn’t realize their misalignment, others close to them did and took care of matters for them. There were EVAC tubes in every town hall for just such occasions. The soul was released, the body pulverized and scattered, returning the elements to the soil from whence they came. Prayers were said, rituals performed. Within a month and a half the soul had found another body to incarnate in to try again. During that time between incarnations the souls attended a sort of rehabilitation school. This school had no breaks because they didn’t have to sleep, eat, or exercise to keep their incarnate forms from falling apart.
Everyone on the planet had been through this process countless times. It was what you did. Rather than suffer through an ill-fitting soul / body match for the duration of the life expectancy of the body, just try again.
After the first few visitors traveled bodily to Earth and had such difficult transitions, They learned. The ones who survived took the closest body They could, be it eagle, skunk, or human. It didn’t matter as long as it was mobile. A few had “walked” into cacti or trees and found they were stuck. Not only could They not locate others (either of Their kind or indigenous), but They also couldn’t leave Their new vessels like They were used to. There were no EVAC units here, and once They tapped into the collective unconsciousness of Their hosts, They learned it wouldn’t ever be likely to be an option here. Locals preferred to tough it out or make the best of a bad situation. They held on for the sake of holding on, not realizing that path was full of unnecessary suffering.
The visitors soon learned the religious stories of the objects of Their study. Several had discussed reincarnation. One even had as a central figure a man who had reincarnated in an unbelievably fast three days – but he had said that he was the heir of the sovereign deity of that region. They guessed that perhaps he was more advanced due to his lineage and didn’t need as much rehabilitation as Their souls did. It had long been suspected that certain bloodlines ran more true, but on Their planet, admission to these families was by merit, not by luck like all the rest.
They developed star travel because Their planet had started to get full. There weren’t enough new bodies being created to fill the need for souls to inhabit. As a collective, the citizens had finally realized the need to maintain green space. For a long time They had treated undeveloped land as “scrub”, not understanding that the plants cooled the planet and made it possible for them to breathe. Once they understood, they intentionally chose to limit how many citizens could reside in an area and also required everyone to plant a garden to produce their own food.
Once they all realized the dire dilemma that was facing them, all citizens chose to limit themselves to only one offspring per couple. Singles who were already celibate remained so, and partners negotiated who was going to be sterilized if they’d already reached their quota. It was simple, really, and it made sense. Rather, it made sense until there was no place for the spirits to return to.
Some started beaming directly to earth to incarnate. Very few souls wanted to stay in the null-space that was the existence after being dis-incarnated. They learned from their research that the Catholic Church referred to that space as purgatory. It wasn’t quite enough of a word to describe what it was like for Them, but it was close. It wasn’t “nirvana” as the Buddhists called the next level on, the one where you had learned all you wanted to learn and became one with the All That Is. Nor was it as milquetoast as “limbo”. It was a bit like reform school, or rehab, or where you took your car to get the dents hammered out after an accident. It wasn’t a place where you wanted to stay for long.
There were difficulties with the first downloads, as would be expected. The natives had to invent new words to express what was going on. The Germans came up with “doppelgänger”, and before that the Vikings used “berserker” when adults were taken over. In England the word “changeling” was used to indicate a child who had been swapped. Perhaps “possessed” was the right word in all these cases, as the soul of the original occupant of the body remained but was suppressed. It was as if They were carjackers, who instead of stealing the car while it was parked outside of Walmart, took it over at a stoplight and threw the driver in the trunk. It wasn’t ideal, and many of Them hesitated to do it, but They overcame Their reticence once They saw how backwards and unevolved the earthlings were. It was exactly the same as how the Europeans could justify the murder and eviction of the Native Americans. They were seen as less than animals, or not even as animate beings. It is easy to oppress others when you don’t think of them as people, or even alive. They thought they were doing the inhabitants of favor.
But then there were individuals on Earth who were able to coexist with the visitors, those whose spirits were strong enough due to their own unique soul-work they had (fortuitously) done before the unexpected occupation of the “walk-ins”, or those who were naturally blessed with flexible minds. Rigidity of thought was a certain predictor of the occupation not going well for the original soul. Trying to maintain a sense of normalcy while suddenly living in a vastly more-dimensional world was tenuous at best for those who had never contemplated anything more involved than who to vote for on American Idol.
In times past these people who adapted to an extra presence and sensory experience would have been called seers or prophets, but in a world suspicious of anything even seeming to refer to religion, they chose to remain quiet about it. Some would read the works of mystics from the past to develop words for their own understanding of what was happening to them. Some read science fiction for the same purpose, while some wrote it. It was an odd awareness, this other knowing, this extra way of feeling and seeing before and between and beyond. It was precognition, to be sure, but it was so much more. It was like hearing sound after a lifetime of deafness. It was like seeing a rainbow after being born colorblind. It was everything all at once and with no warning.
Most native souls retreated during the onslaught of sensation that was the norm for the visitors, the aliens, the occupiers, making it easy for them to control the body-vessel. Enough random access memory remained after the upgrade for the visitor to integrate almost seamlessly. Passwords were remembered, along with names of pets and friends and where their house was located. The more adept “walkers” made it seem like nothing had changed it all. The moment of the possession had seemed as unremarkable as the lights flickering when a storm was in the area. Out for a second while the transfer overlay happened, and then back to business as usual.
It was discovered that those unwilling body donors who were able to not only endure but thrive during the overlay experience either had a lot of gold in them or on them. In some cases they had gold rings on their fingers or crowns on their teeth. Some naturally had gold in their bodies, the same as most people had copper or zinc. But gold, unlike those metals, wasn’t something you’d find in a multivitamin. Some had unknowingly obtained it by walking barefoot in the forest, while others had consumed an airplane bottle of Goldschlager schnapps on a dare in college. However the reason, the gold worked as a conductor and a buffer, retaining the best of both personalities and enabling both to work peaceably together.

Pod people



Nell was having none of it. Not anymore. Her husband simply refused to even try to breathe air. The doctor said he could, that his lungs could adapt to this environment, but he disagreed. Trouble was, he’d never know unless he tried.

Elowyn had read about other Marenians who had converted to air breathing. He’d never met one, of course. How could he? There were only three who lived in this state, and the closest was two hours away by plane. No airline would let him on a plane with his argon suit, that was a given. Their fears were unproven, but policy was policy.

They’d met three years ago at the landing site. She was a reporter, alerted by the scanner in the office that something was coming from the skies again. That scanner was worth its cost from all the leads it provided. Quick as a wink she was downstairs and in her car, trying to not drive off the road as she followed the plumes of green clouds stretching like a tightrope from the eastern sky to some nearby cornfield – Mr. O’Reilly’s, most likely. He had the biggest one, so it stood to reason. She turned down Ellis Way and got there before the locals did. Farmers listened to the scanner same as reporters did, and for much the same reason. It was the best way to know what was going on that might be of interest. Something like this would pull them out of their barns for sure.

Just think of it! Aliens! Here! In Mill City!

Nell had guessed the pod’s trajectory right and reached the small crater it created just after the police had gotten there. The ground was still steaming next to the blue (metal?) craft. She noticed that there was a bright iridescent sheen across the pod’s surface, reflecting the late afternoon summer sun, as well as a distinctive sharp smell much like ammonia, but she couldn’t quite place it.

They didn’t know at the time but it turned out that the color and the smell were both hallmarks of the Marenians. They both came about because their ships were alive, growing out of the same stuff as the people. This way they could self-repair. It saved a lot of money and time that way. It worked perfectly as long as they stayed in the Marenian solar system because the elements were more or less the same throughout.

Earth, however, was another matter entirely. The stresses of the previous crashes had resulted in every pod going into automatic repair mode, sending wispy tendrils into the soil to gather the raw materials needed to boil up replacement parts in the integral kitchen/lab. Three minutes after the tendrils went down, they came back up, spit out what dirt they’d sampled, and retracted back into the beetle-like shell, refusing to budge. The self-preservation instinct was the strongest one, so the pods calmly explained in their proto-language to the pilot inside them that the soil was not compatible with their electrochemical makeup, so repairs would not be forthcoming. As trained, each pod then sent out a trans-space summons for another pod to make the trek to bring dirt from home so repairs could proceed.

The only problem was that these supply pods came and they too became stranded. They’d underestimated the amount of dirt needed for the repairs.  The pods were small, with barely enough room for the pilot.  Even if they were able to navigate without a pilot there still wouldn’t have been enough room for dirt to repair both ships.

No matter – flying without a pilot wasn’t an option. Each pod was raised with its pilot from the moment s/he was formerly admitted to the astro-nav program. Saying that they were synchronized wasn’t the half of it. Cells were harvested from under the tongue of the pilot and cultured over three weeks, growing into a ship that learned as the pilot learned. This was no simple cloning. The two beings were separate in body only. All past, present, and future were shared.

This created a dilemma when the pods, and thus the pilots, began to be stranded. Without hope of repair, the pods chose to self-terminate, opting for a quick death over a slow lingering one. The pilots had to be tranquilized before the pods could self-euthanize. Otherwise it would have been too painful for them to endure. Some later, once they’d learned the local language, said it was like amputation of half your limbs and your brain.  Many were encouraged to adopt dogs afterwards as the closest Earth option to the deep connection that they had shared with the ships.

Nell had worked closely with Elowyn after the crash, helping him to adjust to Earth living.  There was no going back to Marenia, so he had to learn a whole different culture. This was made easier because of his astro-nav training, but it was still understandably difficult.

She’d not planned on adopting a stray, but the Mayor assured her that she was the most qualified person in the city for the job.  Simply being a reporter, curious about new things, made her ideal, he said.  Put that way, how could she refuse? It was a high honor to be deemed worthy of helping a stranded Marenian.  You were serving as an ambassador for the whole planet, after all.  The future of the relationship between the two solar systems would be created from these one-on-one relationships.

It was about a year later that they both realized that they were quite compatible together and decided to formalize their pairing.  Fortunately for them, other human-Marenian pairs had formed before they had even met, and laws had been changed to allow for interspecies marriage.  There was only one difference with these marriages and all others – one member of the union had to be sterilized.   Doctors weren’t comfortable with what could happen if a child was created.

There was no way a child could have been created in the case of Nell and Elowyn. He was still hermetically sealed inside his argon suit.  He had to have it to breathe on Earth, he insisted.  The material in the suit was fortunately impervious to decay, or he would have a more difficult time of it.

Nell was quietly upset when she learned this, hoping that he’d eventually be forced to adapt to Earth ways.  She loved him, of course, but she thought that things would be better for both of them if he didn’t wear that darned suit.  It made going out to visit friends awkward.  Plus, the smell took some getting used to.  The ammonia-like smell was a byproduct of the impervious material.  It was unnoticeable on Marenia, but on Earth it alerted others that there was a foreigner around even before they saw him.  It made some people not want to deal with Marenians at all, saying that they smelled like used gym socks.

Nell and Elowyn mostly kept to themselves at home when she wasn’t working.  He didn’t have to work – none of the stranded pilots did.  They didn’t need food, and they weren’t interested in owning anything.  If they couldn’t carry it, they didn’t need it – this philosophy was part and parcel of being a Marenian.  It was how they had finally adapted to a planet with too many people and not enough land.  They didn’t even need to live in homes anymore, having selectively bred themselves over twenty-three generations to be unaffected by temperature changes or ultraviolet rays.  Some did live in homes on Marenia out of habit or convenience, and most pilots on Earth did as well, but it wasn’t uncommon to see one hanging out with homeless people under overpasses or near street corners. They were comfortable wherever they happened to be.

The Marenians got along with the homeless population uncommonly well.  They had in common their philosophy of “less is more”, albeit perhaps unwillingly for some of the homeless.  Soon the Marenians and homeless had developed a spiritual system – not a religion – about this, encouraging others to get rid of their addiction to things. They explained that there was a reason that the Earth language used the word “possession” to refer to things as well as being taken over by demons.

It had to be a spiritual system because a religion would require stuff – books or buildings, for instance, and this was totally opposed to their beliefs.  Of course, many years later, after the founders had died and no more new Marenians came to Earth, their simple way was converted like all other spiritual paths had been and there were not only cathedrals to “less is more” but also gift shops with plastic trinkets made in China.



Their mother had always wanted twins, but not like this. Carol’s biological clock was winding down about the time her life was picking up. When she finally had the time, money, and energy to have children, she’d gotten too old to even consider having multiple pregnancies. She wanted at least two children for the same reason people brought home two puppies or kittens – they would always have a playmate. With time slipping away on her, having twins seemed like the best option.

She never even considered adoption. The children had to be hers. She knew that down to her bones. The idea of “family legacy” was so firmly imprinted onto her identity that taking in somebody else’s unwanted children was out of the question. It wasn’t even on the table. It wasn’t even in the room.

She couldn’t afford to chance it. So she went to the local medicine/miracle worker. The gnarled old being was a fixture of the community that everybody knew about but nobody talked about. She? He? Who knew? At that age it was impossible to tell. His? Her? voice was raspy and the clothes were baggy enough to conceal whatever shape s/he might have. Nobody knew, and everyone was afraid to ask. “Doctor” was the being’s title as well as name. Fortunately this language didn’t differentiate gender in its words or it would have been more awkward. Undefined gender seemed somehow appropriate for this profession, one of yes/and, of greys, of liminal spaces, of betweens. The Doctor’s shop/office/home was like that as well, beyond definition.

Carol had written a letter asking for an appointment. This was how it was done, how it always had been done. The Doctor felt that websites were too fiddly, too impersonal. The message would get lost. Even phone lines were eschewed.

Ideally, the client (never “patient”) would happen to meet the Doctor while they were both out doing errands in the village markets. A lot could be done to further the desired outcome if both of them were on the same time-line. Never quite syncing up was a bad sign. But, communicating by letters was a good second choice.

They agreed upon Wednesday the third, at 11:30 in the morning. The Doctor arranged visits by feel, rather than by any usual method. It was the same as how a safecracker worked, or a dowser, or a chef. It was all by feel. No astrology charts or Ouija boards or runes. No Day Planners either. There was never a receptionist or assistant. The Doctor’s motto was do it all yourself, or don’t do it at all. Too many cooks spoil the broth, and all that.

Carol left her house that Wednesday morning very excited and hopeful. She wore her favorite red jumper and galoshes even though the weather forecast promised a partly sunny day with only a 10% chance of snow flurries. They were her favorite galoshes, purchased used at the corner Oxfam three years back. She’d always had great luck when she wore them, so they seemed to fit the bill for the day. She even asked off from work for the rest of the afternoon so she could get started right away on whatever course of action the Doctor recommended.

Everything the Doctor did was by suggestion or recommendation – never an order, never even a request. Everything had to be voluntary. The client had to be a part of the process, never acted upon, but with. If the Doctor decided it was possible to effect a change there was always a list of recommendations. It wasn’t always possible to obtain or do all of them, either due to the time of year or available resources. The client, if accepted, (not a given) would then go out armed with that list.

Instructions could include such varied examples as “Stand barefoot on a newly harvested field for 10 minutes, facing west. Be sure not to be noticed. This must be done sometime between the hours of 8 AM and 3 PM.” Or perhaps something like: “Buy and eat some kind of fruit you have never eaten before.” Or maybe even: “Write down your greatest hope for your future on a piece of borrowed paper. Set it afloat on a stream.” Generally, at least two of the three options must be done, in whatever way the client could. The “how” was up to interpretation, and was part of the cure.

Wearing a certain color for a week (at least) was a common request, although the color changed with the task at hand. Often this was how other people in the community knew you were under the Doctor’s care. They never would ask, though, out of respect, or perhaps fear. It was difficult to not be noticed when someone started wearing shades of teal or salmon or magenta, especially day after day.

Almost immediately after having sex that Friday night a month later, Carol knew she was pregnant. She didn’t dare breathe a word of it to her partner for fear she might jinx it. She didn’t even go to the pharmacy to get a pregnancy test for the same reason.

She wasn’t sure where her self-imposed superstition came from, and that might have caused the aberration. Maybe it was the galoshes. Maybe the orientation of her bed. Maybe she didn’t follow the list correctly.
Later, after the birth, the Doctor consulted with Carol. They both looked at the babies (baby?). They went over everything she did, everything she ate, everything she thought. She was sure she had the right intention during the act. It’d been all she’d been thinking about for months, so how could it be anything else? Twins. Two babies in one pregnancy.

The Doctor had been very insistent with her that intention was important for all pregnancies, but especially for hers since it was so specific. The Doctor explained that ideally, people would have sex only when they wanted to have a child, and then they would do it mindfully and prayerfully. The moment of conception was when the soul chose to incarnate. This is a delicate and perilous time. There were many souls about, of all kinds, waiting to enter a body. Some entered at conception. That was ideal.

Others chose to take up residence afterwards. This resulted in what psychiatrists called “multiple personality disorder”. Priests called it “possession”. New Agers called it “walk-ins”. It was all the same thing, and it was all less than desirable.

The Doctor explained that ideally the potential parents would pray before having sex, alerting the souls, the beings-in-waiting, that an opening, a doorway if you will, was being created for them. The parents would meditate on the characteristics and personality of the child that they hoped to welcome into their lives. They would speak about what kind of home they could provide.

In a way it was like a blind date, or perhaps more like an arranged marriage. They were going to be together a long time. It was important to do this well, rather than leave it to chance.

The trouble is, too many people didn’t think it all before having sex. It was as if they were swept away, like they were in a stagecoach, and the horses got spooked. Before they realized what was happening, they were where they hadn’t planned on being, because they hadn’t planned. Sometimes they got stuck there. Just like with marriage, it is a good idea to choose wisely before this long-term commitment.

Too many babies were being born without souls properly attached to them because of this. Some had very weak souls and had sensory or neurological disorders because they weren’t fully in the body. Some souls weren’t even human.

But that wasn’t the problem here. Carol and her partner had prayed for two souls, alright. The only problem is that they somehow ended up with two souls in one body. This wasn’t uncommon, but could take different forms. The obstetrician had explained that sometimes twins are conceived but one is absorbed. The result? One baby, but it might have its twin as a vestigial part of its body, in the abdominal area, for instance. Or if the fusing is complete, it will have chimerism. Or in this case, conjoined. The obstetrician couldn’t explain why this had happened, but the Doctor could, after consulting with the souls of the twins.

Twins were wanted, and twins came. They were twins in the truest sense this incarnation. They were two, but one. When they were in spirit form, they were separate but they wanted to always be together.

In their previous incarnation they had been twins in the usual sense. That family had also wanted twins, but shortly after their birth the father had gotten laid off from his job. The economy had taken a downturn and he had difficulty finding another job. Months went by and the savings grew smaller. Their mother grew more and more exhausted with caring for them and with worry. Finally the decision was made. It was the same decision that some families made about their pets under similar circumstances. They were “given away to good homes”. Unfortunately in this case, they were separate ones. The children always felt that half of their very being was missing from that point onwards.

After their death, they had waited a long time to find another family that wanted twins. This time, they wanted to make sure they couldn’t be separated ever again.

The cost of following Jesus

“Who among you would try to build a tower without making sure he has enough money to finish it? Otherwise people will mock him when they see that he has laid the foundation and can’t complete it, saying ‘This person started something he couldn’t finish.’

Doesn’t a king going to war analyze whether he has enough soldiers to go against the other king? If he doesn’t, then he sends a peace delegation ahead while the other army is still far away. In the same way, only those who renounce their possessions are able to be my disciples.”

LK 14:28-33

Jesus and Abraham

The Jewish leaders said “Aren’t you a Samaritan? Aren’t you possessed?”

Jesus replied “I’m not possessed. In fact, I show honor to my Father, and you dishonor me. I’m not trying to gain any glory for myself. God wants me to have glory, and is the One who judges. I assure you: if you follow my teaching you’ll never die.”

Then the Jewish leaders said “Now we know you are possessed. Abraham and all the prophets have all died. You say ‘If you follow my teaching you’ll never die’. Are you more powerful than our father Abraham who has died, along with all the prophets? Who do you think you are?”

Jesus answered “If I praise myself, it means nothing. My Father – the One you claim is your God, He is the One who praises me. You don’t know him, but I do. If I said I don’t know him, I’d be a liar just like you. But I do know him, and I do what he says. Your father Abraham eagerly looked forward to these days – he rejoiced to see it come.”

The Jewish leaders said “You aren’t even 50 years old yet, and you’re saying you’ve seen Abraham?!”

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied “before Abraham ever existed, I am.”

When they heard this, the leaders picked up stones to hurl at him, but Jesus was out of their sight and he left the Temple complex.

JN 8:48-59

The return of the 70

The 70 disciples returned, joyfully reporting to Jesus, “Lord, even the demons submit to us when we use your name!”

He said, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy. You can walk on snakes and scorpions and nothing will ever harm you. However, don’t celebrate about the fact that spirits submit to you. The important thing is that your names are known in heaven.”

LK 10:17-20

Healing a daughter of Abraham.

Jesus noticed a woman who was disabled by a spirit while he was teaching in the synagogue one Sabbath. She was bent over and could not completely straighten up, and had been this way for 18 years. Jesus called to her and said “Woman, you are released from your disability!” He laid his hands on her and she was instantly restored to health and began to praise God.

The local synagogue leader was indignant because Jesus had worked on the Sabbath. He said to the crowd “There are six days in which people are allowed to work – therefore come to be healed on one of those days and not on the Sabbath!”

The Lord answered him and said “Hypocrites! You all work on the Sabbath! Don’t you untie your ox or donkey and lead it to water on the Sabbath? Satan has tied this woman, a daughter of Abraham, for 18 years. Shouldn’t she too be released on the Sabbath day?”

All of his adversaries were humiliated when he said this, and the whole crowd was rejoicing over all the amazing things he was doing.

LK 13:10-17