Happiness In Slavery Excerpt (The Suicide Machine)

Here’s the excerpt that I was telling you about.  Let me know what you think!  All you need to know about this excerpt is that the narrator has come home from work and just finished e-mailing a girl who he’s interested in but is painfully aware of the spelling errors and stoned ramblings in his message.  He leaves the computer and sits down beside his friends who are watching TV…

I sat down beside Seth again and caught the tail end of another bowl.

I exhaled the smoke through my nostrils.  I don’t know if that gets you higher, I just think it looks cool.

I thought about turning off the computer and then it made me think of choices.  What if I hadn’t chosen to turn off the computer?  What if I’d kept it on and been able to catch the next e-mail? Then that made me think of fate.  And then fate made me think of the theory of the Eternal Return.

“Oh my god,” I said out loud.

“What?” I got scattered intermittent responses from my friends.

“The Eternal Return,” I said.

“The what?” Again, scattered responses.

“I just thought of some of the books I’ve been reading.  And the computer made me think about this theory.  Friedrich Nietzsche . . ,” I trailed off.

They looked at me confused.

Suddenly the whole burden of explaining this complex theory that had flashed in front of my eyes in its entirety in a single, blinding epiphany seemed daunting.

“Um, never mind.”

“Okay?” Joanna laughed, raising an eyebrow, comically.

In my head, the whole idea came fully formed as though it had just plopped into my mind like a picture more than ideas.

The theory of the Eternal Return is, as I understand it, that matter and time is finite, and in a universe (and there are multiple universes, but that’s a whole other story) there are finite configurations of matter’s changes in state.  So sooner or later some changes will recur and using that logic, earlier philosophers like the Egyptians, the Mayans and the Greeks thought of reality in a cyclical framework.  In 1643, Sir Thomas Browne said:

The world was before the Creation, and at an end before it had a beginning; and thus was I dead before I was alive, though my grave be England, my dying place was Paradise, and Eve miscarried of me before she conceived of Cain.

I had put a yellow note pad on that page to remind me of the trippiness of that paragraph.  And I frequently re-read it, whenever I needed my mind blown.

Although, I often wondered why matter would come back in the same configuration?  Why couldn’t the next time around I be a fish?  Or, rather than humans, what if cows became the more evolved species?  But I guess that’s reincarnation.  And that could very well be one of the state changes too.  Maybe if given a long enough space of time, we would always come back to the atoms and molecules were are at this moment.

One of my heroes, Friedrich Nietzsche, wrote a lot about the Eternal Return and I’d yellow-noted another quote which constantly blew my mind.  Nietzsche, in his book The Gay Science, said:

What if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more’ … Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: ‘you are a god and never have I heard anything more divine’.

It often made me think.  Would I consider the messenger a demon or a god in this point in my life? There were aspects of it that I hated.




But there were also things that I loved.

I loved spending time with my crew.  I loved my music.  I loved smoking pot.

I sighed and looked back at the computer that was turned off.  And I thought about choices again, which brought me back to my earlier thought: parallel universes.

I believe there are an infinite amount of parallel universes.  Every choice you make in life breaks off into another universe where you made the opposite choice of what you’d just decided.

“Oh shit,” I said loudly.  I was sweating with excitement.  I wanted to explain this to my friends so badly.  “There are an infinite amount of alternate universes.”

“Huh?” This time it was Nathan who raised an eyebrow.

Seth was nodding his head in agreement.  He was usually on board with any trippy dialogue we’d enter into.

“The suicide machine.”

Everyone laughed.  “Easy there.  Calm down and gather your thoughts.  You’re going in a million directions here.”

“Okay,” I said and took a few deep breaths.  “The Suicide Machine is a theoretical device that cracks space and time in two and creates alternate universes.”

“You got our attention,” Laura swallowed hard.

“See, the scientist sits in this machine that’s rigged up to kill him.  By gunshot, or lethal injection, or electrocution or whatever way will kill him.  And when the machine is activated, in one dimension he dies and time continues with the scientist having been killed.  But there’s another dimension that branches off where the scientist lives.  Some freak thing happens and either the gun doesn’t fire, or something happens with the lethal injection, maybe the whole system shuts down and doesn’t activate the needles or . . . whatever, but this scientist lives and continues living his life in this new dimension while he’s stone cold dead in another.”

“Woah!” Seth’s eyes widened.


“Who would volunteer for such a crazy thing?”

“No one yet,” I smirked.

“You wouldn’t be able to get me to do something like that; not with a 50% chance of dying!” Laura said.

“Actually there’s a 100% chance.  You will die in one of the dimensions and in another you’ll live.  In theory you will live, but you’ll also die,”

“WOAH!” The noise was much louder this time as I looked across the faces of my friends whose minds had just been thoroughly blown.

“Isn’t that crazy?” I asked.  “And that’s not the most insane part.”

“It isn’t?” Joanna asked, uneasily.  Her voice sounded as though she couldn’t take another word.

Every choice splits into alternate dimensions,” I said.

Another stunned noise gripped the entire living room.

“Let’s say you go out for breakfast and you have a choice between a doughnut and a muffin.  You choose the muffin.  Simultaneously, there’s a dimension where you chose the doughnut.  There are infinite numbers of alternate dimensions ‘cause, say, one person makes . . . oh, I don’t know . . . a hundred decisions in a day.  Multiply that by the amount of people in the world and there you would have the alternate universes for one day,” I stopped for dramatic effect.  “One day . . . and just think this has been going on since the beginning of time.”

“Holy shit,” I heard Seth say.

“Oh!” I said, equally excitedly and loud.  “And every choice made in the alternate universe also creates an alternate universe.”

“We’ve gotta stop talking about this,” Seth said.  “My head is hurting.”

We laughed again.



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