When they drove up the gravel pathway, the wind howled.
The complex sat atop a hill at the end of the path. Even from this distance away, it looked strangely foreboding. Jaxon reached over and squeezed Maxwell’s thigh. He put his hand on top of Jaxon’s and squeezed it in a reassuring manner.
“Are we sure this is the right thing to do?” Jaxon asked.
Maxwell gave a shrug of his shoulders. “What’s right anymore?”
There was a tiredness to his voice that hadn’t been there a few weeks ago. Jaxon knew where it was coming from, what had caused it. That didn’t make it easier to hear the resignation in Maxwell’s voice, however.
“There has to be another way. This isn’t our only option, you know.”
“What’s left? What other choices do we have?”
The complex grew larger the closer they got to it. It looked as if it had once been a ranch but that had been altered and changed, added to, until it looked more like a fortress. The gates opened when their car approached them and a calming woman’s voice said “Welcome. Please make your way indoors.”
Giving Maxwell a nervous look, Jaxon nodded even though no one was present in front of them. A place like this had cameras though, so there was someone watching.
They drove up to the front of the ranch house and got out of the car. Maxwell took Jaxon in his arms and spoke softly to him. “We don’t have to do this.”
“Didn’t you just say what other choices do we have?” Jaxon breathed in Maxwell’s scent, sandalwood and something deeper, spicier, that never failed to make his heart melt. “We’re here now. Let’s see this through.”
Maxell stepped back and Jaxon could see the determination in his face. He nodded and took Jaxon’s hand in his. Maxwell had given him strength before and he gave it to him now by clasping Jaxon’s hand in his own.
As they went up the stairs to the front entrance, the doors opened themselves, letting out a soft hiss of air. Jaxon and Maxwell stepped over the threshold and the door slid closed. Jaxon looked at Maxwell trying to quell the panic that was rising in his stomach when a voice called out to them.
“Welcome. So glad you could make it.” He held out his hands as if in prayer and walked towards them, smiling.
They turned to see a man walking towards them. He was tall and broad shouldered and had long white hair that fell past his shoulders. He had piercing blue eyes, so bright they looked as if they were filled with an internal light powered by a battery source.
When he reached Jaxon and Maxwell, he took Maxwell’s right hand and Jaxon’s left hand and clasped them together in both of his. “We will create something beautiful here tonight. I am Xander. Please follow me.”
Jaxon looked at Maxwell, his face filled with panic. Xander saw the look, unfortunately, and stopped walking.
“Jaxon, are you nervous about being here?”
“Yes, actually. It all sounds a little bit hokey for my taste.”
He gave him a laugh that made his eyes shine a bit brighter. “You won’t be a non-believer for long, Jaxon. You and Maxwell have made the right choice. The world has moved on and you and your lover will be a part of the new world order. Please follow me.”
They did, not having any other choice. Jaxon had watched the entrance and knew that the way out would be barred. They could not leave. They could only move forward. They did so into a room full of other couples, all standing in a circle. There was one part of the circle left empty and Jaxon knew it was for Maxwell and himself.
They took their spots and the chatter that had been filling the room died down until there was only quiet. Only then did their host speak.
“Welcome, all of you. You’ve all taken the first step towards something miraculous by coming here today. The first step involved trust and by arriving as you did, you all showed that you are worthy of the secrets I am going to share with you.”
He paused and looked at each of them in turn. When Jaxon felt his eyes pass over him, it felt as if he were being bathed in cold water. Beside him, Maxwell shivered and Jaxon knew he had experienced the same feeling. He took Maxwell’s hand. Just clasping it again gave him strength.
The room had walls done in a soft champagne hue and scones filled with white light interspersed throughout. It gave the room a soft glow that provided a comforting atmosphere, even if the leader of this group didn’t.
“I am Xander. You all know why you are here. You are all here to become, to find a new life, to grow beyond your spirit. I can help you do that.”
He started pacing in front of them. Though he spoke softly, his voice carried through the room and it sounded as if he were right next to Jaxon.
“The world has moved on. The only ones who are enjoying life, who are benefiting most from it, are those who are spiritually enlightened. Those who have move beyond their spirit and are beings of light. But the question is, how is this possible for you? That’s why you are here.”
The walls behind them slowly hummed. Jaxon saw that eight doors were actually appearing as the walls slid slowly upwards. Metal bed slid out of the openings and they were bathed in light. There were eight of them, four couples. “There’s one space for each of us.” Jaxon said.
Xander turned his blue light like eyes on him. “Yes, Jaxon. You already appear to be more enlightened than the rest.” He laughed a little at his joke though no one else joined in. “The secret to becoming further enlightened is reincarnation.”
One of the others spoke, a woman who was well into her forties with dark hair and a curvy figure. “Isn’t reincarnation when your soul is reborn in another body?”
Xander turned to her and Jaxon was thankful to have Xander’s eyes off of him. “Yes, Xaela. You’re correct. In this case, though, we are speeding up the process. Rather than die and be reborn, you will be reborn when your soul is transferred from one body to the next. It is giving your body and therefore your soul a clean slate, a new beginning. Isn’t that what all people wish for? A new beginning. Picture it. A body devoid of scars, a spirit with a new set of clothes. The world has moved on and this is the way forward.”
“Won’t it hurt?” This from a portly man standing in the room across from them.
“No Alexander, it won’t. There will be no pain. There will be only enlightenment. There is only one issue that you must be aware of. You will have no memories from your previous bodies. You take your spirit but leave your brain behind.”
Another woman raised her hand. “If we leave our brains behind, how do we remember things like driving, or doing our jobs? We can’t possibly relearn all of that.”
Xander let out another small laugh but still no one laughed with him. “Some things you don’t forget, Xeala. Some things are like riding a bike and the body will instinctively know how to do them. There are things we don’t forget, like past hurts or scars. What I’m giving you here is a chance to start over, to be reincarnated for a new beginning of your choosing. You can be whoever you want to be in your new bodies.”
Something occurred to Jaxon then, something important, so he spoke up despite his growing unease. “What about people? Will we remember everyone, will we be the same as we were?”
Xander took a moment before responding, almost as if he wanted to think of the right words. Finally, he answered with the only words he could. “You’ll be reincarnated into other bodies. You will not remember those you knew before.
Those in the room let out a small gasp and Jaxon’s hand tightened around Maxwells. When Jaxon looked at him, there was panic in them making them bright.
Xander continued speaking. “We have tried to think of a way past this process but part of reincarnation is having the new beginning that so many are searching for.”
“We won’t remember anyone? No one at all?” Another man spoke this time, a well-built man with grey hair and high cheek bones.
Turning to him, Xander held out his hands as if in prayer. “No, Xavier, you won’t. That is the joy of reincarnation and starting anew.”
He brought his hands together as if this answered everything. “Now, there are eight metal tables, one for each of you. You will be given a moment to say goodbye to the person you love the most and then the procedure will begin. I will return shortly.”
Xander walked out of the room and left them to themselves. A few people were already hugging their lover or wife or husband and crying. Jaxon could only look at Maxwell with wanting. He went to him and wrapped his arms around him.
“Are you sure this is the right thing to do?”
“It’s a chance to start over, Jaxon. A chance to begin again. It’s something that most people can only dream of and it’s being given to us. A chance to start over.”
Jaxon looked deep into Maxwell’s eyes and tried to convey what he was feeling with his spirit and his words. “My life already started all over again when I met you. I don’t want to lose you, I don’t want to forget you. I don’t want to start a new life without you by my side.”
A tear ran down Maxwell’s face and he kissed Jaxon, pulled him closer to him. “So did mine. My life began again when I met you. Our hearts will know each other, Jaxon, make no mistake. We will meet again.”
Jaxon went to say something else, anything to convey the sense of hopelessness he felt, but Xander walked back into the room and motioned to the metal tables. “It’s time. If you will all lie down on the metal tables, the procedure will begin.”
Giving Maxwell one final look, Jaxon approached his metal table and climbed on top of it, lying down on the cool surface. The others in the room did the same until every one of them were inside their chambers. There was the sound of calming music and Xander spoke one final time.
“When you awake, you will have left your old bodies behind and a new beginning will be upon you. I will come around and give you all the serum you need to reach further enlightenment and then your new lives begin.”
When Xander came to Jaxon, he looked down upon him, his blue eyes seeming to glow. “A new beginning awaits you, Jaxon.”
Jaxon said nothing and could only nod. He felt Xander pierce Jaxon’s neck with a needle and then there was only darkness fell into the bliss of nothingness.
When he woke, he was remade.
He knew his name, but that was all. Looking at himself in the mirror, he took in the new body. Having no memory of his old body, he had nothing to compare it to but it looked nice enough. He had been told that he would not remember anyone from his past but even so there was an ache as if something was missing. He felt as if there was a hole inside of him, even though this was a new body.
Jaxon wondered if it was his heart that was missing something, but then realized that he had left his old heart behind. Was the heart itself, the emotions it felt, housed instead inside the soul? Could that be why he felt so lost and lonely with someone he couldn’t really remember?
He dressed and went out of the room and found himself in a brightly lit circular room with champagne coloured walls. There were seven other people in the room and he watched them wandering around the room and wondered if they felt as if they had lost something too.
Then one of the seven was walking toward him. He was tall with blond hair and incredible eyes that Jaxon could see from across the room. He stopped in front of him and just looked at him. Then he spoke: “Hello Jaxon.”
It was as if a door were opening inside of him. His body was filled with emotions and feelings that had not been there before and a name kept repeating itself over and over. “Maxwell.”
His brain sent images to his heart and they were filled with every moment that Maxwell had spent together, every touch, every caress. Jaxon remembered everything about Maxwell.
“I can’t believe it’s you.” Jaxon said.
“Believe it.” He hugged him close. “I told you our hearts will know each other.”
“Does that mean that emotion isn’t stored in the heart or brain but in the soul itself? That everything we feel or experience is marked upon something we can’t even see or touch?”
Maxwell let out a loud laugh. “Who cares? Just kiss me, okay?”
Jaxon did, knowing that whatever came next, whichever life they were in, Maxwell would be beside him.