The next six months after the meeting with Gerhardt I spent travelling. The generous bonus would have allowed me to pay off my mortgage, or set up my own business, or make investments that would have provided a decent income for the rest of my life. I thought, to hell with that. I could always earn enough money as a professional, and provide for at least half-decent retirement, but I might never have enough money, or time, or physical ability to travel the world. And that was what I always wanted to do. Before, my excursions did not go farther than the neighbouring Caldari systems, but now the whole New Eden was open to me, and I snatched that chance.
During that half a year I saw majestic Amarrian temples where thousands of worshippers prayed in unison; I visited all Caldari mega-corporations whose headquarters raised above the clouds; I marvelled at Crystal Boulevard on Gallente Prime which nearly made me blind because I forgot to take my sunglasses; I admired the Eternal Torch statue which paid tribute to the unbreakable spirit of Minmatar people. I visited many other places and all that time my thoughts kept returning to my last conversation with Gerhardt. It planted something in my chest, some yearning which made me hold my breath each time I boarded a space liner.
I visited planets and stations, but what I really wanted was to see stars and wormholes. If I were a capsuleer I would not be limited by the tourist routes and could go wherever I wanted. But I wasn’t prepared to ‘die’.
I relaised that sooner or later the money would run out and I would have to return to my daily grind. I loathed the prospect because I was dreaming of fighting pirates and exploring the mysterious corners of the galaxy. A capsuleer’s career would give me such opportunity, but I wasn’t ready to ‘die’.
I knew that my time in this world was limited and I would never be able to appreciate all its beauty and try all the interesting things it offered. Capsuleers were virtually immortal and weren’t limited by the shackles of a single, slowly ageing body, but I just couldn’t stand the idea that I would first have to ‘die’.
Such thoughts went round and round, never bringing any definitive conclusion. I was torn between the chance to fulfil my wildest dreams and a fear of ‘dying’. What if the mind transfer fails? Even if it succeeds, the person who will awake after the transfer, will he be really me? What if some part of me, my personality is inseparable from my body?
I was mulling those questions on an air taxi which was taking me to the space port, when I felt a powerful blow and the car crashed to the ground nearly knocking me out. Later I was told that a virus in a driverless truck software sent it across the lanes, and caused a massive pileup with my taxi buried at the very bottom. It took rescuers four hours to cut through the metal debris and extract me from the car. All that time I was in a world of pain, but I held on to that pain because it meant that I was alive. And all the while a soft darkness was closing in on me. It beckoned, promising the end of suffering. I recognised it; some people described it as a tunnel with the light at the end. For me it was just the blackest darkness, without light, without stars, without life. I struggled, I fought its powerful pull repeating, “I don’t want to die. I don’t want to DIE. I DON’T WANT TO DIE!”
Paramedics said I was still mumbling that chant when they pulled me from the wreck. The surgeon in the emergency department could not believe that I was able to survive with such massive blood loss caused by internal hemorrhage. When I was recovering after the operation he visited me and said, “Mate, you’ll make me a believer.”
“Great,” said I, “now I can moonlight as a prophet. If only I knew what I make people believe in.”
“In miracles, of course. You should have died in that crash, or en route, or during the surgery. According to the current state of medical art, you simply couldn’t survive. But here you are! I wonder what kept you going.”
“I just didn’t want to die,” I answered simply.
“Then your case is the first officially registered victory of mind over matter,” chuckled the doctor, and left.
Three weeks later I checked out of the hospital. First thing I did when I arrived home was send a message to Gerhardt and ask him for a referral. After my ordeal I had no more doubts – I didn’t want to die.