The rescue crew will be here any moment now, but I am not looking forward to their arrival. They will want my swapper. I can’t let them have it. I won’t let them have it.
It’s best if I start at the beginning. The first thing I remember was being ejected from the space station, left to flounder on the rocky ghost town of a planet below. It was there that I found the device. I use the term “I.” Yet, that person died a long time ago. I can’t imagine going back to the doe-eyed astronaut I was when I first saw the Swapper.
Pulling the swapper’s trigger for the first time showed me something I had never seen before: a perfect copy of myself; not a reflection. Reflections do not have any mass. My perfect clone was also a marionette. A step forward for me, was a step forward for it. Everything I did, it did, with one exception: it didn’t control the swapper. I wasn’t limited to one clone. I could make up to four carbon copies.
Then, I found the swapping battery, which enabled the alternate function. In the instant I pulled the second trigger, My psyche travelled to the body of a clone. I proved the existence of the human soul.
My first body, the one that came from my mother’s womb, fell behind and faded from my sight. A moment later, a red light appeared on the swapper itself, notifying me that my reservoir of bodies had replenished.
That was the moment the old me died, or at least when he started to die.
A few moments later, the suicidal piggybacking began. Every one of my bodies’ deaths meant another’s elevation. If I make a clone in the air, I could swap to it. Then time slowed down as I made another copy and swapped to it. Finally, I would swap to a safe landing. The sensation is not unlike flying. But the sound of my previously-inhabited bodies crashing to the depths below — their bones crunching and air tanks popping-open? I didn’t expect to get used to that.
I ignored the abandoned crew. The station had become a mass of metal floating in the planet’s orbit, begging to be rebuilt. Like a cosmic sensei, it pushed me towards mastery over the swapper device. Each newly-learned manipulation with the tool brought the vessel closer to being functional again.
Sometimes the lessons felt much more like chores, but they pushed me beyond my natural comprehension of time and space. When I got stuck, I stewed over the problem, meticulously pushing and breaking my clones until I finally figured it out. I excelled at working under red lights that inhibited my swapping and blue lights that hindered clone generation. I got working zero gravity down pat. But most of all, I mastered killing-off my old selves.
I am still not sure what happened to the crew. But knowing that they developed the swapper without understanding it, I can only imagine that they ended up just like me, as someone who has seen himself die too many times to ever be the same.
There’s a bible verse my mom used to recite, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
I’ve fallen and died too many times to count. Still, I remain alone. Now, in this corrupt “new life,” I am lost. I can’t imagine life without the swapper. As much as I hate my life now, I’m afraid I still love it far too much.
If anyone finds this note, let this be a warning. Don’t use this tool. Your soul is not a toy to be tossed around. You will find yourself ensnared by the conceit of its power. If you are wise, you will destroy it, as I was unable to do.
I am a fool. God forgive me.