Author: Ntinu Emmanuel

Chapter 1- Once upon A time

Death is inevitable… Well, to most people.

What if I told you that just like time, Death is a human concept. A myth, and non-existent. That life is infinite, never ending, and a continuous cycle.

Do I have your attention? Good. Let me tell you a story.

“Once upon a time….”

CHAPTER 1- Once upon a Time

“Jude, get your ass over here”, my elder brother, James, shouted.

“Bro, I’m coming” I said as I ran.

We were late for church, and our parents were not going to accept that. It was a race against time. We ran as fast as we could to make it within the time left, else, our ears would hear things that could make two sixteen-year-old boys cry.

Yeah, we were twins, but I never really saw us that way. We did look alike. Our voices were practically the same, both tall with dark skin, we mostly shared in generic things. You could say that we were clones, or better yet, I was James’ clone.

James was much more; confidence, intelligence and charisma, he had that in excess. He could handle a crowd, and people wanted to be with him, and to be like him. I even wished to spend a day in his shoes. I sinned by idolizing my brother.

“Jude, mum is pacing round the church gate”

“Oh my God!” I replied, scared. 

The people who watched us approach my enraged mother murmured.

“Ah! Mr. and Mrs. Ochukwu, model Nigerian Christian parents, how can their children be one minute late for pre-Sunday school prayers by 6:30am? Rubbish! She should flog them well so that they don’t repeat this nonsense” said the people walking behind us, our fellow hypocrite late-comers, with a dash of over-exaggeration from my memory, haha!

“Both of you, where have you been? What nonsense have you been doing? Your father is about to lead prayers and you are just coming in? Get inside or else….” said our mother.

We ran in and sat down just as my father started to lead the church in worship. My mother sat beside us at the front row and sighed with relief. The sigh wasn’t because she had found us, but because she had not lost her church credibility.

We went through service normally, quiet and obedient. Finally, eight long hours later, we were done. However, the next section came up in the car, our attitude to scrutiny. 

“Boys”, our father called.

“Yes sir”

“This should be the first and last time you sit during prayers. Do you hear me?” 

“Yes sir” we replied.

“Seriously, you learned that from…...”

“HONEY, LOOK OUT!” shouted my mum.

A truck had veered off the opposite lane of the road and headed towards us.

That’s how I died….  for the first time.

You know, it felt empty, like a void, a liquid void. I tried staying afloat, I pushed and pushed, I did not want to drown. But…... I was engulfed, I held onto my mouth trying to hold my breath, and escape. I couldn’t do it any more. I let go, but, as I did, I found peace. Peace in the nothingness I was in, like it was where I belonged. 

“Boys, wake up, time to go to church”, our father called

We shrugged off our bed and stood up to wash our faces to get ready.

“Wait…...What? Did I just die?” 

“Oh! It must have been a dream”, I thought with relief.

My parents got into the car and were about to leave, when my brother suggested that we get in with them instead of hanging back for a while. Remembering my dream, I just had to agree; at least it would reduce my annoying church experience to only a car reprimand.

8 hours later, the service was over, and we were in the car for the final session.

“Boys, why were you dozing off during the sermon?” said my dad.

“Sorry sir”

“Seriously, you boys are so….”


Our car screech was the last thing I heard, before dying again.

Back into the void I went. I struggled again. I did not want to drown; I fought it with all I could. I was valiant, strong. I struggled for as long as I could, but I couldn’t do no more, I was tired, so I gave up. I accepted the nothingness yet again; I accepted the peace it gave me.

“SHIT!” I shouted, as I jolted off my bed.

My hands trembled in confusion.

“Boys! Wake up, time to go to church”, father's voice rang through the door.

I didn’t answer, I was just scared. 

“You also died, right bro?” James called out from his bed at the opposite end of the room.

 Trembling, I answered.

“Yes, did you a…al…. also”

“Yeah bro, it was just terrifying and amazing.”

“Amazing? How could he think that?” I thought. Then again, my brother was different; his thoughts were always weird, but unique.

“James, what do you mean?” I asked.

“Well… before that, you know what would happen if we stayed in bed for too long. Let’s finish up. I’ll explain on the way, and no need to follow our parents, they seem not to remember. We’ll talk as we walk to church” he replied.

We washed up, dressed up and were finally on our way to a probable third death.

“Jude” my brother called.

“Do you think we are superheroes?”

“If what we have is a super power, then it’s lame” I replied.

“Dude, we are going back in time every time we die! Isn’t that torture” I shouted.

That was rare, shouting at my brother. We stayed silent and walked.

“Jude, I know you are scared, but look at it this way. If we find ourselves outside of this loop, the possibilities are endless, we are practically pseudo-immortals.”

I kept quiet, still contemplating what had happened. It was all so sudden, rushed, unexpected, just like the death I seem to now evade. 

Finally, I said; “Should we tell dad and mom, at least we all have that ability, but they can’t remember?”

“Wait bro, have you wondered what would happen if we allowed only them to go in the car, and we stayed behind?”

That part of my brother’s weird thoughts I never liked. 

“What are you saying bro?” I asked.

“I’m just wondering, our parents won’t die, right? They would just go back in time, and we would be free, right?”


“Yeah, we would be so free. Come on bro, just calm down, that would be awesome.”

My brother said as he grabbed my arm and dashed through the church’s entrance. For the third time, we went through the service. This time, we did it perfectly. We were model kids.

“Boys, I liked how you guys kept on reading each chapter that was called, keep it up” My father said with a broad smile.

“No problem dad”, James replied, before telling him that we wanted to leave early.

While at home …...

“James, I don’t think God would be happy with us” 

My brother chuckled.

“Bro, I am not sure about God right now, I’m excited, aren’t you?’ he replied.

I kept quiet and waited.

Two hours later, our phones rang, James hurriedly picked his up, and like someone trying to hold his excitement, he listened to the sorry tale of how a truck smashed our parents on their way home, killing them both. With a broad grin, he looked back at me and said; “They are dead bro, dead”.

 I have never seen someone so happy about losing his parents.

Unsurprisingly, a bunch of church members came by to console us. I saw people we knew, people I never spoke to, and people I had never seen. We got monetary gifts, scholarships, and a bunch of promises to top it all off.  Throughout all this, guilt gripped and twisted my very conscience, but James; he seethed with excitement.

As night dawned, we stood at the door in anticipation, to see if time would turn its hand back once more, to see if our parents would turn it, or would survive in another plane of time, according to my brother’s explanation. We eventually slept off, and when we woke up the following day, the story remained the same, our parents were still dead.

“YES! They probably woke up in another time frame” my brother shouted.

“Probably? So, you aren’t even sure? There is a freaking possibility that we killed our parents” I replied, enraged.

“Calm down bro, just relax. On the bright side, we are free, plus we didn’t kill them, the truck driver did.”

I couldn’t believe what he said, and I took a few steps back from my brother and his maniacal grin, opened the front door and left the house. He called out my name but I never answered.  

I was out, strolling with my thoughts. I went by some people who would offer their condolences, but I never bothered to listen, I was always mute. I didn’t even know who they were.

“Why am I like this?” I thought. 

The guilt I felt was too much to bear, but I knew why, and it was because, deep down, I was very happy that I had finally lost my parents. That those pathetic “good reputation” chasing weirdos were gone, and sincerely, I wanted to jump for joy. But should I have felt like that, towards the people who brought me into this world with love, people who raised me till now, sixteen years. Should death have been their reward? I knew it was mostly my selfishness that spoke. I wanted to be away from them, truly I did, but I didn’t want to get rid of them with the possibility that they might truly be dead. 

Instead of pondering more and building my guilt, I headed home.

“James, James” I called out.

There was no reply. I called out to him again, but everywhere was silent. Suddenly, I heard a voice; “In here Jude”. It was not familiar, masculine, thick, echoing from my parent’s room. I slowly stepped forward to open the door, and as I did, I heard the muffled noise of someone struggling. I gripped the door handle slowly and opened it, and to my surprise, I saw the truck driver.

“Who are you, and why are you gripping at my brother like that” I sheepishly shouted.

The man let go of James, and he ran towards my side.

“Oh! Sorry, I was waiting for you to come back before introducing myself. So here I go; hello J-boys, it’s me, your murderer” said the man with the weirdest, sadistic smile I had ever seen. We ran out of the room and headed for the front door, but suddenly, everything went dark and we found ourselves in a hollow space with nothing around us; no light, no ground, no air, nothing. I felt around for my brother, and eventually found his arm and held him tight as I slowly lost consciousness. I was about to pass out when we found ourselves again in a brightly lit room. I saw a group of people dressed in white tuxedos with black spots in the front, and an infinity insignia etched on the right sides of their chests.

“What was happening?”, I asked before losing consciousness.

Time passed, I wasn’t sure how long, but eventually, I awoke to see myself in a glass case, like the pods in science fiction movies. I was wondering what was going on, but since I wasn’t back in time, I was sure that I wasn’t dead. Beside me was another pod with my brother in it. He was speaking to me, but I couldn’t hear him. I turned my head and pointed towards my ear, wiggling my finger, to make him stop. The lack of external sounds was peaceful, and I was able to properly observe the room. The roof was etched with the same infinity insignia as our abductors, one side of it was white, while the other was black. The room was painted white and was circular. Everything around me was strange, and at some point, I started wondering if I had traveled to the future.

I heard the door at the right end of the room slide open, and three women dressed in the exact same attire as before came through and walked towards us. They approached a switch right between us, and the one in the middle flipped it, which slowly released us from our pods. We got out, and gratefully still in our clothes.

“Welcome Prime humans, James and Jude, to the prime dimension”. A strange computer voice said.

“What is the prime dimension?” James asked.

“A dimension for people like you” one of the women replied.

“Oh! For people that can travel back in time when they die, or generally for super humans?” he asked again. 

A giggle came from the other end of the room as another woman stepped in. She was very tall, as tall as me and my brother, probably taller, and muscular. You would definitely think twice before calling someone like her a delicate flower. She seemed more like a tempered bull.

“Boys, there is no such thing as a superhuman” she said as she approached us.

“Then what is this, what is going on, who are you, how did we get here?” said James hurriedly.

“Calm down boy, but first I will tell you how you got here.”

She explained to us that we were about to be killed by a dimensional terrorist, named Drell. He used a transporter to send us into a vacuum, to rid us without a trace, and because of their information, they were able to get to us before we shifted or, for our understanding, before we died.

“If we died, we would just have gone back in time, right?” James asked.

“No boy, because death doesn’t exist”. She replied,


We were shocked by her statement. She explained that humans or life in general doesn’t die but shifts to a similar dimension where it exists, and continues from there, with no memory at all of what has happened to said life. 

“So, what makes us special?” I asked.

“Because you can remember”, she replied.

“And…... we call any life form that can recall shifting events, Primes”

There are infinite dimensions, and to allow continuity of life, it hops aboard through the dimensions. Once a life form dies in one, it resumes in an exact replica, either in a past phenomenon or present phenomenon, and life forms that can recollect these events and use them to their advantages are called Primes. Basically, all she told us was that an immortal is someone that can remember. 

“Then why save us from Drell” I asked?

“Well, for two reasons. One, shifting in a vacuum to another dimension is impossible; you will continue waking up in it and reliving it for eternity. Two, you have seen his face and, with your help, we can track him down.”

We continued to talk for a while as she tried to make us understand what they would need from us, and how we would help them track Drell, and as the talk continued, I left the conversation and went to a corner. I stood there and gripped my chest as tears flowed through my eyes as I said…… “they aren’t dead” over and over. I was relieved.

What awaited me was a non-ending, continuous adventure of amazing stuff. Knowing that the solution to obtaining immortality was just remembering, was the tip of what I would discover, but like I said, this was how it all started, this was the first….. “Once upon a time”. 

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