Jae’s WheelD. H. Finfer
New York City, 1990
The man ran through the pouring rain hurriedly. He glanced at his watch, and after assuring himself that he was well beyond late, he jogged a little faster through puddles and soggy litter on the sidewalk. It began raining harder and harder, and soon all that he could see were blurry headlights of cars that passed by in the street. He came to an intersection.
There was already a large crowd of people waiting at the intersection, which made it hard to see the signs. The man saw the WALK sign illuminate, and he, with the rest of the people in the large crowd, began to jog through the crosswalk. Rain poured down his face, clothes, and briefcase.
He had almost made it one third of the way across the rainy road when suddenly out of the corner he saw a black shape.
It accelerated towards him, but for a moment, life seemed to slow down. His head spun, he saw images and people he didn’t recognize or begin to understand. A strange hum resonated through his mind, and it all sped up again. The black shape came through the curtain of hazy rain and materialized into a long, sleek, black Mercedes S-Class. Rain poured down its windshield as the wipers furiously swept it away. In one defining moment, the defenseless pedestrian’s mind floundered. His legs liquefied, and he remained planted in the middle of 14th Avenue.
He could make out the shadowy figure behind the steering wheel as the car approached him at close to 50 miles per hour. In slow motion, people’s heads turned to look, and the victim’s face turned away, eyes clenched tightly, hands slowly raising up to his face.
And the circle closed then and there.
The car crushed the man’s skull, spine and ribcage as it rammed him and threw him ten yards into oncoming traffic. People screamed, other people turned away from the horrific sight. The black Mercedes didn’t even slow down, but instead accelerated and was never to be seen again. Traffic stopped all around the victim, and people began to flow in.
The paramedics came in less than five minutes, but even then, they were too late. The men came out and loaded him onto a dolly, secretly knowing that he was a goner. The doors slammed shut, and it drove off slowly, no reason to speed. The policeman at the scene began turning people away from the scene. Morbid blood-lovers dispersed as any remains of the crash washed away into the sewer drain.
The event soon became a two-paragraph article in the New York Times the next day, and all was forgotten.
But if you ever find someone who witnessed the horrific event that day, ask them about the man that was hit. Anyone who saw the man’s face will swear, to this day, he had something magical electricity about him.
Ten Years Later2001
The nurse led him down the eerie corridor of the Sunnyvale Correctional Facility in complete silence. She was a large woman, gray curly hair and spectacles that looked straight out of the fifties. Her mouth was perched between two fat cheeks, and was surrounded closely by an intricate network of wrinkles. When the guards had led him from the armored police car to the lobby, she had met him with a stern and unforgiving glare. She continued to lead him down the hallway in complete silence. The only noise was the sound of the armed guard’s footsteps from behind. The floor was polished white linoleum, the same color as the walls, ceiling, lights, and everything else in the hospital. To him, it was just more work to keep it clean.
Finally, the fat woman turned a corner sharply and led him and the guard into a small, hot room, abuzz with printers and copiers. To one wall was a canvas sheet that hung down from the ceiling not unlike a movie screen.
“Stand in front of that,” said the lady, casting another unforgettable glare in his direction.
The guard stood at the door, ‘ready’, in case he were to become dangerous. Unlikely.
He walked over and stood in front of the canvas, facing an awkwardly large camera perched on a tripod.
How cute I’m going to look in my white little dress.
The lady stood behind the camera and snapped a picture of him. As he shook stars from his eyes, the lady read aloud from the printout.
“Jae Kordiak. Patient number 06-1196. Charged with aggravated first degree murder of Miles J. Magnussen and temporal instability.”
I am not crazy.
“Ooh, looks like you’re going to be in here for a long, long time, my friend.” She laughed, looking down at the printout with his picture and information on it.
No I’m not.
She smiled at him, gave him the ‘glad I’m not you’ look, before turning to the guard.
“Take him to number 9. He’ll like that one. No windows.”
Jae was appalled.
She laughed a deep bellow and turned down the hallway. He could hear her heavy footsteps resound on the cold hard floor, and were soon gone.
“Well, let’s go, chief. You’re room is waiting for you.”
He nodded his head in the direction of the hallway, and Jae reluctantly followed him through the door.
The two men, one in a police uniform, and one in a white dress, made their way down the hallway, when Jae spoke.
“I don’t deserve to be here.” Said Jae, angry.
The guard looked back at him briefly.
“Oh you don’t? Where do you deserve to be?”
Jae smiled, confident he would be rid of this filthy place very soon.
“You’re just a guard. You wouldn’t understand.”
I always get the crazy ones, thought the guard to himself.
They walked in silence down the winding hallways of Sunnyvale.
“But anyways, here is number 9.”
The guard smiled.
“Goodnight, Mr. Kordiak.”
Jae gave him a dark look as the thick white door slid shut and latched.
Good night, indeed.
After surveying the room, there was a bed, a night stand, on it a cheap lamp with a cardboard shade around it, and a counter. On the counter was a small sink basin and a mirror. Next to the sink was a glass of water with a flower in it.
“Disgusting!” Yelled Jae, smashing the glass of water to the floor. He kicked the lamp off the night stand and it crashed to the floor with a buzz and a shatter. Total darkness engulfed him.
He was enraged. Angry. Angrier than when he killed man in the subway. Because then, he had been free. He had enjoyed more freedom than anyone had ever experienced before. But now he was caged. A rat, a lab animal. Being tested to its limits. But that would soon change, Jae was certain. He would not be contained for long. Jae knew that the big white door may be locked tight, and there may be no windows in this damn closet, but that did not matter. He would soon be free.
He slipped into the clean bed. At least it smelled fresh. He lay on is back, looking up into the dark ceiling. Except it wasn’t entirely dark. There was a crack in the ceiling, through which a bright, white light could spill through from the day outside. And as he stared at the light, something was churning in his mind. Evil thoughts, strange thoughts, new thoughts. And the brilliant new feeling he had only felt once before. It was warm, it filled his entire mind, melded it into one feeling. The way everything felt, it changed. He kept staring at the brilliant white light, amazed at what was happening, tucked safely into his little bed. He had known that he would not be in this place for long, he didn’t deserve to be. And with one beautiful thought, he was gone.
Jae Kordiak had been pronounced legally dead on arrival the next morning by the resident surgeon at Sunnyvale. Rita the cleaning lady had been making her morning rounds. It consisted of bringing in breakfast to patients, cleaning their rooms, bringing in the newspaper. There was one young man who shredded the newspaper into perfect squares everyday, and laid them all out on the wood floor. They continued to bring it to him every morning, partly to keep him happy, and partly because it was so amazing to watch.
After delivering his newspaper, Rita had come to Room 9. She unlatched the thick wooden door, and found Jae in his bed, silent. She calmly called to him but got no answer. Rita tore the covers from his hands’ icy cold grip, and found him. There was a strange expression frozen onto his face, excited, almost elated. His glazed, lifeless eyes peered up at a crack in his ceiling. This was too much for her. Rita vomited on her white dress, and almost slipped on the broken glass and water. She had never seen a dead body before. She immediately called security, and the front desk. She asked the receptionist to call the doctor.
An hour later, they were hauling him away from Room 9. Jae Kordiak, patient number 06-1196, convicted of aggravated first degree murder and mental instability, was now a lifeless, cold lump of human flash under white sheets. No apparent cause of death was visible. No bleeding, internal injuries. It wasn’t a heart attack or stroke either. Nothing. Jae Kordiak simply died that night. And it was a mystery that plagued the Sunnyvale Correctional Institute for a very long time.
1962With a blindingly bright light, Jae Kordiak was greeted with the lovely smell of wildflowers. Warm sunshine bathed his shivering body, calming him from what had happened. He had gone from total darkness to beautiful sunshine very suddenly. He could hear birds chirping in the trees off in the distance, and the wind gusting through the field. The wind began to kick up, rushing through the trees and producing a very quieting effect. His cloudy eyes struggled with the intense light, but managed to pry themselves open. He saw colors, beautiful colors. Flowers of every conceivable size and shape lay before him in the lush green field. The smell was amazing.
Achingly, he stood up on two legs. They wobbled a bit, but he regained control. The pure shock subsided after a few moments as he oriented himself. He saw that the field was large, maybe a half mile in diameter. There was a forest of bright green trees to the north, and as he turned to look to the south, he saw a small creek.
He walked along the dusty, grassy path. He was almost insane with bewilderment. He did not know how he had gone from dark hospital room to bright meadow instantly, but he didn’t care. He was glad that he was gone from that place, even if it was probably just a dream.
“Oh, but what a beautiful dream,” he said loudly, taking in the warm air and beautiful sunshine.
His feet kicked up dust as he marched down the trail in some unknown direction. It almost looked familiar to him. Maybe he was having some sort of flashback from childhood. He didn’t want this dream to end, it was amazingly real.
The meadow turned into dry grass, which turned into pavement. He stepped off the grass into the road, and looked around. Sitting silently before him was his childhood home, as perfect as he had remembered it. Now he knew this was a dream for sure because this house had burned to the ground when he was eleven years old.
Taking steps toward it, he saw the welcoming shape of his mother in the kitchen preparing a meal. This almost brought tears to his eyes because his mother had died when he was twenty-seven. So many things had changed since this beautiful childhood had existed, and he was glad to be back, if only for a little while.
He opened the door and walked through the warm house that smelled of fresh bread and chocolate chip cookies. His nose flared at the delicious smell, he hadn’t eaten anything palatable for years. Prison food had been horrible.
His mother greeted him with a warm hug of affection, and told him to go sit down, dinner is ready. Jae smiled, he had never been so happy. He sat at the tall kitchen table, cheek laying in his palm as he looked at his mother. If only she knew what would someday happen to her.
He must tell her about the cancer, he must stop her from dying.
She turned around to him, smiled, but as his mouth opened to speak words of the future to her, she vanished, along with the rest of the house, and the memory.
His eyes pried themselves open, and found themselves looking at the very same room he had come from. Room 9, Sunnyvale Correctional Facility. Tears welled and ran down his cheek.
It had been so beautiful!
Rita, the maid, knocked on his door, ready to give him his breakfast. Jae was unaware that when he returned to his childhood memory, he had died in this place. But upon returning, was alive and well again. In some faraway place, he was still dead, in the city morgue. But that is not here, that is not now. But Jae did not want to be here, no more crazy house. Rita knocked harder, and his anger welled up inside him again, and he thought of somewhere else beautiful, wishing that he could leave this place.
In his mind, he pictured the perfect day. His mother, father and Jae were all at the park in Detroit, with a big lunch laid out on a warm basket. A baseball mitt and bat lay in the grass a yard away, and the smell of roasted chicken, the laughter of his father, and the feeling of the cool breeze all penetrated deep into his mind. And with one twitch of his mind, the mental hospital left him, for it had no place in 1968 Detroit. And now there was only Jae, his mother, and father. All reliving a beautiful memory, together.
The power that had been unlocked in the mental hospital stayed with Jae through out his life. It shattered any chains that time had at one point had on him, leaving only Jae and his memories.
He could return to any memory of his life, whether it be when he was 3 years old or 33. Any outcome of the memory could be changed, altered, and fitted to Jae’s wishes.
He now made no more mistakes, because any that were made were immediately reversed by him. He could now commit to actions, and not have to suffer the harsh consequences of them.
He knew that he could murder anyone so perfectly that he would never be caught, or simply return to a moment right before the murder and not commit it. But Jae had not been the type to do such sick things.
That was the entire reason this had all began. Jae had been framed for a murder that he never committed, a victim that he had never known. At the trial, witnesses testified, and the verdict was passed. Jae pleaded insanity.
Thus, Sunnyvale for eight years treatment.
Fifteen Years Passed2016
The aging Mr. Kordiak sat at his large desk on the 99th floor of the SekPrime Building in Boston, Massachusetts.
He looked down at his notepad, and saw the scribbled memos that he had written in it. He was tired of work, longed for eternal sleep.
Fifteen years had passed since he had received his power in the Sunnyvale Correctional Institute. He was now 61 years old. Every second that he existed, he thought of his power, and the benefits it would have. In the fifteen years he had it, he became the CEO of a very successful Electric company which recently bought out General Electric.
He didn’t need to guess the outcome of the stock market, he knew it for sure. Boeing, Microsoft, Intel, and Apple were all on his list of stocks that he knew would someday be very, very profitable. Financial peaks and dips could all be seen by Jae. His name was heralded around the world as the most successful businessman ever, who somehow knew the economy as if he were psychic.
In the days of long ago, he had been a superhero of sorts. Jae had averted that little World Trade Center disaster in 2001, the nuclear terrorist attack on London in 2009, stopped Columbine in ’99, the Oklahoma City Bombing in ’95, and the horrific disaster in Bellingham, Washington in 2004. But now, he had become used up. All the energy and excitement was gone from having his power, and he rarely used it anymore.
Thumbing through the stack of papers in his file cabinet, he found the crumpled and wrinkly paper that he had written regarding his power:
As I have been using this power, I have come to the following conclusion upon how our memories, (and this power) work:
As we go through our lives, every tiny instant is really a freeze- frame image. Much like how a movie projector works. It consists of thousands of tiny frames, which represents an instant, and our minds put them into action as we exist. Memories that we keep in our minds are simply stills, or photographs. But most people think that our memories are just little treats to look back upon and remember the good old days, but there is actually a way to go back to these ‘stills’ and turn them into reality again. When the user with the power calls upon a ‘still’, he then returns to that point in time, and his consciousness is brought from the future back into that memory. So in essence, you could return to infancy knowing how to build an A-Bomb. Through my adventures into this sort of thing, I learned that letting anyone know about this power would be dangerous. I certainly do not want to end up in Sunnyvale again.
As far as I know, I can return to any particular memory and change it as many times as I like. For example, I can redo any memory as many times as I like, I simply must remember the original memory that actually happened once upon a time.
Oh dear, I’ve confused myself again.
Jae chuckled and set down the piece of paper and locked it back up in the file cabinet. Suddenly his secretary, Ms. Sherman, walked into his office.
“Mr. Kordiak, sir, you have a phone call in the main office.” She motioned towards the doorway.
“Can’t you foreword it to my phone in here?”
She shook her head.
“Something is wrong with our lines. Their all static.”
“Well get that fixed,” Said Jae, achingly getting out of his chair.
In the main office, he picked up the receptionist’s phone/
“Jae Kordiak speaking.”
There was a small moment of silence and then a low, raspy voice began to speak.
“Good evening, Jae, sir. Enjoying the sunset?”
Jae hadn’t even noticed it, but upon looking out the window towards the ocean, he noticed it was rather vibrant.
“Yes. Who might this be?”
“Call .Miles haven’t met before, but I’ve personally know all about your successes.”
“Another admirer?” Jae asked the man.
“No. Mr. Kordiak, I know about you. I know about this little power of yours. And you need to stop. It’s gone far enough.”
“Who the hell?-” Began Jae.
“If you want to know more, join me in 1973. I’m sure you won’t have a problem getting there, now will you?”
The voice laughed for a moment.
“Meet me at the Brickford Cinema in Los Angeles. 7 pm, sharp. I’ll be in the suit.”
Before Jae could respond, the phone clicked off.
Beads of sweat collected on his forehead. He knew that this was bad. But the mystery had been settled.
There really were others.
1973Seemingly ancient cars drove down the streets of East LA, un aware, that there were amazing things happening right now throughout the future. Jae stood on the corner of the street outside Pickford Cinema, looking for a man in a suit.
“Wassup, honkey?” Yelled a black man from an El Camino.
Yup, Los Angeles.
A man in a neatly pressed white suit walked around the corner and smiled at Jae.
He was about his height, with dark brown hair and a scar under his left eye. He extended his arm and introduced himself as Miles J. Magnussen. His voice seemed very familiar, he couldn’t quite place it.
“Let’s take a walk and have a chat. We’ve got plenty of things to talk about.”
They walked down the street in the hot sun. Jae felt sorry for Mr. Magnussen, in a suit in this weather.
Mr. Magnussen began to speak.
“I know about your power. How do I know? Because I have your very same power. Many people have it. It’s no secret. We know about each other because we can sense the changes that we each make in our lives. This power is special, only a certain few people receive it, and when they do receive it, its usually by chance happening.”
“I see,” replied Jae quietly, not exactly sure of what to make of this strange man.
“We have called this power the power of the lifespan.”
“Interesting name,” said Jae.
“One receives this power by accidentally surviving an incident that had always been fatal.”
“Our lives are eternally repeating, didn’t you know that? When we are born, the cycle begins, and our lives end at a certain moment in time. It always ends at that point in time, forever. And when we die, we are brought back to the day we are born. It is a cycle, a wheel, which continues forever. But sometimes, we avoid our deaths. If say someone is supposed to get shot in the head on a certain day, sometimes, the gunmen will miss its target. What then? Well, we are both dead and alive at the same time. We have exceeded our lifespan. Thus, time has no affect on us any more. No more time, no more boundaries. We are now free to relive any memories that we like. And even change them.”
They were quiet.
“I myself died in a car accident in Miami, but I avoided it. How did you die?”
Jae thought. He didn’t know, come to think of it.
“I really don’t know. I am not even aware that I survived any near- death experience. All I remember is being charged of a murder that I did not commit, and being booked into a mental hospital.”
“Of course you know,” said Miles. “Everyone knows when they received their power.”
Jae shook his head. He couldn’t recall.
“I realized that I had it in the mental hospital, but I wasn’t near death. At least I don’t think I was.”
“I’ll be damned. I do believe that you are the first we’ve ever had that doesn’t know how he died. I wonder what this could mean. You received your power before you avoided your death. You have been innate with the power your entire life. The lifespan power awakens when one lives past his normal life. Why should the laws of time and space have any bearing on something that shouldn’t even be alive?”
Mr. Magnussen started gasping.
“The others that have the Lifespan power have speculated about such a person. A person who, through the natural course of their lives, has had the power their entire life. We decided that this person must be destroyed, in fear of offsetting the balance of the universe.
Miles laughed, but Jae was confused. Miles seemed to be going crazy.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“If someone like you is able to run around freely, you will destroy this power for all of us. The universe will no longer expand and contract. Our power will be dead.
Miles drew a silver knife from underneath his tuxedo coat.
Jae backed away from Miles.
“You cannot come to power Jae. If the Revolution is stopped, the universe will end. God put it into rotation, and it won’t be man that will unhinge it all. We decided long ago that you must die.”
Jae backpedaled from the crazed man and ran down the sidewalk at full speed. Suddenly he realized there was no reason to run- with a flick of his mind he could be thirty years in the future.
He stopped on the sidewalk, Miles running towards him. Miles was surely crazy, maybe the power caused it. Jae could easily see how someone could become unstable by being able to relive any of their memories.
He closed his eyes, and pictured his office in 2016. He felt the strange feeling of his mind being heavy, and suddenly there was a rush of noise and warm air.
He sat there in 2016, sweating heavily, holding the crumpled piece of paper he had been reading before the phone call from Mr. Magnussen.
“Mr. Kordiak, sir, you have a phone call in the main office.” She motioned towards the doorway.
“Go away!” Shouted Jae.
Ms. Sherman whimpered something and left as fast as she could.
This was getting very bad. Very bad indeed. With Mr. Magnussen, a man with the ‘lifespan’ power, running around trying to kill him, he would need to be very careful.
His life, and all his memories, depended on it.
Jae left the office immediately and returned to his car in the parking lot. His car was a refurbished DMC-12 DeLorean, the car used in those Steven Spielberg time travel movies from the 80’s. Back to the Future, or something like that. It was his own private joke.
He opened the stainless-steel gull wing door and slid into the comfortable leather interior. He started the engine and began to drive south along the ocean highway 7, towards home.
After about a twenty minute drive, the silver car drove up his driveway, allowing his house to come into view.
It was a large affair, with white fences and a big, beautiful flower garden outside the large two-story Victorian house.
Opening the large wooden door to his home, he was thinking to himself.
Why had Miles Magnussen waited fifteen years to try to kill me? Couldn’t he have caught me off guard and killed me right when I got the power?
He didn’t know the moment where he almost died, but he wanted to find out.
That night, he racked his memories to try to find out when. There had always been that vision of rain. Rain, dark and cold. City streets.
Not enough information to return to a memory.
Magnussen’s voice echoed in his mind.
“One receives this power by accidentally surviving an incident that had always been fatal.”
Jae thought about it harder now.
City streets. Rain. Sidewalks. He tried harder. Black car.
Still not enough, but he was getting there.
There had been a figure in a car. The black car. A shadowy figure. He remembered seeing the figure right before he-
“Oh my god.”
The memories came back to him in a flood. He remembered every detail of that day in New York.
In 1990 he had been a police officer in the NYPD for almost ten years. That had been before he had any knowledge of the power.
One morning he had a court showing at 9:00 am over a disputed traffic ticket. He remembered in amusement that he had almost been hit by a car that day.
No, could that be what that crazy Magnussen had been talking about? Had that little near accident been him avoiding his own demise?
A few days later he had suffered from serious amnesia and had been committed to a mental institution.
He decided he must return to that fateful day in new York to find out why he had gotten amnesia.
With a flash, he was back in New York, apparently around the time frame of the year 1990. The rain poured down on his already wet body. He was standing on the sidewalk, waiting to cross the street. Suddenly a black car streaked down the street. Something in the back of his mind showed him images of him being smashed by that car a few seconds in the future, being killed.
The visions were so horrifically real that Jae jumped back onto the sidewalk in reflex.
The large black Mercedes even swerved, to try and hit him. The big black tire screeched up onto the curb, but Jae was safely away from the deadly assassin.
The car stopped.
Rain cascaded down the shiny black paint, as groups of people crowded near. They were intent on what, or who, was going to step out of the driver’s seat.
Jae was only mildly surprised when Miles Magnussen stepped from the driver’s seat in dark clothing with a handgun aimed at Jae.
Oh my God.
His eyes were filled with hatred and pure determination, and Miles snapped the gun and pressed down on the trigger.
As if everything became blurry, Jae turned to run, fear already pumping through his heart. His feet began to move, slowly at first, but he was soon sprinting down the sidewalk.
He felt the wind of bullets scream past his head, all of the shots near misses.
To his left, he saw a subway station. In desperation, he jumped down the stairs inside.
Fumbling for his 9mm that he always kept in his holster, he knew that Miles must die. There was no other way to solve this.
He stood there, at the base of the steps, gun raised and aimed to kill.
Something clicked in his mind.
For fifteen years, he had thought he was entirely innocent of murdering a man he had never heard of. Miles J. Magnussen, which had been the name the fat lady in Sunnyvale had read from the sheet. How could he have murdered someone he had never heard of?
On the day of the trial, witness after witness had testified in seeing Jae Kordiak shoot Miles J. Magnussen to death in the subway.
Jae didn’t remember it because he hadn’t had the power then.
But time had looped back inward on itself. And as Miles came into view at the top of the stairs, shots echoed throughout the subway station. Jae shot madly at Miles, hitting him in the chest and head. Blood exploded from Miles, the surprised look still trapped on his unsuspecting face.
Magnussen fell down the stairs, unable to use his power to reverse his utmost mistake.
And as Jae stood above the body of Miles J. Magnussen, he knew. The circle had been completed. The murder committed, the power received, the revolution broken. The car accident was how he would have died. But it was done.
And Jae realized, there was no revolution break. Because as the cops circled around him, he knew that the very same verdict would be reached in the trial. No one would believe a man who said he can manipulate his memories. He would one day visit Sunnyvale Correctional Center, because no one would ever believe his story. And as the police handcuffed Jae Kordiak, the rain poured down on the New York City street. Miles was zipped up into a body bag.
Maybe that bastard Magnussen in a ‘better place’, though Jae to himself in anger.
Jae looked out the back window of the police cruiser in wonder and amazement. He even chuckled.
Because life is that little loop you can’t run from, can’t hide from, because the more you try, the more it completes the cycle.