“Reincarnation at 100,000 Feet”
Matthew walked into the room. It was like everywhere he was completely white. The tables, chairs, walls, even the beaming lights from above. He sat down in his military uniform. He wasn't wearing this uniform at the time of the battle. He was in camouflage. Now he was in full uniform. He would wear this for eternity.
He remembered the battle as if
was yesterday. He didn't see the grenade until the last minute. By then, it was
too late. His body flew into the air. Unlike his fellow soldiers in C Company,
his body was intact. But here he was. Matthew Phillip Cain, a young man who volunteered
for the Army after Pearl Harbor. He left during his final year at Miami
University in Ohio. He was going to be a lawyer. He had his parents, his
sister, and Mary Ann, whom he loved, adored, and wrote to her when he could.
Her letters were comforting to him during the European theater. She told him
about life at secretarial school and volunteering at the USO, meeting young
soldiers like him on their way to the front line. His last letter to her was
when he got back, life would be different. He was ready to propose to Mary Ann.
He would finish college and begin their lives together. But a grenade ended it
It seems he’s been in heaven for a while. He lost track of time when a familiar face walked in the door. “Captain Cain!” the booming voice screamed. It was private Gerry O’Hearn, who was under his charge. Gerry was a strapping Irish kid from New Jersey. Gerry took the blast worse than he did, but he wasn’t in a military full uniform. He was still in the uniform he wore during the battle.
“It’s as if you were never touched.” said Matthew.
“I know,” said Gerry, rubbing the top of his reddish hair in a buzzcut. “That’s the crazy part about death, ain’t it?
“Tell me about it,” Matthew said. “One minute, we’re charging the Nazis. The next minute, we’re corpses.”
“Yeah, but at least you had an actual funeral,” said Gerry. “You’re fully dressed. What’s left of my body was buried on a hill in France.”
“You still had full military honors,” Matthew said. “Your family just wasn’t able to there to bury you in fully military honors.”
“But we won’t be forgotten, right Cap?” Gerry asked.
“I hope this is the case,” said Matthew. “I know Mary Ann won’t forget me.”
“Or maybe she’ll find someone else.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, Cap,” said Gerry. “At least you had someone!”
“You didn’t have anyone, Gerry?”
“I flirted with this Italian girl back in Jersey City,” Gerry boasted. “But her family didn’t like me. I wasn’t ‘paisan’ enough for them. So, we broke it off.”
“I know your folks must be heartbroken,” said Matthew. “I know mine are.”
“I’m pretty sure my old man held an Irish wake,” said Gerry. “The sad part is there was no body to bury since mine is on a hill in France.”
As Matthew and Gerry were speaking, the door opens. A teenage boy walks in. Like Matthew and Gerry, he was a soldier, but unlike them he wasn’t wearing camouflage green. He was wearing a blue uniform. Matthew and Gerry stood up and saluted. The young man saluted as well.
“Captain Josiah Foster, 43rd Regiment” the young man said. “Here to serve!”
“Where did you fall, Captain?” said Matthew!
“Holy shit, Captain,” said Gerry. “He’s a Civil War soldier.”
“Yes sir!” said Josiah.
“Where you from?” said Matthew.
“Gettysburg?” snickered Gerry.
“You’re above him,” said Matthew. “He’s a private.”
“Thanks, Cappy!” said Gerry sarcastically.
“That’s fine!” said Josiah. “I was split in two by a Confederate cannon. My poor family never saw my body.”
“We have a lot in common,” said Gerry as he put his arm around Josiah who was a few inches shorter and about 20 pounds lighter.
“And I promised Rebecca I would return to her.”
“My intended,” said Josiah. “I asked her father for her hand before I went to battle. But I didn’t get the chance to propose to her.”
“I understand,” said Matthew. “I was in your shoes. I didn’t get the chance to propose either.”
“Pardon my asking,” said Josiah. “But what war did you two men fight in?”
“We fought in the second World War,” said Matthew. “A war about 80 years after yours.”
“Really,” said an astonished Josiah. “Who were you fighting?”
“We were fighting the axis.” Said Gerry.
“What’s an Axis?” said Josiah.
Matthew stopped the conversation. “Look, the three of us are soldiers who fought for our country. We may have fought in different wars, but we all served. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it. But we are heroes and there’s a reason why we’re here.”
“But why us?” said Josiah. “Why are we here?”
“Beats me,” said Gerry. “We’re all pretty handsome guys. Maybe some dead females will be brought to us for company?”
“What good will that do?” said Matthew. “We’re spirits. We can walk. We can talk, but we can’t…”
“Yeah,” said Gerry. “No makin’ bacon!”
“Pardon?” said Josiah.
“You have to forgive Gerry,” said Matthew. “We’re from different eras and our words and sayings are different to say the least.”
“I understand,” said Josiah. “I still don’t understand a lot of sayings from the present. I was around spirits from the French Revolution, and I couldn’t understand what they were saying.
“They were speaking French,” said Gerry. “That’s why you couldn’t understand.”
The three men began to laugh when the white door opened. Before they knew it, more soldiers walked in. They were from other conflicts: The 100-Days War, the Peloponnesian wars, the Korean conflict, Viet Nam, the Gulf War, the Falkland Islands war. Even soldiers from both World War II and the War Between the States. They spoke many different languages, English, French, German, Japanese, Iraqi. They were all around the same age as Matthew, Gerry, and Josiah. The ones who spoke English gravitated towards the trio.
“Staff Sergeant James Johnson,” said a tall black man saluted to Matthew, who returned the salute. “Da Nang”.
“Captain Matthew Cain!”
“Lieutenant Jose Nieves.” The Iraqi War veteran saluted.
“Private Gerald O’Hearn!” said Gerry. “Where you from?”
“Jersey City, New Jersey!”
“Really? Me too!”
Before they knew it, the white room became crowded. All the seats were taken. Many of the soldiers were standing or leaning on the white walls. Their uniforms ranged from heavy body armor to today’s army colors. Some soldiers were sitting on the white tables.
“Hey, Cap,” said Gerry. “How many soldiers are in the room?”
“Too many,” said Matthew. “It’s hard to breathe in here.”
“I know,” said Josiah. “I’m itching in this uniform.”
“What’s going on in here?” said an English soldier who died in the first World War.
“Waarom is ons hier?” said a dead Afrikaner soldier from the Boer War.
“What did he say” whispered Josiah to Matthew.
“I don’t know,” said Matthew. “But I guess he is wondering why he’s here.”
The simmering buzz of the solder began to rise to a whirlwind combustible noise, and it became nearly unbearable until the door opened. A woman with white hair, a long white coat, and white shoes stood at the front of the table.
“SILENCE!” she screamed in several languages. Before the soldiers knew it, the room became quiet. Above her head was a sign in numerous languages to translate. She said she spoke English because it was the easiest to speak. She said her name was Aurora and in a previous life, she was an Amazon who died to save her land.
“You have all been chosen for one reason,” said Aurora. “Reincarnation.”
“Rein, what?” said Josiah.
Matthew raised his hand. “You mean we’re going back to our lives?” he asked.
“Nor exactly,” said Aurora. “You will return to earth, but not as you think.
“So, how are we going back?” said an Australian soldier who fought and died at Gallipoli.
“You will be sent out from the heavens into the clouds and will fall into the atmosphere.”
“Zašto?” asked a Bosnian soldier.
“Because Zlatko,” said Aurora in his language. “You left a lot of unfinished business on earth.
“What the hell is she talking about?” said Gerry in his booming voice.
“The unfinished business is with the women you loved,” said Aurora. “You are returning to those women.”
“But Rebecca’s dead.” yelled Josiah.
“Yes, Rebecca has died,” said Aurora. “But her great-great-great granddaughter is alive, and she has broken up with a young man.”
“So, we will all be paired with the descendants of the women we left?” said Matthew.
“Yes,” said Aurora. “Your former intended Mary Ann married a young man who fought in Northern Italy and returned from the war. They met at a barbecue, fell in love, and married. Her great-granddaughter is unmarried, and you will woo her.”
“But how will we know?” A Green Mountain Boy from the Revolutionary War asked.
“You will know,” said Aurora.
Many of the soldiers began saying the names of their former loves: Abigail, Svetlana, Nasim, Paola, Maya…
“All right, gentleman,” said Aurora. “It’s time to leave.” As she opened the door, the over one thousand dead soldiers walked out the room. As they left the room, all the uniforms the soldiers wore disintegrated, and they were naked.
“Holy shit,” said Gerry. “I’m going back to earth nude?”
“Yes,” said Matthew. “I guess so.”
Aurora and heaven’s security lined up the naked soldiers as they bunched up at the edge of heaven. Before they left, Josiah was told Rebecca’s great-great-grand niece lives in a state he had never heard of: Arizona.
“It became a state after the war,” said Matthew. “I heard it’s nice.”
The Italian girl Gerry flirted with has a great-great-granddaughter who lives in Rochester, New York and is a nurse.
“Wait ‘til she gets a hold of this body,” said Gerry. “She won’t be able to resist me.”
“I’m pretty sure you’ll find clothes.”
“What if they ask about where we came from?” said Josiah.
“I overheard Aurora tell the Kamikaze pilot that our memories will be erased,” said Matthew. “We’ll see!”
Aurora rose above the sea of naked men. “Alright, gentlemen,” she said. “It is time leave. Once you say goodbye, you will fall into the atmosphere.”
The men said goodbye and before they knew it, the floor collapsed under their feet, and they fell. The heavens literally rained men from the sky. The bodies were tall, short, pudgy, sculptured, thin, black, white, Asian, Spaniard, indigenous, and they were falling.
“Hey, Cappy,” said Gerry. “Look at me! I’m doing somersaults! Take care!”
“Take care!” said Matthew, as he watched thousands and thousands of naked men falling closer and closer to Earth. Matthew watched Josiah fall and said goodbye.
Matthew was falling and falling and falling and then he lost consciousness. When he did fall, he woke up and was wearing a green shirt, blue jeans, and white sneakers. He found himself in a cemetery. He found himself on a grave with a headstone that read TATE. Below the name was JOHN SPENCER 1918-2004 and MARY ANN BENNETT 1920-2018. “Mary Ann” he whispered. She had married a man named John Tate and lived a long life.
When he arose from the grave, a willowy blonde who resembled Mary Ann stood there in shock. She was holding a bouquet of flowers and it was broad daylight. She was in shock.
“Who are you and what are you doing here?” said the blonde.
“Are you related to them?” asked Matthew.
“Yes, they’re my grandparents.”
“Was she a good woman, your grandmother?”
“Great-grandmother,” she said. “And she was a. wonderful woman.”
“What’s your name?” Matthew asked.
“Marianne,” she said. “I was sort of named after my grandmother, except my parents thought it should be one name instead of two.”
“It’s a pretty name.”
“Who are you?”
“My name is Matthew.”
“Where did you come from?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”