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THE LIVES OF ANDERSON MILES • by Dustin Adams

Anderson Miles felt an extraordinary connection to the Earth from the day he was born. As soon as he could, he asked his parents if this was normal.

“Enjoy your life,” his father answered. “Live in the present or you’ll never be fulfilled.”

Keeping this advice in mind, Anderson traveled the world. He watched sunrises over the Atlantic and sunsets over the Pacific. The more he saw, the more he wanted to see.

Satiation was always just out of reach.

As he aged, he knew he would someday die, and thus began to miss the Earth long before he perished from it.

The relentless anticipation of his death created in him a powerful yearning.

A yearning he carried with him into his next life.

***

Prior to his second birth, his parents had a name picked out for him, but his desire and will was stronger than theirs.

“Anderson Miles,” they said, despite the difficulty in its pronunciation given their forked tongues.

Anderson didn’t recall his past life until, as a youngling, while gazing at the stars, he recognized a familiar constellation.

Everything rushed in. Waves upon waves of memories and desires.

He understood that those who dwelled in caves and foraged for food didn’t have long life spans, so he worked tirelessly to implement as many societal changes as he could.

He taught them to harness fire, forge wheels, and grow crops.

If only they were more technologically advanced. Then, perhaps… No, surely Earth was too far away.

***

The next time Anderson Miles was born his memories came to him almost immediately.

He breezed through school as if he already knew all the answers to all the questions. His fathers and mother were very proud.

As a young man, he moved to the peak of a giant hill, built a domed tower, and invented what he called a telescope.

“Earth,” he said to those who had gathered, trying to make them understand. “That is my home.”

They could see the tiny blue and green planet through the lens, but they merely cocked their heads and blinked at Anderson.

“Don’t any of you remember your first homes? Surely I’m not the only one.”

Fear grew.

Anderson Miles was different. He lived in solitude. He shunned society, locked away in his tower.

They burned his body and he continued screaming into his next life.

He learned not to ask.

***

Anderson tapped the bio-electric motes floating in the air before him. This world was highly advanced, and this body responded to his desires on an almost preternatural level.

Cryogenics would keep him alive during the long journey to Earth. He boarded the inter-stellar vessel in the firm grip of excitement.

When the asteroid collided with the ship, no one on board felt even the slightest pain.

***

The last thing Anderson Miles remembered was being inside a small chamber. Gas had filled his nostrils and he’d closed his eyes. He should have woken and descended toward Earth triumphant in his return, eager to see the advances they’d made during the lives he’d lived elsewhere.

The stubs where his arms and legs should be flailed uselessly and his speech didn’t come out as he’d planned.

He observed others through blurry eyes, trapped, unable to express his desires.

“Must’ve been all them drugs his Mama done,” the midwife speculated.

The enunciation of the words was foreign, but he understood their meaning.

His first father’s words rang bitterly in his ears, and when he tried to live in the present he felt only anger and resentment. The cruelty of having life, and not being able to live burned his soul with a desire stronger than he’d ever known.

He died with a vengeance, awaiting his rebirth.

***

Anderson Miles was a prophet. But his was a tragic life. For each new invention, he felt no relief.

Someone asked him, “Why do you push yourself so relentlessly?”

“Should I return again someday, I want you to be ready.”

Anderson Miles pioneered a space program, urging his people to the stars.

They listened. They built. They carried on in his name.

At the time of his passing, they’d reached their nearest moon, but Anderson had said they needed to go farther. Much farther. Deep into space.

They said they would. For him.

***

The desire to return home had grown.

“You are home,” his people said.

“Am I?” He surveyed their orange faces. He observed his orange arms, his eight orange fingers, his orange legs, covered only by shorts to keep him cool from this planet’s relentless heat.

He gazed heavenward. “No. I’m not.”

***

An old man named Anderson Miles sat in a chair in direct sunlight, withering, his scales all but shed. His caregivers monitored his every breath and kept fresh paste on his remaining scales lest he slip away when they weren’t watching.

“Let me go,” he begged. He was ready to start anew. Why didn’t they understand?

“You have taught us a great many things. We need you,” they replied, blotting out the sun as they flitted around him. The alternating cold and heat nearly drove him mad.

Eventually, medicine could no longer keep Anderson Miles tethered to his body.

***

Anderson awoke in an incubator. Human faces peered through hard plastic at his tube-covered body. Hands covered in latex comforted him.

He calculated. If he were lucky, he’d get seventy years. Maybe eighty.

What were eighty years compared to the thousands he’d lived? Eighty would be over in a blink.

Already, he could feel his longing growing, consuming.

Anderson Miles began to miss Earth.

Starting on the day he was born.


Dustin Adams is a U.S. Customs broker and currently owns his own brokerage business. He writes in the wee hours of the morning, in the dark, when no one else can see.


GD Star Rating
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THE LIVES OF ANDERSON MILES • by Dustin Adams, 3.6 out of 5 based on 33 ratings
Posted on December 16, 2012 in Science Fiction, Stories
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  • Pete Wood

    The writing was fine, but the story just seemed to repeat itself without going anywhere.

  • http://www.chaoticterrain.com Meredith Eugene Hunt

    Earth is a wonderful place, but… The character didn’t grow. There was no revelation or drama, just pretty much straight narrative with a few quotes. The reader learns that despite Anderson’s keeping the good advice in mind, he couldn’t suppress his strong yearning and therefore went through multiple lives never being satisfied, and with no possibility of change in view. I don’t rate other’s stories here, but if I did, for me this would be a 2.5.

  • http://www.dirkknight.com Dirk Knight

    I think the idea of this tale is really neat. I like what you can do with something like this.
    writing Flash makes it hard to tell the whole story and i think with this one you had all the different lives to live, and not enough words to flesh them out.
    if you chose to make this a longer story you can give more depth to Anderson, or if you sacrifice a life or two from the narrative you can use those words to give him some essence.

  • Roli Bhushan-Malhotra

    This was lovely. A small purpose would have done wonders but I guess that would’ve taken away from the central idea. Nice read!

  • Jana Ramada

    A nice idea, executed with lyricism. Doesn’t really go anywhere.

  • http://www.stevehusk.com Steve Husk

    Hooks are incredibly hard to establish in flash fiction, but I found myself hoping Anderson would ultimately reach what he was hoping for. I enjoyed this piece.

  • R. G. Nourse

    I enjoyed this, feeling a connection to it’s transigence. Thanks very much!

  • http://www.paulfreeman.weebly.com Paul A. Freeman

    Engaging, but I got a bit lost on this meandering journey.

  • joannab.

    imaginative lives here, hard to sacrifice even one of them, but i agree with those above that it doesn’t move far enough to develop an overarching theme.

  • BUD CLAYMAN

    I liked this story a lot. It was obviously very original and Buddhist- like, having to do with the subject of reincarnation. I did feel though that the MC was reborn too many times; about three would have been enough for me.

    I think with less reincarnations you obviously have room for greater character development and can focus on one significant event in the past life/present life conflict of the character.

    One other qualm. On page 2, the celestial/philosophical aspect of the story, which is one the main charms of the piece is turned into “physical science fiction” when the MC rides a vessel to earth. I would have liked to have had a more Eastern approach whereby his spirit returns without the aid of the physical world.

    Otherwise, the story touched on many important questions of life and death and was good enough to earn a solid three stars!

  • http://conboyhillfiction.wordpress.com/ Suzanne Conboy-Hill

    I’ve met people who were so afraid of dying that they were almost relieved when it transpired that they were, and others who were still waiting for it to be over. As a result, they weren’t living at all. This story put me in mind of those people – the first life and the last mirroring each other. Anderson Miles will never get what he wants and he will never be happy and I think he realises that at the point where we leave him. That, to me, is the story – our realisation of his awful eternal recycling with no progress made.

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  • http://www.chaoticterrain.com Meredith Eugene Hunt

    Just a follow-up. Maybe it would be too tidy, but if AM is recycled, then why not his father who advised him to live in the present? What if his father appeared in some form in the last cycle of the story to repeat his sage wisdom? That’s how I would end the story.

  • SarahT

    I’ve been waiting to put some thoughts down… Now I know why. Suzanne captured the essence of this story perfectly… +1 #11.

  • http://astheheroflies.wordpress.com/ Gretchen Bassier

    Fascinating story. I like how Anderson finally gets what he wants at the end, but has no ability to appreciate it. Lots of truth in that, for many people.

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