|A tunnel looms ahead. The car is rolling towards it. I am at the wheel and there is a woman sitting next to me. I look back and there are two identical men in the back seat of the car. Between them is a small boy. I notice a sign on the smooth granite wall above the entrance to the tunnel. “Warning-Dark,” it reads. I switch the small grey knob on the left side of the wheel into the “On” position. My headlights explode in light, preparing me and my passengers for the ride ahead.
The tunnel is still ahead. The young boy in the backseat starts to cry. It is not like a baby’s cry. Instead, it is more like a sob, a slow, painful expulsion of tears. I ask him what is wrong, but I get no reply. For the first time, I turn to the woman next to me and speak to her. I get no response. I take a better look at the woman and for the first time I take in how absolutely beautiful that she truly is. Her long, brown hair seems to float over her shoulders. Her skin appears to be very smooth, almost silk-like, but I resist the temptation to reach out and stroke it. I notice a very small mole, maybe just a freckle, under her left eye. It is amazing how a blemish can appear so adorable.
In the time that I am admiring the woman, I eventually notice the speed with which my environment is passing. Instead of the normal whirring swirl of trees, buildings, and grass, it seems as if I am moving at a walking speed even though my speedometer still reads sixty miles per hour. I again notice the boy’s sobbing. He looks extremely familiar, but I cannot place where I have seen him before. He has to be about four or five years old.
I look back at the road. My movement has definitely slowed; I can see each individual marking in the yellow dotted line in the middle of the highway. I move my foot to the brake pedal, but it has disappeared. I move to press my foot back on the gas, but it too has disappeared. I anxiously shift my foot around under me trying to find either pedal, but neither is there. I then see the red “Cruise” light now illuminating the area of my dash directly behind my wheel. I notice how attractive that red light truly is. Like a neon sign attracting night life adventurers in a college town, the gleaming red light captures my attention and seems to serve as a beacon. A beacon to what though? How is a light on a dashboard a beacon?
One of the men in the backseat finally speaks.
“Do you know where you are going?”
“I am not sure. Where am I supposed to be going?” I ask the man.
“It’s all up to you. You said you would choose where we were going”
I ask, “Who are you and where are we?”
“We are wherever you chose to go, and we are whoever you chose us to be,” he answers.
I pause for a moment to think about what this man has said. I am responsible for where we are and who they are? But I would not choose to go into a tunnel. For some unknown reason, I have a great fear of the tunnel. In fact, the looming tunnel seemed to frighten me more and more the closer I got to it.
I ask the man, “How do I stop the car?”
“You have to choose someone and throw them out,” he answers me, smiling.
I am shocked. I am supposed to pick one of these passengers and throw them out of the car? What is this?
“You have to do it. There is no other way,” he says.
The car immediately lurches forward. What was a second ago a slow crawl transforms into a blistering pace carrying me straight towards the tunnel.
My fear is multiplied.
“Ok, ok. I will throw someone out.” I pause for a second and consider the passengers in the car. I cannot throw out the man who is the only person who will speak to me, and I am not going to throw out either a woman or a child. “I choose the other man: the one that looks like you.”
As soon as I finish the sentence, the car door immediately to the right of the other man opens, and he tumbles out of the car. In my rearview mirror I see his body hitting the pavement, bouncing a few times, and coming to a stop.
“Congratulations. You just threw one of your lifelong dreams out of the car. You can never pursue that dream. You have given it up,” the other man says to me.
Franticly, I search for the brake pedal that I assumed would appear once the man had exited the car. It was not there nor did it appear.
“You told me I could stop the car if I threw someone out of the car!” I yell at the man in the backseat. The car has once again slowed to a tortoise-like pace although faster than the one I had experienced previously. The tunnel was still approaching, my fear was growing, and I had no way to stop the car.
The man in the backseat laughs. He has a laugh that frightens me. He has one of those laughs that makes your bones tingle because you just know that such a laugh is meant to have such an effect. “Oh, you’re not done yet. Another person must leave the car.”
“What?!” I scream. I have to choose another person to kick out of the car. My only choices are the most beautiful woman that I have ever seen, a small child who is still sobbing, and the only passenger in the car who will speak to me, therefore guide me.
“You have to do it if you want to stop. Don’t worry; whomever you choose will not be injured too badly,” he says.
Again, the car lurches forward hurdling towards the tunnel. “The kid, the kid. I choose the kid.”
The car door once again opens and the man in the backseat pushes the sobbing child out of the vehicle. I cannot stand to look in the mirror this time. I do not want to see the child hit the pavement.
“You just chose to leave your childhood behind,” the man says.
“What do you mean I chose to leave my childhood behind?”
“I mean exactly what I said. You had to make a choice, and you chose to leave your childhood behind.”
I finally begin to understand the situation that I am in. The first man that I chose was one of my lifelong dreams, and the sobbing child was my childhood. So who were the other two members? The woman could be my wife, well my future wife. I am not married yet, or at least I do not think that I am. But who is this other man. He is identical to the first person that I chose to leave the vehicle, but he can talk to me.
“Time to make another choice,” he says. “Is it going to be her or me?”
Again, the fact that he is the only passenger that is able to speak to me and guide me plays a very important role in my decision making process. Suddenly, an idea occurs to me. I move my hand towards my own door. I am going to exit the vehicle myself.
“You can’t do that,” the man behind me warns. “That door does not open, and you cannot exit through any other door until you make all of your choices.”
With my plan ending in failure, I once again begin to weigh the options that I have before me. I can choose the woman, whom I believe to be my future wife or I can choose the man in the backseat. I do not know who this man is, but again, he can talk to me while she cannot.
“I choose her,” I moan as tears begin streaming down my face. In the same fashion, her door opens, and she is flung out of the car. The door once again closes, and the car begins to slow.
“I think you already know who that was,” the only remaining passenger says. “It was your future wife, the woman of your dreams, the other half to a perfect relationship. You have chosen to expel from this car one of your lifelong dreams, your childhood, and your perfect woman. You are left with me, and this car will stop now and allow me and you to exit.”
The car continues to creep to a stop. The tunnel cannot be more than thirty yards now.
“If all of those people were representative of something, then what do you represent?” I ask the man as the car finally comes to a motionless rest.
“I am another of your lifelong dreams. I represent your dream to be extremely wealthy. Congratulations, your dream has come true.”
I exit the car and the man follows my lead.
“What do you mean my dream has come true? I now just instantly become wealthy in my life?”
“In your life? Oh no, no, no. Your life has not started yet. You are about to be born. Your mother will go into labor as soon as you accept the decision that you have made,” the man explains. “You see,” he continues, “That car contained a perfect childhood, the woman and relationship that you see as perfect, and two eventual lifelong dreams of yours. When you choose to expel one of the passengers from your car, you are ensuring that these things never occur in your life. When you chose the first man, you chose to never accomplish one lifelong dream. When you chose the child, you surrendered a perfect childhood, and when you chose the woman, you chose to never have a lasting relationship with the perfect woman for you. You may meet her, and you may even have a relationship with her, but it will never last. You just left her behind. Instead, you chose me. Now, you will be extremely wealthy in life, but you will not have the perfect relationship, the perfect childhood, or any other dreams of yours come true.”
“Why were you the only one that could speak to me?” I asked the man whom I now assume is a version of me years into the future.
“Because I am the one that your subconscious told you that you wanted the most, I was the only one with which you could speak,” he explains.
“So is it impossible to have multiple dreams come true, the perfect relationship, and the perfect childhood? Is that what this means?” I ask.
“No, of course not. You can have all that.”
“How? If I had to choose three people to throw out of the car, how am I supposed to be able to have all of that?”
“You threw them out because your fear of the tunnel was so great that you were willing to leave them behind in order to prevent entering into it. If you would have just been willing to go into the tunnel, faced whatever it is that you feared, and deal with the troubles that may arise as a consequence, you could have kept all of us. Instead, you only have me. My time is up, though. It is time for you to be born.”
I watch as the man walks forward. He enters the tunnel and disappears. I remember him saying that I will be born once I accept the choice that I have made, and it seems as if I have no other option other than to accept what has just occurred.
After this thought crosses my brain, my environment begins to darken. I hear voices that seem as if they are coming from the sky. I collapse onto the ground and begin to cry. Now, unlike either the child’s slow sobbing or my earlier moaning, the crying is more like a newborn’s. The world continues to darken and I notice my eyes beginning to close. The last thought that crosses my mind before I sink into total darkness is that I have made my choice, and I accept it.