Instant recap: While out of body in the rings of the metasphere, Robert Monroe encountered a being from beyond the time-space illusion (TSI), searching for his friend who had been drawn into incarnate life on Earth.
2. Life and Death All Over Again
Monroe guided BB through the rings in search of AA, and finally found him at the very bottom, having just died from his second life ~ or rather hers, for this time AA had wanted to get a taste of the opposite gender. She had lived a miserable life as a peasant woman in England around the 17th century, and complained bitterly to BB about the hardships of bearing fourteen children and burying eight of them, serving her husband and sometimes getting abused by him and other men, and finally dying of the plague. BB begged AA to return with him to their homeworld (called KT-95 in typical Monroe nomenclature), and after a moment of hesitation, she/he decided instead to go back to human life: “I’m going to be a warrior, a big powerful man, and I’m going to spread my seed from one corner of England to another. Old King Henry won’t have nuthin’ on me, he won’t!”
A peculiarity of the encounter was that there seemed to be an invisible barrier that prevented Monroe from interacting with or even getting near AA; he had to observe from a distance. In relating later with BB, he came to realize how utterly alien human life was to him ~ he was clueless to the things we take most for granted, like sequential time, male and female, life and death. This led Monroe into efforts to explain them in the most essential terms ~ for example, that a basic driving force behind all human action is survival, the problem of staying alive. BB said, “What kind of problem is that? You’re alive, you stay alive.” Evidently death was unknown on KT-95. Yet despite this extreme alienness, Monroe somehow felt a familiarity with BB, and liked him as a friend.
The two succeeded in one more attempt to track down AA in the TSI, this time while he was still incarnate. This required Monroe to do something he had done before but found very challenging: travel through time. The telepathic voice of the INSPEC encouraged him to go for it, and the event is marked in the text with a *CLICK!* BB was impressed that he could do it, even though it was done all the time in KT-95 as a game ~ it was called “pulling a skip”.
They found themselves floating above a marching column of warriors in regalia indicative of classical times. BB was able to identify AA among them even though he wore such a thick covering of persona and flesh. The army marched into a ravine and was ambushed by enemy soldiers on the crests. AA was hit by a spear that penetrated his body and pinned him to the ground; he quickly died in a pool of blood. The barrier again held back Monroe; at his urging, BB went down and tugged AA out of the body. He was still in the shape of the warrior, and, not realizing he was dead, struggled desperately to get back into the battle. He said: “Gotta kill the enemy. Gotta get up and kill them. Where’s my spear, my shield? Leggo of me, you’re makin’ me miss the fightin’, it’ll be all over and I’ll have missed out. Gotta go fight and kill!”
This time AA didn’t recognize BB. Monroe said, “Let him go. There’s nothing you can do for him.” They watched as the warrior’s shade tried futilely to pick up his weapons, then to attack the enemy bare-handed, bewildered at how his fists just passed through them… but he kept trying. Monroe and a disconsolate BB skipped back to the present.