The clubbing of hoofed feet hit the ground. A set of four, then another set, and another set pass by crowded bleachers. A pair of binoculars rise up and land on the number six horse. “Why do you insist on fitting in?” Tom says as Ben, a man in his early forties, lowers the binoculars. Ben is dressed in a three piece suit; Tom, a lab coat. Even though Tom sticks out like a sore thumb, the attendees don’t notice. Ben shifts his attention down the track, onto Jenny, young, early twenties. Jenny is a princess with a heart of gold, much like the princess’ in Disney movies. With her is a much younger Ben (young Ben), also in his twenty’s. The horses rush down the track. The crowd anticipates an exciting end to the race and get to their feet. Ben joins them, except instead of cheering, he waves his hands like a conductor. He moves a hand one direction, and the six horse moves away from the pack. He moves his hand back and the six horse moves back with the pack. Ben does this a few times, until he gets to the big finish. He slowly raises both hands in the air and the six horse picks up speed and thunders down the track, away from the crowd of horses. On its own now, it races against its own record. Mere inches from the finish line, it happens. On cue, Ben splits his arms apart and the horse tumbles to the ground in agony. The jockey, caught under the horse, fights to get out. Ben motions his hands to the crowd, as if the crowd is part of the wind section. His arms flail as the crowd oohs, aahs, tear up and shout at the tragedy on the track. Ben motions to a part of the track and animal medics rush to the accident. The horse whinnies in pain. They try and get it to stand, but its front legs are snapped. Jenny takes action and rushes down from the stands. Young Ben rushes after her. Ben is already on the track. Tom is with him. Jenny rushes at both of them, towards her ailing horse. Ben holds his arms open, hoping to stop her, to hold her, to let her know it’s going to be fine. But he can’t, because none of this is real. She runs through Ben as if he wasn’t there. Ben and Tom both turn their attention on the situation at hand. They watch Jenny crumble to the ground as she nears her horse. Without missing a beat, Ben turns and sees young Ben, terrified, paralyzed. All young Ben can do is watch. Ben walks over to young Ben. “Go to her. Make her okay. She needs you, look at her,” Ben turns and sees what young Ben sees; a needle about to be injected into the horse, Jenny being restrained by her father and others looking away. “This is your big moment. Just take the first step, your body will follow,” Ben says as he takes in the surroundings. He’s seen enough. “Freeze,” Ben says before the needle is injected. And just like that it’s complete silence; everyone is frozen in time. Ben looks around at the crowd, frozen in time. In the distance, he spots a man. This man is also dressed to the nines, except his suit is a charcoal black. “End simulation,” Ben says after a few seconds.
And like that, Ben and Tom are in what can only be described as a medical lab, one full of equipment to administer experiments with. Ben and Tom lay on medical beds, wires, chords and other medical apparatus’ stick out of and on their heads. Lincoln, a young lab assistant, probably early twenties, helps to detach all the equipment. “How’d it go?” Lincoln asks as he helps Ben out of the bed. “Good,” Ben says. Are we set?” “Set for what?” Tom asks. Ben smiles at Tom. Tom clues in quickly. “You’re going in now? I thought we’d take the night, really think it through.” “We’ve thought enough. It’s time for action.” Ben looks at all the equipment; his entire life’s worth about to be put to the test. “I can’t keep looking at her and not touch.” Tom and Lincoln follow Ben as he walks to his bag. He pulls out a manila envelope and hands it to Tom. “I assume you know what this is?” Ben forces it into Tom’s hand. “We haven’t tested everything. What if it doesn’t work?” Tom asks. “Then it doesn’t work. At least we tried. What would you give to relive a memory?” Ben turns from Tom and walks to a medical table. Lincoln walks away from Tom, heading towards Ben. Tom’s focus is on the envelope, a slight escape of sadness in his eyes. Ben unbuttons his shirt, “Good to have you on board Lincoln. You ready to make history?” Lincoln nods. Ben looks at Tom, “Stop staring at that thing like you won the lottery Tom, I still sign your checks remember. Now get that machine attached to my skull and let’s get on with it.” Ben lays down as Lincoln gets to work attaching patches to Ben’s body and face. Tom wheels over a machine. Attached to the machine is a helmet full of small screws and spikes. Tom is hesitant, his confidence not exactly where it should be. He looks at Lincoln. “Set?” Lincoln nods and walks around the bed to help Tom. They push the helmet onto Ben’s head. As the first bit of metal embraces Ben’s skull, Ben winces. After a deep breath, he’s ready. “This could hurt,” Tom says as he and Lincoln diligently tighten the screws. “No shit,” Ben replies through the pain. Tom finishes and walks to an entire board of computers, servers, monitors and specialty equipment. It’s the type of equipment only several billion dollars can build. On one end it sends electromagnetic pulses through the cerebellum searching for specific memories. On the other end, it shows said memories in crystal clear high definition.
“Good luck, sir,” Lincoln says as he inserts a mouth guard into Ben’s mouth and a places a strap under his chin. Ben smiles and grabs Lincoln’s hand in his. Their eyes connect for a second, an affirmation for Lincoln that Ben is more than content with his decision. They let go and Lincoln walks to Tom. “Are we cleared?” Tom asks. Lincoln nods and Ben raises his thumb; ready. Tom nods, puts his hand to a button and presses down. . . . It’s now twenty years ago, the Y2K bug hoax has happened, and people continue on with life as if they had never been scared at all. Ben, now younger, matches the same look as the young Ben we saw in the simulations. He touches every inanimate object he can as if touching it for the first time. Ben turns into a convenience store. He purchases a large bottle of water and looks at a newspaper. The date reads ‘April 21st 2000.’ Ben smiles, confirmation that he’s in. He cracks the water and chugs it. It’s the day of the big race. Ben strolls to the entrance of the pavilion. He shakes hands with a security as he makes his way towards the horse stables. As he enters the stables, he pauses and takes in the sight. There she is, the love of his life. Jenny braids the mane of her horse. Ben’s breath is deep yet soft, the kind of breath of an excited teen about to get to first base. “What a good looking stud,” Ben says, stepping towards Jenny. She smiles and turns around. She rushes to him and hugs. Ben closes his eyes and kisses her, at first it’s soft but it quickly turns hard. “What is the purpose of this visit?” Jenny’s dad, and owner of the horse, says as he walks in behind Ben. Since the beginning of Jenny and Ben’s relationship, Mr. Lane has disapproved. Can you blame him though? Look at her, inside and out she’s the type of girls that wars are started over. Ben and Jenny quickly separate. She smiles at him and seductively walks away. Ben turns with purpose. “We need to talk,” Ben says with authority. “It can wait,” Mr. Lane says, skeptical about anything Ben might say. “Not if you want your daughter to live,” Ben says under his breath. “What was that?” Mr. Lane asks. “I want to make a deal,” Ben says as he looks back at Jenny, who looks after her horse. She has the look of love in her eyes. The proud kind of love, the kind of love a person can have for an animal. “But not here.”
Jenny doesn’t notice, her entire attention engulfed in her horse. Ben takes one last look at her, that huge smile of hers shining as she talks to it. He focuses his attention on Mr. Lane. “You hate me, so I’ll make this quick,” Ben starts. “I don’t hate you,” Mr. Lane says, trying to back away from the confrontation, but there is something about his answer that hides the truth. “I know you do, and I’m okay with it. I’m okay with not being rich, but you aren’t. You think that what fills a man’s pocket is more important than what fills his heart. So I want to make a deal,” Ben continues. Mr. Lane looks back, his attention on another man that has just arrived. “Get on with it then,” Mr. Lane says. “If you drop out of the race, I promise to never see your daughter again,” Ben finishes. Mr. Lane grabs Ben by the arm and stops him. Mr. Lane looks Ben deep in his eyes, making whatever message he says completely clear. “As much as I’d be delighted to rid you of my daughter’s life, that deal isn’t in the cards. You see that gentleman?” Mr. Lane points out the man waiting patiently. “He’s purchasing Bright Lightning tonight. If I drop him from the race, his price goes down and I lose money. And I never lose money.” “How much will you lose?” “That’s none of your business.” “If I can make up the difference, before your horses race, will you drop him?” “And you never see my daughter again?” Ben nods. “And if by some chance you don’t get me the money?” “Then you get your wish, you horse races, it wins and you collect from your buyer,” Ben says. “But in my way, you win twice. You still get all your money and I break up with your daughter.” Mr. Lane looks back at the buyer, now a looking around the stable at other horses. He looks at his daughter, still in complete bliss with her horse. Mr. Lane looks back at Ben and holds out his hand. Ben smiles, he knows he has him now. “I can squeeze an extra twenty‐five if the horse wins, you get me that, and you have a deal.” Ben smiles and shakes Mr. Lane’s hand.
“Now if you’ll excuse me, I have business,” Mr. Lane finishes the conversation and walks away. As Mr. Lane walks to his potential buyer, Ben walks to Jenny. He grabs her by the hand. “I have to go. Join me in the stands when you’re done?” Ben asks. “We’re slumming it?” Jenny asks, totally joking. “You knew what you were getting into when I asked you out,” Ben says. “I know,” she smiles and hugs him. They separate. “What were you and my dad talking about?” “About our future together,” Ben says as he kisses her on the cheek. “Really? You’ll tell me all about it later?” “I’m betting on it,” Ben finishes. They kiss. “Jenny dear,” Mr. Lane interrupts, “Could you grab my good friend here a bottle of water?” “Sure thing daddy,” Jenny says after they separate. She looks at Ben, touches his heart. “I’ll meet you at the bleachers before the race.” And with that, Jenny takes off. Ben walks to Mr. Lane. “I’ll see you in an hour,” Ben says and walks away. . . . “A Seven to win,” Ben says as he stands at the betting counter. He slides a twenty dollar bill over to the lady behind the counter. The lady hands him a ticket. Ben walks out the door and towards the stands. He sits down. He looks around. A few rows to his right he sees the man in the black suit. Ben does his best to ignore him. The race starts, and like most races at the track, it’s over in mere moment. Ben smiles, his plan is working. He walks back in to the betting counter and cashes his ticket. She hands him five twenties. “I’m gonna let it roll,” Ben says. “Big spender,” the lady behind the counter smiles at Ben. “What’ll it be? “A one, Four, Five box trifecta,” Ben slides the twenty’s back. The lady takes the twenties and hands Ben his betting slip. Again, Ben walks to the stands. . . . Ben is at another counter. Again, Ben doesn’t notice the man in black, who watches from a distance.
“What’s the max bet on a trifecta?” Ben asks. “For this race,” the man behind the counter looks at his sheet of paper. “For this race, it’s two thousand.” “Great,” Ben slides over his slip. “I’ll put my winnings on a three, seven, four straight trifecta.” “This ticket is worth eighteen‐fifty. Are you sure?” The man looks at Ben. “We have to ask on bets over fifteen‐hundred.” “I’m guided by destiny my friend,” Ben smiles. “A three, seven, four straight trifecta,” the man hands over Ben’s betting slip. “Good luck sir.” “No need,” Ben smiles, shows the ticket. “Destiny.” Ben steps onto into the stands. The man in black follows but keeps his distance. Ben sits and looks around at the crowd, waiting for the race to start. The horses pass the crowd. Some rowdy members of the crowd cheer or mock the passing horses. Ben leans back, already knowing the outcome. Soon enough, the horses are off and the results are in. Three wins, seven places and the four shows. Ben has won, he’s won big. . . . Ben is at the betting counter again. He’s ready to turn in his winning trifecta, ready to turn his life around, the life he’s always wanted. The man in black is behind him. Ben can feel his presence and looks back. The man is huge. Up close he’s more menacing than you can imagine. A thick skull, deep sunk in stubble and weathered face. His body looks as if it has been designed out of work out magazines, which definitely means his suit is a custom fit. His hands, the main attraction of this giants’ physique, are the size of pumpkins. Ben is next in line and searches in his pocket for his winning ticket. He pulls out air. His heart sinks into his stomach. It’s that moment, that sick, sick feeling of utter loss. Ben checks his other pockets. Out of panic, he checks them again. “Next,” the lady behind the betting counter says as she waves for Ben to step forward. Ben kneels to the ground and picks up a couple of slips, all losers. “Looking for this?” A voice says and Ben looks up. It’s the man in the rich black suit. His pumpkin hands grip a ticket stub between the index finger and the thumb. The man looks at the ticket. “A winning trifecta, that’s gotta be worth what?” The man looks at the board. He does the math quickly. “Almost thirty grand,” the shadowy figure finishes and steps into line. “That’s a lot of money.” Ben stands up. “You have my ticket?” Ben asks
“Correction, I had your ticket. Now I have my ticket,” the man says. “How’d you get in here?” “You mean through the front doors?” The man asks with a sarcastic undertone. “I mean my memory. I’ve seen you before, you keep popping up.” The man puts his arm around Ben and steps out of line. “You’re a betting man, right? Let’s gamble. You guess who I am, and if you get it right, I give you this ticket. The clock is ticking though,” the man checks out his watch. “You got three minutes kid.” “The reaper?” Ben says after thinking for a few minutes. “Do I look like I could kill a man?” “You look like you’ve killed several men.” “I’ve killed as many men as you,” the man says as he checks out his own body. “A soldier in the army?” “You don’t really listen, do you? I don’t kill,” the man says. “Besides, much like you, I don’t believe in war.” “A mob boss?” “Would I be wasting time on a measly twenty nine grand?” The man looks at his watch, “one minute.” Ben thinks for a second. He’s running out of guesses quickly. “You were a linebacker in college who never made the NFL, so now you intimidate twenty year olds at the race track? They walk in silence for a second as the man checks his watch. As the seconds pass the third minute, the man instantly rips up the ticket. “Holy shit. That was twenty nine grand,” Ben says, going from shock to disappointment. “You didn’t like the linebacker answer.” “Let me ask you something kid. You always just give up, right? When life gets hard, you just walk away? You just quit. Never see anything through?” Ben stays silent. Not only is he pissed that the ticket got ripped up, he’s pissed off he’s getting a lecture by a complete stranger. “Let me guess, you don’t care anymore. And people really suck. What’s the point of fighting for anything if you’re just going to fail?” the man continues. “Do you know what the best part of my day is Ben?” the man says as Ben looks at him in complete shock
“How do you know my name?” “I’m getting there,” the man continues. “The best part of my day is convincing you that you aren’t worthy of anything, or that you don’t deserve it, whatever ‘it’ is. And then I just sit back and watch you self destruct and sabotage all your hard work,” the man says as he looks at Ben. “You blame depression, but it wasn’t depression that made you the huge colossal fuck up you are today. It’s was you. Well, us, but whose counting. They stare at each other. After a moment the man breaks eye contact. “You still don’t get it and you never will,” the man says. “And that’s why you’ll always lose, and I’ll always win,” the man finishes and walks away, his job completed. “What am I supposed to do now?” Ben asks, looking at his future, torn apart on the ground. “I don’t care,” the man turns around and smiles. “Good doing business with you.” Ben takes a deep breath, unsure of anything. . . . Ben stands at the top of the stairs. He spots Jenny, so quiet, so peaceful. He walks down the stairs and joins her. He sits, silent, unwilling to tell the truth. She looks over and smiles. Ben gives her a sympathetic smile, it fades quickly and he turns away. “Ben?” “You love me right?” Ben asks. She squeezes his hand and smiles; of course. “And you can see yourself living with a failure for the rest of your life?” “You’re not a failure.” Ben stays in silence. He knows what he’s supposed to do; but it’s true what they say, the truth is always harder to tell. “Talk to me Ben.” “I made this deal with your dad.” “Oh yeah? Is that what kids are calling it today,” Jenny, ever the optimist, tries to lighten the mood. “I said if I could get him twenty‐five grand that he wouldn’t run your horse today.” “Why would you want that?” “Because I know something you don’t, but I don’t know how to tell you.”
“Just tell me, I’m sure it’s not the end of the world,” Jenny looks at him, reassuring that everything will be fine, but before Ben can say anything, her horse, Bright Lightning, passes. Jenny stands with excitement. “Go Bright Lightning!” she yells, excited to see her horse. She looks at Ben. “Look at him Ben, isn’t he gorgeous.” Ben looks at her, unsure of how to tell her about her horse’s future and about her own future. “Your horse is…” Ben says but is cut off by Jenny. “Sorry Ben, but you know the rules. No talking during his races, it’s bad luck.” “It’s important.” “I’m sorry, it’s just…” stares at him. “It’s important to me that he does well.” Ben looks away. He spots the man in black leaning against the building. The man in black pretends to rip up a fake ticket. He blows it off his hand towards Jenny. Ben grabs Jenny’s hand and stares into her eyes. His eyes are puffy, on the verge of tears. It’s come to this. “You know I love you right?” Ben asks and Jenny nods. “Ben?” “I can’t stay Jen. I want to, but I can’t.” A tear falls and he wipes it away, trying to be strong. “I can’t live through this again.” “What are you talking about?” “I love you,” Ben kisses her cheek and walks away. “I love you too,” Jenny watch Ben, totally confused at what just happened. It finally hits her. She’s been dumped. As tears swell and drop, the race begins. Ben continues up the stands. He connects with the man in black. The man in black points to himself and mouths ‘I win,’ he points to Ben, ‘you lose.’ The crowd rise to their feet and Ben knows the race is about to end. Ben stares at the man in black, who smiles back, a smug sense of satisfaction in his grin. Ben’s stare becomes more intense. Ben’s eyes widen and the man in black flares his nose; has Ben figured it out? It’s as if Ben’s stare has penetrated the man’s soul, only to see his own soul in return. Not the whole soul, the darkest parts, the embarrassing parts, the parts that we hide because we are ashamed. The man in black quickly looks away. Ben shifts his attention back to the race, and as if in slow motion, he sees everything unfold; Bright Lightning goes down, the crowd is stunned, people rush to help the jockey, the medics rushing out, and Jenny, poor Jenny, her legs a bit weak from the recent events, almost falls down the stairs as she rushes to the aid of her fallen horse.
Like before, as she reaches the horse, she falls to the ground. But this time it’s different. Unlike before, a hand reaches down to lift her up. She glances up to see a figure above her. “I’m so sorry Jenny,” Ben grabs her hand and lifts her up. He holds her close, tight, and cradles her head. “For what?” Jenny asks between sobs. “For being scared,” he keeps her eyes away from the scene behind her. “And for what’s about to happen.” “What’s about to…?” The medic inserts the needle. A moment passes and the horse is limp. The medic checks for a pulse. It’s over and the horse is finally at peace. Jenny looks back and sees the medics lay the horses head down. Her legs instantly go weak. Her tears flow heavily from her eyes. The dead weight of her body presses into Ben’s. He holds her up, holds her tight. “I’m never going to leave you,” he kisses her head. “Ever.” “Thank you,” Jenny says as she wraps her arms around him, her face a mess of make‐up and tears. Ben releases a sigh, but it’s not a sad sigh, it’s a happy one. Ben smiles and holds Jenny tight. . . . Lincoln and Tom watch one of the HD monitors showcasing Ben’s memory. Although crystal clear, the images move in super fast forward as if on a time schedule. Tom smiles, a true success. Lincoln looks at him and asks, “What does this mean?” “It means we made history.” Lincoln smiles and they embrace in a handshake. “How long is he under?” Lincoln asks. Tom lowers his head. His mood changes quickly as if to be snapped back into reality. He hands Lincoln the envelope and walks to Ben. As Lincoln reads the paper, Tom watches Ben. Ben, a huge smile stapled to his face, his eyes fluttering with activity, is at peace. “We’re killing him?” Lincoln asks, looking up from the paper. Tom shakes his head. He looks away from Ben and over to Lincoln. “It’s all in there. The Will where he gives us everything, his explanation of the experiment and a document, signed by his board members and lawyers indicating you and I have no implication in his suicide.” “Suicide?” Lincoln drops the papers. “He wanted to die? Why didn’t he… or you for that matter… why didn’t you guys tell me?”
“Ben wanted you to continue,” Tom says to Lincoln. “He said you’d quit if you knew the truth.” “So that’s it. We just sit here and watch him die?” Lincoln says as he joins Tom at Ben’s bed. “No,” Tom shakes his head and guides Lincoln back to the monitors. “We watch how his life would have been if Jenny never killed herself.” They return to the monitors. It shows Ben watching his first born walk for the first time. Both Ben and Jenny couldn’t be happier. “Then tomorrow,” Tom looks around at all the equipment they just inherited, “we figure out how all of this can help change the world.”