As I noted in the blog about “Three Hours,” “Flash of Life” was a contest winner and an episode of Chronicles long before winding up in a book. But this may come as a surprise to you: I like the TV episode better.
“Flash of Life” is based on the old notion that we see our lives “flash” before our eyes at the moment of death. (Or, if you prefer, it gets a hard review in the afterlife.) In this case, Hap Lister isn’t actually experiencing the future moments before it happens, but rather his entire “life” is the review happening at its frightening end.
In Chronicles, Hap becomes Hannah, and the story happens in the 1940s after a woman finds the journal of her deceased grandfather, a doctor who observed what happened to Hannah. We filmed the opening and closing scenes at the Gilmore Car Museum near Kalamazoo. Except for those scenes, the episode is filmed in black and white, underscoring its back-in-time setting.
Like Hannah, Hap becomes increasingly desperate as he slowly comes to realize what’s happening to him—and that it’s too late to turn his life around. The reciting of Matthew 25 makes that painfully clear to Hap. And to us.
If you’re interested in the TV version, it’s still online. Fun fact: The bag carried by the doctor has made two appearances on TV screens. This is the first one. The same bag also appears briefly in “Mind-Sifter,” an episode of Star Trek New Voyages for which I wrote the teleplay. I purchased it at an antique store near my hometown, and I still have it.