So I’ve started another writing exercise. Another run of just vomiting words out without thinking about editing or where the story is going, free-writing.
Now that I’ve done this section, though, I’m wondering if there isn’t a short story to be made from it. I mean, I could make a decent short from either of the other two exercises I’ve done like this, so we’ll see.
Oh, well. Enjoy. As always, feedback is welcome.
I’ve often wondered what it would be like to be dead. Not in an “I want to kill myself” kind of way, but in an “I wonder what happens next?” kind of way.
Many people believe that when you die, that’s it. You’re done. All black and gross and worms.
People of various religions believe that when you die, it’s not the end, but simply another stop on a journey we can’t possibly understand. Some say we go to the “afterlife,” be that Heaven or Hell, or some sort of personal kingdom over which we rule. Some people think we’re bound, after learning about who we truly are, to reclaim our place in the universe amongst our galactic brethren.
Still others think we simply come back in another time, another place, another form, another chance to improve ourselves, our eternal selves, until we die again, only to be reborn once more and begin the cycle of living and learning anew.
So many ideas of what happens when we die.
All of them, as I was about to learn, sadly—terribly—wrong.
Do they have to shout? I thought, as the various nurses backed away from the table and the doctor sent a shock of three-hundred joules through the paddles and into the non-beating heart.
Man; that must hurt.
“Nothing,” said a nurse, checking the monitors. “Still flatline.”
The reaction was violent: a convulsing of muscles, an arching of the back as the electricity took the body in its grasp and shook it in an attempt to restart the heart.
If that heart could see what was happening, it would probably be scared back into life.
A loud thump returned the body to the table as the doctor looked back to the nurse.
“Anything?” she asked.
“Nothing, doctor. Still flatline.”
“Damn it!” she said. “One more at three-sixty, then I’m calling it.”
A loud whine pierced the room as the unit charged again, readying for another assault against the lifeless body.
More violence, another crashing return to the table.
The doctor put the paddles back on the cart without a thought.
“Time of death, Eight-oh-two pm, August twenty-second.”
She walked toward the door, yanking off her bloody gloves and chucking then in the vicinity of the trash.
The nurse shut down the monitors and annotated the paperwork with the declared time of death, as an orderly began cleaning the room for its next, inevitable, occupant.
Hopefully they’re luckier than I was.
By now, you’re probably asking yourself, “How is she talking to us when she’s dead? Shouldn’t she be off somewhere in the cosmos, ruling a planet, or singing with Jesus or burning in Hell?”
Yeah, I thought that, too. Or maybe I thought there’d just be nothing. I don’t know. All I know is that there I was, standing next to the table—next to myself, or what used to be me, anyway—and I wasn’t going anywhere: Not up, not down, not into the ground…. Nothing.
Just wait; it gets weirder.