George finds himself in a dark damp basement, shaken and confused, already forgetting…something important…but as every short second passes that something slips farther and deeper into the dark spots of his mind.
As his eyes slowly adjust he sees a dark hooded figure across the room. George’s eyes tell him the room is small, and somehow he had sensed it the moment he…woke up?… in this place. A feeling of claustrophobia overtakes him, and the hooded figure on the other side of the room isn’t necessarily helping his spirits. George can feel the figure’s red eyes locked on him from behind the shadows of his hooded robe.
“Who’ there?” George asks, trying to sound intimidating, but only coming out as scared and pathetic.
No answer from the hooded figure. No movement. No reaction at all.
“I can see you!” George yells with bit more boom in his voice.
The figure stands like a statue, maybe it is a statue, but George is pretty sure it isn’t…he’d never felt a statue look at him before, at least not without the help of some kind of hallucinogen, and George hadn’t dropped acid since his college days at MHCU.
The figure slowly approaches him, and seems to be hovering over the ground like a cliche ghost. Suddenly George is nose to nose with it, the robe’s a deep dark black, black shadows under the hood as if there weren’t a face there at all.
The figure opens it’s hood, and George is engulfed in bright white light. He hears the sound of an engine, a Corvette, accelerating, getting closer, closer, and now George sees it, a red Chevy Corvette with the top down, a man named Johnny with too much gel in his hair holding a coffee in one hand and a cigarette and a cellphone in the other.
The bastard’s trying to text his girlfriend, Sally, to tell her he won’t be home tonight because he has to work late, but in reality he’s off to see his little Boston biddy named Milly. Milly’s caught her boyfriend, Ronnie, cheating on her and is using Johnny as a way of getting back at him, not knowing the pain it’s causing Sally. But Sally’s no saint, because what Johnny doesn’t know is that as soon as he sends this text she’ll go knocking on the new young single neighbor Lenny’s door and have her way with him, something she’s been debating since the day he first moved in and tried to put a move on her. She rejected him, well kind of, she made out with him in the hallway, but as his hand slid up her shirt she pushed him away, not hard, gently, and said she really shouldn’t, even though she wanted to, but she also wanted to give ol’ Johnny a chance, a chance that Johnny’s is about to blow as he performs this dangerous maneuver in his car while steering the wheel with his legs and eying the hot blonde in the black miniskirt just up the road.
The text is never sent. Johnny’s Corvette strikes George at breakneck speed, severing his body clean in half, legs quivering on the pavement and his upper torso flies into a second story apartment window and into Shirley Dunn’s kitchen while she stirs her stew with a big wooden spoon, and just as she opens her mouth and inhales to let out a bloodcurdling scream, everything goes black, and George is back in the damp dungeon.
“Wh-what was that?” George asks.
“That,” a raspy voice with a serpent-like lisp says, “was an exssthample.”
“It was an exssthample.”
“An egg sample?”
“I’m sorry, I’m not following you…”
“It wass a demonsstrassion of ssomething, you know, an exssthhample!”
“Example? Is that what you’re trying to say?”
“Yess you nitwit!”
“Excuse me? A Nitwit? Did you seriously just call me a nitwit?”
“What’ss wrong with nitwit?”
“Oh nothing, you just sound like a villain from a Disney movie, not really scary but cunning and entertaining.”
“Yeah, see, that’s what I’m talking about, that’s exactly what the Disney villain would say next.”
“That wass an e-x-a-m-p-l-e of your death, George.”
“Hey, how do you know my name?”
“You’re dead, George.”
“You’re dead, George.”
“No, I heard you, I was just trying to wrap my head around it…do you mean to tell me that I got hit by some asshole driving a Chevy Corvette and now I’m in the afterlife?”
“No, like I said it was an e-x-a-m-p-l-e…”
“So I’m dead?”
“But didn’t get hit by a car?”
“No, you were hit by a car.”
“But you just told me that the Corvette was an example.”
“Yess, I did, but in reality it wass a yellow Ferrari, everything elsse wass the ssame.”
“You changed the type of car? Why?”
“Becausse it getss boring down here…and I couldn’t afford to put the Ferrari in the vission…it would be vissual plagiarissm.”
“What the hell is that?”
“I would be plagiarizing life by showing you the exact vision, so I had to switch it up a little bit.”
“And the best you could think of was to change the yellow Ferrari to a red Corvette?”
“Lissten! My job issn’t to be creative. I play by the ruless, and that’ss all that matterss.”
“Well, that’s kind of a stunted attitude, how do you expect to make any progress? Don’t you want to get better? More creative? Wouldn’t life be more fulfilling that way?”
“Life? Life iss over George. You’re dead.”
“No,” George says, believing this must be a dream, a dream he can’t wake himself out of, which is strange because usually as soon as he realizes he’s dreaming during a dream he wakes up.
Except for that one time when he was dreaming of this plantation area way back in the day, it looked kind of like Plymouth Plantation down by Cape Cod, but different somehow as is with everything in his dreams, and strange music blasted from an unknown source, electric guitars and synthesizers, which didn’t make any sense because there was no way there could have been any band that had that kind of equipment back in the sixteen hundreds, or whenever this dream happened to take place. That’s around the time when George decided to fly.
He knew if he was dreaming he would fly, and if he didn’t start flying then someone had some explaining to do…but George did fly. He went up and up, and looked down to all the villagers, who had by now gathered around the area because of the miracle that was taking place. All the villagers cheered from below as George rose higher and higher into the blue sky, sun shining behind him in a brilliant yellow aura, the cheers transforming to chants, louder and louder, sounding angry and menacing now, and suddenly George was struck in the head with a rock breaking him out of his slumber. George had a lot of strange dreams in his lifetime, but that was the clearest to him, and probably the weirdest…at least until now.
“It’ss okay to think it’ss a dream. In fact, it’s perfectly normal. Very few figure it out right away…there are ssome…” his voice trails off and he gets quiet.
“It’ss not important now…”
“Becausse everyone figuress it out ssooner or later.”
“Figures what out?”
George is speechless. He looks around, the room fully lit now, a different room. This room looks like a library with shelves on each wall, but there’s no ceiling. Each of the book-filled shelves are held up by large stone pillars reaching into the blue sky above with no end in sight. Eleven pillars, in between each a large oak door, each one painted a different color of the rainbow.
“Where are we?” George asks, his voice echoing and bouncing around the room.
The figure doesn’t answer, it stands there grilling him, and then slowly dissolves into thin air leaving George by himself in this strange room.
George looks around and fixes his eyes on the green door. Green is George’s favorite color, so he figures what the hell, why not, and goes to turn the knob, but it’s locked.
So, George tries the next door on the left, the blue one, but that’s locked too. So are the yellow, orange, red, purple, and pink ones. All the doors are locked.
Baffled, George walks back to the center of the room. The floor is a blinding white, hints of every color can be seen in it as it hums with energy. George feels it vibrating through the marrow in his bones. He gets to the center of the vast resonating room where an emblem, seemingly made from oak with an eye carved into it, the pupil is dilated and looks like a hole. George leans closer and sees that it is a hole, just as he slips and falls in.
As he falls in the blackness for what seems like at least ten minutes, a peculiar thought runs through his mind, is he falling anymore? He thinks hard and deep to the center of his mind, and blue streaks of light shoot out of his fingers like a web, and the lights spiral into each other and connect into an electric blue grid of light, and more and more lights interconnect creating an intricate web, and now red and yellow lights shoot out and wrap together with each other, forming little mosaic images, and suddenly he’s standing in a large hilly field under the bright blue sky littered with puffy white clouds, sun shining through them in beams of brilliance.
Then trees start growing from the ground at ultra speed in the distance, and continually closer until one sprouts up directly beneath him and suddenly he is on top of a gigantic redwood, all he can see in the horizon is the tops of trees, his is the tallest it seems, but wait, there’s a taller one, and what’s that on the tree? A house of some sorts with a spiral staircase connecting the top porch to the bottom porch…a two floored treehouse in the middle of the forest…how strange…
George wants to go check it out, but how to do it? Should he try flying again?
George jumps off the end of the tree and drops fast, smacking himself on the branches as he descends. Maybe it’s not a dream…but wait…why don’t the branches hurt? They’re smacking him in the face and all over his body, he can feel them…but it doesn’t hurt the slightest bit.
He sees the ground now coming at him fast, he hits the ground and the ground shatters like glass all around him as George lands in a rectangular box below him, face down.
George turns over, expecting darkness again, but is shocked to see his wife, Lucy, kissing him on the forehead. He feels something wet and warm drop onto his face and trickle down his cheek. Lucy’s tears. Why is she crying? And why is she all decked out in black? He hasn’t seen that dress since Billy died, and he hadn’t seen her cry since then either. Maybe that guy was right…maybe he is dead…but wait…didn’t he say his body was split in two by a red corvette? Why would they have an open casket? George knows Lucy loves him, but even she wouldn’t kiss a mutilated corpse on the forehead…something is wrong with this image, something doesn’t quite add up, and everything fades to black.
George is alone in the dark again. Maybe he’s in bed now, and all the lights are off. He’s awake now…but that can’t be…if that were so he’d see the green aura from his alarm clock…but he doesn’t, wherever he is, it’s pitch black.
“THISS ISS NOT A DREAM,” the figure’s voice booms from the black, “THE SOONER YOU REALIZE THAT, THE BETTER.”
“Oh yeah? How come I was in an open casket just then? You said that a yellow F-”
“All liess. The truth iss, you’re not aloud to know how you die.”
“Then why did you show me such a grotesque image? Why not make up something peaceful, like going out in my sleep or something, you know, more pleasant than being torn in half by a speeding car?”
“I’ve been dealing with the dead since the beginning of what you refer to as time. I need to mix things up a bit. Like I said before, things get boring if you don’t switch it up.”
“That’s real thoughtful.”
“There’ss really no harm in it. Honesst.”
“I find it hard to trust anyone that has to reassure me that they’re honest.”
“Bitternesss will only delay the processs, George.”
“Delay what process? Can you at least tell me what I’m supposed to do?”
“No. I’m afraid not. That’ss jusst not the way thingss work.”
“Well, if you ask me, it’s a shitty design then.”
“Why do you ssay ssuch thingss?”
“Because if nobody tells us what to do and how to do it, everyone would be able to do anything they wanted to, and it would be mayhem.”
“Yes, and isn’t that just how things are?” The voice asks, and the hooded figure materializes in front of George just as a table and two chairs appear, and George finds himself in the pillar room from earlier. “Take a sseat, my friend.”
George and the hooded figure sit at the table.
“We aren’t in the business of telling others what to do, you humans already do that to each other enough” the hooded figure explains. “You see, people don’t like being told what to do, to be ordered around, made as slaves. Anyone who is forced to do something that they don’t want to do is enslaved in one way or another. Some prefer to enslave themselves by doing everything they are told without question. You want proof? Look at what Hitler did. Hitler himself was a slave, power hungry…power starved, and to compensate for his own insecurities he ended up killing millions of innocent people. Can you imagine,” he says and folds his hands together on the table, his fingers are long green and scaly with long sharp off-white fingernails, “if we were constantly telling you what to do, and how to do it? Two things can happen…one, people would grow sick of it and rebel against us, start a revolution, or two, we ourselves would get power hungry…and let’s just say things would get awfully ugly. So we let you do what you want while we watch on the sidelines, waiting for you to arrive…”
“So,” scaly hands continues, “we let you figure it out for yourself.”
“And what happens when we…figure it out?”
“Can’t tell you that.”
“Figures,” George says shaking his head. “So what do you do?”
“We do everything,” he says and fades away again, leaving George alone in the pillar room once more.