?

Please vote for the piece you feel is most deserving:

Poll closed Mar 13, 2011.
  1. nzric - The Terrible Twos

    6 vote(s)
    54.5%
  2. Jinxibell - Life after Death

    1 vote(s)
    9.1%
  3. rage - Life Goes On

    2 vote(s)
    18.2%
  4. groovybananas - When You're Dead

    1 vote(s)
    9.1%
  5. Darkjester79 - Together

    1 vote(s)
    9.1%
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  1. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Voting Short Story Contest 88: Reincarnation

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Feb 28, 2011.

    Voting Short Story Contest (87) Theme: Reincarnation

    Thank you for all your entries. The winner will be stickied until the next contest's winner is crowned. No more entries are allowed in this contest.

    Voting will end Sunday 13th March 2011 to give you all a chance to read the entries.

    It is possible to vote for yourself, but I would hope in the name of good sportsmanship that you would only do so if you have read all the other stories and given them your honest evaluation. You gain nothing if you base your vote solely on how you feel about the author or whether you have personally invested time and effort in the story. In the end, your conscience is your only judge.

    Any entries under or over the suggested word limit will be flagged as such - they are still entered in to the contest. It is for you to decide whether they are still worthy of your vote.

    Any entry not in accordance with the theme will be dealt with on a case by case basis to determine eligibility. Consider how the author has responded to the theme in making your decision.

    Good luck to everyone.
     
  2. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    nzric - The Terrible Twos

    To Josef, the War Room looked like a parody of itself. From the antique wood panelling, the heavily lacquered boardroom table, the overpowering smell of treated leather and the giant hanging maps dotted with giant pins, it seemed more like a film cliché of a Command Centre rather than the real thing. That is, except for all the highchairs.

    They were easily the most elaborate highchairs he had ever seen, and clearly custom-made for the room. The ten black leather seats matched the remaining five adult-size chairs, the wooden frames the same deep shade as the central table and the elaborate panelling on the walls and high roof.

    As well as five grownups on normal seats, atop of each highchair were ten babies - each no older than two years old - dressed either in military uniforms or tiny suits. There were four chubby European-looking children, the others with Asiatic, African or Indian features. Some were busily working on the feeding trays in front of them, each tray inlaid with a small keyboard and an official nametag secured to the front.

    “Ah, ok... so now will you tell me what the hell is going on, soldier man?” Josef whispered, scratching his scraggy beard and turning to the staunch, square-jawed Captain Cooper. The soldier had not talked since they had left Josef’s house and all the questions Josef had posed in the Humvee had been met by stony silence from Cooper as well as the two huge, uniformed thugs they had travelled with. He could barely believe this day was not a dream but he could have sworn he used up the last of his peyote weeks ago.

    Cooper leaned in, inches from his face. Josef had allergies to many consumer chemicals, and the smell of cologne and pipe tobacco made his eyes water.

    “Believe it or not, I’m the friendliest guy you’ll meet today. So don’t screw around,” Cooper said softly. “Best thing you can do is take it seriously when they ask you a question. Very seriously,” he added ominously.

    Josef tried to suppress a giggle. Cooper’s macho act fit in perfectly with the décor, but the melodrama was a bit much in a room full of infants. He was sure he sould have been intimidated but the whole experience was just too surreal.

    It had begun as a typical day. Josef had started with a dawn yoga session beside his vegetable garden, followed by updating his Centre for Enlightened Living website with his usual “Golden Aura Essential Smile” blog of the day. He had only a small following, around eighty hits per day, but he always trusted his positive mantra that ‘Great changes start with but small steps on the journey.’

    Seated at the dining room table for work, for the first hour he had annotated another reference book for his latest research paper on Ayurvedic samskaras for purifying monkshood. He was in his underwear in the kitchen, slowly steeping a pot of colon cleansing tea, when he heard a loud knock on the patio. Captain Cooper and the gigantic thugs had brushed past him as he opened the screen door, followed by four soldiers wheeling hand trolleys with stacks of empty archive boxes. Cooper read him his rights, quoting some obscure passage of the new ‘Nationwide Security’ provisions and Josef was given five minutes to leave, just enough time to grab a wrinkled Enlightened Living t-shirt, some wrap-around fishermans pants and his trusty sandals, as well as his academic portfolio which Cooper had specifically asked for.

    They drove for around an hour and a half before pulling into a dark carpark. Josef was escorted through what looked like a typical government building except for the soldiers with huge automatic weapons at each entrance. And now into this room that looked like a cross between a command centre and a crèche.

    Cooper pointed to a high-backed chair at the end of the table, and it was a moment before Josef realised he was meant to sit. As he sank into the plush leather, Cooper dropped a dense folder in front of him, the cover and binding marked in bold letters ‘Project Relife’. Josef laid the manila folder with own papers next to them.

    The baby at the head of the table banged a tiny gavel. He was a little blond boy with a doll-sized military uniform complete with tiny ribbons. “I now call this meeting to order,” the baby squeaked. The nametag identified him as ‘General Chuck McTavish’.

    “As discussed, we have with us Mr Josef Zimmermann. This meeting is to brief him on our current status and to assess his ongoing status now that he has been .. removed .. from civilian life.” Josef didn’t know a baby could be so ominous.

    “Now, Mr Zimmermann,” McTavish fixed Josef with a steady and unweilding, but goddamn cute, glare. “Five years ago you loaded a research paper on your blog, named, ah, ‘Eye of newt and toe of I used to be a frog - the recipe to discover your past lives’.”

    “Uh, yes Sir, General Baby Sir, uh, Mr General,” Josef stumbled. This was a thought exercise he wrote about finding where in the world your next reincarnation would be. He had sent it to Homeopathic Holistics Monthly, Wiccan Quarterly and Organic Crystal Healing Weekly but each rejected the draft as “too wacky”. So he ended up just posting it online.

    “Sir will be fine” the baby waved impatiently. “And … four and a half years ago you published a paper in ‘Eco Therapies and Naturist Quarterly’ magazine, entitled ‘Temporal Displacement - Using Ley Lines and Crystal Channelling to discover your next life’.

    “That’s right, yes.”

    “Mr Zimmermann,” McTavish straightened himself in his tiny chair. “You have been under government surveillance for approximately four years now. Your history has been screened and the best assessment teams have profiled your background. We have concluded that you are not a covert threat. You are, shall we say, a statistical example of dumb luck.”

    “Excuse me?” Josef said, startled.

    “Your theories defy all known scientific explanations but they were... Correct. We have no idea how this happened, other than your own dumb luck, but me sitting here is all the testimony anyone needs. Unfortunately none of your other theories before or since have shown any merit whatsoever.”

    “Ok, thanks for the vote of confidence,” he smiled sarcastically but was met with intense glares from around the table.

    “The fact is despite your findings being a fluke, we are now in a situation where we need your advice.”

    The baby punched in a series of commands on the keyboard in front of him, and the central part of the table flickered, displaying a map of the world with a series of small flashing dots. Ok, Josef thought, maybe this room isn’t so antique after all.

    “Mr Zimmermann,” he continued, “Our agencies scan hundreds of thousands of fringe theories and opinions every year, mostly posted on personal blogs. Some of them are flagged for more investigation, such as yours. An isolated population in Northern Mongolia was first chosen for testing your recipe for past life regression...”

    “Hold on man,” Josef started, “you don’t mean you actually... TRIED my recipe?”

    The baby glared at him. “I don’t know if you are being willfully ignorant or just stupid. That is exactly what I just said.”

    “No, but what I mean is... that was just a list of the most potent herbs for regression, not a real.. not an actual recipe! To actually make that stuff would be hugely expensive, and probably poisonous if you drank it.”

    “Yes, there were some setbacks before we corrected the concentration to an acceptable level of civilian losses.”

    Josef was dizzy, he leaned back in his chair. These crazy babies had hurt people. Civilians.

    He shut his eyes but the squeaky baby voice continued. “We found your recipe worked but it was scattershot. We could invoke permanent past life regression in all surviving under five year olds in a population but we didn’t know who we would be bringing back. Believe me it is not a pretty sight when a town full of babies all begin speaking different languages and trying to get in touch with their grandchildren overseas.

    “Now. You will have heard about the Embassy bombing two years ago. There were many high-level government casualties.”

    Josef nodded. The news guys had said it was probably funded by the Russians, or the Chinese... or Australia, or it could have been the Swedish? He didn’t pay much attention at the time.

    He looked around the table again and studied the baby nametags. “Of course... I know your names. You’re all...”

    “Dead. Yes, very inconvenient for us. We lost at least six months with that incident and a lot of man hours. But fortunately the incentive from the bombing declassified this project somewhat and opened up enough military funding for us to look at the next stage. We found your technique to pinpoint the location of a person’s next reincarnation was effective within a hundred mile range.”

    “So you found where the birth would be,” Josef asked, “then poisoned everyone in a hundred miles to find them? How many people get poisoned?!”

    Another baby, a cherubic Asian girl on the other side of the table, slammed her fist on her tray. Her nametag read “General Roy Standford”.

    “Look you little puke,” she piped, “It’s minimal. Less than four percent casualties from drinking the water, ok!” Standford exclaimed. “But your goddamn hippie crystal gazing doesn’t work anymore! I have had eight good men killed in the last four months and we can’t find them! Do you know how much it costs to train a new Navy Seal?!” Her voice cracked and Josef thought she might have been starting to cry. Baby hormones, Josef mused.

    “In a nutshell,” McTavish nodded. “It worked for a while but now it is getting less accurate. Our last search was for the retired Secretary of Veterans Affairs - we had to contaminate the Tajik water supply from Duachanbe to Garm.”

    Josef nodded, feeling dizzy. He had no idea what they were talking about, apart from the figure ringing in his ears - four percent of the people dead. Through HIS own recipe! He could visualise his own wheel of samsara, his own reincarnation path becoming much, much, much bigger.

    Josef set his head on the giant table with a dull ‘thud’. The room was silent for two minutes. Three.

    He suddenly looked up, surprising the assorted adults and infants with his wide grin and bright eyes. “That’s it!” he shouted.

    “Mr Zimmerman...” McTavish started, but Josef interrupted.

    “... I just realised it’s all your fault!”

    The room was filled with stunned silence. Josef knew he was supposed to be intimidated in here but not anymore.

    “Those soldiers,” he said, turning to Standford, “The baby seals you’re looking for now. They were part of the project, right?”

    Another baby shot Standford a warning glance but she waved it off. “Yes,” she replied, “snatch and grab once we could pinpoint where the Secretary was being born.”

    “Oooh, that makes perfect sense! It’s Karma!” He looked around, triumphant, but there was no response.

    “Karma is a myth,” McTavish retorted.

    “And babies don’t talk Mr Man!” Josef laughed. Maybe he did have some of that peyote last night after all? He felt high as a kite.

    “My paper was only about finding the reincarnation after a normal life. Normal!” Josef continued. “But you lot have taken the cake. Poisoning innocent people, snatching babies! Wow. The universe has booted you waaay of the map for this! I hope you’ve got good health insurance for this life cause the next hundred times round the only place your soldier teams will find you is the nearest roach motel!”

    The room erupted. The speakers on the highchairs screamed with feedback as all the babies started shouting at once. Two even climbed over their trays and it looked like they were trying to jump onto the table in order to reach Josef.

    Captain Cooper grabbed him by the scruff of his neck with one hand, pulling Josef’s seat out from under him with the other. Josef felt himself hustled out of the room, a familiar-looking manila folder narrowly missing his head as they left. Cooper hustled Josef back down the corridor and into a small interrogation room, pushing Josef onto a small chair then leaving and locking the door.

    It was at least three hours before Cooper returned with a small briefcase, one of his thugs alongside. Cooper placed the briefcase on the table in front of Josef and opened it, revealing five large bundles of hundred dollar bills and a passport.

    “You can never go back to your old life. If you can call it a life.” Cooper said bluntly. “But this will set you up wherever you want to go. I suggest as far away as you can go. Your passport and new ID is legitimate, your photo and fingerprints match.”

    “But why...?” Josef began.

    “Zimmerman,” the thug interrupted in a deep voice, “this military is a lot of things but we are not an oligarchy.”

    Cooper closed the briefcase, the latches clicking loudly in the empty room. “My orders were only to bring you here, not to make sure you stay here. I didn’t sign on to serve under hereditary rule and a lot of the men in my unit will agree.” Cooper said, handing him the briefcase as the thug steered Josef out the door. “You’re free to go. But go quickly. I don’t know the loyalties of the other troops in this building.”

    As Josef turned he heard the loud clatter as Cooper sent the chair flying to the other side of the interrogation room. “Damn kids” Cooper muttered loudly as Josef gathered himself and followed the thug towards the nearest exit.
     
  3. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Jinxibell - Life after Death

    Have you ever woken up to the sound of screaming?

    I opened my eyes in a hope to dissipate the horrific sounds from my relentless dream, only to find that the yells were in my world. My real world. It was still dark outside; I glanced over to my bedside clock – 2:20am. What is happening? Why is my father screaming? I raced out of bed and followed the sounds of anguish into my parent’s bedroom. “She’s not breathing! She’s not breathing! I can’t get her to breath! My angel! Please!” My father lay quivering next to my mother’s naked, exposed body on the bathroom floor. I cannot describe the wave of emotions that sped throughout my body. I was frozen for a split second until memories of first aid came streaming back. I ran to her side and immediately felt for a pulse … … … Nothing. I looked up at my father, desperation flashing through the broken man’s eyes, and I knew in that moment that my life would never be the same again.

    Whenever I used to watch tragedies in the movies, I used to laugh when the character would call 911 and be unable to remember their personal details. I remember thinking to myself that I would never be like that. I thought I would remain calm, collected and completely sane. This is one depiction of human reaction that the movies don’t lie about. I called the emergency services and tried very hard to explain what was happening. “She’s not breathing! I don’t know what to do! My mom is not breathing! Tell me what to do!” The lady on the other end of the line tried to calm me down – “Alright dear. Explain what has happened”. “I-I-I don’t know! I was asleep and then I heard my dad shouting that he couldn’t get her to breathe!”

    The lady spoke again, in a very soft and gentle voice spoken in such a manner as to create a sense of complete understanding, “Tell me your name darling.”
    “It’s... um…” I paused, horrified that I could not remember my own bloody name.
    “It’s Smith… um... Kayla Smith! Please help me!”
    “Ok Kayla, how long has your mom not been breathing for?”
    “Um… 20 minutes I think… um… maybe more!”
    “Ok sweetheart. Have you checked for a pulse?”
    “I have! She doesn’t have one! That is why I am phoning you! Please you have to help me! I have to make her breath again!”
    “I understand dear. What is your address? I will dispatch an emergency vehicle to you immediately.”
    “I live in… ah… oh my God I can’t believe this! … I know this, I just can’t remember…”
    “It’s ok sweetheart. Take a deep breath and try to remember your address for me.”
    “It’s number 2. Yes number 2!”
    “Ok. What is the name of your street?”
    “It’s number 2! The complex… it’s something Italian… Bella something. ****! Casa del Bella! That’s it!”
    “Very good! Now what street?”
    “Church!”
    “Wonderful. Well done. A vehicle has just left and is on its way to you as we speak. Now Kayla, is there anyone else there with you?”
    “Oh thank you! Thank you so much! Um, yes my father is here.”
    “Where is he now?”
    “He is in the bathroom. Sitting by my mom. He is trying to give her CPR, but nothing is happening!”
    “Ok darling. Go stay by your father. You need to be together. The ambulance will be there in about 15 minutes.”
    “Thank you so so much!”

    Those next 15 minutes felt like an eternity sitting next to my mother on the bathroom floor. After every 4 pushes that I made on her chest, my father would breathe heavily into her mouth, but all that was released was a horrific smell along with a gargle. I knew she was gone. I knew that I would never see her smile again or laugh at me when I tripped over my own feet like I always did. There was a man sitting along the other side of her. I didn’t recognise him anymore. He was still, as white as ghost and distant.

    I jumped as our intercom rang. For a second I could not comprehend where the sound was coming from. It rang again, triggering my memory. I ran to pick it up and let the ambulance in. I sprinted downstairs with every ounce of strength I had, splitting my finger on the wall. I opened the door and found a young lady and a middle-aged man, both dressed in blue, with red and white stripes around the collar and sleeves. Network 911 embroidered on the left side of their shirts. “Hello, are you Kayla?” asked the young lady. “Yes I am. She’s upstairs in the bathroom. She doesn’t have a top on. We took it off thinking it might help to keep her cool.” We all rushed upstairs and suddenly I was utterly numb. I stood motionless when I watched them put a heart monitor onto her faded skin. No emotions escaped my eyes when I heard them say that there was nothing more they could do and I watched my father fall to the ground with cries for his lost love. They moved her into her usually warm space in the bed and covered her with the bed sheet. I stood and stared at the place where a few hours before I had kissed her good night and wished her sweet dreams. On this day, Monday October 16th 2006, I said good bye to my mommy, to my strength, to my person and to my life as it had been for 18 years.

    The loss of someone you love is something you eventually learn to deal with. The pain however never goes away. The longing for her voice or her touch is something that stays with you forever, but your ability to breathe becomes easier. Slowly you start to feel like a person again. Never quite full of the life that consumed you before, but enough to continue with a remembrance of daily tasks. This was the most difficult experience that I have ever had to endure, but through it I learnt that there is definitely something after death. Something within you, whether you want to believe in it or not. It is purely your decision about how dedicated you are to existing with possibilities or to ignore them. But if you want to, you can create a legacy that you will be remembered by. A gift of yourself that you leave behind when the time comes to depart from this life.

    I was no more ready to see her die, than I was ready to feel her live inside of me. It must have been about a year after her passing when I first realised it. She was alive. Her smile had faded quite considerably, but she was there. It took me by surprise at first and I felt a little uneasy, but time had made me realise. Realise that my actions were a mirror of what I was missing the most. Realise that I was performing the same mindless tasks in the way she would have. All I could do was smile. She was within me, living every day as I do and showing pride for my achievements. And she was there. Always. She may not give me a hug at the end of the day. She may not dry my nightly tears, but every doing of mine is also a part of her and it has an element of her beauty within.
     
  4. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    rage - Life Goes On

    The old man was close to death. With a wheeze he pushed his frail body upright, to enable him to establish eye contact with his grandson. Their eyes locked, the old man’s tired and weary, the boys bright and full of hope. With a shaking and liver spotted hand, the old man lifted the oxygen mask to his face and inhaled deeply, his eyes never leaving the boy.

    “ Grandpa, are you alright? Do you need the nurse?”

    The old man waves his free hand dismissively at the boy, then set the mask down on the bed.

    “ how old are you boy?” he asked, pushing a few strands of white hair away from his eyes.

    “sixteen sir” replied the boy. Lowering his gaze to the ground.

    “sixteen” the old man repeated, nodding slowly to himself. “ and are you a good boy?”

    The boy shuffled uncomfortably on his chair by the bedside. “ i – i suppose so grandpa.”

    “ you have your farthers eyes. He looked just like you when he was your age. Of course, that was such a long time ago.”

    There was a moment of silence, the boy glancing around the room as he waited for his grandfather to continue.

    “ grandpa...you asked to see me. You said it was important.”

    “yes.” The old man shifted his gaze back to the boy. “ there is something that i have to tell you.”

    “something to tell me? Grandpa, im not sure i understand.” The boy shrugged.

    “ it has to be you boy...it has to be you.” The old man coughed, again taking a long breath on the oxygen mask.

    “ im dying.” Said the old man matter of factly. “ there is no escape from it now. Frankly, im glad. Im tired boy, tired and in need of my rest.”

    The boy frowned, chewing on his lip.

    “ Before i go, there is something that i need to tell you, something that nobody has ever been told beofre.”
    The boy was intreigued, as he leaned forward in his seat. “ what do you mean? I- i dont understand”

    The old man smiled, showing a mouth full of crooked, yellow teeth. “ you will boy, you will.”

    A flicker of fear ran through the boys body as the old man continued.

    “ what do you know of vampires boy?”

    The boy frowned. “ just what i have seen on tv, of course i have read dracula, other than that...not much. Sci fi is more my thing grandpa.”

    “ the old man smiled, just a curl of the lip this time, but the boy had noticed a definite change in the old man's demeanour. The boy thought this was how a hungry lion might look at its prey before it eats it.

    “ would you be surprised to know boy, that vampires are quire real. In fact, they are a part of our society? “

    The boy laughed now, breaking the tension. “ come on grandpa, everybody knows that the vampire myth is based around the story of vlad the impaler. We wrote a paper on it last term.”

    The old man smiled his lions smile once again. “ really....how can you be sure boy?”

    The boy was frustrated now, but wanst entirely sure why.

    “ grandpa, im not sure what you are saying exactly....”

    The old man nodded. “ yes you do.”

    The boy smiled, his not a lions smile, but a nervous grin. “ come on grandpa, im too old for ghost stories. What makes you think that vampires are real?”

    the old man smiled pleasantly.

    “ beacuse i am one of course.”

    The boy started to laugh, but cut himself short, instead swallowing deeply. The old man was looking straight at him, almost through him. They boy’s heart raced, yet we was unable to move.

    “ have no fear boy, it isnt as you have been conditioned to beleive. You are in no danger. Please, relax”

    The old man blinked and broke eye contact, a wave of releif filling the boy. He was shaking, yet couldnt risk running. He didnt trust his legs to hold his weight. His best hope was to humor the old man until he could make a break for it.

    “ w—Why am i here. Please dont hurt me.”
    The boy could not hide his terror. The thing in the bed oppsite no longer resembled his grandpa. The boy thought he could se a flicker of crimson in those grey eyes, or perhaps it was a trick of the light.

    “ forget all notions of our kind that you have read about in books boy. The reality is quite different. We do not drink blood, nor are we allergic to garlic or afraid of cricifixes.”

    “ what about sunlight?” asked the boy, willing his legs to stop shaking.

    “ harmless. We are no different to you in principal, except that we are immortal.”

    The boy frowned, curiosity taking over his fear for the time being.

    “i dont understand – you are so frail.... you said so youself that you are dying.”

    Thee old man nodded. “ yes..and no. the vampire is a creature of evolution. We are a parasite if you will. Attaching to a host and feeding on that host until it is time to move on.”

    The old man sat up with some effort. Turning towards the boy.

    “ sadly, unlike the movies that you watch or the books that you read, we have no regenerative abilities. Our hosts continue to age, and become ill. they die. We stay with them until such a time comes that we need to move on. If we do not, if our host dies before we can move to another, we also die.”

    The boy went pale, unable to speak. In response, the old man laughed dryly.
    “ do not be alarmed, i have not asked you here for any reason other than to talk. I am tired of existing. For centuries i have moved from body to body, drifting without purpose. I have seen enough. I intend to die along with this body that you see before you.”

    The boy nodded. “ how...how old are you exactly?”

    "This body is eighty seven. However my esscence, the vampire itself...”

    the old man contemplated frowning as he rubbed his chin.

    “i cannot recall. Time is meaningless to us. At least two thousand years. Perhaps more.”

    The boy exhaled, as the man smiled and lay back. “ yes, the time has come to rest. “

    The boy licked his lips, choosing his next words carefully.
    “ i still dont understand why you brough me here... why are you telling me this?”

    The old man smiled, for now back in the guise of the boys grandfather.

    “ knowledge can be a burden. You are young. Even if you choose to tell people of this you will not be taken seriously. I needed to get this off my chest.”

    “ you are using me?” the boys cheeks flushed with anger. “ what if i dont beleive a word of this, what if its the ramblings of a crazy old man if – “

    The old man moved with inhuman speed. Before the boy could react the old man had a hold of his wrist and was pulling the boy closer. The boy tried to squirm free, but the old mans grip was like iron. Their faces were only a few inches apart, the boy could smell the tobacco laced breath of the old man who whispered now in a low voice. Their eyes were locked, the boy now unable to dismiss the red flecks in the old mans eyes as a trick of the light. There was an eveil burning deep inside this man, and those eyes were like windows to the furnace.

    “ do not mock me i.—“

    The old man released his grip, convulsing back onto the bed and clutching at his chest. The boy tumbled to the floor, before quickly getting to his feet and watching. The old man was his grandfather again, his expression screwed up in agony. “ help me boy. Help me...”

    The door burst open ,as two nurses hurried into the room. They worked on the old man as the boy looked on in shock from the corner. The old man was silent now, as the nurse attempted to resuccitate the old mans heart. after a few minuites of frenzied activity They stopped, the room falling silent.
    The nurse looked over to the boy, who was still staring at the figure on the bed.

    “ im sorry” she said to him. “ he’s gone”

    The boy nodded, before walking slowly towards the still open door.
    “ excuse me young man” the nurse called after him. “ Do you want me to call anyone, family or –“

    She stopped mid sentence. The boy was looking at her over his shoulder, A wry smile on his face. She thought it was the kind of smile that a hungry llion might give to its prey just before he ate it. It must have been a trick of the light, as she was sure that she saw a breif flicker of crimson in his blue eyes.

    “ no need for that.” The boy said to her. His eyes drifting towards the old man on the bed.

    “ afterall, life goes on doesn't it?”

    without waiting for a response from the nurse he turned and quietly left, closing the door gently behind him.
     
  5. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    groovybananas - When You're Dead

    Oh no, I suppose it was not the normal way to die.
    Normal is a car crash.
    Cancer.
    Bystanders and guns.
    Drowning.
    Jumping off a building.
    Pills.
    And I thought was normal in every way. Apparently I was not. I was swinging. Most people assumed death was from impact, but the doctors secretly speculated for the impact is not what could have killed me. But I know the truth, it was when I flew through the air as I had done so many times before, yet this time life found a broken seam and managed to slip by fleeing from me. I died before I hit the ground.
    “What a pity,” I said sitting cross legged beside my empty corps. The girl next to me agreed.
    “You’re taking this much better than I ever did,” she said admiringly envious.
    “Really?”
    “Yeah, for the first three days I kept trying to stuff myself back in there.”
    “Oh. . . . . hadn’t thought of that. . . . . “
    “Don’t try it, doesn’t work. “
    I nodded as if I already knew, and in a way, I already did.
    We sat there in silence as a familiar person, though I could not say who, ran to the souless puppet calling out my name, screaming and trembling as she registered the blood running down from the back of the head, as she noticed that the rib cage no longer ran in sync with the lungs. It was a pitiful looking heap and I felt rather guilty. I had just abandoned this carcass, and for no good reason. It had fingers and legs that worked, a brain that added and subtracted and conjugated and memorized. It had muscles that bent and stretched. It had blue eyes that soaked in the beauty of the world. But my guilty feeling didn’t last for long, because I suddenly realized that I was no longer at the mercy of the confines of the doll.
    And the more I though, the farther I lifted off the ground. My fingers and toes started to fade into the matter of the wind. My old life seeping into the ribbons of all that was around me: the sky, the trees, the dirt, the rusting see-saw, and the discarded juice box. I was meshing into everything giving away my thoughts and feelings, or so I thought, but in a quick jolt of fear I pulled myself back together.
    The girl who had been sitting beside me was now up in the air with me. “Yes, be careful of that,” she warned as if she couldn’t have told me sooner. Then on another note she decided to make an observation, “Your death seemed perfectly lovely compared to mine.” She was looking over at the swing set absent mindedly as sirens charged nearer and people’s heads turned.
    But that no longer mattered, something else was more curious to me, “How did you. . . . “I couldn’t think of the word I was looking for. The word “death” didn’t seem proper for this type of passing.
    “Die?”
    “Well no-“
    “Well yes! What else did you think we did?” She was now crossing her arms and glaring at me. She was a beautiful deep color with hair shaved close to her head, her brown eyes sharp and narrow. She looked younger than me yet stood four inches taller on even ground. I noticed that the words I heard coming out of her mouth did not match the way her lips popped and smacked.
    I guess language doesn’t really matter when you’re dead.
    I conceded. “How did you die?” I asked using the word.
    “I was walking up the stairs of a bus. There’s nothing worse than finding that there is one less step than you thought,” she paused and her eyes glazed. I saw as she also faded slowly into wind as she thought, just as I had been fading before. She snapped back. “Life escaped me in that half second. “
    My physical body was long since gone now; suddenly I noticed that the sun was climbing over the horizon.
    “Morning?”
    “Don’t try to keep track, we’ve probably been sitting here for days. “
    I guess time doesn’t really matter when you’re dead.
    “What about him?” I asked gesturing over to a man who I had notices standing quietly by the jungle gym. His focus was toward the rising disk of light as if he had never seen it before.
    I guess familiarity doesn’t really matter when you’re dead.
    “I was sleeping,” his old crackly voice whimpered over to us sounding as grey as the hairs clinging to his head. “Dreaming of something. . . . . nothing important, obviously, and it was right before I died in my dream to wake up in reality. In that jump, my life found a hole and took a run for it.”
    Yes that seemed to be the way of things. Life didn’t like bars of bones.
    Then a thought occurred to me, “What are we waiting for?”
    Both the girl and the old man snapped their heads to me, and so did everyone else, all the others who had lost their life and couldn’t find where it had run to. I couldn’t see them but I could feel them. There was more than I expected.
    “I don’t know. “ The answer seemed casual and lighthearted enough, but I didn’t buy it.
    I already knew the answer; we were waiting for what lies beyond this state. What lies beyond this world of wandering, lost souls. We knew how to get there, but we were afraid of the unknown, as souls most always are.
    I wasn’t afraid though.
    Death doesn’t really matter when you’re dead.
    So I let myself fade starting at the tips of my fingers and the edge of my memory, I gave myself back to the life that surrounded me.
    . . .
    “Congratulations! It’s a girl!”
    The mother, sticky and sweaty reached out for her newborn daughter. The father, trying to keep his composure put a steady hand on his wife’s shoulder; the other palm cupped the tiny head of the fragile baby. Her blue eyes opened sparkling with new life, carrying on the tradition of those who came before her.
     
  6. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Darkjester79 - Together

    “What is happening to me?” Is the last coherent thought though my mind as I try desperately to avoid the oncoming semi. Tires screech, horns blare and the sick sound of metal rending metal overwhelms my ears. Then the pain, sudden and violent and all I see is what I was, a collection of moments.

    There when I was two, I fell off the swing set and my mom laughed but kissed my sore knee with love. There at my tenth birthday party, with all my friends and family. There again at seventeen, losing my virginity at a random party to a random girl. At twenty-three, the first time I saw her, Lydia, the love of my life for as short as it was. All of it, a parade of images within my mind, everything held close slipping away from me. I can’t concentrate with the screams and the sirens. I try to tell whoever is screaming to quiet down but my mouth doesn’t work. I try to move but my body protests. “What is happening to me?” Is all I have time for before I am no more.

    At first all is darkness. Then light, soft and warm, illuminates a vast void of nothing and myself at its center. Fear fills me for a moment, then confusion. I was a good person in life and this certainly was not heaven nor did it look anything like hell. Where was I?

    “David.” A low rumbling voice rings out clearly through the void, powerful and loving. I look around and see no one. “God?” I meekly ask. The darkness explodes with images from my life, my greatest accomplishments, and my lowest points. Everything is stunning and beautiful. A moment later they fade and the accident wraps around me. I watch in agonizing clarity the semi once again smash my car to scrap, the rending of steel and glass, my body….and hers. She is lying beside me, the paramedics having pulled us both free of the wreckage. Painfully we reach for each other and I see she mouths “I love you.” to me but I am already gone. Then she lays her head down and she too slips the bindings of the mortal coil. Made flesh by the vision, I kneel down at her side as everything slows to a halt. The frantic tension of the scene dissipates leaving me with Lydia. Tentatively, I caress her head and hands, tears welling then spilling forth mingling with her blood. Grief strikes me hard then as I close my eyes to fight the sobs down. She wouldn’t want me to cry. Again I fail, my heart bursting open as I scream and cry to the heavens above, massive wracking coughs overwhelming me. “David.” She says softly to me as her eyes open. Frightened, I stumble backwards from her only to see that she is alive and unharmed. I drink her in, her eyes as wide and caring as always. She is wearing the radiant smile that attracted me to her in the first place, her hair flowing, her skin glowing. I can hardly believe my eyes. Then we are crying and hugging and the scene fades leaving us alone in the spotlight again. Two corridors of light appear, one to what could only be paradise and the other a nursery in a hospital. She turns to me and I to her, doubt on both of our faces. “Together?” She calls out to the darkness but there is no reply. “Would we be able to find each other again?” My turn and again we are met with silence. This has to be our decision.

    “Lydia…” I start but she puts her finger to my mouth shushing me. “I will go where you want to go David. Don’t interrupt me, I have to say this. If you want to go into the light I am with you. I love you David Carter and will always be with you no matter what happens. If we go back, I will find you, rest assured and we can try again at this thing they call life.” Softly, I kiss her, that’s my Lydia. So strong, filled with quiet resolve, she would follow this fool to the ends of the earth had I asked it of her. Gently, I intertwine my fingers with her and head for the two corridors, unsure of what my decision is. The spot light stays on us until we are before them. Slowly I step in, determined it’s what is best for us both, as the light embraces me, suffuses me and I am gone.

    There’s a moving van in the driveway next to us. Mom says we are getting new neighbors today. I rush through my snack and try to go out to watch but mom says I have to do my homework. I do it quickly and she lets me go. Exploding out the door, I race pass two movers who yell and mumble bad words at me as I make it to the edge of the neighbor’s lawn. I want to say hi but I’m scared. My mom walks up to me a few moments later and together we walk up to their door and she knocks on the wall. A very nice looking woman comes out and greets her as my mom tells her that we are neighbors. She smiles and then bends down to me. “I have a little girl that is in need of a friend right now. Her dog was hit by a car before we moved and she could use someone to talk to.” I nod and she points to the stairs. Quietly, I walk up the stairs, hearing someone sobbing as I reach the top. Down the hall I go until I am standing outside her door. Carefully, I knock and the crying trails off. “Who is it?” She calls after a moment. “My name is David. I’m the kid next door.” I say with a smile. There is shuffling then the door opens and she is standing there before me, tears still wetting her eyes. She is trying to smile but I know she is sad. “What’s your name?”

    “Lydia. My name is Lydia.”
     
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