Smells Like Reanimated Spirits

You’re at a burial, dressed in shoes you didn’t have time to polish or lace up correctly. It’s a grey sort of day, overcast with rain coming soon. They’re lowering the casket into the ground and all you can do is stare at the stubborn knot in your shoelaces.

Someone lights up a cigarette after the service is over and you move away to avoid the smoke. Your heels slip into the soft ground and you get mud on the hemline of your clothes. You stop to catch your breath after a long day and close your eyes. You smell rain in the air.

There’s a piano you can hear in the nearby chapel playing a soft tune. You think they’re playing “Amazing Grace” and then it changes. A sudden thought strikes you: “I must get back into the car before the last note. Once the last note plays, it’ll start raining.”

You’re heading back to the car when you see a man standing at the fence. He’s dressed in overhauls and a flannel shirt, looking directly at you. You glance away but are drawn back by the man’s intense stare. He’s holding something in his hand. A letter? A book? You can’t tell. You feel you must find out, before the last piano note…

wendy-scofield-531052-unsplash.jpg

Dodging headstones and mushy half-buried plots alike, you walk to the fence. And the man. Conveniently, they are both in the same direction. As you walk, you wonder at the prevalence of recently-turned earth. Just how many people have died lately?

The eerie piano playing from the chapel plays background beat to your even tread. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” will do that to a person, even if it’s a piano cover version and therefore lacks that awesome bass guitar.

Your attention draws back to the overall man who is fascinated with staring. Some people clearly need a hobby, especially since there are a lot more interesting things to stare at than a muddy-hemmed, sneaker-clad burial-crasher like you. You get closer and closer, noting his lack of blinking; his lack of attention on a bird that poops on his shoulder or on a passing dog that relieves itself on his trouser leg.

Just before you call out to him, his image blips and reloads. He is a clean, staring man again, proferring a flat object that is meant to look like a book. Thunder rumbles nearby, and he finally glances to the grey and heavy clouds. His gaze returns to you, who have stopped just before the projection of him.

“244224,” he says, monotone. “42,” he adds. Then, “2442.” He beeps.

You roll your humanoid eyes, reminded of how your familial assigners could not be happy with a short sequence like all the others. “Yes?”

“Precipitation imminent. Nirvana ending. Accept reanimation.” *Beep*

Your eyebrows raise. “Reanimation??”

“Affirmative.” He pauses, then remembers to *Beep!*

You look back and around at all the mounds of dirt, and swallow. It’s not easy considering the difficulties the body emulators had in transferring your normal shape to a humanoid form, but you manage. The sky growls again. A spot of earth near you seems to as well, but perhaps it’s the simulated imagination you’re equipped with.

Whipping back around to the hologram, you place your right forearm directly over the outstretched object in its hand image. The flat object glares a red light of warning. You realign. Still red. The growling from below ground is definitely not just your imagination now and you grit your teeth in frustration.

“Please align to shape,” the ‘man’ intones.

You try again and get the angry light again.

“Please align to shape,” he repeats.

Just as a very visible hand claws through the mud to your side and just as the final lingering notes of the piano are played, the tablet magically accepts your forearm’s outline and turns blue. “Code accepted.”

Your humanoid form releases a sigh of relief just before dematerializing. Your normal self, meanwhile, has a final, comforting thought. I am so glad that finally activated. Earth’s a real downer during a zombie apocalypse.

daniel-jensen-354568-unsplash

 

From the story prompt beginning shared by the highly-imaginative, amazing, wonderful, and fantastic Peregrine Arc.

You can play, too! The submission window closes on April 12.

 

Photo Credits:
Daniel Jensen
Wendy Scofield

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Don't take life too seriously. No one gets out alive.

Where do we go when we die? Is there only a here, a hereafter, or heresy?

In my religion of raising, I was taught an elaborate outline of eternity. Don’t worry; I won’t go into the details and bring out all the flip-charts and what-not. It sufficeth me to say that I was taught of a continued existence, one of retained Earthly knowledge and experiences that will lead to rewards based on behavior -and potential for eventual godhood.

It’s a pretty awesome concept.

Problem is, you know… stuff like no evidence. I am a very logic-driven person where hormones are not involved. I agree with non-religious peoples that nothing after death makes a lot of sense. I agree that tests, wherein people die in order to tell a waiting group about life after death, are unsuccessful. I agree that bodies decompose and Egyptian pharaohs never took their gold with them to the afterlife and that most humans do not see dead people.

I’m just a little hung up on those who have had visions, on stories of people coming back from Death’s door, and on personal spiritual experiences.

Not all of those who exhibit faith are crazy. Many of my neighbors are level-headed and intelligent. They pray, and speak about knowing that life after death is true.

For me, my most major of quandaries is how special human beings are. We are inventive, able to learn, intelligent (overall), social, observant, dynamic, versatile, etc. Most of all, we are self-aware. am self-aware.

I just can’t get around the idea of absolute non-existence after dying because of my logical sentience.

Wishful thinking? I hope not. I hope this life is not all there is because that is a very limited time, indeed.

What about someone whose life really sucks? What about a guy born into ignorance and poverty, who lives as a slave his whole life and dies from tapeworm at age 15? What kind of existence was that?

Are we but dust in the wind? Or, do we contain the essence of eternity?

 

Whilst we ponder on this lightweight topic, I’ll post what I did for the past week:
Wednesday, November 28: Oh My Flippin’ Heck, thoughts and a query into how acceptable cussing in literature can be.
Thursday, November 29: Skinwalkers, XLIII
Friday, November 30: Winner of The Third Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest announced. Congratulations at last, Bruce.
Saturday, December 1: Beginning of The Fourth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest (Post a poem!).
Also, The Festival of Trees, with Children, a boring account of a neat event (with pictures).
Sunday, December 2: The Black Hole Beyond, a flash fiction entry for Carrot Ranch Literary Community.
Monday, December 3: Wilhelmina Winters, Seventy-Four,
and The Children’s New Clothes over at my motherhood site. I had a lot of fun writing this one, though not as much fun sorting laundry.
Tuesday, December 4: Inspirational Quote by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Wednesday, December 5: This post.