No Longer Dead
By Travis LeaBeck
I remember as a child that my mother always said I was special. She always said something about the heavens being with me and that I was eternally blessed. What she meant by that, I have no idea. There have been multiple times where I should have been dead. In fact there have been many times where I have died. I always seem to walk away barely hurt, always living life on the edge and somehow the doctors always manage to bring me back. Somehow no matter how far beyond the grave I seemed to be I was always given a second chance. A lot of second chances.
So, this time, when I died and I stayed dead, you can imagine how much of a surprise it was to me. Sure I've died before and I know what it's like, but this was just a total shocker. I guess that my luck just ran out. Maybe it was because the blessing had worn off. Well it does seem as though the blessing wasn't eternal. Well, damn this sucks. The light is so bright. Yea I know it is stereotypical but there is a light. I've been here before, stuck between two worlds, but the light has never been so blinding.
"Welcome child to the realm of the dead," pipes in an omnipotent Wizard of Oz kind of voice. Here we go again. "Ahh excuse me, it is our dear friend Terra. How many times is this now? Twelve? Thirteen? Ahh, yes 13th time is the charm as they say..."
"Actually, Hermes it's the...."
"Never mind that child. Congratulations! You are dead. You can finally pass over the veil."
"Ummmm.... Well thank you I suppose," I mutter in a mumbled voice not sure how to react to his overwhelming cheeriness. A small man like creature walks out of the light.
"Hello, it is a pleasure to finally meet you face to face," says the strange, little man, if that's what you could call him. This peculiar little person stood about 3 and a half feet high. He was adorned with a beautiful purple gown that looked as though it was made out of the finest silk available to man or god. He sported a finely combed beard and was only slightly balding. His eyes were of a rich green. Well, at least, his two normal ones were. A third slightly larger eye rested upon the tops of his brows and constantly changed colors. His skin was as white as an albino's skin but not in a sickly sort of way.
"So, what was it this time?" says the peculiar little man with the large voice, "did you get stabbed, shot, car wreck, bombed, or what?"
Taken aback by his nonchalant way of asking me these piecing questions I manage to stutter out that I had died in my sleep.
"Meh, so many fascinating deaths throughout your life and you finally die in your sleep? Boring!"
By this time I'm scratching my head in slight confusion. "Ummm, I'm sorry..."
"Hahahaha, I was just messing with you kid. We have met before but never in person. I'm the one who greets you every time you die, obviously."
I look around my surroundings more closely. I've been here many times in my life so I thought I would know this place like the back of my hand. However, something felt different this time. Maybe it is because I was finally dead. Maybe it is because of the strange, little man standing a mere two feet away. Another strange thing about him is that he isn't plump like most little people. He was actually rather small. More like a child than a midget.
"Not quite what you expected me to look like, right?" asks the man as though he were intruding in on my very thoughts.
"Ummmmmm, I...I...expected you to be a little taller," I stutter. The words pop out before I even had time to think about what I was doing. I flinched in fear of invoking the wrath of a god. I glance up warily to see that he hasn't moved an inch. What does that matter though? He could probably kill me without moving.
"Terra, how can I possibly kill you if you are already dead?" The man laughs wildly as he says this. "Oh, dear you don't even know my name yet. I am so sorry. We should have taken care of the formals by now." He walks forwards and extends his arm. "My name is Vern, dear friend. Some call me Hermes. Others call me Gabriel. I have many names."
I eagerly shake his hand and ask, "Ummm, why is it that I have never met you before?"
"Isn't that obvious? This is your final time dying this life so here I am. In fact this is your last time dying period. This has been your final human life. It is now time for you to move on. It is now time to begin a new journey. A journey without life and without death. Are you ready to step beyond life?"
"You mean heaven?"
"Not exactly." With surprising swiftness Vern begins to draw strange symbols in the air. They quickly materialize and disappear just as fast. The room begins to darken. My eyes...closing...body...dropping...spirit lifting... soul opening and closing... life...death...over.
The End of All Beginnings
A distant voice rings out. "Terra! Terra! Hold up!" My little sister comes barreling out the front door and makes her way out of the front yard. I'm already at the end of the street and can barely see what she's carrying in her frail little arms. She had always been a beautiful little girl. A little on the lanky side, but entering into the seventh grade she already had the attention of all the boys her age. I stop at the corner and wait for her to make her way down the rest of the sidewalk. Even though she is much closer, I still cannot make out the unknown object that rests in her arms.
Breathing somewhat heavily, my sister hands me the mysterious object. It appeared to be a box of some kind. Maybe it was meant to hold jewelry. I gave my sister a puzzling look and questioned her as to what this was all about.
"I don't know either. Mom said not to open it, so I didn't," Sal was normally a very curious person and, if you told her not to do something she'd do it right away. Before you could even get the words, "Don't turn a..." she would have already done a 180 and trying to face the impending danger. So as to why she obeyed and didn't peek into the unorthodox box puzzled me just as much as what could have been inside. "I swear I didn't. Mom said that it was very important. She said that she felt the time was right and that it would bring you much luck on your journey, whatever that meant."
"Yeah whatever that meant. Pffft, and luck? I don't believe in luck. Superstition if you ask me." As I undo the latches on the container I question this uneasy statement. I remember the fact that I have died 12 times. That I had gotten through life with just scrapes and bruises, if that. I take a closer look at the box. It's small, black, and plain. But one each of the three latches strange symbols and pentagrams are engraved into them.
"I'm sorry sister," Sal nervously states as she gently tugs my arm.
It was hard for me to rip my gaze away from the dull but fascinating little box and ask what she was apologizing for. "You didn't do anything wrong." It's strange how much remorse is in those beautiful blue eyes. How could she be so sad when she did nothing wrong?
"I...I...did try to open the box, but I couldn't get it. I think it's stuck. I'm so sorry for lying to you, Terra! Please don't be mad"
I laugh at the thought of this. "I couldn't be angry at you little sister. I love you, and something little like this couldn't possibly make me mad. You've always been too honest for your own good Salina. But it's human nature to lie, especially about little things like this. You don't have to get so upset about it."
Sal's eyes brighten up and she grasps onto me giving me a proper hug that almost knocked the box out of my hand that I had all but forgotten about. "Woops! Sorry. Thank you. You always know the right thing to say." I put my hand on her tiny little head and ruffle up her hair. "Hey, no fair!" I move out of the way as she tries to jump and touch the top of my head.
Almost instantly we both revert our attention back to the box. "Maybe I can pry it open. Seeing as I'm bigger and stronger. I mean just look at those frail little arms." Sal sticks her tongue out at me. I flip all three latches up with no effort at all and give my sister a quizzical look.
"That's not the hard part. Look!" I hold the box as my sister tries to open it to reveal the insides. It doesn't budge at all. She even takes it out of my hands and tips it over trying to spill the contents inside over the soft grass. Still nothing.
"That's weird." I take the box back into my hands and open the lid so easily that I almost fell to the ground partially in surprise and partially because of the added force I put onto it.
You attempted to pull a veil over my eyes, but it was clearly see through.