Mid-Week Flash Challenge – Week 229
It has been a while since I joined in with Miranda Kate’s mid-week flash challenge, but this little piece – which I’ve called In The Liminal for now, but I’m not sure about that title-just popped up in my head out of nowhere. It wasn’t until I was halfway through writing it that I realised it was actually set in the universe of the very first novel I tried to write: Standing Room Only On The Soulbus. Maybe one day I will return to that long since abandoned novel, now that I actually know how to write one.
If you want to join in with mid-week flash, the General Guidelines can be found here, and everyone is welcome.
In The Liminal
When you die, there is a light. That part, people have got right. Everything else….Well. It’s a bit tricky to explain to a human, no offense, because your senses are really quite limited. We do our best to make it easy on you, but often we use…let’s just say visual metaphors. Not illusions as such, but stories, to help you come to terms with the incomprehensible.
So we start with the blinding light. It’s a little disorienting, I’m not surprised that’s all people who get resuscitated remember about it. If you see the light but get pulled back into your meatsuit, you don’t really have time for your senses to adjust to the death plane, so all you remember is light.
After the light there comes the darkness. That’s generally when people realise they’re dead actually. When you’re in the darkness you recall your past deeds, and that can be painful. Panic inducing even, because a lot of them think they’re stuck there forever. To be fair, some of them are.
The darkness lifts only when you’re ready to move forward, and that means accepting your own darkness. For some of you, that’s just too hard.
I used come back here, sometimes, and listen to the wailing, when I was a new recruit. You want to comfort them, but they can’t perceive you at that stage so there’s no point. You just upset yourself.
You can help them later though, when they get to the corridor. I know it seems bland, anticlimactic even, but that’s actually very calculated. It’s grayscale and virtually featureless, just your standard everyday corridor, with doors leading off the sides. For the overwhelming majority of humans, it’s familiar, maybe even comforting after the piercing light and the whispering darkness. And, yeah, some do just sit there and go all catatonic but the majority of them will, at some point, start to walk, and try a door or two.
Behind the doors? Depends, really. On their faith, on their deeds, on what the God that has claimed their soul wants from them.
No, don’t touch that one! You do not want to go through an Emergency Exit, trust me on this. Terrible fate to happen upon any soul, however evil they may have been.
Now where was I? Oh yes, doors.
Broadly speaking I suppose you could say that behind the doors are lessons, and tests. At some point, when they’ve been through enough doors, and their gods are satisfied, a new door will open up, a special one, and it’ll be opened by an emissary from their deity, and the soul will pass on to their afterlife of choice.
Now I know what you’re going to say. What about all those atheists? They’re not actually that much of a problem really, though it was an absolute embuggerance of paperwork when it first started getting all trendy. But once we figured out that in the depths of their soul most atheists think of death as The Great Big Sleep, it was easy. Once they’ve done a few doors we subtly nudge them towards a door with a great big bed with fresh clean sheets and a nice comfy pillow, and we leave them to slumber. Job done.
No, what’s really causing a logistical nightmare right now, is the people like you, full offense intended. Bloody agnostics. You’re a pain in my arse. You maybe believe in something, but you maybe don’t, and all you really believe is that it’ll all get sorted out somehow after you die. And who has to sort that mess out? Muggins here, that’s who.
There’s pressure on every afterlife to take in agnostic asylum seekers, and sometimes if you have a strong familial link they’ll let you in, but honestly applying for citizenship is a nightmare, and it’s all a bit…political. And the soul sanctuaries – refugee camps really – are full to bursting. We got some busses in and converted them into temporary accommodation, but even they’re standing room only.
So anyway, I was reviewing some case files of your life, and I quite like the cut of your jib. Besides you’re quiet and I can’t be doing with any chit chat really. So I pulled you out of all that nonsense, bypassed all the performance with the doors because I can’t be bothered coming up with tests for you, and, for now, you’re gonna be working here, with me, in The Liminal.
It’s an easy enough job really, as I say. Just stay out of the darkness, don’t give any angels any lip because they’re arseholes and they’ll report you, and keep the humans away from the Emergency Exits. I can’t stress that enough.
Oh and mine’s a tea with two, just a little splash of milk. Kettle’s down the corridor.
If you enjoyed In the Liminal, you may enjoy Victoria Pearson’s short story collections.
Did In the Liminal inspire you to write your own Strange Story? You may like My Strange Notebook, the creative prompt journal for those too chaotically creative to journal.Follow Victoria on social media: