So what happens after you die? Do you go to heaven…or hell? Or do you go to a special place fashioned just for you and based on the life you’d lived in the real world? Based on how you treated people? What you did to them?
And do ghosts exist? Do they roam the earth and plague the living, persuade them to do things they shouldn’t do?
Two brothers and their tale follow…their journey through life and death. Their reward for the lives they’d lived.
Do you believe in ghosts? Some do.
Oh, I’d already figured out I was dead. There was no other sensible conclusion to arrive at. When I awoke–if awaking was the right term because suddenly after a time of blackness there I was–I was sitting on top of a fresh grave in this quaint but uncared for cemetery I recognized as the one down the road from our house. There was no headstone on it yet so I couldn’t read the name of the current inhabitant. Perhaps it wasn’t my grave, wasn’t my headstone to come. Or that’s what I hoped.
Sooty clouds raced above, dried leaves danced in a chill wind around the tombstones. It was raining, a steady forlorn drizzle that had soaked everything. Drab splotches of brown spotted the earth and bundles of witchy dead branches bounced round me like tumbleweeds. There were no birds. No creepy crawly insects. Not a living thing. The colors were off, too. Everything had a veneer of gray covering it and the air around me hummed with eerie echoes, as if a crowd of people were whispering just beyond the threshold of my hearing. It hurt my head, made me irritable. Angry.
I looked down at myself and was surprised to see I was dressed in my old brown suit. The one I only wore to weddings or funerals. It was too tight and the legs too short. I’d always meant to buy a new one but somehow had never gotten around to it. After all, I hadn’t attended a funeral or a wedding in years.
I could see through myself. Damn, I was a pane of glass. I wiggled my fingers in front of my face. They were transparent, too.
My head was really killing me now, making me realize I could feel pain. Again, I thought that odd. Where was I and what the heck was I doing here? Sheesh. Must have really laid one on last night. Maybe I should stay off the booze for a couple of days. What a trip. I racked my brain but couldn’t recall what had gotten me here. Hmmm.
No, I was alive, wasn’t I? Wasn’t I? This was just some sort of drink induced hallucination. Right?
Rising to my feet, the mud on the grave remained clinging to the ground and wet blades of grass, yet my suit was clean. Gazing around at the gravesites, I thought I was alone but then, out of the corner of an eye, caught another see-through person scampering away. It’d been hiding behind a tree, spying on me. As it vanished into the rain curtain amidst the fringe of trees surrounding the cemetery I heard it laugh. A you-poor-sucker-you-don’t-have-a-clue-yet-do-you laugh. Let me tell you, that didn’t reassure me much. It didn’t sound human.
I blinked and everything turned black and shadowy for a moment and slowly came back into focus. My left hand disappeared and reappeared. My outline blurred.
Something huge skittered around in the branches of the trees above me and made a heart-stopping screech. Again, nothing human.
Oh, I was dead all right. Dead as a doornail. Dead as someone without a pulse, or a heartbeat, and whose blood has stopped moving in their veins, could be. It was the why, how and when that eluded me. I fought to remember what had happened before I’d found myself sprawled on the grave, but once more there was nothing. A frustrating blank.
Was this my paradisiacal reward, some in-between limbo or was it, heaven help me, hell? If it was heaven, it was one weird one. There were no angels and harp music. No fluffy clouds of cotton-candy white. No departed dear ones to welcome and comfort me.
“Well, what am I supposed to do now, for Pete’s sake?” I grilled the silent graves around me. I had the overwhelming feeling I was supposed to be somewhere else. That I had somewhere very important to go, something very important to do…but couldn’t remember where or what it was.
“Hey, anyone around. Anyone here?” I yelled into the waning afternoon. Of course, no answer. Nothing. The silence was beginning to freak me out. My laugh startled me. Who did I expect to be in a cemetery anyway? The dead don’t make small talk or noise. The dead are…dead.
I wove through and around the burial plots and when approaching the street I checked for cars before I crossed. There were none. I hadn’t seen even one, nor a truck, a motor scooter or a bicycle, since I’d woken up. No airplanes in the ashen sky.
I had to go home. Tessa must be worried sick. Tessa. My wife of twenty-five years. Long blond hair that softly framed her sweet understanding face. Those large amber eyes that’d laugh at me, so full of love and tenderness. My beautiful Tessa. The mother of my son. The love of my life. My angel. A flood of memories washed over me and I sighed in relief. Grateful I remembered something. I had a family, a home and a wife.
I needed to get back to them.
The insight came to me that things hadn’t been very good between us lately; hadn’t been for a long time. In fact, I recalled Tessa had asked for a separation or something like it. That wasn’t good. I loved her and would never be able to live without her.
Hmmm. What else was I not remembering?
My house, our house, Tessa’s and mine, was a few streets over and I carefully made my way there. At first I was afraid I couldn’t leave the cemetery grounds. As I stepped into the street something pulled at me, trying to yank me back. I tore free and kept trekking. Everything I did and everything I saw seemed to be moving in slow motion, like a bad dream. My feet were heavy at the ends of my legs and I was shuffling through air as thick as honey.
If this was what being dead was like, I didn’t like it one bit. I felt…lost. Unsettled. As if this was punishment for something.
My Grandmother Celie, my mom’s mother, a hag of a woman who never liked me but hated my poor brother, Gerald, even more, used to describe what she thought the afterlife would be like.
It’s nothing, sonny. An inky, bottomless, sideless, nothing where you’d never feel anything…ever…again. In time, it’d drive you plum insane, she’d cackle like some old witch. That’s what a person gets when they aren’t good people. Heck, she should talk. She was the most miserly woman I’d ever known. Never helped no one. Never really cared about no one but herself. She died alone after falling down her basement steps and breaking her neck. Her body laid there for four days before anyone, a neighbor, upon seeing her starving dog running around in endless circles outside in the back yard days later, thought to check on her. When he couldn’t get an answer from ringing the doorbell for ten minutes he called 911.
Of course, she was very dead.
Poor old lady, they said. But I never felt any pity for the selfish woman. She should have had that First Alert thingie for around her neck or at least carried a cell phone. Some people just aren’t real smart, I guess.
I kept walking.
Since childhood Kathryn Meyer Griffith has been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before quitting to write full time. She began writing novels at 21, over forty years ago now, and have had sixteen (nine romantic horror, two romantic SF horror, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel and two murder mysteries) previous novels and eight short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.
Kathryn has been married to Russell for thirty-four years; has a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and lives in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo.
All Kathryn Meyer Griffith’s Books available at Amazon.com here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Kathryn+Meyer+Griffith
Buy Link at Damnation Books: http://damnationbooks.com/people.php?author=79
Buy Link at Damnation Books: http://damnationbooks.com/people.php?author=79