Monday, March 7, 2016

How To Survive The Afterlife: Human Edition (A New Serial Fun For All Dimensional Beings)

Hello ladies, gentlemen, inter-dimensional beings, and those living in parallel worlds! Welcome to the very first installment of my new Blog Serial! It'll be updated every MONDAY! And of course, I wouldn't be a good writer if I didn't whore myself out, so before you read this please remember the following:

If you enjoy this story pretty please spread the love! Retweet, re-blog, re-post this story to friends who would enjoy it, send it out across the universe and other dimensions. However please don't send it to your doppelganger. That's a dangerous idea. You could end up dead or in another universe.

DON'T DO THAT OKAY? 

And now I present for your viewing pleasure the story of Ben Bennington who has just discovered that he's actually very very dead, and the afterlife is anything but normal. There are forms to fill out, important pamphlets to read, and of course, very dangerous but possibly harmless new friends. And inter-dimension travel. Can't forget about that! Oh yes, and please mind the gap.


HOW TO SURVIVE THE AFTERLIFE: HUMAN EDITION



CHAPTER 1




        Have you ever had that moment when you realize you've died? I mean, it's a really big moment. Mind blowing really. If you had a mind to blow. But when you lose your body, suddenly human colloquialisms like that don't really make sense. I'm still trying to process it myself. The closest I can compare it to is the feeling you get when you're driving on a long stretch of road and your gas light comes on as you pass a sign that reads 'no gas for the next 60 miles'. It feels a lot like that. And if realizing I'd died wasn't mind boggling enough, then seeing a man appear out of the darkness I'd been standing in certainly was.

      He was a twenty-something dressed in a charcoal gray suite and had a nervous tick of drumming his fingers on the clipboard he held. He frowned down at his clipboard then offered me a questioning smile.
     “Hullo, I'm your Guide to the Afterlife. You must be Ben....Bennington?” He raised his brows and stared at me. I knew that look. I got it a lot.“Is that really your name?”
     “Yeah. My dad thought it'd be funny.”
     “Huh.” Clearly Suite Man didn't think it was funny. I didn't either, honestly. My dad had a shitty sense of humor. He'd named my little sister Benita, for instance.“Well Mr. Bennington, we've got a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it in. You died during an exceedingly busy time for us. Do mind the gap.”
      He had a British accent. Was that normal? I mean, his accent did make me feel a little better. Like maybe dying wasn't all that bad. He'd started walking through the darkness and I didn't really have any other choice but to follow him. My Guide—whatever that was—stepped briskly over a white line I hadn't seen before, and I felt a sort of static buzz as I stepped over it. My whole body wavered, like when an image goes bad on a TV.
     “So...not to bother you but, you're absolutely sure I'm dead?”
     “Yeah, 'fraid so.”
     “But...why?”
     “I'm glad you asked the right question.”
He adjusted his lime green tie. “Do you know what 37 percent of people ask me when they realize they've died?”
     “Uh...no?”
     “They ask me, 'Frank'—that's my name by the way—'Frank, can I still get internet in heaven?'”
     “Oh.”
     “
Exactly. Like the universe doesn't have bigger plans for them besides giving them internet!"
     “......
Does it have bigger plans for us?”
     “I don't know. I don't ask the universe why it does what it does. It just does it. I mean, it
is the universe. It's very busy doing universe-y things, you know?”
     “No, I don't.”
     “Well.” Frank fiddled with his tie again. “Now you do.”

      Just what sort of Guide did he think he was? I mean, I'd been perfectly fine minding my own business, standing in a darkness that wasn't hot or cold, and didn't feel small or large. It had been pretty comfortable actually. Just really quiet, and kind of boring. The blackness wasn't so black now.
       As I trailed after Frank, blurs of gray and streaks of white we passed by began to resemble shapes of familiar things. Sorta. Frank still hadn't told me what a Guide was. Or where we were going. Or why he'd chosen a lime green tie. It was kind of an annoying color.
     “So,” I said trying to get a hold of the conversation. “Do you know the reason I died?”
     “Well, that's something only the Universe can answer. But you can put in a request to speak to it and ask your question.”
     “A request?”
     “Yes.” Frank tapped his fingers on his clipboard sharply. “But it'll take a while. A lot of people want to ask it questions. Now we really need to get moving or we'll be late for your orientation. Oh yes, I almost forgot. This is for you. Try not to lose it. It's the newest one and we haven't released many yet.”
      From his clipboard Frank handed me a thick white pamphlet. It was laminated, and on the cover was a cheerful, yellow smiley face. Below it in shiny gold print were the words:


YOUR GUIDE TO THE AFTERLIFE
(Human Edition)

      “What does it mean by human edition?”
      “What?”
      “On the front of this thing. Are there other editions besides human ones? Does that mean that there are like...aliens here and stuff? Are there aliens?”
      “You know, you're quite chatty. Most people are in a state of shock when they die.” Frank stopped walking and turned to look at me. He drummed his fingers nervously on his clipboard again.
      “Listen Mr. Bennington, I really don't have time to deal with this. It's not part of my job you see. That's what orientation is for, alright? In that pamphlet you'll find answers to most of your questions. But I really don't have time to—”
      “Frank!”
      From the hazy darkness a female's British tones wafted by. Following rapidly after it, a woman appeared. She looked to be in her thirties, her brown hair cut in a shoulder length bob and sporting a gray skirt and white top. She also looked really annoyed. Frank's fingers started tapping away on his clipboard.
      “Mel.” He said tightly. I had a feeling he didn't like her. Or maybe she'd been a bad lay.
      “What do you think you're doing!?” Ah. Maybe Frank had been the bad lay. “Do you have any idea what's going on upstairs? I should have known you were slacking off again! Sector 5 is on Red Alert and you're mucking about with a 3 dimensional. Could you get any lower?”
      I glanced between the two. Judging from Mel's tone, Frank couldn't get any lower. His fingers stopped tapping and he lowered his clipboard.
      “I was merely showing Mr. Bennington to his orientation, but he's very...awake. That's not my fault.”
      “Did you give him his phamplet?”
      “Yes.” Sulked Frank. Poor bastard. He was whipped.
      “Good.” Mel turned and eyed me. She reminded me of a hawk. “Mr. Bennington?”
      “That's me. Ben Bennington.”
      “Is that really your name?”
      “Yeah. Dad had a good sense of humor, huh?”
      “Mm.” She seemed to find it as funny as Frank had. “I see you have your pamphlet and you've been told you're dead, yes?”
      “That about sums it up, yeah. But I had questio—”
      “Shut up. Right. Look, we haven't time for you. Do you see this door?”
      Behind her a door appeared. A perfectly normal looking door that you'd find in any business office. I nodded my head. I mean, what else was I supposed to do? Have her tell me to shut up again?
      “Wonderful. When you go past this door you'll find a blue one at the end of the hall. There are some chairs outside of it. Go sit in one like a good human until Frank can come back and get you.”
      “Will you be gone long?”
      Mel gave me a look that said she didn't think I was any better than Frank. It was kind of insulting really. I mean, she'd only just met me, and I'd been considered pretty attractive and smart back home. Maybe my soul looked different than my body. What if my ears were on top of my head or I was bald? I put a hand to my head. No, still had my hair.
      “It hardly matters if we're gone long or not. This isn't earth Mr. Bennington. Time, as you 3 dimensionals call it, isn't the same here. Just go sit down and don't move. Come along Frank.”
      She snapped her fingers a few times then strode away on very black heels through the door. Frank started drumming his fingers again and looking more than a little annoyed. I offered him a smile.
      “She's a real bitch, huh?”
      “She's much worse than a female dog. She's a glorg.
      I had no idea what a glorg was, but the way he said it (with a little bit of a hocking sound at the end) definitely sounded way worse than 'bitch'. He sighed then led me to the door she'd stepped through.
      “Look Mr. Bennington—”
      “Ben is fine.”
      “Just go sit on a chair in the hall. It'll be better for all of us. I hate Red Alerts. And it had to be on Sector 5.”
      “Is that worse than other sectors?”
      “Much.” Frank led me down a long hallway that looked like it belonged in a doctors office. “It's the sector for criminals. Oh. I shouldn't have told you that. Forget I said anything.”
      “Sure.”
      “Thanks. You're a rather good sort, aren't you? Must have been very popular when you were on earth.”
      “I guess I was.”
      “No, I'm sure you were.” He sounded sad about it. “Well look, sit here and I'll be back as soon as we can get everything sorted. And uh, read the phamplet, eh?”
      “Alright. Thanks Frank.”
      Frank nodded his head as I took a seat. His shoulders were drooping and I could just make out his fingers tapping on his clipboard as he walked back down the hall before making a left and disappearing. It probably sucked to have his job. I wondered if I'd have a job like that. It wasn't what I expected of the afterlife. None of it was.
      I mean, I'd never really believed in the afterlife. I never really thought about it, actually. I wasn't religious when I was alive. I went to church every other Sunday, but I slept through most of the sermons. I just kind of figured when I died that I'd become plant food. But here I was, sitting on an uncomfortable chair pondering what a glorg was. 
      I glanced down at the slippery pamphlet in my hand. Maybe it would tell me what a glorg was. I opened it and counted the pages. There were 10, and all of them were laminated. Huh. The inside of the first page had a header with the same gold lettering as the front.

SO YOU JUST FOUND OUT YOU DIED

      It sounds strange, but the words were actually kind of comforting. They also kind of panicked me a little. I took a deep breath. The only way I was going to survive the afterlife, I decided, was to accept it and just keep rolling with the punches. Why dwell on things that were obviously too big to comprehend, you know? I settled in as best as I could in the blue hard plastic chair and began reading.

       Welcome to the afterlife! We're sure you must be very confused and possibly sea sick. This is a perfectly normal feeling when you first depart your body. It will go away. Within these pages are the most important rules to remember on your journey to your new life. Please be sure that you memorize them. With the exception of the first rule, there is really no ranking order of importance as all of them are equally useful.
But especially the first one.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your Guide.

      Well, that was a bit pointless. I stared down the hallway Frank had ghosted through. How was I supposed to contact him? I checked all the pages including the back and couldn't find a single number or e-mail. Then I realized I didn't have a phone. Did they use phones in the afterlife? Or did you use telepathy? I tapped my foot then looked down. I was wearing shoes. In fact, I was in the clothes I threw on that morning. Jeans and my shirt that sported a pink Llama.
      My mom had gotten it for me as a joke because she thought I wouldn't wear it. Joke was on her. No. I glanced down at the Lama as it smiled at me upside down. I guess the joke was on me. She was never going to see me wear it.
      “Hey oh hey! You're from earth right!?”
      A man was standing only a foot away from me, staring at me with big green eyes and a huge smile that was more teeth than lips. He looked to be around my age too, in his early thirties. He also looked a little crazy. No. Fanatical. He reminded me of my teenage sister staring at her favorite movie star.
      “Yeah, I am.”
      “Oh wow! Oh hey! That's great, just super!”
      I didn't see why it was so great. I mean, if Mel was any indicator to go by, being a 3 dimensional being from earth wasn't anything to be proud of. The man sat down next to me, but his feet were tapping and bouncing. I wondered if they had drugs in the after life. Or maybe he'd OD-ed in real life and it affected his soul. Could souls get high from drugs?
      “Listen kid, did you get a pamphlet by chance?” We both looked down at the smiley faced pamphlet. His smile got larger. “They updated it! Lucky you! I'm Ringo.”
      “Ben Bennington.”
      “Is that really your name?”
      “.....Yeah.”
      “That's a great name! Real catchy, you know? You might want to change it though.”
      Ringo stuck his hand out and I shook it. I mean, if he was on drugs I didn't want him to start having a bad trip and murder me. He let go of my hand after a few energetic pumps and then brushed away some long blond hair from his face. He was still looking at the pamphlet.
      “So listen Benny—”
      “It's Ben.”
      “I'm in kind of a hurry. I'm on a mission, actually. You want to help?”
      “Well I mean...they told me to stay here.”
      “Who, your Guide?”
      “Yeah.”
      Ringo laughed like he'd never heard anything funnier. I dunno, maybe he hadn't. He leapt up from the seat, his green eyes glancing around wildly for a moment. He was kinda tweaky, but there was something about him I liked. He kinda reminded me of my friend Ryan, who was always planning something crazy for us to do. It usually turned out okay. I mean, except that one time when we both broke our left arms when we stole some camels.
      “Oh man Benny, don't let them whip you yet! Did they tell you they wouldn't be gone long?”
      “Er, yeah?”
      “C'mon you couldn't fall for something that dumb! You'll be here until you grow a beard!”
      “Can a soul grow a beard?”
      “I don't know.” Benny stilled for a moment. “I never tried. But that's not the point! The point is, I'm on a mission and I could use a thinker like you! I know I don't look it, but I'm with Sector 22.”
      “Is that supposed to mean something?”
       "It means I'm top class okay!? Private top class assignments! Are you in or not? C'mon Benny, I'll show you around while we're at it. I know all the dimensions, trimensions, and multimentions for 700 glicks!”
      I looked back down the hallway. If I stayed I could try and grow a beard. If I went with Ringo I could possibly die—or something like that. But I was already dead right? So it wasn't like I could die again. Ringo must've seen my decision in my eyes because he slapped my back hard enough to make me wince. Huh. Even souls could feel pain I guess.
      “Cool man! Hey now, we gotta get going or we'll miss the Beats!”
      “Beats?”
      “You'll see! Hey oh hey! This's your lucky day kid!”
      Wrapping an arm around my shoulders he ushered me down the hall and out the door. I opened the pamphlet again and flipped to the first page. In red letters that suggested it was important it read:

RULE 1:
Introducing yourself with your real name is a very dangerous business.
Only your Guide should know it.
Please change your name straight away.
Write your new name here:

__________________________

       I didn't have a pen on me, but I guess Benny worked good as a new name right? I mean, I didn't really feel like a Benny. But you gotta roll with the punches right?
      “Hey hey Benny, check it out!”
      Ringo spread his free arm wide as I looked up from the red letters. Instead of the blackness I was expecting, I found myself standing in the middle of a very crowded and bustling sidewalk. In fact, I was standing in a city I knew well. Ringo gave my shoulders a shake.
      “Welcome to New York, kid!” 

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