Monday, March 14, 2016

How To Survive The Afterlife: Human Edition INSTALLMENT 2

Hello my little geeklings!!! Here is your long awaited (well, you know, because it's updated once a week, every week. Every Monday in fact!) second installment of my serial! If this is your first time reading it....maaaaaybe go and read the first one since you know...this is the second. Thanks!

Please remember to share this if you like it--that's a great way to show a writer love! Well I mean and to read their work yourself. And maybe send them tea. Or chocolate. Or both.

When last we left our friend Ben (now Benny), he had discovered he'd died and that the world of the dead is awfully strange. Left with the choice of pondering if a soul could grow a beard or leaving with a slightly insane looking man named Ringo, Benny of course chooses to leave. He now finds himself back in his hometown, New York. But why did Ringo take him there? Find out in.....



New York. The Big Apple. Home. And apparently, it's also known as the 'Beats' by the dead. Or at least, I think that's what you call it when you're dead. I'm not actually completely sure. Ringo gave my shoulders another squeeze.
        “It's the best station for 30 glicks! Crazy isn't it? This place is so heavy you know? Not as heavy as Tokyo though. That place'll really mess with your vibes!”
        Looking at Ringo I realized just how out of place he was among all the business suites passing us by. He had five scarves hanging around his neck, each in random glittery colors. Like a unicorn had puked it out. His white leather jacket had long fringe on the sleeves and was splattered with silver metal studs in no particular pattern. He was also wearing black leather pants. No joke. It was like looking at an 80's version of an Elvis costume made by someone tripping on acid while they'd watched Pink Floyd's, The Wall. You almost didn't want to look at it. But you kinda couldn't help it.
        “C'mon Benny, we got to hurry or we're going to miss our ride!”
        “We can ride in cars?”
        “Cars? You mean those prehistoric contraptions on wheels? No, no. Our ride.
        He pushed me forward, and started walking against the tide of tourists and business men. At first I wasn't sure how we were able to go against the wall of bodies so easily. Were we just really good at dodging past people? Then I realized my mind was trying to rationalize what my eyes were really seeing. We weren't good at dodging people, and Ringo wasn't Moses parting the seas. We were literally going through them. Because we were dead.
        I was dead.
        I felt my body get shaky. Like, I suddenly realized I could feel every atom in my body vibrating like they were read to burst. I didn't even know you could feel atoms vibrate. I wasn't sure if I could sweat, or if I was sweating, but I like to imagine I was. I looked down and there were my hands, wavering and flickering. What happened if my body suddenly combusted? Was that real death?
        “Uh, Ringo?”
        “Hey kid keep---oh. Oh shit. Okay. Okay okay okay. You need to keep calm okay?”
        “That's a lot of 'okays'.What's happening to me?”
        Ringo had somehow gotten a hold of large sunglasses and he took him off, staring at me with his wide green eyes.
        “You're tearing, Benny.”
        “Is that....that's bad right?”
       “Well I mean, I've never seen some one do it.”
        “That's not what I asked.”
        “Hey oh hey! It's cool kid!” But he didn't sound like it was cool. He didn't look it either. I started to waver harder. My atoms were burning up. I was literally burning from the inside out.
        “Woah!” Ringo took a step back, and that wasn't very comforting. My vision was starting to get squiggly. “Hey, kid, you need to calm down you know?”
        “How the hell am I supposed to calm down if I don't know what's going on!? Ringo, what the hell do I do?!”
        “Okay. So it's like this. Your soul's having this existential crisis you know? You're thinking way too hard about yourself. You gotta stop thinking kid!”
        “Yeah sure, let me just stop thinking about how I'm about to die!”
        “You're already dead Benny.” Ringo smiled suddenly. “Hey oh hey! There you go! You're dead! See, that's your problem. You're thinking like you still got a body. You gotta stop that or your soul will tear, and it's a bitch to clean up, you know? So listen Benny, stop thinking about having a body. You're dead.”
        I closed my eyes. Dead. Dead meant no body. Dead meant no one could see me. Dead meant I had a Guide named Frank who liked to wear really ugly lime green ties and had a British accent. It meant I could probably go around haunting houses or something. My atoms calmed down and my body didn't feel so wavy.
        “There you go Benny! You're good now!”
        When I opened my eyes my hands were solid again. In fact, most of me was. I let out a shaky breath and Ringo gave me a thumbs up.
        “We good kid?”
       “Yeah...but...what was that?!”
       “It's the Tear. I hear it happens to humans mostly. But I never saw some one do it. Just the aftermath.”
        “The after--”
        “Hey hey! I found a good Beat!”
        Ringo grabbed my arm and went running through the crowd. I closed my eyes and let him. It made me feel queasy to be going through people because every time I passed through one I realize I could feel all their organs on the way. Do you know how gross that is? I only bothered to open my eyes when we stopped. We were several blocks away and facing steps that led to an underground club called “DOUBLE R”. I could hear and feel music vibrate from below my feet. Ringo grinned at me and put his shades back on.
        “Don't embarrass me Benny, okay? This's your big debut and I have a reputation to uphold. Secret Sector reputation you now? Gotta be cool Benny. Be cool.”
        He slapped me on the back and then headed downstairs. I trailed after him, taking in the neon green and pink lights flashing against the concrete walls. Inside what looked to be a costume party was going on. People in tutus, insane hair styles in different colors, glow in the dark fishnets. And the music. Dear god. If Dub Step, Rap, and some 90 year old flute player from Egypt got together, this would be their baby. And there was no way to ignore it.
       Ringo was in his element. He was grinding and slipping and shmoozing. Apparently every one knew him, because they were all shouting his name. He smiled and waved for me to come closer. I made my way through, and for some reason I found that I couldn't go through them. Looking at the faces around me I realized I was the only human there. Seriously. The people looked human—two arms, two legs, that sort of thing—but there was something off about them. Something flat. Like if cartoons were suddenly in the real world. My atoms started buzzing again.
        I decided to take Ringo's advice and not think about it. Thinking led to Tearing. And I didn't intend to Tear. It sounded painful. Tearing.
Teeearing. Rip, rip. Like my soul was paper. I stopped thinking and Ringo grinned, his white teeth glowing in the black light. He was standing next to a man who looked like he'd eaten five hundred burgers too many. I could literally count how many double chins he had. There were six. He also had beady pig eyes that had a glint to them. The kind of glint that said he'd seen and killed things.
        “Hey hey Benny, this is—” he made some weird screeching noise like a barn owl. “the ticket master here! Benny here is my new partner.”
        “A new partner? What happened to Tayla?” The ticket master's voice sounded like fucking Micky Mouse. What. The. Hell?
        “Let's not talk about Tayla okay?” Ringo's smile tightened for a moment, his eyes got the same 'I’ve killed things' glint as Micky's. “Benny here is super smart you know? Hey oh hey, you're gonna drop a good Beat right?”
        “For you Ringo, a super smooth Beat. But first....” He eyed me like he'd like to skin me. “We need to talk.”
        “You got it! You're the best man, the best! Hey Benny, go to the bar huh!? Drinks are on me today okay? But be ready! We're gonna catch a Beat!”
        He slapped my back and then shimmied and grooved his way through the crowd with Micky. I was never a good dancer, and I wasn't about to embarrass myself now, so I kinda just slinked and bumped until I got to the bar. There were a few open seats and I sat on one of the sticky looking round bar stools. A lanky bartender showed up right away, I didn't even have to call him. Man, the dead had really good service.
        “What can I get you, 3 dimensional? A coke?”
        “A coke?” What the hell kind of bar was this? “Can I have a whiskey sour actually?”
        “What's that?”
        “Seriously?” The bartender blinked, and his eyelids closed sideways. Gross. “Uh. A coke is fine.”
        Without bothering to look at what he was doing he grabbed a glass with one hand and scooped ice with the other. His third hand grabbed a can of coke. I tried really hard not stare. Then gave up and ogled the third arm as it grabbed a straw. What the hell was going on? Could you do that when you died? I mean, I'd kill to have two extra pair of hands. If I could go through people, I could grow another set of arms, right? I closed my eyes and imagined myself with two new arms. I felt my body buzz a little and then opened my eyes. Nothing. Damn.
       “You're new here aren't you?”
        A female voice spoke next to me and I turned to face her. She sounded sexy. A black cat was sitting on the stool next to me, its green eyes staring up at me in an uncomfortably human way. I glanced around for a moment, but I didn't see a woman. I looked back at the cat. There was no way. No freaking way.
        “Uh...I' sorry, were you talking to me?”
        “Well you're the only 3 dimensional in here.”
        Yup. The sexy voice was coming from a cat. A talking cat. But really, given the three armed man, this wasn't as shocking. Roll with the punches Benny. Roll with the punches.
        “I guess I am. I just died. I'm Ben—Benny.”
        “That's nice.” The cat licked it's paw. “What are you doing with Ringo?”
        “He's a new friend.”
        “That's a terrible idea. He'll get you killed.”
        “Oh he's not that dangerous. He's kind of crazy but I mean—”
        “I'm just giving you facts. You should get out of here before he comes back. He'll definitely get you killed.
        I thought of Micky and his eyes and six chins. I thought of Frank with this lime green tie. I thought of growing a beard. I even thought of sitting in this bar and letting the horrible cheese-grater-on-your-skin music grow on me. The cat was working on cleaning her second paw. I took a sip of my coke and grimaced. Whatever this was, it wasn't coke.
        “He must have really screwed you over for you to say that, huh?”
        The cat stopped cleaning herself and narrowed her eyes at me. It was a very creepy, human gesture. For a cat.
        “You're sharper than the kind he usually goes for. That's unfortunate for you.”
        “What' does that mean? Why is everyone here so cryptic?”
        “Hey, you want another coke?”
        The bartender blinked sideways at me and if I still had a body I would have gotten goosebumps. I just couldn't get used lashes falling on a face sideways. I shook my head and he moved on. The cat was gone, and in her place was a female with three eyes and the face of a pug. All squished and wrinkly. She winked two eyes at me and leaned in closer. My throat went dry and I desperately looked for Ringo. He was making his way towards me, his hips gyrating like Elvis on crack. The woman opened her pinched mouth to speak.
        “Sorry, I uh, gotta go. Have a great night or day. Or, er, whatever.”
       Leaping from my chair I met Ringo half way and he did a little twirl. His shades were on his head now, and I saw that he'd switched the black ones for ones decked out in glitter. He really did have horrible fashion. Not that mine was much better. But it was better than Frank's.
        “Hey oh hey Benny! You ready to catch the Beat?”
        “Do you mean dance? I don't really da—”
        “No kid, we're catching our ride! Our Beat! Don't freak out okay? You just gotta let it wash over you.”
        “Attention!” The music was cut short and as one the rowdy dancers all turned to where the DJ—he had eight arms—held a mic up. “All those departing for Dregen please stand front and center. The next Beat will be leaving for Raiga.”
        “Hey, that's us Benny! Let's go!”
        Ringo ushered me to the middle of a crowd of people. And then it happened. Beyonce's 'All the Single Ladies' started playing. With each of her 'ohs' a ring of what looked like pink smoke pulsed over our heads. Everyone was staring up at the rings with this really bored look. I mean, I was no fan of Beyonce music wise—her fine curves were another matter—but there was no reason for people to look that unimpressed. But what did I know? The pink smoke was pulsing lower and Ringo grabbed my hand.
        “This is your first time, right Benny?!”
        “First time listening to Beyonce?”
        “No! Riding the Beats!” Ringo laughed. “Hey oh hey, I've got a lot to teach you! Remember, just relax, okay?”
        How was I supposed to relax. Why didn't Ringo ever explain shit? In fact, why didn't anyone explain shit? All they did was talk like I knew things, or gave really cryptic remarks. It was like being in a weird version of the Godfather, only without the guns and horse head. But everyone was just as shady.
       “Here we go kid!”
        Before I could ask what Ringo meant I felt my atoms go crazy. The pink smoke that had been above us was now pushing through us, and fast. With each hit I could feel my atoms shake and waver.
        “Relax kid! This is a super smooth Beat, just as promised! Feels good right!?”
        I guess if you liked the feel of your body being caught on fire and then shaken around, it felt wonderful. But since I didn't like either of those sensations 'good' was not the right word. I could feel Ringo's hand dissolve through mine like sand, but I was too scared too look to see if it was true. A pink wave smacked into my face. It smelled like cotton candy and tasted like I'd eaten a mouth full of chalk. I started coughing, and doubled over. I felt my body ripple, like I was made of string.
        I closed my eyes as another pink blast swished through me. I put my head down and opened my eyes slightly. I was standing in a pink mist and there was no one else around. No one except the black cat sitting at my feet as puffs of pink clouds swirled around me. I felt like I was in a Pepto Bismol bottle. It kind of smelled like it too. Like bubblegum and cotton candy. Why the hell was the cat here?
        “I see you haven't read the manual yet.”
        “Don't let Ringo have it. Don't even let him breath on it, or you'll be in bigger trouble than you already are.”
        “Why do you care?” Maybe I should have been nicer. But I mean, I was standing on pink fucking clouds with a talking cat.
        “I don't, really. But you will.” The cat flicked her tail and began walking off. “Ringo tends to ruin everything he touches. I guess you'll find out the hard way.”
        She was gone when a low hovering pink cloud floated by and I probably would have had a panic attack right there if Ringo hadn't slapped me on the back, sending pink grains of...whatever it was, off my shoulders.
        “That was a smooth Beat, huh Benny! Hey don't just stand there! We got food to see and people to eat!”
        “What?” I think my whole body went went pale. Like, if I looked down I probably looked like your traditional transparent ghost. At least, I'm pretty sure I did. Ringo laughed at me his scarves shimmered.
        “I meant food to eat and people to see. Man, you jump easy huh? Look, we can't stay at the station forever. C'mon Benny kid, we're gonna meet an ol' pal of mine whose going to help us with our Top Secret Assignment!”
        Ringo started dragging me through puffs of clouds that were quickly thinning out, becoming low lying mist. When I squinted I could see little sparks of lights in the distance. The kind of long, straight, but crisscrossing lights you see when you're coming in for a landing on an airplane. But we weren't in an airplane.
        “Whoa, whoa Benny!”
        Tugging on my shirt Ringo hauled me back as the last of the pink mist disappeared. I looked down. I'd nearly walked right off a cliff. Far below the tips of my converse shoes was another city with crisscross lights. I looked ahead of me. It was still a city, but it was....I gulped. It was on a massive chunk of land hovering sideways in the air. Holy. Shit.
        “This's Dregen. It's won Prettiest City in the 8th ring for seven years now! Pretty awesome huh?”
        “Yeah.” My voice sounded kind shrill. Like I was five again. Hell, maybe I was. “Awesome.”
        “You'll get used to it. It broke up like this when their moon went postal and exploded itself.”
        Ringo tugged at his jacket.
        “Hey oh hey, did I use that earth expression right?”
        “Which one?”
        “The one about going postal?”
        “Uh.” I thought about it for a moment. “Yeah, I mean, I guess a moon could go postal. But we usual reserve that prhase for living things.”
        “Benny, that moon was the most alive thing you've ever seen. C'mon our ride is here.”
        Without bothering to give me a warning he shoved me off the cliff. As the wind picked up around me I stopped panicking. I was dead. I was a ghost. I could probably float if I really wanted to. But I didn't get the chance to try. I found myself landing on a soft pink cloud, with Ringo close behind. He let his feet dangle over the side, said something in a weird breathy language, and the cloud began a slow downward decent.
        “Wait till you see Dregen Benny. You'll love it.”
        I smiled and took out the pamphlet I'd stored in the pocket of my jeans. The yellow face smiled happily back up at me. Why did they choose a smiley face? I mean, I suppose I did feel less threatened looking at it. But still. A smiley face? I opened it and flipped through. They'd crammed a lot of knowledge on those ten pages, in tiny, perfect black lettering. Towards the back of the pamphlet was a header larger than the rest of the print. I felt my heart drop.


        Little bullet points indicated a word put in alphabetical order followed by a description. I scanned down to the D's and found it. Dregen.
        Dregen: Can dangerous for 3 dimensionals as the food is 4th dimensional. Humans considered a delicacy. If one had to put it on a scale of danger, we would rate Dregen quite a solid 4. They do have lovely flowers, however.

         I should've listened to the damn cat.

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