Being dead is a funny feeling.
Well, no, not really. Once the pain and funny lights go out, you're kinda... left hanging. Like a really bad movie ends abruptly and the audience goes "What, that's it?"; and believe me, at times, life sure feels like a bad movie. Except, y'know, in actual movies, the actors don't really trip on the cat and hit their head on the desk (just for the record, it was dark and I didn't see the cat sneak in. I'm usually very graceful! Really!)
You know what I found out, though? It's kinda dark. Should have brought a lighter or something.
Perhaps it was the fact that I was slightly apprehensive in the dark (read: scared) or maybe it was the fact that it was deadly silent or-- just a wild guess-- the fact that I'd just ungracefully hit the bucket, but when someone tapped my shoulder, I freaked.
Of course, once I ran out of air, I stopped screaming.
"...That was unnecessary, you realise."
And before I could start a new valiant screaming fit, I was whipped around and faced the Grim Reaper.
No, really. The Grim Reaper. With the long, black, ominous cloak and scythe and all that! His bones were kinda shiny, too.
"Now, I must request you follow me. My break starts in twelve minutes, so get moving," he stated calmly, as if discussing the weather. I was more intrigued as to how he could speak without a tongue and lips. And vocal chords. Oh, and the whole life-after-death thing was something to think about, too.
But he gracefully turned around with a flourish of cloak and I had practically nothing to do BUT to follow him.
The brisk walk was uninteresting, but I did discover the Grim Reaper to be an excellent conversationalist. He was also part of a union, so I could assume there were other Grim Reapers runnin' around. Oh, well, I didn't think only one could handle all those deaths daily.
"We're here," he said and pointed to a brown door that seemed to have sprung out of nowhere. The sign bolted to it read "Afterlife Administration. Our motto: The dead end of all dead ends!" and under, "Open all time, for all eternity!"
"Go in and find the Office of Newly Departed. They'll send you to the Office of Domestic Accidents, but you need to pick up your file first."
"Yes, yes. Go on in."
He shooed me through the door and disappeared. Of course, what he forgot to mention was, the place was lit by enough neon lights to make a blind man dizzy.
"Gyah! My eyes! My eyes!" I yelled and slid to the floor, still leaning against the door.
Bad move. Bad, bad move. Or rather, stupid move. The door openned abruptly and I was catapulted against the wall.
"My nose! My nose!"
I recovered, however, and was soon on my feet again (with some difficulty). Rubbing my nose, I looked around to see the most unorganized office I could ever imagine. Cubicles varied in size (and colour), goats roamed free, paper flew all around and there was a distant thud coming from somewhere. Between that and the neon lights, it was gonna be a looooong day.
"Hello?" I asked in a slightly nasal voice. "Can anybody help me?"
Everybody seemed pretty busy running around like headless chicken, though, so I could assume nobody was particulary intent on helping me. Where was I supposed to go? Oh, yes, Office of Newly Departed.
I wandered around for a bit, passing various signs... "Office of Aquatic Accidents", "Office of Freak Accidents", "Office of Clinical Deaths", "Office of Soul Redemption", "Office of Spontaneous Combustion" and "Office of Lethal Exotic Maladies".
Treading through the hellish hallways, though, I discovered I was still wearing my pyjamas. My over-sized, pink, flower-imprinted, slightly askew pyjamas. Damn, this was humiliating. Well, at least I still had my slippers on. Wouldn't want to be barefoot in a place like this.
I reached the Office of Newly Departed and knocked slightly on the makeshift door. Peering in, I could see a redheaded man shuffling through a desk. I was kind of a funny image, since the desk was covered in so many documents, the legs started bending.
He continued ramsacking through paper, this time swearing under his breath (sounded kinda like "goat" something, something, "cliff", a bunch of bad words and a sneeze).
I whistled loudly and added "Yo, Red!"
His head snapped up and looked at me with a deer-in-headlights look on his face.
"Oh, didn't see you there." He returned to his search, apparently bent on ignoring me.
"This the Office of Newly Departed?" I asked, loud enough, so I couldn't be ignored.
His eye twitched and he took a green crayon from the desk and drew a line on the wall next to him. It was then I noticed the wall was covered in lines, of ranging colours and size.
"Each time somebody asks that, I put another line. I have to replace the wall once every three months," he clarified.
Well, of course.
"People see the sign and still ask that. Why do they ask that? Why can't they just say 'hello, I'm here to pick up my file'?"
"Er... well, if I die again anytime soon, I'll be sure to... umm... remember that. But, uh... Hello, I'm here to pick up my file."
He looked up at me grouchily and asked for my name, date of birth, parents' names, mother's maiden name, granparents' names (on both sides of the family), height, weight, eye colour, hair colour, favorite colour and the means of death.
After all that was over, I considered asking what he did if someone couldn't supply all that information, but by then, his eye started twitching uncontrollably, and I realised it wouldn't have been such a good idea.
"Oh yes... Hmm... Interesting." He muttered on while I leaned back in my chair and stared up at the neon lights. Once your eyed adjusted, it looked really cool. "Don't do that, you'll be seeing a white light for days," he muttered.
"Ah, miss. There's a problem here."
"There is?" Now that's worrisome. Problems after death, I could do without. Who knew what consequences that had.
"Yes, your file hasn't come in yet," he clarified, gesturing to his desk.
"Umm... Wow... oh... I see how that's a problem..." I shifted uneasily.
He sat a moment in silence.
"You have no idea what that means, do you?" he sighed.
"Nope. Not a damn clue."
"You're not supposed to die yet," he said slowly.
"No, not at all. In fact, it's all a mistake. You know how the Reapers get just before their break. Over-zealous. Slightly choppy. No worry, though! Go to the Office of Clinical Deaths and they'll send you right on track!" he said gleefully.
I stood there, slightly confused and slightly disappointed.
"Go, go!" he prompted and I took off.
Well, needless to say, after much wandering, I found the Office of Clinical Deaths and they eventually figured out how to send me back (an interesting method involving dandelions, a goat and a spatula which I won't delve into).
Unfortunately, I woke up on the floor with no idea what had just happened, my head in pain, the glass of water I'd been holding splashed all over me and the strangest feeling I'd just seen a bright white light.