Flash fiction written for my Revisions course last year. Enjoy~
There Is Only Down
I died in six seconds flat.
I really don't know what I was expecting. We all have to go sometime. And I'd lived a good life; I wasn't going out unsatisfied or unfulfilled. I guess I was just startled. I may have been more upset about it in the moment, but there's not really a need for feelings here.
The Afterlife isn't bad. A little dull, maybe. You don't exist on any real plane, merely like an infinite white landscape of people. Pretty much we just all…wander around.
"Hey John," he replied.
Patrick is my friend, I guess. Relationships are meaningless here. We all know everyone, by default, and talk to them as we please about, well, nothing really. Patrick is who I talk to most though, so I think that makes us as much of friends as we can be.
"Did you see the Dot?"
"The Dot. There's just a big dot in the middle of the ground."
Distance and geography don't mean anything here, in this expanse of white, so he doesn't have to lead me long to find whatever this Dot thing was. A crowd of other dead stand around it, no one daring to close in the last six feet to near it.
On the stony earth sits a perfect circle, as wide as a tall man. It is such a dark black that it is impossible to tell whether it is flat or has depth. No one speaks as we all stare hypnotically at the anomaly.
"What is it? Is it a hole or a mark?" A Czech woman whispers against the shoulder of the Brazilian man beside her. I hadn't met them before, but they are Agata and Luiz.
This Dot, however, is severely unknown. And for the first time since my humanity, I become…curious. I approach the hole.
I fall for six seconds flat.
With a bone-shattering crack, I land in a dim cement corridor. Light shines wickedly from one end and a shadow of bricks from the other. My nose crunches as something gaseous assaults it. Is…is that odor? I haven't smelt since I was alive. I do not like it.
I stand on creaking knees and limp forward. Maybe the light is the white expanse.
The light is not the white expanse. A blinding mixture of sunlight and building sheen force my eyes shut, and voices, horns, beeps, whirs, and buzzes force my hands over ears. What is all this noise? Why is all this noise? I tempt my lids open bit by bit until, squinting, I can see.
A shining city steet. Masses of colourful, zooming people. Why are they walking so fast? I whip my eyes back and forth, unable to take everything in at once. Some enter and exit automobiles, machines far more advanced than I'd known. No one drove them, and they respond to human command by lighting and beeping. How do none of them appear like the autos I knew? How much more advanced than the Model T could people have produced? Is this so far in future life that my time is of history books?
A woman with inky purple hair bumps against me in her racing, jarring me. She talks into her wristwatch, which speaks back in the voice of a robotic man. I only have time to blink numbly at the scowl and rude gesture she gives me before she is out of sight. I must be in the fiftieth century or later, for such technological madness could only be imagined in an era far from my own.
I can't stand to look at the people of ground-level horrors any longer. I look skyward.
The source of the whirs and buzzes reveals itself. Aircrafts, miniscule to massive, are flying around and above the glowing city. Some stop mid-air to communicate with another. Some sort of shimmering field of energy layers and navigates in strings around everything. An enormous glowing banner rotates around a building's top, projecting the time and date. June 6th, 2026. I have been dead for one hundred years.
Sweat, because I recall this being sweat, dribbles down my face and spine as I escape back into the darkened alley. For the first time in eons, my heart is beating, but beating to the pace of the alien world outside, and I think I may vomit. My fingers spread against the cool stone wall as I heave over a box of old newspapers. I don't dare read what sort of news this Hell produces.
Where is the Dot? I need the Dot. I pull my head up but there's nothing in this alley besides myself, nothing but sky and mechanical chaos above. How could this happen? Where is my tunnel back to Paradise? I need to get back to the world of the dead. If I stay here, I'll die.
If I stay here, I will die.
My spine, still damp but now cold, erects and I walk back out of the shadow. Two more people, hair colours unknown, shove past me as I move. My eyes roam for someone driving their own vehicle, and finally I see an old man hunched over the wheel and driving too fast against the flow of traffic. I leap in front of his Ford.
I die in six seconds flat.