A Little More Cheese With That Whine

December 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’m sick. Again.

And I’m tired. And I feel like crap. And I have to go out and get a suit fitted for my brother’s wedding. And then I have to go home and sleep so I can go back to work tomorrow and hopefully be well. And I haven’t had a cookie in two hours. Which of those bothers me more, do you think?

In any case, I wasn’t happy with what I posted yesterday. It wasn’t finished, not even to my standards of “Oh crap it’s Wednesday and I need to post something whydoesthisalwayshappenIshouldbemoreorganized.” I added some more and although I want to add even more, at least this is a decent length for a weekly update.

I’m reposting what I put up yesterday, if only for ease of flow. ENJOY.

II.

The brightness of the light burned through Patrick’s eyelids.

Patrick blinked. And realized that he didn’t have eyelids.

With a start, he realized that he didn’t have any sort of a body. His consciousness floated somewhere in an ocean of light where he distinctly, and presently emphatically, lacked anything corporeal. He flailed about in a panic but, lacking arms, was unable to effectively flail. This troubled him to no-end.

Thoughts of air planes crashing and people dying did not once enter his head. In fairness, he didn’t currently have a head for those thoughts to enter.

“FEAR NOT, SON OF MAN. THIS IS NOT YOUR END.” A Voice blasted through the flowing light, hitting him like a hammer made of sound. It was a male Voice, insomuch as a disembodied Voice had gender. It was certainly loud enough that is should have been male. Loud, disembodied Voices shouting didn’t tend to be female, at least in Patrick’s experience.

“Uhh…hello?”

“FEAR NOT, SON OF MAN.” The Voice repeated. “THIS IS NOT YOUR END.”

“Where, uh, where am I?”

The Voice paused. “WHAT?”

“Where am I? I was in…somewhere, and I remember something loud, but I wasn’t here though. No lights or loud Voices. I’m sure of that.”

“OH, WELL, YES. THAT.” The Voice didn’t change but Patrick could tell that the Voice was suddenly awkward. “DON’T WORRY ABOUT THAT. YOU SHOULD BE NOT FEAR-ING RIGHT NOW.”

“Oh. Well, I’m not.”

“OH. GOOD.”

Patrick floated for a few minutes, mentally unsure of what to do with his non-existent hands. He was bothered by the fact that, even without a body, he could still be very awkward with people he didn’t know. The Voice apparently felt the same. The air suddenly felt very thick with awkwardness.

“So, what’s going to happen next?”

“WHAT?” The Voice, still unchanging, was obviously surprised. “YOU’RE STILL HERE?”

“Y-yes. I’m just sort of…floating here. You never told me where “here” is, by the way.”

“I’M SORRY. I’M NOT USED TO PEOPLE LINGERING HERE. YOU USUALLY SHOW UP, WEEPING OR AFRAID OR SOMETHING, AND THEN I SHOW UP AND TELL THEM NOT TO FEAR, AND CHERON DOES THE REST. IT LOOKS LIKE HE’S LATE.”

“Wait a second,” Patrick said, “so a bunch of people show up terrified, and a disembodied Voice starts yelling at them? Is that really the best way to set people at ease? Scream at them?”

“WELL, IT USUALLY WORKS. THEY USUALLY STOP DOING MUCH WHEN I YELL AT THEM.”

“I don’t know, it seems kind of mean, all things considered.”

“I NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT THAT. I WAS JUST TOLD TO COME HERE AND WHAT TO DO.”

“And about that, where is here?”

The Voice was silent. Patrick dearly wished he had pockets.

“IT’S THE IN-BETWEEN, WHERE SOULS GO BEFORE, YOU KNOW, WHEREVER IT IS THEY GO TO IN THE END. THAT’S WHY THIS ISN’T THE END, PER SE.”

“Ah. That’s…not all entirely helpful.”

“I’VE NEVER HAD A CONVERSATION THIS LONG BEFORE, YOU KNOW.” The Voice said, sounding quite pleased with itself. “MOST MORTALS CAN’T BE BOTHERED TO WAIT AROUND AND CHAT. EITHER THEY’RE TOO EXCITED TO SEE THE OTHER SIDE, OR THEY’RE TRYING TO CRY. PRETTY DIFFICULT TO DO WITHOUT TEAR DUCTS, BUT SOME OF THEM GAVE IT A GOOD GO.”

“I see.” Patrick, needless to say, did not.

“AND SOMETIMES THEY GET MAD. ATTILA THE HUN WAS SO ANGRY HE TRIED TO TEAR OFF HIS NOSE. EQUALLY DIFFICULT, THAT ONE. AGAIN, NO NOSE. NIETSZCHE HAD TO SIT DOWN FOR AWHILE WHEN HE GOT HERE. KEPT SAYING SOMETHING ABOUT THIS FELLOW NAMED ZARATHUSTRA. I DON’T KNOW HIM. OR HER.”

“Wait,” Patrick’s non-existent brain kicked itself into action, still grumpy after having been woken up from a lovely nap. Keeping the autonomous nervous system going isn’t exactly easy, you know. “Souls? Popular historical figures? Am I dead?”

“OH BINGO. IT USUALLY TAKES PEOPLE A WHILE LONGER TO GET IT.” The Voice, still unchanged in it’s booming magnificence, sounded pleased. “SHOOT, NOW I FEEL LIKE A FOOL.” Patrick felt that the Voice could in no way have ever been mistaken for something at all approximating a fool. “I NEVER ASKED YOUR NAME. WHAT IS IT? MINE’S AZRAEL.”

“My name’s-” Patrick was cut off by another voice. This one wasn’t as loud or impressive as Azrael’s (which Patrick inwardly wanted to refer to as AZRAEL), but it cut through the conversation like a confession of homosexuality from the favoured son at a dinner party conservative house.

That is, quietly, but with startling repercussions for both sides. And those things which were cut through by that voice would never by the same.

“Patrick O’Flanagan? Sorry about the delay, lots of people needing me today, y’ken? Have to run here and there, no rest, not even a chance to spend some of my new dosh, huh. Ah well, you’re the last. All ready?”

A robed figure was standing in an ancient wooden boat that gently floated on the sea of light and offered his hand to Patrick. His bony hand that was in no way covered in flesh, and did not at all seem human. Patrick took keen interest in all the details of Cheron’s wrongness, from the way the cloth of his cloak shifted over the naked bone to the obvious problems of how he was talking. The glowing blue lights that glimmered in empty eye sockets didn’t help either, and the inhuman power that radiated off the robed skeleton cowed Patrick into a deep silence.

Well, thought Patrick, I guess I am dead.

The skeleton, obviously Cheron, plucked Patrick from the sea and put him in the prow of the boat. Whistling softly, he conjured up an oar from behind him and paddled off into the light. Patrick’s head was filled to bursting with questions, but he stayed silent. Out of respect, he would think, for the gravity of the moment. After all, you don’t die every day.

“GOOD-BYE PATRICK O’FLANAGAN. I SHALL REMEMBER YOU FOREVER. OH, AND DON’T FORGET! NO FEAR-ING!” Azrael called out as the boat drifted away. Patrick waved, but he wasn’t sure what he waved (which grammar has luckily allowed us the third-person singular neuter noun “it” as a designation for what Patrick waved), or who or at what he waved it.

He almost thought he would miss Azrael. The Voice may have been a little bonkers, but he was polite enough and seemed to know what was going on. Now, he was, quite literally, lost, unsure of where they were going or how they were even propelling themselves. Unlike Azrael, Cheron didn’t seem inclined to talk.

That was fine with Patrick, but he was still immensely annoyed with Cheron. Cheron, Patrick noticed, had pockets that he wasn’t even using to hide his hands. They just flapped free in the wind (wind?), mocking him with their emptiness, which his awkwardly exposed hands could fill.

Maybe this is hell, he thought, a weird, awkward pants-less and pocket-less hell.

He was wrong, of course. Everyone knows that demons adore slacks.

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