The One Left Behind
So you like stories? Then you would’ve loved watching them. That’s what we all did back then-you know, before the Flood. We’d watch them on big flashing screens or read them in books that talked to you if you couldn’t hear well. We used to tell stories about the past because the past was something worth remembering. Not anymore though. Who has time for history when you’re barely surviving the present? People don’t want to remember. They want to forget. Forget the water rats, the blight, decay and all the good things they’ve lost. But we can watch some stories together if you like- if I can find some on this rotten ship. After all, we have an eternity to waste away. But I digress. You came here to ask me about my story.
It began the day I lost my way home from the cheese curd factory I worked at. When I retraced my steps down the concrete street, something inside my head snapped shut like the burned fuse of a light bulb. An icy blackness swallowed me, completely smothering my view of the skyscrapers towering above the city. I blinked and when I did, light blasted through the dark and the world melted away. The ground fizzled into nothingness and I plummeted through the air. It was, like you say, falling and flying at the same time. I think you would’ve been a pretty decent writer, if it weren’t for– well, anyway, what’s done is done.
I tried to stop him, you know? They never liked my brown skin either. So when I saw him pushing your face into the dirt, I knew it was only a matter of time. And you hardly made the situation better by spitting and cursing the way you did. I tried to hold him back or steal his Glock, but making contact with the physical world is harder than you think. Some of the cheeky little ones are really good at it. Like this baby boy I once knew. He fell into a pool and- you can guess what happened next. He drove his poor mother insane- literally. The doctors threw her in a mental asylum screaming about banging inside the kitchen cupboards. Since then I haven’t seen him around these parts. Hopefully, he’s gone to a better a place. Most do, once they say what they need to say or get what they need. It does exist you know, the higher world. At least I think it does. I’m still trying to get there. But They haven’t come for me yet. Do you mind if I go with you when They come for you? I’d be so grateful.
There I go rambling again! Obviously, you can imagine my panic when I dropped into this limbo. But then I thought to myself: Khalida, you’re just hallucinating because of those God awful pills they gave you for the cancer. You really don’t need to look so miserable sweetheart. You know these things don’t matter in our state. Nothing matters anymore. Not even those bullets in your back. They won’t fade away if you’re wondering. We all adapt to the baggage we carry with us here. Yours is just more grotesque than most.
But that’s not even the worst part. It’s having nowhere to go to that really weighs on you. Well, of course I went home. Didn’t you? But they didn’t want me there. Going back didn’t bring my daughters peace. They were miserable. And in time, I realized what they needed most was to forget. So I left. Sometimes, when the loneliness is too much to bear I go back to see them. They’re happier now, with husbands and children of their own. The same will eventually happen for your mother. The living need time, that’s all. And if, in a few years, she’s still hung up on getting justice for your death, I could always help you send the right kind of message to the right kind of people, haha!
Was it painful? No, not in the physical sense no. I don’t remember the moment of my death. That must have been different for you though. You bled out for so long, poor thing. The sudden awareness of being dead was the closest thing I felt to pain. But I’m lucky for it to have ended the way it did. Who wants suffer in a bed for six months?
Things will get easier for you here. I guess even the dead need time, eh? You’re welcome to stay with me until They come for you. Then we’ll leave this place together. In the meantime, there are so many things you need to learn that I can teach you. Like how to tell a good soul from a bad soul, how to avoid psychics or handle squatting disputes with the other dead. Some of them are nasty bastards. Believe me, I know. Then you have forbidden sites, contact etiquette with humans. And the stories! I’ll find us some. There must be a few in this ship’s storeroom …hold on. Wait! Where are you going? Have They come for you? Don’t lie. They’re with you now aren’t they? I can see their flickering light. What are they saying? Tell them to take me. You promised to take me with you. Of course you can. I don't want your apologies. Please come back! Don’t go.