Another excerpt from Mysteries of the Dark II

Ten years of chain smoking and hard drinking, that’s all it took.   After my wife and kids left me and I got fired from my job, all I have done is indulge in my vices.  Four years ago I found this low rent flea-bag one room apartment and since then it has been my home. I emptied my retirement and I’m on the last of my savings.    But money is the least of my problems. Lung cancer and cirrhosis of the liver have taken hold of me. My breaths are shallow. I have fits of coughing and wheezing.  I know I’m dying.  

I’ve always heard it said that when you die your life flashes before your eyes.  But not this time. No, I spend sleepless nights reliving all my mistakes. My marriage, my children, everyone has abandoned me to this god-forsaken place.

After a particularly bad coughing fit, I wipe the blood from my lips and I see him.  A man standing at the doorway of my apartment. I yell, “Who are you? Get out!”

“No,” was his calm reply.

I yelled as loudly as I could hoping my neighbors would hear through the thin plaster walls, “Get out!” but all that came out was another heavy round of coughing.

The stranger slowly and deliberately walked to my bedside.  He emptied the nearby chair of dirty clothes and dishes, gently placing them on the floor, then sat down across from me.

All the horrors that could possibly be imagined and all the stories of home invasions flooded my mind.  Tears began swelling in my eyes. “Please, sir,” I begged, “please don’t hurt me.”

“My child, I’m not here to hurt you.  I’m here to retrieve you.”

His answer made no sense.  “What? What are you talking about?  Are you the cops?”

“No,” he smiled warmly.  “My name is Surrey, and I am here to take you home.”

A small glint of hope shined into my hopelessness.  “You mean, to my kids and wife, well, ex-wife?”

Surrey looked down toward the floor, his face troubled.  “No. Sadly, that is no longer your home, but then again, neither is this place.”

“Do you mean, the afterlife?”

He nodded solemnly then looked at me with a smile.  “Are you ready?”

“I didn’t believe an afterlife existed.  I mean I went to church with my wife a couple of times but I never bought into all that Jesus stuff.”

“A lot of people don’t.  Then they experience the reality of life after death.  It is a shock to many.”

I coughed harder and could barely catch my breath.  The coppery taste of blood tinged on my tongue. Surrey placed his hand on my shoulder, “It won’t be long now.”

I wheezed as I tried to catch my breath.  “Surrey, wha…what is hea…heaven like?”

“Heaven is wondrous and beautiful with sights you’ve never imagined.  It is full of love. Real love, not romantic love or sexual love, but the love of a Father to his child.  There is peace and rest. But it is also filled with joy, so much that you can feel it long before you even get there.”

I smiled.  Imagine, finally having peace in my life after years of mistrust.  No more wondering if my wife was cheating on me. No more wondering if my kids were plotting against me.  No more wondering if the boss had it out for me. Real peace.

I began coughing again, much more violently.  I couldn’t catch my breath. Something caught in my throat, blocking my airway.  I reached out toward Surrey, but he stayed just out of reach, unmoving. Panic set in and I thrashed in the bed trying to do anything that would re-open my airway, but my strength failed and the room began to drown in darkness.  As light faded from my view I could barely hear Surrey say, “That should do it.”

I found myself floating in a sea of nothingness.  Pitch black all around me. Suddenly I felt a hand grab my chest, claws sinking into my very core.  It pulled me upward and tore me from some unseen cavity until there I stood in my flea-bag apartment looking down at my own dead body.  I screamed. Surrey only stood there watching me. When I realized that my lungs didn’t burn and I could breathe again my screams turned to laughter.

“Surrey, I’m not wheezing anymore.”

“No.  Everyone gets a new body.  Rebuilt from the core of your soul.  It will allow even the tiniest of sensations to completely overwhelm your senses.”

“Seriously, so something like a kiss would feel more like an explosion of passion?”

“Theoretically, yes.  But there’s no kissing.  There’s no point.”

“I feel like I could run forever.”

“Again,” Surrey said nonchalantly, “in theory.”  He sighed, “Time is slipping. We must go. I have three more people to deliver before the day dawns.”

Excited I responded, “Okay.  What do I do?”

“Take my hand and we will be off.”

I reached out and grabbed Surrey’s hand.  He was right, I could feel every ridge in his fingers and palm.  I could feel his iron-tight grip. “Whoa….” I gasped.

“There are many more sensations you will experience when you arrive.  Now, come.”

With that we started walking out the door of the apartment into a tunnel of light.  I had heard about this before. At the far end of the tunnel I could sense joy, unbelievable joy.  My heart filled with sorrow and regret for everything I had ever done wrong. I tried to cry, but there were no tears.  

Then I noticed another light just off to the side, not nearly as bright as the first light.  Whenever I looked at it, I felt dread and fear. So, I tried to only look at the bright wonderful light.  But soon it seemed that we were walking toward the dimmer light, the bad light.

“Surrey, I think we are going the wrong way.”

Surrey didn’t say a word but kept walking purposefully and deliberately toward the dimmer light.

“Wait.  Surrey, I thought you said you were taking me to heaven.”

“I never said that.”

I thought back, shocked to realize that he didn’t say he was taking me to heaven.  He only answered my question. Realizing that I wasn’t heading to heaven I began to resist.  His iron-tight grip would not budge. My hand hurt from my struggling, but steadily Surrey continued his pace slowly and deliberately.  Each step bringing us closer to the dim flickering light.  

“Stop!  No!” I yelled.  I kicked and punched at him.  I bit his hand until blood poured from the wound.  I could feel the heat from the flames beginning to seer my skin.  “Not there! I can’t go to Hell! I don’t believe in Hell!”

Surrey continued toward the flames, never slowing.  “A lot of people don’t. Then they experience the reality of life after death.  It is a shock to many.”

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