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The International Writers Magazine
:
Continuing the mysterious serial adventure beyond the grave...

The Great Beyond.
Brodie Parker

Chapter III
Picking up Styx...
"Because I could not stop for Death
He kindly stopped for me
The Carriage held but just Ourselves
And Immortality."
Emily Dickinson

"No. I’m not your Uncle Jerry. I know him though; nice guy." My host pressed a glass of spirits into my hand. He pulled a square table with folding legs out from behind a bookcase. He set it up in front of me, and motioned to a nearby chair, which glided silently and quickly to his side. He sat down across from me and produced a pen and a yellow legal pad from inside his kimono. He looked at me very carefully for a few moments, then wrote something on the first page.
"You sound a lot like him. It’s not just your voice though, you move around like he did. Your body language is almost the same. Or maybe not. He died when I was little." The booze was strong, but it wasn’t making me tipsy like it should have. It was relaxing, but so smooth that if I was getting drunk I wouldn’t notice until long after the fact.
"Your memory is all right. If I look like him at times, it’s probably because I’m an ancestor to you both. I came many, many years before either of you, but you both had some of my DNA in your chromosomes."
"Your name isn’t exactly German-Irish."
"Within a long existence one assumes many identities and personalities. In my most recent persona I was born in Nippon and given the name Urimaru to hide my identity; it’s a long story. As fascinating as my history may be, yours is the past we should be focusing on. I usually start by answering any question you might have."
"Usually start what?"
"Your education." He looked very patient.
"Well, to start with, where are we?"
"My stately pleasure dome. Sorry about the hill and the shoddy appearance. Those are security measures. I’m a man who enjoys his privacy. You have to be extremely clever to get past my safeguards. That trick with your shadow was a stroke of genius."
"I didn’t think of it." I admitted.
"No? Who did then?"
"Maybe Bootman did it. He said I was supposed to be here, and he told me that I brought him here, but I’ve never seen this place before."
"Nevertheless, he was quite correct. He’s always been more of an escort than a guide. Even when people paid him with coins left on their eyelids to get across Styx."
Bootman. Boat man. Ferryman of the River Styx. Mom was right, I am a little slow sometimes. "So why am I supposed to be here? I thought I’d go to Elysium for a while. Or maybe Paradise; I always wanted to find out if it’s all it’s cracked up to be."
"And you still can. You are free to leave at any time. As for why you are here, I’ve had my eye on you for a while now. Ever since you started studying swords. I admire your ability with weapons, as well as your grasp of their histories. It may prove useful later. It didn’t take much to lead you here after your body died. As for the bit with the shadow, that was all yours. You noticed that time is frozen outside, another security measure, and you found a way around it. Shadows can be useful things. I once knew a man who severed his shadow and convinced it to put on his clothes and take his place when death came for him. He was never quite the same, but it was necessary at the time; it doesn’t always pay to have powerful acquaintances."
I became aware of how drunk I was as he continued the story. I was still thinking clearly, but my whole body was completely relaxed and I had trouble controlling it. "Do I still have a body, or am I thinking it up too?"
"Your physical form is real to you, but at this point you’re effectively ethereal. You still use a physical manifestation of your spirit to absorb and interpret sense-data because that’s the only way you have ever done it; it’s the only way you know how. You see, your mortal life was a gestation period for your consciousness. Just like human childhood is an adjustment period for emotional states. In your youth you have to adapt slowly to develop the ability to control your emotions so that you don’t burst into tears or blind rage at the slightest disappointment or frustration when your body is fully grown. It’s the same way with your soul, it undergoes a growth period during your human life and hopefully matures so that your psyche can handle the things you encounter afterward. When your body dies it’s like you’re shedding a skin; quite literally. Now you can grow to full maturity, or as close as you’ll ever get to it. Everyone uses their habitual forms at first, except for young children and some extremely clever and rare people who catch on before their bodies die. They usually discorporate when they feel ready. They simply move their souls out of their bodies and go on to the next phase of their existence. Like Jesus, they give up the ghost.."
I couldn’t move. My mind was working quickly though, gathering up the words as he spoke them and storing them efficiently in memory traces. I began seeing things in great detail, and I could hear my heart beating if I concentrated. "So when do I stop using this body? After all, I’m dead now so I had better start acting like it."
"You aren’t dead. You just left your body behind. To answer your question, any moment now. How do you feel?"
"Three sheet to the wind. My head’s clear though. What is that stuff?"
"One part Divine Ambrosia, two parts Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, one half part Honeysuckle Wine, and a dash of tears collected from the first dream of the first born son of the first King of Men."
"It tastes like Goldshclager."
"That’s from the distillation process; the pipes are made of gold. I make it myself, but I can’t explain what makes it taste that way. Do you like it?"
"Very much. I can’t feel my body at all, but I can see and hear much more acutely now. Fascinating." I could see clearly the most miniscule detail in what appeared to be an original Jackson Pollock, ("Eyes in the Heat" if I’m not mistaken), hanging on the wall behind Urimaru. I could feel the texture from where I sat at least twenty feet away. I could sense the depth of the layers of paint, one on top of the other; I got lost in them. He noticed my intense interest and turned to study it as I did.
"If you like art, I have a gallery that you might find interesting. There is a life sized "School of Athens" in a room downstairs reproduced from the original that has such pronounced depth that you can step into it and mingle with the masters."
I thought about sitting between Heraclitus and Diogenes, or standing before Plato and Aristotle in the center. The idea appealed to me and I made a mental note to explore it later. His voice broke into my thoughts. "You seem to be ready. We can move on to the next step at any time."
"What is the next step?"
"I’m going to give you some perspective."
"We’ll have to do it from here. I’m too loaded to drive."
He smiled broadly and chuckled to himself. "I’ll carry you halfway, but you have to get back on your own."
"Fair enough." I said. Then the room disappeared.
Be here next week. It’s more fun than licking frozen doorknobs…
© Brodie Parker May 17th 2004
CapFantastic77@aol.com

Missed Chapters One & Two of our serialised novel - it begins here
Chapter Three here

Chapter Four here
Chapter five here

Chapter Six here
Chapter Seven here
Chapter Eight here
Chapter Nine here
Chapter Ten here
Chapter Eleven here
Chapter Twelve here

If you like this , email the writer and tell him so...
also by Brodie

Spire
Brodie Parker - Kill the Monster

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