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The International Writers Magazine
: What is Life After Death? Where is it?
Missed Chapter One? It's here

The Great Beyond - Chapter 5
Brodie Parker

'Reality is yours to shape to your liking. Keep in mind though that others will have an influence on it.'

He waited patiently while I took it all in. I could see where the future led out of sight in all directions. I could also see deeply into the past, and it also appeared to circle inward just as infinitely.
"It’s beautiful isn’t it?"
"I could never have imagined. How do you navigate through it all without getting lost?"
"Simplicity itself. All your movement is a direct result of your volition. But as you can see, every point at every time touches in a way that allows you to move through it all without moving at all. Instantaneous teleportation if you will, but on a multidimensional scale. You just have to think yourself there, and there you are. There is a knack to it, of course, and it will take a while to master it but I don’t foresee any problems for you. You’ve taken this all with great aplomb."
"It’s a facade, I assure you. It’s growing on me, but if I weren’t drunk I’d be howling at the moon and drooling all over myself. I might anyway."
"False modesty is so useless. Especially without a mortal coil. Your essence is all that’s left; the superfluous has been stripped away. You can’t hide much from anyone on this side of the sky, but once you develop some of your defenses you can hold your cards a little closer to your chest. Many people who live full lives mature enough to handle this pretty well. Some better than others, but you moved on too early; a good while before your time. That’s where I come in. I’m here to look after you and to teach you. You’re in good hands. I’ve been doing this for millennia."

I wasn’t being modest. The vastness and complexity of it all had me reeling. There were places along the continuum that drew my attention by sheer pungent atrocity. I stood witness to the finest, and most gruesome chapters in human history, unable to turn away. It all unfurled and I could see it from every angle. It was like a long vivid history lesson; comprehensive and uncensored and incapable of bias. I reflexively drew the numbing effects of the drink around me like a protective barrier. I found that by concentrating, I could intensify the effects, and therefore, had also stumbled onto the means to relieve myself of it. But I didn’t dare. I was watching with revulsion the devastation of the Bubonic Plague, and had yet to work my way up to World War Two. I wasn’t looking forward to it.

After I had seen everything up to around the time of my birth, Urimaru came to my side, and I felt him guiding me. We circled inward, growing smaller and smaller. It happened gradually, almost lazily; floating me downward to a more familiar seeming perspective. We were back to where we started from and he was sitting comfortably as if in a chair, but suspended in the blackness with no visible means of support.
"All right. I took you half way, now as I said you have to get back on your own." He lit a thick cigar and stared at me passionlessly.
I was feeling more centered; coming down from the ordeal of a close up of long term human development and beginning to cope with it. I took some time to get a grip and adjust a little, while I thought about how to move myself back into the study. I felt fairly certain that I couldn’t get back the way I came. I don’t know how we did it in the first place. The only clue I had was the sword still hanging in the void. It was the clue, the link I needed. I knew what to do.

First I shrugged off the buzz. It was replaced with an empty cut-off feeling that I ignored as I traced over the new places along my consciousness, feeling the areas I used to create the saber. I began to shape the room in my mind, starting with the walls then added ceiling, floor and furnishings. When I had everything pictured firmly in my mind, I concentrated on the new areas and slowly pushed at them. It was awkward, like flexing a new muscle that wasn’t atrophied, just unfamiliar. Blurry at first, then pulling sharply into focus the room appeared around me as before. I was standing next to the table. "How’s that?"
"That’s one way to do it. It’s your universe chief, and you’re at the center of it. You control the vertical and the horizontal. It’s the same for all of us. Reality is yours to shape to your liking. Keep in mind though that others will have an influence on it. Principally the author of our story. Also others who are more experienced or disciplined than you are will have an advantage. Will power plays a part as well, and I can tell you have plenty of that." He pulled the legal pad from his Kimono, and began to scribble on it. The paper he had written on earlier lay folded in half on the table.
"I’m really a figment of someone’s imagination?"
"Yes. We all are."
"If I looked up and told him ‘screw you’ do you think he’d hear me?"
"Certainly. He’s making you do it."
I did so. Vehemently. Colorfully. It didn’t make me feel much better though.
"Mazel tov!" He said. "Today you become a man. Soon you’ll start growing hair in funny places and your voice will start to squeak. Have a seat, there’s something I need to discuss with you."
As I sat across from him, I noticed the sword still suspended in mid air just where I’d left it. I formed a scabbard for it, sheathed it and hung it on a peg on the wall without touching it. Urimaru’s demeanor had turned serious, and he sat quietly for several moments before speaking.
"I have something to confess to you. I’ve done some things with you out of sequence from the way I would normally train a new recruit. I usually don’t expose someone to the full extent of things, or to the first hand history lesson I gave you until much later in their training. I rushed you a bit, because yours is a special case. I felt that a somewhat novel approach would be more appropriate to focus you toward a path that will allow you to use your full potential and lead you to true greatness."
"Aren’t you getting ahead of yourself? What do I need with true greatness? What if I’d rather settle for beautiful topless women and lots of beer?"
"I was hoping you would know the answer to those questions by the time you came here. You were still so young when you died; you may not have had time to decide what is truly worth fighting for. It’s a question men have struggled with since there have been men, and there are as many reasons as there are men willing to fight. We’ll come back to that in a bit. I sense that you have another question, and I think I know what it will be. Ask away."
"Very well, why me? What’s so special about me that you would take the time to bring me here and show me all this?"
He nodded, and motioned to a closet which burst open and ejected a large scroll. It flew to the side of the table and unrolled itself. There was an intricately labeled chart on it with a central line that branched off into scores of tangents and split apart in countless places. "This is a linear timeline centered around your current life cycle in your particular spatial dimension. You’ll notice that it’s been over simplified; two dimensions boiled down from what you saw out there. As you can see, the primary split is at the point where you died. On some of these paths, you lived to old age and died of natural causes, and on the majority, you died in the sword debacle in the museum. Each of these leads off in it’s own direction, but each is unique in that no matter how far I trace any of them into the future, I can’t get the faintest glimpse of your existence, or of any effect you necessarily would have had on any of the corresponding time/space lines after your death. You are shrouded in mystery not only from me, but also from my colleagues who are better at this kind of thing than I am."
© Brodie Parker June16th 2004

Only in Hackwriters…
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
More Fiction in Dreamscapes and First Chapters


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