Friday, July 10, 2015

Vikings Aren't Dumb: A Tale of the Afterlife

Image by Sven-Steffen Arndt via Wikimedia Commons

Author Note: This story is the first chapter of a novel. 

I was surprised to wake up in the bathtub because I only took showers. Events would overshadow this first fact of the day, and its significance would only come back to me later. I found myself fully dressed in my only suit, the one that served for weddings, interviews, and funerals. The wedding ring I had buried at the back of a dresser drawer fit loosely on my left hand and an old watch was strapped around my wrist. At least I was dry.

I tried remembering my last thoughts before waking, but everything seemed far away. I wasn’t even sure if I had gone to bed the night before. Was I dreaming? I didn’t think so. Hallucinating? Not likely. I lived a pretty clean life: no drugs, no meat, and hardly ever alcohol. What time was it? My watch said 10:10. Where was my phone?

I got up and stomped my foot farther into my shoe. It wasn’t tied with my slip-proof knot, just a normal shoe knot that I had abandoned at the age of 12. And as I moved around, my underwear was slightly twisted and there were sock wrinkles trapped under my feet. I looked in the mirror, expecting to see a moustache, kitty whiskers, or profanity drawn on with marker. My face was unblemished, apart from the hooked nose that I could blame on no one but my parents. My hair wasn’t even mussed, and the circles under my eyes from too many nights at the office had faded. I had to admit that I looked better than I had in months. I winked at myself in the mirror and opened the bathroom door.

I stumbled and scraped my knuckles on the doorjamb. The cat at my feet had long grey and black fur, and was the size of a small dog. It rolled to its back and looked up at me.

“Darius?” I said. This wasn’t right. Darius had died of leukemia, and was buried in the back yard.