So when I started this blog I said I would be doing movie, music, television and book reviews as well as top ten lists. I’ve done a lot of movie and music reviews, some television, one top ten list and zero book review. Well the book review is coming soon but today I’m going to deliver on another thing I promised, an original short story.
Now, this is one of the first short stories I ever wrote and it is also much longer than all of my other posts. So please just be kind and have some patience with this thing.
“God Damn it! I’m late!” Jacobi yelled, running from his bedroom to the kitchen.
“Oh, good luck babe!” His girlfriend Natasha yelled after him from the bedroom. She was lying in their bed, still half asleep.
Jacobi was late for an exam. He was an economics major at the University of Ottawa.
Jacobi was gulping down coffee from a travel mug as he ran out the door of his house and headed to the bus stop. As he half ran/half speed-walked to the bus stop, beads of sweat streamed down his chest.
On any other day Jacobi would have noticed the man, who was so obviously trailing him, but today he hadn’t even seen the man who had turned down the same road as he had and was now following several paces behind him. The man who was following him was wearing a business suit and a clean white trench coat over top of it and a pair of brown dress shoes. The man was older and had dark brown hair that had a couple grey patches around his ears. His hair was also curly but cut short.
If anybody had been watching this and, in fact, someone was watching, they would have seen that just before Jacobi reached the street he needed to cross in order to catch his bus, the man following him stopped following him and just watched him cross the street.
In his haste, Jacobi hadn’t looked both ways as he crossed the street and halfway across the road a 2005 Ford Explorer struck him. The man who had been watching Jacobi being followed by the man in the business suit jumped in fright and ran towards the scene of the accident, no longer minding the man in the business suit.
Jacobi’s fragile body crunched under the might of the behemoth Ford Explorer. The front end of the SUV was barely dented, yet Jacobi’s body lay contorted on the cold concrete roadway.
“Call 9-1-1!” A woman shrieked in panic.
The driver jumped out of his car and ran to Jacobi’s aid. The people that were waiting at the bus stop ran over to check out the crash. And for a brief moment all of the action of life had stopped on Bank St. between Catherine St. and Flora Ave. And yet it was all for not. Jacobi’s neck had snapped the moment the Ford Explorer made contact with his body. He was dead before he hit the ground.
He might as well have been road kill. They could have just peeled him off the concrete with a shovel and thrown his limp body in the back of some old pickup truck.
Soon the police and the paramedics arrived and taped off the scene of the crash and told the crowd watching the aftermath to move along. The man driving the Ford Explorer and the first few people on the scene were questioned and brought down to the police station to make an official statement. Jacobi’s body was taken away in an ambulance and eventually, the strip of Bank St. between Catherine St. and Flora Ave. returned to it’s normal state. All of the people who witnessed the crash continued their day. Of course they had gone through some trauma and some of them even took the day off work to recuperate. One man who was quite emotionally unstable began to have bouts of uncontrollable whimpering and ruined a dinner party for the rest of the members of his family that weekend. But for the most part, the witnesses of Jacobi’s death didn’t give it a second thought.
Except for the one man who happened to witness the peculiar event’s leading up to Jacobi’s death. Caught up in all of the panic and commotion of the crash, he had stopped paying attention to the man in the business suit who followed Jacobi for five blocks and then just seconds before Jacobi was stuck by the Ford Explorer stopped in his tracks and watched him die. Once the commotion died down and the authorities arrived the man who had secretly witnessed the odd event’s leading up to Jacobi’s death looked around for the man in the business suit. Upon realizing he was nowhere in sight of the witness, whose name was Franklin Campbell went home and tried to forget about it. But he was kept up that night by the thought of the man in the business suit and his bizarre behavior. Frank went to the police station the next day and told them the story. The police at the desk were polite to him and took a statement, but never did anything about it.
. . .
Jacobi didn’t know how long he had been asleep for, but it took him a long time to wake up. He dozed in and out of sleep peacefully for a while, not feeling any real urgency to wake up. When he finally regained full consciousness, he laid in his bed with his eyes closed.
He thought about how good he felt and then thought about Natasha and turned over and reached out for her. But she wasn’t there. He felt around for her in his bed, but she must have already woken up and started getting ready for work. Jacobi felt that this was strange, for Natasha to have woken up before him, but he brushed the feeling off easily and called out for her.
“Natasha!” He called. He waited but she didn’t answer.
“Natasha, did you make any coffee?” He called a bit louder. Again she didn’t answer. Finally he opened his eyes, and for a moment his stomach dropped in fear. But then a bright light started to shine and he was temporarily blinded and his mind refocused his attention on trying to see again. He raised his hand up to his eyes to block the light, but it did no good. He closed his eyelids, but that was no use either. The light seemed to be penetrating everything.
After several attempts to stop the light from shining, he gave up and laid on his back, frustrated and blinded. It’s not that the light hurt his eyes it was just annoying. For a moment before the bright white light had blinded him, he saw that he wasn’t in his room. He didn’t have enough time to recognize where he was, so the blinding light was just inconvenient.
For a long time Jacobi lay on his back and stewed in anger. He slowly got angrier and angrier until he finally erupted and spewed out a serious of expletives, all the while rolling and thrashing around on his back. Then he finally tired himself out and lay still. Jacobi couldn’t tell how long he had been in this place that he thought was his bedroom, and no one seemed to be coming for him. He did, from time to time, notice how strangely his mind seemed to be working. These thoughts didn’t last too long, but on occasion he would realize how he was only aware of the present moment; how annoyed he was right now, how frustrated, how much he cursed. He didn’t really give much thought to the past or the future.
Then, without noticing, the desire to find out where he was slowly faded away and soon he completely forgot about it. Then, without any warning his memories of Natasha, his family and his life at the university started to fade and he just waited, and he found that he didn’t really care. He spent most of his time wondering if he was dead or if this was heaven or hell. If this was hell, then Jacobi didn’t think hell was too bad. It definitely wasn’t torture and he had had worse days on earth.
And there it was. The realization. The realization that even the memory of earth had started to fade. This scared him a little bit, but he also found it hard to care about this fading memory. He guessed life itself wasn’t that important to him. So, finally he let go. He let go of Earth, of Natasha, his family, and of his life. After he let go of his former life he turned his attention to the blinding white light. He let go of his frustrations and fully embraced the blinding white light as his one and only life source.
And then, as if he had hit a switch, the white blinding light was gone, and he could see again. Maybe this was hell.
At least he could see where he was. What he saw was a vast expanse of white fluffy clouds reaching out into eternity. Above him was the most perfect blue sky he had ever seen. Where the clouds and the perfect blue sky met, there was a silver lining. Jacobi was taken a back by its beauty. It was like he was lying in the clouds over earth.
He stood up and looked around. He could see nothing but the clouds and the silver lining and the perfect blue sky.
“Hello!” He yelled at the top of his lungs. No answer. He waited.
“HELLO!” he yelled again and then waited, this time for longer. No answer.
“AM I DEAD?” he yelled, cynically. He already knew the answer. He knew he was dead. He reconsidered the question of heaven or hell. He thought this over and a dreadful idea arose in his mind.
“Purgatory? Is this purgatory?” He thought, fear rising up inside of him. But then the fear left him and he knew that it wasn’t purgatory. Somehow.
He kept walking. He felt curious, but tentatively so.
“I don’t think this is hell, this doesn’t seem like a type of hell.” He said to no one. And almost immediately he felt the answer inside his mind.
“No, this is not hell.” Then he hesitated for a moment, looking around suspiciously, as if someone were going to jump up out of the clouds.
“Am I in heaven?”
Another feeling came over him. A complicated one this time — he knew that when he said heaven he had a certain concept in mind and parts of this concept seemed to be wrong and parts of this concept seemed to be right. But he had another answer: “God’s waiting room.”
He thought about this new knowledge he had somehow learned just in the past five minutes. Perhaps these aren’t my thoughts? He thought to himself. Wait, If these aren’t my thoughts, then I am being told, or more appropriately shown these ideas and if I’m in heaven or some sort of heaven like place, then the person, or thing that is showing me these thoughts must be God! Am I talking to God? He thought.
One simple feeling came over him: yes.
He was almost overwhelmed with excitement at this, the revelation that he was talking to God, or transferring ideas somehow. He could talk to God! He could ask him about anything. Oh I have so many questions. He thought.
“Well, I might as well start with the most pertinent one.” He said.
“God, can I call you God? I was never religious; never read The Bible or The Koran or The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Why did I get into heaven?” he said to God.
The answer came, which he now understood as a ‘divine response’. The divine response was that all souls get into “heaven”. Through God’s divine response, Jacobi saw that religion and morality didn’t matter. One can really do whatever one likes and get into “heaven”.
Jacobi noticed something else when feeling God’s divine response. He noticed that when God shared with Jacobi the idea of people, he didn’t mean humans. He meant conscience beings.
“Does this mean humans aren’t alone in the universe?” The divine response came to Jacobi and he interpreted the response as a resounding, No. There were trillions of conscience species throughout the universe that God had created and they were all different, but all so similar.
This actually didn’t surprise Jacobi very much. Earth scientists have known for decades how big the universe was and the possibility of alien life wasn’t all too farfetched. What he really was surprised about was that a person, a human or some other species, can do anything and still get into heaven.
“Really? What about all of the sins? Don’t souls that sin not get into heaven?”
Another resounding divine response was given from God, No.
“Well then, what’s the point to the life of a soul? What is the meaning of life?”
God gave another instant divine response: To learn.
“What? That’s so lame.” Jacobi said, disappointed. But then another feeling arose in him and he understood God’s divine response. Suddenly he could see it all so clearly.
“So we are your tools for learning?”
“You just send us out like little wind up toys to learn and experience anything new and then when we are done you bring us back? So are we angels? People, I mean, not just humans.”
No, not angels, you are a part of me. Your body is a shell that holds a tiny piece of me inside it.
“Oh, my god.” Jacobi said, and then laughed to himself.
“So where am I going now?” Then the final simple divine response came to him.
And he understood.
For a moment he looked back to earth and his life and was a little sad because he knew he would never return to life as a human. But then he accepted it and severed his last connection to that life. The flesh and bones part of him immediately began to rip apart.
He could feel every part of it. First his skin went, and then his veins and muscles, then his organs, and finally only his brain was left. For an instant he could still feel it but the feeling quickly faded away. And then he felt so light, so free, and he was moving. Not in any direction, not up or down or forward or backward, but inward, and he was doing it on his own accord. As he moved he noticed the blinding white light had returned, only it wasn’t light anymore, it was love and he was heading towards it. As he approached he could feel himself moving into it.
It was the best thing he had ever felt. The love filled his entire being and he felt happy beyond measure. And for a while he just stayed in that state of happiness, motionless, bodiless, only happy and loved. And then suddenly he was gone. Jacobi no longer existed.
The entity known as God gave a shudder and the physical universe shuddered as it collected all of what Jacobi had felt and learned and experienced on the tiny piece of the physical universe that he had lived in. With that God absorbed the soul once known as Jacobi into its own being and felt a little bit more whole.
. . .
The man who couldn’t forget about Jacobi’s death lived on 742 Gilmour Street in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. For years after the accident Frank Taylor sat awake at night thinking about the suspicious man and wondering what he had been doing, following that poor young boy.
“Did he have something to do with that poor boy’s death?” he would ask himself in the darkness of his bedroom, lying beside his sleeping wife. Campbell would think about the man’s appearance, a middle aged white man with dark curly hair, cut short, wearing a business suit and a trench coat, and what looked like a very expensive pair of shoes.
Frank Campbell told the story to his friends and family, asking their opinions on who this suspicious man was and what he had been doing. They usually chalked his obsessive behavior up to his quirky personality. He even told his children and his grandchildren, when he was older, about the man in the business suit who stalked the poor boy to his death. By then his family thought that he had just become old and senile.
Finally Franklin Campbell got too old and got sick. He fought off his sickness for a long time but eventually his body gave in. On September 25th, 2037 Franklin was on his deathbed. His family had been sitting around him, praying for him for weeks, but now he was alone. He was weak and he was trying to get some rest.
Then he felt panicked because out of the corner of his eye he could see that someone was watching him sleep through his window. He stayed perfectly still and slowly moved his head towards his window. And, through the window of his first floor bedroom, he saw the suspicious man in the business suit, which had watched that poor boy die and now he was coming to watch Franklin die. They stared into each other’s eyes for a moment and then Franklin raised his eyebrows and he knew who the suspicious man was.
Franklin passed away that night peacefully into his sleep. By the time his wife and children came into the room, the man in the business suit had been long gone.
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