Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.
At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.
My words are:
Dialed in ~ licensed ~ tricks-of-the-trade ~ in large measure ~ surveillance ~ phone record
They were submitted by: https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/
So....this was originally inspired by a swap prompt I sent out last month or before (and I checked with that person to make sure she didn't mind me giving it a go! I'd never want to hurt anyone's feelings that way). I just couldn't stop thinking about it, and the words really fit, so here we are. It's probably going to be a multiparter if enough people enjoy it. I feel like it could end rather ok, but I'd like to see where it goes.
Lizzy was dead.
She kinda figured that was the case when the creepy dude in the black robes told her it was time, and they climbed in this weird ass skull boat floating down a bloody river that appeared right beside where she wrecked the car. She had swerved right into an ENTIRE tree trying to miss an oppossum of all things... a fucking marsupial. But now that they were standing in front of a building that looked remarkably like the Overlook Hotel, she was sure of it. She was definitely for real d e c e a s e d this time.
"Is this Hell? Do Jack Nicholson's sentient monster eyebrows chase me down the halls with an ax for all of eternity? Because I have to admit, that's kinda rad, my dude."
She didn't hear the robes' reply so much as understood it. See, total creepfest.
All in due time, Elizabetha
"Nobody calls me Elizabetha." She squinched up her nose and made a retching sound.
Is that not your name?
"Well, yeah, sure. Technically. But isn't it a little...much?"
She couldn't see his face, but somehow she still knew he was rolling his eyes.
Elizabetha is your name. Why do humans insist on making everything a production?
"Oh? Oh is that how we're playing this? Well, what is your name?"
Charon. Technically as you put it. I have many names in many cultures, but that is my given name.
"Well how about if i call you... 'Death.'"
I prefer Charon.
"The Grim Reaper?"
"So despite having 'many names' you stick to the one you like is what you're saying?"
Very well then....sigh....Lizzy.
She could tell beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was barely holding off a retching sound himself, and it delighted her down to her newly ethereal toes. Being dead might have its perks.
"Sooooooo...." she rocked back and forth on her feet a little really ramping up her impatient stretching of the o. Such a tiny word for so much sass. "What the fuck are we doing here, Joe Black?"
Why must you lot always compare me to your terrible, cheap cinema?
His look of disgust seemed to move the air around them even while hidden in the shadows of his hood, but she would not back down. No way. "The depth of your eyeroll was deserving of an award, surely. An emmy for best supportive role in a feature film."
This is not a film, child.
"Then why the hell are we at the damned Overlook hotel? Why does this place look like it jumped here straight from a Kubrickian nightmare?"
That would have nothing at all to do with me, dear. You perceive this place as you want to...or need to really.
Now that finally rocked her. Not being dead. Not being escorted by a being older than humankind who was supposed to be a femme entity in an on again/off again fling with Deadpool. Her own little quirks could haunt her better than anything. "And this is what my brain has come up with, eh? Well, ain't this telling."
She felt the grin tingle the base of her spine like an ice cold breeze.
"Ok, but where is here?"
It is a depot of sorts. I escort you to the afterlife you chose in life. Christians get their Heaven...or Hell. If one believes in reincarnation, you step through a door and go back to Earth in a new receptacle. If--
"Ewwww. Receptacle? Wtf?"
Body, then. Being. Creature. What do you want, child?
"Anything but receptacle. Creepsville, my guy. No one will ever swipe right on your ass if you talk like that to all the ladies."
Swipe right? What is this swipe right?
"You know, Tinder? Dating app? Booty calls? Friends with bennies?"
My place in existence is not to marry.
"I mean...you do not have to be married to sleep around, man."
Are you as certain of that in death as you were in life?
"What's that supposed to mean?!"
No matter. Let's step inside. We have much to discuss this night.
The inside looked remarkably NOT like the inside of Kubrick's Overlook though it did make her think of the darkest recesses of Stephen King's frontal lobes where sharp toothed clowns were born alongside haunted cars, spoiled aliens, and killer dogs. The architecture, stairs, doorways...every chair and desk and couch were all black highlighted by blue lighting that only fueled the shadows instead of disbursing them. It was tacky and weird and everything she ever wanted in a house...when she was a 14 year old Ouija queen holding seances at sleepovers and doing tarot readings at the lunch table. The nostalgic love for it hit her almost as hard as how terrible it all looked. The two emotions intertwined to knocked into her with a sucker punch that doubled her over in a maniacal laughing fit that would rival even The Shining girls in their pretty blue, bloodied dresses.
This is all you, dearheart. I must admit even I am a little bewildered here, but we must attend to our business. I have a long night ahead
"What business do you mean?"
It seems we had a little trouble getting dialed in on exactly what your beliefs are.
"I'm agnostic. Was agnostic. How hard could that be?"
Oh, we knew that of course. We sent quite a lot of effort attempting to narrow it down. In large measure even most agnostics have a hope or a holdover belief from family or childhood they want to be true. But you... When I say there was nothing there--not an iota of care--I mean it. We even hired a licensed demon investigator, the best in the business, to conduct some surveillance in your world, check phone records, and all the usual tricks of the trade. My purpose here is to walk someone their spot in the depot, to their version of eternity whatever it may be, and release them--
"Wait. Just wait right there."
"You mean to tell me everyone was right? All religions are right? All these people fight and hate and ruin each other over religion for...for nothing?!"
That is an extremely limited way of conceiving it.
"So who is right then?!"
No one. And everyone.
It not only is possible, it simply is. If a person lived a good life, they get to live the eternity they worked for. How else would you have it?
"But.... but then they get to think they were right all along and had justification for looking down on others! They never know everyone gets their own deal."
"AND HOW IS THAT FAIR?!"
Why does “fair” matter? And who does it matter to? They are dead.
“Because so many of them have been fucking awful? Because a lot of them treat people so terribly and judge lifestyles? Kill for religion? None of that matters.”
You are forgetting that if they have misused their beliefs for hate or violence, there is more than one place they believe they will go. Most religions allow for what you can whittle down to a good place and a bad place. Do you understand? Those people aren’t worried about whether they were right when stuck in a place that punishes their transgressions for all of time.
“I suppose that makes it slightly better then. A smidge. But it still ain’t a great compromise. What about atheists?”
I cannot answer these questions all night. You have a decision to make. But since we needed to visit the Atheist afterlife anyway to help with your choice, shall we start there?
He lead her then to a small hallway off from the reception area. Each room had a number like in any hotel. She wondered what this place looked like to others if not this. They stopped in front of 127, and he turned to look at her. Well, she assumed. She still hadn’t seen his face.
We’ll visit several doors tonight. You take a peek in, get a feel for the place, ask a couple of questions if you absolutely feel the need, and make your choice. Most people do not take this much work, so keep in mind this choice can be taken, and I’ll place you where I see fit if you abuse my time.
His eyes lit a fiery, deep orange on the last sentence like he was itching for the opportunity which made her take a step back involuntarily while his laugh surrounded her like a blanket made of spider webs. “I get you and all, but do you have to be so damned creepy?”
He turned, still laughing, opened the door with a little oxblood-colored key card, and the two of them stepped in. It was sort of like being on a balcony. She could look down on the city below her, high enough to be above the clamor on the streets but still be able to catch the action. It looked just like home…people scrambling to get here and there, homeless in the alleys, fights outside bars. She could sense everything as it was happening—joy, hopelessness, anger, pain, confusion. “Is this their bad place?”
Atheists do not believe in a dichotomy of afterlife. There is only one place, here. They are given the option to blink out of existence as they believed they would in life, but given the option, most end up here. It is much like where humans spend their lives—a place of madness if you ask me. But no one here is sick or dying. They just live their lives like workers in a child’s antfarm doing their work and turning over green paper for things they think make them feel better. As I said, it’s essentially the world you left with a few caveats.”
“So…I’d have to spend eternity working? With the same kinds of people I lived with? Like, there are libertarians here?”
“No fucking thank you. WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT THIS?! Next.”
The two of them climbed a set of winding stairs up to the second floor where they stopped of 237.
This, my child, is Christian Hell. Unless you particularly want to have the option, we can skip this one and go down the hall to what they call Heaven. You don’t really qualify for this door, but I am obligated to give you the full tour of options per my supervisor.
“You know…if it had been any other door besides this one, I might be game, but considering there are zombie tiddies behind this one in the movie, I think I am just fine with skipping it. Also, who is your supervisor?”
My supervisor is none of your concern.
They turned and walked a few doors down. Light poured into the hallway from underneath the door like it was just too powerful to be contained. A faint music could be heard….musak seemingly. The internal cringe she felt ended up sending a shiver down her spine. “Uh… can I ask something out here?”
"So maybe you know this, but my uncle Wayne was a pastor of some kind of Christian sect. I don’t know the details, but he was always preaching about eternal damnation, his incontinent cat, and how gay people are selfish. I’m not sure which one or what the deal was, but before I decide about this door I need to know if he’s in there because if he is, well, I can pass this one up right now.
Pastor Wayne... ah, yes. I completely understand. Pastor Wayne was a special case as well. Wayne has his own afterlife. In life, he believed he was the only person living a good enough life to get into Heaven. All ego, that one. So, no one and nothing else is there which, since you know him well, you also understand is really his own version of Hell. He has no one to talk to about himself or feel superior to. It worked out well for everyone that way. I should say, however, there are people similar to your uncle behind this door. But they’re also surrounded by gay Christians and rainbows, so it’s made a bit of an impact on things. In this instance, since you seem to care so much about who was right and wrong, those individuals have had to eat a lot of crow as you humans might say.
“You can tell you meet mostly old people if you think a lot of humans use that phrase.”
They have egg on their face, then.
Have had to eat their words?
“oh just give up.”
Fine. Do you want to go in or not?”
“No thanks. I don’t think this is for me either. What’s next?”
Jannah. The Muslim version of eternal paradise.
“I mean, I AM curious, but in the interest of saving your grumpy ass some time, I can go ahead and pass. These Daddy type religions are not really my thing.”
So, no to anything associated specifically with Catholics who have their own space separate from other Christians, Jehovahs, Mormons, and the Jewish rooms then?
So, no gods or many gods are acceptable?
“Oh wait what about Scientology? Is that, like, one or many?”
You…you’re actually interested in the Scientology room?
The confusion emanated from him like a dark cloud which made her double over laughing again.
“I really feel like I didn’t get enough shots at them in life, you know? Like I’d love to peek for some meme-worthy jokes.”
I wish you would speak your language correctly. What is this meme?
“Grimmy! You mean to tell me no one has come here and talked about memes? What the fuuuuuuck? Memes are life. How could someone come here and not talk about memes?”
It’s obvious you chose to say “meme” as many times as possible in order to pull one over on me.
“Pull one over on you? You sound like someone’s great grandma. Do you have some Werther’s Originals in your purse, Granny Grim?”
What are these Werther’s Originals?
“Wait. Wait… You’ve never… I was just kidding around and giving you a hard time. Trolling or whatever for shits and giggles. But…do you have money? Like, can we pop on over to the Atheist door and hit up a drugstore? Do they have real food there? I cannot live with myself for all eternity if I know you have never had a Werther's.”
I suppose if you feel it is absolutely necessary to your journey, we can.
“Let’s do this!”’
Charon snapped his fingers, and the two found themselves outside what appeared to be a regular ass CVS. Lizzie stared up at him dumbfounded, a look of utter confusion on her face. “Uh…if you can just snap your fingers and take us anywhere we want to go, what’s with the fucked up hotel and the doors and the walking?”
Perhaps I, too, have a flair for the dramatic.
“I’d say that’s an understatement. Now, come on.” She grabbed him by the robe sleeve and pulled him down the aisles until she found the candy. She grabbed the Originals, some chewy Werther’s, and the green apple ones since it was almost Halloween, and she hadn’t had those all year long, omg. Charon paid at the register like he was anyone else. No one bat an eye of weirdness at the creeptastic hooded demon dude, but whatever. Stranger things happened to her back at home. She had accidentally walked into a furry convention once while she was high thinking it was some kind of Comic Con event. It was a memory she spent the rest of her life wishing she could unsee.
When they stepped back outside, she pointed to a bench under a huge oak tree in the park across the street, and the two of them made a beeline for it with their bagful of old lady candy.
She sat right next to him instead of moving to the other end of the bench when he sat down prissily on one end. The displeasure he sent her way made her grin. She was having a little too much fun giving him shit, but the Werther’s were definitely going to make up for it. She handed him one, took one herself, and sat back waiting for his reaction while she unwrapped and popped it in her mouth. As soon as it hit, she was flooded with nostalgia which was immediately drowned out by joy so intense she thought she might explode in a cloud of glitter and unicorn farts.
Mmmmm. Yes. I do agree.
“So, Grimmy…like, don’t you need an assistant or something? Is that a thing?”
It has never been requested. I would have to make a formal request to the supervisor. If I can put up with you, that is. We still have to finish your tour. It is the way things are done here.
“Let’s eat a few more of these first, then.”
Finally…something on which we agree, Lizzy.
Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:
Baking In A Tornado https://www.bakinginatornado.com/2018/09/super-supper-use-your-words.html