A Preview of the Hereafter

I know this sounds absurd if not insane, but I died five years ago. Should you, my good readers, believe a dying man (I am seventy now), by your grace, I will tell you my story—

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That dreadful night, the last of all those bedridden ones, I lay wide awake at midnight. The moon had laminated everything with a subatomic layer of silver— bathing the looming dark trees, speckling the forest floor, and rippling the great river, whose dancing waves softly glittered, as it flowed by silently.
A terrific spasm of agony and fright unlike any nights before surged through me. Suddenly the dome of my vision manifested as a horrific face which cackled a ghastly laugh at me. Horror-struck, I tried to turn my eyes away but my head, unresponsive to my will, lay like a stone upon the pillow. I tried to call my son, who’s a doctor, but my lungs only sent an unuttered cry which caught in my throat.
The ghastly apparition vanished after a while. The moon had disappeared too behind billowing dark clouds. The darkness grew darker. It was my doom’s call to a dark world, that most feared place where billions of sentient beings, who’d lived, suffered and reproduced, have gone forever. All the past events of my life reeled before my eyes—childhood, laughter, falls, triumphs, people, and places.
To cut a long story short, every past moment and incident passed quickly before me, everything but everything, down to a humble ladle. Oh! How thoughtless I’d been with my time? Now as death drew near, I rued. My life was finished like the flipped pages of a book! Death wouldn’t spare me a single day to spend in prayer. There was no remission now. I floundered like a fish, breathless on dry sand.
The next moment, I was enveloped in a thick fog of smoke, out of which a fierce black bull leapt upon me and jabbed my belly with its deadly horns. Next, my heart sank deep within me as the heavens fell and engulfed me. The earth stood upside down to it! Then I found myself absolutely alone, singing a hellish song amidst the galaxy in an eternal abyss—(Oh! it was horrible. Sob!) —Then I do not remember anything until I shrieked with terror upon seeing a couple of approaching dark figures (they turned out to be the doctors).
I have forgotten to tell you that I’d worked all my life as a clerk in a small town near my village. I used to be a smoker, and the bull, that very same bull— I had it slaughtered some forty years back. My son tells me that I bellowed like a bull for almost an hour that night. I tell you I’m a dead man. I only wait to die a second death – this time for real.

This short story was published by Kuensel in 2004

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