One of Ben’s passions was to write and only weeks before he died he produced a piece of original writing that horrifyingly mirrored his own tragic death shortly after.
The pavement feels so very cold on my so very punctured back. Everything feels cold. Numbness persists. As I stare up at my killer-to-be he feels not the slightest measure of remorse at what he has just committed. Instead his dark smile sickens me in ways I couldn’t imagine. He holds a phone to me and clicks the button. Flash, my misery is a mere picture used to broadcast the monstrosity society has become. I can only wonder whether I deserve to die here, now. Was it all for a reason? Who can say?
As my mind becomes inflamed with questions I slowly feel the pain pass over me like a shadow. Blood escapes my wounds. Blood once destined for greatness now seeps into the drains and the world beyond them. It all goes black.
“No, no, no, no, no – Please God, no! This isn’t real… this isn’t happening! No, not to us. Baby, everything is OK. You’re OK, you’re fine, just stay with me, don’t ever leave my side. Help is coming. Baby, open your eyes. I-I need you awake!”
Sweet perfume grips and pulls me back into consciousness and as my eyes draw near, I see the bearer of my death has been replaced by the bearer of my happiness – my partner Molly. Her screams torment me. I try to comfort her but my throat is filled with a thick mass of blood. Drip, drip. It continues to scurry around the pavement like the savage from the scene of this crime.
I hear new voices, see new faces. Fluorescent yellow prevails. My eyes meet darkness once more. I awaken to the smell of bad food reinforced with disinfectant. Yet this sweet, familiar perfume saves me for the last time. The angelic smell is drowned by the bitter moans and whimpers of the people around me.
I’m in a hospital. I’ve been stabbed. Three times in the chest, twice in the back. Once in the gut for good measure. Although I’m surrounded by family and friends, I’m the loneliest person in this world.
My pupils focus and I match the perfume to my lover. “Oh Molly, you don’t deserve this. Will I marry you Molly? Just reassure me you’re mine forever and nothing else matters” Tubes in my throat stop me from saying this to her. But I know she hears me. I babble on.
“You tried to warn me he was dangerous. He was not to be messed with but I could not let him mess with my Molly. I never listened. I met my match. I paid the price. I’m sorry.”
That was when it happened. It felt like, like, I was a damaged battleship sinking into the sea never to return to the surface. The world turned black. The smells, sounds, faces, feelings all disappeared. No white light, no flashbacks, just darkness. Loneliness. I knew I was gone and couldn’t ever come back. I just wished I had the strength to say goodbye. I was dead now.
Once again I awaken. It’s very different. I stand up and notice the beaming golden light that pierces my enriched eyes. No source of the light is clear. Just emitting light from beyond the horizon. I look down and press my wounds. They’re still there, yet I feel no pain.
The soft, moist grass is a rich purple colour. Every blade cut at the same perfect angle. Yet every blade seems unique. It feels and sounds like I’m buried under water like the poorly battleship, yet I’m clearly not. I’m neither breathing nor blinking. I just stand there and orientate myself. The buzzing and tweeting of a summer’s day rounds off the atmosphere. It’s pleasant. I know it’s not real, yet, it is.
I look forward and find a typical old brown wooden house. It has a porch with an old rocking chair. The chair is meant for me. So is the house. But it soon becomes clear as I walk patiently towards it that I’m not getting any closer. My walk turns into a jog, which grows into a sprint.
My wounds begin to pulse and burn. Shrieking pain bulges from the cuts. I collapse in a heap. When I get to my feet I find myself, unexpectedly, outside the door. I feel no need to sit on the chair but feel the strangest urge to go inside. Music now drowns the buzzing and the tweeting. I pull the door towards me to find myself in a situation I would never have imagined.
I’m in a full-blown rave! The floor is shaking. No sight in existence compares to the one I’m witnessing! There are numbers of people too high to count – a rainbow-coloured ocean of waving hands. They’re all dancing. Dancing to the music. The never-ending beat. There are no speakers in sight. Just a forever flowing beat it’s impossible to get bored of. A short distance away lie vast tables that stretch like the desert. They are filled with luxurious, hearty food. Heavenly food. Now I know, I’ve reached my heaven.
On one of the huge tables, just on the very edge, I see something that made my tears climb to the edge of my already glistening eyes. My family and friends. Not the living ones, but loved ones I had lost. One by one their distant heads bob up like ripe red apples in a barrel of water. They wave. They shout. Beckoning. I bundle down the stairs as if I were a small child in a toy shop, wildest dreams becoming reality.
I force my way through the crowd with sheer excitement and curiosity, then take a seat. The grand chair is soft and comforting. The smell of new leather wafts up my flaring nostrils.
“Ben, my boy.” As he spoke it felt like someone had turned the music down just so we could share this moment. “How you doing, son? Words can’t describe how you must be feeling now but let me reassure you everything happens for a reason. All will be explained son, just give it some time.”
This warm, gruff voice belongs to the cheery face of my grandad Michael. The voice that soothed everybody’s troubles. A voice you could trust and understand – that knew everything. I try to talk but, but I seem unable.
“Don’t worry Ben, like I said, it takes time.” He acknowledges the fact that I can’t speak. “Your body hasn’t fully shut down. In a short while you’ll be able to do pretty much whatever you did when you were alive plus much, much more.”
I nod to show I’ve understood. “Much, much more?” I think to myself. In the next few minutes what more could happen to my body? White fire roars inside me. I’m so excited I can hardly think. Curiosity forces me to become extremely impatient as I can’t help but question what these next few minutes will bring.
As I look around the table I see other familiar faces. Aunties and uncles, childhood friends, even people from the pub who I only said hello to. I sit and listen to what people say to me. It’s mainly things like “we’ve missed everybody terribly”, “just my luck”, “it had to happen some day” and “Molly will be fine”. And a few jokes are thrown in too. It’s just so pleasant. So wonderful.
Although I am dead, I feel more alive then ever. They say time flies when you’re having fun. Well here it was different, I was having plenty of fun yet it seemed like I’d been sitting here for days on end. Time isn’t in existence here, it doesn’t need to be. I’ve long since developed speech and we just sit and chat and eat and listen. Finally I decide I want to explore this milky way, this heaven. I tell everyone I’ll be right back – I just want to look around.
As I stroll around the never-ending dance floor I see things that give me a wild mix of fascination and confusion. Things that would seem impossible. But this is heaven, right? Anything is possible here. The ceiling is invisible to the naked eye, it stretches higher than the sky, space, higher than anything…floating platforms raised hundreds of feet into the soft air. I can just make out the young people having the time of their lives. Or deaths. Death. It’s not present here. It never will be.
It’s so alive. It feels and smells like I’m outside on a glorious summer’s day in the middle of a beautiful countryside. Yet the reality is I’m stuck in the middle of the most vast and exciting rave I’ve ever witnessed. Pure electricity fills us all. It’s more than I would expect even God to think up. It’s fantastic. Wildly tamed. Nobody sleeps.
You just let the music and the people and the atmosphere and the feelings just sweep you away to a place you’ve longed to be. Everybody’s in their very own heaven.
See, it’s funny. I sort of imagined heaven would be a lot different. Through the years of listening to church-goers babbling on about how heaven’s a big fluffy cloud. Clustered with old people and angels donning golden harps. Then in the distance would be the giant, floating head of God with a huge white beard. I had the impression it would be exactly that. But, it was nothing of the sort. The people were all dressed in normal clothes. The clothes they died in. They were all just your average people and although God could not be seen, he could be felt. We knew he was with us. He was all around. As he was when I was alive. He was also there when I died.
I had died.
This was the first time I had properly thought about what had happened. Stood in the middle of thousands. I gazed blind into nothingness. Just thinking hard. Time seemed to stop, everything stopped. No-one was there. Just me and my thoughts. Here they told me my life had been taken. I’d never be able to contact or communicate with anyone alive ever again. Me and Molly were no more. Although the memory would forever live on. She was gone.
And although this had happened to me, strangely, I don’t feel the slightest bit angry. I just feel free. Free from anger, worries, anguish and pain. In retrospect, I had this burning desire to hate the animal who took me away from life. Yet, although I don’t know why, I’d forgiven the murderer.
So what will come next for me? God knows. I don’t. But for now, I’ll return to the table that my family humbly sit at. This is my home now, and I’ve never felt better. I’m not scared any more. There’s no weight on my shoulders. No struggle. From now on I can do whatever I want whenever I want. I’ll never say I’m glad he did it because, well, I’m simply not. But I much prefer it here than being stuck on a weird world. Let’s just see what a future here brings. But at the moment, this is living. Not death.