So this is a collaborative project that Green Embers and I have been working on together. I wrote this first part, the section tomorrow will be from him. This was put together quickly for the blog release so I am sure there are some mistakes, but it was a lot of fun. I had never done a writing project with anyone else before this week and the projects I have collaborated on with others this week made me realise what I had been missing. So folks, you can blame me for this first part. You can blame Green Embers for tomorrow.
It just sounded like beep. Not a hurried, frantic blast from a horn, but just beep. Friendly almost, like one motorist beeping a hello to another in passing. I had no idea I was about to die. Right there on Fifth Avenue. That is exactly what happened. I stepped into a crosswalk, got hit by a bus (how clichéd is that) and I died, but only briefly.
It wasn’t painful. Not at all. I looked up after a moment of overwhelming blackness and there was God. Except he wasn’t God. He was God(s). He was every major religious figure all at the same time, flashing-like a Christmas tree bulb. He faded in as Buddha and then out as Jesus and then back again as someone else. I think he may have even been Santa clause at one point, or maybe I was dead and things got a little fuzzy.
Where was I? Oh yeah. Dead with blinking omnipotent being standing over me expectantly. I tend to digress. I looked up at him and realized I had to stop looking down at myself. What a broken mess I appeared to be, laying there on the street, sprawled at all angles like a daddy-long-legs after a shoe smacked it. I was one goofy looking…anyway, my heart would have been thundering if I would have had a heartbeat at this point. But I was dead.
I searched his face, when it finally stabilized into one solid form. I’m guessing he had to decide which religion I was before he knew who to be. Turns out he really is all powerful.
“God?” I questioned.
“Am I dead?”
He nodded again.
I should have had something smart to say in this moment. We spend our entire lives preparing to die, right? I had nothing.
“Dead?” I asked again.
Again with the nodding. This was getting old quick.
“You have two choices,” He said finally.
I glanced around. People were standing around my body, police lights were flashing. No one seemed to see anything but my broken body. I guess I really did only have two options. Be dead or?
I looked back up at him and his face was a mask of patience. He looked like he could wait there forever, but then I suppose he probably could. Immortality or something. I smiled. I know it sounds stupid, but whenever I get nervous I smile. I can’t help it. Who wouldn’t be nervous in front of God?
“You can die, right here, right now. Or you can live.”
Wow, such a hard choice. “I want to live.”
“There are consequences to every action, my son. If you choose to live this day, you will have a debt to repay.”
Seriously? Doesn’t this guy have all the riches in the universe? At most I have fifty bucks in my bank account and five in my wallet.
“It is not a monetary debt that you will have to pay. You will owe me a debt of mercy and kindness. There are other people that would love to be in your position right now.”
I looked at my body again. “Under a bus?” I questioned.
“Many people are too late to save. Their souls have become dark and giving them another chance at life would do no good. They are better off in their respective places of the afterlife. You, you still have a chance to make a difference in this world. So I ask you again, do you choose life, or…” he trailed off, with a sweeping gesture of his hand.
I looked at the paramedics trying to save me. I looked at the worried faces around me. I looked at God.
“I…Um,” I stammered.
“A simple answer will suffice,” He said.
“I choose life.”
“And so it shall be”
Nothing happened. I was still standing there, I was still dead. He was still looking at me as if he expected something.
“What now?” I stammered uncertainly.
“You will go live life, except you will not actually be fully alive until you complete the tasks I give you. If you fail, you will die. Wherever you are at, no matter what you are doing, you will simply die. Right in the middle of it.”
“Am I going to be like…an angel?”
God actually rolled his eyes at me. “Did Obama graduate kindergarten and then become president?”
I was about to say something but then thought better of it.
“Good point,” God said. “You have unpaid taxes, a parking ticket for every year of your driving record, you wear the same underwear for three days at a time and you didn’t give to the Salvation Army bell ringers last year at Christmas. You are hardly fit to be an angel.”
I resented that. I changed my underwear at least three times per week. “I didn’t realize that those were mortal sins.”
God Shrugged. “Some things in the book have been lost in translation.”
“What do I have to do?” I asked, not sure I wanted an answer.
“You will go where I direct you. I will give you signs, literally and metaphorically. You will find the individual that I intend for you to meet with. You will then have 24 hours to get to know them well enough to figure out what it is they want most in this world, and help them get it. Five people in five days.”
“So I will be more like a genie?”
“Would you rather be dead?”
“Maybe,” I let slip.
His brow creased. “Too late you have already accepted. In life you took your words back the minute things began to go right for you. Not this time.”
With that, he snapped his fingers and everything became black again.
I was back in the shoe store I had just left before the accident. I looked down at myself, I was me again. My clothes were not rumpled, there was no damage to my body. I looked out the window at the street. Nothing seemed to be amiss. I’m alive, I thought. The salesman was looking at me funny. I wondered how long I had been standing there. “I’m alive!” I shouted to him on my way out the door.
When I got to the crosswalk I stopped and looked both ways, and then I looked both ways a second time just to be safe. I couldn’t figure out what my first “assignment” was going to be or how to figure it out. Then I looked across the street and remembered what God had said “give you signs, literally and metaphorically.”
There was a huge, flashing sign across the street with an arrow blinking on top of it. “Star Wars convention today,” it proclaimed. I felt a tug in my chest. This was what I was supposed to do? Really?
I walked into the convention with no clear plan. “What am I supposed to do here?” I asked, “rescue Princess Leia?”
I stood there, watching all the various costumes and light sabers go by, trying to figure out my purpose. “He said I had to find the right person, and then get to know them.”
Just then my phone alerted me that there was a message. I pulled it from my jacket pocket and turned it on. There, staring back at me was a picture of Darth Vader. I looked around me at the sea of black helmets with a few green Yodas thrown in. This was going to be easy, right? No problem at all. If I could have done it over again I would have picked dead.