I awoke that day feeling not quite myself, I couldn’t put my finger on it. I didn’t want my usual cup of coffee. But I did retrieve my newspaper from the front walkway, as I bent over, I realized I’m not hurting from my arthritis I suffer from especially the first thing in the morning. I feel great I thought, maybe that’s what that feeling was when I first woke up, I’m renewed? I waved to Mrs. Popik across the street, she mustn’t have seen me for she didn’t wave back. I was going to yell a greeting to her but thought do I really care? No, I don’t. And I wonder why no one likes me, I chuckled at that. My other neighbor Sally Comeau will not even look at me even after I apologized for not having any empathy when her husband died by self-suspension. I told her best friend if I was married to Sally, I would probably kill myself too.  

 I turn to go back into my house I hear a lawnmower next door but I don’t smell the grass, I take a deep breath and still no smell, I wonder if my sinuses are acting up for I don’t smell anything, especially when I walk in my kitchen a fresh pot of coffee just brewed, I turn it off and wonder where my husband is. I call his name and no answer and I can’t find my phone. I look in my sunroom and see the hot tub is empty of water, the room is a mess with empty bottles of booze on the table, and I wonder what happened, I have no memory of last night. I have an uneasy feeling all of a sudden. I’m drawn back outside all of a sudden hear church bells and wonder where it is coming from, I’ve never heard them before. I follow the sound like in a trance. I have to find out where and why there is church bells ringing. I start to walk faster as the sound is getting louder. I’m not looking at where I’m going, I bump into someone and they apologize to me and I see it’s an elderly woman I’ve seen before on the street. I answer, “Watch where you're going grandma, I hope you drive better then you walk.” She doesn’t seem to hear me, so I repeat myself but louder, thinking maybe she didn’t hear me. But she seems to be looking thru me like I'm not there. I touch her arm to get her attention and she flinches and touches her arm where I just did and looks frightened. Is she blind also, I wonder, as I start to say something someone calls to her to cross over to the other side of the street? She turns and hurriedly walks away and crosses the street. A nut case I figure, and I realize the bells are getting quieter as I start walking in the other direction. I wonder if maybe I'm the nutcase. I look ahead and the sky is dark almost a haunting blackness to it, but I’m drawn to it. As I get closer the landscape looks like it looks like there was a recent fire, I don’t remember there being a fire so close to my neighborhood. Everything since I got up today has been really weird. At that thought a man passes me and he is so familiar for some reason, but the person he is talking makes this even stranger, it looks like Charles Manson and Ted Bundy. I watch them as they pass and think my mind is playing tricks on me. They seem to be admiring each other. They must be actors, it’s the only thing that makes sense in this senseless day. I wonder what time it is, I forgot my phone, and wonder why I'm not hungry or thirsty, I can’t remember the last time I ate or even had a drink. I must be coming down with something, that’s okay I could stand to lose a few pounds. I try to think back to the night before and remember my loser brother coming over to borrow, no take because he never pays me back. My father calls him work-shy; I chuckle at that and recall the first time he called him that. My brother got so defensive and had another one of his excuses for being unemployed. I keep walking towards the rayless sky, there is no sun out but I feel very warm. I must be getting sick, I re-iterate. As I keep walking, I notice the flowers and plants are no more, and it’s getting hotter. Should I keep on this path, I turn and see a few people on the other side going in the opposite direction then me. Where are they going, I wonder, where am I going either? I’m suddenly afraid and can’t seem to stop and turn around, it’s like I’m between the devil and the deep blue sea. I wonder where that phrase came from, I’ve never heard it before. I’s getter hotter but I’m not uncomfortable or even sweating. I can now see flames, the most beautiful of colors. Still I can’t stop myself, I must go closer. I can see a crowd of people waiting in line, as I get closer, I see 2 big desks made out of brick. The people in line are being called to either desks. I’m  given a number 1, and told when it’s my turn to go to that desk, ‘Do you understand?” I’m asked and I nod yes. In the distance the flames are enormous and seems it is being stoked by men huddled over it. My attention is drawn back to desk 2 and an argument is taking place. The person at the desk is not saying anything and she appears to be naked with a red hue to her skin. I got to be dreaming and then 3 men pick up the person arguing and take him away, but not before red stained woman stamps a paper in front of them and it then burns up in an instant. It is then my turn, they read information from a form and I answer yes to all of it but the last one. “You Are Here by the Order of Mammon, Son of Lucifer.” I’m bewildered and respond “I don’t know what’s going on here or what kind of place this is, but there must be some kind of mistake.” She continues on by saying, “You are guilty of the murder of your husband Joseph Peter Smythe 12/13/56, and your final sentence is here in Netherworld or Hell as you know it.” I’m speechless and start realizing everything makes sense now. I start to protest my innocence even though I did kill my husband by getting him drunk which was easy when you’re an abusive drunk, and drowned him in the hot tub. No one ever suspected and it was ruled an accident. But that was 25 years ago and then I suddenly recall a car accident I just had. OMG, I must have died and this is my final punishment I didn’t get when I was alive. I decide not to argue, where will it get me. I follow the line in front of me and it moves quickly, I’m so close to the flames I saw earlier, I look over to the other line that was for desk 1 and ask the person behind me what’s that line for? “Oh, that’s for everyone else but murderers.” As I look to the front of that line to the one that is being called next, I recognize him as Jeffery Epstein. He is pushed over into the hot flames of Hell and so am I, and I wonder why the 2 lines for we are both going to the same place. 

November 02, 2019 02:44

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Dale Lehman
15:46 Nov 07, 2019

Hi Cheryl. I like the story in general. There have been a lot of iterations on the dead person who doesn't immediately realize they are dead, but often they are from the perspective of someone who has been wronged rather than the wrong-doer. Turning it around makes for an interesting tale. I did have a bit of trouble reading it because it seems very run together (only one paragraph break, a lot of run-on sentences, etc.) This may have been intentional (?). If so, I might suggest it would be better to start more "normal" and build it up as th...


Cheryl Fulton
22:56 Nov 07, 2019

Thank you so much, I really appreciate your help. Instead of making excuses, I do know some mistakes I made and will learn from them. I am new to all this. Thanks again!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.