There are many thoughts one experiences as she’s hit by a car. The first is pain as her body collides with the ground. The second is confusion as the agony makes her forget what she’s doing. The third is anger because she realized the car had run a red light, and the forth is annoyance as a in the midst of all this, one of the pedestrians apparently thought the best course of action was to nonchalantly stroll over and slap her back and forth across the face.
“Up and at em, Sweetheart.” His voice was young but weathered, and every word flowed flawlessly off his tongue, or it would’ve if he had one. That was the first thing she noticed, followed by his clothing with was a mix of dirty rags wrapped around a spotless white suit.
“Ease up there, Muldick.” Another voice drifted overheard, this one belonging to a behemoth of a man who would make most football players run for their mommies. “You gotta give her some time there.”
“You’re right because if thing our lovely lady has, it’s time.” Muldick stood up straight and tipped his top hat down to the still dazed woman. “My apologies. You stop being overdramatic when you feel like it.”
“Who… who… where… what?” The woman gasped.
“In that order. Muldick. Blindbeard. The Observatory. We are here to welcome you.”
“Wh… what’s going on?” She began to tremble as she realized the pain had left her.
“Let me see if I can explain.” The giant sat down and stared at her with his two black eyepatches. “So, you see, do you remember when you were hit by the car?”
“I… I just.”
“Feels like a moment ago, but in actuality, it was around a thousand moments ago.”
“Which equates to twenty years.” Muldick chipped in.
“Twenty… years.” She breathed.
“Yeah, but look on the bright side, how many forty-year-olds get to look like they’re twenty?”
“Muldick, I see what you’re doing, and it’s not cool. We need to be handling this matter delicately.”
“As delicately as she handled herself when she stepped in front of that car?”
“Please, I don’t understand.” The woman spoke up. “It can’t be twenty years. My… my sister has a graduation. My boyfriend… My parents.”
“Yeah, they looked really sad at the funeral.”
“Muldick!” Blindbeard spun around and grabbed him by the rags.
“Woah, from zero to a million, am I right?” He chuckled. “I’m just trying to lighten the mood. Some people like comedy to help them cope.”
“Well, I don’t.” Blindbeard spun back to the woman. “I’m sorry you had to see that. I have a small anger management issue.”
“Funeral? Please, just explain what’s going on?” She couldn’t think of anything else to say, but deep down, a feeling coursing through her body told her she already knew.
“Well, fine but just take it in deep breaths.” Blindbeard replied, and for some reason, Muldick began to laugh. “So, you were hit by a car, and that resulted in your… death. As a result, you were brought here. We call this place the Observatory because it allows us to observe the living before we move on.”
“To whatever’s next.” He gave a gentle smile, but suddenly, a frown spread across his face as he reached up and scratched his hairless chin. “It appears someone else has arrived at our station. Muldick, can I trust you to handle this one?”
“Well, the last thing I want is for you to trust me, but sure I’ll do it.”
“Great.” A white light enveloped Blindbeard, and a second later, the tower of muscles disappeared.
“Well, now that he’s gone, let’s talk about you.” Muldick sat down cross legged beside her. “So, how do you feel?”
“I… I… don’t know.”
“It’s confusing right?” He nodded. “You know when this happened to me, I thought I’d be… well anything, but it’s not. You think you’d be sad or angry, but…”
“I don’t.” She turned her head towards him, tears in her eyes. “Why is that?”
“Well, you’re dead.” He reached out and wiped the tears away. “So much of our time living is dictated by… time. Now that you don’t have to worry about time, everything that made you emotional, no longer bothers you.”
“That doesn’t make sense.”
“A little bit, but it’s much more subconscious at first.” He produced a glass of water from behind his back. “Take this drink. Normally, you’d have a time limit to finish it, whether be it an hour or a week before it spilled, evaporated or just lost its flavor. Here, you don’t have that, so you can relax.”
“Relax.” She breathed heavily. “How can I relax? I’m dead.”
“You’ll get used to it.” He stood up and held out his hand. “Come on, let me show you.”
“Okay.” She took it, and together, they walked down a white passageway. “So, your name’s Muldick.”
“It sure is. And yours?” She opened her mouth to respond, but before she could, he waved her off. “Never mind, I forgot I don't really care. So, you an organ donor?”
“How’d you know?” She breathed, and he pointed to her chest area. Glancing down, she realized with horror that two giant holes had been carved into her body, right where her lungs were supposed to be located. “What happened?”
“Well, some injuries we take with us. Why do you think Blindbeard’s missing his eyes?” He laughed, and strangely, she found herself laughing too. “But it appears your organ donor lifestyle really nabbed you in the butt this time.”
“I didn’t know it was a lifestyle.”
“Friend, everything’s a lifestyle, especially in other people’s eyes. Take Bill Bull Buckem. The first time I met him, he was donating ectoplasm. Turns out, it was the only time he ever did it, but until I met him again, he was the ectoplasm donator.”
“I guess that makes sense, but do you know what does.” She paused for a brief dramatic effect. “Having three names that all start with B.”
“I was thinking the same thing.” Muldick burst out laughing. “You know, I only just heard his middle name yesterday, but while I was hearing it, I was thinking, no way. He couldn’t have a name like that, but he does. It’s completely fantastic.”
“Yeah! You sure like to talk, huh?”
“I mean, it probably comes from not getting to do it enough while I was alive.”
“Because of the uh.” She made a slice motion across her tongue, and he laughed.
“Oh no, I was just really quiet and didn’t want to offend people by saying something they didn’t like.”
“Then how did you… you know.”
“Oh yeah, so that’s a good story.”
“Does that mean you’re going to tell me?”
“Nope.” He grinned and spun around so he could look at her while he walked backwards. “After all, this is your welcome party, and my tragic backstory is not to be revealed at this moment.”
“And what if I never ask for it again.”
“Then Blindbeard will cry his eyes out.” He laughed, and she soon joined in. “Did you ever hear about him, by the way?”
“I did not.”
“Okay, so he’s an old guy and used to be around during the pirate era where replacing your hand with a hook was cool. Basically, he lost both of his eyes when he was little, but since he was so massive, he didn’t need to see his opponent to slap them around. He would just have his men give him directions, and he’d bat everyone else away with a giant club. However, despite his many victories, one thing he could never do was grow a beard.”
“I did notice he was missing one.”
“Oh, did you now?”
“In fact, I did.”
“Good for you.” He smiled. “Anyway, he couldn’t grow a beard, but he really wanted one. He spent over the treasure on scams to the point where his entire crew realized that it would be a lot cheaper if they lied and told him he did have a beard and paid off towns to reinforce. It’s really great because if anyone did try to tell him the truth, the crew would just sick Blindbeard on him.”
“I can see how that would be persuasive.”
“Me too.” The hallway ended, and before the two of them stretched a massive garden of rainbow flowers and grass so green it almost seemed impossible. “This is where my friends and I like to hang out when we’re done with work.”
“It’s amazing.” She gasped at the various attractions such as the marble fountain, the tree that extended sideways off the wall of a building, and the one-thousand-foot canvas that lay spread out along the ground. “How?”
“Time. Some people have been here for over a millennium and have had a chance to experiment. The flowers were specifically designed like humans have bred dogs. The tree was constructed with supports from the ground in order to keep it from angling downward, and the gardeners know exactly how much eater each blade of grass requires.”
“That’s amazing.” She grinned and turned to him. “You have to show me how to do all of this.”
“In a little bit. First, just enjoy the sight. Trust me, you won’t find anything as otherworldly as this, unless you count my sense of humor.”
“Is that supposed to a compliment or an insult to yourself?” She raised an eyebrow, and he laughed.
“Bold of you to assume I have the self-awareness to recognize an insult.”
“Now that I believe.”
“That wasn’t a compliment.”
“Are you sure about that? Are you the one who decides what is and isn’t a compliment?”
“I did say it.”
“But I received it.” He shrugged. “I guess it doesn’t matter, but one thing I’ve found is if you treat everything like a compliment, the world becomes a much nicer place.”
“True, but aren’t you worried that you might be misinterpreting what other people say.”
“Oh, I’m definitely misinterpreting them. However, if I’m not hurting anyone, why shouldn’t I try to make myself as happy as possible.” He shrugged.
“True but, you know what’s an even better way to look at things.” She responded with a twinkle in her eye. “Instead of ignoring insults, remember that insults are an amazing way to grow. I’ve been insulted many times, and I wouldn’t be half the person I am today without them.”
“Of course, there’d be a bit more of you if you hadn’t donated your organs.” He replied, and she laughed.
“Yeah well, what’re you going to do?” She glanced side to side. “So, what’s with the rags?”
“Quite simple, I’m a man of elegant taste, and dirtying my prized suit would not do. I won it in a bet with the Duke of Bettysburg.”
“But what’s the point if it’s covered in… you know.”
“Oh simple, it’s because I like wearing the suit.” He patted her on the shoulder. “If you haven’t noticed, I’m just a little self-centered.”
“Maybe a tinge more, but regardless, I wear the suit so I can feel good, not so others can admire it. Besides, if I ever really need to show it off, I can always throw the rags off for a brief moment.”
“Well, I’m glad to know you’re getting use out of it.” She glanced at the road in front of them. “So, what’s next?”
“Don’t be hasty.” He smiled as they strolled forward into the majestic scenery. “After all it’s not like you’re going anywhere, and you did just arrive. Speaking of which, you’re coping with this better than I expected.”
“What can I say, humor distracts me, and besides, I’ve got plenty of time to worry about that.” She grinned. “So, if you don’t mind, lets continue with the distractions.”
“Very well.” He tipped his hat. “However, one last thing I must ask, what is your name?”
“You’re just now asking that?”
“What can I say, I’m a man with all the time in the world at his hands, and besides, I’d yet to decide whether your name would be worth remembering.”
“So, you’re judging my worth.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, I would never commit such a demeaning action. However, as a man of culture, I do believe one should at least attempt to obtain the name of his friends.”
“Oh, so this is your attempt to become my friend.” She tilted her head to the side. “And if I refuse.”
“I will continue to call you random names until you respond.”
“How persuasive.” She stopped and held out her hand to him. “It’s Dakota.”
“Dakota.” He grasped her hands in his. “It’s an honor to befriend you.”