I hand my mopey traveling partner his detached jaw.
He was a sad sack. And quite the glutton for punishment. But I liked watching him fall to pieces– literal and fugurative pieces. What makes him funnier than most is no matter how many times I explain to him that only he can end his suffering– right this instance if he chooses– he decides every freaking time to keep kicking himself in the balls. What a guy. This realm nearly took his jaw. The last left him without kneecaps. The first left him without an ear. Yet, he keeps on… Thats what I call will power.
What will the next one take?
“How you feeling?” I slide his jaw into his face so he can speak.
Click… Click… He bites down to lock his mandibles in place.
“Thanks,” He slurs.
I wink. “Anytime, Jim.”
Jim is his name. Or at least the one I gave him since I am terrible with names. No point in remembering his real name since most people who take the journey end up as a pile of dust before they reach their destination. Or, eternally disappointed. I’d rather be a pile of dust than to be disappointed. Or a disappointment. Like I say… Have low to no expectations and you avoid all kinds of suffering. What was I talking about? Oh… This Jim is on his fifth realm and he’s still standing. I’ll refer to him as Jim infinity.
I hold in a laugh.
Jim looks like roadkill. He’s too exhausted to dream up some new clothes so he’s walking around in the ones he was buried in.
People come here after reading Dante’s Inferno or sitting through that incredibly confusing Robin Williams movie from the 90s and think traversing the afterlife in search of love is some simple stroll. Well its not. It can be. But its not.
“Hurry up,” Jim barks.
I slow my pace.
No pitiful, sorry excuse for a post-lifer, who is willing to torture himself like that over a speck of stardust, or whatever we’re made of, will tell me what to do.
“Okay… Jim,” I slap my traveling partner on the back.
It was a light hit, but I still knock his shoulder out of place.
“Fine huh?” I ask.
“Yeah…” Jim coughs up dust. “Fine.”
He doesn’t have long. Damn. I’m about to lose a bet. I though’t he’d make it.
I lean down to talk to him since he’s hunched over. “Sure you don’t wan-”
“No,” Jim interrupts.
Whatever… I was about to tell Jim about this beach resort realm where the illusionary seafood and wine was forever flowing. I was about to remind him, once again for the infinite time, that happiness was literally a choice in this place. There was no fire, brimstone, or red scaly beasts with tails raping you with pitchforks. Hell was a personal choice. The torture here is literally self-serve.
“Hmmmm…” I take a step towards the grassy landscape. “This is nice.”
It was nicer than the last place where I nearly caught a crossbow bolt to the face. Or the amusement park full of clowns that turn people into cotton candy.
“It’s what she’d like,” Jim replies.
“We should stay here a while,” He suggests. “Allow you to rest up a bit.”
“No time,” Jim says.
“There’s literally no time here,” I reply. “So no sense in rushing. She ain’t going anywhere.”
“She’s close,” Jim says. “I feel her.”
“That’s your organs turning to Jam and oozing out your bum.”
“She’s close,” He says again.
“You said that already…” I reply.
“I’m sure this time…” Jim sticks his chest out. “She grew up on grassy acres… On a barn…”
“I don’t care!” I scream, unable to pretend any longer.
“You said you’d guide me,” Jim whines.
“Because I was bored,” I reply. “I’m even more bored now!”
“Fine… I’ll go on my own.”
“Why? And don’t say because you love her.”
“She’s my soulmate…”
The soulmate thing was made up by the Greeting Card industry.
Jim points his curved finger in my face. “The angel-”
I shove his hand away. “Winged lady was trolling you, pal.”
“Seven realms over.”
“Seven? Exactly Seven?”
“We’ve travelled five.”
“You most definitely look it, Jim.”
They always fall for the divine number nonsense. Why not eleven. Or twenty two?
“She wasn’t lying,” Jim says.
“How can you be sure?” I ask.
“Because… There’s no reason to.”
“Of course there is… You’re gullible.”
And gullible, love-sick, betas like Jim are a joy to screw with. And, since winged lady and I are cut from the same cosmic cloth, or so I surmise, I figure she gets a kick out of playing the after-life’s tour guide like I do. And about her wings… I figure that was her schtick… But I do wonder about those wings….I hear they stretch across a realm. How’d she get those? Probably some trick she learned since she’s quite old and has been here since the beginning or whatever. Or so I hear. Heck, I’ve heard she’s crossed more realms than any unbothered in all of the un-xistance. But I digress. I’ll find her one of these days and pick her brain. Or, maybe pluck a few of her wing feathers.
Jim taps me.
He probably wants to apologize for being a jerk.
“Yes?” I ask.
Jim shrugs. “Hey I-”
A strong gust of wind topples Jim and nearly does the same to me.
Still on my feet. I recover.
I wave my middle finger into the distance.
“What?” Jim picks himself up from the ground.
I smirk at the landscape. “Is that emotion I sense?”
“Who are you talking to?” Jim asks.
“It… them… all of this.. .” I point in all directions. “I explained this to you two fucking realms ago!”
Jim shakes his head. “I-”
“Oh, never mind…” I throw my hands in the air. “Probably scramble your brain next jump and forget again.”
Jim walks off without me.
He was being sensitive again. And stupid.
“Where are you going?” I walk after him. “You have no idea who exists here…”
“I don’t care,” Jim answers.
He must be trying to get himself blipped. Jim knows Undecideds like him were far more dangerous and unpredictable than any of my kind. Depending on the kind of torture they endured in life, and brought with them to the after-life, they could be harboring demons -etheral carnivores birthed by torture, or weapons that could blip (temporary kill) them from Purgatory. Or, even worse, their volatile emotions or desires could go nuclear, and wipe out everything in the realm. And I mean EVERYTHING, Including us. And I can’t get blipped. Not now. I’d have to learn how not to give a shit all over again. What a pain…
I have to dismiss my worry.
I have to pause. I pause. I have to cover my ears, block out the noise, and remind myself. And chant… yes, chant. Nothing matters. Nothing matters. My after-life literally depends on nothing mattering. Which, is a bit ironic now that I think of it. If nothing matters, then I won’t care if I get blipped.
I tap my chin.
I can’t recall the last time I was blipped. I literally can’t remember… which is kind of the point I guess.
Jim was yards ahead of me.
I was so deep in though I didn’t notice.
“Stop…” I demand.
“What?” Jim pauses.
“You’re torturing yourself.”
Jim shakes his head and keeps walking.
“You wait just a goddam minute,” I demand. “You owe me.”
Travelling partner stopped. “I do?”
He doesn’t owe me squat. That line always get them to stop.
“You know why I cross freely?” I ask. “Because I’ve cut away feelings. And desires.”
Jim looks confused. But he’s listening.
“You travel with all that weight. That, gunk in your soul. That garbage eat you inside out with each crossing.” I added. “You get it?”
“Sure,” Jim dismissively answers.
“So what do you say, associate?” I offer my hand. “Snip away the feelings. Let’s visit some more colorful realms. Forget this love thing.”
Come to think of it… When’s the last time I visited my own realm?
Jim approaches me again.
That’s right… You’re making the…
“Thanks for everything,” Jim says before he ignores my hand, straightens his dislodged shoulders and staggers onwards towards the cabin in the distance.
“Catch up to you later?!” I call after Him.
Jim looks taller in the distance. He walks away without even a wave goodbye.
Jim’s not going far without me, so I decide to allow him some time to wander the realm while I converse with my stalker.
“He looks a mess, doesn’t he?” I lean down and pluck a blade of grass. “That wind thing you did was unbecoming of you, Unhinged.”
Always watching. Listening. Probing my thoughts. They were literally everywhere. And everything. And in or of all things. That gust of wind they hurled at me and my idiotic travel partner could have easily been a category five tornado. That’s if they wanted to really fuck shit up. Ha.
I crush the blade of grass in my palm. “No need to be jealous.”
The Untethered were not allowed to interfere,interact, or partake in any of the fun within purgatory. They are… How can I explain… Semi-sentient laws. Invisible referees. They are the living embodiment of the status quo in purgatory. They are slaves to comic duty. What a boring existence.
I dust the dirt off my favorite Lee Ving T-shirt. “You don’t intimidate us. Not anymore.”
A bed of thorns form around me. Overtaking my knees. Then my hands.
“Oh, don’t be such a bitch…” I say.
The Unhinged and their rules. The Undecided and their fucking baggage. Being an Unbothered was where it was at. I’ll never choose…. Ill stay forever.
Skrrrrr! The grassy landscape blinks into a gray void before returning. It lasts a nanosecond.
I’ve seen that gray void before. The world around me would disappear for a nanoseconds then reappear. And it’s more and more frequent on my visits to other realms…
“What’s the matter, Unhinged?” I ask. “Feeling powerless?”
“Stop… this,” The realm replies in a whisper.
I tear through the bed of thorns.
As I told the Unhinged the last time we had a row…
I do what I please here. Even if it means skull-fucking everything in Purgatory in the process.
The remaining thorns turn to ash and blow away in the breeze. I think I hear the grasslands moaning. Weeping.
Music to my ears.
“Hey, pal…” I call after my pitiful travelling Partner. “Wait up!”
I’ll help this idiot find his wife. But only because I know it will piss of the Untethered. And most important of all, I know for sure this will collapse this whole system. And its well past time the Transition, this glorious shit-hole, geta taken down a peg.