Chapter 2 – The Next Plain

It was a very strange sensation floating above my own body. And I was very anxious to hear Morgans reply to Dr. McCallum’s question. While I looked down at the proceedings I could swear I could hear footsteps but nobody I could see was moving. And the bedroom floor was carpeted and would have muffled any such sound. Still, the sound became louder then stopped.

“Enjoying the view?” said a voice I’d never heard before.

The words came from behind me. A man wearing a white suit was standing behind me licking an ice cream cone.

“Sorry, don’t mean to intrude. The name’s Oscar”.

I turned my attention back to my bedroom. Morgan started talking but hearing him soon became harder. It was strange but it looked like a fog bank had entered my bedroom. Soon I couldn’t see Morgan or Dr. McCallum at all. I turned to Oscar only to find him behind me.

“Is this normal or is there something I should know?” I asked.

“Oh, I assure you, this is quite normal. You’ve got to remember you’re no longer flesh and blood. Your body is but I assure you are not. And you’re not a ghost. At least not yet. Right now you’re what you mortals call the spirit”.

Oscar was wearing a white suit. His shoes were white. Even his socks were white. Everything was white. The walls, the ceiling, and the floor were white. I wanted to find out more. But with nothing to differentiate between the wall ceiling and floor, it made navigating a bit dodgy. Oscar did look a bit familiar. I looked in every possible direction and everything was white. Telephones looked like telephones when I was much younger. Phone books were back too. Except that the yellow pages were now white. Oscar’s expression was one of amusement. I looked at Oscar and tried to place the face. I had this nagging feeling I had seen him before, and was quietly going around the bend. Finally, I simply asked him the question I needed an answer to.

“I don’t mean to be rude but have we ever met?” I asked.

“Oh goodness no. I have this particular face because it’s similar to that of a person you knew when you were much younger. It was felt that if you saw a familiar face it would make the transition easier. You must be wondering where you are” he replied.

“I was. Is this heaven?” I asked with a certain amount of trepidation.

“Nope” answered Oscar

Surprised I asked him the next logical question.

“You mean this is the other place? The air feels rather comfy. I thought it would be a tad warmer if you know what I mean”.

“Nope. This certainly is most certainly not hell whatever that is”.

“Then where am I?”

“You humans think in absolutes far too much. For some reason, you seem to think there are only two possible places you could be. This is neither of those places. When a person dies it’s not the end of life. It’s quite the contrary. You seem to think that if you can’t see or breath that your existence has come to an end. All this is is a place where you can rest for as long as you like. When you’re ready to begin the next stage, the stage of transition, we’ll continue. But I have a feeling you’d be more comfortable wearing something else other than your pajamas”.

Oscar snapped his fingers and I was suddenly wearing a white suit too. He adjusted my tie. “Would you care for a hat Norman? Homburg, Fedora or Bowler?”

I declined the offer as politely as I could. I never really could stand hats. I never could put my finger on the particular reason outside of the fact they made my scalp itch. I was surprised when he used my given name.

“Why did you wait until now to call me by my name?” I asked.

“Sometimes when a person dies it can be most unexpected and a tad traumatic. Let’s use the example of a person crossing the street. When they start walking across a street the thought of being hit by a beer truck is pretty far down on their list of possible outcomes. So when it happens, and it happens far more than you know, the person can rather upset. Let’s look at you now. You knew you were going to die and you had time to prepare for it. You more or less said let’s get this show on the road”.

It’s true. I did think of those very words. But why did he wait so long to use my name?

“Somebody who experiences a death that was unexpected and or traumatic can very flustered when they get here. I’ve found that it’s best not to use their given name until they’ve made the transition from dying to being here. Too much change, fast change, can cause a great deal of trouble. You, on the other hand, made a very smooth transition and you were ready to meet me”.

I did my best to understand Oscar but there were some subjects he was avoiding quite deliberately. I wanted to know where my wife Mary was. He declined to answer and that angered me. He answered questions that corresponded with his agenda and nothing else. He also seemed to enjoy hearing himself talk.

“Would you like to see your apartment?” asked Oscar.

“I have an apartment? Who is paying for it?”.

“You most certainly have an apartment. As to your question about who is paying for it is another matter altogether. Here, the system of economics is somewhat different from what you’re used to. Those who choose to exist in this realm are free to collect wealth if they wish, but most of the population is no longer concerned with the accumulation of wealth”.

As we walked through the front door of the apartment I had a sudden desire to see color. Any color other than white.

“Fine, your economic system is different. But if I understand you you’re saying a person has living quarters is assigned. Is that correct?”.

“Norman I’m not easily surprised. I think the last time it happened was about five hundred years ago. But you have just surprised me and I thank for that feeling” he said to me in an excited tone.

I stopped walking around the apartment. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I leaned on the stove, which was white, and asked some more questions.

“I’m sorry if I’m breaking any rules but just how old are you? You look like you’re in your thirties” I asked not expecting him to give me any kind of meaningful response.

“I was an old man when I died one thousand and thirty years ago. That’s how long I’ve been a transition conductor” he answered.

My head dropped and my jaw dropped.

“I didn’t mean to pry but try to look at things from my point of view. If you had just died and you found yourself here you’d be asking all manner of questions. Then if some fellow told you he was one thousand and thirty years old you’d be wondering about a great many things. Everything here is so white. Would it be possible to ask for a splash of color? After all, if this apartment is mine, some color would be greatly appreciated” I pleaded.

Oscar thought about what I had said.

“I can request on your behalf, but I must caution you not to expect a quick response. Politics is the same everywhere in the universe”.

“If you mean slow I’m used to that” I added.

“I shouldn’t say this but this place suffers from political constipation”.

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