Creative Column: Beginnings by Lauren Bird


This is an extract from a recent piece I’ve been working on, playing around with the idea of beginnings. In this case, the beginning of the end, and where that might lead. 

‘Terminated Tuesday 4th November 1995.’ That’s what my badge read when I was roused from death, which was hardly the best first impression of the afterlife. I woke where I’d died, at the bottom of the stairs with one leg this way and one arm another. I’d probably made a mess of the carpet when I fell; the cleaners wouldn’t be happy. I wish I could have left them an apology note, but it wasn’t as if I knew I was going to fall. It was too late now anyway.

After flexing my fingers, I hauled myself to my feet. My head spun, but I couldn’t feel any skull fractures, maybe the damage had been internal. I looked down at my corpse; my translucent feet stuck straight through the chest. From this angle, I could see the damage wasn’t just internal. Christ what if the cleaners didn’t come? It’d start to smell soon. I couldn’t stay in the house if things got to that.

“At last, you’re up! You took your time.”

I spun around to face the intruder. He was young, smartly dressed with a satchel swung over his shoulder and a badge just like mine glinting in the moonlight. He seemed rather at home in my hall; how long had he been there?

I opened my mouth to speak, but he got there first, “Yes, you are dead, and I’m here to help.”

His smugness irked me. “I was going to ask how you got in.”

“You left the back door open when you were alive.” He answered a little too fast, “I’d say you should be more careful but that doesn’t really matter anymore.” I’d never appreciated patronising people, and I had definitely locked that door.

Without asking permission, the young man took a seat on the bottom step of the stairs and took a wad of paper out of his satchel. Flicking through them hurriedly, he tore a piece of paper free of the bundle and set it down on his knee.

“This shouldn’t take long, standard procedure. You woke up after your death recently, yes?”

Looking down at him I nodded. “Well yes, you were here just now when it happened…”

“Excellent,” he muttered; I don’t think he’d even heard me. “And how are you adjusting? You seem to be coping rather well.”

I shrugged, “I don’t really feel anything.”

“That’s fine; it might take a while for your emotions to catch up.” Taking a pen from his pocket he ticked some boxes before handing the paper to me, “Please sign on the dotted line to confirm your passage from life was successful, then we can begin.”

“Begin what?”

The man raised an eyebrow, “Well you can’t sit around here for the rest of eternity; we’re giving you a job.” With a flourish, he took the paper and pen back from me and got to his feet. “Right, follow me.” He turned to the front door but paused halfway, “Oh, one last question, what’s your name?”

“It’s…” My mind went blank.

The young man smiled. “Perfect, let’s go.”

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