Green’s Grocery

Greens Grocery sat on the outskirts of a cluster of small villages in Waterloo township. An essential business supplying the township with canned goods, perishables and liquor. At least, that’s what Frank Green always assumed. Frank had, for forty years, thought of himself as an essential worker. If Frank ain’t working the township ain’t running.

Six months to the day, the township stopped working. People stopped coming into the store. Frank knew why, he saw it on the news when the drugs stopped working.
For years, the country had been abusing a drug called Inferno, an antipsychotic but tweaked on the streets to become the last, greatest craze. Antipsychotic became psychotic and people that used it began dying. To counter Inferno, the pharmaceuticals created a new drug. This drug resuscitated the users but eventually drove them further into a psychological rabbit hole. Several corrections later and we have an epidemic world wide.
“A god-damn zombie apocalypse,” quoted some medical expert on the morning news.

Frank donned a red shirt, tie and slacks. He walked down the steps from the apartment above to the store for another uneventful day. He entered the warehouse in the rear of the store and spent the next hour and a half preparing what he had left to be displayed in the aisles.
Paper goods were still plentiful. Frank’s stacked a couple boxes of toilet paper, paper towels and napkins in a shopping cart and pushed it to the door. He unlocked the door handle, chain lock and rolled a large red tool box that blocked the door.
Frank pushed the shopping cart to the West end of the store, near the coolers. The coolers had been off for months, along with the lights. frozen foods, milk and meat expired months ago. Frank’s priority was to prepare for the enviable return of civility.

He turned down the last aisle and moved through, past the coolers on the left, then stopped in front of a trio of empty shelves. He placed the paper products on the shelves. When he was done the shelves displayed three packages of toilet paper, towels and napkins and a lot of empty shelf space. 
Frank pushed the cart to the front customer service desk and entered. He dusted the large counter and the shelves beneath it. The cash register drawer was half open and empty of cash. Frank pushed the drawer closed but it reopened. He pushed it closed a second time then cleaned the shelves beneath. He stopped at a poorly built wooden box. He slid it toward the edge of the shelf and opened it. Inside was a revolver and an open box of ammunition. There were no remaining bullets in the ammunition box but Frank knew there were bullets within the revolver. He grabbed the revolver with his left hand, His hand began to shake. Frank opened the cylinder to verify. He found four rounds ready to use. He closed the cylinder and placed the revolver back in the box. He pushed the box toward the back of the shelf and finished dusting.

Frank searched and found a clean rag, a bottle of window cleaner and a step ladder. He walked to the front of the store. The front window was plate glass, fairly thick. Two eight-foot by six-foot tall panes separated by a small strip. Frank placed the ladder on the left-most end and began cleaning from the top down. 

The dirt and grime came free from the inside of the window revealing a parking lot of abandoned cars parked in front of the store. Like an old photograph, a tranquil scene within the center of town. Except, in reality, there was no tranquility. People of the village milled through the street. No one drove any of the vehicles. They milled with no destination. Something to do as they waited to attack anything not sick and brave enough to make an appearance. 
“Living with such rage,” Frank’s thoughts began to surface. “What was it like trapped in a body or were they just insane? Did they have any conscious thought? 
Frank caught himself staring out the window at a gentlemen in a three piece suit walking slowly past the broken window of Town Bar. The gentleman dressed to kill, clearly a visitor to Waterloo at some point. Maybe a groomsman at a wedding within the township hall. The gentleman passed the broken window of Town Bar, staring forward. A woman approached from the right. Staring forward and oblivious. The man in the three piece suit walking from the left. Eventually they met in the center of Frank’s view. The expected human behavior being to politely move but these two smashed into each other and became a mangled mess. Both managed to stay on their feet, by some miracle, freed them selves, then moved on. No apology, no angry glances. Just acceptance of anything that was… oh well.

“No piss’n and moan’n all the time. Oh I didn’t get my donut with my coffee,” Frank says in a mocking tone. 
The window was half clean when a metallic crash, somewhere in the rear of the store, startled Frank. Frank fell into the window with a thud but the thick glass held.

The act of falling into the window and the noise it created frightened Frank more then the thought of what could possibly be in the back. He settled the ladder and stood near the top. His left hand still on the plate glass. The crowd outside began to become more animated, as if someone had shouted “Help!” and they all wanted to help. They began to search for the source of the noise. Their interest peaked Frank knew he had to be extra cautious to not confirm his location with another noise.
“ I haven’t been hear this long and safe to lose it now,” he mumbled.

Frank heard some of the boxed stock being tossed within the warehouse. He cursed in a whisper. 
“If it’s Gary,” he said. “I’m going to lose it. I told him to stay in that room.” 

“He never listens…”

Another crash, followed by several additional crashes, prompted Frank to stumble from the ladder. The ladder stuck the front window. 
Frank watched as a hairline fracture spread out from the impact. Outside the window, the infected took notice and began to inspect the front of the grocery.

Blind, the infected, listened for additional evidence. They milled around the front of the store occasionally slapping the glass to prompt a response from any unfortunate frightened creature.

Frank wasn’t frightened, he was pissed. His perfectly manicured situation was in danger.
He was going to rectify this and take it out of Gary’s ass.

The Reaper

“Dad Stop!”

The words pierced Darrin’s ears like tiny, sharp knives.  His foot reacted first and stomped on the brakes.  The Jeep lurched forward followed by every passenger.

Stopped in the middle of the road.  An empty, backwoods road Darrin waited for something to happen.

“Sarah!”  Darrin shouted as he turned his head.  He stared at his young, teenage daughter.  She stared back then pointed to an object outside the front window.  Darrin turned back toward the steering wheel and watched as the trees on the right rustled.

“What is it?”  His voice quiet.

“I don’t know,” Sarah replied.

Small branches broke.   A tall, human-like creature stepped from the woods.  It wore a thick, black, hooded cloak and had it’s head down.  Darrin took in a sharp breath and instructed the girls within the Jeep to stay silent.  “It’s a reaper,” he whispered.

The reaper stepped from the trees and the brush on the right side of the road and rose up the embankment.  Darrin watched as it stood three feet from the front of the Jeep.  It’s attention was focused on an object on the left side of the road.  It stopped and waited.

Janice, his wife, noticed it first.  It was a rustle within the brush on the left side of the road.  After a moment it appeared.  A white cat with black stripes stood by the road.  It searched for something… the reaper moved forward and stood near the center of the Jeep.

“You can’t let it eat the cat,” His younger daughter Tracy pleaded.

Darrin scolded her silently.

The reaper moved forward as the cat continued to search.  Once the tall, strange creature became close enough it almost snatched up the cat.  The event so fast it looked as if the reaper disappeared for seconds.  Once it had the cat it bite down upon the soft belly while the cat fought.  The reaper seemed to ignore the scratches till the poor cat had enough and passed away.

“This is disgusting,” Tracy said anger evident in her tone.

Her mother, Janice leaned back.  “Do you want it to be us,” she asked.

Tracy folded her arms and sat back.

After the reaper finished it’s meal it disappeared within the trees.  Darrin put the Jeep into Drive and pulled forward.


Dream of Death – Journal entry

I had a dream last night that I died. It was something that really makes you think. Don’t think too much into it. It could of had many meanings.

I spoke to my sister in my dream.  She had passed before me, which is more frightening.  Neither of us is dead but I was learning something from her.  I felt comfortable but fearful.

Can you feel comfortable but fearful?

We were both lying in a desert-like environment.. no heat just the sand and the scarce trees and bushes.

This dream just concreted my thought on how important it is to live up to your expectations of life.  To enjoy every moment and be good to people. Those people are going to be supporting you when you start to fade away.  A belief in God is helpful throughout life but I’m afraid that denies you credit as a strong individual.  You can give the grief to God.  He will take it but that grief is still yours to own.  You have to figure out how to manage it.
It’s like telling a baseball coach to hit a homerun for you.  It’s not possible.  The coach is there but you have to hit your own homerun.

Life is so absolutely important.
This is just an opinion piece here but I believe life is far more important than death or after-death.
Sure, if you are afraid to go to hell you are going to do your best to avoid it… fear has a way of doing that but are you living the best life by being fearful of punishment?
A single-minded focus on a happy afterlife avoids the situations that appear everyday. It’s a coping mechanism that many people need. Just let me get through this tough life and I will be ok.
I don’t agree with this. Life is so absolutely wonderful. So many potentials in this life of ours. I’ve had rough years. I’ve had some problems and expect more.
Life comes with the awesome responsibilities of others. Your actions affect everyone else. I feel it is my responsibility to be the best person because of what my actions do for others.
Sure, I screw this up all the time. Look at me under a microscope and you will see all the germs and micro-organisms swimming around but this is normal.  It’s all but impossible to be perfect everyday.

The Murder of Big Mouth Billy Strokes

The metal bar made a loud thump as Michael swung and struck Billy Stokes in the side of the head.  A crunch followed as the metal bar crushed the thin skull within the forty-year old’s gruff face and head.  Michael followed the momentum of the metal bar to the right as it struck and fell.

“Big Mouth Billy Strokes”, as he was often called fell to the ground.  He did not hold his head or speak a word.  He lay motionless upon the darkening front yard of Michael’s home.  Michael dropped the pipe and stared at the unconscious man.  His anger stewed as he watched Billy.  After several long moments Michael spoke.

“There!” he shouted.  “What do you think of that!”

“You won’t have anything to say for a while now.  I’m not even going to try to wake you up.”  Michael then turned and left.  He opened the screen door of his small single-story home.  A car passed quickly by the front yard.  Michael turned quickly.  “God damn drivers speeding past my damn house.  I swear they don’t see a damn thing.”  He entered the house and slammed the door.

Michael lived alone in this house.  Anyone with any sense stayed away, at least that’s what Michael thought.  Dinner was a simply a refrigerated bag of McDonald’s Big Macs.  Michael bought two every Wednesday and saved them for dinner.  Michael warmed the sandwiches in the microwave and sat down to eat them.  He caught sight of Billy’s car through the corner of his eye.

Billy was a local drunk that would stumble into Michael’s home from time to time.  Most days, Michael didn’t mind but tonight Billy was belligerent and upset over the death of his mother.  “Of course, the first thing he did was visit me,” Michael thought then cursed.

After dinner Michael washed up a couple dishes and stared out into the front yard.  He noticed that Billy had moved from lying on his back to sitting with his ass in the air and his hand forward.  “What a weird position?”  Michael thought as he washed the bowls without looking away from the man in the yard.  The sun had fallen over the horizon and night was approaching fast.  Another car approached.  The light of it’s headlights illuminated the front yard.  Peaking through the worn out, old, white fence.  Billy struggled to move sliding up and out like a human inch-worm.  The car approached.  Billy placed his hands upon the ground and pushed.  The light from the headlights pushed through the posts and crept across the small pond that sat within the front yard.  Billy fell to the side and rolled partially into the pond.  His head disappeared within the water.  The car sped past and disappeared.

Still angry Michael stood quietly waiting for Billy to move.  He would likely drown but it wouldn’t be for a minute or so more.  Billy didn’t move and lay, head back, within the pool of water.  “Ok, fine,” Michael said as he rushed out the front door.  Another car approached and Michael froze.  He didn’t want to attract any attention to himself.  The people in this little town are up to their noses in neighborly crap, he thought.  The car passed without incident and Michael stepped forward quickly.  He lifted Billy from the pond and noticed his eyes had become bleached and his skin was pale.  The man was dead.

Michael sat upon the yard.  The darkness fell over him and day had turned to night.  His mind slowly churned over the consequences of his actions.  Excuses quickly filled the void as he tried to explain what happened.  He settled on self-defense.  “The man had attacked him”, he thought.  “Why wouldn’t anyone believe him.  “Billy was obnoxious and always drunk.”

“Fine,” he concluded and stood up.  Another car passed the house and fear shot through every muscle.  “What if someone see’s the body?  They will call the police before I have a chance to explain.  I will not have a chance.”  Michael decides to push Billy into the pond.  He reasoned that Billy just rolled into the water after Michael hit him.  The water would hide the body till Michael could call the police.

Michael pushed the body forward but it was only half-buried it.  A car approached.  The driver would likely see Michael in the front yard, in the dark.  Michael leapt for a group of bushes and waited for the car to pass.  He then grabbed Billy by the feet and dragged him clockwise till his feet mostly disappeared in the water.  He looked up and noticed Billy’s back and head now reappeared out of the water.  “Son of a Bitch.”

Michael walked to Billy’s chest and shoved it.  The body rolled and most of chest and head disappeared.  “Damn it,” Billy shouted as he fell partially into the water.  Another car approached then slowed.  The right blinker began to flash.  “No, not now,” Michael thought.  “Damn.”

Michael ran across the front yard seconds ahead of the cone of light from the approaching car.  Old age pawed at his knees and attempted to make him fall but he made it to the corner of the house.  The car pulled into the driveway and illuminated the front of the house.  The pond was several yards away and the light was far from it.   Michael enter the back of the house and circled around to the front to find the car had left.  “What the hell!”  He shouted.  “What the god damn hell!”

Often the drivers would use his driveway as a turn around and head the other direction.  Michael cursed for several minutes then sat down upon the small kitchen table.  He pulled a bottle of whiskey from the center of the table and poured a glass.  “The first swallow was always the hardest,” he thought as the liquid burned through his throat.  “The second, not so much.”  Michael nursed the drink and thought about the scenarios.  “The cops, the family the neighbors.  Everyone would want to know what happen.  Everyone would want to get to know him.”  This infuriated Michael because he spend his entire life avoiding any connections.  Any trouble at all.  He hated people and despised any sort of attention.

The phone vibrated in Michael’s jeans and he slid it from the pocket.  It was a birthday update for Billy Stokes.  “Really?”  Michael thought then moments later began to call the police.  His body shook violently as he explained to the operator that he had avoided a punch and struck Billy with an iron pipe.  Billy then fell into the pond and drowned.  “Alright Michael, officers will be at your home shortly to collect your statement.  Please stay on the line with me.”  Michael obeyed but stood from the table.  He walked to the front window of the house and looked out into the yard.  The yard was dark and he could not see the pond within the yard.  He wondered if the body was Ok.  “Could Billy still be alive,” he thought.  It was then that someone stumbled into his home through the front door.  Michael turned to see Billy hunched over and holding the corner of the kitchen wall.  “What the hell,” Michael shouted.  “Are you Ok, Michael?”  Said the operator.  “I’m fine.”

Michael watched as Billy stood slowly.  He used the wall to stand straight.  Then turned at once.  His head chest and legs all turned at the same time.  Reflecting off the ceiling lights Michael noticed Billy’s eyes were still bleached.  Billy’s clothing was wet and his skin was still pale.  Within moments Billy was upon Michael and death followed.  Billy easily twisted Michael’s neck and severed the brain from the spine.  Billy then fell forward and expired.

“Michael?  Michael, are you there?  Mr. Redding?  Michael Redding?”  Said the phone operator as it sat next to both bodies.

City of the Dead – Through the Trees

Dontarius opened his tired eyes.  The light from the morning sun was sifted through the thick leaves.  In front of him stood rows of thick trees most bound with a thick rope-like material.  Dontarius was tied tightly to a tree.  The material wound around his waist and chest.  Beside him was a winged man.  A tall thin-faced man with large wings bound by the same material.

“What is going on?”  Dontarius’s voice was raspy, he cleared it.  “What did you and your people do?”

“You will thank us,”  the winged man replied.

“I’m not very thankful right now.”

Behind both men something shuffled quickly followed by a quiet chant.  Dontarius stiffened and pushed against the tree.  He attempted to make himself small which was impossible.  Within moments smaller men marched past the trees.  The smaller men marched in 6 columns all perfectly measured and stepping in time.  After 5 rows of men they turned right and unbound several bound persons.  They helped them down slowly.  Covered their heads briskly and turned back toward Dontarius.  The small men marched forward.  They wore a covered hood which buried their faces.  “They are the mirror-keepers.”  Said the winged man.  “I don’t know much else about them.  I, along with the other Eros kind, tend to stay within the mountains.”

The noise from the winged man prompted several of the mirror-keepers to look up.  Their faces were black, frightening.  Their small eyes pale and hung above the nose.  Dontarius froze and stared forward.  He wished the small men away but they marched slowly away from the trees.

Death: Chapter 3

Death: Chapter 3: 

Ken walked right into the light that was farthest from him.  The light at the end of the column got brighter as Ken walked toward it.  He squint his eyes till he could barely see.  He attempted to block the light with his hand but that was useless.  As he stepped into the light he again felt warmth.  The warmth began at his toes and radiated a comforting peace upward.  Several steps within the light and the warmth began to dissipate.  Ken continued forward until the darkness began to dilute the light.  Soon the light was almost all the way gone, leaving only a small circular band radiating from mid-height.  Ken walked toward the circular band of light and looked within it.  It was a small hole, barely big enough for Ken’s shoulders to fit through.  Above the hole he could see a blue sky blurred by the green leaves of a large tree.  A large root from the tree stretched from one end of the hole to the other.  Ken grasped the root and lifted himself upward.  With nothing to put his feet upon Ken struggled to lift his body high enough to balance himself upon the top of the root.  After several attempts and a couple several minute breaks Ken managed to push himself up and over the root.  Ken climbs from the underground.  Above is the remnants of what is left of the Forest of Narcissus.  Within the forest is several small pools of water which serve as mirrors.  The pools of water reflect previous life and scenes that stay important to the one looking within it.  So important that the current world disappears from around them.

Death: A world of it’s own

Introduction: The Wedding

Trees lined the small ceremony on the left and right. Guests sat on large logs placed one behind the other. Six in each row with a total of two rows split in the center by satin streamers. The ceremony itself was on a small wooden deck built over a small pond. The groom stood nervously stroking his tie. The pastor of the local church stood center of the wooden deck. He smiled as the bride stepped from the small house behind the trees. She walked slowly her white dress danced as she stepped forward. A quick nudge from the pastor alerted the groom and he saw her. It was like a romantic movie. The bride walked slowly, as if slowed in time. She smiled, light spread from the small edges of her lips. The light radiated outward covering her proud father and a few wedding guest that had yet sit down. Guest turned and saw the bride stepping carefully over the long red ribbon laid on the ground between the rows of seats. The light from such a beautiful smile spread to each and every one of the guest like the spiritual Good Word. By the time the bride reached the wooden platform everyone behind her smiled and glowed. The groom stepped forward and extended a gentle hand which she took and they both joined the pastor as everyone looked over the small pond.

The pastor spoke slowly as each and every moment seemed to take hours. The bride and groom stood hand and hand when the ceremony was near the end. The pastor happily introduced Mr. Kenneth and Mrs. Jean Addison and release them into the world as married.  The reception went off without a hitch. The couple’s marriage continued on as it had begun. It was a fairy tale within a world that barely contained its distaste for so much happiness. The honeymoon stood as an exception to any rule that the couple had established as a norm. The hotel lobby was empty when Mr. and Mrs Addison walked in. So was the front desk.

“Funny,” said Mr. Ken Addison as he bent over the desk in an attempt to see if anyone was around the corner. “I just talked to the hotel ten minutes ago and it sounded super busy.”

“Are you sure you called the right hotel,” Mrs. Jean Addison asked.

“Yes, I’m sure because the person on the phone said there was a bar here named Dionysus and its sitting right there.” Ken pointed right toward a large purple sign above two swinging doors that had Dionysus written out in neon next to a flashing bunch of grapes.

“You think they are on a tea break?” Ken said, only half joking.

Ken and Jean walked toward the bar. Within the bar they saw some movement but it was too dark to tell what is could be.  “Hey, can someone help us at the front desk?” Shouted Ken into the darkness of the bar. Something crashed and broke then two men pushed through the swinging doors. The first man was terrified his eyes were wide and his mouth clamped shut. Behind him a taller, muscular man walked within inches of him. Both of this man’s hands were hidden behind the first man’s back.

“I suggest you come back in the morning…” Growled the taller man then he added, “…you know what just find a room and stay here free tonight. I’m sure Henry here won’t mind.” The taller man turned his head and looked at the man in front. Henry’s eyes got bigger and his nervousness was obvious.

“How about my wife and I just leave, “Ken offered,”Listen, we just got married and this is our first day in London. I just want to survive our first week of marriage.”

The taller man laughed, “Believe me mate, it isn’t worth it. I’ve been married twice before. I think I just changed my mind. I want all your American dollars… Now!”   The man pointed a pistol at Ken and shoved Henry into a wall. “If you move I will kill you,” he warned him.

Jean immediately threw her purse down at the man’s feet. Ken hesitated but then tossed over his wallet.  “Don’t move,” the man shouted as he bent down to gather up the items.  The minute the man looked down, Ken pounced on him.  Jean screamed, lost in disbelief that her husband would attempt something so brash.  The taller man was larger then Ken but was caught by surprise.  He fell backward into the swinging doors and both men disappeared into the bar.  Henry stood from where he had fallen against the wall, ran over to Jean, in an effort to direct her somewhere safe, but fell after a bullet burst through his heart and chest.  A second bullet struck Jean in the neck but didn’t kill her immediately.  She fell upon her knees then her back.  She attempted to slow the bleeding with her hand and wished her new husband was at her side.

Ken wrestled the gun from the taller man’s hands but not before two shots rang from the gun, just missing him.  Once the gun was clear Ken grabbed a broken chair leg and slammed it hard upon the man’s head knocking him unconscious.  He then grabbed the gun and stepped outside the bar.  Jean lay barely conscious upon the tile floor of the hotel lobby.  Blood covered the left side of her neck and shoulder.

“Oh, my God,” Ken leapt toward his wife and fell to his knees.  His knees swam in her blood as he took off his sweater and pressed it against the wound.  He looked around for some help and saw Henry only a foot away with a gunshot in his chest.  To the right, suddenly, the front doors of the hotel burst open and several London police officers stepped in.  A bead of hope blossomed within him till he realized that Jean had passed away.  The need to stop the bleeding was gone but Ken continued as he watched the officers walk toward him.  The next couple seconds turned into long minutes as a gun battle began.  The taller man stepped out from the bar and began to fire from another pistol.  The officers scattered and then returned fire till the room dimmed, as if someone had turned the lights down.  Ken looked up to see the battle still happening but the noise had become muted.  He looked over at the taller man and he was reloading his pistol while hiding behind the front desk.  Ken looked down to see himself, his lifeless body, lying over his wife.  A bullet had entered the back of his head and killed him.

Ken looked up to see the battle still happening but the noise had become muted.  Ken looked over at the taller man and he was reloading his pistol while hiding behind the front desk.  Once the pistol was ready the tall man stepped from behind the desk and began shooting.  It was a suicidal death march.  He stepped over Jean’s body but tripped.  Jean had died while grasping her neck.  The tall man’s large foot became caught underneath her arm.  Instead of going out like a homicidal hero the tall man died like an idiot.  The shots from the officers disappeared through Ken’s body and into the tall man’s chest and arms.  If there was any doubt that Ken was not of that world the bullets confirmed that fact but soon it was over.  The tall man fell over Jean’s body.  Ken watched as a new pool of blood flowed from the man’s chest.  He screamed as it inched closer to mix with Jean’s blood.  He attempted to stop it but it flowed right through his foot and out the other side.

“Get your god-damn blood away from my wife’s blood!” He screamed passionately but this new world listened about as well as the old world.  The blood mingled and eventually left a large mass of crimson death upon the hotel floor.  Frustrated, Ken stepped away but then realized that Jean passed just before him.  She is no longer part of that world.  She should be a part of his new reality.  She should be if that is the way this new world worked, the world between life and death.

Chapter 2: Through the veil

Where do you start looking for someone that passed on to this thin veil of a world? The hotel was full of people. Police and EMTs rushed throughout the rooms before him. Ken followed one officer into the bar passing through the door like Casper the Friendly ghost. The officer flipped a light switch upon the wall to reveal the horror before them. Seven bodies lie motionless within the bar. Most lay face-first upon the tables they sat. Others lay upon the floor. Ken was thankful he didn’t notice when he fought with the tall man. He may have second thought such a deed. The thought that followed was a question. Why would this man take on such a dark, suicidal task and where was his wife? Why didn’t she wait for him like he did for her? The answers would have to wait because someone grabbed him from behind and dragged him from the hotel. The hotel wall disappeared as he slid through it. Outside the noon sun highlighted the vibrate life that still continued. The warmth from the sun was missing though. Suddenly, Ken was thrown to the right. A large trash container and trash bags stood in his way but Ken lay within them. The tall man stood above him, his anger evident in his enclosed fists and heaving chest. The tall man grasps Ken by the front of the shirt and lifted him easily. Ken struggled but the tall man was twice as strong as him. The tall man pulled back a large ham-fisted arm and was ready to strike when Ken put up his hands and pushed forward an energy that was unfamiliar to him. Caught by surprise the tall man released him and fell backward. Ken fell downward the trash container surrounding him. He then pressed his hands forward again and pushed the tall man forward into a crowd of people that didn’t notice.

“God damn, American,” shouted the tall man who stood within the crowd. He then rushed forward but Ken stopped him with another push. The world then dissolved around them leaving only a black room, with a bright light at each end. Ken stopped pushing and they both paused to take in this new scene. The light only lit a column of darkness from which the two men stood. Outside this column was a think darkness.

“What the hell is this?” Ken asked loudly. “How the hell am I suppose to know,” shouted the tall man.

“I didn’t ask you,” snapped Ken. The tall man glared at him then stepped toward him again. Ken stepped back, arms outstretched.

“Pissed would not cover my anger right now, mate,” the tall man said as he approached. “Notice, we are dead! I’m pleasantly surprised that I can still grab you and toss you around but you seem to have an advantage you didn’t have in the real world. I can still tear your limbs off, I bet.”

Ken pushed his hands outward toward the tall man’s feet causing him to stumble but it did not stop him. The tall man leapt forward and grabbed Ken by the collar. Then tossed him to the left and laughed. “At least death isn’t going to be a waste.”

Ken slid upon the black floor disappearing from the light and into the darkness. Fear instantly struck him and he felt the pressure of someone grasping both his ankles. Barely able to move and struck with fear he managed to stand. He pushed his hands downward toward his ankles and leap toward the direction he came from. He stood within the column of light again. The tall man stood within the center of the column. Anger overwhelmed him and Ken pushed as hard as he could. The taller man fell backward and disappeared into the darkness. Ken waited for the tall man to reappear but after several long moments he did not.

Ken walked right into the light that was farthest from him.  The light at the end of the column got brighter as Ken walked toward it.  He squint his eyes till he could barely see.  He attempted to block the light with his hand but that was useless.  As he stepped into the light he again felt warmth.  The warmth began at his toes and radiated a comforting peace upward.  Several steps within the light and the warmth began to dissipate.  Ken continued forward until the darkness began to dilute the light.  Soon the light was almost gone, leaving only a small circular band radiating from mid-height.  Ken walked toward the circular band of light.  As he moved forward broken lines began to appear within the circle.   These lines were slowly filled in by a dark brown color.  “They looked like the roots of a tree,” Ken thought as he stared upward into the hole.  It was a small hole, barely big enough for Ken’s shoulders to fit through.  Above the brown roots he could see a blue sky blurred by the green leaves of a large tree.  The roots stretched from one end of the hole to the other.  Other then the darkness around him, the light above was the only way out.  Ken grasped the root and lifted himself upward.  With nothing to put his feet upon Ken struggled to lift his body high enough to balance himself upon the top of the root.  After several attempts Ken managed to push himself up and over the root.  He pulled up his left knee then his right.  He then climbed from the hole and into a whole new world.