Joanne: Part 13

Joanne and Terry were walking through the streets downtown very early one morning. Terry was as tall, lanky, and awkward as ever. Joanne hoped he would eventually get used to her but was rather preoccupied. She had just discovered from Terry that there was a very important step in the afterlife experience that she had missed. On one hand it was quite frustrating but on the other she was happy to know that she might now have an actual, specific goal.

“My experience with Peter wasn’t exactly normal,” Terry said as they walked. He still looked very uncomfortable but at least he was finally talking.

“How so?” Joanne asked, trying to mask her excitement a bit. On top of everything else Terry was very jumpy. Joanne was worried he would faint if she showed too much emotion or asked a question too loudly.

“Apparently I died a month early,” Terry said, laughing. “I don’t know why. I was in a car accident and when I got to his office, Peter was just reading a newspaper. He wound up sending me back so I could try again a month later. On schedule.”

“What the hell?” Joanne said. “That’s insane. Did you remember him while you were back here?”

“Oh yeah,” Terry said. “I uhhh… I had a few extra therapy sessions that month. In the end I kinda came to terms with it. Tried to see my family as much as I could. Wound up in another accident and went up for my appointment.”

“And what do you do in an appointment?” Joanne asked. She bit her lip nervously looked up at Terry. She was eager to find out what she was looking forward to.

“Oh, man. Uhhh…” Terry trailed off as he thought. He furrowed his brow and sighed. “I don’t know if it’s the same for everyone, but he basically has a really, super annoying therapy session with you. He asks you a bunch of questions and gets you super introspective. Then he makes you decide.”

“Decide on what?”

“Which door to take,” Terry said, laughing to himself. “You either take the door to something new or, the door to something familiar. He refuses to tell you what that means. Spoiler alert, this is where you end up if you go through the “familiar” door.”

“And what about the other one?” Joanne asked.

“Not sure,” Terry said. “I assume it’s, you know, heaven? Or whatever you believe in. You never really know until you get there though.”

Joanne stared at the ground as they walked. The more information she gained the more confused she became.

“Why didn’t I go through all of this?” She asked. “How often does this happen?”

“I was literally the only person who ever arrived early, so maybe this is the first time,” Terry said.

“Weird,” Joanne said as she slouched. She was starting to feel quite defeated. She had no idea what she should do. She continued to stare at the ground and started dragging her feet a bit while they walked. She went to look up at Terry and surprisingly didn’t see him. She stopped, and looked back. He had stopped in his tracks and was staring past Joanne, looking incredibly confused and somehow more awkward ever. Joanne looked over to where he was staring. To her surprise she saw a wooden door that seemed to have appeared from the middle of nowhere, standing in the middle of the street.

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Darrell: Introduction

This is an introduction to what I hope will be a full story someday soon! I’m not sure if I’ll post the story  online or not, as I am hoping to send it to in to a contest or two. This one is about as weird as the other stuff I post, and almost as gothy, so I hope you all enjoy it!

* * *

Darrell Fritz was a freelance writer with what you could call a rather unique problem. At least it was unique as far as he knew. He didn’t know anyone else who went through what he did every morning. If they did they probably kept it a secret, like he did, so they wouldn’t come off as completely insane. Darrell was already a rather strange looking man and it would have been even more difficult for him to be taken seriously if he tried to convince them of the truth. That truth being very simple. Every time Darrell Fritz fell asleep he would wake up in an open grave. It was a different one every time. They were almost always close to home; at most a they were a few hours drive away. Hearing this from anyone would sound strange. Hearing it from a shortish, dumpy, bald man with thick rimmed glasses certainly helped you develop a few extra opinions rather quickly.

The first few times this happened it was obviously terrifying. Darrell soon grew accustom to it however and started sleeping with a stepladder tied to his arm by a six foot rope. Unfortunately, on this cold October morning, Darrell didn’t fall asleep in his bed. Darrell instead decided it would be a better idea to drink an excessive amount of whiskey at a local bar with his friends and pass out on a toilet in a public washroom instead. He didn’t tend to carry his ladder with him in public in an effort to avoid awkward conversations. He did carry a leather messenger bag, however, with a laptop, notepads, pens, charging cables for his phone and computer, and of course a tape measure. He stretched his arms out wide and cringed at the pain he felt in his back after spending an entire night sleeping on cold, hard, dirt. He was kept warm enough by his leather jacket but his ears felt almost numb and he was eager to get out of this grave and get to a cafe as soon as possible.

He stood up, groaning with pain, and dug his tape measure out of his bag. He measured the dimensions of the grave. Two and a half feet wide, seven feet long, and eight feet deep. Of course he woke up in one of the deep ones when he was horrifically hung over and underprepared. He stood for a few moments after putting away the tape measure. He sighed, with his jaw slack and hanging low, and just stared off in to the distance. He hoped that somehow, if he just did nothing for a few more minutes, all of his problems would go away. This was, of course, not the case. So he sighed even louder and deeper before finally giving in. He stretched his arms as high as he could. They didn’t reach the top of the grave, of course, even if he stood on the very tip of his toes. He jumped. He stretched. He tried to run up the wall as though he weren’t some dumpy fool in a hole but instead was some sort of great acrobat. He fell flat on his ass and was grateful no one was there to see him.

His final and most successful attempt involved pressing his legs against one side of the grave and his back against the other. He slowly but surely shimmied his way up. His back hurt and the pain got worse as he was forced to hold himself at an incredibly awkward angle. He managed, however, to make it to the top of the grave. He got his arms above ground. He took a deep breath and tried to swing himself around so he could finally pull himself out. His body twisted around and he saw a man wearing coveralls giving him a rather horrified look. Darrell was surprised by this and one of his hands slipped causing him to lose his balance. He fell hard on to the ground on top of his bag. His hip crashed hard against the tape measure in his bag and he let out a yelp of pain. The man, likely an employee of the cemetery, appeared above him, leaning over the grave.

“May I ask how you got down there?” the man inquired.

“A rather heavy night of drinking, I think,” Darrell replied as he stood up. While not entirely false in this case he had been using this as an excuse any time he had been caught.

“Right,” the man replied. “I’ll get the ladder.”

Darrell sighed and leaned against the wall of the grave. His hip twinned with pain, likely bruised from the fall. He pulled his cell phone out of his pocked. It still had some battery life and was filled with notifications from his friends trying to find out what happened to him the night before. He was going have to come up with a hell of a story. He put his phone away just as the man was returning with the ladder. He let it down with a satisfying thud. Darrell climbed out and thanked the man.

“Just try not to do it again, alright?” The man said.

“Of course,” Darrell replied laughing awkwardly. “One quick question before I go, though. Uh… Where am I?”

“What do you mean?” the man asked, furrowing his brow.

“Oh god,” Darrells said, sighing and rubbing his forehead, “What town am I in?”

“Christ, you were pretty damn drunk, weren’t you?” The man asked. Darrell just nodded, and was too embarrassed to make eye contact. “You’re in Dundurn.”

Darrell’s eyes grew wide and he nodded as he thought to himself.

“Is that not where you’re supposed to be?” the man asked.

“It’s as good a place as any,” Darrell said. “It’s my home town. While I’m here I may as well say hi to the folks!”

“Right,” the man said. “You do that.” He walked away and grumbled to himself. Darrell left the cemetery and made his way out to the highway. This was not the best morning he’d ever had, but it was far from the worst.

Something different this week!

I’ve decided to take a break from Joanne this week! I’m currently working on a play at the moment which is also about Peter, so it’s quite a lot of work about some closely related characters. If I spend too much time on one project or work that is too similar I start to get bored with it and it gets to be a bit of a struggle. And if writing something isn’t fun, it starts to come across in the piece and that’s no good. Not sure what this weeks story will be about yet, but I have a few backlogged ideas to choose from. Whatever it is, I hope you enjoy it! See you Friday!

Joanne: Part 12

First off, my apologies on missing last week. Life has been very hectic and crumby this past while so writing has been a bit tough. For those of you who do read these stories, thank you so much for doing so! Hopefully I will be able to keep up with my weekly schedule from here on out. Thank you for your patience!

* * *

Amber sat in the green chair facing Peter who sat behind his desk. He leaned back in his chair and smiled. He seemed sincere but Amber remained skeptical. She had just been told about her own death and now a strange man in a mostly empty room wants to ask her questions. This wasn’t exactly normal.

“Amber Baptiste of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan,” Peter said, as he looked at a page in his ledger. Amber assumed the page contained information about her. “Born and raised by rather wealthy parents, by the looks of it.”

“How do you know all of this?” Amber asked. “Who are you?”

“Can’t answer either of those questions,” Peter said, his eyes staring down at the paper,  “besides, you’re the one who’s supposed to be answering questions right now.”

“Why do you need to ask me questions?” Amber asked, “I have no idea what I’m doing here.”

“What you’re doing is quite simple,” Peter said, “You’re trying to figure out which of these doors you’re going to leave through.”

“That’s it?” Amber asked.

“Yes, that’s it,” Peter said. “The far door over there leads to somewhere very familiar to you. For the most part.”

“What do you mean?” Amber asked, looking over at the door behind her.

“It doesn’t matter what I mean, it’s the same door either way,” Peter said. “Your other choice is the door to your left. The one leads to somewhere new. And before you try being clever, the door behind my desk is just a broom closet. Don’t bother sneaking up to it, it’s really, honestly, just a damn broom closet.”

Peter slid his chair to the side and opened the door behind him. It was filled with brooms, mops, buckets, and all of the terribly mundane things one would find in a broom closet.

“Right,” Amber said.

“Sorry, it’s absolutely ridiculous how many people don’t believe me,” Peter sighed. “I’m not trying to trick you. Trust me.”

Peter swung the door shut and slid his chair back to it’s original spot.

“So that’s what we’re here to do today,” Peter said. “I’m going to help you decide if you want something new, or something familiar.”

Amber slouched down into her chair and sighed.

“Alright, I’ll bite,” She said. “But this is very cryptic and strange and I really don’t like it.”

“And that’s absolutely fine,” Peter said. He looked down at his ledger and appeared to be reading before asking his first question. “So Amber, what was it like growing up in such an affluent home?”

Amber’s jaw dropped and she glared at Peter. This was an incredibly rude question to ask someone.

“Excuse me,” Amber said. “That is an incredibly personal thing to ask someone.”

Peter looked up from his ledger.

“Things are going to get incredibly personal today, Amber,” he said.

“What if I refuse to answer the question?” She asked.

“Then we’ll sit, and wait,” Peter said. “We can sit here for all of eternity if we have to. And trust me, some people have tried to wait it out. It’s very tedious.”

Amber sighed and rubbed her forehead. This was going to be a long, obnoxious experience.

Late Post Tomorrow

This week has been a bit busier than expected, and today I received some very sad news. One of the family cats, Mojo, was hit by a car yesterday. The driver got out and talked to my mother, so it was an honest accident. He didn’t drive off or anything. Losing a pet is always a bit harder than you’d expect, so unfortunately motivation and inspiration are a bit tough for me to find today. The next “Joanne” post will be up on Saturday, or extra late on Friday, for this reason.10407666_10205886227811256_4059670633825300970_n.jpg

He was always kind of a tough guy, “I don’t want snuggles” kinda cat, until bed time when he always needed a warm blanket and a friend. He was a good cat and a good friend. RIP Mojo. We’re gonna miss you!

Joanne: Part 11

Amber lay on the floor, half awake, running her hands across the cold, hardwood floor beneath her. It was strange. She didn’t remember her bed being made of hardwood. She turned her head slightly and felt a twinge of pain in her neck. She cringed and blinked the sleep out of her eyes. She looked up and saw a wooden ceiling with a rather old looking light fixture hanging from it. It was then she realized she wasn’t sleeping on a hardwood bed but rather a hardwood floor. This was a peculiar choice for Amber. She almost always slept on beds. Sometimes couches, but mostly beds, and never floors. She slowly sat up and looked around herself. Beside her was a rather comfortable looking easy chair with green cushions. Behind her was a door. In front of her was a light brown wooden desk with a man sitting at it. She gasped slightly when she realized someone was there. She stood up and got her bearings. The room was practically empty. All there was was the door behind her, a second door behind the chair, and a third door behind the man and the desk. She had now idea how she got there, and was suddenly beginning to feel quite afraid. She was not accustom to waking up in strange rooms with men behind desks.

“Hello there, Amber!” The man said, as he waved. He was older, maybe in his sixties, and wore a dark brown suit that looked as though it was purchased at a thrift store. Not a particularly nice thrift store, either. He leaned back in an old, leather office chair and smiled politely.

“How do you know my name?” Amber asked, as she brushed her long, black hair behind her ear nervously.

“It’s in the record,” the man said. He sat forward, reached into a desk drawer, and pulled out a large, leather bound ledger. He flipped through some pages before stopping and pointing at the page. “Amber Babtiste. Scheduled to arrive on April 17th, 2016. You’re right on time!”

Amber stood up. The man leaned back in his chair and flipped the ledger closed.

“I’m right on time for what?” She asked.

“You’re appointment,” the man said. His friendly smile started to fade and he looked down at the floor. He sighed. “You’re going to have to think a bit about what happened to you before you arrived here. It might be better if you took a seat.”

Amber stared at the man. She was utterly confused but unsure how to react because she was having some difficulty remembering what exactly had happened. It slowly started coming back to her.

“I remember driving to work,” She said. “That’s… That’s the last thing I remember.”

“You began your commute to work, yes,” the man said. “You didn’t quite make it there, though.”

Amber thought for another moment. It slowly came back to her. A great crash of metal and smashing glass. A scream. Then it all went black. Amber’s hands began to shake as she sat down in the chair.

“I was hit by a truck,” Amber said. “Why aren’t I in a hospital?”

The man stood and walked around his desk. He had a rather sympathetic look on his face, with a slight but kind smile. He leaned back on his desk and crossed his arms.

“Your body was taken to the hospital,” the man said. “But say you… you didn’t make it.”

There was a long silence. Amber looked up at the man with tears welling up in her eyes.

“Where am I?” She asked.

“That is a great question,” the man said with a wider smile, “And questions are very important here. Unfortunately I can’t answer that one.”

There was another long pause.

“Uhh…” Amber said, her tears subsiding, “So, you’re not going to tell me where I am?”

“Nope,” the man said, “and that is the first in a very long line of questions you are going to learn to hate me for. There’s a lot I can’t tell you today. And there’s much more that you have to tell me.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Amber asked. “Who are you and why am I here?”

“There we go!” The man exclaimed while clapping his hands together. “Some questions I can answer! My name is Peter. And you are here work through some serious stuff.”

Peter walked back to his desk and sat down. He leaned forward with a very wide smile.

“Let’s get started.”