Sunday, March 28, 2010
Story Time - “I’m finally dead. Now what?”
“I’m finally dead. Now what?” Mark Twain grumbled as his soul pulled itself loose from the cooling corpse that lay on its deathbed. As he predicted, he had died the day after Halley’s appearance in the skies above Redding, Connecticut. He remembered writing last year these words: “I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don't go out with Halley's Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: 'Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.'” And go out he did.
As he felt his spirit tugged upwards, he glanced down at his empty husk. “Damn I sure look ugly. I would suggest they have a closed casket at the service if anybody could hear me.”
Picking up speed, he passed quickly through the ceiling of his bedroom (this was a somewhat dizzying experience as his vision was momentarily obstructed by wood grain and a rather busy termite) and popped up into the attic. At this point he seemed to take a right angle and sailed through an old wardrobe (his scarlet and grey gown from Oxford was in sore need of cleaning from all the lint) and burst out into the open air. The sun was shinning and the sky was such a deep expanse of blue that it would have made his heart ache if he still had one.
As he zipped along over the tall oak trees of his neighborhood, Mark Twain began to wonder if someone should be with him to usher him into the next phase of his existence. “I guess somebody—or something—is moving me along, so I guess I shouldn’t worry about it. Though it would be nice to see Ol’ Henry so I can thank him for all that money he lent before he passed on.”
Up, up, up he went, soaring high above the Connecticut countryside. The blue of the sky became deeper and deeper, and soon he could see stars twinkling overhead. “It’s strange to see the stars in the middle of the afternoon. At least it looks I heading the right direction…though I am sure Hades would have been interesting, too.” He chuckled.
Into the blackness of space he flew, with the Earth spread out below him like a massive multicolored quilt. He was positively giddy with delight. “If I had known being dead was so marvelous, I would have left sooner!”
The Earth began to recede, becoming a ball of blue and brown and swirling white. Mark felt a pang of loss as he continued to pull away. Then he noticed a light above him.
It was Halley’s Comet, its long tail stretched out like the wake of the fastest schooner in the universe. Crystals of ice glitter in the sunlight like a million billion diamonds in trail it left behind.
Faster, faster, faster he raced through the darkness, his target clearly the comet head. “I wonder if I will need a key to get inside or will I have to knock and wait patiently for someone to let me in?”
Now he was above the tail, flying over it like an undulating snowscape. “Can’t be too much longer now...” And in a flash of light he was in.
Mark felt his spirit surrounded by an infinity of facets reflecting the light of the sun ahead. It was like skiing down a slope a brakeneck speed on a mountain without end. The rush was exhilarating.
“Samuel,” Came a voice from nowhere and everywhere.
“Eh? Nobody calls me Samuel anymore. It’s Mark Twain thank you very much.”
“Okay…Mark then. I have a proposition for you.”
“You have two choices. You may return to Earth to be born as a child with no memory of your past life…”
“Or?...” Mark prompted impatiently.
“Or you may continue riding the comet on its journey out of the solar system and into the hidden mysteries of space.”
“Hmmm…” Twain pondered. “How soon do I have decided?”
“After the comet swings around the sun, it will pass by the Earth on its way out. You must decide by then, Mark.”
“Well…alright then…this will take some considerable musing on my part, whoever you are. Both choices have there pros and cons, I am sure…but for now just let me enjoy the ride.”
Continuing on my write of passage,