by Ray Prew
Some religions say a waiting place exists. A place a departed soul
goes to after death, and before judgment. Some religions adamantly deny
this place exists. You decide.
Five people died, all of them total strangers. Since they all died
at the same exact moment, they all arrived together in the same place.
The land of the dead is a barren place, with campfires burning here and
there; it has dark overcast skies, with a damp chill in the air. From
where the new arrivals were standing, they could see people milling
about or gathering into groups. Some were dressed in modern clothes;
others wore clothes from decades or centuries ago.
Across the grey bleak skies, flashed scenes from people’s lives.
From birth to death, the scenes of each and every individual’s lives
were displayed for all to see. The triumphs and the tragedies, the
heroic and selfless deeds, and the dark moments were stretched across
the sky. No one would have any secrets here.
As the five looked about them, they noticed they were not only
seeing their immediate surroundings, they were seeing into the world of
the living as well. They could see not only their companions and
objects in front of them, but also into the lives of their loved ones
as well. Eddy could only watch as his heartbroken mother collapsed at
the sight of her youngest son being zipped up in a body bag. Maria
watched as her husband to be, identified her at the morgue, and then
fainted and went into a coma.
From where they stood, they could see down into a small canyon. One
side of the cliffs had a large cave entrance with two demonic looking
creatures standing guard. Above the cave were the words abandon all
hope ye who enter here. They watched as a small group of glowing winged
beings, which looked very much like angels, flew down to the cave
carrying a struggling crying wretch. He begged for mercy, and more
chances, as the winged men gave him to the demons. One of the demons
dragged the wretch down into the cave and returned a moment later
Immediately opposite that was a small valley. In that valley, there
they saw a large glowing bowl, and next to it what looked like an
opening in the air or a portal of some kind. There were more of those
glowing winged beings. They were taking ghostly looking shadows from
the bowl and escorting them through the portal. Other angels were
assisting people into the bowl.
Over in the distance they could see a city that looked like it was
made of crystal. It had more winged beings flying over it.
The five looked around them, each trying to take in their new
surroundings and new companions. Some were certain they were dead,
others were unconvinced. They each reflected on the circumstances that
brought them here.
Eddy Campbell was a nervous man, with several complexes and poor
self-esteem issues. After many of life’s smaller problems, which he
amplified in his own mind, Eddy decided to take his own life, and end
his imaginary anguish. The true irony was Eddy was a very likeable man.
He was tall and ruggedly built, so the girls did attract to him until
his poor social skills got in the way. In all his forty-eight years, he
never really connected with another human being. He swallowed the last
of his sleeping pills and slit open his wrists. He maintained enough
presence of mind to start the engine of his car to fill the garage with
carbon monoxide. His last mortal thought was this should do it.
Mike Quinn walked down the steps from the library; he had just
finished taking notes, and gathering the necessary information for his
thesis. He came from very modest roots and put himself through college
this far without anyone’s help. He was an average sized man with bright
red hair and a large beard. He wore thick glasses as opposed to
Mike had always taken his studies seriously, ever since childhood.
He was determined to go above and beyond his parents, whom he held in
disdain. His father was an asshole that always distanced himself from
his family. His mother was a drunk that couldn’t read or write. She
didn’t have respect for education, so Mike determined to become a
Once he achieved his goal of a PhD, he could move on to a
professorship. Not only would he be the first college graduate in his
family, he’d be its first teacher. As he walked down the street to his
bus stop, he passed a small group of street toughs selling drugs. A car
screeched to a halt and four men got out, they opened fire on the
street thugs with automatic weapons. The thugs survived, but Mike was
Foster Martin left the bar, he knew he was too drunk to drive and
didn’t give a damn. He had problems and the bourbon made it all better
or at least less stressful. He walked to his car on very wobbly legs.
He fell over twice, too drunk to walk let alone drive. Foster was
thirty-eight years old with the emotional maturity of a
fourteen-year-old. He had few friends and carried a chip on his
shoulder. He was fortunate enough to own his own company otherwise,
he’d never find work. He clipped a light pole on his way out of the
parking lot and drove his car out onto the avenue.
Maria Black left her bridal shower. Her friends helped her load all
her presents into her car. It was such a nice party, they surprised her
with. She was twenty-two years old, blonde, and very pretty, and had
just graduated with a teaching degree. She loved kids and had always
wanted to be a teacher and now she would. The state had just certified
her as a substitute teacher, so she’d have plenty of work. Her wedding
was just a few days away, and her husband to be had just gotten a
promotion with a sizeable raise. They had just purchased a new home in
a very nice neighborhood. Everything coming up looked wonderful and
their future together was bright. They planned on a large family and
she vowed to be the best mom she could be.
She started her car and drove one block to a red light. Her light
turned green and she started forward. Foster continued on his way, the
effects of a half bottle of bourbon catching up with him, he fell
asleep and swerved his car into Maria’s car, head on at fifty miles an
hour. His car flipped over, and Maria went through the windshield, both
Lou Piro lay in his hospital bed. The cancer he had was incurable;
the doctors could only do so much to alleviate his pain. Several rounds
of chemotherapy cost him his hair and the ability to walk. The
treatment seemed worse than the disease, every day he seemed to get
worse. He welcomed death. It would end his suffering. Suddenly he felt
very cold despite the heated room and his blankets. He decided not to
call the nurse. It was his time and he was anxious to end his
suffering. He felt a deep breath come up out of him and he died.
The wounds they received in life were also there in the afterlife
except there was no pain. Eddy’s wrists were still bleeding; Mike still
had bullet holes across his chest and head. Maria’s once beautiful face
was cut and ravaged beyond recognition.
“I’m supposed to be dead,” cried Eddy as he lay on the ground
curling up into a ball, “it’s supposed to be over. I’m supposed to go
to sleep and never wake up. I want my death!”
“That’s your business buddy, I don’t want to be dead,” Mike
responded getting to his feet. “I had plans for MY life. Now they’re
gone because of bunch of street punks. I want my future back!”
“Future? Plans? You stole my future you son of a bitch, you killed
me!” Maria screamed getting to her feet. “You booze soaked bastard I
had plans for my life, a home, a career, a family! Gone because you had
to drink and drive. Look at me! Look at my face! Look what you did to
me!” Maria lunged at Foster who ducked and covered his head.
The others all looked at Foster as they would at a bug. “I’m sorry,”
was all he could manage to say. Foster looked at the ground, of the
five, he was the only one without scars or physical problems of any
“You insect!” Mike yelled. “You killed this woman and destroyed not
just her life, but her family’s as well, and the best you can do is
“Fighting amongst ourselves won’t resolve anything,” Lou said
trying to calm the situation. He was able to stand; the pain was gone.
He might look like hell, but Lou felt better than he had in years.
Maria, crying hard about her lost future and what would happen to her
family, sat on the ground next to Eddy who was still curled up in a
ball. Eddy was still sobbing because he wasn’t dead as he’d hoped.
An Angel flew over to them and said “HEARKEN YE WELL DEPARTED SOULS,
YOUR TIME ON THE EARTH IS THROUGH. YOU NOW AWAIT YOUR DAY OF JUDGMENT.
MANY OF THESE SOULS HAVE BEEN WAITING HERE MANY LONG YEARS. IF GOD IS
PLEASED WITH YOUR WORK, YOU WILL BE ALLOWED INTO THE CRYSTAL CITY FOR
ALL ETERNITY. IF HE IS NOT, YOU GO DOWN INTO HELL,” he said as he
pointed first to the city then the cave. IF YOU TRULY REPENT YOUR WAYS
AND WANT TO RELIVE IN ORDER TO PRESENT HIM WITH A CLEANER SOUL FOR
JUDGMENT, YOU ARE ALLOWED TO REINCARNATE. WHEN IT IS YOUR TIME TO BE
JUDGED A GROUP OF ANGELS WILL CARRY YOU TO GOD.” With that, he flew
“Death means it’s supposed to be over, I wanted my life to end, to
go to sleep, and never wake up now I’m stuck here,” wailed Eddy sitting
“That’s only part of your problem mister,” Mike told him in a cold
hard tone. “By the look of you, and your words, you tried to take your
own life. In any religion I ever heard of, that’s a no, no. So, you
might want to consider the reincarnation option. Reset and try again.”
He looked down at Eddy and smiled. “Maybe it will be better the next
time, if you go to judgment with a suicide on you it’s a one way ticket
to those guys!” he said pointing at the demons.
Mike shook his head in disgust at Eddy’s weakness, as he watched him
curl back into a ball and cry racking heaving sobs. “I wanted to be a
college professor until I was killed. I’ll take the reincarnation
option! I’ll just fill that goal in another life that’s all. Stop your
damn crying! Be a man and face this, tears won’t make anything go
“I’m going for it too,” said Maria. “If I can’t be his wife in this
lifetime, then I’ll be his child. One way or another I’ll watch over my
man. My dreams might be dead, but my love for my man isn’t!” she spit
on Foster, and said, “I’m with you.”
“I’m going too,” Foster cried as he got up, wiping the spit from
his cheek. “I’m so sorry for what I did to you. I made some big
mistakes in my life, and some I enjoyed, but this is beyond anything I
can handle. I can’t expect to be forgiven because I can’t forgive
Ma’am, I swear by the god that will judge us, I swear by my soul! I
will dedicate my next life to stop drunk drivers like me! That will be
at least part of my penance I will dedicate an entire life to stop
“Since we all arrived together I’ll escort you to the valley,” Lou
told them. “But I’m not reincarnating, I’m happy with the life I led.
The cancer at the end wasn’t fun, and I don’t want to go through that
again.” They all helped pull Eddy to his feet and started on their way
to the valley.
There were lost souls wandering here and there. Some were being
watched over by angels, some being harassed by demons. As they started
down the hill, they saw a soul that seemed to fade in and out. The poor
wretch was half dead. He had one foot in their old dimension, the other
in the new. They all remembered the pain of their own deaths, but that
was instantaneous; the poor man was in agony. It was the sort of
suffering that made one sick to watch, Eddy threw up, and Lou wept
openly at the pain the man must be feeling, remembering all too well
the pain of his last days.
As the five continued on their way, their path was blocked by an
ugly looking, foul smelling creature with leathery looking skin and
glowing red eyes. Its voice sounded like fingernails on a chalkboard.
It reached for Eddy and said, “You belong to my master, you took
your own life. For that my master claims your soul.” As he reached for
him, an angel flew between them. “TOUCH YE NOT THE MAN FOUL ONE, EACH
NEW ARRIVAL HAS THE RIGHT TO REINCARNATE. SO SAYS THE ONE WHO’S
RADIANCE OUT SHINES US ALL!”
With that the demon retreated. Before leaving, the angel turned to
Eddy and Foster and said “WICKED SOULS! REINCARNATION IS YOUR ONE
CHANCE TO SATISFY GOD. USE IT WISELY!”
Eddy shivered from both the chill and from fear. He hated life which
is why he killed himself. Now he faced the choice of going back and
going through life all over again, or, stay and spend hundreds of years
playing tag with demons, only to be eventually judged and given to them
anyway. He resented it, but he had no choice but to reincarnate.
Foster was sick to his stomach with remorse at what he did to Maria.
His dark secret was Maria was not the first death his drunkenness
caused, he had killed before. A young family had died because Foster
had four gin and tonics too many.
He almost went to jail on that one. A sharp lawyer and several
thousand dollars in bribes later, and he were cleared of all charges,
even though he knew he did it. Foster prayed he wouldn’t meet the
O’Brien family here. These scenes were now being flashed across the
sky. The others looked at him in disgust.
Now that he was dead, he realized what Richard and Patty O’Brien and
their three preschool aged sons Frank, Brad, and Rocky must have gone
through. He was now seeing firsthand the pain of such a lost future had
on a soul. He swore again under his breath he’d dedicate his next life
to stopping drunk drivers.
As they continued down the slope towards the glowing bowl, they met
a young women sitting cross-legged on the ground, engulfed in flames.
She was crying from heartbreak, not pain. “What happened to you?” Maria
“I was a member of the temple of honesty and truth,” the girl
responded. The temple had worldwide devotees, whose leader the
self-ordained reverend Frank Scott, was known for using brain washing
techniques for recruiting followers. “Reverend Frankie told me my death
would prove our cause and I’d be guaranteed entry to heaven. He never
mentioned this place!”
“You’re a Frankie fan?” asked Foster using the term in the news for
the reverends followers. The girl simply nodded.
The so-called reverend was a self-styled prophet that collected
followers despite the fact none of his predictions ever came true, and
despite the fact none of his ‘preaching’s’ had any basis in the bible,
Koran or any other religious text.
He was a nut that actually ordered his followers to do gruesome
things to themselves just to display his power to the law makers of his
area. On his command, the young girl doused herself with gasoline
declared his name as the holy one, and ignited herself.
An angel told her due to the way she killed herself, she must remain
in this state, engulfed in flames, for one century before being allowed
to reincarnate. Like all those in the land of the dead she could see
into the land of the living. As she sat there in flames, she watched as
her beloved prophet spent the money his followers raised, on drugs and
prostitutes. Like most religious martyrs, she died for nothing.
There was nothing they could do for her, they continued on their way
the bowl. A group of angels flew down to them “FOSTER MARTIN, YOUR TIME
OF JUDGMENT HAS COME. WE WILL BRING YOU TO GOD.”
“But I’ve only just arrived, there are many others that have waited
far longer than me, and I’m going to reincarnate,” Foster told the
“NAY MORTAL, A SMALL FAMILY THAT LIVES IN THE CRYSTAL CITY
PETITIONED GOD FOR YOUR JUDGMENT BEFORE A REINCARNATION.” As the angel
spoke, the scenes from the death of the O’Brien, family flashed across
the sky. The angels took Foster by the arms and flew him off to the
crystal city, and his trial before god.
The others looked at each other, no one missed the drunk driver, but
they all feared whether they’d make it to the bowl, before their sins
caught up with them.
As they returned to their journey, they met an army major and four
beings that looked vaguely human, but burned beyond any point of
recognition. They were beating up a young Arabic man. All were
horrifically burned with chunks of flesh missing here and there.
Major Brad Bostwick and his men had been with the U.S. peacekeeping
force in the Middle East. His job was to help the local residents
displaced by war to get food and medical help. The soldiers were
volunteers that wanted to help those in need.
The young Arab man named Iskar Bibbel, convinced he would be a
martyr, strapped himself with dynamite, and yelling about Allah and
jihad, ran into the food warehouse, where Brad was reviewing the
inventory, and blew them all up.
The angel had just departed. All could either reincarnate, or wait
for judgment. It was then that Iskar found out he wouldn’t get his
seventy two girlfriends until after his judgment. In the meantime, he
would wait here like everyone else.
Major Bostwick had a loving family and plans for his life after the
war. Now they were all gone because of Iskar's religious devotion. At
least his trial before god would be interesting, he was an army
chaplain from a long line of preachers. He volunteered to help in a war
zone to honor Jesus, only to have a believer of a different religion
kill him in the name of god. The four soldiers were all career men they
were prepared to die for their country but not for stupidity.
Major Bostwick and his men declined the offer to join them, they
could reincarnate anytime, and in the interim they could both, keep
beating up Iskar, and prevent him from reincarnating until he was
As they continued on their way, they heard a screaming from above.
They saw Foster being carried by two angels towards the cave. He and
the angels were being followed by the O’Brien family; they would be
allowed to watch as Foster was cast into hell. Maria smiled as she
listened to Foster beg for a second chance. “This place sucks,”
complained Eddy. “Life was better than this!”
“Then make a better one in the next life, reincarnate and try
again!” Mike told him.
“I’ve been watching the scenes of your life,” Maria told him, “And
from what I’ve seen, you had your share of heartbreak and bad luck.
I’ve known people that had it far worse. Just don’t repeat your
decisions in the next life.”
As she said this, she could see into the real world, and watched as
a romantic rival she had rid herself of long ago, was taking care of
her groom. “You fucking vulture! I’m not even cold yet. I’m not even in
the ground yet, and you swoop in,” she screamed at the image.
They returned to their journey. As he walked, Mike looked into the
lives of his friends and family. He had few friends and was distant
from his family, no one really missed him. No one held a memorial
service no one sent flowers.
Suddenly a group of angels flew down on the group.
“MIKE QUINN YOUR TIME OF JUDGMENT HAS COME,” said the first angel.
“But I had my life taken, I was going to reincarnate. I have
plans,” Mike told them.
“GOD HAS DECIDED YOUR JUDGMENT IS NEXT.” They scooped him up and
flew him off to his judgment.
“We’d better hurry before they come for us!” said Maria as they
As they walked, Eddy looked into the lives of his family and
friends. He was surprised to see women crying for him, and the few
friends he had trying to console his grieving mom. His father, whom he
hadn’t seen since he was twelve, showed up crying openly. All of them
were praying for his salvation.
“See!” Maria told him, “It was all in your mind! You had people
that loved you.”
“We should be on our way,” said Lou. As he walked down the slope,
Lou looked into the lives of his family. He watched as his grieving
wife prayed for him in church. He saw his eldest son comfort the
youngest son, the baby of the family. He was now the man of the house
and would look after his mother and younger siblings. They all told his
wife the same thing ‘he won’t suffer anymore’ and they were right, he
felt fine. As they neared the bowl, they saw there was a line waiting
to get in.
As he watched Eddy and Maria get in line to enter the bowl, Lou said
to them, “Good luck, I hope your next lives are better than the old
ones were.” He shook their hands and walked away. Eddy and Maria fell
in line behind the others to wait their turn at being reincarnated.
The man in front of them apparently had been decapitated he held his
head in the crook of his arm against his chest. His neck was completely
blown away. He turned around and the head spoke to them. “Hello, my
names Charles Greychuck, nice to meet you.”
Eddy and Maria introduced themselves and they all exchanged stories
of their deaths. Charles lost his head when he was murdered on the
orders of a local drug dealer.
Charles had been collecting photos, and license plate numbers, and
any other evidence he could, to turn over to the police. He had lived
in his apartment building for thirty years with no problems. Once the
drug dealer moved in, his home was broken into twice, and there was
almost always a group of hooligans out on the stoop.
Charles wasn’t going to have it. So he collected evidence to get rid
of them. The drug dealer had him killed, to both stop his collecting,
and to send a message to the rest of the tenants, that he was the boss
He planned to ask if he could be a cop in his next life, when he got
to the bowl. That way, by the time he grew into manhood and became a
cop, he could bust the puke that killed him.
Maria wanted to ask to be born into her groom’s family, husband,
dad, or brother he was her soul mate. Eddy planned to ask for an easier
They finally reached the entrance to the bowl. An angel greeted
them, and explained that there was no guaranteeing where a new life
would be, or what someone’s new gender will become. There was no
telling what someone will reincarnate into, it was simply new life, a
second chance to please god.
Once inside the bowl they would experience a moment of intense pain,
as their souls was stripped of all vestiges of its last life, to
prepare for the new one. After that, their souls would be warehoused
until it was their turn to reincarnate. Some wait for years for their
turn, and they would be aware of the passage of time. When their time
came an angel would escort their soul to the portal, where they would
be sent back to earth born into who knows where.
Eddy and Maria looked at each other, they’d come too far to turn
back now. Neither one wanted to remain in land of the dead, but the
warehouse thing sounded a bit scary.
There was no choice they had to reincarnate. At least that way they
had a second chance, and they avoided the demons and the cave.
When the angel gave them permission to enter, they walked hand in
hand into the bowl. Anything that ever was about Eddy and Maria was
instantly dissolved, and their souls were reduced to their basic
essence, and added to the multitude of souls that filled the bowl. One
day they would be born into new lives. Elsewhere on the land of the
dead, a new group of souls appeared and the cycle began anew.
© 2017 Ray Prew
Bio: Mr.Ray Prew is originally from Rhode Island, but now lives
in Florida. He is a graduate of the New England Institute of
Technology. Ray has been a blue-collar worker all his life, and started
writing as a hobby. He spent nine enjoyable years as a phone psychic.
Ray’s work has been published in Spinetinglers magazine, Blood Moon
Rising, and Aphelion as well as several other magazines. Mr. Prew has
an anthology book of published and unpublished stories available on
Amazon called Delightful Nightmares. His work has also appeared in the
anthology vicious circle season one put out by sinister grin, and one
poem in an anthology of vampire poetry, Vampoetry.
E-mail: Ray Prew
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