This story starts where most stories end. The protagonist (that would be me) is dead.
Abdul shuffled by me. That’s one of the upsides if you die in car crash with your best buddies: you’re not alone in purgatory. He seemed to avoid looking me in the eyes, and I didn’t blame him. After all, I was the drunk guy who drove us into a tree.
Maybe things would have turned out differently if he had actually gotten his driving license. Being a good Muslim and all that, he might have embraced his role as the designated driver. But no, he had to save up for that ridiculous ice cream shop he wanted to open, rather than ‘waste’ his money on driving lessons. If only he had thought of making it an ice cream food truck, we would all still be alive.
I had always wanted to know what happened when you die. Not the entire afterlife, just the first second, that second when we pass over to the other side… what’s there? It’s either nothing or something. And if it’s something, it’s everything. It’s like in that second it becomes all clear.
Except, it didn’t. All we were told is that we were to be judged. And by whom? A court of animals.
All three of us waited. Sarah was called into the courtroom first. She walked a bit awkwardly with half a tree branch still stuck in her torso. That just struck me as unnecessary. Maybe the afterlife wasn’t without a sense of irony, and having a vegetarian killed by a tree was just too good to pass up. But apparently they had her materialize right here, branch and all. Or maybe she got to choose and figured it would gain her some pity points.
It took her an entire 19 minutes to come out with a huge shit-eating grin on her face, tree branch gone and ridiculously tiny feathered wings that seemed tacked to her back in a rather half-assed manner. Her feet left the ground, she drifted towards the sky, and whatever words of encouragement she was trying to voice at us were lost in the sounds of fanfare.
Then it was Abdul and me. The devout, sober Muslim and the drunk, smoky ribs-loving atheist. We were always an odd pair. At least to most people we seemed that way. Truth to be told though, we just didn’t talk about religion. Or about all-you-can-eat smoky ribs Tuesdays. We usually got along great. Well, aside from the fight we had that time we argued about whether I was too drunk to drive or not.
Sure, it turns out I was a bit wrong about the whole ‘no afterlife’ thing. But at least I didn’t waste my life following a set of rules that turned out to be just as wrong. I was still debating exactly how I was going to deliver that punchline when Abdul was called in.
He comes out 24 minutes later, wings and all.
I’m next. And I’m not worried.
You see, I might have driven us into that tree, but at least it wasn’t on purpose. Sarah, on the other hand, had killed her boyfriend. Not in the drunk-driving-accident sense, but in the shotgun-shooting-murder sense. She claimed she mistook him for a burglar. Not a bad idea. Abdul came up with it. For some reason, they thought that was the best way to get him out of the picture. Had no one ever heard of sending a break up text?
They had told me. That was the reason I was so drunk. And when those two walked, drunk tree hitting or not, I knew I was going to be in the clear as well.
The doors open. I step in and stop. I finally understand why Sarah walked. I understand why Abdul walked. And I understand why I am absolutely and utterly fucked. Judge. Prosecutor. Jury. Witnesses. All of them animals. All of them pigs.