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10th December
posted by amber

Heaven or Hell

When I wake, there’s some kind of bandage across my face and a weird high-pitched humming noise. I claw the bandage off, remembering the night before. Had way too much to drink at Fred’s party, drove home in freezing rain. Stupid! Lucky to be alive!

But when I can finally see, I’m not sure if I am alive. This is not my bedroom. This is a strange strange place.

White, featureless, nothing that I can focus my eyes on, just a diffuse brightness, and that annoying hum. My head pounds. Can you have a headache if you’re dead? If I’m dead, is this heaven or hell?

I wrack my brain. Did I even make it home last night? Maybe I fell asleep someplace weird, like a walk-in freezer. But this is too warm to be a freezer. Maybe a submarine. I think I can make out something like portholes.

Then a voice comes out of nowhere. “Mr. Ives, are you awake? The operator will be along shortly to explain everything to you. Please be patient.”

“Where am I? What’s happening?” I call out in no particular direction. I struggle to rise, discovering that I’m tied to the bed. “What the hell?”

“Calm down, Mr. Ives.” The voice sounds cold. “We’ve put you in this chamber because you tried to commit suicide. In the morning someone will come and let you know about your treatment. Please be patient.”

Now I can make out a fuzzy face at the nearest porthole. A dark face, the features all smushed together, something spiky and black on top of his head. Could be hair.

The face moves away. “Wait! Wait!” I yell. “Who are you.”

“I have to go now.” His voice is as loud and omnipresent as before. “My name is Angelo.”

Then nothing. I don’t care if his name is Angel. I know now that I’m in hell. I’m inside that big pelvis-like bone egg from the third panel of Bosch’s triptych about heaven and hell. And soon nuns with pig’s faces will start poking knives into me.

And it’s so unfair. I remember coming home now. I remember driving into the garage, leaving the car running for a few minutes to get all the freezing rain off the windshield, I remember falling asleep. And God – maybe I did say that I’ve had enough of this s***, but I meant winter, not my life.

Let me out of here!

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story. If you’d like me to use your name in a story, I’d be happy to do that.

This story was triggered by a piece on CBC radio this morning.

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