[ a short story by Sha’Tara]
(I quietly slipped into the room wearing my white robe with the black trim denoting my profession and position. As always, I was barefoot to indicate my position as servant.
A blond man, slim, tall, rather handsome, was sitting at the glass table. He kept his hands in his lap, so I assumed he could not handle the situation yet, and they’d just fallen through the table top.)
Hello, I’m Haati. I’m here to represent and assist you. May I have your name, please?
(He raised his head, so I knew he’d heard. But he didn’t face me, so he could not see me. This might be a long session, I feared. Some are difficult. His lips moved but no sound came. I would have to continue with my interrogation until his frustration would force him to use his senses; to wake up. Time for a bit of shock treatment.)
Tell me, when do you think you died, was it today, or yesterday?
(His eyes widened. He moved his head left and right and lifted his right hand. Again his mouth opened and I watched as he mouthed his reply. Of course I could “read” him, but that’s not my role. I’m an awakener and re-mobilizer. They come to us this way and if they are not dealt with quickly we lose them. They become zombies. But then, why am I explaining that to you who have witnessed these therapies dozens of times?)
Can you tell me when you died? Was anyone else with you when it happened? Do you remember the accident?
(I could see the marks on his changing flesh. And of course I had the report. A DUI that had gone bad, resulting in a road rage altercation and an exchange of gun fire, my man, the victim. We get those all the time from this part of that world’s hemisphere.)
Talk to me about your accident. Were you shot?
(He stood up suddenly, raising his arms as if to ward off a blow and moved into the table. He was partly through when he noticed what was happening. He screamed then. Not audibly, but I recorded the intent. Finally something to work with. I screamed back, audibly, then imitated the sound of an ambulance siren. He backed out of the table and sat down again, moving his head back and forth, his face pinched as if he had a massive headache. However, this time his hands stayed on the table. Progress. I made the sound of a police radio, interrupted conversation with static. He turned to me, to the source of the sounds. He was remembering.)
License and registration, please!
(– in my best cop voice imitation. Sometimes I can make this fun. He began to search his clothes for the documents. He looked around, presumably to try to locate his vehicle. Shook his head. Frustration, confusion, but remembering!)
You remember, don’t you. Can you tell me your name?
Ahhh… An… drew. My name is Andrew.
Good, very good. Do you know where you are?
Ahhh… no, I have no idea where I am. What happened to my car? What time is it?
You don’t remember what happened to explain why you are ‘here’ and not ‘there’?
There was trouble. A man rear-ended me, yes, that’s it, I remember. He staggered out of his car and he was drunk. He had a gun and he started yelling at me, cursing and blaming me for the accident. Several people tried to calm him down, and the police were called. I remember the gun pointing at me, and then, something felt strange. I don’t remember after that. And now I’m here. Is this a hospital?
Not exactly, but for now, yes, it’s a hospital to you. Tell me more…
Well, there’s nothing to tell. I’m here, talking to you, whoever you are. Was I shot? Yes, I was shot. In the head! So how come I’m here talking to you and I don’t feel a thing, and there’s no bandage on my head? Is this some sort of experimental therapy? Am I drugged, imagining this conversation?
(He looked at himself, staring for a while at his hands as he flexed his fingers. He had nice hands, not callused – office worker no doubt. Or maybe even a musician with those long, expressive fingers. An artist, but not a painter. Digital art.)
What do you do for a living, Andrew?
I work for a design group. We do art work for ads and create commercial web sites, that sort of thing. I can’t talk too much about that, corporate secrets and all that, plus I don’t know who you are.
My name is Haati, and I’m what you’d call your legal representative, only I’m somewhat more than that.
You’re a lawyer? Awful young to be a lawyer, if I may say so, you don’t look a day over sixteen years old and you don’t sound any older either. You’re just a kid.
It’s a matter of perception, Andrew. And I’m much more than a lawyer. I’m a re-awakener, and an after-death therapist. I’m a guide.
You’re a what? Sorry, you lost me there. Or I’m still hallucinating.
No, you’re not hallucinating Andrew. In fact you’re doing surprisingly well, all things considered.
Ok, ummm, Haati, square up with me. Tell me, in plain talk, who you are, and where I am.
It may be a little soon for the whole truth. Do you notice anything unusual about your surroundings, about yourself, your body?
Enough to feel more than a bit antsy. Didn’t my hands go through that glass table before?
Yes, they did. And you can make them do it again if you’ve a mind to. Recent awakenings can find it amusing to push their bodies through what appears to be solid objects. Would you like to take a walk with me, go for a drink?
Sure, I’d love to get out of here, but aren’t you too young to go in a bar, assuming you meant alcoholic drink?
Yes, of course that is what I meant. And no, I’m never “too young” to do anything I choose to do.
Wherever this is, I’m beginning to like it.
(And then he finally deliberately and slowly looked me over. I had switched from my professional gown to a see-through gauzy wrap. I saw his eyes grow wide as he realized I was wearing nothing more than a gauzy completely translucent material. Perhaps I should have waited a bit longer, but I love to see the men’s expression when they gawk at my nakedness. That’s of course part of my treatment: make them feel good; make them experience that most powerful desire, that aphrodisiac, and sex always works with them. No exceptions yet.)
You’re, uh, you’re gorgeous… but you’re going out in public wearing that?
Oh, I don’t have to. I can take it off if you prefer. Nude is how I prefer to be.
(Of course I knew what he meant, but I like teasing them to throw them off their old path and into a new one. I have to work relatively fast and this works fast. I let him stare at my girl form and I could feel what he was feeling. I smiled to myself – I was doing it again, I was healing him, bringing him into a new reality he’d want to be a part of. He’d remember, then temporarily forget to plunge into a whole new experience. Closure would come later.)
Naked? You walk around in public naked? Is this one of those private centers where they try out all kinds of weird stuff on people to see how they will react? This can’t be real. No one walks around in public naked.
We’ll see, won’t we, Andrew. Of course you could join me and take your own clothes off, or I can do it for you if you want me to? Would you like me to? Would you like to feel me against you, feel my hands all over you, or have your own hands caress me all over? It’s what you’d really like, isn’t it?
Well, I don’t imagine that’s too hard to figure out. And you’re OK with that? I don’t know, I don’t trust this, or you. You’re too young for that anyway. Can we go for a walk, and can you at least put your wrap back on?
Sure Andrew, as you wish. (I put my wrap back on and he still stared. Then I took his hand and walked to the far wall.)
I though we were going out, out.
Yes we are, stay with me. (I began to walk through the wall and had to hold tight to his hand as he tried to pull away.)
Come, come, don’t be afraid. Follow me.
(I dragged him through the wall and out unto a sun-warmed beach. There were some people in the distance and I watched him as he looked around. I could tell he was still distressed about the wall thing.)
Why don’t you forget about the wall, Andrew? Why don’t you go for a nice swim before we go for that drink? This is a nude beach, don’t worry about taking your clothes off here.
(And I shed my wrap and walked into the gentle swells until it was deep enough to swim. I dove out of sight to watch what he would do. He finally undressed and quickly ran into the water. It was barely to his waist when he threw himself in. He wasn’t a very good swimmer, and he was looking for me but couldn’t see under water. I slipped up under him and touched him. He jumped and I surfaced, laughing, throwing my waist-length hair around and spraying him with it.)
You scared the livin’ shit out of me, girl. I thought it was a shark, dammit!
There are no sharks here, Andrew. In fact, there are no fish in this sea, it’s reserved for therapy.
An entire sea reserved for therapy? (I rolled over to float and he actually did the same. The high saline content of our waters helps!)
Yes Andrew, it is. You don’t see too many people around but that’s because the place is quite extensive. We actually do a very brisk business here. Lot’s of patients. This treatment center, if I may call it that for your understanding, is a whole planet. In size, though it can vary depending on needs, it is currently twice that of what was your planet.
(I thought it time to risk letting him know he was no longer on earth, in case he hadn’t yet figured it out. Some people from earth are a bit slow on the uptake, they are so terribly brainwashed by their power systems and they have such antiquated or foolish ideas about death, or the possibility of life after their bodies die.)
Are you telling me that I’m not on earth? That this is… what… heaven maybe?
Oh no, this isn’t what you would think of as heaven. Are you of those people who believe there’s no life after death, or of those who believe they go to heaven after they die, Andrew?
To tell you the truth… uh… Haati, I never gave it much thought. I figured I had lots of time to think about that and in the end it wouldn’t matter much what I thought about it. What is, is, isn’t that right?
Ah, actually? No, that’s not right. What’s right, Andrew, is there is no “what is, is” if you get my drift. We, all of us, including you, we make it up as we go along. The sad thing is, so many people are never told that so they let others make the decisions for them. And, well, that’s where I come in, you see?
(We were now walking on the beach again. He stopped for a while, looking over the sea, frowning, deep in thought.)
I was shot in the head. I died. I really died! That’s why I’m here. I’m dead. Gone. Back there no one can know that I’m here now, still aware, still alive, still thinking about them and wondering what they’re thinking about me. They know I’m dead, don’t they, Haati. Dead. Does that mean that all this is just an illusion?
(There was a deep sadness in his thoughts. I could feel his total sense of loss. This is the tricky part; this is where I specialize: in taking them through the final transition. Some just can’t or won’t. This is especially true of those who consider themselves atheists and those who are deeply religious. This place, me, what I am, what I do, they aren’t prepared for that and they can’t integrate it with their own beliefs. But Andrew would be easier: he had only vestigial beliefs, nothing solid, nothing definite. Almost an open mind. Yes, it would be easier to heal him.)
No Andrew, what you left is the illusion. This represents, for you, a deepening reality. This is a new dimension. For you, this is but another beginning of a very long journey – an endless journey.
Oh no, not “now” now! I’m not done with you by a long shot as they would say on your world. We have a bit of journeying to do together before you leave here, but don’t worry about that. When the time comes, you’ll know and you’ll be so eager to get going, nothing will hold you back. Meanwhile, there’s me, and I’m willing, and waiting, to be explored. Ready for that drink now? Clothing optional, remember.
(I gave him my most open and guileless of smiles and he smiled back. We were on the way. By the way, I find naked earth men astonishingly attractive. That drink is going to taste very good.)