This past summer, I wrote a trippy little story all about a character who serves the recently deceased. Her job is far from simple, though, as she eases us into the afterlife. She’s the altruistic sort, no doubt, but you’ll have to read her tale to discover her true motives for helping lost souls cross over.
I’m tingly just thinking about “Death Doula” being published this past week at Last Girls Club. Yep, she’s lounging in the classy Patron’s Lounge (oh, I do hope she’s not making a mess on the upholstery). Many thanks to Editor Eda Obey for sensing the appeal of this strange-little short and featuring her on the website.
And so, I’ll leave you with a teaser of this horror fiction in hopes that you may join the the coolest club out there to read the remainder of my piece.
Lambskin gloves. A fresh pair for each new soul. My gentle fingers have guided many spirits through the bloody canal of death into the afterlife. Souls misaligned, uncertain, and in need of adjustments, assurances, a Death Doula’s gloved hands are the perfect captains.
I stand under neon lights in a five-star kitchen watching a master chef dice his latest delicacy with a sharpened knife. A cobra head opens and closes on the counter. Although it was severed from its body over twenty minutes ago, reflex action means it’s capable of administering a fatal bite. When the chef disposes of it, short, front fangs take their revenge.
Most beings are comfortable in the wombs of their lives, unwilling to transition, and it is my job to love them through it. Neurotoxins are swift. Within minutes, the chef writhes on the kitchen floor, suffocating. Hi snake stew will simmer long after his last breaths are released.
At first, I stand over the soul trapped within its fresh corpse. My gossamer gown tickles the spirit awake. The afterlife is too bright at first, so I lean in close to let the squinting spirit’s questions flow freely towards my silk-framed face.
“Am I dead?” Always the first question.
“Indeed, chef. You are more than dead. You are about to be reborn.” I fan my gown further to create the illusion of a cascade of light. It’s what most souls expect, and I find the sensation soothes them.
“So, is this heaven?” a popular second.
“No, I’m afraid there is no such place.” I laugh because it is heavenly to see a newborn soul try and grasp the afterlife, like a baby discovering a rattle, and I am the patient mama guiding its fingers.
“Is this hell?” This one is debatable, but I keep this to myself. After all, fledgling spirits can’ be expected to comprehend the nuances of eternal suffering and punishment.
“No, this is a crossroads. Think of it as a meeting of streams. And your brook is here to meet with the wider stream already in existence. Exciting, no?”
I’ll admit at this point, some souls shut off. A switch flips, their energy sated. Spirits such as these go limp as dish rags, and I perform the necessary cuts to free them from their bodies so that they drift down the canal, bobbing barrels steering themselves towards their next destination, whatever that might be.
As payment, I rip out an eye out from its socket and gaze into the kaleidoscopic cornea. I follow the maze in each eye to lead me to the next patient.
Of course, other times such as this, a soul reaches out, grasping, searching for that rattle with both hands.
“Join me in a dance between realms,” I say to the chef, and as I like to start things off casually, I offer a gloved hand. Most take it. Rise from their bodies. They want to be wooed into the afterlife not pushed off its escarpment, and after a few missteps, the chef and I find a rhythm and can proceed.
“Come, you’re free of the burden of your body; let us celebrate.” Above simmering pots, the flames of the stove, we are airborne. Moments as precious as first steps. Thoughts as treasured as first words.
© 2022 | K.Hartless