19th February 2015

Untitled Short Story, by Moira James-Moore

A short story about the events that ensue after a near-death experience

You blindly place your feet past the curb on the pavement, wandering carelessly out on to the road, “Act first, think later!” being your poorly thought out motto. The moment when you realise your stupidity hits you; a small compact car appears to be gaining in momentum as it rapidly travels towards you, complete panic. A stage of acceptance follows and you comprehend the possible variations of events, one of which involves getting hit, surrendering to the inevitable. Then, safety! In a purposeful rush your feet magically manage to pass the car as you reach the sanctuary of the familiar pavement.

Looking back, it took that insignificant near death experience to place the series of bizarre events into context, I wish to point out that at the beginning of this particular scenario I had been heavily shaken up and had not quite reached complete sanity in time, as the minute I had stepped to safety a peculiar man came thundering towards me with great speed. He was wearing an ill-fitting, dishevelled coat that came down to his knees matched with the unusual combination of an extravagant scarf that covered most of his frame. As soon as he reached me, he grabbed me by the collar of my shirt and dragged me through a particularly grubby and narrow alleyway. There was a small moment of silence as the man rammed his face towards mine, his face looked flushed, reminiscent of a man who had spent too much of his youth and probably his later years drinking strong alcoholic drinks, and his curly mane of hair looked unwashed and greasy. It soon became apparent to me that the man was about to speak; an unusual experience as I longed to remain ignorant of his intentions. “Did anyone see you?” The man placed an abrupt stop to my trail of thought. It took a brief period of time for me to understand the individual words in his sentence. Before I could reply with a reasoned and well thought out answer, my trail of thought was interrupted once more as the man ignored his abrupt questioning and whispered, “It’s important that the living world can’t see you now, it can be confusing for them whether they understand it or not.”

A short burst of laughter exploded from within, the mention of the ‘living world’ being detached from me was too much. “Who are you?” I spluttered, unsure of how I wished the question to be received—was I asking for the name of the man, or was I really questioning who he thought he was and what he was doing? Fortunately the stranger did not take offence as he simply replied, “My name’s Jeremy Crowe, I used to live just up there on Cedar Street.” After a few minutes of him hopelessly attempting to convince me that I had met my end, he shoved a local newspaper in to my face.

It stood there, printed boldly in black and white, validation. He had told me to check a small article in the back of the paper. I did so in an almost comical fashion, faking a vague interest whilst all the while knowing the make-belief aspect of Jeremy’s story was soon to become obvious. I knew he would present me with such little evidence, perhaps a random name in the obituary section that could be anyone’s. I was not, however, expecting a picture, the same man stood in front of me telling me he was dead, was being presented in the local newspaper as the tragic victim of a drink driving accident… I needed further confirmation before I completely lost my mind; if the ‘living world’ could still respond to me, see me, even I knew I was alive. Before thinking things over, I avoided Jeremy’s grasp, violently rushing out of the dark alleyway into the crowded street. Jumping onto a nearby bench with Jeremy one step behind me I bellowed a loud, unrecognisable sound. The closure I needed was found as a short, elderly lady stopped in her tracks, pointed at Jeremy and barked, “You’re not bloody dead, he does this to everybody!”

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