Prologue – Earth Barista
I, Alexandria Hunter Monroe, just finished my late night shift as a barista in a shopping mall during the ‘open 24 hours holiday event’ and started to change out of the drab brown uniform and skirt in preparation for returning home. After saying goodbye to the manager and wishing luck to the next shift worker, I made my way slowly towards the nearby major supermarket monopoly to pick up supplies for the next few days. Thinking about my long awaited day off, I finished shopping and made my way to the staff parking lot where my baby waited for me. By baby, I mean my car, as children and I haven’t ever really gotten along well, and my car and I have been together for a long time. I called my car Betsy, for no real reason, and she is an old, dark blue coloured lancer, the same colour as my eyes, with a large boot with squared edges.
As I sat in the driver’s seat, I took a moment to brush my soft, golden blond hair and changing out of the uniform left it knotted. When done, I fixed the review mirror I had used and reversed carefully out onto the street. The night air was chilly, but it was nice to feel it on my skin after being pressed up against the hot espresso machine for hours. I traveled that way for about five minutes before I started coughing, and had to pull over. For most of my life, I’ve had to live with poor health; a genetic condition meant that my body was weak and prone to illness. As such coughing attacks were nothing new. In fact, my illness contributed heavily to my boyish figure and pale skin. While others said that I looked stylish, being tall and thin, I would much rather be able to put on some more weight.
When the coughing subsided I set off once again, listening in on the conversation being held on the two-way radio. It wasn’t a default feature of my car; it was something I had installed after owning it for a while. I like to take long drives outside of the city, travelling down the highway and through regional areas, all great spots to go camping, and during those drives I’ve found that truck drivers and property owners were wealths of information. They also liked to simply chat to pass time, and warned each other about road hazards. There were plenty of times I’d been saved from speeding tickets by a truck driver talking about a ‘candycart on the side of the road’.
“Hey, Blue, did you see that mess heading down Smith Street?” A voice over the little black two-way radio said, “I’d hate to be that guy when he’s caught.”
As I waited at a red light, hoping that the machine would notice mine was the only car at the intersection, the I caught some of an interesting conversation.
“Yeah, I did. How fast d’you reckon he was going? Couldn’t be less than 120.”
“No idea, you’d hav’ta ask the cops goin’ afta him for that one.”
From what I could hear, it seemed that there’s someone speeding through the streets at 120km/h. While I had matched that speed on highways and at the local raceway, it was just stupid to try it on the narrow bending streets in the city. While I thought about how much fun I had at the raceway, the light turned green and I entered casually into the intersection. Unfortunately, I’ve never been particularly great with remembering names, as the street I was crossing was Smith Street. As my precious car collided with the speeding escapee, I could feel a strange force on my body. It might have just been the trauma of being crushed by a large, heavy metal object travelling at an unreasonable speed, but it felt like I was being torn completely apart. As pain filled every part of my body, I had an odd thought; that intersection was supposedly haunted.
Part 1 – Otherworld Driver
I opened my eye’s to the blinding light of the sun in my eyes. Somehow something seemed off about the light, like it was a few shades off what you’d expect; like seeing sunlight in the clear countryside after spending your life in a dour city. It was only slightly different but that slight difference seemed to highlight itself. I was distracted by the colour and it took a few minutes to notice that the sun was actually slightly larger than normal.
With my mind starting to clear, I finally noticed that I was in my Betsy and was parked in the middle of an open grassy field, with only more grassland out to the horizon. There were some oaky yet spiky trees spread sparsely throughout the area, though otherwise my only company was a soft breeze. I took a few minutes trying to work out where I was and how I got here, but couldn’t come up with anything. I took a walk around the outside of the car, trying to find signs of a collision or repairs, but couldn’t find anything different about my cute car.
What was strange was that there were no tracks. I was in the middle of a grassland, so there was no way I could possibly move my car without leaving some track marks. If I had been trucked here for some reason, the truck would have left tracks. Even being dropped, somehow, from a helicopter would have left signs in the grass. It was almost like I simply appeared here.
Ah, that’s right! I must have died. It made sense; both me and Betsy were killed by the crash. With that being the case, and there not being flames and demons everywhere, this must be heaven. Looking at it that way it made a lot of sense; Betsy was with me like a vikings boat. Since I was already dead, I didn’t have anything to worry about and could spend my time comfortably in the sunlight and breeze.
Not long after I made that realization, I started to feel hungry. I guess even if the dead couldn’t die they could still get hungry. Thankfully the ingredients I had with me when I died were still there in the passenger seat. Apparently there was a time difference between heaven and earth, since the mincemeat was still cold. If it was about ten-ish in the morning and it was night when I died, the meat would have been sitting out in the sun for hours if there wasn’t a time difference.
I took stock of my supplies; 1x air bed, pump and sleeping bag I was too lazy to take out of the car, 1x medium size first aid kit, 1x small survival kit that I kept in the glove box, 1x mince, 1x canned tomatoes, 6x mushrooms, 2x bars of chocolate coated grains, 2x bags of trail-mix, 4x red apples, 1x onion, 1x packet of pasta, 1x car tool set (with a tire iron), 2x empty plastic containers, 1x metal bowl/plate, 1x cutlery set, 1x metal water bottle (half-empty), 1x synthetic material jacket and finally, 1x spare tyre.
There really wasn’t that much, just my dinner and some snacks. I looked through the survival kit to make sure all of the parts were there. Inside was a flip knife with a blade about as long as my thumb, a flint fire starter, some packets of salt, some cotton fluff, a wire saw, a mirror, a small amount of duct tape, a pencil, a pit of paper and some fishing line and hooks. With any luck, I’d find a river somewhere and can catch some ghost fish.
As I didn’t really have much in the way of kitchenware, the bowl/plate would have to be my all in one kitchen. After gathering some sticks and kindling, I used the flint to get a fire started. With a respectable little fire burning with a stone boundary, I started to prepare the ingredients. Using the flip knife, I cut the mushrooms and onion with the bowl as a cutting board. The bowl was then used as the container to boil the pasta, the frying pan to cook the mince and sauce then finally the serving dish the meal was eaten out of. Having to do every component, one at a time made the cooking process really drawn out. By the time I was done, and could finally eat, it was nearly midday.
Having enjoyed a tasty pasta lunch, I let the leftovers cool off and took a nap in the back seats. That was one of the few benefits being short allowed me; more comfortable places to sleep. After waking up at about two-ish, I looker about. The pasta had cooled enough to seal the lid on the plastic containers so I went ahead and did that. I had forgotten to douse the fire, but thankfully it died out rather than becoming a problem.
Not really having any goal or destination in mind, I started up the car and started to drive carefully through the fields, enjoying the wind but being mindful of the tyres. It would be a pain I got bogged or got a flat; it seemed doubtful that there was a tow truck or automotive club in heaven. I searched through my pocket and pulled out out my phone. As expected, there wasn’t any reception. I didn’t really use many devices, so it wasn’t that much of a loss. I pictured my younger brother’s expression if he found out heaven didn’t have any wi-fi. I imagine he would say something like, “Then I’ll take hell, any day.”
I’d never been particularly close with my brother, especially since he ran away from home a couple years ago. He went out, saying he was going to pick up some snacks and simply never returned. Still, I missed him from time to time.
While thinking about that, I noticed a few more strange things about heaven. For one thing, there were a bunch of strange animal. In the distance I could see a bunny, about as big as a german shepard, with a unicorn horn on its head being hunted down by some cute looking deer. When the rabbit was caught, the deer killed it with its powerful hooves, then proceeded to eat it. Heaven’s animals seemed a little less than divine, but I could understand they they were hungry too.
Another big difference was that there seemed to be three moons slowly rising up the afternoon sky. Blue, green and red, each moon was a different colour. I wasn’t sure if it was more surprising that there were moons on heaven, or that they would be so different to earth’s moon. I couldn’t wait for night to fall; when the stars were out heaven would truly be at its most beautiful.
I drove slowly for a couple more hours, enjoying myself but somewhat wishing that there was some radio reception. I hadn’t noticed it at first, but despite having driven for a number of hours, the fuel gauge hadn’t changed. That meant one of two things, either heaven had granted my wish and I would never have to buy fuel again or things were starting to break down faster than I thought they would. A little concerned about it, I stopped the car and waited for the engine to cool off a bit, while looking at the scenery.
After about half an hour, I figured it would be cool enough, so I fished a spare dipstick out of the car tools and checked the fuel tank. Sure enough, it seemed that heaven was a wonderful place; I hadn’t used a drop of fuel. I wondered if that applied to the battery also, but I didn’t have any tools with me to measure the charge. With the knowledge that I didn’t have to worry about running dry, I drove throughout the rest of the afternoon with a relaxed confidence.
When night eventually fell, the sky lit up with an amazing display. With no light pollution, the stars shone brighter than any city’s lights. My gaze was trapped on that sea of endless colour, decorated by the bright jewels that were the three moons. Through my frequent camping, I had seen beautiful night skies before, but none could come close to heaven’s sea of lights.
I was so taken in by the starts, I hadn’t noticed that I was surrounded. Moving slowly around the area, they alerted me to themselves with a fearsome low growl. Knowing that they were there, seeing them up close, I suddenly was filled with desire to run. The earlier deer were simply hunting, eating, they had a motive that could justify their acts. The creatures surrounding me weren’t like that. The were almost like cruelty given form. Their wasn’t a single part of my mind that could rationalise them as anything other than demons or monsters.
Without the slightest hesitation, I jumped back into the driver’s seat and locked the doors. I knew that the glass wouldn’t hold the creatures back for even a moment, but If I was driving then they would have a much harder time catching me. Their dark forms slammed up against the walls of the car as I tried to insert the keys. Betsy shook harshly, but I couldn’t see any damage In the moonlight. I did, however, drop the keys.
Being over and grasping them between my feet, I could feel the car shake under the impacts. I knew it wouldn’t be long until one of the foul creatures got luck and struck the glass. Not willing to look up, I inserted the key will bent over and started the engine. For a moment, with the engine’s roar of life, the creature’s were startled and jumped back. Taking that opportunity, I put the car into gear and took off as fast as I knew how to.
I knew, with absolute confidence, that this isn’t heaven. There is no was creatures like that could be in heaven.