That was the last sound that entered Parker Walsh’s ear. Bleeding out on the ground is horrible, don’t get me wrong. But having to deal with that sensation, while also being in the freezing cold climate of Alaska, buried in snow, in an alley, Dove Alley to be exact, regarded to be the hot-spot for unsavory folk, is 10 times worse. At this point, Parker would rather burn to death than suffer this fate. At least then, it would be a little faster. Calling out for help was in vain, any attempt was met with the roadblock of a hoarse throat and restrained vocal cords. He was a passenger in his own body. In fact, his body was more of a car about to flip over. But frozen in time. Parker spent his last moments wheezing and crawling. Thinking, and hoping he would find an opportunity to grasp escape, and feel warm once again. Unfortunately for Parker, life is not a story nor can it be manipulated by the projected protagonist. When Parker’s body was discovered, a strangely un-thorough investigation occurred.
Ending with Parker’s murder being labelled a suicide. Even as all evidence pointed to that assertion being false. His family and friends distraught and his reputation disgraced. Parker was always a nobody, people almost found it satisfying to make fun of him. Every single beat on his appearance and personality were nailed in so hard that it almost felt like the nails were piercing his skin.
Parker woke up in an unfamiliar yet comforting place. A note was left for him, seemingly by his predecessor.
“Welcome to your personal afterlife! Everything here should be in order, and customized to fulfill your current standards, please enjoy your stay, and one more thing. Make sure to be asleep by 2:00am. It’s quite hard to explain what might happen if you don’t, but I’m sure you’ll understand in time.”
Parker noticed the nonchalant way of mentioning that, and made the assumption that the writer was only trying to make sure he didn’t have sleep deprivation. Parker refused to care. After all, you can’t die after you are already dead, Right? Parker spent the rest of the fleeting daylight waddling around his new permanent home. It closely resembled his childhood home, albeit a little more complex, and with WAY more rooms. Parker felt depressive as he knew he would not be remembered for the things he accomplished, the stories he wrote. He would never get to finish the narratives that pushed him along on those cold winter nights. The characters' fictional lives would forever stay incomplete in the eyes of those on Earth. His only friends, online friends, would never figure out what happened to him. He would fade away as just a bad memory. He didn't want to be a bad memory, he wanted to be a good one.
7:00pm rolled around and Parker wanted to let go of these feelings or at least try to. Parker turned on the TV and laid down. He needed some rest, he hoped that somehow he could look down upon his family, But life isn’t a movie either, most things represented as an afterlife in pop culture, are categorically false, at least in his current position.
Parker dozed off, and soon his dreams took over. He started dreaming of happy things, like having eternal happiness, in his own personal heaven. However, as his thoughts grew darker and darker and his dreams became progressively more horrifying, Parker stood in front of his shattered mirror, and smashed his face into it, “Nobody remembers me, mirrors can’t hurt me, Dreams can’t hurt me,” Parker creepily muttered as the shards of mirror pierced his skin. When he awoke, he felt a stinging sensation. Not pain, but a sting. Parker pulled out the mirror shards stuck in his face. And his wounds closed up in seconds. A perk of being dead, he guessed. Parker looked at his alarm clock. It had just turned 2:00am.
Parker felt too irked and well-rested to fall back asleep. Parker sat up, his head in his hands and tears rolling down his cheeks. He put on a jacket and walked into his fenced-off back-garden, sitting by the fire. Feeling calmed. And then he looked through the cracks of his fence. It was almost like, beyond that barrier was the void, a pair of electronic eyes staring back at him. A place where simultaneously everything exists, but also nothing. As his eyes stared deeper into the void, Parker began to filter out every sound or noise around him. He was completely focused on the dark, enveloping wormhole in between the fences. His pupils widened and he was utterly unaware of the clanking, and rustling of leaves sound, that ended with the indication of an amalgamation of metal parts wearing a strange mask climbing over his afterlife home’s fence. Parker still stood there. Unaware, or most likely uncaring of his surroundings. Until the creature placed its sharp metal arm on Parker's neck.
“Hello, young one,” exclaimed the mechanical monstrosity.
“It seems you’ve been feeling quite sad recently. Enough to ignore the rule that was outlined to you. Don’t stay up till 2:00am. Fairly simple. What’s been going wrong?”
Parker snapped out of his hypnotic state to stare back at the creature right in front of him. He gasped for air. And his throat made the same sounds that were present when he made the futile attempt to escape from his previous death.
“A-a-are you god?” Parker said. The first word he had spoken since his untimely and premature death.
“I’m a God. You can call me Rustcut.” said the metal man. “There’s a difference you know, but I'm not all-knowing nor all-seeing. All I know is the public opinion of you, Walsh. And you are not very well liked. But I’ve come here to make a deal with you." Parker stood back. Completely taken aback by the tall, smiling, unnerving electrical leviathan. “I’ll give you 24 hours to escape me. I will hunt you down no matter where you go. If you win, and you are not dead by the end of the day, I will accept defeat. And you will gain a new life. One with meaning and purpose. No place is out-of-bounds.” Parker was confused. “Wait, you can die in the afterlife?”
“Well, of course you can! It’s not really dying in the traditional sense, more of your soul being crushed into little tiny pieces. Never to be seen again.” Parker was not horrified or scared anymore. He felt he was being challenged. An unusual feeling stemmed from Parker that he had not felt before. The feeling to say, Yes. He was being manipulated. “But why? Why are you doing this?” stuttered Parker. If he was unable to say no. at least he could figure out why before he was forced to put his life on the line for the second time.
“Because I'm bored, I've spent the last 100 million years as a benevolent entity in the eyes of the misguided public. Maybe it would be fun to try something a little evil, and take on a more disturbing form, that’s really it. Not some huge conspiracy, mate.”
Parker almost felt insulted, his life was nothing more than a game to these people. No matter how powerful they were. Parker wanted to win. Parker’s deepest, darkest desire was to be thrust into a situation where the odds were not in his favor, but win, and come out a survivor. Parker wanted to be adored as a hero. This was his chance.
“I agree to both your terms, and your deal.” said Parker in an unusually sophisticated tone, “Good. You have 15 minutes. Let the games begin, old sport.”
Parker wanted to respond, Parker wanted to act all snarky, so that if he were to win, he could rub it in the abomination's face. His lack of self-confidence pushed him away from that idea. Parker ran aimlessly around the massive mansion. It almost seemed bigger now that he was being hunted. Parker settled on a little spot in between two tight pillars in the car-park area. This place had everything. It was like a mall and a house fused into one. The floors, however, were noticeably still wood. The same texture patterned throughout the house. As the mall music played, Parker felt a strange sensation, almost as if something was attempting to locate him. Parker had no idea what to do. He stayed in his spot, and swallowed his pride.
The mall music began to fade into ear-bleeding static, as Parker held his hands against his ears, but still attempted to look for Rustcut. Parker was at an unfair disadvantage, and this God was not going to play nice. Before Parker could release his hands from his ears, a sharp metal hand reached around the brick pillar and impaled Parker in the stomach.
Rustcut was mocking Parker, whistling Parker’s favorite childhood songs. Marking the end of his days. Rustcut removed his tool from Parker’s abdomen. And he ran. Parker took the opportunity to run. And to not look back.
As Parker reached the doorway, each door slammed open with his greatest fears reaching out to grab him. There was social suicide. A man with a scraggly beard and a knife taped to his boot. Resembling Parker quite closely. There were many others. Another metal creature, crafted from the broken shards of Parker’s soul. Corrupted and unrecognizable from him right now, a sad and lonely Parker on the verge of doing something horrible, with a long coat, university uniform and big backpack, and finally, Parker sitting dead in his desk-chair, with a type-writer in front of him. There were a few more, but Parker refused to focus on them. He had to keep moving. Parker reached the same back yard where this all started. The Rustcut began to walk forward, attempting to block Parker into a corner.
“What’s wrong, buddy?” said the creature snarkily.
Parker refused to answer, as he looked behind him, noticing the smallest crack in the fence that separated his nightmare of an afterlife and the peaceful winds of death. Parker stood back, acting helpless, faking his feelings to inch closer to the crack, almost like he was being backed into a corner, when in fact, he was manipulating the one in front of him.
“Well Parker, it’s been fun, see ya on the flipside! Well, not really. See ya never!” Before the Rustcut could reopen Parker's bleeding wounds, Parker jumped out into the void.
“Maybe if I had tried to actually change people's perspective of me, I wouldn’t be in this situation, I made no effort to improve as a person. And this is where I am now.” As the Rustcut reached into Parker’s soul, to fulfill his part of the deal. Parker accepted his fate.
Parker’s story was complete. He sat up. Ready to follow through with his plan. “Honey! What would you like for dinner?” shouted Parker’s mom. Parker was noticeably annoyed by this question.
“I dunno, I’m going for a walk now. I’ll tell you when l get back.” responded Parker. “Where are you walking to, Parker?” concernedly asked Parker’s mom.
Written by CryptOwlNoah