“Waiting For Fate”
‘If the halo above your head is green, please form a line on the right. If it is blue, go left.
Mine was green.
Thousands of people were lined up in two lines, so long that you couldn’t see the beginning or end. Everyone symmetrical. Hooded brown cloaks lightly clinging to their skin. You could hear gentle conversations everywhere, like random bees circling a hive. the floor was there, you could feel it, but nothing signified that it was there. White all around. No creases where floor and wall met, no vanishing point.
Dean’s halo was blue.
Was it really insanity? That’s what the white tag pinned to my cloak says. ‘Insanity.’ I suppose that when you’re insane you can’t classify yourself. Dean’s said ‘Car Accident.’ He didn’t cause it. He was hit by a drunk driver, who I can see farther up the line. The guy behind me is ‘Heroin Overdose.’ The guy behind him is ‘Suicide.’
‘Why are we here, Dean?’ I only knew his name was Dean because I remember hearing of a car accident the day I died.
‘Don’t ask questions. Questions are meaningless right now.’ He was right, but it was said involuntarily. He stood very tall and rigid, but it looked uncomfortable.
Heroin Overdose told me that we are sesame seeds on a hamburger bun. If you fall off, it doesn’t matter. You aren’t that important. Nobody really cares about us; we are just there, being.
Was it really insanity? I don’t ever remember being insane. In fact, if I was insane, I’m sure I could at least have some memory of it. Maybe a cellmate, doctors, lawyers, solitary confinement? Tears shed from my wife?
The line moved very slowly. Maybe two or three steps per hour. Everybody looked so perfect, no marks on car accident, no rope lines on Suicide, no pale complexion to Heroin Overdose. Shouldn’t I be acting insane?
‘Dean, do I look insane?’
‘Quit asking questions.’
‘Dean, were you driving the car when you died?’
‘Shut up, get over it. We’re dead now, can’t you see?’
Insanity. I wonder what I had; schizophrenia, delusions, emotional extremities, pathological lying. Picture me, in a psych ward, talking to myself, uncontrollable muscles spazing. Could it really be?
Suicide thinks he shot himself, but isn’t completely sure. He can’t ever remember having suicidal thoughts.
Heart Attack never knew he had high cholesterol.
Lung Cancer never thought one puff from a pipe could kill him.
AIDS thought he was a priest.
But is the path to death really that important?
A large wooden door was now visible. Twelve, maybe thirteen feet tall. It resembled the large gates from medieval times. Impossible to tell how far away it was. Moving slowly, stepping on the insensible floor, I was getting closer.
I lifted my hand to touch the halo. Warm heat, an aura. Tangible, I grasped it, and gently brought it down to eye level. Bright green, as if the color was picked from a green apple orchard. Heroin overdoes turned and stared.
‘What are you doing? Can you do that? I don’t think you can do that.’
By now I was so fascinated by this green ring that I was tossing it up into the air. I took Dean’s and started juggling. Others began staring.
I started screaming. ‘Was I really insane? Did we really die this way?’ Death has always been depicted as heaven or hell, no waiting line. No, this can’t be right. I was in college, I smoked, I took English classes. I partied, but I wasn’t insane. Dean, why, he’d never even driven a car. The priest, cold he really have AIDS? So much confusion. Why do I continue to ask questions? Death is supposed to be the official end.
We reached the front door. Nobody was there, just a very large and old book on a rusted stand. Hundreds of pages, maybe more. Crinkly white pages that looked parched from years of abuse. Names, or shall I say classifications, were listed in either green or blue. Insanity was green, car accident was blue. On the door, a small green box was on the right and a small blue box was on the left. It was easy to determine which was you were supposed to go. With halo in hand, I judged whether or not I was really green. Insanity? No recollection of that. I threw the nametag down, and opened the green box door.
An assembly line. We were lined up on a moving assembly line, gently pulled to our prefabricated fate. Giant machines were moving every which way sending you to your manufactured death. Lasers read the nametags. Then, one by one, we were killed by our classification, all except suicide. Suicides were sent into solitary confinement with a weapon until eventually they killed themselves. Heroin overdoses, accidents, and fires. Everything.
I saw eye-to-eye with the laser. It searched for a code, something as a guide, but it was so confused. I had foolishly thrown the nametag down and never went back for it. I started running, for away. Is fate just something making decisions for you? Never on your own. Decisions, classifications, motivations.
‘You can’t decide for me.’
Running fast, passing the thousands of drone like figures, I push open the door. The cold door shuts fast behind me.
Green could not have been correct. No, I do not want to be stuck in a room with padded walls where someone waits for me to kill myself because my nametag says I’m insane.
Glancing at the book again, the manuscript continued to illuminate my name in green. Suicide is staring at me. From looking around at the other faces I notice that everyone had waited to see if I would come back. Have I created a revolution in the afterlife?
They’re waiting for me to open the door. The blue door. My green halo is still floating above my head. The golden door knob is cold. It turns easily.
Bustles of people and machines were moving simultaneously. Large transparent boxes were filled to the brim with people, the closed, and then shot up into the air on a pedestal until it wasn’t visible anymore. A dozen boxes, or more resembling cages, pushing people away to an unknown destination. Grabbed by mechanical steel arms and lifted to their fate.
Fate, chosen for you, is an invisible string that emerged from your diaphragm, pulling your body through the motions of everyday life. No, you don’t get to make that choice between college majors. No, you can’t really make a choice as to what you want for dinner. It’s the dictator who determines how much money you make. The brick wall you can’t see through. Fate, destiny, communism in your mind. Fate is the decision keeping you from actually making decision. It’s the predestination we go to church for, paying the indulgences to save our soul. These permissive people, their strings of fate, pulling them along, who never grab a hold and resist course.
Suddenly, a set of metal arms came reaching down for me. Another run to get away from fate. I trip and fall hard, my cheek crushed against the unimaginable floor. Damn these white walls that are cowards, who won’t make themselves visible.
I was being chased; I could see it running after me. Large and steady, one of those giant arms with its laser was on my rail. It caught up with me, and searched for the name tog I foolishly threw away. Confused, it ceased and just picked me up to push me into one of the clear cages. I fought, but only hurt myself up against the sharp steel.
Far away in the distance, I could see Dean.
‘Pull that string, Dean, get out of here.’
He couldn’t hear me. I fought so hard to get away, but it became almost impossible.
We die, and this is what happens. But is that all? It can’t be. I wasn’t insane. Suicide didn’t kill himself. AIDS was celibate. Heroin Overdose is afraid of needles. I wasn’t insane.
I tried my hardest and slipped out of the arms of mechanical fate. Falling around ten feet, I landed amongst the hooded figures glowing bright blue. They didn’t provide much of a comfortable fall. Springing to my feet, I ran. The door wasn’t too far away.
No, I wasn’t insane.
My fingertips reached the door. I looked back among thousands of warm, blue halos that molded together to look like one large neon sign. They looked with placid faces, accepting everything put before them. Their predestination.
I pushed open the door.
Staring faces, looking at me, their revolutionary leader. Waiting for their Messiah. Their Zeus. Their Aphrodite.
Waiting for fate.
That book on the stand, its ancient white crinkled papers are glaring. A feather pen in lying on the right side.
Pick it up and scribble. Draw. Furiously scratching at the scripture, prefabricated fate. Black ink ruining the after life. So cruel, you never saw it coming.
I grab the halo above my head and break it in half. Sparks fly, green and blue, and the room gets hotter. Fire. The sparks ignite a huge fire in the palms of my hands. I leapt, but knocked the bookstand. The fire seemed to have jumped from my hands to the book. Large purple flames a dozen feel tall fluttered silently in the depths of crinkled papers. Screams form the monothematic figures were emerging.
‘You idiot! That book determines our future.’
No, it doesn’t. Neither does the halo around your head. Everything is fake, everything is illuminated.
The crackling of broken halos echoed between the invisible walls. One at a time, fires illuminated the faces of heart attacks, natural causes, and brain aneurisms. Accidents to causes. Blue halos popping, green halos cracking, purple fires emerging. It looked like thousands of cells busting from metamorphosis.
Fate. The book burned, but ashes were not the result. It disappeared, as if some chemical reaction between the paper and fire took place. The flames died down, and the manuscript fate was gone. All that was left was a circular black hole where the stand stood.
Very dark, echoed loudly. There was no end in sight to the hole, tunnel, entryway. I looked around to the thousands of faces. Their nametags, or classifications, were strewn about the floor. Now nothing separated them from each other, no diversification. They waited.
I stared at the hole.
‘Well, who’s first?’