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Dead Like Me: Dead In DC

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Dead in DC
By Benji The Vampire Confuser

Based on the show Dead Like Me which is owned and created by them that ain’t me.

Summary: The Adventures of the External Causes Reaper Division of Washington DC.

Today is the First Day of the Rest of Your Afterlife

You’re all going to die. I hate to remind you, but it is on your schedule. Probably won’t happen when, or how you’d like it to. Take me for instance. Whenever I allowed myself to think about actually dying, I’d always picture it as something heroic, taking a bullet for someone or something. Or in my more dramatic moments, bravely dying of a terminal illness while all my friends and family helped me live my final days or weeks or months or whatever to the fullest. Realistically I supposed however, whenever it happened, I’d want it to be quick. So quick in fact that I didn’t even realize it was happening. I didn’t want to know what hit me. I wasn’t so much worried about pain, I just didn’t want to have time to be afraid of it.

Never, even in my most fevered imaginings did I think I’d go due to an overzealous girl-friend with a thing for breath play. On the one hand, at least I went having, and giving a good time. On the other, as deaths go, it’s kind of embarrassing.

“Hey you think YOU feel bad,” Ashley said. “Think how your girlfriend feels.”

Ashley’s Undead. No, she’s not a vampire, though at the moment she’s dressed like one. I wonder how many vampires are actually Goth. I bet not even half. No, Ashley, as I am soon to be, is a Grim Reaper.

You heard right, a Grim Reaper. Not THE Grim Reaper, A Grim Reaper. Reapers have the not inconsiderable task of taking folks’ souls who are about to die, and sending them on their way to the afterlife, whatever it is. Not even Reapers have the clearance for that information.
So here I am, dead of Asphyxiation, watching my severely traumatized girlfriend weep while my body is wheeled out of her apartment building in a body bag. Which by the way is tactfully covered with a sheet. Well I’m glad they spared Veronica the trauma of seeing the body bag.
“If you’d gone to a professional this never would have happened.” Ashley said.

Up till now I’d mostly been ignoring her, but that comment drew my attention. “Oh? You know a bit about that?” An eyebrow raised, and naughty thoughts as well. Were ghosts allowed to flirt with Reapers? Should I be flirting anyway? Hell my girlfriend is sitting not ten feet from me. I want to reassure her that I’m okay, so to speak, but I’ve got no idea how to go about it.

Ashley smiles mysteriously and looks at her watch. “Wouldn’t you like to know. Okay dead boy let’s get a move on.”

Go? Already? But I’ve barely had time to assimilate this. I was dead. And I don’t mind telling you, there was no end to the relief I felt, being, you know, still around. “So what’s the afterlife like?” I asked. “Really? Heaven? Hell? Reincarnation?”

“Honestly?” Ashley asked. “I have no idea.”

“What?” I can’t believe that. “How do you have no idea? You’re not an angel?”

Ashley barks a laugh and turns to face me, in all her sexy, dark, gothic beauty. “Despite my occasional wearing of fake black feathered wings, do I look like an angel to you sweetie?”

I had to allow that she did not. At least not how most people would picture an angel.

“No my dear,” she continued. “I’m a Reaper.”

“As in Grim Reaper?”

“Only when I haven’t had my morning coffee.”

“Oh. So, did you kill me?”

“Bite your tongue. Reapers don’t kill anyone. We merely take your soul, preferably BEFORE you die so you don’t feel it. Then we guide said soul to it’s destination.”

“So you took my soul?”

“No. Remember the girl that stopped you on the street? Just before you turned onto your girlfriend’s block?”

Can ghosts blush? Cause I was feeling heat on my face. Boy howdy did I remember her. Crazy girl asked my name, and upon learning it, shoved her tongue down my throat. Not a bad kiss at all, but hey, GIRLFRIEND! My guilt over that little encounter may have helped me give in to Veronica’s pleading for my final sex act.

“She called it the `Kiss of Death`.”

I snicker, and cover my eyes for a moment. “Oy that’s terrible.”

“Yeah. Sweet girl but she was kind of a slut.”

“So why isn’t she here?”

“That’s complicated.”

By this time we’ve arrived at a small two door sedan that Ashley unlocks. I reach for the door handle only to see my hand turn into smoke as I try to grip it. My blood runs cold. Or, the ghostly equivalent of that. “Jesus.” I try again, then merely push my hand through the window, watching my fingers reform on the other side of the glass. “Jesus.” I mutter again.

Ashley waits patiently for a moment, a kind of, reminiscent type look on her face. “Hey, John, it’s okay. You’re still here. You’re fine. Just, step through the door and have a seat.
Rrrright. On the other hand, it works, and again, I instinctively do what I did when I was alive, reach for the seatbelt. That doesn’t work either. Can ghosts hyperventilate? I count to ten and manage to relax as the car pulls out and starts following the ambulance. Okay I was a ghost. No problem. I could deal with that. Depending on how much time I had before heading into the hereafter, this could actually be fun. I do seem to recall promising to haunt one of my friends just to fuck with him a bit.

“So,” I ask. “Why are we following the Ambulance. Do you moonlight as a lawyer?”

“Nope, a Dominatrix.”

Okay, can’t say I’m surprised there.

“We’re going to watch your autopsy.”

Ew. “Ew! I don’t wanna watch people cut open anyone’s body, let alone mine!” I shudder. Never could watch the gory horror movies.

“It helps in the saying goodbye thing.”

“So I have to watch my own autopsy?!”

“Well, no you don’t HAVE to.” She glances at me. “Does it really bother you that much? That body in the back of that ambulance, isn’t you. You’re sitting next to me. A dead body is just a shell.”

“Look I’m sure as a Reaper you see this sort of thing all the fucking time, but being dead’s kinda new to me!” I retort. “Just a shell or not, it’s still…” I can’t think of how to finish that sentence.

“Hang on.” She said, pulling over next to a parking meter. Reaching into the glove box she pulls out a cell phone. “Bossman.” She says into the phone, apparently that’s the prompt for dialing someone. “Hey Walt. Yeah it’s confirmed, Susie’s no longer with us.” Is that a tear? Is she getting misty eyed? I’m not sure what’s going on, but I’m starting to get that, I ain’t hardly the only one what lost something here today. Jesus my family, how is this gonna affect ‘em? We only lost my Grandmother half a year ago, and my Granddaddy a year before her.

“Yeah he’s right here. Uh huh, no he’s not too keen on it. Kinda squeamish.”

Jeeze she doesn’t have to make it sound like I ran screaming from a mouse or something.

“What’s the point of an autopsy anyway?” I ask. “Isn’t it obvious what killed me?”

Ashley’s still on the phone. “Yeah. Okay.” Finally she finishes and turns to me. “Procedure or something. Anyway, Walt’s gonna meet us there.”

“Who’s Walt?” Bizarrely I get an image of meeting Mr. Disney.

“My boss. He who hands out the post-its.”

“Heh?”

“Later for that.”

Soon enough we get to the hospital. And there’s Walt. It’s not the mouse guy. Which is good ‘cause that’d just have been too weird. Walt’s a heavy-set Native American man with short white hair. He’s got kind of a calm, patient look on his face.

“John,” Ashley introduces us. “Walt.”

Walt nodded kindly at me. “Ashley tells me you’re not too keen on seeing your body.”

“Uh,” I say, a bit distracted. “Yeah.”

Shit, I knew this place. When I was 15 I got my tonsils removed here. And my mom told me I was born here. How weird is this? Born here, and now I return, for the final time.

Kind of in a daze I suppose, I followed them into the hospital and into the morgue. I found I didn’t feel any disgust or even wigged in the slightest upon entering said morgue.

“Excuse me,” Walt said, getting the attention of the coroner. “I’m Professor Walter Berenstein from G.W., this is my student Ashley Waters. I wanted her to observe an autopsy for a paper she’s writing.”

That’s one of the first things you learn as a reaper. How to bullshit. It doesn’t particularly have to be good bullshit, just good enough to last for an hour or so.

“That’s fine,” the coroner said. Though he looked dubiously at Ashley. She didn’t exactly look like a med student. But I guess it takes all kinds right? “As a matter of fact, he continued. “We just got a new case in now.” He walked over to a table with a body on it. The sheet covered everything but the feet. I knew those feet. Not that I pay a lot of attention to my feet, but you get the idea. “John A Hancock.” He read the tag tied to my big toe. “No shit.”
How many times have I had to tell people that that really is my name? While the guy’s back is turned, Ashley turns to me.

“You don’t have to look.” She whispered.

But you know what? I did. Call me morbid if you want but, I just couldn’t help watching as the guy pulled the sheet away, and there I was. Naked. I kinda wished Ashley wasn’t looking, but I felt, actually kinda detached as I edged closer to my body. I look actually kind of, peaceful. I’d have expected either some kind of expression of panic, or well, pleasure. I guess since my soul wasn’t technically in my body at the time, there had been no panic, in fact, I don’t remember freaking out, even when I was losing consciousness.

“I’ll take this kid into the operating theater and you can watch from the audience.” The coroner said. “Weird thing, I heard this kid got suffocated by his girlfriend in a moment passion.” He shook his head, and I glared at him.

“Go ahead,” I growled at him, knowing he couldn’t hear me. “Say something clever.”

“Why don’t girls like that ever fall for me?” he finally said.

“Because being a coroner is creepy?” I asked.

I didn’t watch the actual autopsy. I don’t like gore. I could never watch those shows on cable that had the surgery and stuff, and I never watched gory horror movies.

“So what happens next?” I asked. “I mean after dude down there figures out that I really did die of asphyxiation.”

“Next is your funeral.”

My eyes lit up. “I get to go to my own funeral?” Whenever I did think about my own death, I usually invariably imagined what my funeral would be like.

“Yes,” Walt said. “YOU do.”

I didn’t get to find out why he put it like that until much later.

To be continued…