"Who said that?"
"They call me Doc."
"Where are you?"
"I'm right beside you. If you could be quiet a minute, I would like to tell you."
"Help! I can't see!"
"No. You can't see. You'll also find that you can't smell, taste or feel. But you can hear and we can hear you, so please stop yelling."
"You need to listen to me. Can you do that?"
"Like I said, I'm Doc."
"And I'm Curt. Got shocked to death at work. Bet my old lady was all over the insurance guy before I even got cold."
"What? Dead? Help me!"
"Curt stop it!"
"Please calm down. Stop yelling and tell me your name."
"Yes. Please. We need to talk."
"M-M-Maggy. Margaret. Maggy..."
"That's all we need to know Maggy. We're all first names here."
"Who are you? I mean what..."
"We are in the morgue, Maggy."
"In the morgue?"
"Maggy, listen close. We are in the morgue. You and me and Curt and there is also Ruth, who has so far been incredibly quiet."
"Yes, and I am going to remain quiet until Doc explains everything."
"This is a bad dream, right? Has to be! Morgue? I'm not dead!"
"Quit your yellin' lady. You're on the slabs with the rest of us."
"I'm insane! I've lost my mind!"
"Shut up already!"
"Leave her alone Curt. She's upset and deserves a minute to be just that. Ever since you've come here you've been just as mean as you can be."
"Stuff it Ruth."
"Curt! Ruth! Can you both be quiet a minute while I try to calm Maggy down?"
"I'm sorry Doc. My lips are sealed."
"Fat chance on that promise but I'm with you Doc. I'll lay off for a minute or two."
"Good. Now Maggy, you are neither dreaming nor insane. You are..."
"I'm not dead! I can hear you!"
"Well, you are both right and wrong. We are not talking, so the hearing is more of a mental communication. We will call it hearing to simplify the matter. And as far as being dead...correct, you are not dead. I have some rather disturbing news. It seems the scientific community may have made a tiny mistake when determining the moment of death. It was presumed that the absence of a heartbeat was the point of measure...and well...now I'd have to say, it goes beyond that."
"It appears that the brain continues to function independently of the heart, at least for several days. I've been here for three days and I am quite alert and thinking clearer than I ever have."
"Are ya listenin' lady? I mean, I'm listenin' to the Doc, and from what I hear, he has pretty much explained the situation. This shouldn't be too hard to understand. Even Ruth figured it out."
"This can't be. I won't believe it."
"Well, believe it Maggy. I am a doctor, so it came as quite a shock to me to think that all these years I have been declaring people dead, and in fact, they might not have been. Took me more than a minute to swallow that bitter pill. It is a fascinating and rather startling fact. You...we are presumed dead but are not dead."
"No. It isn't true."
"Let old Curt help ya out then lady. Here's a little proof for ya. Think back to the last thing you can remember."
"Curt, don't push her. Maggy, go slow. Now that you're awake, you're memory should be kicking in pretty soon and..."
"I think the lady's a winner."
"What do you see Maggy?"
"I see myself."
"Yeah, ain't that a kicker? Didn't know I looked so fat! My old lady used to call me a fat-ass, but what does she know, she's a cow herself."
"I see myself in my car and then...an accident. There's people all over. They're pulling at me and I am so..."
"Take it slow, Maggy. Real slow. It'll come."
"I'm a mess! Oh! It's horrible! Oh! Save me!"
"Maggy! Calm down. It's okay."
"Maggy! Relax! It's all over. Do you feel anything? Any pain?"
"Oh! Oh my. No, Doc. Not a thing."
"See lady. I told ya it ain't so bad. And there's your proof. You got yourself killed in a accident."
"Yes and no, Maggy. More yes, than no, but still no."
"Doc? How? When will..."
"I can't tell you how long this lasts. Like I said, I've been here awhile. Curt has been a little over a day and Ruth got here just after me."
"Yes, I got here right after Doc and let's not forget about Gert. She was here when I got here. Lovely woman. We hit off right away. Poor little thing, in a coma she was. For two months, she said. All that time she was hooked up and plugged in to machines. Everyone said she was good as dead and.poor little thing.she heard everything. Not with her ears mind you, she heard all their thoughts. Lordy, what a horrible thing for her. Broke her heart. Finally, it was her husband who said to pull her plug. All those machines... EEG's I think... all those machines said she was brain dead and all the while she was listening away."
"You must be Ruth?"
"Yes Maggy. I'm Ruth, the chatterbox."
"Hi. I'm pleased to meet you Maggy. Glad there's another woman here. It's nice to hear a new voice. Now that Gert's gone... they took her away... funeral and all... and... well with a fresh voice, it might get interesting around here again."
"Ah, Ruth? Can I talk to Maggy for a minute?"
"Excuse me? Oh yeah Doc, sure, you go ahead. I got all day. I mean, where am I going?"
"I wish you'd go, you running-at-the-mouth old woman."
"Curt! You hush up. Meanie."
"I don't make garbage... I throw."
"Enough! Please stop fighting you two."
"Doc, I have to tell you, this is too weird. I'm dead, but not dead. And you all are..."
"Dead, but not dead, too. I'm sorry Maggy, but that is the truth."
"Why Doc? What do you think is happening?"
"Well, from what I can guess, the brain functions after the cessation of the heart, probably through the use of electrical impulses, waves so faint that they cannot be detected by our most modern medical equipment. I have to assume, that there will come a time when the impulses fade and we will all cease to be, but for now, we are in some dimension, alive."
"My old lady's gonna have me cremated. I guess that being burned up will end it for me."
"You are most eloquent Curt."
"To expound upon Curt's explanation, I would also assume that the...the decay of the brain..."
"Oh no! Please Doc, don't go on about the decay thing again. It just makes me sick all over to think about my brain turning into a puddle of goo or something. When I think about dying, the last thing that I want to have to picture is my body...you know...getting gooey. I mean for pity sake, death is bad enough, but to take it a step beyond, well that's just cruel. I have to put my foot down on this one."
"You do that Ruth! Word wastin' old bag. You put your foot down and while you're at it, put your foot in your mouth!"
"Forgive them Maggy. They seem to get on each other nerves."
"Yack. Yack. Yack. Ruth! You're worse'n my old lady."
"She's probably much better off without you, you gruff mean old..."
"Something's happening. I'm remembering more. More than the accident. I remember being a child, a baby. It seems like my whole mind just opened up...it's like a movie and it's playing out all at once."
"Ah yes. That's good, I hope. I had a wonderful childhood and there were so many things that I had never been able to remember. Now, it all seems like only yesterday."
"Doc! It's wonderful. I see my mom. Oh my! She's so young and she's making funny faces at me. I must be a baby. I can feel the love. Oh! And now, I'm a little girl and there's my sister...we're swinging...and I'm at school...at the movies...on the beach...cooking breakfast...in college...getting married..."
"Married, huh? That's too bad. I'm sorry for ya lady."
"Curt! Not everyone marries poorly. My husband and I had a wonderful forty-three years together."
"What was he, deaf? Huh, Ruth? Had to be deaf to put up with your mouth. Wish I was deaf!"
"Oh my! It's all so clear. So real. So fast. Oh my! What a rush!"
"I'm glad for you Maggy. It's not so bad now, is it?"
"Maybe not for her. But my memories aren't that great. I get to relive the crap that was my life all over again. What a rip."
"You get what you deserve, Curt. You were probably a horrible little man and now you get to face everyone from your past. What goes around, comes around..."
"Shut up Ruth. Shut your stupid mouth. I wish I was having an autopsy! Better yet, I wish I was dead!"
"Autopsy? Oh my! Doc? An autopsy?"
"Maggy! It's all right. I had one. So did Ruth. It's okay. There's nothing to it."
"Oh yes, Maggy. I had mine right after Doc as a matter of fact. It was wonderful. Got to eavesdrop on the thoughts. When I was out there... the doctor... she's a real sweety by the way... she's having a hard time with her boyfriend. Now he sounds like he might come from the same bloodline as Curt here, anyhow her boyfriend's been giving her the cold shoulder. Apparently, he is offended by her intelligence. If you ask me, all men are offended by a woman who can carry her own in a conversation..."
"Can it Ruth."
"You're mean, Curt."
"Anyhow Maggy, let's leave them to battle it out and you and I can finish our conversation. The implications are astounding. If you can see beyond the fact of the obvious, that we have been declaring people dead who aren't, and we have been sending people to the morgue, to funeral homes, to the grave! who are still able to think, if you can get past all the ethical ramifications, then you can see this life-after-life as a great gift. With this extra time and the wonderful capacity to remember, we all have the chance to take heed of our lives, to come to terms with our past and maybe..."
"No Doc. I hate to interrupt, but I have to jump in here. I think you may be a little off track."
"What? Ruth, what's wrong?"
"Not to be a buttinsky, but you are assuming that we are all there is in here. For all you know, these drawers are full of bodies. Why, there could be stacks and stacks of bodies here. And out of all those bodies, only us four, and of course Gert, are the only one's who...well...aren't dead yet. I can't just sit idly by and let you run on and on under the assumption that everyone has this chance. Why, for all you know..."
"Ruth! Well I'll be! You are absolutely correct. How could I have missed that point myself? The scientist in me must be a little rusty. Of course. It is quite probable that there are more than four...ah...bodies in here. Certainly."
"Yippee! Ruth! Finally, after pukin' out a million words, a couple made sense. Good for you."
"Hush up Curt."
"I meant it nicely."
"Oh, well, all right then. Thank you."
"What do you think about Ruth's theory, Doc? The possibility that we are a select few?"
"Well Maggy, it opens up another door. Let's assume that not everyone has this...electrical wiring system like we do. Then we are most fortunate. And in the big picture, it would explain many things. For example, the phenomenon of the near death experience. Some people have them. Some don't. It can only mean that some people have access to the part of their brain that has taken us to this place and some don't or...can't."
"Huh? Ya lost me Doc."
"Let me explain Curt. Humans only access a fraction of the brain. That is to say, that there is more brain that is neglected than we actually use. It seems that some of us can enable this secret place without trying. This might also explain why some people claim to be able to talk to the dead! Of course! It could be possible that people, like psychics..."
"You mean mediums Doc. Psychics predict the future. Mediums contact the dead. I know all about these things."
"Thank you Ruth. It could be that mediums may be having real conversations with people like us who aren't dead yet. This phenomenon we are experiencing may last longer than I had originally thought. Ah! The possibilities are overwhelming."
"Wow Doc. This is fascinating. We have tapped in to an uncharted region of the brain. We are explorers."
"Yes. That about sums it up little lady."
"By the way Doc, I am quite a large lady, but I thank you for the compliment."
"It's yours, Maggy."
"Well, now that we gummed about all this, what can we do? I mean, who cares?"
"I do. I do Curt. In death I have learned far more than I could have in hundreds of years of research. I wish I could make them understand. I wish I could tell them what I know. If only..."
"But Doc. If we can hear them, why can't they..."
"Yes! Maggy you're a genius. Of course. If we join together, maybe we can let them know. We can think...together. If we can get the attention of one living being! Oh! What a breakthrough for the science. What a turning point!"
"Calm down Doc. You're gonna blow a vein."
"Never mind now... Everyone.listen!"
"What is it Doc?"
"Someone's coming... to take Curt for his autopsy."
"Are we gonna tell'em we're here?"
"Yes. Everyone, when I say, yell as loud as you can 'We are alive!'"
"All right Doc."
"Me too Doc. I'm ready"
"We're alive! We're alive! We're alive! We're alive!"
Yeah. Yeah. You're alive. I heard it all before. Shut up! You're giving me a headache.
"What? You hear us?"
Yeah. I hear you. You're ganging up on me. How can I not hear you?
"My! Doc? He answered you."
No matter how long I work here, I still get the chills listening to the slab gab.
"We're alive! You can hear us so you know."
I know and I don't care. I got a job to do and right now I need Mr. Fatty here. He's got a big mouth, without him maybe you'll calm down a little.
"Who ya callin' fat?"
You big guy. Let's go now.
"Wait! Hey there! You must tell someone about this. You..."
I don't gotta do squat. I need this job and I ain't gonna tell no one that I hear you buncha stiffs gabbing in the drawers. Now, say good-bye to your big fat buddy everyone.
"Consider yourself lucky I'm layin' here wise guy. If I wasn't, I'd kick your..."
"Oh my! Doc? What now?"
"I don't believe it Maggy. He carried on a complete conversation with me.with us. He knows we are alive and he doesn't care. I never imagined."
"I'm sorry, Maggy. It's all too much to absorb. I... I can't."
"Doc, are you there? Answer me."
"Maggy. I think it was too much for Doc. I think we have lost him."
"Oh Ruth! Are you okay?"
"Yes Maggy, I'm okay. I'm reeling, but I'm okay."
"Ruth, we have to let someone know who will care."
"I'll help however I can Maggy. I'm with you all the way. And even though he's a little coarse, Curt will be back in a little while. He'll..."
"Who said that? Who's there? Where are you?"
"Oh my! It's sounds like someone new just woke up."
"Who said that? I can't see you!"
"No. No you can't. First things first. My name is Maggy and the other voice you hear is Ruth. What is your name?"
"I'm Mona. Where are you? Where am I?"
"Mona. Listen to me. I've got so much to tell you and not a lot of time. We're going to need your help."
K. Irving had an unusual childhood. While other kids were learning to play ball and skate, she spent her free time digging up old graves and rubbing stones in forgotten cemeteries. Never very social, she spent a lot of time alone entertaining a wild imagination.
After years of scribbling morbid poems and writing about true-life adventures, she turned her explorations inward and began to write about what she found there - inside her own mind.
K. Irving is a new author with several stories published online with e-zines such as Alternate Realities, The Harrow and The Writer's Hood. This year, her full-length novel, Cassadaga, The Voice Of The Demon will be released from CrossroadsPub.com.
For more information about this author visit her website at www.kirving.com.