Nicole R. Murphy
You are relaxed, content, concentrating on the book you are reading when you feel the slightest touch on your arm. You look up and around, feeling the presence all around you but seeing nothing. Whispering, fleeting touches on your skin. For a moment, you seriously consider the possibility that there is another presence with you in the house and you begin to shake. But then, your sanity returns.
Of course there is nothing there, nothing but your overactive imagination. You shake your head, then resume reading your book. Peacefulness settles over you as you fall deeper and deeper into the story being revealed to you.
Then you feel a hand on your shoulder. You jump and spin around, ready to yell at your partner for scaring you like that. But no one is there. Taking slow, deep breaths to calm the panic building inside you, you bend down to pick up the book you dropped and sit down again.
But you find it hard to concentrate on the words on the page, particularly when you are sure you can hear someone calling your voice. You tell yourself it is ridiculous, you know there is no such thing as ghosts, but you call out “Who are you? Why are you here?”
My name is Penelope Anderson. Please don’t be scared, I do not wish to harm you.
You feel a soft breeze in your face that calms you. The idea occurs to you that you must be dreaming and you recall the age old test of pinching yourself. The shot of pain up your arm assures you of your wakefulness. You consider, should you continue this, should you continue to talk to a voice of a person not there? Hoping no one is outside, watching and deciding you are crazy, you say, “I’m sorry, what was your name again?”
Penelope Anderson. Ah, I can see by the expression on your face that you know who I am. Yes, I am the person who wrote the book.
“I must be imagining this.” You murmur, picking up your book to recommence reading and thereby forget this is happening.
I can assure you, you are not imagining it. I will touch your arm to prove it.
You jump as you feel the touch on your arm. On your feet, you spin around, trying to see something and failing miserably. “You are not real, I know you are not real.” You voice outloud, although deep inside you are beginning to believe that this is all too real.
I assure you, I am.
You watch in stunned silence as the book you have again dropped lifts from the floor and is placed in your hand. “But… You’re dead.” A stupid thing to say, you tell yourself, but you really can’t think of anything better.
To you living on earth I am, but I have simply been given another kind of life. I assure you, I feel as real to myself as I always have.
You sit down on your sofa with a thud, for you cannot fail to believe any more. “Why are you here? Why are you talking to me?”
Because I have a message that I need you to give to my husband. I couldn’t go to see him myself, they are watching for me to do just that, so I’ve come to you instead. Will you promise to tell my husband everything I tell you?
“How am I to give a message to your husband? I don’t know him.”
You can tell him tomorrow, when you see him at work.
“I work with him? Wait a moment, your husband isn’t John Anderson, is it?”
“But he’s so…”
Yes, I know, he still has not recovered from losing me. Once, he was all sweetness and light and gave me all the love and encouragement I needed to write the book.
You shake your head, unable to believe that crabby old John Anderson is the husband of the woman who wrote the book. “Let’s just say that I do tell him. What if he doesn’t believe me?”
Oh, I can guarantee he won’t believe it, but I’d much rather he hear it now and not believe it than to deal with him being annoyed about it when we meet again.
“You’ll meet again?”
Oh yes, we certainly will. It might take some time for us to be together again, there are certain rules and regulations that must be obeyed, but we will eventually be together again. I want him to come knowing the truth, whether he believes it or not.
“Well, I’ll tell him, so long as I don’t wake up tomorrow believing this is all a dream.”
“How do you know?”
Trust me. Now, where to begin in telling this story…
“How about with your death?”
Well, since that’s the beginning it would be a good place to start. Life is not at all what I had imagined it would be. Some of it is just as I expected, like the tunnel moving towards the bright light, and the pearly gates. Would you believe they really are pearly? Just like the altar at Beagle Bay Church. Have you seen it? Make sure you do before you die, beautiful. It’s north of Broome. One of my favourite spots in the world.
Now, where was I? Oh, yes, life. The church was wrong about purgatory. You see, what happens is that everyone gets an immediate audience with God. Oh, I can’t describe what that is like. The closest thing to it really is an orgasm. I know that’s sounds an awful thing to say, but it’s that feeling over being overcome, of feeling so good that you want to explode, only it’s so much better.
Everyone gets to meet God, but you can only stay in the main part of Heaven if you have a pure soul. Apparently, the black spots on a normal soul cause pain to those with a pure soul, or something like that. So, you have to go to outer heaven, and work the black spots off. Of course, once you’ve already experienced God’s presence, you work like crazy to get back there again. If your soul is really black, you can’t get it clean enough so you spend all of eternity watching other people get clean and enter and knowing that you can never experience God’s presence again.
I can assure you, you’d prefer to be burnt alive in hell rather than face that! When I met God, we were soon talking to each other very comfortably. You quickly get over the awe of meeting the Creator of the Universe, his love for you is so powerful you cannot help but be at peace with him. I told him I was very unimpressed with dying when I did. Don’t pull a face like that at me, he may be the Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth but I can assure you, he appreciates frankness. He said he was even more unimpressed.
I then said, “Don’t you realise how close I was to finishing that book? Do you know what it was going to achieve?”
And he said, “Of course I do, I’d been waiting thirty-one years for you to realize it.”
Then I said, “So, what’s going to happen, now it won’t be written?”
“It will be, eventually.”
And I said, “But then it could be too late.” And he nodded.
Then I said, “I could go back and finish it.”
And he said, “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“I might be dead, but I’ve still got free choice, haven’t I?”
And he said, “I knew it was a mistake to have you all learn to read.”
And that proved what I have always known, that God has a wicked sense of humour.
“So God really is a man?”
Well, I’m saying he, but really God’s an it, he had no sex because he is God. I can’t explain God, I’m just having to humanise him and because human’s have sexes, I have to give him one. I could just as easily make him female, if you like.
“I’m sorry for interrupting. Please, go on.” You could not recall ever being so fascinated in your life.
God told me what the consequences of my decision would be, that I could blacken my soul a great deal by leaving Heaven and that I could make it very difficult to re-enter. I decided to come back to finish the book and accept any consequences of that so eventually God agreed that I could do what I liked. Personally, I like to think he was proud of that decision but you don’t get that sort of feedback from him. You tend to get the praise or sorrow you deserve on how you handle the consequences.
So, I came back home and it was so sad. John was a mess, just lying on the couch and watching TV. There were cigarette butts, chip packets and beer bottles everywhere. I found it very hard to go to my computer, he so obviously needed my comfort but I knew God would look after him. So I went looking through the house, and couldn’t find my computer anywhere. In fact, I couldn’t find any of my things.
Then the angel Michael came and told me what had happened to them. You see, Michael saw the good in what I was trying to do and gained God’s permission to come and assist me. Angels aren’t like us, they can’t just do whatever they want. Anyway, Michael told me John had given all my things away. He said he would hunt down where my computer was, I had to stay put.
So I had to stay in the house, and watch while people came and tried to snap John out of his depression and fail. I wasn’t able to make contact with him, so watching him and being unable to do anything for him was without a doubt the most difficult thing I’ve had to do.
Then my funeral day arrived. Can you begin to comprehend how surreal it is, to attend your own funeral day? It’s very interesting, in that it enables you to see how people have viewed your life. I wouldn’t be human without admitting it made me a little angry, to know that if that accident had occurred just a year later, this funeral would probably be a state affair and my passing mourned by the whole world. But it was nice to see all the friends and family who would miss me.
I felt so bad for John, though. He hates funerals. He always begged me to ensure he didn’t have a big funeral, that we all had a big party in his memory instead. But obviously, my family had over ridden his desires, so it was a full on church service. It was very beautiful, and I was more than happy with the songs and readings chosen, but I couldn’t help but be aware of how uninvolved John was.
At the wake afterwards, I found out that John had given my computer to my brother, Andrew. I’m not sure if John purposely gave it to the only person in my life who would have a shred of a chance of completing the story. Andy is also a published writer, so I knew my story was safe with him. But still, I had to finish it myself. So when the time came, I had to tear myself away from John and go with Andy to his house. You’ve no idea how difficult that was.
“Why couldn’t you leave your brother to finish the story? Why did you feel you had to finish it yourself?”
Because the story had been born in me. Oh, it was well planned and over half written, but the message that story had to give to the world was in me, and while Andy would be able to finish it, the message might be gone and it was that message, that secret that the world needed to hear. So I went with Andy back to his house, and while he was asleep, I got inside the computer.
“You did what?”
I got inside the computer. Well, how did you think I was going to do it? I don’t have flesh any more. No fingers to type on a keyboard with. You are able to feel my touch because your skin is sensitive, but a keyboard requires force and despite what the movie "Ghost" says, I can’t provide any.
Anyway, when Andy awoke the next morning, he went straight to the computer. The expression on his face was priceless. He pressed control and end and instead of seeing the bottom of a half finished story, he saw a message from me.
Yes, a message. I know I probably shouldn’t have done it, but I couldn’t resist this one last opportunity to have my say.
“So, what did you say?”
I said, Andy, sorry I couldn’t leave the ending of the story to you, it was important that I write it. The rest of my story ideas are yours with my blessing. Please tell John what I have done, and tell him that I love him. Penny.
By the way, if you quote that to John, it just may help him believe you.
“Just a moment, and I’ll get a pencil and paper to write it down.”
Don’t worry about it. I’ve already put it into your computer.
“Your family must have been amazed.”
Amazed is probably the polite term to describe how Andy felt at the time. He sat down and read the whole story without stopping. It took him all day and half the night and by the end of it, he had tears pouring down his cheek and a huge smile on his face. He didn’t say a word, but he printed it out, put it in an envelope and mailed it the next day. It was published in three months, without a single edit or correction. The rest of the story, you well know.
“You must be very proud, to know you wrote the book that has caused the cessation of all religious wars in the world?”
What is there for me to be proud of? I was put on this planet to write that book. I am humbled that God chose me for such an important task, and I am grateful that so many people are taking the message to heart, but I’m not proud. Now, you remember everything I’ve told you, right?
“Yes, I remember.”
Good. Be sure to tell it all to John, and tell him I’m still watching him and loving him. I’m working hard to clean my soul, and I want him to work just as hard when he comes so we can be together for all eternity.
“I’ll tell him that. I’ll tell him everything.”
Make sure you do. Now, I have to go, before the boss finds me.
“Can I say one more thing before you go?”
Of course you can.
“Thank you for writing the book.”
Writing the book was my pleasure. Good bye.
Two of my life's defining moments are seeing Star Wars at the age of seven and reading Lord of the Rings at age ten. After that, what choice did I have but to write? I have had two short stories published in Enchanted Realms (an anthology currently available on xlibris.com, amazon.com and Barnes and Noble online) and am currently trying to sell my first fantasy novel as well as polishing up my first science opera novel. You can read more about them on my website.
Published by permission of the author.