Sunlight tumbled down through a canopy of leaves above Dave’s head. He was sat on the forest floor across from Death. A chessboard sat on a boulder between the two of them, Death was contemplating his next move.
“This is a dream, isn’t it?” Dave asked.
“You don’t have to worry if you dream of Death. No, you only have to worry if Death dreams of you,” Death replied as he moved a chess piece.
“Is this going to take long? I’ve got work in the morning.”
“Oh, yes. Your new job. I’ve heard about that.”
“You’ve got to pay the rent somehow,” Dave shrugged.
“Have you thought about getting a job you enjoy?”
“A job I enjoy? I’m sorry, I don’t get you. I mean, I understand the individual words. Just not in that order and not in that sentence,” Dave picked up a bishop from the board, “How does this move again?”
“Diagonally. I think. It’s been a while. Mostly people want to play Angry Birds,” Death replied, “Let me explain something to you. Bodies are just meat puppets for the soul.”
“If Star Trek has taught humanity one thing, it’s how to bang hot alien chicks. If Star Trek has taught humanity two things, it’s also that you will transcend your corporeal forms and become entities of pure energy. I don’t know where you’d put your bloody car keys, though.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“I could show you so much. But you never write. You never call,” Death sighed as he moved a pawn.
“I don’t know how to,” Dave said, moving a knight to capture Death’s pawn.
“I think you do,” Death replied.
“Checkmate.” Dave said triumphantly.
A confused Death looked down at the board.
“What the fu-”
Gasping for air, Dave jerked awake. A moment of clarity. A vision as sharp as a knife slicing through cloud. He threw off the sweat soaked sheets and padded over to a green plastic bag with ‘PATIENT PROPERTY” printed on it. Under the milk light of the moon, he tipped the contents over the bedroom floor. He rummaged through the pile. Smashed devil horns, torn tee shirt and jeans.
Dave turned the crumpled trousers in this hands. Nervously, he put a hand in the back pocket. He pulled out a business card. He ran his fingers over the raised text. One Crow Road.
He would be phoning in sick tomorrow.
Dave sat in the kitchen sipping cold coffee and staring at the business card. What he had assumed to be his body’s biochemical reaction to life and then death had become harder to explain. Since surviving the accident, he had slept like he had never been afraid. Now the world was bigger and more frightening than since he had been a child.
Gary’s bedroom door slammed. Dave shoved the business card in to his pocket as Gary stumbled in. He opened the fridge door and peered inside with bleary eyes.
“Shouldn’t you be at work?” he asked as he removed a take away pizza box.
“Day off,” Dave lied. Gary sniffed the contents of the box. His nose wrinkled. “That’s disgusting,” Gary said and placed the box back in the fridge.
“Why did you put it back, then?” Dave asked.
“Because there’s no room left in the bin,” Gary replied as he pulled out a cheesecake.
“Cheesecake for breakfast?”
“What’s the problem? It’s dairy and cereal. It’s practically a bowl of cornflakes.”
“Can I ask you something?”
“I’m not explaining where babies come from again.”
“What do you think happens when you die?”
“That accident’s opened a whole can of philosophical whoop ass, hasn’t it? Honestly? I don’t know.”
“That’s unusual for you.”
“All I know is that God is dead and I am an insignificant speck in an uncaring universe. But there’s cheesecake. So, y’know, swings and roundabouts.”
Dave had been surprised to discover there was only one Crow Road in the whole of London. It had taken several strolls up and down the length of the main street until he found the entrance where he was sure a shop had been previously.
Crow Road was a cul-de-sac lined with office buildings whose brickwork had been smoothed and softened by decades of wind and rain. This unassuming passage way did not look like a location where worlds collided. Dave pulled his winter coat close, wrapping himself against a chill that was not meteorological.
Dave walked up to the first door along the alleyway. He went to press the buzzer, but hesitated as he considered the ridiculousness of the situation. He had been brought here by a supernatural business card. It must be a practical joke. Gary had heard him talking in his sleep, printed a card out and hidden it for Dave to find. But it would require a sense of purpose and effort that Gary did not normally possess….
The intercom crackled into life.
“Dave Marwood?” asked the woman on the other end. Flustered, Dave pressed the button, “Erm… Yes.”
“We’ve been expecting you.”
The door unlocked with an electronic buzz.
“Maybe they have cheesecake,” Dave muttered to himself. He pushed the door open and stepped through onto the other side.
To Be Continued…
A Note From Dave
Things have been hectic in the soul crushing day job this week so this chapter has been more rushed than I would like. Apologies if it contains more proofreading errors than normal x
Why not subscribe for free so you can stay up to date with each chapter of ‘The Death Guide To Life’ as they are released onto the interwebz? You can do it via email or Facebook and all the details are on the right hand side of the website. Thanks.