Humans cannot possess magic. It was simply one of the known facts of the universe among people who knew these things. Humans could borrow magic, if one of the factions was willing to share. And if someone was only part human they could have magic from whatever else ran through their being. But full humans were just that – boring, non-magical humans. The only thing a human possessed that kept the rest of magic interested was their souls. Nebulous, gangly things that no one really knew what to do with but for whatever reason everyone wanted. So, like diamonds? Yes, like diamonds. Souls are diamonds, but as a negative comparison. The bloody, useless parts of diamonds. Not the shiny parts.
Anyway, Ollie didn’t know any of that. He wasn’t particularly inclined to do any research on the matter, either. No, Ollie had been particularly depressed since he had died. Marred in a bitter, shocked funk he didn’t see a way out of. Sadly quite common among the suddenly deceased. If you know it’s coming it can be an easy transition, even pleasant for some depending on what the last inches of life had been like. But if you’re a healthy twenty-nine year old just crossing the street on your way home from the first job you actually like and the next thing you know you’re standing next to the car parked directly on top of your lifeless body and watching while an eighty-nine year old man in the thickest glasses you’ve ever seen tries to put the car in park but only succeeds in turning the windshield wipers on and then off and then on again, well, you’re going to need some time to process. At least an hour. Maybe closer to a couple decades.
Ollie had just followed his body around at first. He still didn’t completely believe he was dead. Also, he didn’t know what else to do. His body was like the one friend he knew at a party, and every time it got away from him, even a little bit, gnawing anxiety made his heart race. Well, he didn’t have a heart anymore. Apparently, though, having a heart wasn’t integral to having it race. He could still be anxious dead. If he was dead. Which he refused to believe. After all, how could the dead be anxious? Ollie had watched the paramedics show up and move the car. They hadn’t done CPR, probably because they hadn’t needed to. Ollie was alive, after all, just a little…disjointed. They had loaded his body up in a bag, to keep him warm, and driven him to the morgue. Ollie had waited for the autopsy, not knowing there was no need to do an autopsy when the answer to ‘how dead?’ was an obvious ‘car splat.’ No, to Ollie, they hadn’t done an autopsy because he wasn’t dead.
It was right around the time they were lowering his body into the ground that he began to suspect he might not be waking up from this particularly weird dream. His mother was nearly screaming, she was wailing so hard. Obvious to everyone else there she was trying to bring all the attention to herself. Ollie had always known his mother was a narcissist, but it was nice to see other families roll their eyes and make the jerk-off motion behind her back while she draped herself over his unmoving body. His father hadn’t been much better when he had been alive, always a pushover, allowing Mom to get everything she wanted, but at least he seemed to be actually grieving. Maybe it was for himself. Ollie had left him to deal with her all on his lonesome.
His body was lowered in a box into the ground and everybody left. His parents. His friends. A few people he never considered more than acquaintances or colleagues, certainly not close enough to show up to his funeral. There were a fair few missing that he was sure would have shown up, too. Your own life was mostly a mystery right up until you died and all the answers were laid bare. Everybody left and he almost followed them to the wake but thought, what’s the point? Wakes were supposed to be a celebration of the dead guy’s life, but Ollie had been to enough himself to know what they really were. The people he left behind were going to begin to figure out how to live without him. How to continue. He didn’t get to continue, and he didn’t want to watch that.
So, Ollie sat on the gravestone of one Frank Abilene (1889-1972) and watched as the gravediggers filled in the space above the box that held his body. Around him, the world looked the same. He looked the same, at least to himself. He would have thought he’d be able to see right through himself, but as he held his hands up to his face all he saw were his palms, the same color they had been when he was alive. It was very easy to keep telling himself he was alive. But the gravediggers didn’t see him. For the past three days, no one had seen him. He hadn’t been hungry, or had to go to the bathroom. He couldn’t feel the warmth from the sun on his face, or the breeze as it rushed by.
“I’m dead,” he said.
The gravediggers didn’t stop what they were doing. They hadn’t heard him at all.
“I’m dead,” he said again.
Ollie didn’t wake up in his bed.
The skies didn’t open up above him. A door didn’t appear in the grass. No one showed up wearing robes and carrying a scythe. He saw no others like him, there but not there, sitting on graves or otherwise. Slowly, a new revelation dawned. Ollie had only just figured out life. Now, apparently, he would have to go through it all again to figure out his death.
If you’re lost, maybe more stories will help!