Dead in Phoenix
Sirens buzzed around him and he was disassociated from everything.
Pain lanced through his body and he bolted upright. It was bright,
but he didnt recognize his surroundings. Where am I?
Ah, finally awake I see.
Luke blinked and let his eyes focus on a blond stranger sitting
in a chair near him. Who are you? His voice sounded
hoarse to his ears.
Well, lets start with a question for you: what is the
last thing you remember?
Luke groaned and leaned back on the couch. Slick streets
and seeing a car run a red light. Feels like a dream
Well, I have good news and bad news. Lets start with
the bad - Luke Ward, youre dead.
Lukes face fell -
shocked. What? How? WHO are you?
The tall blond man stood up and shrugged. My name is Whitney
Fordman. Im your host - for now - in the afterlife.
This has to be a joke. Luke stood up and sat back down
quickly as his legs wouldnt support him.
You were killed in a car accident a few days ago. Now youre
in Phoenix. Trust me, I know that dying sucks. Ive been dead
for over a year.
Luke tried to stand again and managed this time. How do I
know youre telling the truth?
Whitney shrugged. Well, one - youre in Phoenix. Two,
if you sit down and think about it you will remember dying. Trust
me it sucks for a few days. Youll see it happen
over and over, and it will be vivid. For a solid week I kept feeling
my body getting shredded. It was no fun.
Sirens played in Lukes head and the screech of brakes sounded
in his ears. That truck ran a red light, I turned and
Understanding dawned on Luke and he sank back onto the couch. Im
Whitney left the room for a few minutes. When he came back he offered
Luke one of the two mugs he was carrying. There is some good
news as well. Whitney paused for second and then sat down.
He reached for a thick book on the coffee table and handed it to
Luke. That is your copy of Rules for the Afterlife.
That is the 937th edition and applies to the likes of you and me.
Luke blinked a few times. Im confused; if Im
dead then why am I in Phoenix?
Ah, now comes the fun part - the living have no clue how
death works. Whitney chuckled and stood up. Come on,
we're going for a drive. It's easier to explain as we wheel around.
He pulled Luke up and pointed to a closet. Clothes are in
there. Not that you don't have a nice body, because you do, but
public nudity is frowned upon.
Luke looked down and realized that he was naked. That fact didnt
bother him in the least and he walked to the closet, where he found
an assortment of clothes that looked as though they could have come
from his closet. Are these mine?
Similar to what you used to own. Whitney joined him
at the closet. This house is paid for, as are the utilities.
The afterlife is free from material concerns - for the most part.
He smiled at Luke.
Please tell me this is a joke," Luke implored. Fordman
only continued to smile. Luke dressed quickly and sat down to put
on his running shoes. Okay, dead got that
Whitney sat down next to Luke. I asked the same thing and
the only answer I got was, Youre young and adaptable.
Phoenix is a rapidly growing city. What did ya want - New York?
Luke pulled his sunglasses down against the glare of the bright
desert sun. So, why does everything seem just like it did
when I was alive? By the way, nice Jeep.
Whitney turned onto the Interstate 10 and smiled. The Jeep
is good for all kinds of things. Anyway, the Living earn points
for Faith, Charity, and the like. If they accumulate enough points
by the time they kick off, they go to the Heavenly Gates Mall."
Luke lowered his head and stared at Whitney over the tops of his
Oakley shades. "Heavenly Gates--"
"Mall," Fordman repeated with a nod. "That's where
the Afterlife is as people describe it -- pearly gates, Choirs of
Angels, the whole nine yards, but the exterior has evolved over
time to accommodate modern interpretation. Whitney accelerated
down the highway and reached over to pat Lukes thigh. Things
will get easier, trust me. You died while still underage and that
means you get a guide for a while. Me, I died at nineteen and my
case worker sucked at sympathy.
Luke leaned back in his seat and watched the buildings and roads
sail by. I am so confused. I get a guide, but you got a case
Yeah. Loki. He's your caseworker, too. He's a former angel.
Youll meet him soon and hell explain some of the rules
and stuff. And he'll bore you to tears about some guy named Bart.
Whitney turned off the highway and towards downtown. There
are a few things you need to keep in mind... For one thing, angels
are snobs and rarely associate with the newly dead or even the unascended
dead in general. And avoid at all costs the undead, vampires, zombies,
and the like. They hate the regular dead.
Luke blanched at the mention of undead. You mean those things
Unfortunately. All kinds of things that the modern world
has dismissed exist for real, if in secret. Zombies smell really
bad to the our type, and vampires..., well they are just terrifying.
We can interact with normal people as though we were alive, but
we dont linger in their thoughts. As Loki told me when he
explained it the first time, The Dead are tangible only
in person; otherwise they have no form."
"You mean... They can see dead people?"
Luke was rather proud of his joke, but Whitney only groaned. "Damn.
Now I have to wash Loki's car."
"He bet me you'd come up with that bad joke in under 3 hours.
I gave you credit for having more restraint."
"Sorry." Luke got back to the subject. "So we can
interact with people -- like people we knew? Family? Friends?"
"You can go see your family, but they wont recognize
you. Something about the veil of Death, Loki can tell you about
it. BUT it is forbidden for the living and the dead to have sex.
Big no-no. Well talk about that later," he promised
as they pulled into the parking lot of America West Arena. For
now, we have tickets to tonights basketball game. Since we
are the recently deceased, we still have all the urges of the living
- like sex. We got the double whammy for dying as teenagers.
Luke climbed out, sputtering. Wha- Sex? Sex is the last
thing on my mind right now!
You just think that now because your last girl friend was
a self-absorbed airhead -- believe me, I know the type. But wait.
The urge will hit you, as will some other things. I once got a strong
urge to go horseback riding, but couldnt find a horse. A beach
boy like you might to start to long for the ocean. Who knows? It's
different things for different people.
They were walking toward the arena, but Luke paused. So,
we are like living, but were dead?
Something like that. Whitney threw an arm over Lukes
shoulders. Loki will explain it all, but for now we can watch
a game and enjoy. Ill start showing you how to walk through
walls and stuff like that tomorrow.
Luke stopped and forced Whitney to stop walking as well. Luke turned
to face Whitney. So, were ghosts?
Whitney pulled them out of the pedestrian flow of traffic. Our
bodies are in caskets back home, but we exist as well.
We have form - its all in the book and I still have trouble
with it. Whitney smiled. Listen, relax enjoy the game
and go with it for a bit. When we get back to house, well
have a couple of beers and youll get it.
Whitney rocked back in the recliner and started laughing. So
Im at this bar and its okay because being dead also means
you dont have to worry about being carded. He smiled
at Luke again. Anyway this guy walks up to me -- fairly recently
dead, I think -- and hes cute, if a little short and I hit
Luke blanched. You hit on a guy?
Were dead, sex comes guilt free now and sex with a
guy is great. Even in the Afterlife girls want dinner and movie."
Whitney patted Lukes shoulder. Anyway, hes cute,
but something is wrong with him -- split personality or something.
He comes over every so often and we watch a game. You'll get to
meet him, soon. If a brown haired guy with a cute smile shows up
- let him in. Name's Colin.
Okay. Luke nodded and took a deep swig of his beer.
is that bar...is it any fun?
It has older types, not a lot of the younger set. Ran into
Loki there and good God that was a mess. Kept going on and on about
how much hotter Phoenix was than Wisconsin, but at least there were
Luke placed his empty beer on the coffee table and sighed. How
come Im still getting a buzz if Im dead?
Whitney laughed and lifted the book up and handed it to Luke. Its
in there. Human needs, vices, desires, etc will fade with time and
with them the effect they have on your new self. Loki
told me that the Rat Pack was in Vegas bringing the dead in from
all over the globe. Hell, even Elvis is there. Vegas is a happening
place for everyone.
Id swear I was tripping on some bad acid if I knew
I hadnt touched the stuff since last summer when I ended up
naked with half the water-polo team. Wait, that was X, shit! Even
dead my memories are for shit.
So what happened with the water-polo team? Whitney
raised a finger to stop Luke and got up to get more beer for the
both of them. He came back and handed an open bottle to Luke. Okay,
water-polo team, what happened?
Luke blushed. We never talked about it, but I remember lots
of hugging, kissing, touching of all kinds. By mutual agreement
it was the drugs, but I jerked off thinking about that night a few
Yeah, we had a few nights of boredom in the Corps and a few
of us would take care of each other. Nothing like a buddy helping
out a friend. Whitney winked at Luke. But sex in the
Afterlife can be good. That Colin guy has amazing hands.
So, are you and he an item? Luke sipped his beer and
smiled. He shifted on the couch and angled his body a bit.
No, we had fun, but it was nothing special. Whitney
leaned over and ran a hand over Lukes crotch. I can
tell youre interested in something.
Thought Id try to hide it, but talking about sex got
me in the mood. Luke shifted again and pressed Whitneys
hand into his groin. Dude, this
this is amazing.
Tell me about it. Sex without guilt is a wonderful thing.
Whitney leaned over and captured Lukes lips with his. He pressed
the kiss until Luke parted his mouth and Whitneys tongue snaked
Luke spread his legs and pulled Whitney on top of him. Care
to show me some of your moves?
Whitney smiled and jumped off of Luke. He grabbed one of Lukes
arms and pulled him up. Whitney kissed him again and then pushed
him towards the bedroom. Ill show you all kinds of things,
Loki walked around the living room smoking a cigarette. I
cant believe you already got him into bed. His first night
in the Afterlife and you got him into your bed. Loki turned
to Luke. And you, your reputation is well earned.
Reputation? Luke sputtered.
For being a slut. If it had two legs, a decent body, and
was even slightly available, you fucked him or her. And dont
think I dont know that there were as many hims as hers.
Whitney smiled and headed towards the kitchen. Luke frowned at
Loki. What can I say, I was a horny teenager.
And you are now a horny dead teenager. Thanks to you I now
owe someone a bet. Loki turned towards the kitchen and shouted.
Yo, soldier-boy, you have to wash Barts car now!
Whitney ran out of the kitchen and skidded through a wall as he
tried to stop. He got up and dusted himself off. What?! I
didnt make a bet with Bart!
I bet Bart that surfer-boy would be able to keep it in his
pants for at least the first night in the Afterlife. Loki
smirked and faced Luke again. But that was too much to ask
Whitney frowned. That was your bet, not mine!
Well, you owed me a car wash and Im just trading that
for Barts car wash. As if Id wash his car this century.
Loki shook his head and sat down next to Luke. Okay, I have
a ton of paperwork for you to fill out and sign. Youll have
to pass a driving test, sign for your debit card, all kinds of things.
Luke was in shock as Loki kept pulling out stacks of paperwork
from a seemingless bottomless attaché case. I have
to sign all of that. That must be at least five feet worth of paper.
This is after they invented computers, too. You should feel
lucky. Besides, what do you have to do that is so pressing? Youre
dead already. Loki picked up the first stack and dropped it
on Lukes lap. Okay read this and sign where it is noted.
This is the section that deals with the rules and regulations of
the Afterlife. The second stack will be your financial agreements.
Soldier boy will be your host for at least a year seeing how youre
a minor and will remain so for all eternity.
This is insane! Luke whined.
Insane? No insane is when your best friend kills you over
some stupid plan because hes sick of Wisconsin. Insane is
when God allowed the Mormons to think Utah was the Promised Land.
And can you explain Dick Clark? That is insane. I ran into an old
friend - a Watcher - who swears on a Seraphims wings that
Clark has never had any work done.
Whitney was behind Loki and caught Lukes attention. He slowly
mouthed, I told you so. Hes nuts.
The doorbell rang and Whitney said hed get it. Loki ignored
him and continued telling the story of a Seraphim and a Muse who
got Homer stoned in order for the Iliad to be written properly.
Lokis voice carried, I swear that all those Greeks would
never have gotten anything accomplished if not for a few renegade
angels. God thought Egypt was The place back then. Of course
I was in exile then because I listened to Bart.
Luke moved the stack of papers off his lap and followed after Whitney.
Behind him, Loki was droning on and on about how it was all Barts
fault that he was an Afterlife caseworker now.
Lokis here? a voice from the door asked.
Luke walked up and saw Whitney hugging a guy who fit Colins
description. Hi, Im Luke.
Whitney smiled. Hes brand new and has all the paperwork
to fill out. He pulled Luke into a partial hug and whispered
in his ear. Lets go, Loki won't notice for at least
another ten minutes. By then we'll be long gone, doing fun stuff.
Colin chuckled as Whitney closed the front door and they started
walking towards Whitneys Jeep. Loki is telling you Afterlife
stories isnt he? Luke nodded and Colin continued, Man,
dont worry about the paperwork. Ive been dead six months
and still have all of it except the debit card authorization and
the drivers license authorization. Do they honestly expect
dead teenagers to follow the Rules?
Whitney laughed as he pulled out onto the street. Yeah, man.
Loki is boring and Bart is FULL of himself. Never play Trivial Pursuit
with him. Takes four days because he explains every answer.
Colin nodded from the back seat. And he cheats. If he gets
an answer wrong he claims the game is wrong not him. Oh, Whitney,
Alex Whitman is back! Go pick him up and we can play paint ball.
Whitney sighed. Okay, but you know I have issues with playing
soldier. May not have the scars, but I can remember the real thing.
Whatever, stud. You have the new guy to massage your back
at nights and make you feel good. Thank goodness Alex is back or
Id be jealous. Colin leaned forward and tapped Lukes
shoulder. He point to their right. Over there is the Phoenix
entrance to the Heavenly Gates Mall. Not that many Dead in Phoenix
so its not that big. Loki has his office in there. Never ask
him about it because he claims its a hole in the wall.
Whitney gunned it down the road. Just wait Luke, being Dead
can be a blast. Just be glad you arent Reaper. That job sucks.
Colin laughed in the back seat. And the sex is great. Just
wait for the Halloween orgies!
Luke sputtered for a second. "Orgies?"
Whitney laughed and kept driving. Count on it. Trust me on
this, Luke, my friend. Despite what you may have heard, being Dead
is highly underrated.