When Death Comes Knocking

Cate Morden is stuck. She is stuck in a place no living person has ever seen.

She is stuck in the afterlife.

"There's got to be some mistake! I'm not dead!"
"That's what they all say... No mistake. If you're here, you're dead."

Cate knows she's still alive somewhere, she just needs to prove it to the cocky guy in charge, but time is running out, and as her quest goes on, she finds herself wanting to stay dead.

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2. Chapter One

The moment he died, I felt it. Another person was here to moan and groan and generally bug me. He’d be here to plead his case and try to get me to send him to Eternal Life, but he’d committed suicide – he chosen death, so no matter how convincing his argument he was going straight to Eternal Death.

I was having a rush of deaths, so I set his trial for three days’ time, in the afternoon, and sent him a guardian in the meantime. I could usually get through four or five trials a day, and I was currently working though the nights. It was a terrible job, to be a guardian. You had to guide around some dumb soul who did nothing but complain about how bad their life was, how much worse their death was, and how they were definitely going to Eternal Life. Moaners, they go to Eternal Death (aka Hell); I’m not putting up with them forever.

Just as I was getting ready to hear a young cancer patient’s story (she was almost certainly going to Eternal Life), another death registered. Heart attack, young, male. No background of heart problems; he just dropped dead. I assigned him a guardian and headed off to the court.

I swept in, and commanded the attention of everyone there. The Court was a vast space, with pillars and wood everywhere. It was a majestic room, and one I loved, not just because of the fun I had in there, but because it was so aesthetically pleasing. The young girl stood on her mark, her golden curls bouncing around her ears and rosy cheeks at contrast to her sombre expression. Her guardian stood and started to plead her case.

To be honest, I switched off. There are only so many sob stories you can listen to in one day, and we were nearing the end. I held my hand up to silence her, but she kept droning on. I cleared my throat and sat up straighter. No abate to the constant monotony of noise. (Now this is where I feel like telling a lie; I am not pleased with my actions, but even the best of us loose our tempers some times. I shall tell you the truth though, so you can understand me better.) I stood up, and sent my chair (a nice, plush red one) clattering noisily behind me.

“SILENCE! AT ONCE! I ASKED POLITLELY AND I ASKED AGAIN BUT YOUR VOICE GRATED AGAINST MY NERVES STILL. I WILL BE OBAYED, AND YOU HAVE DISOBAYED. LEAVE NOW!”

There was a deathly stillness resonating throughout the room. It was so quiet it was almost loud. It smothered me. Then, trembling at the knees, the guardian left her post and walked carefully out of the room, shooting an apologetic glance over her shoulder at her charge. The door was left to slam behind her, and I massaged my head, nursing a headache.

“Are you alright, sir?” a voice as clear and sweet as a bell rang out. The young child, Madeline, enquired.

“My dear, I will… survive. I apologise profusely for my untimely outburst, and hope that I haven’t scared you too much?”

“I’ll live… well, be fine at any rate. Thank you for getting rid of her. She’s really annoying.”

I burst out laughing; she had made my day. Her manner of speaking seemed so mature for one so young, but innocent simultaneously.

“It was no bother. I quite enjoyed it, actually. Now I suppose you wish to know your fate.” My headache was subsiding, and I braved a smile.

“If you please?” She looked like she was crossing her fingers behind her back.

“Madeline, I decree that you shall live forever in Eternal Life, commonly known as Heaven.” My voice boomed out, taking on the quality it always acquired when I gave orders.

Her small face lit up in a gigantic smile, and her curls bounced excitedly in a halo around her head.

“Thankyouthankyouthankyou! You’re the best!” Then she did something surprising. She ran up to me and wrapped her arms as far around my waist as they would go. She beamed up at me, then skipped from the room in excitement. I watched her go with a peculiar fondness.

“Court dismissed.” I murmured, before resigning myself to the backlog of deaths I had acquired during the process. 

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