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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4. Chapter Three

Their conversation was very repetitive, and after a while, I couldn’t bear to listen anymore; I thought they were better than that. I mentally sorted all the recent deaths and gave them all court dates. Switching off, I meandered into my own little thought train, which I had once heard referred to as a ‘mind palace’. What went on in my mind was a lot more amusing than what was actually going on.

Sorting the deaths got so repetitive, it almost bored me to death, except for the fact that I WAS Death. But knowing the system, the routine, inside out meant that any anomaly, any slight change, leapt out at me and hit me in the face. And there was a rather large anomaly occurring then. So large that even an incompetent fool like… anyone who wasn’t me… couldn’t miss it. That girl, Cate, she still wasn’t registered as a death. And my internal computer doesn’t have faults or bugs, it doesn’t break. Which left only one solution. “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth” as my good friend Sherlock Holmes once said. Applied to this situation, I realised that Cate must not be dead.

But yet she was here. The Stopping Place, a place for souls to rest, awaiting their judgement. For some, it was a taste of what was to come in Eternal Life; for others, it was the last taste of luxury before they fell to Eternal Death. But for all, good or bad, old or young, rich or poor, it was the place they went to after death. No one came to the Stopping Place if they were still alive. Well, now there was an exception to that rule, which unfortunately disproved the rule. Catlin Morder was something of a mystery to me, a challenge that must be solved. Finally! I had something to do! If only she was dead, then I could have theoretically replayed the image of her death in my mind to see what went wrong. But that would be counteractive, as then I would have no reason to watch her death; there would be no mystery.

Ah, but then I remembered her parents. They were dead; they died in a car crash, in which Cate was inevitably involved. I riffled through the documents ‘saved’ onto the ‘hard drive’ in my head. Flicking swiftly through the alphabetised index, I soon found what I wanted: Morder, Brian followed by Morder, Jane. I selected the latter, on a whim, and settled down to watch it.

As usual, my mind went completely blank, then I saw an image of Jane Morder’s face, weathered and old, but I could see a hint of Cate’s beauty. One of the advantages of being eternal is that you never age. I’m stuck with the image of a twenty five year old man. Dark charismatic hair, and eyes that bore into you, seeing everything you are, were and ever will be, all at the same time. My skin is olive toned, and I have to say, I am in great shape. The rock hard six-pack confirms that. I don’t work out, I’m just fortunate in that way. But I digress…

The story begins to play out. I see a rusty blue car, small, but packed to the rafters (not that cars have rafters) with holiday equipment. It speeds down a motorway, following a sports car, keeping up with it amazingly well. Maybe the driver is just excellent. The scenery rushes by as I follow it, trees just a blur in the corner of my eyes. The road is flat, and the sun is low in the sky, reflecting on the windscreen of the car, making it hard for the driver to see. A woman sits next to him, Jane. She looks at a sat nav, before turning around to check on her daughter in the back.

Cate slept, her head resting on the window, her mouth slightly open. She was wearing a white summer dress after visiting her family, and the air con in the car was making her a little chilly, so she had wrapped her mother’s coat around her to keep her warm as she slept. The seats beside her were covered in her books for the journey, which she’d finished by half way through the journey. There was also a couple of gifts that relatives had given them for Cate’s birthday, but she wasn’t allowed to open them until the day, in three days’ time; she couldn’t wait!

Her mother turned around in her seat, and just looked at her daughter for a minute. It seemed that when she was sleeping she turned into the new-born baby that she held in her arms this time nearly sixteen years ago. Jane smiled. Then she spoke softly, calling her daughter’s name. Cate woke up, and lifted her head from the window, rubbing her eyes sleepily.

At that moment, this idyllic scene turned nightmarish. The car hit a patch of oil on the road and span, out of control. The driver hit the gas, thinking that the quicker they were out of this oil puddle the better. Only in hitting the gas, he sent the car into an unchangeable path straight into the brick wall edging the motorway. The car concertinaed, and the mother, facing backwards, had her face smashed into the back of her seat, crushing her nose and face. My mind went black, which is when she must’ve died.

So yes, Cate was there. But did she die? I didn’t know. Which was a painful expression to say. All I did know was that I was going to find out. 

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