Déjà vu?

This was to be my entry to The Afterlife competition until gosh-derned technology thwarted that plan. I've treated this as providence and decided to expand upon it slightly with the extra time/removal of character limits.

This is a story of regret, reflection and rage. It couldn't have been anyone, but it could be everyone. It's so easy to follow a path that seems to be laid out for you, by family, by fate, but doing whats right usually doesn't mean doing what's easy.


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1. Epiphany

Ordinarily if anyone were to walk past room 24B of the High-water Care centre during Tony “Nice Guy” (as had become his most prolific moniker) Jones’ time there, they would see a scene typical of a place where people go to die; patients grappling with the 7 stages of grief, their families trying to look like they aren’t. Not that Tony had many visitors to show him this, or any, kind of emotion and people rarely dared to venture down his hall unbidden. But if they did then today…today they would see something quite extraordinary.

“Slow, painful. No different than if our paths had ne’er intertwined. I have neither the inclination nor the authority to change that” said a voice that seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere at once, soft as a whisper on the wind.
Tony looked up, dismally, the gaunt outline of his face exacerbated by the puce green walls and scant lighting of his private suite giving the room a sickly hue. His eyes had retained a shred of youthful exuberance, albeit hidden behind the penetrating darkness of his gaze; the brilliance of the iris the event horizon to the devastating black holes that took the place of pupils.
“Hah..” was all he could force out before the 7th fit of hacking, choking glottal convulsions(to call them “coughs” would be under-selling them somewhat)this hour “...direct, officious; you’re a man after my own heart” he rasped, listlessness and anguish the calling card of his drawling these days.
“That is entirely the point, is it not? Is it not? If there is anything to be had I fear something decidedly more sinister is cradling it already” came the voice-on-the-wind once more, showing the first signs of interest, as far as interest can be discerned from such a being, since their impromptu meeting began.
“Hahahahahaha, you are a riot! Truly! Unfurl your parchment, unlock your briefcase or gather whatever paraphernalia a creature like you needs before buying a persons' soul.” Had he been in human company that statement may have raised a few eyebrows, but Tonys’ company had been far from human for far too long.
“As I stated at commencement: this does not constitute a purchase. Although the fact that you would barter in terms concerning your soul so readily is something you may want to consider, whilst you can.” The Voices tone reminiscent of a knowing Headmaster chiding a perennially difficult student.
“Save the sanctimony, get on with it!” the growl emanating from Tony betraying his illness, defying the crumbling physical form he had cherished, for he had been a handsome man before the withering effects of decades of abusing a cornucopia of chemicals.
“You truly are miserable, aren’t you? Very well......” The Voice was unperturbed by the outburst. “You won’t remember much of what I am about to tell you at first, mainly because I feel that is best.....”
Never content with anybody else pulling the strings, Tony reached for a pen from the bedside cabinet  - slowly and with more trepidation than he would have liked - in the hopes of taking notes on the voices mutterings before signing whatever Faustian contract he was sure he would soon be faced with. Instead, upon returning his face to the place where the strange shimmer in the air conversed with him, he found himself instead drifting downwards, into darkness, with a sense that his agreement was signed with something infinitely less corporeal and more precious than ink. The panic that should have filled his heart was instead a mild worry, surpassed by avid curiosity at the article tightly locked in his grip: a post-it note with nothing on it, save for an X, a dotted line and the hastily scribbled words above it. Words that read

“A. Jones, now and maybe”

 

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