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.


3. Seeds

The recouping of his senses, coupled with the blazing orange glow that swarmed his vision, brought Tony the promise of renewed freedom. It, like the man to whom it was subject, delivered such promises poorly.

The sensation of nothingness, the pervasive emptiness that drew memory and feeling away, had vanished. In its stead came a new torture; Tony was frozen, unmoving and numb to all physical sensation, unable to do anything other than think. The clarity was welcome after the foggy maze he had had to navigate to reach even the simplest thought since his departure into the bizarre.
 Whilst turning over the words returned to him before his entry to this world of orange and stillness, trying to infer any sort of context, Tony found himself startled by a sudden cluster of sounds. Muffled, distorted by something, but definitely a woman’s’ voice.
“Hello!” he hears himself cry through lips that never part.
“I can hear you; do you know where you are?” Silence.
“Hello! Answer me, dammit!” the snarl carries more desperation than anger.
“Damned idiot! What use are you? Just another invention to test my sani...” Tony finds his anger, more dominant in his cadence this time, cut-short by not just another series of slightly clearer, but still muffled, sounds (this time it’s clear the distortion is a joyous, tearful sniffling) but also by the streaks and forks of deep red easing into view, interspersed throughout the uniform orange glow that is now his whole world.
There was a gentle tap followed by rhythmic wailing. This seemed to elicit gasps of joy and saccharin mewling from the originator of the muffled voice. A picture was starting to form in the back of Tonys’ mind; memories of a conversation somewhere far away became more solid.  Any ambiguity towards his newly-formed theory was discarded as the no-longer-muffled sounds of the, now numerous, enigmatic voices conversed excitedly in a reverential hush.
“Ten fingers, ten toes. Perfect. You were amazing” came a voice masculine and unfamiliar.
The veil of frustration begins to descend, bringing the first tremors of rage, when it’s suddenly stopped dead by the only thing that could have taken the fight out of him. Far from unfamiliar, the voice that came next was the thing he dreamed of most.
“Well I can’t take all the credit; none of this would have been possible if you hadn’t been such a charmer Mr Jones.”
It was more youthful and scores more vibrant than he could remember, but his mothers’ voice was unmistakable.
Another carousel of swirling memories floods Tonys’ mind; foggy recollections of bike-rides and ice-cream quickly make way for more lucid drudgery and misery: light draining more and more each day from those watchful, loving eyes. Tears streaming from them. A promise made holding a dying womans’ hand. The only broken promise that never left him.
The feeling of safety that blanketed him upon hearing his mothers' strong, vital voice was quickly banished by the familiar fury brought about by his latest revelation; the male voice, cocky and charming, had belonged to his father. It had to. He could hear the man who abandoned him as a baby, left him to care for a woman he knew to be dying, jovially making plans for their future.

Fury provided a segue for sadness and, his resolve depleted and mind becalmed, the final piece of the picture slotted into place.
“You won’t remember much of what I am about to tell you at first, mainly because I feel that is best.....”
Tony was only aware he had still been scrutinising the cryptic words of his unnervingly familiar guide once he had stopped.
The memories of the dingy room, the pain, the disembodied voice had come into sharper focus.
He understood now.
You will see it all. What did and what didn’t.”
His life. The Voice was talking about his life and, currently, he was witnessing the very beginning of it. Right from the floor-seats. Inside his own body. The red-streaks merely veins in his infant eyelids.
“Very good, even I am impressed and believe me when I say that in your case that is no meagre accomplishment.” The words announced a resonance from everywhere and nowhere.
“Now let’s clear a few things up, shall we? I imagine this has been confusing for you” Tony was still perturbed by the Voice despite – or perhaps because of- the newfound cordiality with which was speaking.
Cordial, but not friendly.
“Any questions?” it asked, with a worryingly lively inflection.
“Yeah...” Tony was surprised that his voice could get hoarse, in his current state “...can we have this conversation somewhere normal? Cabin fever’s making it hard to think.”
Impressed at the mixture of understanding of the situation and stifling of ego that were necessary for the request, he acknowledges with a simple, but weary “Very well”.
With that they stopped being there and started being nowhere.


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