"s 2015 Horror Write-off:

" New Jamestown "

Submitted by Joseph Hartman

When I died, they gave me wings and a halo and a manilla envelope full of employment applications. 

How I died isn't particularly important, though apparently neither is how I lived. A man in a white suit told me that this place represented a fresh start for everyone, no matter what horrible things they had done in life.

DEATH IS THE GREAT EQUALIZER. Those were the words emblazoned in flowery text over what I could only presume to be the pearly gates. They didn't look like much up close. Outside the Office of New Arrivals, there was the city, which was more or less the same as the ones back home.

Turns out the afterlife isn't much different from life. It got to the point where I assumed that I had survived my brush with death, and had just been kidnapped and carted off to this psuedo-utopia. Turns out I'm not the only one who had that idea. But after the suicide attempts failed, that was that. This was Heaven, Nirvana, Elysium, whatever you want to call it. It didn't make them any happier.

You can't get hungry here, nor thirsty. Wounds don't happen when they should, and things that should just plain kill you… don't. Pretty much the only thing you HAVE to pay for is rent, after you get a job, anyway. 

I got a position in this big factory, where we made all sorts of stuff. Toys, toothbrushes, candy, car pieces, it seemed like this place had everything. And it had room to spare, too, seeming to stretch on and on into infinity. And for all I knew, it did.

After work was over, I took to wandering the streets, trying to piece my life back together, bit by bit. After a whole life spent building myself up, basing my life around my body's needs and working from there, I found myself at a loss. Whenever I forget a meal, I feel I'm missing something. In the dead of night, when ribbons of color float across the sky instead of stars, I feel like I should be in bed. But fatigue is impossible. I can sleep, but I don't need to.

I don't need to do anything. All I can do is work for rent, and whittle away the rest of my cash on frivol. I could save up, but why bother? Why be even more bored than usual while waiting for my next shift to start? I'm already dead. Why should I care? Nothing I do matters anymore, so I just continue.

I stop going to work. They don't notice. I start wandering the streets of this dead town. It's not easy to be introspective: wherever there isn't loud music and neon lights telling me how great it is to be dead, there are musty backstreets that set me on edge, regardless of my apparent invulnerability. 

Boredom gives way to frustration. I start running. Everything's the same, always the same. Different faces, faces from long ago, surprised or sullen. But all the same face after a while, resigned to an eternity of meandering existence and lack of purpose. This can't be the afterlife. I won't accept it. And yet I can find no end to the city. Just pockets of empty buildings, unclaimed apartments, unfinished skyscrapers. As if the powers that be were still building the hereafter. I keep going.

I start to notice things. Mansions nestled into secluded street corners. Men in white suits walking out of them, some faces familiar, too soon dead to afford all that they have. People in strange suits, with opaque amber helmets, like spacemen, avoiding the crowds, but looking around in awe, like tourists.

I approach them, but they back away, wordlessly. Staring with single, unblinking amber eyes. I call out to them. No answer. I scream. They back away. I grab the nearest one, intent on shaking them by the shoulders until they say something, until they make some kind of attempt at communication. But I never get that far. As soon as I touch the vinyl of their suit, they clench up. And suddenly, we're in the sky. Rocketing upwards. In seconds, I lose track of the ground. Then blackness.

The shattering of glass. A body shakes below me, face slack as it goes into a violent seizure. The world is vague and cloudy. White suits.

"Oh god, not another-"

"Send it back, send it-"

"It'll kill-"

"Send them both back-!" 

"It doesn't matter-"

"-postpone the-"


"Next controlled death-"


I'm in the sky once more. For a moment, I can almost see a vibrant green, past the horizon of the city. But no time for that. No time for introspection. No time to consider-

Facedown in a cell. Halo dangling from my head. One of my wings is smashed beside me.

I think it's made of plastic.