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Authors: Deb McEwan

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Suspense, #Contemporary Fiction, #Action & Adventure, #Psychological, #Romance

Beyond Life

BOOK: Beyond Life
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Beyond Life

(Afterlife Series Book 2)

By Deb McEwan

 

The right of Deb McEwan to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

 

All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

 

Copyright Deb McEwan 2014

 

              Chapter 1             

 

According to the Committee it had taken centuries to break him but finally it had happened. His optimism about the goodness of people failed him, and he focused on the less than one per cent of the human race who were intrinsically evil. They said that God had had a nervous breakdown and was no longer in charge of the Committee.

*****

Gabriella was busy supervising a number of grade five spirits in their mission to bring Sandy to Cherussola when she received a call to put Sandy’s journey on hold. She was told to appear in front of the Committee as a matter of urgency. Had she been a lower grade she would not have had the courtesy of a call. The juniors looked at her, none of them realising the seriousness of the situation. Their faces were masks of confusion and their indecisiveness showed a complete lack of leadership amongst one and all. It wasn’t the first time that Gabriella silently wished for the company of the feisty Claire and her more sensible, but less talented companion Ron.

‘Alex, Colin, you two are in charge. Keep her here until I return and concentrate, I don’t want the evils to get hold of her,’ she resisted the urge to say
yet
and disappeared in a whoosh before the usual torrent of questions. This new batch she’d been given to train-up were distinctly below average and would try the patience of a saint.

 

Standing in front of the Committee Gabriella’s intuition had served her well and she had correctly assumed that they’d changed their mind about Sandy’s fate.

‘But look what that poor woman’s been through. Surely she deserves a chance at redemption?’

Raphael looked at his twin sister and nodded. He remained seated at the table when he spoke.

‘I agree with Gabriella. She’s suffered throughout her adult life and doesn’t deserve to go to hell,’ he looked at the eleven in turn before his eyes rested on his mother. ‘Surely we should give her a chance at the very least?’

Amanda studied her son and daughter. She’d promoted Raphael to the Committee hoping that Gabriella would be jealous and their bond would lessen, but to no avail. If anything it had made them even closer. And when she needed Raphael to support her, he sided with his sister apparently not overly concerned with the consequences. Well, he should be.

She stood up and pushed her chair away from the round table. Its shape implied a democracy but Amanda had taken charge a number of years ago due to the indecisiveness of the other Committee members. She looked around now and her smile rested on God. She remembered what he’d been like before the never-ending round of war, famine and murder had finally taken its toll and caused his nervous breakdown, and a major loss of confidence. Nevertheless his counsel was wise and generally accurate and he was happy as long as he didn’t have to make the final decisions. She’d discussed Sandy’s case with him privately before the meeting and decided that the woman should be punished for her weakness in adult life.

‘Remember the parties where the evil man sold young girls to his sick clients?’ they murmured in agreement.

‘Well Sandy often drugged the drinks of those young girls and...’

‘But she also saved the one that was kidnapped,’ Gabriella interrupted, exasperated at the way the meeting was going.

‘I agree.’ Raphael sided with his sister yet again.

Amanda gave her children a look that silenced them. ‘We all know how much those girls suffered. Some have been able to put it behind them, some are still suffering and all are scarred for life. Now we vote.’

Discussion over, Amanda asked for a show of hands for those in favour of sending Sandy to hell and damnation. All but Raphael voted with her.

‘Decision made. Now to other business.’

All heads turned to Raphael at the sound of his chair scraping along the floor.

‘I can’t do this any more,’ he was trying his best to stay calm but his fists were clenching with the effort as he stood up. Gabriella knew the signs and so did their mother. His sister walked toward him and placed a hand on his upper arm for both support and restraint.

‘It was a mistake and you were promoted too soon. You still have a lot to learn, son.’ Amanda was determined that her son’s demotion would be her decision and not his. ‘Rejoin your sister’s team and try not to get too emotionally involved.’ She turned away from him dismissively, hiding her disappointment well. Gabriella pulled her brother’s arm none too gently, willing him to keep quiet as they left the Committee Chambers.

He vented his anger once they were out of earshot. ‘I don’t believe it. It seems so wrong,’ he banged his fists together in frustration. ‘There are many worse than her who’ve made it and proved their worth, and some who haven’t.’

Gabriella listened as he let off steam and listed an extraordinary amount of names and dates. Some of them she’d forgotten and as usual, her brother’s memory and attention to detail never failed to amaze her.

He stopped suddenly, deflated.

‘Look what you’ve given up, Raphael for a point of principle. I hope it was worth it?’

‘Truth be told the novelty wore off and though I hate to admit it, Mum was right,’ he winked at his sister, his calm demeanour returning as quickly as it had left him. ‘I’d much rather be where the action is.’

She knew he was trying to make good of a bad situation and although jealous when he’d been the most junior angel promoted to the Committee, she was also very proud of him and sad that he’d been removed. It was a double-edged sword though, despite the initial disappointment Gabriella did need help on her team and was grateful to have someone she could trust one hundred per cent.

*****

Sandy’s journey upwards in a sea of warm loving hands made her smile with wonder and awe at her first impressions of death. No longer would she have to tolerate the abuse from Big Ed and be complicit in his acts of evil. She had no idea what was going to happen next but the hands touching her seemed to radiate goodness and she relaxed and allowed herself to enjoy the experience. She felt a rough jolt and dropping sensation, as if on an aircraft that had suddenly lost height, and the pleasantness disappeared in the blink of an eye. The soft gentle hands were no more and fingers poked and prodded. She looked down in horror. Some were bloody, some without nails, others half-eaten by maggots. The fear that she’d experienced while alive on Earth magnified ten-fold. Sandy squeezed her eyes closed and screamed but nobody came to help. Still screaming she was taken through the dark gates to receive unfitting retribution for allowing herself to be too weak-willed and easily led in her last life.

The pain in her earthly life had been easy in comparison to what Sandy was forced to endure next, and she lost all track of time. The agony of her skin on fire, boiling blood being dropped into her eyes and thousands of insects crawling into every orifice and eating her from the inside out couldn’t be properly defined, and Sandy regretted every weakness and bad decision she’d made on Earth.

Whenever she thought the pain and humiliation was over for a while, something else happened and she felt like a hamster on a wheel spinning with pain. This time she appeared in the dark circle. All was quiet until she heard someone retching. The sound was soon accompanied by another then another and before long that was all she could hear. The first lot of vomit hit her on her chest and she watched as the fluid dribbled downwards except for one stray carrot piece that remained stuck between her breasts. From her previous experience she knew that worse was to come and it wasn’t long before all the demons were puking on her. She looked around at the sea of sick and realised what her fate was to be on this occasion. Screaming and crying did her no good but that didn’t stop her, and she screamed until she gagged on the viscous liquid and could scream no more.

Despite or maybe because of the pain and indignity Sandy refused to cooperate with the demons. She knew they were lying when they told her the pain would stop if she would follow their orders and carry out their heinous crimes against the living, and those dead like her. She was determined not to sell her soul to the devil and her experience with evil people while living meant that she easily recognised the lies she was being fed. So, she endured and when she next opened her eyes experienced her first life in the body of an animal. It took a moment for Sandy to realise that she was being humped. When she struggled, the teeth dug deeper into her back so she remained still and suffered in silence. When he’d finished, the rabbit jumped off and Sandy moved away from him as quickly as she could. Realising she was hungry, she sniffed her way towards some fresh grass. Before she arrived at the spot she was looking for Sandy was being jumped again. It was not enjoyable and she looked around while the animal on her back had his way with her. The scene was being replicated throughout the field and the look on the faces of the other female rabbits mirrored that of Sandy’s. The males seemed to be aggressive and overly cruel and she wondered if these were genuine animals or, like her, had been sent here to suffer or to make others suffer. They certainly weren’t the fluffy type she’d encountered during her time as a human. After the fourth time she could take no more and made a bid for escape. Running for all she was worth, Sandy was being pursued by at least four randy bucks. There may have been more but she daren’t slow down to count them. Her heart was beating too fast and she was exhausted but still she ran. Eventually the strength of her followers prevailed and she was caught. They took it in turns, time and time again and finally her torn and exhausted body could take no more. Her days as a rabbit were over but there was no relief for her as she was returned to the pits of hell.

It was the flapping that brought her round this time. Sandy assumed it was birds but then remembered that she had liked birds when living and knew she couldn’t be that lucky. As she slowly opened an eye she couldn’t take in what she was seeing first of all. Her whole body seemed to be moving but she was completely still. Then a moth the size of an eagle hovered right in front of her face. Sandy closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She started sweating, trying to tell herself that her moth phobia was irrational and that they couldn’t hurt her. But these were no ordinary moths. The pain of the flesh being ripped from her body was excruciating and she called for help and salvation, but when the demons came, she still refused to agree to be their slave.

Sandy’s endurance, regret for her weakness in life, and refusal to join the evils frustrated the demons. They could only claim those that were pure evil or who would turn to pure evil and Sandy’s soul was neither. Gabriella’s spies had informed her of Sandy’s actions and Gabriella had listed them for the Committee’s attention. Gabriella and Raphael had discussed their options and decided their best chance was to approach their mother, rather than copy the details to all members of the Committee. Amanda didn’t call a meeting this time but brought Sandy’s actions to the attention of the Committee by way of a memo. It wasn’t unusual for the occasional soul to be saved from Hell and given a second chance, so Amanda didn’t see any need to admit that a mistake had been made. They all agreed that Sandy had showed bravery and fortitude against all odds and her soul deserved another chance. So it was towards the end of her next animal incarnation that she was to be brought to Cherussola.

Being a dung beetle wasn’t so bad Sandy considered, trying to convince herself as she softened the manure before chewing on it. She certainly preferred this life to that of a female rabbit, which had involved more pain and fear. Whatever happened, it always ended in pain and fear, and the laughter of the angry demons who actually seemed to enjoy her agony and the journey back down there. Then it all started over again. Yes, eating shit was definitely preferable to that. She was a dung beetle and should enjoy it but no matter how hard she tried, it still tasted like shit and she gagged every time she tried to swallow. She knew that not eating would make her weak and lessen her chances of survival but Sandy couldn’t help herself. Letting her guard down when she was pondering her existence, she didn’t notice the small shadow above her and was easy prey for the hungry starling. As the bird cracked her shell it dropped her, still alive and she plummeted to earth knowing that her short life as a dung beetle was over.

The hideous hands started poking and prodding and she felt herself being pulled downwards again. Sandy thought she was imagining it when the cruel hands were slowly replaced by soft, gentle ones. She recalled the hands when she had first died and they reminded her of that experience. She quickly put that thought from her mind; assuming that this was just another cruel trick and that if she got comfortable the evil demons would appear and say
April Fool
or something similar. Now there were only gentle hands and Sandy noticed the change in direction. She started to hope against hope that her days with the evils were over. Eventually she allowed herself to relax and enjoy the journey.

BOOK: Beyond Life
12.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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