What happens when we die?

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Blatant advertising, I’m afraid. Here’s an excerpt from my new kids book Johnny Nothing (https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00ITZTOUA). This chapter attempts to answer such time immemorial questions as:

What happens after we die?

What does god look like?

Why are most accountant transvestites?

Why does the devil resemble Alan Titchmarsh?

I hope you enjoy it!

 

Chapter 22  – Handbags

Ebenezer Dark was having a dream about the instructions that he had given to Johnny Nothing a day or so earlier when the youngster had visited his office. It was both a convenient and an inconvenient dream. 

It was convenient because it gives me the ideal opportunity to do a movie-style flashback and let you know exactly what was said to Johnny in his office on the day in question. It was inconvenient because Mr. Dark was currently sitting in the driver’s seat of his car, which, even more inconveniently, was hurtling down the motorway very, very quickly indeed.

To make matters worse, sitting behind the wheel of a small mini and hurtling very, very quickly indeed in the opposite direction was a young lady named Minnie Driver. To make matters worse she was mini driving on the wrong side of the motorway. Silly moo, don’t you agree?

What’s the chances of this but Minnie was also a solicitor and she was also asleep and having a dream about a ten-year-old boy named Ronny who had visited her for advice only the other day? In actual fact, Ronny was the star of another book called ‘Ronny Everything’ and his parents had just stolen HIS cash card in order to stop HIM from spending all the wonga. Funny old world, isn’t it?

It’s an absolutely amazing coincidence – I’m not denying it – and opens up all sorts of exciting possibilities for sequels prequels, cross-pollination of story-lines, Ebenezer and Minnie falling in love and getting married, etc. etc. But…

Bang!

Actually, that bang is simply not loud enough to describe the truly ear-splitting noise that the two motorcars produced when they crashed into each other head-on. Let’s try all caps and a couple of exclamation marks:

BANG!!

Still not good enough.

How about a nice illustration to demonstrate just how loud that bang was?

 

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That’s better. Although if you’re reading the interactive version of this book press the button to the left labelled ‘BANG!!’ and you’ll get an even better idea of the ear-splitting noise that the crash produced. For still more fun, wait until your dad’s having a snooze on the sofa and hold your iPad or Kindle up to his waxy earhole and press the button. Write and tell me what happens.

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced having a dream in the middle of a car crash and then waking up to find that you were dead. I can’t say it’s happened to me much lately. But if you haven’t I can tell you that it really is confusing. In fact, when Ebenezer and Minnie awoke from their dreams to find themselves dead, their level of confusion was simply off the confusion scale.

The first thing that they noticed was that they were floating a good ten or twelve feet above the wreckage of their smashed up vehicles. This is what happens when you die — ask a teacher. You leave your body and float away into infinity. At least, that’s what I read somewhere I think. Looking down they could see their mashed up bodies sitting motionless in the respective driver’s seats of their mangled cars. It looked like an explosion in a tomato ketchup factory that had been sprayed with zombie gore.

The next thing they noticed was each other. And out of politeness they both gave each other a friendly little wave and a really cute bashful smile. This initial joviality quickly disappeared, however, when the pair of them put two and two together and realised what had happened. It was Ebenezer Dark who spoke first:

‘I do believe that we’re dead,’ he glumly announced in his best solicitor’s voice. ‘And I do believe that you are culpable!’

‘I do believe that you’re correct,’ said Minnie Driver, in her best solicitor’s voice. ‘In that we are both dead. However, I do not agree that it is my fault. After all, you were asleep at the wheel.’

‘Agreed,’ agreed Mr. Dark, ‘In that I was asleep at the wheel. However, not only were you asleep at the wheel but you were also driving down the motorway on the wrong side of the road.’

Minnie Driver pondered this for a moment and watched as an ambulance duly appeared at the blood splattered scene. ‘I cannot fault the validity of your argument,’ she conceded finally. ‘For this reason I reluctantly accept culpability and I am willing to make a frankly insulting offer of damages.’

It was at this moment that another voice entered the fray. It was deep, and booming and masterful. LIKE THIS. Except in a really chunky font with better kerning and thunder and lightning coming from the top of the ‘H’.

‘I am God,’ the voice bellowed in a general tone that was a bit like that angry T. Rex in Jurassic Park when that stupid kid shone his torch in its eyes. ‘I created everything in six days and then took a day off for a break and I happened to be watching this stretch of the motorway when you crashed.’

Ebenezer Dark looked a little concerned. So did Minnie Driver, only more so.

‘This is what happens when you die…’ continued God, who, I should explain, looked quite a lot like an old man with a long white beard. He could easily have earned a little extra money in December by posing as Father Christmas, except that he wasn’t wearing a red costume; in fact, he didn’t seem to be wearing anything at all. (Which sort of begs the question that if you’re God and all powerful and omnipotent and all that, why would you make yourself look like a doddering old geriatric without any clothes on instead of, say, Brad Pitt or David Beckham in a really smart suit?) ‘…You float out of your bodies and I come to collect you so that I can decide whether you go upstairs or downstairs…’

At this point another figure floated into view. He had red skin and horns and hooves like a red skinned hoofed horny goat. He was carrying a large gardening fork. He jovially waved over at the two recently deceased solicitors. He seemed quite friendly actually. He smiled a lot and looked a little like Alan Titchmarsh⁠1 would if he fell into a vat of indelible red paint. 

‘If you have lived a worthy and honest life you will go upstairs and spend the rest of eternity having a pretty darned good time,’ said God. If, however, you have lived a worthless and dishonest life you will go downstairs and spend the rest of eternity sitting on a blow torch in the depths of hell or somewhere equally horrid such as Burnley…’

It was at this point that God thought for a moment. ‘Wait a second,’ he announced. ‘Aren’t you both solicitors?’

Ebenezer and Minnie shuffled about uncomfortably and looked downwards at their feet.

Suddenly there was a deafening clap of thunder and God shook his beard angrily, if such a thing is possible – although obviously God can do anything. He didn’t say a word. All he did was point his finger downwards and shake his head reproachfully, if such a thing is possible.

Without warning the scene went all shimmery and out of focus. A harp could be heard playing a weird ethereal tune like this: ‘da… dada… da… da dada’. You had to be there really. Then Ebenezer Dark awoke to find himself lying on a stretcher in an ambulance. ‘Calm down,’ said the voice of a white-suited doctor named Doctor White. ‘You’ve had a very bad accident and you’ve been dreaming.’

‘Thank God for that,’ said Ebenezer.

‘Nothing to do with God,’ said Doctor White. ‘More to do with this country’s woefully unappreciated ambulance service.’

‘Am I… Am I… badly injured?’ groaned Ebenezer.

‘Broken ribs, broken scull, perforated scrotum, pierced lung, pierced ears, ruptured spleen, broken neck, triple heart bypass, very bad cold, carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive strain injury, fractured skull, in-growing toenail… I don’t think you’ve got long, old boy.’

‘How long?’ asked Mr. Dark.

‘Well, put it this way,’ said the doctor, ‘I wouldn’t bother booking a holiday this year…’

‘Oh, dear…’

‘In actual fact, if you’ve got any tickets for the theatre this weekend I’d think about putting them on eBay as quick as you can.’

‘In that case I simply have to tell you what I said to Johnny Nothing when he visited me in my office the other day.’

‘Well I can’t pretend that I’m interested but if it makes you feel any better getting it off your chest then do go ahead,’ said Doctor White.

‘I’ll do it as a series of bullet points if you don’t mind,’ said Ebenezer Dark.

‘Whatever.’

‘I told him to:

  • Withdraw some money from the bank account.
  • Get rid off all the boxes that were cluttering the flat. Put them up for online auction or something. Put them on Gumtree because Gumtree doesn’t charge a 10% commission like other online auction sites.
  • Hire some cleaners and decorators and get that dung heap of a flat looking ship shape.
  • Get some office furniture to put papers and calculators on.
  • Hire Bill and Ben the bodyguard men. In fact, don’t bother. I’ll arrange it for you.
  • Lock your parents up in their bedroom to stop them getting up to any more mischief.
  • Telephone me when you’ve done all this so that I could come to see you and discuss how you are going to get all the money back that your thicko mother has squandered.’

‘Really… How interesting…’ murmured Doctor White, who was absent-mindedly thumbing through the blood-soaked listings guide of the local newspaper.

Ebenezer Dark closed his eyes for a moment and wondered if he was about to die for real this time. He thought about his life. Had it all been worthwhile? Had he done all the things he’d wanted to do when he was a young ambitious spotty nerd or had he wasted it by becoming a boring old solicitor? You’ll find that you probably do the same when you’re just about to die, particularly if you end up being a boring old solicitor. Either that or you’ll post stink bombs through the letter box of anybody who winds you up. Teachers, headmasters and evil ice-cream men are suitable targets. 

It was his father’s fault. The rotten swine. His father had been so mean and pushy when Ebenezer was a young bookworm reading copies of Solicitor’s Weekly. He’d never let him express himself. His father had forced him to become a solicitor. It was the most boring job in the world apart from, perhaps, a checkout girl in a £1 shop that no one ever goes to because it happens to be right next door to a 99p shop. Now that he was on the verge of death, Ebenezer Dark wanted to tell the whole world about the secret ambition that he had harboured deep inside him for all of his life. 

With as much energy as a dying man can muster, Mr. Dark opened his mouth and spat out some words with all his might: ‘I want to be a girl!’ he cried, feeling truly liberated for the first time in his life. ‘I want to be a girl! I want to wear dresses and make-up and go to pretty handbag shops!’

Ebenezer Dark was suddenly aware of another voice speaking to him. ‘Mr. Dark,’ it said, ‘Are you OK? Wake up! Wake up!’

Without warning the scene went all shimmery and out of focus for the second time and Mr. Dark opened his eyes to find himself slumped at the desk in Johnny’s little room in the council flat. Johnny was sitting in a chair opposite looking at him strangely. Bill and Ben were standing behind Johnny staring at him with their mouths wide open.

‘Hmmm… Sorry about that,’ said Mr. Dark. ‘I must have drifted off for a moment or two… I was having a dream about having a dream… Happens all the time, y’know.’

‘But Mr. Dark, we’re supposed to be thinking of ways of earning back the money that my mum has spent,’ said Johnny.

‘Hmm… That’s right…’ said Mr. Dark. ‘Now where were we?’

1 Portly red-faced bloke from the telly. Appears on boring gardening programmes and digs things out of the ground quite a lot.

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