Jeremy opened his tired eyes to disorienting white light. They immediately burned from the sudden light and he squeezed them shut. After a few moments, he slowly opened his eyelids to dancing red dots as the shimmering light dimmed and revealed a small train station. The white walls stretched on endlessly as Jeremy set his cold feet on the marble floor, the overhanging lights bouncing jauntily off the blank ground. Looking up from his feet, their lie a small dip and a pair of railroad tracks winding into forever in each direction. Standing up from the plastic bench that Jeremy was sitting on, he looked around to note that he was completely alone in this temple of light. His hand went to his coat pocket to find his phone, but only to realize that he was wearing a spotless snowy robe instead of his usual trench coat and undershirt.
I certainly didn’t put this one before bed… he thought to himself as he continued exploring his new clothes. His inner monologue was interrupted by the clanking footsteps from a pair of large boots, Jeremy turned to face the new comer but only to forget that the plastic bench behind him. Tumbling forward and struggling to keep his robe on, Jeremy landed chin first at the boots of a tall man. He wore large leather black boots that stretched up to his knees, his dress pants stuffed lazily into his boots and held up by a thin fraying belt. Just above his waist he wore a cleanly tucked in white dress shirt, hiding under his black suit and tie. The man smiled graciously as he lent a hand and heaved Jeremy to his feet.
“Sir I’m… I’m terribly sorry, but I’m not sure where I am” Jeremy asked, smiling tentatively. The man beamed a large smile, revealing a set or pristine teeth.
“Yes, few people do. But you must ask yourself, it a question of where you are? Or where you are going?” he stared at Jeremy with his large brown eyes. “Ticket please.” He stuck his open hand out towards Jeremy.
“Is this a dream?”
“Dreams are really a matter of perspective of whether it’s fantasy or reality. Perhaps this ‘dream’ is more real than you think. It certainly isn’t any less real than your supposed reality.” A moment of silence passed. “Ticket please, the train will be boarding momentarily.”
“But there isn’t any train here.”
“There will be soon, in just about…” The man rolled up his suit sleeve to reveal seven or eight watches attached to his wrist and stretching up to his arm. “About a freckle past forever. Now for the last time, may I please have your ticket sir.”
Jeremy looked down at his milky robe, “I don’t have one.” The man laughed heartily, his silky voice jouncing across the endless light.
“Of course you do, it’s in your right breast pocket.” Jeremy reached across his robe to the pocket, and sure enough, he found a small silvery paper that read: “Boarding ticket. One way trip to get to the other side…” Jeremy didn’t finish reading because the man snatched it out of his hands and started reading fervently.
“Hmmm, interesting turn of events. Usually I get older folk… But lets see.” The man started reading the ticket aloud. “Jeremy Bloom. 5’ 9”, 37 years of age. Brown hair, blue eyes. Married to a Delilah Bloom for three years” The man’s fingers drummed across the back of the card before turning to Jeremy. “Certainly an unfortunate choice in women you have.”
“I beg your pardon!”
“Oh… did I say that aloud? My condolences. Tick tock.”
“Now I know this is a dream.”
“Just as much as a dream as the other fantasy you were living. Who are you to define what is real and what isn’t. Tell me, do you remember what was happening before you got here?”
Jeremy opened his mouth, but slowly closed it as he furrowed his brow in thought. “It’s all a little fuzzy… but I do know I was getting to bed early because it was a Monday night, Delilah was out late at work. I… I think I was sleeping, and then I remember a door. Yes yes, the door opened and someone walked in… and than that’s it. I woke up here.” The man pursed his lips, and checked his watches.
“Tick tick tock, and you don’t remember anything? No pain, no screams, no nothing?” Jeremy shook his head. “That’s always nice, pleasantly peaceful I like to call it.”
Jeremy ignored his comment, “So then… what is this place?”
“Why, it’s the lingering. Your first stop of where to go next, sometimes I feel like people are so caught up in what’s happening to them in the moment, that they’re ignorant to the ticking of what’ll happen next. What can people do when they live in such a world of fools as where you came from?” The man looked up at Jeremy, letting another moment slip through the time and sail like dust flittering in the air. “You do realize you’ve been shot, don’t you?”
“I’m sorry?” Jeremy panicked for a moment patting his chest for any gaping holes, leaking precious blood.
“Right on your forehead in fact. Just above your left eye.” Jeremy’s hand felt feverishly over his forehand and stopped when it reached the small gaping hole. His crusty skin flaking away around the hole, no blood or pain. Just blank gap, filled with the silver shards of a bullet. Jeremy licked his lips, his hand trembling, “wh-... what happened?”
“Well, to state the evident you were shot. Your wife developed a recent addiction to gambling along with an obsession of embarking upon sexual intercourse with a certain Sam Lebony, hence why she’s been so late from supposed working. Getting into debt, she needed the money from your will and you out of the way to pursue her Sam. Came home with a gun, tick and tock, a shot and you’re here. Thus why you’re choice in women is quite vacuous.” The man let out a broad smile and checked his wrist with no watches. “Good heavens we’re running short on time, a freckle past a hair already!”
Jeremy melodically rubbed his hollow cranny. His voice quivering faintly “So… So than… am I dead?”
“He can be taught. Now we have a firm grip of the obvious.”
“So, what do I do now?” Jeremy said, looking at the man helplessly.
“You decide where to go from here, your ticket will take you to the other side.” The man took out a single hole puncher, perforating a clock face into the right corner with a single “Click.” He offered the ticket back to Jeremy. “I suppose you could wallow in self pity like some people instead of looking ahead, but I do suggest taking the train.”
“Where will the train take me?”
“Onward, forward, progression, through the light. You could call it the city of the dead. If you don’t want to take the train you could try to hitch hike back to the land of the living. But in my opinion, that always ends poorly. Nearly impossible to do, and your loved ones seeing your walking corpse doesn’t exactly put you in the most positive light. Haha, Tick tock.”
“And if I stay here?” Jeremy asked. The man clicked his tongue and grinned, shaking his head he pointed to a sign plastered to the ivory wall. It read: “No Loitering”
“Rules are rules, terribly sorry.” The man said as Jeremy sat down at the plastic bench, distressed.
Jeremy paused for a moment, his hands gripping to his ticket like it was a lifeline. “What’s it like?”
“What’s it like? The city of the dead?” Jeremy looked up at the man.
“Well, you know I’m not entirely sure. I’ve never been myself. Someone has to stamp the tickets you know,” he gave his hole puncher a couple clicks. “Really quite tranquil being me. Ticking and tocking, Staying in one place, never having to worry about what to do, or where to go next.”
“Well, how do you deal with it? Being... well being dead. You are dead right?” Jeremy asked, his hands shaking slightly.
“Me? Well, I suppose legally speaking I am dead, according to paper and documents that is. Technically… well perhaps we could save that conversation for another day” the man let loose an ebullient smile, taking out a pocket watch from his breast pocket. “Tickidy Tock, goodness gracious, you best make up your mind soon Mr. Bloom, it’s already a quarter past never. The train will be arriving momentarily.”
Jeremy laced his fingers anxiously, “but how do you deal with it..? There has to be something you can tell me. Something coherent and fruitful!”
“Well no need to get snippy sir, I suppose the best advice I can give is that death is really an issue of mind over matter.” The man stepped into the dip and stood on top of the railroad tracks. “If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” The man’s arms stretched forward as he placed them on Jeremy’s shoulders, heaving him up to his feet once again. The entire station began to roar as a large, milky, plastic train came rumbling down the tracks.
The man let go of Jeremy’s shoulders, who looked down with trepidation at the man. The man giggled gaily before saying “tick tock” as he liberated one last jovial smile before the train crashed into him. His body immediately disintegrating into white smoke that were engulfed by the vapors seeping from the train as it screeched to a slow stop. The doors opened and Jeremy drummed his fingers mellifluously against his robe for a moment. He looked down at his ticket and took a deep breath as he slowly stepped into the colorless locomotive. Closing his eyes and listening to the “whoosh” of the doors closing behind him, the train groaned forward.
P.S: Ok so this is pretty much the first half way decent short story I have ever written, but I need help on it. What am I missing and what can I correct? Short stories are certainly not my forte and there are something that I really want to get better at. I except all comments and criticisms :). Thank you for reading everyone! (also sorry for the weird tab spacing, I'm not sure how to fix that...).