By J. T. Hilltop
There was a really loud bang, sudden darkness, and a symphony of glass shattering into a million pieces followed by a wall of sound stereo system of twisting crunching metal in an uneven rhythm. “What t remember a thing. Yes, yes that’s it, yea, I was driving down the highway in a mad rush for work and then…..and then… and then what?” Everything is so damn foggy. No, not metaphorically foggy, actual dry ice on a stage foggy. “Wait! Where am I?” Am I in a fugue state filled with hazy wafting smoke. I don’t think so, I feel like an empty shell of a person, like everything passes through me but my memories are a plethora of echoes. Could this be death? No, but maybe I‘m just super stoned…It sure don’t smell like weed though, in fact it smells sort of clinical and pristine, maybe a hospital so probably not in my car stoned. So then where exactly am I? What’s with all the mist? Okay think…I was in my car on the way to work and what? “No! Oh shit now I remember, some asshole car came across the median straight towards me and into……. Oh fuck no, I was in an accident!” I am in a hospital. Yea, that’s it, I’m in a hospital and….. No wait, that can’t be right, the mist, no tubes or wires, no beeps, not in a bed, I’m…ah I’m in a… I’m sitting on a bench? No, not a bench. Wait! Am I fucking dead?” My flair for the dramatic apparently still alive I paused for effect…..That’s when shit began to settle into my head and shine a light on my situation. I am dead, I was killed in a car accident and now I’m in….. In where? The Twilight Zone? A morgue? Not Heaven! Purgatory then? Was I wrong about heaven and hell all this time? Maybe God’s punking me by placing me in the ‘Heaven Can Wait’ waiting room. Or sending me my own personal George Bailey AS2 guardian angel Clarence Oddbody to take me away and earn his wings. Hold on here, I’m an existentialist so if there is God he isn’t about to let me hang out on his turf, he’d probably send me to everlasting church or something just as tedious. So then just where the Hell am I, pardon the expression? As I was pondering my potential fate a loudspeaker broke the unearthly silence. “Hilltop, Justin Thyme? Is there a JT Hilltop here?”
Before I heard this announcement I was merely confused, attempting to piece together recent events. Some weird dream, maybe a coma dream or something but whatever it was I thought I was all alone. There are other people here waiting for what I supposed their own fates would be. I’m in some kind of group of the misplaced dead and I’m being paged. Now I’m like “Pew pew pew BAM.. Mindfuck!” Here I am trying to figure out what the hell is going on with my death when I get mind-fucked by a loudspeaker. Should I stand up or should I pretend I didn’t hear it? I was just about ready to find an exit when standing right in front of me was a young dude. “You’re JT, yes?” I gave this, this, umm, young entity the once over. A nerdy looking kid somewhere in his late twenties with thick rimmed glasses and a bargain store suit that was a bit to big for his small frail frame. He had thick short dark black hair with a pencil behind his ear but not a hint of a smile on his face. He didn’t even look my way as he was reading something on a clipboard waiting for confirmation from me. After a few seconds of silence he spoke again in a monotone voice, “Don’t make this difficult Mr. Hilltop, you’re already dead so you really have nowhere else to go. Nobody gets out so just come with me please.” He never even waited for acknowledgement just began walking away. I followed blindly as he led me down a hallway.
I was kinda hoping he was in search of his lost personality but sensed he was searching for my place whatever that may be. A place for me to exit. What a shit word to think of when your dead, exit! I decided I would try and engage this nerd so maybe he could help acclimate me as to just where I was or give me an indication of where we were heading, “So I died huh? Was it the accident? I bet it was the accident. So what, is this your full time job or are you just filling in? Is this even a job bringing the dead to their final destination?“ No response, “Come on man have some pity on a dead dude, help me out a little. Who exactly are you working for?” His pace quickened, “We all have our tasks here Mr. Hilltop. I work for no one and yet I work for everyone now just come along please, no time for idle chatter.” I processed his statement. No time? Maybe he has no time but if I’m dead then time is irrelevant, “I’ve nothing but time young dude, so help an old man out, what’s going on here? What are you like the Geek Death Squad?” The nerd shook his head as though I was exasperating to him, “Mr.Hilltop you died! Expired, kicked the bucket. You have ceased to exist. You were in a car accident and died because a drunk driver hit you head on. Looking over your file sir it seems about as an approprriate way to die as I’ve ever seen given your pension for the bottle. That or cirrhosis but either way how you died is insignificant. Your at the terminal right now, and please no lame jokes about the name terminal its been done a few million times over the years by people far more witty than you think you are. I’m a death agent assigned to take you to your Sherpa who will assist you in your transition. Now please keep quiet and continue to follow me we’re nearly there.” Transition? Great, more questions less answers. I peered at the doorways along the way and it appeared they had different religious symbols on them until we reached one door that had a big red X and the word Atheists on it.
Suddenly I was feeling like my head was spinning. Not really dizzy, but constantly spinning. Grumpy the young douche-nerd death agent opened a door speaking to someone on the other side, “I have a very uncooperative Mr. Justin Thyme Hilltop here sir. He never shuts up and he is now your problem, not mine.” The person on the other side of the door mumbled something incomprehensible and the young agent of death let out an exasperated sigh, “Well techniquely he doesn’t believe in any deity so he’s all yours Dee.” The door opened wide as the agent motioned to me to walk through. I walked inside. That is to say I walked through the door but actually found myself outside. It was about halfway up a huge beautiful mountain. Surrounded by gorgeous greenery of tree’s and shrubs, the sound of running water combined with an assortment of indefinable sounds made from various animals. I mumbled “paradise” as I noticed an old man with long white hair complete with matching silvery beard standing in front of me. “What the fuck are you like Kung Fu Gandalf or something man? Am I in Middle Earth?” The old man smiled warmly like…..well like Gandalf actually, “No Justin, I’m not Gandalf, I’m certainly no magician or wizard or even ninja and this is nothing like Middle Earth. You’re on Interface Mountain. I’m what you might call your Sherpa, my name is Dee Bays. Its my job to lead you back to the Mountain Mainframe after discovering your rightful place. Hopefully you can be re-appropriated correctly.” I chuckled, “You’re who then and this is what now? Sorry old dude but I didn’t get a word of what the hell you just said. All I wanna know is are you the one who can tell me what exactly is going on here?” The man had ancient looking eyes, much older than even he himself. It appeared as though they had viewed centuries of pain and sadness yet they had an incredibly calming effect. It was as though those warm narrow orbs were a separate entity that seemed to wrap me in a hug putting me at ease. Old dude placed his arm over my shoulders, “It’s okay Justin, or do you really prefer JT?” I smiled, “You can call me whatever you want but I prefer JT. How much longer do I have?” The old dude let a small laugh slip out, “Are you in a hurry JT? I can speed this up if you want?” I was pretty sure he was teasing me but just in case I answered with a hint of fear and desperation, “No,no,no, seriously, I’m in no hurry. Its just….Well my head is spinning and I’m confused.” Old dude began walking up a mountain path signaling for me to follow, “Your head is spinning because of the buffering JT, it’s a side effect of dying. It will go away once your operating system is re-booted.” More confusion, “My operating system? Re-boot? What the fuck?”