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I died. I know I did because to the best of my knowledge, humans have not quite gotten the knack of breathing under water yet. And that's where my car ended up after I lost control on the wet, slippery bridge and crashed through the guard rail, plunging thirty feet into the raging, rain swollen river. If the seat belt hadn't jammed, I might have gotten out. If there were such a thing as reincarnation, I would come back as an engineer and develop seat belts that release automatically when they are submerged...
I had always thought I would die from smoking to much, but let me tell you, coughing from cigarettes is nothing compared to when you try to breath water. I had no trouble breathing under water in my dreams, and even as I tried to convince myself that I must be having one, I knew that I wasn't... I knew I was buying the farm.
A cold, chilling darkness enveloped me. It was dark under water anyway, even though I was seeing fireworks for a while. Oxygen deprivation has a tendency of doing that to you. After the grand finale, after the last spark fizzled out and plummeted from my sight, I died. My last thought, the last thing I remember thinking was, "What now?"
The utter darkness, the total lack of anything what so ever to focus on... slowly... turned to gray. Not much of an improvement, but a lot less oppressive and empty feeling than the pitch black I left behind. I wondered why I couldn't see my nose or any other part of myself in this grayness until I remembered I was dead. I'm not sure what I expected... I'm not much of a believer in any sort of after life, or moving on to something... better. I really hadn't thought much about dying up to this point, it kind of took me by surprise. Life has a way of doing that, or in this case, death does.
Did I mention that it was very quiet? I was never what you could call a heavy breather, but now I realize, the sound of breathing is one of those background noises you get used to, and never miss until it's gone. It's not so much the sound of air rushing in and out of your lungs as it is the funny noises your nose makes when the air passage is obstructed by, well, obstructions. Complete silence, measurable by the total lack of noise. Even the constant ringing in my ears I had been afflicted with was gone. That kind of silence is so absolute, it seems your head and ears try to expand to let more sound in. Except of course, I didn't have a head or ears anymore as far as I knew. I did seem to retain some form of consciousness though. Otherwise, how could I be thinking all these things?
As I was contemplating the situation I found myself in, a voice startled me...
"Whoa! You scared the hell out of me!"
"Sorry, that wasn't my intentions" the voice said. "How are you getting along?"
"Not to bad considering I'm dead. Where am I, or should I say, are we?"
"You aren't anywhere. I, on the other hand, am everywhere."
"Ah, so you must be God then. When will I be moving on to greener pastures? This gray nothingness kind of puts a damper on dying."
There was a short silence before the voice responded. "You won't be moving on to greener pastures."
"I see." I replied. "Then I guess I have sinned more than I thought. I guess it's to hell in a hand basket for me eh? "
"No. This is it for you, you don't believe in moving on, remember?"
I thought about what the voice said for a moment before I answered him. I realized I was in trouble here and might end up in limbo the rest of my life... Or death rather. "Well, that was when I was alive sir, that should hardly count against me. I mean, how can a person possibly know there is an after life until they are dead and actually experience it?"
"The things you believe in while you live are important. As far as after life, you didn't believe in anything. So here you are, with nothing. At least it's not pitch black though..."
"That's not very forgiving of you. I thought God was a forgiving kind of guy?"
"You said I was God, I didn't. You don't believe in God either, so how could I be him?"
I was starting to worry now. I was thinking that I might have blown it by being such a skeptic in life. "You said you were everywhere, and I thought that is how God was. So you're telling me that you aren't him?"
"Let's just say he and I are pretty tight. Well, I guess I'll be moving along. There are plenty more nobodies here to welcome into this place that isn't anything. Be seeing you! Well, not actually, you won't be seeing anyone, or anything for that matter..."
"Wait! You can't just leave me here like this! There must be something more, I'll go insane!"
He replied in a fading voice, "You should have thought of that sooner, like before you died..."
About this time, I would have started drooling if I had a choice. But I didn't have a mouth or anything, let alone spit to drool with. I even thought about screaming, but I knew I would never hear it... That's when the flashing lights started penetrating the gray fog...
The fog turned into a misting rain that condensed into wonderful little drips streaming down my face. I was on a stretcher, buckled down and being wheeled to an ambulance. A paramedic was running along side me, holding an IV in the air. He was talking to another guy...
"I thought we had lost this one, he was gone for quite a while."
"Yea, well it's a good thing his car got wedged up against the center bridge pillar. The rescue crew managed to repel down there and get him out some how or another. One of them gave him mouth to mouth before we even got here. Here he comes now..."
I was in a stupor of course, I had just died after all. But groggy as I was I heard what the rescue worker said as he leaned over to whisper in my ear.
"Be careful what you believe in buddy. Believe in something. You never know what might or might not be true... I'll be seeing you..."
And that voice. I knew that voice, but I just couldn't quite put my finger on where I had heard it before, it could have been anywhere...