iAfterlife: Prologue, Transition


Excerpt from iAfterlife® Novel© 2017, Dirk E. Hill, all rights reserved.


Transition

Ghosting


“Hello” I say to the young man behind the half circle reception desk.

“Hello, Mr. Rayburn. Welcome to your iAfterlife®.  I see that you are a little disoriented right now, but that will passquickly.” He replies with a smile.

“umh. But I just came in for a scan. I … hmm...” I am feeling a little confused.  This is my third update scan since I signed up forthe service.  They recommend that you come in every two years but that seems a bit much.  My life is not so exciting that getting an update that often makeany sense. At 98 I'm not breaking much new ground, especially since I retired from Gulby, Kisher and Flan twelve years ago. Or was it fifteen?

“Yes, that is true and it is a good thing that you did, since 4 months later you were killed in when an unexpected category 6 tornado ripped the monorail you were on off the tracks.  Only 3 people survived and they all got new bodies as the damage was quite extensive.  Their insurances determined that they were more expensive to repair than to just get new ones.  They are currently in temps.”

“So. Then. Uhm. I’m dead?” I ask.

“Yes, sir.  There was no chance of recovery.”

Dead.  I don’t feel … but then I don’t know what being dead would feel like.  I wonder what I was doing on a monorail.  My life is pretty stable withjust puttering around the house and occasional visits from the kids and grand-kids and great grand kids.  Suddenly out of nowhere I feel a wash of emotion.It hits home that I won’t see them again.

“Sir, I can see that you are a little distraught.  The situation does take some adjustment.  If you could please take a seat over there, a counselor/guidewill be with you shortly.” He waves to an area with several comfortable looking chairs. There isn't anyone else over there at the moment. I walk over,pick a nice, overstuffed red leather chair and sit.  I glimpse my left hand as I sit and a shock/thrill runs through me.  This hand is not the one I had (whatseemed like) just a few minutes ago! This hand is unlined, tanned and feels strong again. I examine the rest of me and see that that applies to my entire body.I also realize I am complete naked.  I look around quickly but there is no one else here and the receptionist is looking down.

I see a magazine on the table in front of me titled “Dress Yourself”.  I open it and the first page has this on it:

You are in control of what you wear here.  You just have to visualize yourself wearing it and it will happen. You can also adjust your ownbody to be any size, shape or coloring that you choose. If you are still having difficulty with this please turn the page and a short tutorial will walk youthrough exercises that will get you started.

Seems simple enough so I picture myself in a nice dark blue pinstripe suit with patent leather shoes and looking down I see exactly that.  I fuss with my tiefor a while getting it just right and the tie clip.

I am startled out of my activity by a pleasant voice “Mr. Rayburn.”

I look up and see a dark haired man standing in a doorway on the opposite wall as the reception desk. I rise and walk over to him.

“Hello! Welcome to iAfterlife.” He greets me when I get close to him.

We enter a small room with a desk and two chairs, he takes the one behind the desk and waves me to the other.  The room is sparse with just the desk and chairs,no pictures or calendars or, actually, anything on the desk.

“How do you feel, Mr. Rayburn?” He asks me.

I thought for a moment and then say “I feel good. Very good. Much better than I have felt in a long time.

“That is good to hear.  You are adjusting well to your afterlife.  Now you have to make some decisions about what you're going to do from now on.” he pauses and then continues “as a Silver level member, you have quite a few options available to you.  There are 30 predefined worlds available to you any time and you can define your own world.  You can invite others to share in the world you created and you can go to their worlds if you choose and they permit it.

“There are, what are called Semi-worlds, which are semi-private.  These are areas that are more focused on a specific topics. For example, there is a Current Events World, where you can go and catch up on current events happening in the real world.  There is a Semi-world for discussion of building worlds, one for the latest breakthrough in the sciences and for the latest celebrity gossip.  Currently there are 342 Semi-worlds that are available to all levels, at any time as part of the Basic package.

“While all levels mingle together in these Semi-worlds, there are worlds, called Level-worlds, that are specific to each membership level, one for Basic, three for Silver, eight for Gold, and 15 for Platinum.” He pauses and looks at me.  

“That seems odd. Wouldn’t there be fewer people at each higher level?  So it would make more sense for that to be reversed, with the Bronze level getting the most worlds since they would be the most people?” I ask.

“Hmm.  That is a good observation.  Unfortunately I didn’t make the structure so I don’t know what the reasoning is behind it.  Do you have any other questions, Mr. Rayburn?”

I did have a question though “How do we communicate with each other?  Like for sending invitations?” I ask.

“Communicating with others here is quite simple all you need to do is think about talking to them and you can open a communication channel to them.  You can do that from here, any of the Level-worlds and Semi-worlds.  However, we know that takes a some experience to get the hang of that, so there is a physical gesture that you make that helps you distinguish between just thinking about someone and actually wanting to communicate with them.  Fold the first three fingers in on one of your hands, does not matter which, extend the thumb up and the little finger down and place the thumb near your ear and little finger near you mouth and think of that person.”

“You may not always make the connection as the other person has a right not to receive calls at any time just as you do and just as in real life you can leave a message for them.  It is a little more complicated if you wish to pass them a sound or image we can go into that if you wish.”

“Later.  I don’t need to talk to anyone right now.  I am not settled enough, I think. Is there any thing else I need to know?”

“Yes, there's lots to learn about living this new life of yours.  Fortunately, you have plenty of time to learn it!  We suggest that you follow take an adventure then learn a little more about your iAfterlife, then a few more adventures … When you signed up you chose your first adventure. You chose to be a detective in Long Beach, California, United States of America circa 1950.  Is that still the case?” He asks.

I think about it for a moment and decide that that's exactly what I want to do.  It's about as far away from the life I had at GK&F as one could get. A life with some life and death action sounds quite interesting.  I feel excitement rising up in me at the prospect of solving a real murder mystery.  I say “Yes, that's exactly what I want to do.”

“There are some minor adjustments that can be made to the adventure.  For example you can be in a world very close to the real world with all the problems of that world had.  Or we can eliminate some of those distractions.  Or it can contain pulp fiction heroes such as Doc Savage, the Shadow or Nero Wolfe.  Who knows, you might even get to meet one of those guys?  You can't be one, of course, only Gold level members and above can be one of the main figures in these worlds.”

“OK, I think I would to try the world with pulp fiction heroes in it.” I reply.

“Good choice, those are always fun worlds.  Now do you want to be a detective or do you want to be someone who has a murder thrust upon them that they must work out?”

“I want to be a private detective.”

“Another good choice, it's much easier on your conscience when you are not intimately involved with the victim of the murder.  Do you want to be an ordinary detective with the worries about the rent and food and all that to go with a real life?”

“Actually, yes.”

“Also a good choice, we have found that having hunger pangs or bills show up keeps it feeling real.  Those that try it without are never as happy with the adventure as those that have, at least some, real world issues. Even with the blocks in place you begin to feel that something is not quite right. There are other things that could be tweaked but I think that's enough for your first adventure and I'm sure you're anxious to get started.

“What will happen next is that I will leave the room, on the desk will appear a manila folder, when you open that folder and focus on the page you will feel a little disoriented as you are transported to your new world.  Enjoy, Mr. Rayburn.”

I watch the man get up and leave the room and I realize I didn't even ask his name.  I look back at the desk and there is a manila folder lying there.  I feel excitement rising in me.  This is it!  I hope I am up to this.  I banish all doubt and open the folder.

The page, at first, appears to be blank then a swirl of letters starts in the center and rotates around the page.  I try to catch the words by they are blurry and indistinct.  The more I watch the more the page takes on a strange 3 dimensional feel.  I feel dizzy for a moment then a stronger disorientation overcomes me.  The world swirls around me for a moment, hard to get my bearings.  Things seem different as if … as if I am somewhere else.  I close my eyes to try to calm down and focus.


iAfterlife® Novel© 2017, Dirk E. Hill, all rights reserved.