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Bewildering Stories

Gabriel Timar, Novgorod Diary


Novgorod Diary
Author: Gabriel Timar
Publisher: Wings ePress
Length: 309 pp.
ISBN: 978-1-59705-710-3

This is a piquant science-fiction spoof of the sacred cows of the twenty-first century. It seems someone tries stealing 350 million high-quality Russian souls from Hades, Ltd. by electing the wrong man to the Kremlin. An old diary exists in Novgorod proving that Nick Rubowski, a high-ranking KGB officer, the Hades candidate, is the rightful heir to the Russian throne. If this news became public, he’d lose the election. Therefore, Luce (Lucifer), the Hades, Ltd. CEO, sends George to Earth to protect the firm’s interests by fixing the Russian elections. The CIA, the KGB, the royalists, and the Mafia have adverse interests, and George must negotiate.

As far as terrestrials are concerned, I am dead. My grateful ex-wife, after collecting my life insurance and taking possession of my assets, had an elegant black, marble headstone erected for me in Mount Pearl Cemetery, near the City of St. John’s in Newfoundland. Anyway, this was the least she could have done for me.

How did my ex-wife get hold of my fortune? It was easy. As a lawyer, I always advised my clients to review their last will the moment their divorce becomes final. Yes, you guessed right; I forgot to check my last will. It did not matter anyway, because my father was well off and had no need of the money, and I had no other relatives.

The events leading to my death were quite interesting. I hate to admit it: I made a stupid mistake.

The mistake was Lynn, a girl with the most beautiful derriere I’ve ever seen on a woman. She was an air hostess, and I did not realize that in addition to yours truly she regularly entertained Randy Bertozzi, the local representative of the Mafia in St. John’s. Although Randy claimed to be monogamous, he treated Lynn and about five other air hostesses as his private property. Under the circumstances, he figured I was an intruder, and in his world, trespassers were shot.

The last things I remember about my life on Earth are the suntanned, streamlined, naked body of Lynn, the report of a gun, the bullet hole in the wood paneling, and my blood spilling on the white carpet next to the black towel. I did not see the shooter.

I slowly started slipping into oblivion. I don’t know what part of my body or intellect staged the fight for survival. Was it a motor reflex, the nervous system, or perhaps an automatic reaction of my mind? Could it have been my immortal spirit wanting to hang on to its shell? I don’t know, and possibly nobody knows.

I was completely immersed in the fight to regain my faculties, and for the time being, I was winning, stopping at the opaque brink of consciousness. It took all my strength to maintain the status quo. I did not dare use any of my energies for thinking, because if I diverted even an infinitesimally small portion of my powers to reasoning, I would slip into the dark hole of oblivion from where, I was sure, there was no return.

Just as an arm-wrestler gives way when overpowered by the strength of a vastly superior opponent, I was pushed over the brink by a great surge of power, and suddenly a piercing beam of white light painfully penetrated my field of perception. It was mercifully short, and my marginal existence in the opaque world exploded into a kaleidoscope of pleasing colors. There was no need to fight, think, or resist. My exhausted spirit relaxed. I was curiously satisfied, even though I knew I had died.

Suddenly, my miserable existence changed again; someone started playing games with me. The sharp boundaries of the lively colors slowly faded into pastel washes, like a comforting cloak covering my field of perception. My mind broke free, and I could think again!

At this point, I realized my ex-wife, Joan, would claim my investment account in addition to the half-a-million-dollar life insurance. As I could not take any money with me wherever I was headed, I did not really care. The only thing bothering me was the thought of having to pass up a date with Helen Cooper, the singer pianist at the Starlight Club and the most beautiful and least approachable woman I’ve ever encountered. It took me a long time to persuade her to date me. Now, I realized that I’d wasted a lot of money and energy chasing her.

Well, George, I thought, you win some and lose most. As you don’t have anything little Helen would appreciate, it doesn’t matter.

Unexpectedly, I sensed a presence of someone trying to talk to me!

There is a woman in the vicinity, I thought.

I knew I was very perceptive when it came to the fair sex. Although my miserable body had died, my immortal spirit, my soul, was alive and well. Apparently, all my instincts had stayed with me after death. I sensed the nearness of a feminine being trying to talk to me. I don’t know if it was vocal communication or a telepathic link, but the message was coming in loud and clear. Honestly, it was weird. “Welcome to the Third Dimension, Mr. Pike,” she said, sounding like an air hostess welcoming the passengers on board.

“I can’t say it is a pleasure being here, Mademoiselle,” I replied, “but I appreciate the management sending a beautiful young lady to welcome me.”

I did not know what she looked like, but even if she had the face of the devil and the shape of a pumpkin, most women appreciate compliments. I figured her goodwill might shave a few thousand years off my stay in Purgatory.

“Sir, this is your moment of truth,” she continued, disregarding the compliment. “As your soul has been graded at one-hundred and sixty Bertons, you must decide who should represent your immortal spirit in the future. Several corporations eagerly await your call.”

“Is this the final judgment?” I asked. “Are you going to decide whether I’m going to Heaven or Hell?”

“Not really,” she replied. “You should make the decision based on the influences of a lifetime. According to the rules, the souls rated one hundred Bertons or higher should select a compatible management firm to represent them. For the lower-rated souls coming in as part of the slush, the Board automatically selects a firm having the same ideology as what the soul developed during its stay in the First Dimension. We call them the soul-slush, as they have no right of immediate selection, but later can ask for a Board of Trade review. However, highly rated souls like yours must make the choice for themselves.”

“Are you just tormenting me? The wise people in school and church taught me to be a nice fellow, because after death, my fate would be decided according to the balance of my sins and good deeds.”

“That was the illicit advertising of some unscrupulous soul management corporation operating in the First Dimension without a proper license,” came the message from my distant lady friend. “I represent the Board of Trade, Mr. Pike. It is my responsibility to make sure that your decision is your own, made without undue pressure or interference.”

“I appreciate it. May I ask what my choices are?”

“I can give you the names of the corporations, their place on the ideological spectrum in a manner similar to terrestrial political parties in the First Dimension, and a short statement about each of them. This seems to be the most practical approach when it comes to souls from planet Earth.”

“What happens after I make my choice?”

“At first, you will be pleasantly stimulated, and sooner or later the representative of the firm you have chosen will contact you. They normally have something to offer to a soul of your caliber.”

“Shit,” I growled, “this is beginning to sound like a goddamned election!”

“Although I resent your crude terminology, Mr. Pike,” came the prompt reply, “you are right, it is just like a goddamned election.”

“Okay,” I said, amused, “let me have the list of the candidates.”

“Reading your orientation index, I doubt you would be interested in Red Star Company Limited. They are on the extreme left,” she started.

“Skip them. I don’t like the Commies’ egalitarian philosophy. According to them, one must do his best to have his needs satisfied. We call them Marxists on Earth,” I remarked.

“Nirvana Corporation is left of the center. They are non-violent, relaxed, but meditate a lot.”

“I never enjoyed meditation. I pass.”

“Near the center, a little to the right, is Heaven, Inc.”

“Now you’re talking,” I said, interrupting. “Tell me more.”

“Every terrestrial shows interest in them,” she replied and continued. “We know they have perhaps the most extensive illegal advertising network on planet Earth. Very few souls understand the strict dogmatic philosophy of Heaven, Inc. They demand unquestioning faith, discipline, and obedience. They do not value creativity.”

“Disappointing,” I remarked. “I was always an independent spirit. As far as my faith in others is concerned...”

“Yes or no, Mr. Pike?” she asked impatiently.

“Check, but reserve the right to examine this option further at a later date,” I replied.

“Very well.” She sighed. “The next, still a centrist organization, is Hades, Ltd.”

“I don’t like the name. It is synonymous with Hell.”

“I’ve heard it too. However, their main characteristics are discussion, thriving on controversy, and claiming creativity the most important quality of a soul.”

“Interesting,” I said. “They just became a distinct possibility. What else?”

“I doubt you would like the last major firm, Seventh Paradise, Inc., on the extreme right,” she continued.

“Forget them. I assume they also demand high standards of discipline.”

“They do, and at the same time demand the display of hostility against all other soul managers.”

“No, it’s not me,” I concluded. “Anything else?”

“If you are not satisfied with these, I have a few specialist firms, subsidiaries of the big ones. If you want one of them, I will arrange another selection session with the small firms’ representative. Can you make up your mind now, sir?”

“Let me think, my dear,” I remarked. “Clearly the choice is between Hades and Heaven. If I elected Heaven, Inc., Father Golding’s soul would likely accompany mine for an eternity. That would be hard to bear, as he would always force me think big, clean thoughts, talk about church, donations, and no booze. Hades, Ltd. cannot possibly be so bad. Therefore, my dear, they are going to be stuck with me.”

“So, if I understand you correctly, your pick is Hades, Ltd?” she asked.

“I’m afraid it is.” I sighed.

“Thank you, Mr. Pike.”

Like the iron door of a crypt slamming in my face, the kaleidoscope returned and I was alone again. The sense of loneliness did not bother me, but I was terrified of the loss of my intellectual skills.

Timidly, I decided to test my abilities. First, I tried Latin. When I formed the area of interest, immediately the first line of Virgil’s Aeneid popped into my mind. Arma virumque cano...

Latin is okay, I thought. How about math?

The solution of an exponential equation, the question I almost botched at my matriculation exam, came to me.

Math works, I thought. If these rarely used abilities are intact or in fact enhanced, I will be all right with all my skills. Now let us check out my memory.

Concentrating on my favorite topic, my mind was suddenly overwhelmed. The pictures of all the gorgeous and not so gorgeous women I had anything to do with filled my field of perception. In fact, I could name every one of them — and in some instances, I could remember some of their preferences. It was frightening.

I had to stop thinking about women. With difficulty, I managed, but unexpectedly the taste of an iced Campari with soda came alive on my non-existent palate. I was craving a drink. It took me some time to suppress the desire.

This is really hell, I thought. Here I am holding on to the desires of the good old body without one. This must be the punishment for all my sins. Perhaps I should have chosen Heaven.

The nearness of another feminine being suddenly interrupted my morbid thoughts. At first, I did not want to believe it, but the gal actually tried communicating...


Copyright © 2009 by Gabriel Timar

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