Susan Dawkins woke in a comfortable position. As she opened her eyes to look around her she realized she lay reclined on a soft leather seat that fit her perfectly. She did not know where she was. The room did not look familiar, but it reminded her of the type of psychiatrist’s office she’d seen on T.V. A brown high-back leather chair sat empty near to her seat. Further against the wall she saw a neat desk with everything organized perfectly. A small potted plant in the corner, a filled bookshelf, and soft white walls made up the rest of the office.
A soft knock at the door called her attention, and she turned to see a clean-cut man in a dark suit walk in. He met her eyes and smiled while he made his way to sit in the brown leather seat.
“Hello,” the man said. He glanced down and Susan realized he now held a beige file folder. He opened it and pulled out the only sheet from inside. He lifted it and looked it over front and back, as if he expected more. “Uhh. Susan Dawkins, right?” Susan nodded.
“Yes. Where am I?” The fact that she was not scared bothered her. She felt completely at peace even though she had no idea what was happening.
“Oh. This room doesn’t look familiar to you?” he asked.
“No. Should it?” the stranger put the sheet in the folder and put it away, then he smiled at Susan.
“It will, but I guess this is your first time here. My name is Ezekial Yzaguirre, but you can call me Ezey,” he said. “The short version is you died.”
“What? How?” Susan sat up in surprise, but Ezey lifted a hand to calm her down. When she relaxed he shrugged.
“Doesn’t matter, does it? You’re here.” He spread his hands wide to gesture at the small office, then he brought his hand to his chest. “I am your caseworker, and every time you die we’ll meet in this room to see what the next step for you is.”
“Every time I die? How many times am I going to die?” Again, Ezey shrugged.
“However many you want, I guess?” He reached into the pocket of his dark suit and pulled out a handful of colorful
“Elmer put you up to this, didn’t he?” Susan stood from her seat, walked to the door, and swung it open to yell for her best friend. “ELME-” her voice dropped when she realized there was literally nothing outside the door. Like outer space with no visible stars, Susan stared at complete darkness. She turned to Ezey. “You just came in through here. Where are we?” Ezey stood from the chair, walked to Susan, then closed the door.
“It only works for us,” he said. He twisted the knob and opened the door again, though only wide enough to give Susan a peek into the busy hall. Dark suited men and women roamed the halls coming out from and going into any of the hundreds of doors that Susan saw from the small opening Ezey let her peek out of. He closed the door again, and ushered her back to her reclining seat.
“There’s no Heaven? Or Hell? Just… offices?” Susan asked, but Ezey shook his head.
“Oh no, there is. But it’s not exactly what you think.” He pulled more gummybears from his pocket. “But, I can tell you more about that next time. It’s just going to take up time. I’ve got other appointments, and it’s only your first time anyway. Most people don’t get to choose until they’ve gone through a couple dozen times, more or less.”
“We get to choose?” Susan scoffed. “Can I just pick Heaven now?” Ezey laughed.
“Nope, you make your choice when you’re alive. That’s what these little sessions are supposed to be for. After you die, we go over what you did, where it would have landed you, and how you can do better the next time. The first time you die is supposed to be an orientation, but I’m still new myself. I didn’t realize you were a newbie, sorry.”
“So you can’t give me any hints to help me get into Heaven next time?” Susan asked with a hopeful tone in her voice. Ezey nodded.
“Sure, I can tell you exactly what you need to do. But once you’re born you forget everything anyway.” He shrugged, then reached into his pocket and pulled out an open can of soda, took a drink, then put it back into his pocket.
“Wait. That doesn’t make any sense. If I forget everything, why do we even have these sessions?”
“Your soul remembers,” Ezey said. “When you die, we put your soul into a shell that looks like the last body you had, that way you don’t freak out. But of course, when you’re born, your soul goes into a new body. You know that phrase, ‘you’re an old soul’? That’s a real thing, your soul persists from one body to the next. Of course, all the memories you make in life are stored in the body and lost with the body,” Ezey said. Susan nodded, as if she started to accept that she really was in this situation.
“So what now? I just get born again?” Ezey nodded.
“Yeah, but I feel bad for messing up your orientation. Next time you die I’ll be more prepared, but I’ll give you a bonus this time to make up for it.”
“What kind of bonus?” Ezey rubbed his chin in thought while she asked.
“I’ll let you pick where you want to be born. That should be okay, I think.” Ezey said. He still did not know all the rules, but he knew his superiors tended to be pretty lenient. At least, the one he met. Susan sat up with a large smile on her face.
“Really? I get to pick the city I’m born in?!” Her eyes sparkled with excitement, but Ezey shook his head.
“Nah, we’re not that precise,” he replied.
“Country?” Susan asked, but again Ezey shook his head.
“Earth,” he said.
“I don’t get it.”
“Alternate Earths. Pick one you’d like to try living on.”
“What? How am I supposed to do that, I didn’t even know they existed. How many can I choose from?”
“Infinite really. But you can’t pick one off the bat, you have to narrow it down. What kind of Earth do you want to live on? Magical, sci-fi, stone-age?” Susan’s eyes went wide.
“I WANT MAGIC!” she yelled, then clapped her hand over her mouth and followed it with giggles. “Sorry, ” she apologized. “But magic! Any of them, I don’t care.” Ezey nodded.
“I’ll make it a good one for you. Good luck, and I’ll see you next time.” Susan watched Ezey wave at her as the room around them faded into darkness, then Ezey disappeared.