Island Tutorial

Harry opened his eyes to brilliant sunlight. He heard the relaxing sound of waves lapping on the shore and felt a cool breeze glide across his face. He was laying down and sat up on a wicker chaise. He was still wearing a bloodied shirt with a bullet hole in it and a pair of blood-stained jeans. Another breeze whispered by and he let himself fall back on the creaking seat with a smile on his face.

“Thank God for heaven,” he said with a happy sigh. He closed his eyes again. Now that he knew where he was he felt like he could truly relax. “I wonder when I’ll get to meet him.. or her.

“I’m going to start you guys at the beginning,” a woman’s voice said. At the same moment, a shadow blocked the light getting through Harry’s lids. “This is the first soul of a brand new batch,” the woman said. Harry opened his eyes again and found a group standing over him. Five people: two women and three men.

The woman that was speaking wore a navy blue business coat and a matching navy sarong wrapped around her waist. Her olive skin was accentuated by her sea-green hair. The large heavy curls looked like ocean waves. She sported a blue star tattoo on her left cheek. The other woman was the shortest of the crowd. She wore a bright yellow wet suit that looked like she just came out of the water. Her soaked, short, blonde hair pretty much confirmed it.

The three men also looked like they were swimming moments ago. All three were shirtless and in soaking trunks. All three had tattoos on their chests. The tallest, a broad-shouldered mountain of muscles, had a goldfish with the number 50 in blue ink. The second tallest, an athletic man with short dark hair, had a silver scythe inked on his chest. The silver blade showed the number 14 in red numbers. The third man did not seem to match the rest of the group. He was shirtless, bald, and flabby. The tattoo on his chest was a sagging blue musical note with the number 32. Harry sat up and turned to face the group. He dropped his legs off the chaise; the warm sand felt heavenly as he pushed his feet into it.

“Am I in heaven?” he asked. “I’m pretty sure I died,” The group chuckled politely, but Harry couldn’t help but feel he was the butt of an inside joke.

“It’s your first time,” the half-suited woman said with a smile. “It’s far too early to be thinking about heaven or hell.” She turned and address the group. “A newbie gets more time and the chance to ask questions. For the most part, they won’t remember anything, but it only makes our jobs easier if they do.” Harry did not enjoy the feeling of being talked about as if he wasn’t there. But, it did sound like he could ask questions.

“You mean I’m going to have another life?” The woman turned to him and nodded.

“Quite a few, depending on how far you want to go,” she replied.

“I want to go to heaven!” Harry said quickly. The woman smiled but shook her head.

“I’m sure once you start learning how things work you’ll set your sights a bit higher.”

“Higher than heaven?” Harry asked. “One of the other religions? Which one is right?”

“What’s your favorite color?” she asked suddenly.

“Red.”

“I like blue. Which one of us is right?” Harry narrowed his eyes and took a moment to process the lesson. Finally, he nodded and decided to approach it from a different angle.

“So what’s better than heaven?” he asked. She smiled.

“That’s what you get to decide. There is no one answer. Each life you go through is a step forward. After you take enough steps you can start thinking about where you’re going,” She turned to address the group. They listened intently and Harry imagined them to be trainees of some sort. “Each life gets them points, hell keeps track of those. They’re like experience points they can spend on different perks,” she glanced at Harry. “Sorry, you’re done now. I’ll see you next time. My name is Isla by the way, try to start remembering it,” she smiled. “Anyway,” she continued addressing the other four. “It’s supposed to be longer, but since we’re in training I can bend the rules a bit. They can use those points to build their afterlife if they don’t want to go the Unique route…” 

Harry tried to interrupt but the world went black. Then, he was born again.

Coffee & Flower

This is it,” Charlie thought. She stood on a busy corner with a crowd waiting for the light to change. The day proved more eventful than she expected. It wasn’t until after lunch that she realized she was the one causing the weirdness around her. Even then, she did not grasp it until she held her breath to avoid a customer’s halitosis.

He stopped talking immediately. Then, when she took a breath to ask he started, mid-word, from where he stopped. Luckily here manager stepped in. Charlie felt so relieved she did not think about the time-stop until she had a moment to stop and think.

The light changed and the crowd around her surged forward. Charlie remained in place and forced them to go around her. she heard rapid, heavy footsteps behind her and turned around. A handsome man with dark hair was rushing to catch the light. At the last minute, Charlie decided to have some fun. Their eyes met as he walked by and Charlie winked at him. The man continued running until he realized Charlie was not crossing. His rush must not have been important because he stopped to talk to her. It was not what she expected, but it did not matter. She was about to hold her breath.

“Hi, I’m Angel,” the man said with a flirtatious grin.

“Hi,” Charlie replied. Then she inhaled deeply and held her breath. She looked at the street and noticed the crowd stopped in the middle of the street. She looked around and all the cars seemed to be parked. She ran past Angel and into the crowd.

“OKAY. I GUESS I’LL SEE YOU AROUND!” Angel called after her.

“What?” Charlie said in surprise, releasing the breath. The crowd started moving again but Charlie turned back to the corner to look for Angel but he was gone. “What the hell is going on today?” she wondered with a shrug. She continued to finish crossing with the crowd but when she reached the other side Angel waved at her. He was leaning against the side of a coffee shop as if he’d been there all day. Charlie rushed up to him.

“What’s going on?” she asked. Angel shrugged.

“Lots of stuff. You’ll have to be specific,” he replied. Charlie made a show of inhaling deeply, then she held her breath. Every person, car, and bird stopped moving. She spread her arms wide to indicate “this” is what she meant. Angel shrugged.

“What about it?” Charlie exhaled and time roared back to life with honking horns and the murmur of casual conversations walking by.

“I can stop time!” she said. “That’s not normal.” Angel smiled.

“It depends who you ask,” he replied. Charlie gave him a curious look.

“Why doesn’t it affect you?”

“Finally, a proper question. It doesn’t affect me because I’m a Unique,” Angel said.

“Uhuh. What makes you so unique?” Angel shook his head.

“I’m not saying I’m unique. I said I am A Unique. A Unique Soul to be specific. Although,” he added. “Not all Uniques can move during a time stop. Mostly only Celestials and maybe a few Conquerors.” Charlie nodded.

“Okay, I’ll see you around,” she said. She waved at Angel and resumed her journey home.

“You’re one too,” he said before she got too far. Charlie stopped but did not turn around.

“I’m one what?” she asked.

“A Unique.”

“How do you know?” Angel chuckled.

“Stopping time isn’t normal for humans, but it is a common ability for a certain Unique.” Finally, Charlie turned around.

“So, which one am I? The celestial or the conqueror? And which one are you?” Angel facepalmed in disbelief, then he cocked his head at the coffee shop he leaned against.

“You’re already all mixed up. Let’s get some coffee and try to sort it out.” The curiosity drove Charlie into the coffee shop. After they ordered and sat down, Angel started talking.

“First I’ll start with what a Unique Soul is,” he pointed at Charlie to make sure he had her attention. She nodded. “This is the short version. Also please remember you can stop time. So nothing about what you’re going to hear should be too surprising. I assure you it’s all real.” Charlie rolled her eyes.

“Get to it,” she demanded.

“Okay. First things first. Alternate universes are real.” Charlie’s eyes widened, but she did not interrupt. Angel nodded and continued. “Him, him, her, him,” he pointed at various strangers. “All of them have other versions in different universes. You and I don’t. You’re the only you anywhere ever. That’s what a Unique Soul is.”

“Whoaaaa,” Charlie whispered to herself in awe but did not interrupt.

“Okay, here’s where it gets complicated. There are 54 different types of Uniques.” Charlie’s eyes sparkled and she looked like she wanted to ask something. “But that doesn’t mean there are only 54 Unique Souls,” Angel said.

“Oh, okay,” Charlie said.

“A Unique can be any of the 54 types, which are split into categories based on how powerful they are. Still with me?” Angel asked. The barista appeared with their drinks and he decided it would be a good time to pause. Charlie smiled and nodded. After the barista left he continued.

“The two most powerful categories are Conquerors and Celestials. Since this is the short version we don’t need to go into the other categories. Really,  we don’t need to talk about Conquerors either other than tell you that’s a category. You and I are Celestials. You’re #14 La Muerte, and I’m,”

“I’m death?!” Charlie whispered sharply with a smile. Angel shook his head.

“No, that’s just the name. I’m #46 El Sol, the sun. Most Celestials, you and me for sure, have the ability too…,” Angel brought his hand over the table and made a gesture at it with his fingers. A small black hole opened on the table’s surface. Angel reached in and pulled out a glowing purple rose far enough for Charlie to get a good look then he dropped it. It fell back in the portal then the hole disappeared. “…travel to different universes.”

“I can do that?” Charlie asked. Angel nodded.

“As soon as you get a tattoo.”