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.


“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.

Island Traffic

Johnny felt warmth spreading across his skin. His eyes were closed but the darkness behind them began to brighten; then, he heard the soothing sounds of crashing waves. A gentle breeze kissed the top of his bald head and convinced him to open his eyes.

He found he was laying down and sat up to look around. He was in a wicker chaise sitting on a bright sandy beach; but, if he didn’t know better he would swear he was upside down. The sky was a beautiful clear, sea-green color while the ocean looked like a glassy blue sky beneath it. The smell of cooking meat filled the air, then he heard voices. Johnny looked behind him and saw hut style bar about 50 feet away. There were four people, two women, and two men, that seemed to be having a good time. One of the men, the one that looked like a mountain, was tending a grill.

Curiosity and surprisingly, hunger got the best of Johnny and he decided to wander closer. The last thing he remembered holding his wife’s hand in bed. He was glad he got to say goodbye. He did not doubt for a second he was dead. He hoped heaven would be an island paradise but he expected more of a welcome.

“Hey! Who’re you!?” The shorter, blonde woman shouted when she noticed Johnny. He froze and the other three turned around to see what the woman was pointing at.

“Oh man, I totally forgot!” The taller woman yelled. She rushed across the sand toward Johnny; he noticed her sea-green curls matched the sky. Her outfit was as disjointed as the horizon. She wore a navy blue business jacket that looked completely professional from the waist up. Around her waist, she wore a navy blue sarong and she had bright golden flip-flops strapped to her feet. “Johnny, I need to apologize for forgetting our appointment,” she said as soon as she reached him. She hooked an arm into his and led him back to the group. “I’ll give you an extra perk on your next life to make up for it.”

“My n.. next life?” Johnny asked. He got the question out just as they reached the group.

“His NEXT life?” the blonde woman asked. “Do we get a next life too?”

“Johnny, my name is Isla,” the blue-haired woman said. She smiled and shook his hand. “I’m your caseworker for the afterlife. We’ve met several times already but it takes quite a few before you start remembering me.” Isla gestured at the shorter woman.  “This is Lisa, ” the blonde crossed her arms and glared at Johnny. “…and that’s her brother Lionel,” Isla pointed at the burly man at the grill. He lifted his hand and waved backward at Johnny without turning around. “The shirtless gentleman with the fresh ink is Miller.” Miller was a lean man with six-pack abs and sheet of plastic glued to his chest. It was protecting a tattoo of a silver scythe. A 14 was inked in red numbers on the blade.

“So… am I in heaven?” Johnny asked.

“Oh god, no. Why? Did you want to go to heaven already?” Isla asked with wide eyes. Then she gave her head a firm shake. “You wouldn’t remember. Hold on.” She lifted her hand and wiggled her fingers at the air. A black hole opened next to her. Before Johnny could grasp what was going on she rushed into the hole. He turned to see everyone else’s reaction but none of them seemed impressed. Within a few seconds, Isla walked out of the hole again holding a manila folder. The portal closed behind her.

“Phew,” Isla smiled. “All good, you’re on the right path.”

“What’s going on?” Lisa asked. “If he’s dead, are we? He’s on the right path, but not to Heaven? What other paths are there?”

“I’m not in heaven… but I am dead, right? Where am I?” Johnny added more questions. Isla sighed.

“I don’t have time to answer all that,” she pointed at Johnny. “Your window here is limited, and it’s almost up. Everyone listen, no interruptions.”

“But-” Lisa’s interruption was halted by her brother’s giant hand covering her mouth; and, almost her entire face.

“Thank you,” Isla said. “Now, most of what you…, “she pointed at Lisa. “… and you…,” she turned to point at Johnny. “…think you know about life is wrong.” Lionel cleared his throat politely. “oh right, and you too I guess or whatever,” Isla added. “The truth is-“

“Isla?” A deep voice sounded from behind her; everyone turned. A tall man with a golden mane of curls flowing down his shoulders and a matching golden beard was striding across the sand toward them. “My name is Regal…,” is the last thing Johnny heard. His vision went black and the world fell silent. Then he was born again.