When there’s no stairway to heaven #writephoto #shortstory #flashfiction


Lucien Potts knew he was dead. It was the next bit he was rather foggy about. Death itself wasn’t a surprise – too much to drink, a narrow road and a firmly rooted beech combined to terminate the breathing part of his existence. It was while he was falling from the fourth branch that he became aware of someone -thing – next to him as he fell. The thing – let’s say ‘person’ because Lucien, in death as much as in life lacked many things – money, charisma, vocabulary – coughed in that waiterly way of wanting attention without any dramatic overreaction.
‘Sir? Mr. Lucien?’

The fact the ‘person’ knew his name made Lucien sit up. This is in fact a metaphorical state of being since you need the core of an international gymnast to sit up while falling from a tree while undertaking your last aspirant action and that was another thing he lacked.
‘Yes? What do you want?’
‘I need your signature sir.’
‘What?’ Lucien glanced at the rapidly approaching, noticeably not-the-sort-of-ground-to-fall-on-if-you-want-to-walk-away surface below him.
‘No need to brace, sir. You’ll be better relaxed. Never mind.’
It is a little known fact that bracing while in the act of death by falling merely makes the shock of landing and not hurting all the more extreme. You scream and sob before you realise you are, in fact, in tact. Then you feel really rather silly. The dead feel few emotions, post mortem, but heightened embarrassment is one that nature has seen fit to leave in place.
‘Oh god, sorry. I’m such a fool. Ha! Of course, I’m dead. I’m not going to hurt, am I? I’m …’
‘Sir, the form?’
Lucien stopped burbling. ‘Are you an angel?’
‘No sir, but I do care. Please, your signature.’
‘Why do I need to sign?’
The ‘person’ pointed Lucien towards his left. An ornate door which Lucien was sure had not been there before he careered off the A412 to Swindon, stood between two oaks. ‘If you are going to use the lift, sir, you’ll need to indemnify Hereafter PLC against any acts, omissions or eternity allocations that might occur. Applications for relief are occasionally made and we have found that if the restatused…’
‘You sir. The deceased. If you understand what is about to happen then you are less likely to apply to a higher authority because, well, frankly He’s getting a bit crotchety about this litigious mindset, especially now Health and Safety have removed his thunderbolts as a sanction and required the plague of locusts to be organic and fair trade. So your signature sir?’
‘Wait a moment. What happens, in the lift?’
‘You can go up or down sir. It’s a lift. It’s in the name. You are familiar with the concept of the lift?’
‘Of course.’ Lucien paused. ‘What happened before lifts? I mean I know how they work but what about, say a medieval knight who’d lost his head?’
‘Stairs, sir. Not popular but one has to work with the state of knowledge at the time. In fifty years… No never mind.’
Lucien rubbed his hands. ‘This is fascinating. So I get to chose do I? I can have the harp or the permanent bonfire?’
The ‘person’… Lucien held up his hand. ‘Hang on. You, the writer, can we get past, ‘person’? It’s a bit impersonal.’ Lucien smiled. ‘Well, your name?’
‘I do have a name sir, but since this is the only time we will meet and we might, were I to give you my name, slip into a state of what one might call redundant intimacy, can we merely acknowledge I am a being, 70% supernatural, 20% cotton and the rest a mix of garlic, horror and Oreos, and move on. Your signature?’
‘Ok. I think I’ll go up. I’m not your risk taker.’
The ‘person’ looked at the crushed car and severely severed beech and merely raised what near enough passed for an eyebrow. ‘Um, you don’t get to choose.’
‘You don’t?’
‘Hardly. There needs to be some balance. Can’t have everyone up top, can we?’
‘Sure there’s an infinite celestial horizon but there’s got to be an incentive. Carrot and stick. Heaven and hell.’
‘What if I stay?’
‘What? Stay here?’
‘Yes. I don’t sign and I just hang about. A ghost?’
‘You want a ghost contact? Are you sure?’
‘There’s a ghost contract?’
‘Of course. Now I need to tell you about the revised terms, in the light of social media. No ghost can infiltrate any electronic devise.’
‘Ok. Not a problem.’
‘You will be obliged to spend, erm, fifteen years in retribution time. To make up for your sins.’
‘What sort of retribution?’
‘Watch your wife, your mother in law and your daughter having sex..’ The ‘person’ sniggered. ‘Not a threesome of course.’
Lucien rubbed his chin. ‘So if I sign and go through the door, I’ll either go up or down?’
‘Like life.’ The ‘person’ shrugged. ‘Some you win…’
The ‘person’ checked a clipboard. ‘I think in your case Mr. Lucien it’s a case of ‘Come on down.’ The smile, when it came lacked sincerity.

This is in response to SueVincent’s #writephoto prompt here

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in #writephoto, miscellany, short story, writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to When there’s no stairway to heaven #writephoto #shortstory #flashfiction

  1. Sue Vincent says:

    I think I’ll take the stairs…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Al Lane says:

    Deliciously dark humour. Loved it πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ritu says:

    Brilliant Geoffles!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. stevetanham says:

    Reblogged this on stevetanham and commented:
    Just had to…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Is there a third choice? I would prefer whatever that might be …

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh this is so darkly funny. Your imagination amazes me, and only seems to get better! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Splendid. Love it. So entertaining and edge-of-the-seat reading. Funny too. Great imagination. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wonderfully dark, funny, and entertaining take on the prompt. Not a trip I want to take!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. jan says:

    What a dark wit you have! But you brought up a few existential questions. Do we have names in the afterlife? Hum.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is very funny Geoffle. Are you a fan of Douglas Adams?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. elliotttlyngreen says:

    That was entertaining =O I enjoyed reading Geoff!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. willowdot21 says:

    Excellent life ending story!! Really enjoyed it!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. No purgatory option ??? ☺ Great take on the photo.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. reocochran says:

    What a definite surprise in the retribution area, then a shocking conclusion! Oh no! Are we all doomed for our thoughts or was his actions what got him into trouble? Great writing with a sense of ghoulish humor included, Sue. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Judy Martin says:

    Great story Geoff, I loved the humour πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Pingback: Photo prompt round-up – The Door #writephoto | Sue Vincent – Daily Echo

  17. macjam47 says:

    LOL! I would have known you wrote this if it were on a blank page with no name. Who would have thought of a lift! Actually, I think it is a very long escalator to the castle in the sky, but just a long hot drop to Satan’s lair.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Pingback: #ComedyBookWeek, #TheDirtyDozen, blogger, comedy, funny, Geoff Le Pard, humor, interview, The Dirty Dozen, writer | Alistair Lane Writes

  19. 49lilykatz says:

    Biting, unsettling, and just plain old grand. Nice!

    Liked by 1 person

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