Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt is
You just fill in the form…
In the same way that how exactly they choose a new Pope, what makes people like Marmite and why no-one can grasp exactly what a Higgs’ Bosun does are each incapable of comprehension, the precise nature of what occurs immediately after each negative patient care outcome (otherwise colloquially called ‘death’) remains a mystery to the bulk of human kind. But, as with all mysteries (apart from the Marmite one, of course) there is at least one person with the answer to this eons old confusion – who, in one of those coincidences that can lead to premature baldness and a craving for slightly over-ripe bananas is also called Higgs.
Higgs (he has a first name but refuses to use it because it rhymes with a rather unpleasant proprietary rat poison) lives in a small but adequately appointed cave on the western shores of the Isle of Arran.
Here he receives each departed’s former life essence, in a daily delivery by the ever-reliable British Postal service who believe they are providing their resident Hermit with the daily edition of Reiki News and the Yoga Gazetteer.
On receipt, Higgs unpacks each residue and places it on a two by two micro plinth (which anyone visiting would think comprises one of Higgs locally famous collection of novelty beer-mats) and asks the departed to complete its form-form.
The form-form, of Double F for short, is a one page questionnaire that offers the departed the choice of (a) leaving for either the Afterlife, Valhalla or an ongoing spirit orgy that has delighted the Frng people of the Amazon basin for 20,000 years; (b) staying on the beermat until the next frost when their essence will dissipate completely; or (c) returning as a Spectre for one of a diverse range of human-spirit interfaces.
On completion of the Double F, the departed will either be send forth with a travel snack and some cheap antibiotics (having chosen (a)), given immediate counselling (if ticking (b)) or moved to the Form-Filling room (to prepare for (c)).
For those who choose (c) there are a number of possible Spectre shapes that a departed might pick. Some examples include:
- your traditional Inanimate Possession Sheen whereby the departed can inhabit any object that might create the desired turbulence – departeds are encouraged to choose an object of substance since on the object’s destruction the possession will cease and the departed will immediate go to whichever default choice of final resting place has been chosen (see (a) above)
- a Banshee Envelopment Cloak that comes with built-in surround-sound howling and through-wall passage technology
- a Poltergeist Spluttering Cone that incorporates the latest in ectoplasm delivery systems
- and the ever-popular Ghostly Haunting Semi-Corporeal Body Stocking with in-neck hinging and putrescent scenting sprays.
Higgs has undertaken the role of clerk to the departed for more years than he cares to mention and in the ordinary course would be up for retirement. But Higgs is an unusual clerk; he has an imagination and he dreams. He watches the Spectres as they try on their new forms, dancing in the twice daily shaft of sunlight before he wraps them in an appropriate magazine and sends then to their destinations. He wonders what it would be like to return to the cave and join in those dances, to settle the nervous and encourage the wary. But he knows his masters would not approve. Death, after all, if the ultimate solo experience and any form of fraternising between departeds is strictly discouraged.
So Higgs stays in his job, watching those sad lonely dances and wishes that one day, soon perhaps, things will be different.