When Living The Life Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be #writephoto

Extract from the Hades Herald series: ‘Time Fillers For Infinity: Jobs For The Dead.’ Interview conducted When Living Temerity Plain.

Zelda Bywater is a Portal Management Volunteer who has been helping the recently departed to cross over since her own demise during the exceptionally foggy spring of 1911 when she erroneously mistook the herd’s bull for its prized milker and gripped what turned out to be very much not a teat.

‘Zelda, you’re a translucent. Does that help you as a PMV?’

‘Oh, indeed. Being so transparent helps those who’ve just experienced the shock of transmission to see what’s ahead.


‘Exactly. They don’t realise how exposed they are, on crossing. I’m there to make sure there are no untimely incidents with the pre-dead. Some have called it their first out of body experience and if they don’t cross quickly there’s the possibility of an interface and no one wants that.’

‘How do you make sure they know what to do?’

‘Oh, well, that’s where the training comes in. When you volunteer to be a Portal Manager, you’re given your mighty Orb-staff and…’

‘The lollipop?’

‘Staff, please. We’ve moved on from such over-glucosed appellations. Those who are passing are used to the imagery of the woman with the Disc-pole indicating a crossing from their pre deceased existence and so tend not to notice how, erm, d… d…’


‘…Diaphanous they are. It’s a bit of a shock, all that absence of substance shtick. Seeing me, positively sheer against this gorgeous back display…’

‘It’s lovely isn’t it?’

‘Willian Morris was a volunteer one time, so they say. The Powers That Were don’t like unnecessary adornment, given that aesthete vibe they cultivate, but they thought this worth keeping. It mesmerises most newcomers and they are drawn into the Pre-Portal Zone…’

‘Can you explain to our subscribers what the Pre-Portal is? They may not remember.’

‘No, quite. There’s a lot to absorb on your first day in the Afters. The Pre-Portal is like a waiting room at the doctors only with more flowers and less oxygen. It’s here you’re directed to the specific After that will be home to your next phase. My role is to see you safely installed and ready for your interview. I like to think I can help take their minds off what’s happened as well as what’s ahead.’

‘Do you have many problems?’

‘Well, naturally there are the disbelievers, the how do I go back crew but most are pretty sure what’s going on. Some even ask about my time; it’s natural to try and find some comfort from someone’s actual experience.’

‘You don’t tell them, do you?’

‘Gosh, no, Temerity. If I learnt one thing in my training it’s that it’s taken years to get the Living to stop all this science knows best malarkey and embrace fake news. Just as well since the established religions have been losing their grip on feeding the credulous a diet of hope and bombast. If they found out for most of us it’s just a lot of sitting about staring into your particular void, they’d work harder at staying put and then who’d do this job?’

‘Quite. Thank you, Zelda, for explaining your role. Next week and we will be joining Dennis Conundrum who has just volunteered to join the ranks of the Grim Reapers. As Dennis will tell us the training before you can become a Reaper, learning the art of  breaking the Ultimate in bad news is hard and not everyone gets a Sickle. Until then, stay dead!’

This piece was written in response to Sue Vincent’s latest #writephoto prompt 

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. 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 miscellany and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to When Living The Life Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be #writephoto

  1. willowdot21 says:

    This brilliant I really enjoyed it! I especially enjoyed this prompt this week . I always do but this one caught my imagination as much as it did yours 💜💜

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ritu says:

    Oh I love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A rare occurrence has occurred. I can see how that pic got you this story – good stuff!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Sue Vincent says:

    I rather like the idea of a Morris backdrop to death 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Very entertaining, Geoff.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Eileen says:

    Terrific ways to connect to the photo. Very creative. Enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Photo prompt round-up: Imagination #writephoto | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

  8. Great take on the photo. I like what you did.


If you would like to reply please do so here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.