Thaddeus pulled back the curtains. His face glowed in the glorious sunrise. He opened the windows and breathed in the country air. It was crisp, fresh and…
No, it wasn’t fresh. It stank. Fetid. Rotten.
His shoulders slumped. He should have known. Summer was done, its lease expired and the season foreclosed. Bloody Shakespeare and his glib clichés. Who was it who called autumn the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness? Bollocks. It was the season of rot and muck-spreading. Everything fell and dropped and wizened and crumbled.
Thaddeus turned and caught sight of himself in the mirror. Much like me, he thought. No blazing into a new day, for you Taddy-boy. He tugged and the sagging flesh moved with the wobbly delight of fresh jelly. Yes, autumn, be it human or natural was a time of lost adhesion. Everything lost its grip, sagging and sinking back to its base state, in his case a nobbily skeleton.
He pulled the window shut and regarded his bed, the crumpled duvet, the dented pillow, the fluffy slippers. It was time.
Opening the desk drawer he extracted the small black card with gold lettering. ‘Soul Brokers’ it said on the front. On the back ‘Faust & sons, all souls and consciences bought and sold; always a fair bargain’ and a phone number.
Thaddeus paused and decided to eschew the comfort of his slippers for the ascetic challenge of cold stone on arthritic feet. Whatever else he got, he was determined to include ‘new feet’ in the mix.
While he let his breakfast porridge boil – in his new guise he’d make sure it was Buck’s Fizz and caviar – he dialled the number. An automated voice drew his concentration away from the simmering oatmeal. ‘Faust & sons. If you are soul searching for a better you, you’re in the right place. Press one for a completely new you, press two for our incremental package, press three for technical support and press hash if you want your soul back…. just kidding. If you want to discuss options for balancing a compromised afterlife with the veritable gerbil’s gibblets of your perfect now, please hold and our next amoral adviser will be with you shortly…’
Thaddeus decided to hold and find out what the various options were. He’d always considered himself a sort of atheist but these folks must know something more if the reviews on Google we’re anything to go by.
After what was actually a minute but seemed a small lifetime, a deep and far from settling voice came on the line. ‘How may we save you?’
‘Ah hello. I wondered…’
‘Before we start, sir, can I take a few details? We find it saves disappointment later.’
‘If that’s necessary.’
‘Occasionally, sir we find that callers have already, Ah, spent their currency as it were. Your name please.’
‘As in tad?’
‘If you must.’
‘And are you a member of a religious order? Have you committed yourself to a specific afterlife?’
‘Have you bequeathed, promised, assured or otherwise disposed of your soul, conscience or other moral compass?’
‘Please wait while I check…’
Thaddeus let him mind drift. Why did people always link his name to embryonic reptiles? Wasn’t school torment enough? He became aware of the tinny music in the background. Soul Train. How trite.
‘Are you Thaddeus Archibald Pole or Thaddeus Amadeus Pole?’
‘The latter. The first one was my grandfather. He was a monk.’
‘But he’s been dead forty years.’
‘It’s an option, Mr Pole. A time limited upgrade now for a staged afterlife. We call it our poltergeist annuity. You get, say, ten years as a stud muffin in California and afterwards you haunt the self same porn set for a similar period. The ultimate in no touching, if you take my meaning. It has been known to drive the client insane.’
‘What if you outlive the ten years?’
‘There are some Ts and Cs that cover that unlikely eventuality.’
‘No, I’d like to know.’
‘Really, Mr Pole, you wouldn’t.’
‘And grandpa might have taken up that package? If he was a monk?’
‘It’s the other way round with monks and such. The client gives up the chance of a good time now for a cushy afterlife.’
‘I can see that might have its attractions.’
‘Well, far be it from me to comment but let me just say it’s not exactly a regulated business, is it? You don’t get much pre demise feedback to confirm it works as intended.’
‘Mr Pole, I’m not here to diss the opposition. You must make up your own mind as to whether you can believe in a post death preferment or a pre departure jamboree. At least, with us, you’re guaranteed a good time.’
‘But you could be fibbing, just like those Priests and Imams and Rabbis if what you’re hinting at is true.’
‘Think about it, Mr Pole. All I’m promising you is an eternity of torment, no guarantees. Do you think I’d need to fib about that?’
‘I suppose not. Though I’m not sure I really understand what an eternity of torment is like.’
‘Think about it this way. Imagine all the worst things that have ever happened to you and then imagine them all happening on a Monday. Yes?’
‘Then imagine there’s no chance of there being a Tuesday.’
‘Oh goodness. I think I need to give this some thought. Can you send me a brochure, maybe, so I can look at the options and the pricing plans?’
‘I’ve already added you, Mr Pole. We will haunt your every waking hour to help you decide. If at any time you want to be free of your personalised possession…’
‘Ha ha, Mr Pole. Taddy. Taddy Pole. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA…’
Thaddeus put the phone down and looked at the vulcanised porridge. He sighed. Maybe he should just go back to bed and get some rest. They never said anything about his dreams, did they?
This was written in response to this week’s #writephoto prompt