Stephen's Ever After

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


A nonsense, fiction, short story for entertainment purposes only! Would love some feedback...even if it's "it sucks".

Submitted: October 11, 2017

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Submitted: October 11, 2017

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Stephen finished off the last half of his hero sandwich with three big bites. He was, like always, in a hurry to make his afternoon shift at the food processing plant. "You're going to choke to death one of these days", he heard his wife say as he tied his shoes. The big man gave her a kiss on the cheek before walking out the door.

He saw Mrs. Ketterman walking her dog as he glided down the stairs. Mrs. K. was a babe and she knew it. She would walk her dog back and forth along the 'block' so the men could get a good look at her, and the women could sneer and roll their eyes. She was just doing her part to keep the neighborhood interesting.

Taking two steps at once, he watched her two prominent assets bounce up and down. He suddenly lost his footing and fell down the last eight stairs. He was a little loopy and couldn't do anything about the large, slightly chewed chunk of tomato that came back up, and lodged in front of his wind pipe, when he hit the sidewalk. He looked up at Mrs. K., who was now holding his head in her lap at just the right angle to ensure the murderous chunk of fruit was unable to dislodge itself. If he would have thought about it, he would have "accidentally" lifted his head into her two "murderous chunks of fruit".

Stephen woke up and was lying on something soft and wispy. He wasn't sure how long he had been out, but he knew that the pain he felt, immediately after falling down the stairs, was gone now. When he finally regained his senses, he raised his head and had a look around. It was pretty dark in the hospital room he was recovering in. It didn't smell very good, and he looked for a "call button" to get the nurse's attention to complain. As he felt around, he realized that the stuffing was coming out of the mattress, and winced when he came up with a handful of it. He sat upright and got a better look around. He wasn't lying in a hospital bed at all! He saw stone walls on three sides, and, on the fourth, was iron bars. Stephen was in jail!

He closed his eyes tightly, hoping he would have escaped this weird dream after he reopened them. That just wasn’t happening. He didn't know what he had done to end up in a jail cell, so he tried to recount the last minutes before he blacked out. "Oh my...did I actually grab Mrs. K?", he asked himself out loud. He got to his feet and looked down on his bed, which was more of a pallet, made up of what looked like couch foam, dried vegetation and, maybe, dryer lint. It was the "dangdest" thing, and he knew he had to get to the bottom of whatever was going on. He called out several times for the jailer, but no one responded. He sat down on the cold floor of his cell and waited.

The new "inmate" dozed in a sitting position for a few minutes, but was jarred awake by something sliding along the floor towards him. He could see several, little cock roaches scurrying away from what looked like a hubcap-sized, gallon milk jug lid. As he shook off the affects of the impromptu nap, he got a good look at the contents of the oversized cap. The best he could tell, it was garbage. There was rotten food "glopped" together, bits and pieces of a candy wrapper, and a cigarette butt. Along one edge, for some reason, there were three perfect cubes of sugar. Why someone would throw their refuse into this container and bring it to his cell was lost on the newest and most-confused member of this block. Stephen pushed the mess away and went to lie back down on the messy "mattress". He lay there racking his brain, thinking 'what on Earth did I do to deserve being thrown into this shithole'.

As he began to relax, he felt something moving under the hand his head was resting on. He jumped up and began to stomp at the area furiously until a voice commanded him to "STOP!". Steven looked around and didn't see anyone. He blinked two or three times, and rubbed his eyes as the door swung open by itself. He carefully moved through the cell door, and then looked around again for the guy who yelled for him to "stop". "Nothing", he said out loud as he walked toward a brightly lit room at the end of the hallway. He walked "into the light", but couldn't see anything other than an empty room. He then spied a pair of glasses sitting on a pedestal, and heard the voice command him to “put 'em on!". He put on the mystery glasses and was amazed at what was revealed to him.

It was now apparent that he had died from the fall and the bit of lunch that lodged in his windpipe. He gazed at the giant, elegant court room that, with the help of the glasses, he could now see. There were man-sized bugs (maybe water bugs) filling the "gallery” and the prosecutor's area. On the defense side was a cockroach, which was not quite as big as the other bugs.  Stephen felt compelled to sit in the gallery, and chose a seat beside a bug that was busy cleaning his front "legs". The bug looked over and "harrumphed" at the human invading his privacy. Stephen looked up at the bench and could see the huge, green legs of a giant grasshopper as it slowly turned around several times before settling into its “perch”. It mumbled something, before putting small, round spectacles on the end of its nose and looking out at the gallery. "First case!", he bellowed as the gallery murmured quietly. In came a Buddhist Monk, wearing his colorful burial garb. The prosecutor said something indistinguishable and pointed at a movie screen on the front of the judge's bench.

Over the course of the next few minutes, everyone watched video clips of the Monk giving up his last bit of food to a weary family he met on a pilgrimage. It showed him being beaten by someone and never lifting a hand to defend himself, though he was more than capable. The last clip showed the holy man sitting at a long dinner table eating his meal with his colleagues. When a cockroach approached his plate, the Monk helped it up, and then watched as it took a bit of his dinner. It looked funny as the bug remained on the edge of the man's plate, eating the morsel of food it had commandeered, while the monk continued eating his meal. At that moment a large group of crickets in the back of the courtroom, began to rub their legs together. Instead of the annoying chirp they normally make, beautiful music came forth as the Monk got up and walked into the magnificent light that had appeared right next to him.

Stephen couldn't believe any of what he was seeing, but the Monk moving into the soft, welcoming, blessed light was something to see; indeed! He was looking around the room, but directed his attention forward when the judge screamed his name. It was time for him to view the 'accounting' of his life. The video began with him exchanging vows with his wife at "The Shore". He remembered when he used to think of it as the happiest day of his life. The next clip showed him at his bachelor party, the night before, with his face buried between a stripper's breasts.  Stephen smiled before catching himself. He tried to look as innocent as he could, while the gallery was glaring intently at him.

The video feed was interrupted for a moment and the screen was bright white; like the reel had run out on a movie projector. Stephen was relieved that he didn't have to account for any more than the things they had shown, and waited for his bright, welcoming light. He was shocked when the feed came back on and showed ten full minutes of the 'defendant' burning bugs with a magnifying glass in his youth, drowning hundreds of ants by putting a garden hose into their mound, and swatting flies for "sport". As it showed him crunch a water bug on a sidewalk, a tiny voice from the gallery screamed "MURDERERERRRRRR!". The screen went blank again, and Stephen sighed, until he saw the "defense roach" throw his front legs up in the air as he seemed to be arguing with the judge. Suddenly, the feed came back on. It showed him grab a handful of Mrs. Ketterman as he drew his last breath, and then footage of him furiously stomping on bugs in his cell; just minutes before his trial.

The gallery was murmuring as the judge deliberated Stephen's fate. The frightened defendant finally saw the tiny bug that had led him to the courtroom, after yelling at him to stop stomping his "mattress". He followed the little guy forward, and heard a crunch as he stopped in front of the judge. An involuntary laugh came out as he wiped the bailiff's guts off the bottom of his shoe. The judge gave him a very stern look, before pushing a button on the bench. Stephen found himself falling, and falling; faster and faster. Just when he thought he was going to be sick, he saw a light coming up fast. Could this be his warm, welcoming light?  As he fell through the bottom of the mile-deep hole, he couldn't believe what he saw.

Stephen comically flapped his arms, like he was trying to fly before he smashed into what looked like a giant windshield. The impact broke most of his bones and spread more than a little of his grey matter and guts around. He lay there stuck, and in horrible pain for a few seconds before a giant "wiper" came by and smeared some of him into the glass, and knocked the rest onto the ground. He tried to scream as he saw demon bugs floating around, yelling and growling at him. He was completely conscious of what was happening and could feel the pain in every part of his battered body, whether lying off to the side or stuck to the glass

Next thing he knew, Stephen was standing in front of the judge again. Laughing was the furthest thing from his mind. The "presiding" grasshopper looked down at the man, who knew now that he was definitely going to be in Hell for all eternity. The gallery laughed at Stephen and his completely different attitude toward the proceedings. The judge shuffled some paperwork on his bench, and then turned to spit a wad of goo into a bucket. He pointed to the spot where the trap door was waiting to drop Stephen toward the windshield again and again for the rest of time. He then pointed to a door, as if to give the poor guy a choice in the matter. The "convicted" man eagerly walked toward any alternative to reliving the agonizing pain of the 'windshield smash'!

Inside the "alternate" Hell, Stephen found himself among many, many others. A short man with what looked like grasshopper legs bounced over to meet him. Stephen could only assume that he was the product of an interspecies relationship. He was proven wrong though as his own body began to morph into the same configuration. It was very painful, but his screams fell on deaf ears. As the pain subsided, he limped behind his guide through the next door. His face lit up with horror, and tears filled his eyes as he got his first look at the Hell he had chosen.

A hundred years had passed (ten minutes in Earth measure), and Stephen sat at a desk with the "lid" full of garbage, everyone received every day, sitting in front of him. It was identical to what was given to him, while in his cell that first day. He was wearing a phone headset, and was talking into it. He was among tens of thousands of others, who were doing the same. The combination of all their voices, talking at once, sounded like the buzzing of hundreds of bees circling around a hive. His sugar cubes gone, he picked up a finger-full of garbage and put it in his mouth, without stopping the conversation he was having. If you listened close, you could hear him say, "the credit card companies want you to think you have to pay off your high balances, but I have great news for you...". The person next to him was saying, "We have a beautiful gift for your 87th birthday Marge...you just need to furnish your credit card number to cover the $60 for postage and handling". Stephen had often wondered, while he was alive, where all the "robo" calls originated. Now he knew.

As he finished his call, his neighbor waved to get his attention.  Stephen looked over and listened as his pal asked, "man, are you gonna eat that butt?".


© Copyright 2017 John Filkins. All rights reserved.

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