I am going chronologically with various prompts I wrote on. This is the first complete story that I felt confident enough to put online.
The way it was told is that you die on earth, and then when the last person says your name you transcend. As far as I’ve heard and seen I’ve been in the middle-zone longer than any spirit. This was gathered from other spirits though, and each seems very involved in their own circle. Whether that be watching their family mourn, guessing when they will pass on again, or lost in the thoughts that make them different.
From what I heard from the other spirits wandering the middle-zone, there have been some that go from dying to spirit and then into the cosmic oneness beyond in a matter of seconds. I learned this when I first arrived in the zone. That was 3000 years ago, and I’m still here wandering.
I’ve mastered controlling that feeling. It’s something I didn’t experience in the flesh. A cloud in your thoughts, pushing them in one direction constantly. I mean, I was a male in a public school, so I felt something vaguely familiar but not on this scale. And not with the numbness that surrounds a spirit.
I had time to practice, and now every spirit that comes through seems boring and out of touch. Nothing new happens and the world of humankind has ceased to be interesting to me. Once every thousand years an emissary is sent from the cosmic whole, and the spirits see it happen. But they usually end up back here in 40 years or so, which to me, at this point is not that long.
It’s not like I’m in pain, or suffering at all. Spirits can’t really feel the same way as flesh. It’s foggy, muted, most feelings that I feel are stagnant. They stay around a while, like when the nuclear war happened. It was interesting to see the place crowded if only for a couple days. I still don’t understand where we are in this place, or how it would even get crowded, but that’s something I’m sure I’ll understand when I transcend.
I seemed to be the only one that could see past the confusion and half-sorrow.
“What do they say about me?” I ask the fresh spirits.
“Who are you?” they ask.
I forget that there are no features in the middle-zone.
“I was John Brown. I lived in Iowa. I drove trucks,” I would tell them with exasperation.
“I knew some John Browns. It’s a common name. Are all the people dead?” one of them asked.
More souls kept piling in during that nuclear war. But who was saying my name? It had been over a thousand years at this point. I never remembered doing something that famous, or useful. I remembered driving trucks, I married a woman who was good to me. I helped make two offspring and then I died sometime after that. I could not understand who was remembering me.
“Maybe you heard of a famous truck driver while you were flesh?” I asked the same spirit.
The spirit was looking at earth, the fires were raging and straggler ICBM’s were going off here and there.
“Is it the end of humanity?” their gray form turned at me.
“Did you talk with the John Browns you knew about other John Browns?” I kept questioning.
“They were fairly boring, maybe you can find on here. If everyone is dead than they should be here,” it informed me.
But I tried in vain to find one. All the spirits transcended quickly, as there was no one else around to say their name. It was only a couple weeks before they were gone, and the middle-zone was abuzz with how humankind would rebuild or die.
That was 2000 years ago. I’m still here. My name, my memory is still somehow preserved. I am incapable of feeling most things but I vaguely remember frustration and I think that’s what I would be feeling in the flesh.
Now I don’t question the new spirits and just try to learn the most I can from watching the world and the spirits watching it. The conclusion I’ve reached is that I am being trained for something. I don’t know what, as there are no leaders or management in this place. Just a very simple rule-set, you die come here, last person says your name and you disappear from here.
I did not do enough in my time as flesh to earn 3000 years of people saying my name.
But only a small time later the sun exploded. The end of humankind arrived and the middle-zone was filled with spirits and then emptied. I finally transcended.
There was blackness, a pale white light and suddenly I was everyone that ever existed. I knew time had no meaning, and neither did life. But I still felt something. A curiousity. What was I being trained for? Why had I existed in the middle-zone for so long?
The oneness answered, “You are John Brown. People said your name for a long time after you died.”
“But I did not do much of anything except drive trucks.”
“You must have done something.”
“I helped make two other lives. I think I raised them okay.”
“They must have kept your name alive.”
“I find that hard to believe. One was a school teacher and the other was a mechanic. Neither had much power or fame.”
I felt what it felt. It felt confused, then fearful about feeling confused. Apparently this was not supposed to happen.
“We know all and see all.”
And I saw what it saw. The rules that dictated the time one would spend in the middle-zone had been broken with me. And the all seeing cosmic oneness had failed to differentiate my name with all the other flesh that shared a name with it.
We were embarrassed. And afraid, for we are infallible, and this was a breach of that.
In a moment we saw the edges of us recede, a great fear swept over us that cascaded into what flesh might consider a scream. We shrunk until we ceased to be.