They say what awaits after you die is something that nobody knows about. And indeed, since it's always a one way trip, it's unlikely anybody would ever tell the tale. In the Void Between, a space located between the realms of the living and the unseen, a freshly arrived soul that once belonged to an individual named George Dempsey awoke. At first he was confused. As far as he knew, he was walking home from work when suddenly he felt something entering his skull and then blackness. Looking around, he appeared to be back in the cabin he spents many summers in his childhood, right down to the furniture. To say he was overwhelmed with nostalgia was an understatement. Stepping outside, he even found the cabin's yard and the pier to be exactly as he remembered them. Though everything was strangely silent save for the subtle blows of the win. It was then George noticed someone approaching his location. The stranger in question was a man much older than George, clad in white and black robes.
What are you? George asked.
Glad that you asked. I'm Ben Turner and I'm the Retriever assigned to your pod. You are George Harold Dempsey, in life a resident of New York City, New York, United States of America, born in the same city to Kevin and Melissa Dempsey in the year 1987, am I correct? the stranger explained
Yes, that's. Wait, are you trying to imply that I'm... dead?
Unfortunately you are. Shot in the head approximately at 17:23 in the evening of 5th of February, 2017 at the intersection of Gates Avenue and Grand Avenue.
So that was it, George thought. He was really well and truly dead. And he was even going to the opera with his new girlfriend with the aim to propose to her tomorrow. Despite that confirmation, George still had many questions in his mind.
Man, I have so many questions that I don't even know where to start...
It's ok, we can talk about more about your situation inside. After you. Retriever Ben said while gesturing George to come inside.
Once inside, George gestured Ben to sit down. To his delight, the coffee machine inside actually worked. He poured two cups of his favourite latte and put them on the table, accompanied with buns. He then sat down opposite Ben who took out a pen and a pad.
Ben nodded at the statement.
Then, do you possibly have any idea who the culprit might be?
As interesting as it would be to know, I'm afraid the knowledge we Retrievers have in relation to the causes of death are extremely limited. All we know that a bullet penetrated your skull causing your demise and that's it. Any secondary factors are irrelevant.
Man, what a bummer... And here I was, hopeful that I'd get to give my girfriend an unforgettable opera night.
You had a girlfriend? Ben inquired.
Yeah. Her name was Francine Brandkamp. It's nothing special, one of those High School sweetheart romance type of things. But I figured that with her around, my life would've been complete. But now that I'm dead, I can never give her that proposal...
It's ok to have regrets, even in death. The best thing that you can do is to try to move on. Ben assured.
Yeah, I guess you are right.
Now, back to the case at hand. Did you have any enemies in life?
Not really, no. Thought since I was an accomplished worked at my company in life and due for a promotion at that, it's possible someone might have wanted to cap me that badly.
I see. So no prior contact with any Mafia or other gangs?
No sir. I always try to be extremely careful with who I associate myself with.
Ben scribbled a few more lines in his notepad and put it back to the pocket.
Well, what's in the past is done. Gotta say, of all the pods I've encountered during my career, this probably has to be one of the most unique ones yet. Usually they take the form of someone's childhood bedroom and the like but an actual lakeside cabin...
What's a 'pod? George asked.
Ah yes, how silly of me. I guess it's time for me to explain the situation in better detail. In short, a 'pod' is basically a 'shell' of sorts for the newly arrived souls in the Void Between, a kind of space nestled between the realms of the living and the unseen. That's where you are right now. And we Retrievers are tasked with, well, retrieving these souls from their pods. After that, you are to be escorted before a panel.
A panel like a court? Does that mean they're going to decide whether i'm destined to hell or heaven?
I can assure it's not quite like that. They're simply going to list the various deeds in life and depending on the circumstances, you might either go to the next life right away or have to do some sort of a 'service' before that.
George breathed a sight of relief. If he gets to choose, perhaps he can be one of those Retrievers too. But does that mean...
Were your deeds bad enough that you were sentenced to do service as a Retriever, good sir?
Nope, I volunteered. While it might be possible to become a Retriever by order, it's extremely rare since becoming one requires absolute commitment to the duty.
Then, what I might become if I won't get to a next life right away?
It can vary depending on the skills you had in life. Given the company you worked for, maybe the Archives can be a good fit?
George and Ben then made it outside and started to walk down the road that ordinarily led to the nearest town. But since this whole area was only an illusion inside the pod, what awaited the two was a portal. Gathering his courage, George began to walk through it, wondering what awaited him in the other side...
When you become dead, what happens is a mystery to those still living. One unlucky sap who gets shot while walking home from work gets to find out first hand.