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A Puzzle of Squares, Square Two: Death

A Puzzle of Squares, Square Two: Death

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Published by The New Scum
Where we are formally introduced to the main character, Lux, the newest intake of the Fifth Dimension. Lux has a great deal of metaphysical learning to do, and none of the events of his life on Earth could have prepared him for the vastness of life after death... with the exception of one.
Where we are formally introduced to the main character, Lux, the newest intake of the Fifth Dimension. Lux has a great deal of metaphysical learning to do, and none of the events of his life on Earth could have prepared him for the vastness of life after death... with the exception of one.

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Published by: The New Scum on Dec 09, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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A Puzzle of Squares
A Story by Zachary Elmblad.An intentionally arranged series of words for publication by The New Scum Productions.A serialized story for long-term release and publication by THENEWSCUM.ORGDo not reproduce this document without the expressed permission of The New Scum Productions.Copyright 2009 The New Scum Productions.TheNewScum.OrgZachElmblad.Com
Square Two: Death.
He wouldn't have called it
waking up
as readily as he would have called it
It wasas if he had entered his first moment of true existential clarity. He remembered what existential meant.He remembered words, language, he remembered that he was a person. A mind. His first moment of retrospect outside the fourth dimension. It happened quickly, lucidly, and without the grogginess of waking up. His eyes opened abruptly, and the moderately-lit room had no features that shocked him or drew his attention. Easy, logical lines of chairs along three of the walls, with a space every few for acoffee table with a smattering of magazines he somehow knew he wouldn't be interested in looking at.Like a doctor's office without the kid's toys, hand-print wall-paint, and ugly multi-colored floor. Itlooked more like a probation office lobby. Like a rehab center.He was alert, but he didn't exactly know what that meant yet. He remembered things, somethings. He remembered that he was alive, once, but he thought of it in the past tense. He could see itall in his mind, nothing conclusive or cohesive, but memories ranging from early childhood to hisdeath. Mundane things, like the alphabet. He could surely remember that. He said it out loud,remembering how to speak as he said it, his words echoing down the empty lobby and back at him likehe was talking to himself in the third person.“a...A...b...B...c...C... and so on.” He remembered the whole thing.He looked around at his surroundings, now slightly confused, at the pale beige chairs and thecheap-looking coffee tables. He remembered a hundred doctor's offices, the rehab lobbies, the airportterminals, all the things you'd see in those places seemed to be around him. He always wonderedwhere people buy that kind of crap. No one would ever put it in their house, unless it had a lobby.“Lobby Furniture,” it must say in some catalog you can only get if you're “in the loop.” The floor waslinoleum that looked like it came from the fifties. He remembered what linoleum
, what “
the fifties
” meant. There was no one else in the room with him, not a breath or a stirred bit of air exceptfrom his lungs and his movements. Art hung from the walls, unrecognizable modern impressionistflowery crap, but it certainly wouldn't offend anyone. It was there because it was
to be there.People put crappy art on the walls because any art that's good, someone else doesn't like. So if you putsomething stupid, like a stuffed bear and three blocks, three colors, three letters – A, B, C – maybe awooden top with a -
spindle. That would be the “crazy artist” bit. Grandmothers could hem andhaw about why he chose to use green, and not one of the colors of the blocks. It was vapid, useless art,merely a way for some schmuck to pay his way either out of art school, or into a bar while he yearnedover the art he
wanted to make. He remembered what art was. That it wasn't just there for nothing, it had an intended purpose of being looked at, of being admired- even if mundane. Whoapplies for a listing in “Lobby Furniture Digest,” right?He remembered how there were public places like that all over in his life, where things were
 just there because they were supposed to be there. Places where you were not supposed to becomfortable, just adequately contained, pleased enough to settle your patience while you wait. It was a place where you never quite knew how long you'd been waiting. Had a minute passed? A second?There were no clocks on the wall, he didn't know what time it was. How could he know how long hehad been waiting? How he had gotten there? He remembered the last thing he did-He died.His life had been lived and ended.So that's what this was.This was... the afterlife.It hadn't ended. Cut into the only wall not surrounded by chairs, the wall across the room from him, there was aclosed receptionist's window. The kind with the bullet-proof glass and the hole with a metal grille.Like a gas station on the bad side of town. There was a small opening in the bottom, presumably to pass forms back and forth, but the window was covered from the other side by a thick, black curtain. No light seemed to be present on the other side. Next to the closed window was a large, black, heavylooking door which he could have sworn he heard steps coming from the other side of.A tone rang out as if coming out of nowhere. He saw no speakers, but recognized the mid-range crackle of a PA speaker coming to life. He remembered what a PA was. One of those noisesyou're trained to point out as a small child, but forget about until you hear it again- in some antisepticand authoritarian place. A meekly frigid female voice leaked out of the PA. It was a friendly, official-sounding voice. She didn't sound familiar as if he knew who she was, she sounded familiar in that shesounded exactly like a woman announcing through a PA
sound. Like it was an archetypal PAvoice, one that wasn't heard so much as imagined.“Welcome to intake, the Doctor will see you now”The door swung open, revealing a man who stood with a hunched wisdom. It was an old man,one who looked like each wrinkle on his face accompanied a story which never ended. He thought for a moment that he recognized the man. The man held a clipboard loosely to his chest with the crook of his left arm, a cup of coffee in his left hand. The man then gestured, noncommittally, with his righthand. As he gestured, he grinned, which moved a long cigarette in a holder from the front of his mouthto the corner.“You are dead.” he said, suddenly, with a voice that was neither caring nor interested.“Does that surprise you?”“No, I think that I had kind of planned it that way”“So you did, and so you are. How much do you remember?”“Bits and pieces, mostly just stupid things like someone I think was my mother telling me to remember to wash behind my ears. Picking up a 96-count box of crayons, and having to settle for the 48 becausewe “couldn't afford it”“Naturally. It's the big memories that you have to go back to, that's the deal here.”“What is this, purgatory?”
“Watch it- that kind of crazy talk will get ya whispered about.”“Where are we?”“The dark center of the universe. Doesn't that sound cool?”“It doesn't end?”“Nope.”“Why?”“Why not? We don't bother asking questions like 'why' around here anymore,” the man said.“Ok, but here... is a, “here,” right?“You will listen, and you will listen carefully. Walk with me”“Why should I follow you?”“Well, you can follow me, or you can sit in this lobby for eternity. Your choice.”“So now I have choices? I can't even remember my name.”“You have many choices, and your name is Lux.”“That's not my name”“If you can't remember your name, how do you know it isn't Lux?”“I just
“Your name, here, is Lux.” He held up a file.A name is a good thing to have when you can't remember anything important. Lux got up. Hestood up from the chair, standing on the feet of a dead man. It was like he was watching a movie of himself, from himself, and he was controlling the movements- but at the same time, he knew what hewas going to do when he did it. It was still pretty weird. Oddly reminiscent of some wildhallucinogen. Obviously he never died and went to hell, or whatever this was, tripping balls on acid; but he had thought about what might happen after you die a great deal. He was not pained to walk, itwas effortless. He walked confidently towards the man. About ten feet from the door, he stopped deadin his tracks and gazed at the man.“You, you're- no fuckin' waaay!”“Kind of. I'm Chronos.”“Like that video game?”

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