Twice Upon a Time
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by Frank Allan Rogers
Category: Science Fiction
Description: Can a man from the 21st century survive in 1847? Murdered on his birthday, August Myles finds crossing over is nothing like he'd ever heard, read, or imagined, and learns he has not earned a ticket to Paradise. In a grand experiment, the members of the Divine Council gave August another chance. Or did they? With all the limitations of a mortal, he is sent back in time with an impossible mission - an adventure filled with triumph and tragedy, courage and fear, sex and violence, happiness and heartbreak - a grueling journey on the Oregon Trail. And with all the needs and passions of a mortal, August must also battle the advances of two gorgeous women during long months and close encounters. One woman just wants to seduce him. Another falls in love. But for August Myles, carnal knowledge is forbidden. Is there no justice?
eBook Publisher: Solstice Publishing/Solstice Publishing,
eBookwise Release Date: June 2012
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [405 KB]
Reading time: 269-377 min.
August Myles never imagined a dead man could feel so alive. He had no reason to hurry on the easy path above the earth, but he skipped along at a brisk pace because he liked it. His energy had no limits. His favorite jacket and walking shoes felt better than ever. Who said, you can't take it with you?
He extended his perspective out in front of him and looked at himself from twenty feet away. His face was radiant. Though he knew he did not have a physical body, it looked the same as when he was living, except with a vibrant glow that made him appear more alive and healthy than any earthbound body he'd ever seen. Mortal obstacles--pain, fatigue, stress, and fear--did not exist here, wherever here was.
But getting here had not been easy. And what lay ahead, he could not know.
Just days ago, when he was still alive, he made a promise to himself: work less, drink less, no more one-night stands. He'd find a good woman and fall in love again. It was time. He would start back to church. That's where the good women could be found.
But that was then, and life didn't wait.
Only hours after that promise, breathing seemed all that mattered, though it required more effort than anything he'd ever done. Like a black-and-white movie in slow motion, the scene now played again in his mind.
A couple of punks looking for fast money broke into his office. A gun flashed. His chest imploded, and the bullet stopped his gasp as it shattered a breastbone, ripped through flesh, and paralyzed his lungs. The robbers snatched his wallet and ran. He heard them yelling at each other as he fell. Then the darkness closed in.
Maybe only minutes passed. It seemed like hours that he lay on his back on the office floor--his face numb, his lips tingling as thick, warm liquid oozed from his chest, filled his mouth and nose, ran into his ear, spilled onto his hand.
For a long time, the world was dark, silent, still. Then a siren came, louder and closer, and stopped. Someone lifted his eyelids and shined a bright light. Sounds echoed from far away. Noise, objects, and people became tiny orbs of light and spun in a chaotic maze, pulled into the distance, getting smaller and smaller until they disappeared.
No more pain. No more struggle. No more crushing weight on the chest. On his fifty-seventh birthday, August Myles drew a last, ragged breath and his world faded to black.
For August, crossing over turned out to be nothing like he expected, not the way he'd heard, or read, or ever imagined. No glowing light, no gentle voices from the long-ago dead, no one reaching out to him from the other side. He now understood that the living know nothing about death. But after watching his own funeral service he had to admit they knew how to plan a sendoff.
Hours ago, he sat in the front row of the church near the coffin, but found a better view when he hovered above it near the ceiling. Then he sat in the balcony with the choir. Though he was honored by the tribute and impressed by the performance of How Great Thou Art, he couldn't hear himself when he sang along.
The minister's words flattered him, but August had heard enough. He would not tag along to the cemetery. He skipped out and left the old body behind when the pallbearers picked up the coffin.
Swept up in a mountain of fog, August trudged along, knowing only that he must keep moving. With no sense of direction, he traveled in a world without dimensions on a journey that seemed endless until a clearing appeared like an island in the sea.
August shook his head at the ancient Greek philosopher seated in front of him. "Where am I? Something is terribly wrong. Aren't you...?"
The philosopher stood. "I am."
"I expected to meet God or Jesus or Saint Peter, and..."
"You were wrong. They have their jobs. This one is mine."
"But...Socrates? No offense, but..." August shook his head again. "Why? This doesn't make sense."
Socrates moved beside him and rested his hand on August's shoulder. "For every person on Earth, each life is unique. Yet you assume dying, crossing over as you call it, is the same for everyone?" He stepped away, folded his arms and waited.
August wrinkled his forehead. "But...all my life I've been told that..."
"Ah, yes, the universal truth, spread by people who couldn't possibly know."
August paced and thought about the man's words. "So what exactly is your job?"
After a long pause, Socrates said, "I'm a rep for the Divine Council, and I'm here to tell you that you don't qualify for a ticket to heaven."
August stared wide-eyed and shook his head. "No, no, no, it can't be." He gasped, paced back and forth, then stopped and caught Socrates by the shoulders. "I've never been an evil man. I never murdered anyone. I was never a rapist or robber or wife beater. I ran a respectable business. The evil guys are the ones who broke into my office and shot me. I didn't deserve that. I don't deserve this."
"No one said life is fair."
"Life? We're talking about eternity here." August turned away and stared into the foggy emptiness. "I've been told to go to hell a few times before, but I didn't take that advice." He turned back and raised his voice. "And I'm not taking yours."
"Sorry, my friend. It's not advice and it's not up to me. The Council ruled that you abandoned your faith."
"So this is how it all works? You throw a human infant, helpless and ignorant, onto a strange planet, in a trial-and-error life with countless hazards and no way to know when or how that life will end. And when it does, you send that poor soul to hell, not for being a bad person, but for common mistakes. For being human. Where's the justice in that? Is The Devil in charge of the universe?"