A mystery. A love story. A lesson learned.
My Life Hereafter
By Rosaline Saul
Sunel Anderson has a little, invisible man who sits on her shoulder, and most of the time she does not listen to him.
Until that day.
There was a blinding flash…
There should have been only darkness...
But everything looks the same.
Even though it shouldn't.
She can only vaguely remember the day her school bus ran over the cliff.
The day she and most of her fellow students ended up here.
The twins, Mark and David Landon, were also on the bus, but David did not come here with them.
David was sent across the valley to the other side, and Mark wants to go and find him.
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My Life Hereafter review by marrington for Litpick
Sunel would never have imagined that a small prank could lead to the unexpected for her and 60 classmates. Where are they? Are they dead? Why have they been separated into three categories? Where is David, Mark's brother? These questions and many more are answered as Sunel, Mark, and Carly go to the otherside to find David. Will Sunel be able to save her friends, or will it cost her her soul? My Life Hereafter offers insight to the inner pysche and the afterlife. No matter if one believes in Heaven and Hell, the author has a way of prompting the reader to question the supernatural world. The reader is kept on the edge of his or her seat while trying to figure out what is going on along with Sunel. The novel is a love story, a mystery, a lesson learned. This book is a great read for teens and the young at heart.
About this book
Amazon ISBN 9798352166475
Ingram ISBN 9781393447085
eBook ISBN 9781393088462
Imprint: Fiction for the Soul
Date First Published: 1 December 2015
Paperback Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.56 x 8.5 inches
For readers aged 13 and up
Read the beginning of this story
It is oddly weird.
The one moment I am clutching to the railing of the bus seat in front of me, hanging sideways and upside down simultaneously, with my hair falling over my eyes and then in the blink of an eye I am standing here in this brilliant white hall.
I look around me at the unbelievably high ceiling, the white glimmering tiles all around, stretching into the sky as far as my eyes can see. It looks like an enormous and exceptionally clean industrial bathroom. The whiteness of it all hurts my eyes.
Unexpectedly Charlene knocks into me, and whispers reverently, “Is this heaven?”
“I doubt it. Surely, we would see a pearly gate, with hills rolling away into the distance. This looks like a giant railway station.”
“But we did…”
Lionel joins us. “Wow,” he says, looking around amazed. “Do you believe this?”
I look away from him to a girl I barely know, she is crying softly. Giant tears are running down her cheeks and her eyes are puffy and red. The rest of her face has gone pallid white, so now her eyes look as if they are bleeding.
As a hush falls over the crowd milling around me, I raise my eyebrows at Lionel, silently telling him not to sound so excited.
Every kid on that bus with me, all sixty of us stop talking abruptly, all at the exact same time, and then we turn to face the large stage in the front of this colossal hall.
I see him up on the stage. How can I miss him? He has biceps the size of me. He stands erect, and he lifts his hand to sweep his hair across his brow. His eyes are so blue, I can see the colour all the way at the back here, where I stand.
In a loud booming voice, he says, while my heart skips a beat at the sudden sound, “Welcome. You will form groups of six.”
He stops talking and I assume it is a direct order.
I grab onto Charlene’s arm before someone drags her away from me. Charlene and I have been friends since pre-school and I am not going to go through this hallucination without her.
Lionel inches himself closer to me, and then I lean forward not wanting my legs to move. I tap the sobbing girl on the shoulder. She looks so alone, and my heart goes out to her when I see no-one grabbing onto her.
She looks at me through dew-dropped Bambi lashes.
I suggest, “Join our group. If you want to.”
She smiles shyly as she inches closer to us while keeping her eyes averted. I recognise her, and I think she was in one or two of my classes, but regretfully I cannot really remember her name.
“Okay, that makes four. Quickly get two more kids, before we get split up into other unfinished groups.”
I see Mark sauntering toward us, and I quickly scan the surrounding area to see if David is with him as I nudge Charlene in the ribs. Charlene has a serious crush on him, and I must admit he is dangerously handsome. He is not the most popular boy in school, but to Charlene, he is an Adonis.
Mark smiles his sexy smile, and then asks, “Mind if I join your group?”
Charlene gapes at him while I frown. Never before has he spoken to me, Charlene, or Lionel, so why would he now walk across the room to connect with us?
Lionel smiles. “Yes, of course. That makes five. We need one more.”
I look around and see the surrounding groups are all full. I start to panic because I do not think I would be able to do this whole afterlife thing without Charlene by my side and I catch my breath. Afterlife? I have not yet had the opportunity to collect my thoughts. Am I dead?
Our attention is brutally diverted toward the stage again. It is as if we are all in a collective thought, and we look at the stage simultaneously, while we stop talking amongst ourselves.
The man, with the huge arms, says loudly, “Good. We have a straggler here. Sunel, please come forward.”
Me? Must be because I do not know many people named Sunel. My mum likes to brag and tell everybody who will listen, how she joined my dad’s name and her name together, and then stumbled upon the new-age name of Sunel. My name is frustrating at times, especially when I have to repeat my name to those who do not know me, or especially when I have to spell my name repeatedly.
I walk forward automatically, and look back over my shoulder at Charlene, begging her with my eyes to come with me.
However, she has planted herself next to Mark and she does not move a muscle.
I move past my classmates, nodding my head in greeting every so often, as I walk to the front of the hall.
When I reach the front and look up at the stage, the man on the stage says, “Rudi, please follow Sunel back to her group.”
As if in a trance, I look at Rudi, standing by himself near a corner. He walks to me and then silently we walk back to Charlene, Lionel, Mark, and the girl, I am ashamed to say, whose name I do not know.
From the front of the hall, the man instructs, “You will now, in your groups of six, move toward the reception area. You will not all crowd into the foyer. You will remain outside the door until your name is called.”
The man walks off the stage and then everybody starts to talk again as one, the buzz is like bees in a hive.
Lionel leans forward conspiratorially. “Who was that?”
I ignore him. “What is going on? Where are we anyway? How can we all be so calm, as if nothing has happened? I remember being on the bus. I remember…” Then suddenly I did not want to remember.
Mark leans closer to me. “Calm down, Sunel. You are going to start hyperventilating if you’re not careful.”
Charlene laughs. “Can we still hyperventilate?”
He smiles at her and I can see her legs visibly turn to jelly. He says, “We seem pretty normal.”
“Yeah, for dead people. It is weird how everything seems so regular,” Lionel adds.
I move through the circle we have formed and stand next to the crying girl. I feel mortified having to ask her for her name. I should know her name, jeez, we were all in the same school, the same year, going on an outing to the Museum of Natural Science. Smiling friendly, I take her hand consolingly.
In a recollection of brilliant, vivid colours, I see her the way she was at school. Her name is Carly and she transferred in, a month ago. She is still trying to find her way in her new school, and she has not made any friends yet, and nobody had approached her either. She keeps mostly to herself and she is quiet and shy. Her dad died six months ago, and her mother has been miserable and sad ever since. Carly is always worried who will take care of her mother, and now that she is here, her worries are even worse. She is a worrier. She worries about everything from world hunger to ants not having enough to keep them through winter. Her favourite colour is green, and she loves listening to the Backstreet Boys.
I pull my hand from Carly’s fiercely. I take a deep gasp of air and frowning confused I look down at my hand. In a split of a second, I knew everything there was to know about Carly.
Hastily I gather my thoughts as I feel myself being nudged forwards toward the door.
Charlene comes to walk next to me. “What’s wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Lionel laughs nervously. “Yeah, sixty of them.”
“Lionel you aren’t funny,” I say in passing while I rush away from them to get to the door. I can see it is a sunny day, the way the sun filters through the door. I glance at the faces surrounding me and think how strange it is that Carly is the only person I saw crying. Everybody looks happy.
Together we crowd our way through the doorway and into the bright sunlight.
I stand with Charlene, Mark, Lionel, Rudi, and Carly in the quad of grey.
The cement slabs beneath our feet are grey, and the walls surrounding us are the same dreary shade of colour.
The large group thins out slowly and somehow my group ends up being the last to be called.
This seems to be like an entrance to the other side. None of the other kids who have gone into the building before us, called by name from a huge register, by a burly woman with forearms almost as big as the man’s we saw earlier in the hall, have come back out on this side.
The grey walls surrounding us are high, and we cannot see what is happening on the other side.
Once again, I tell myself this is like a railway station, but here people only arrive, they never depart.
The woman in the white caftan dress with the muscular arms appears in the doorway of the entrance to the reception room. She looks down at her register, and then she calls out our names one by one.
She turns and we follow her into the building. If I had to be polite, I would say the décor is minimalistic. Once again, white tiles cover every surface and the white is overwhelming.
A mangled, wobbly wooden table stands in a corner with piles and piles of paperwork. Whoever does the filing has neglected his or her duties for a while, or otherwise, they are just terribly busy. I have to smirk at my internal humour, the little fellow who sits on my right shoulder, whispering inane sarcastic innuendos in my ear throughout my days and sometimes gets me into a heap of trouble.
In single file, one at a time, we walk through what looks like a metal detector, similar to those a person will find at the airport. I wonder if a person would be able to bring earthly possessions here. I am still wearing the same baby doll shirt and faded jeans I put on this morning after I woke up, but if I had, for instance, a knife in my pocket, would it still be in there? To test my theory, I push my hand into my pocket to feel if my iPod is there and pull my hand out empty. I suppose not. Earthly possessions are just what they are – earthly.
After I walk through the metal detector looking device, the burly woman calls me back. I frown and look at her questioningly, while she says, “I need you to walk through again.”
My frown deepens, but she is a scary looking woman, and as it is, I do not know where I specifically am. I know without a doubt I am dead, so I am obliging.
I see her look at the screen in front of her perplexed. She turns her back to me and looks at the dainty woman behind a thick, plastic windowpane. I see the small woman frown and her lips move, but I cannot hear a word she is saying. The window is muffling the sound. The thick, burly woman who is standing a mere few inches away from me nods her head in agreement as if she has heard every word and then as she turns to me. She nods her head and angles her neck to my group of friends, which I assume means I can join my group.
The woman then ushers us out the door on the other side of the building.
A person would expect to see winged chariots soaring around in the sky, crystal-clear water splashing softly, melodiously over snow-white pebbles in little streams criss-crossing through the lush, bottle green grass under the cerulean sky. A person would expect to see superbly crafted men and women with marvellous wings, dazzling under the bright midday sun flying above. However, there is none of that here. It is all just mundane. It looks normal, as normal as an everyday on Earth. The grass is still green, and the sky is still blue. The roads twist lazily through the landscape with grey buildings dotting it here and there.
Once again, all sixty of the students I was on the bus with this morning are standing in a group in front of the reception building. The reception building is on a hill, and the view goes on ceaselessly. There is no horizon.
A pretty girl is standing at the edge of the large group and she smiles at us kindly. Slowly, one-by-one we stop talking. I look at the girl and I notice she is radiantly beautiful, with golden flax locks and intense blue eyes. She is not like the man and the woman we encountered before her, she is petite, and her arms are normal looking.
When every student is silent, she says in a resonating voice, “Good. I am going to call out your name, and you are going to step toward that oak tree there. There will be forty names in all, so please be patient until I call your name. For those of you, whose name I do not call, please remain standing where you are.” She does not hesitate and starts to call out names.
I hold onto Charlene’s arm tightly. I honestly did not want the list to separate us. I hold my breath as the group under the oak tree grows and grows. I count nervously as each name is called out, hoping, and wishing neither Charlene’s or my name is called, and if either one of our names is called, that soon after the other’s name is also called.
At the count of forty, she finally brings her list of names down from in front of her face and I sigh relieved.
I look around me to Carly, Lionel, Mark and lastly, Charlene. From our original group of six, only Rudi was called to stand in the other group by the oak tree.
The pretty girl walks to the oak tree and I can hear her say friendly, “You will now all proceed to climb into the vehicles behind you.”
I notice some of the naughtier students, the bullies, and the disruptive kids resisting. Four broad-shouldered men appear, and then the group of forty kids climbs into the vehicles standing behind them obediently.
An overweight boy, by the name of Oscar, makes a run for it. Oscar is a nasty boy, and from when I can remember, he has ruled by fear. He likes, especially, to hurt and humiliate the younger boys in the halls of our school. He really is a wicked piece of work.
Two of the four strong men - sentries, I suppose, go after him, and to be honest, I doubt he ever had a chance of running away. I bet, after all that bullying, he is scared now of going to a place far more sinister than what he has experienced so far this morning.
The two sentries catch Oscar and then drag him by his arms back to the trucks. I see panic etched on Oscar’s face and he is whimpering softly for his mother. Hard-handed the sentries push Oscar into one of the trucks.
They close the doors and then the four trucks pull away and I see them trail each other down the hill, following the road. My eyes follow the slow-moving trucks down into the valley and then into a vast forest of huge trees. The trees continue up into an opposite hill, so I am unable to see where and when the trucks stop, if ever.
The pretty girl walks back to us and then she says pleasantly, “Welcome. I have been chosen to be your custodian, and you may call me Vera.”
She turns away from us and I wonder when someone will be telling us what is going on. I know we must be dead, after the way the bus was rolling and tumbling down the cliff, and into the river, but is this Heaven?
I wonder why we were split into two groups and why our group is smaller. I suppose, the other group was filled with lawbreakers and wrongdoers, so would it mean I have been selected to be amongst the group of worthy and good kids, and there is always more bad than good in the world.Copyright © Rosaline Saul (published by Fiction for the Soul). All rights reserved.