[The Floating Island, 555 words, Genre: Mind Fudge]
* Image courtesy of Dirk de Bruyn
They were on a floating island. The floating island was a block of twelve apartments. It was Charon’s ferry to ferry lost souls from the land of the living to the land of the dead. Charon gave each of the inhabitants two cigarettes and told them to hold them until they got to the other side. On the other side, he would return and take his toll for the ferry ride across.
The block of flats, the floating island would waver as it travelled across the ocean. From time to time, Charon would talk to the inhabitants as he slowly guided the floating island towards its destination. The winds were still as the ferry was guided across the vast field, the mind-scape that was the afterlife.
One of the inhabitants of the island went to talk to Charon as Charon sat outside smoking a cigarette. You see, it was not the cigarettes that Charon craved as payment for the journey towards the afterlife. But the stories. The stories and exploits of life is what Charon craved. For he, himself, knew two things about life. There were two certainties in life and that was death and taxes. Taxes had to be paid and death was a certainty.
Most individuals, Charon explained, could not handle the experience of death. For them, as they saw the experience of life, death was the finale, the absolute, the definitive, the end. Charon knew better. He knew that death was only the beginning of another journey. A journey that he, as the ferryman, would initiate and begin.
Charon told the inhabitant of the ferry, the floating island, a story. A story about two brothers fighting amongst one another and getting into a squabble. Once the squabble had concluded. One of the brothers had been pushed from a high rise and had his head cracked open upon the pavement.
The argument, Charon explained, was initiated when one of their friends went to the gym and did a set of one legged lunges. Those one legged lunges were instructed by the personal trainer who was one of the brothers. What then occurred, was their friend had failed in the one legged lunges and suffered a mortal injury. An argument ensued between the two brothers that resulted in the death of one of the brothers.
As Charon told the story. The man sat down and listened. Thoughts began entering the man’s mind concerning his own mortality. He could easily have been that man at the gym. He could have easily failed in lifting his weights in one legged lunges and then caused himself grievous harm in his movements.
The man looked around and saw the other inhabitants of the island. He saw that they too could all be victims of gym accidents in which they had lost their lives. The man looked around and bore witness to the other characters of the floating island. Their lives too, may have been put to an end in various accidents that had occurred in the gym.
Charon looked at the man. It was the look of a man who realized that he was dead. Charon just gave him a quick nod, an all-knowing smile and went back into his own apartment. Where he would continue to steer the floating island. Onwards, towards infinity and the other side.