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When you’re little you hear a lot about Hell. That is you do if the house you came in up was a Catholic one. Seeing as mine was in fact one of those homes, I heard a lot of talk about Heaven and Hell, God and Jesus and the Devil. Scary stuff when you’re a kid, amusing when you’re an adult and completely wrong when you’re dead. I would like to say you learn a lot when you die — all the answers to life’s mysteries are answered and so forth — but I can’t. It simply isn’t the case.

When you die, at least as far as I know, you learn about three things. The first being that you are in fact dead, meaning your “ghost” or whatever you care to call it, exits your body and you find yourself looking down at your own cooling corpse. You can still see and hear everything that is taking place around you. You even retain a slight sense of touch, along with the illusion of gravity. By this I mean you don’t get to fly around.

Naturally, you cannot be seen or heard conventionally. Waving your hands, shouting at people… none of it works. Don’t bother. There are other means to make yourself known but I will get to that later.

The second thing you learn is that once you’ve died, you either stay or go. And that’s it. I am still around, which means I didn’t get to go. For those who got to leave, no one ever came back to say where it was they went. Again, I’m still here and that’s that.

Perhaps the last thing you discover immediately is that if you stay, as far as I know, you’re on your own. You can’t communicate with anything directly. I have seen people die and go, catching sight their ghost for a moment before it dissipates. I have also seen people die where no ghost exits at all. The only thing I am left to conclude is that they stayed too, but we can’t see each other. It would seem as though each of us are stuck in the same situation.

From here, there’s much more to learn but it’s only upon your own ability to reflect and deduce. You’re essentially on the most isolated quest for enlightenment that ever existed, and the journey is built to break you.

Now all of this I am just guessing at because as I said, I am my only resource now. Aside from those first three initial facts, the rest is entirely up to you if you want any kind of answers. At this point, you are left to self-reflection and depending on how well you dealt with digesting the first three the facts will determine how well the rest soaks in. For me, it wasn’t hard to figure out how I got here.

I remember thinking I smelled charcoal from a grill. The grill scent reminded me of cookouts in the summer. Fourths of July. Red cups. Mustard stains and the odor of wet sulfur from used mortar shells drowned in a bucket. Some might call this a life flashing before one’s eyes. The reality of the situation was that I had propped a small caliber pistol at my temple and pulled the trigger. It took merely a second for me to entirely close out. In the space of that time, I could still process a few things, one of them being the scent of the discharged gun. For whatever reason, it smelled like a barbeque.

Quickly thereafter, I stood above myself looking at the now folded shape I had become. I was almost embarrassed. It was so undignified. Nothing about my body’s state looked at peace or even romantically dispatched. I recall thinking I looked like an accident; almost as if the scenario could have been that I was cleaning the damn gun and it went off. It didn’t help that I had not bothered to leave a note.

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