A traffic accident took away Aaron’s salvation, his fiancée Melinda. Lost and grief-stricken, he plunged back into
his former days, drowning his grief in mindless parties and drunken debauchery, until a random accident of his own threatens
his very soul. Trapped at the crossroads of heaven and hell, he finds himself in limbo, waiting for the Powers That Be to
determine his fate. Now, as his soul hovers between eternal bliss and endless damnation, Melinda returns from the grave to
help him earn his salvation once more.
Aaron Crane hoisted the bottle of Absolut to his lips and
chugged it. He’d passed the buzz-stage quite some time ago, yet he still
maintained a death grip around the neck. The vodka dulled the pain in his
heart, filled the void in his soul, and faded the memories that assaulted him
even in his dreams.
“Are you taking a leak or what?” Joe Sanchez hollered back.
“Keep your panties on,” Aaron yelled back.
He heard the other three snicker in response, most probably
because Aaron had used the word “panties” rather than for the insult he’d
intended. God, they really were an immature bunch. None of them had evolved
beyond the mentality of a college freshman. Fun was belching contests, seeing
who could piss the farthest, and laying down quarter bets of whatever game was
on TV, while they scratched their balls and scarfed pizza. Aaron was the only
one of the bunch who held a steady job. If he kept partying with these guys,
he’d be standing behind them in the unemployment line, and he knew it.
Insurance companies liked their claims adjusters alert and attentive, not to
mention timely, and he’d been none of those lately. Hungover, emaciated, and
perpetually tardy were more likely descriptions.
And yet, in his grief, Aaron had chosen to return to this
comfort zone rather than setting out on his own. The more time he spent with
these four, the more he disliked them…and himself. But then, he’d hated life
and himself since the night Melinda died. The only thing he wanted was to be
dead, too. That’s how he felt inside—dead.
He tossed back another drink. Who the hell got the bright
idea to stop off in the middle of the desert? They were halfway to Vegas. Why
the fucking side-trip?
Aaron sank to the nearest boulder and stared across a
landscape silvered with the light of a full moon. A warm breeze washed over
him. They’d made love under a moon like this once, with only the wind as their
blanket. Melinda had wrapped her legs around his. They’d clutched each other as
closely as two people could as they soared to the stars watching over them.
He’d loved everything about her from the moment they’d
met—her beauty, her goodness, her laughter, her mind. Melinda made him want to
be a better person. Hell, he had
become a better person, shrugging off his errant ways to be the man she’d want.
She was his salvation. Everything he’d dreamed of had seemed to fall in his lap
once she’d beamed her smile over him. Paths Aaron never knew existed opened.
The world, the future, was golden.
The day he proposed they’d scoured the Internet for the
perfect honeymoon spot. There was really only one choice—Desirata. Melinda had
read about the idyllic island chain in a travel magazine; a tropical paradise
where all a person’s needs were met. It was off the beaten tourist path,
exclusive, private—visitation was granted on a person’s needs, not their
wealth. Melinda filled out the application, her eyes shining the whole time.
“I know they’ll accept us,” she’d said.
Aaron didn’t care where they went. As long as they were
together, he’d give her the world if he could. What better place to start than
on a white sand beach perched on the edge of a crystal blue-green ocean?
And just like that…she was ripped away from him. All because
some fool blabbering on a cell phone ran a stop light at sixty miles per hour.
She’d died clutching the envelope containing the Desirata application.
Grief had torn him in two. He’d tried so hard and for what?
To bury the woman he loved? It was all for nothing. In the end, that’s all he
Aaron had quickly reverted to his previous ways, hoping to
drown out the unrelenting pain that haunted him day and night. He hated life,
hated the four rowdy friends who couldn’t wait to pull him back into their
fold. Where once he’d found some measure of joy in the constant partying, now
it was merely an escape from the horrors of an unjust world.
He closed his eyes as the breeze brushed over him, lifting
the hairs on his arms. His mind drifted with the sensation, imagining Melinda
was here with him, gently dancing her fingers against his skin. She’d kiss her
way down his throat, while she toyed his nipples into hard dots meant for
suckling. While her lips played there, her hands would wander to his cock,
Aaron clutched at the erection that burst to life. “Not
In his present state, relief wouldn’t be possible. He was
too drunk. The fact he had a hard-on at all was a shock. But with memories of
Melinda assaulting him, his dick refused to obey the rules. All he could think
about was how great her lips felt around him, how tight her hot pussy felt when
he was inside, and how painfully lonely the world was with her gone.
Emotion clogged Aaron’s throat. Tears welled up behind his
eyelids. Hand shaking, he lifted the bottle to his lips. A sudden gust of wind
knocked him off-balance. Arms flailing, he toppled backward. The vodka bottle
shattered against the boulder.
Aaron sat on the hard cushion of sand. Moonlight glinted off
the shards of glass. Fear welled up inside him. He needed the forgetfulness in
that bottle. The pain in his heart was too much to bear without it.
He hugged his knees to his chest. That’s when he noticed the
blood. His hand was cut and he hadn’t—still didn’t—felt a thing. Heartache was
more than he could bear, but a cut like this…nothing. It was really bleeding,
Wonder if it needs
stitches? In his fogged brain he tried to calculate the distance to the
nearest hospital. A coyote’s howl nearby snapped him upright. He was just
pondering whether they could scent blood like a shark when he heard Joe
stomping back his way.
“What the fuck, man. You comin’ or not?”
“I fell. Jesus, cut me some fuckin’ slack.”
Aaron shoved himself to his feet. He staggered there for a
second or two, then followed Joe. At least the hard-on was gone. He glanced
down to make sure and stumbled over his feet, nearly plowing into the other
Joe caught his shoulder to steady him. “You okay? Jeez, what
happened to your hand?”
Aaron pulled away when he reached for it. “Bottle broke.
It’s just a cut. It’ll stop bleeding soon. What was so all-fired important that
we had to stop in the middle of nowhere?”
“Check it out.” He motioned to where the other three stood,
just beyond a sign that read, “Government Facility. Restricted Area. No
What little morality Aaron had remaining reared its head. He
pulled Joe back. “Are you nuts? This is a restricted area. You’re going to have
us thrown in jail.”
“Like we’re gonna get caught way out here. And since when
did a little something like rules stop you?” He trudged onward.
Aaron followed reluctantly behind. God only knew where they
were. Visions of Area 51 gendarmes
swooping down on them filled his head. They weren’t in that area, were they? He’d paid no attention to the direction in
which Joe had driven. His only interest had been in reaching the bottom of the
“What is it?” he asked as he crept forward. Please don’t let
it be an alien, his drunken brain whined.
“Take a look.” Joe pointed to six rectangular boxes. They
“Are those caskets?” Aaron asked.
“Sure enough.” He actually sounded proud of the discovery.
“I found them the last time I came through. I was looking for a place to take a
leak and there they were. Suppose it’s a desert cemetery someone dug up?”
Aaron frowned. They were old coffins, nothing more than pine
boxes. But they didn’t have the aged look he would have associated with a
desert cemetery. Still…it was night. “Where are the bodies that were inside?”
“Ewww…” Joe adopted a spooky voice. “Maybe it’s a vampire
“Shut the fuck up, idiot. Let’s get out of here.” He turned
“Scaredy-cat. I’ll pay you fifty bucks to lay down in one.”
The other three snickered—their comment on everything.
So, that’s what this
was all about. Aaron tossed up his hands. “Whatever. I’ll play your stupid
game.” Anything to get out of here and on the road. The bleeding hadn’t
stopped. He really needed to find a hospital.
He staggered over to the nearest coffin. A wave of dizziness
overwhelmed him. Shaking his head to clear it, Aaron hoisted himself inside and
“Satisfied?” he asked. “Pay up.” But he couldn’t move.
Weakness overwhelmed him.
I’ll just close my
eyes for a minute.
His mind slipped into the limbo stage of twilight sleep.
Soon the nightmares would take him and there was nothing Aaron could do to stop
them. He drifted on a sea of nothingness. Two tunnels lay ahead—one dark, one
light—and there he hovered, waiting…waiting…waiting.