I met a traveling salesman selling alternatives to Hell - Chap 3
My grandfather knew that intimidation was only part of making a sale. You had to sweeten the pot too.
If I helped him with the con, he’d show me how to get out of the car lot and where to find my sister. Not only that, but how to get out of here.
What my grandfather wanted me to do was simple.
“Let me hop into that modified body of yours,” my grandfather said. “I’ll take care of all the little details. You can just sit back and watch.” “And as soon as you are done with whatever you need to do, you’ll leave my body?”
My grandfather nodded. In a way, I supposed I didn’t really have a choice.
Once my grandfather’s ghost was in my body, I felt a slight chill which lingered for about thirty seconds. Then everything seemed to “settle” and the sensation disappeared.
So the sale was simple. My grandfather wanted Mr. Walker to think I was myself, not myself with a vengeful ghost inside. Mr. Walker had taken the dealership from my grandfather, and taken credit for everything he built.
I don’t remember much about what happened after that–until I “came to” on the rocky shore of that endless sea I heard so much about. Mr. Walker lay on the ground, dead. His body looked twisted, face known a mask of the grey-ish blue shards–the same which covered the man who wanted to buy that SUV.
It was the same car my grandfather had chosen for the journey out here. I didn’t have a clue as to how he lured Mr. Walker out here. I found myself not caring about it much, either. I assumed all my grandfather needed was an innocent identity, and a new recruit like me would be perfect for the task at hand.
“I thought you said I could sit back and watch,” I said to no one on the shore. “Now I’m staring at Mr. Walker’s body.”
“You leave the details to the one true salesman. Me. All the others you saw at the dealership? All frauds. Making sales based on the philosophy I created. They are hacks. Every last one.”
“So now that Mr. Walker is dead, what are you planning on doing with the body?”
“Just take the rest of his suit off. His body will be a cocoon of ice in mere minutes. There’s not much of a “law enforcement” setup here in the afterlife anyway. What little of it there is isn’t focused on murders of small crawfish like Mr. Walker.”
I did what my grandfather asked, took the suit off Mr. walker, and watched as the grey-ish blue ice gathered all over his body.
Then I got back into the SUV, and my grandfather materialized in the passenger seat. Outside of my body, as promised.
I drove the lonely, bumpy road back to the highway. My grandfather told me to turn right, follow the highway until the next exit, and get on it.
I did what he said, and soon found myself back on the rocky shore. This time, miles and miles from where Mr. Walker’s body lay accumulating his cocoon of ice.
There was a small building nestled at the bottom of one of the cliff faces.
I parked a decent distance away.
“Here, take this key card. Took it off Mr. Walker’s corpse when you were still ‘under’ as it were. It’ll get you into the clinic.”
“Thanks,” I said, taking the key card after some hesitation.
“No. Thank you. You finally helped me get revenge on that rat bastard.”
I should’ve known that Charles would find some way to sort of stick to what he said while getting what he wanted.
He took my sister to a temporary care facility alright. But I didn’t sign away her rights. He took them from her.
Unless…unless he went to her after he transported me to the facility which made the modifications on me. Convinced her to sign something. Just because my sister wasn’t agreeable to my suggestion, didn’t mean she wouldn’t be to someone else who said the exact same thing. My sister hated me. I didn’t really care much about that anymore. I did want her to escape this horrible afterlife.
At the entrance, I swiped the keycard and stood in the sanitation entryway. After that, I found myself in another room. This one lined with green and black uniforms. I decided it was best to blend in, and quickly, before someone else came. I quickly took off my salesman uniform and stuffed it into a large trash can in the corner. Then I put on one of the green and black ones.
The innards of the clinic were confusing. I was basically in a steel labyrinth lined with scary looking operating rooms. I peeked inside each one, looking for my sister.
The green and black uniformed men were everywhere. I imagined them giving me curious glances, and I felt some of them turn to hostile suspicion. I never lingered long in any area, because I knew if I did, they’d find me out. They were never physically aggressive, but I was scared of the uniformed men all the same.
I eventually found her, hooked up to a bunch of equipment. She was wide awake now, and had that glassy look of constant hatred in her eyes. I hurried inside the room, unhooking everything as quietly and efficiently as I could.
She told me to wait. Once she was able to stand, and it was a miracle of afterlife science, my sister could stand–she went behind the erect metal table she had been strapped to and pressed a large green button. It opened up a secret doorway and we quickly went through it, not saying a word to each other.
The passage eventually led back out to the rocky shore, and we followed it uncertainly. I had no idea if it would lead back to the front of the clinic, but luck was on our side because eventually the SUV came into my line of sight.
I was surprised at my sister. She was getting around better than me. I could practically see the bitterness melting from her as she regained her ability to walk.
We got into the car without a single word.
Eventually my sister said. “Thanks, Miles. I was surprised you actually came for me.”
My grandfather reappeared–this time in the backseat.
“Alright, I promised a way for you folks to get out of here. I gotta stick to my promises if I want to move on. You still got Mr. Walker’s key card?” my grandfather asked. “It sure is versatile.”
So I drove back into town. I only saw a handful of cars along the way. There was a large part of me that wanted to say here and discover its secrets. I wanted to help Jack too, but I had no idea where he lived or how to find him–and I didn’t want to go to the dealership after Mr. Walker’s disappearance.
Once at Mr. Walker’s apartment, we didn’t have a hard time finding the teleportation device back home. My sister put on Mr. Walker’s other suit, a spare I guessed, so that she’d blend in.
We found ourselves back in the facility which made the modifications on me. It was my sister’s turn to help. She said she overheard the conversations of the uniformed men where to go to get out of the research facility.
We got lost a few times, but eventually found the exit. We seemed to be miles away from the a highway. The same rocky coastline as in the afterlife. A mirror, like Jack said.
After walking for close to an hour, making sure we were far enough away from the facility, my sister took off her suit. Easy enough because they hadn’t made the same modifications to her as they did me.
“From what I overheard, they just gave me a breathing implant because I wouldn’t be exposed to the outside world of the afterlife like you. I didn’t need the severe modifications you received.”
As my sister made to leave, I asked her to wait.
“It’s obvious to the both of us we’re not on the best of terms, sis. Are you gonna leave me out here?”
My sister looked at me, and for the first time in how many years I detected pity in her eyes.
“You took care of me for close to a decade. And now you’re this, monster, for lack of a better word, stuck in a suit with a tube. I can’t just let you rot out here. No, I won’t abandon you. Let’s just say you helped me out in more ways than one. Just sit tight, bro. I have to find a way into town, then hopefully I can find my way back to this spot.”
I waited out there for over a day. In a way, I didn’t blame my sister. She had to probably hitchhike back into town. She wouldn’t have enough money for a taxi. Or maybe after a long, long walk she would’ve made it to a bus stop. I imagined her enjoying the freedom.
But her pale blue car pulled up, and I jumped in the passenger seat. I guzzled the large bottle of water she gave me. I looked in the rearview mirror, and realized I had become a monster. Or close to it, like she said. I was a severely modified human.
“I told you that you helped me out in more ways than one, and I meant it,” my sister said. “You helped me kill that fuck Mr. Walker. Helped your sister get her ability to walk back. Now I have a suitable body to inhabit. I’m free again. Free at last!”
We both agreed that after what happened with Charles and the facility, it was best to move on. We didn’t have enough time to put the house up for sale. We had signed a contract, and Charles and his employers would be looking for us. “Home” had to be somewhere else. Far away from our home town.
I wondered where we would get the money. My grandfather/sister would need an identity change. I would need to remain hidden until I could find a way to reverse the modifications.
My grandfather guided me to a money stash he kept hidden all his life, and didn’t have a chance to tell me because he died suddenly. It was more than enough to start a new “life.”
We’re several states away from our home town, trying to stay under the radar. My grandfather is relishing his new freedom.
Now that I’m out of the afterlife, I can’t stop thinking about it. I was miserable there, but I was modified to exist there. Here in the mortal world, these modifications are keeping me from living a full life.
My grandfather does little things for me, like going grocery shopping, or doing what little errands I ask of him. I try not to ask too much. I’m afraid he might leave if I become too much of a burden. I know he just wants to enjoy his new flesh and blood body.
As for me. I try to stay inside. Especially since I’ve seen the green and black uniformed men prowling the backyard. My grandfather says not to worry about it. He might be in a mortal body, but that he still has a few ghostly tricks up his sleeve.
I’m wondering now if I’m going to spend my entire life on the run.