For a brief moment I saw the green line on the monitor go flat. The throbbing sounds of panic began to fade out as the images of flustered doctors became fuzzy in a hazy grey blur.
Death washes over you in the same way icy water does — initially the shock is painful, but the refreshment afterwards is worth it. I felt the searing pain of my mangled body melt away until my existence changed completely. I felt disembodied; it was like my consciousness was floating in an infinite space of warm cotton wool.
Then suddenly my vision returned, I could see the doctors rushing about me as if in slow motion. At first I thought they had revived me, but then I realised this was almost a dream. The air was full of a blue-grey smoke, like that of cigarette smoke in a pub.
Standing at the foot of my bed was a strange pink figure on one leg; it stood like a rather smug ornament. Upon further inspection I concluded that it was a flamingo. Its curved beak clicked and its pink feathers ruffled themselves with a shake of its folded wings.
“What are you?” I said in a voice that felt strangely distant.
“I am death,” it said, seemingly projecting its thoughts into my head. “I am he who reaps the souls of the dead and stands on one leg.”
“Why a flamingo?” I questioned.
“How naive. Your species has learned how kill each other in ways even the nightmares of early man could never have conjured, and yet you never spent enough time studying the mighty flamingo to learn our true purpose.” Its beady eyes stared on.
“Purpose?” I asked, now wondering if I had been revived but was under morphine.
“We are the governing species of the universe, we are the watchers and creators of all that is reality, and the foundations that reality leans upon.” It switched legs.
“But what of heaven and hell — what of the afterlife?” I asked it, my mind growing paralysed with a perplexing maze of thoughts.
“In a sense they were all wrong; religion is a creation of man, not the flamingo. Your fate was decided as soon as the ultimate sin was committed.”
“The apple, right?” I said, nodding my head in a manner of wisdom.
“Goodness no, fruit is no reason to condemn someone. We flamingoes used to breed every hour of every day, but it just so happened that the humans on Earth became too high maintenance, and now we have far less time to breed.” It clicked its beak.
“So basically, we are doomed because you don’t get to have sex as much?”
Picking up the debate from there was a talent I was not gifted with. We stared at each other in silence for several minutes. Well, I think it was staring at me; its eyes were on the side of its head, so it was hard to tell.
“So what is my punishment?” I asked it, sighing in acceptance of my fate.
“You will be born again as a brine shrimp — food for the flamingo, and there you will repent, and we will regain a small portion of the enjoyment you stole from us.”
I stared on in shock as the world around me faded away. I laughed to myself a little, however. I thought of the people who devoted their lives to scoring points for the afterlife, and all along they would end up flamingo food.
I prepared myself for a fresh start, a short existence savouring the warm, sun-speckled water and the swaying sea-dwelling plants. Life would be good, right up until the beak of a superior creature pecked me out of the water.
M.Sherlock is an avid short story writer looking to make a career of writing as soon as possible… but for now just enjoys writing for the sake of writing.