This week, we had to write about the afterlife. Yup.
“We’re gonna need to intubate!”
Morgan was floating just above consciousness.
“What happened to her?”
“Looks like a cocktail. Valium, Klonopin, and Ativan. Okay, let’s do this!”
Morgan fell under.
“Are you awake, dear?” The voice was upbeat but twitchy, as if the speaker was in a hurry.
“Mmm?” said Morgan. She opened her eyes. The room, or whatever it was, awoke her senses. Bright white flooded the area. Besides the man before her, she was the only perceivable…thing in the room.
“Wonderful!” The man, wearing a suit and tie, smiled warmly. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
“Are…?” Morgan squinted at the man before her. “Is this? Are you?”
The look on his face beamed with anticipation.
“Oh, lordy lordy, no!” he replied. “But don’t worry, I’m not upset. Nobody ever gets it right on the first guess.”
“Then are you…”
“Or the second guess for that matter. Tell you what, since today is your lucky day, I’ll just come right out and tell you.”
Morgan raised her brow.
“I’m Ray Combs!”
Morgan raised her brow further.
“And it’s time to play…The Feud!”
From out of nowhere, a platform with a red buzzer appeared before her.
“Okay Morgan, now get ready for round one! Buzz in when you have an answer. We asked one-hundred people who recently committed suicide; would you like to go to Heaven?”
“Uhhh…” Morgan stared at him, wondering if he was serious. “Yes?”
“Ah ah!” he said. “Gotta hit your buzzer.”
Morgan pressed the buzzer. It beeped at her. “Yes?”
Ray turned around, looking up at the white nothingness. “Show me…yes!”
As the sound of an electronic bell filled the area, her answer appeared in bright yellow letters. Next to it, the number 100.
“Yes!” shouted Ray. “Now don’t go away, round two is coming up next.”
“But…” Morgan started.
“We asked the same one-hundred no-longer living people; what was your most grievous sin?”
Morgan continued to eye Ray Combs with caution, but hit the buzzer anyway. “I once cheated on my husband with his best friend.”
“Good answer! That certainly was sinful.” Ray turned around once more. “Show me adultery!” A loud buzz filled the air, as well as a giant red X.
“I’m sorry, but it appears to be not as grievous as you thought. You still have two strikes left. Do you have another answer?”
“Um, well that year I taught English in the inner city school? I slept with one of my students to get some cocaine.”
“All right, that’s good!” Ray said reassuringly. “Show me getting in the sack with a black for some crack!”
The giant red X appeared again. The buzzer seemed louder this time.
“Okay,” Ray said. “I don’t want you to be nervous, but you now have two strikes. One more strike and you know what that means.” He looked at her, his brow furled with great concern.
“I’m going to hell?” Morgan asked.
“With a brand new copy of our home game! But don’t worry, I’m confident you’ll get it right this time. Now Morgan, think really hard. What was your most grievous sin?”
Morgan bit her lip. “Would it be my severe depression and anxiety that led me to taking too many pills this morning in hopes of falling asleep?”
“It might be,” Ray said. “Show me suicide!” The bell dinged, with the number 100 appearing before her guess.
“You’re going good Morgan. This is the third and final round. If you get this right, I am authorized to grant you passage into Heaven. Are you ready?”
“One-hundred sinful people just like you were asked this final question. Who do you ask for salvation from and accept as your personal savior?”
Morgan laughed and hit the buzzer. “You.”
“Why, thank you. Let’s see if anybody else did. Show me Ray Combs!” The bell dinged. Ray’s name appeared in the air, with the number 2 beside it.
“And those two people have a copy of our home game! But you have another chance. Do you have an answer?”
“I think I do Ray!”
Morgan knew the answer all along. It was the hardest thing she ever had to do. And Ray Combs helped her do it.
“My answer is Jes…” Before she could finish, Morgan felt a tingling sensation.
“Damn it, not another one!” shouted Ray. He watched as Morgan phased out of and back into the area.
“What’s happening?” Morgan’s look of peace had changed to fear.
“The doctors are bringing you back to life. Now listen very carefully.” Ray placed his fingers on Morgan’s temples and looked directly into your eyes. “You will forget everything that’s happened here. When you wake up, all you will remember is that you moved up through a tunnel that was filled with a radiant white light.”
And with that, Morgan disappeared.
Ray Combs sighed. “Morgan,” he said to no one, adjusting his tie. “I hope I never see you again.”
Spooky: Whoa. This is a riot, but also pops with drama, as Combs himself was a suicide victim (nice job assuming I’d know this already, Survivor; I do indeed have a twisted obsession with death). It’s a hard thing to use comedy to bring out this much of an emotional response, but here we are. Excellent stuff. 5
DK: This was funny and touching all together. Another great concept, and I really got a kick out of this case. I was hoping it was going to get even more towards dark humor for a little bit, but I don’t really have a problem with the way it ended up going. 3
I thought of this concept with four hours left until the deadline, and I wasn’t sure even where to go with it. But I felt Ray Combs was an amazing game show host so it was easy to write for him. I was surprised that I was able to fit some poignancy into the script. Adjusting his tie at the end was a nod to the way he ended his own life.
Also, being that I work with people on a daily basis who contemplate suicide, I wanted to make a point in the story that one of the most dangerous things someone can do to someone who is considering suicide or has attempted is to make them feel shameful for doing so. People who are at that point need love, compassion, and support. Not judgment.
But I have to be honest. I can’t stop giggling at the sight of Ray Combs yelling, “Show me getting the sack with a black for some crack!”