With all my negative criticism of late, I thought it’d be nice to break things up with a piece of very short fiction. Probably because of my foul mood of late, this is a fairly dark story (especially by my standards). It was inspired by a writing prompt on the website Reddit. Hope you enjoy it.
Dr. Grant, the only other person in the exam room, checked his clipboard as he pushed his glasses up his nose. “Yes, you already said that. Is there anything else?”
“Dragons and wolves the size of jumbo jets,” I replied. “It’s all in the report.”
“Yes. Yes.” He paced from one end of the room to the other. “Are you quite certain of this?”
“Doc, you sent me to see what was there. I’m just telling you what I found.”
“And what did you find again?”
“It’s in the report,” I said.
“Please, tell me again.”
I glanced at the mirror on the wall. No doubt, a team of doctors was watching us from the other side. But I wasn’t crazy.
“It’s Ragnarok, Doc. On the other side of death, it’s nothing but an endless, bloody battle between Odin and the forces of darkness. All day, every day. Brutal and gruesome and glorious war.”
“You understand why we’re concerned about this then?” asked the doctor. “When we first screened you for this assignment, you assured us you had no belief in the possibility of a post-mortem existence.”
“But now you’ve come back, and you’re telling us that there is an endless battle involving antiquated gods that no one even believes in anymore.”
“Sorry, Doc. That’s just the way it is. Turns out everybody was wrong except the Vikings. They figured it out. The other side isn’t angels and fluffy clouds. It isn’t some next stage of higher existence. It’s just war.”
“Yes, but war for what purpose?”
“I didn’t get a chance to ask. I’m not sure there is a purpose. Other than to sate the bloodlust of the gods.”
“We’ll have to run the experiment again. We’ll send others.”
“You’ll get the same report.”
“Yes, most likely.”
“I’m not the first, am I?”
He didn’t answer, but his silence was all the answer I needed.
“They all say the same thing, don’t they?”
“More or less.”
I laughed. “Funny, isn’t it? All this time we’ve been wondering what happens . . . if anything even happens . . . after. Only to find out that the next world is even more screwed up than this one. We seek answers, a divine plan. It all ends up being about practice for killing each other and fighting monsters.”
“Yes.” The doctor smiled, but it was a hollow smile. “Amusing.”
“Do you think we should tell people? Do you think they want to know? I’m not sure I want to know. It changes things.”
He clicked his pen and scribbled on his notepad. “Tell me how it changes things.”
“Better yet, Doc. I can show you.”
A grabbed him by the collar and punched him in the face so hard, his eye popped out. Then I did it again two more times. Then I slammed his head onto the edge of a stainless steel table. His body dropped to the floor, spilling blood everywhere. It coated my hands and my shirt.
“Relax, Doc,” I said. “Dying in battle is looked upon with favor where you’re going.”
The door burst open, and a team of security guards ran in. They were covered in riot gear and armed to the teeth. The project had sent others before, and they came back with the horrible truth. Life wasn’t about anything other than dying in the most glorious way possible. Heaven was for warriors, and even those warriors would only end up in a dragon’s belly for all eternity once the gods were done with them.
Howling, I charged the guards. Their bullets ripped me apart. Death came as a welcome end to this illusion, and when I opened my eyes again, I stood on the fields of carnage.
Doctor Grant handed me a battle axe, and with a mad cry, we charged into the fray.