This was your Life

This was your Life

    This whole month I've been posting horror or Halloween related content, but in the buildup to the big day, every weekday this week will feature a new post leading to a brand new story, never published before on Halloween day. Keep reading, and remember to enjoy life.

      Standing alone, a motionless entity, flanked to his right by a doorway bathed in a calming blue aura that evokes clouds and harps; to his left, a similar door, yet also drastically different. A red malice emanates from the frame, causing dread to all who witness it. Betwixt the two, the solitary being’s eyes open with an impossibly wide grimace upon his face. He raises his manicured hand from the thigh of his black suit pants, past his tailored jacket and to his mouth. Held within perfectly tender fingers is a microphone, and with a voice that transcends language, he speaks, “Ladies and gentlemen, I am Peter Angel, and I welcome you once again to…”

     An unimaginably large audience joins him in shouting, “This Was Your Life!”

     Peter, with his smile still firmly in place, stoically waits for the murmur of the crowd to subside. As it does, he’s joined by a less manufactured man dressed in a sleeping gown from years gone by.

     “My guest at this time is Harold “Harry” Cooper, an eighty six year old man from Maywood, New Jersey, United States of America, earth.” The audience mostly grumbles at this with a spattering of cheers.

     The host turns towards Harry, and in a practiced, disarmingly nonchalant manner, initiates the spectacle. “Hello Mr. Cooper, allow me to introduce you to what was your life.”

     Two chairs appear and the gentlemen take their respective seats. Peter goes to the first segment, “Let’s go back to the year of 1939 when Harry here was but a child of eleven years…”

     In the ether between host and guest, and the audience manifests a cloud bubble. The murky air within slowly clears to an image of years ago Brooklyn, New York and Harry walking home with his school crush, April. As they approached the apartment building they both lived in, they pass a flower stand owned by a Negro family who also lived in the building.

     “Oh Harry, aren’t those flowers the prettiest?” April asks while pointing to purple flowers Harry will in all his life, never know the name of.

     Seeing that only his neighbors’ sickly thirteen year old son is working the stand, Harry knows this is his opportunity to impress April. “Hey you, coon, didn’t you hear? She likes these flowers.” Harry grabs a handful of the forget-me-nots and presents them to April. When the black child protests, Harry punches him in the chest, causing the asthmatic even more difficulty breathing. “You don’t need this either.” Harry barks as he takes the lock box with all the kid’s earnings, leaving his neighbor gasping for air.

     The audience in the unfathomable auditorium boos and hisses at Harry, whose chair appears closer to the red door than it was moments ago, and has tears of shame streaming down his cheeks. Ever the showman, Peter plays to the audience’s anger. “Now Harry, we here will always cherish acts of love, such as attempting to impress a young love, however this was a cowardly hate filled sin, derived from racial discrimination. That is something we cannot, and will not condone, right audience?”

     The crowd’s hateful jeers reach deafening heights, as Harry cries uncontrollably. Meanwhile, Peter continues his act, “Are you ready to meet this wheezing boy?”

     As Harry's eyes widen in apparent horror, the assembly cheers for redemption. “Say hello to Carl Goodman, everyone!” The child on the ground emerges from the image as an adult and makes a bee-line towards Harry.

     Where the audience expected a justified beating, they instead bare witness to an embrace of two friends separated by eight years of death. Cued at the confusion before him, Peter rhetorically asks, “Who would like to see how these two turned it all around?”

     A new cloud bubble enters the air, to which Peter Angel narrates a brief prologue, “Two years after we last saw Harry and young Carl, long after the memory of April faded from Harry's mind, and the bruises Carl suffered from at the hands of his father for losing their rent's pay have healed, Harry finds Carl sitting on the fire escape above his window.”

     The image takes over and the scene plays out for all in attendance. “What's that you're reading?” Still smarting from the double beating he received two years ago, Carl ignores Harry's question with a turn of his back.

     An apparently matured Harry understands he deserves this treatment, and probably worse. He re-enters his window and after a few minutes reemerges with two things in hand. “Hey, it's Carl, right? I'm sorry about what I did back then, here take this.”

     Harry climbs halfway up the stairs and hands the lock-box to Carl. Inside is more money that he had taken. “I always felt real bad about that day, especially after April and her family moved away.” Not sure how to continue, he asks with no transition at all “Is that the newest Detective Comics?”

     Unsure how to process everything that's happened, Carl tentatively answers, “Yea? What's that?”

     Holding up the other item he brought out, Harry shows him a rolled up issue of 'SHAZAM! Starring Captain Marvel' “I haven't gotten the latest yet.” He hadn't meant to sound as upset as he did.

     Carl fishes through the pile of comics next to him and finds the latest SHAZAM!, “I already read it, you can keep it. Don't really like him, he's just a copy of Superman. The Bat-Man is where it's at.”

     Harry hesitantly agrees, “Yea, but what's up with those purple gloves?” To answer the teenagers shared their first of many laughs together.

     The cloud bubble dissipates, revealing Harry Cooper, Carl Goodman, and Peter Angel on stage. Harry and Peter's chairs seem to be closer to the blue door, but Harry believes this has to be some type of optical illusion; unsure if his chair moved at all, if the intensity of the lights increased, or if the dimensions of the stage itself were altered in some way.

     Harry admits to himself he's unsure of anything at this point, except for the fact he's happy to see his old friend. The sea of alien faces become irrelevant as Harry looks at the face of his dearest friend and the memory of their second meeting. Unfortunately for Harry and his renewed happiness, Carl is mystically whisked offstage, leaving him alone again with Peter Angel and an audience approaching the billions, if not the trillions.

     “What a touching reunion, eh folks?” Peter incites the audience into a roaring cheer with naught but a questions and open arms, as though he were absorbing the positive energy into himself. “Let's see if we can keep this good feeling rolling on.”

     Another memory orb materializes between the stage and the audience. Riding the wave of crowd acceptance, Harry's heart nearly stops as the image before him clarifies to show him in bed with a black woman.

     Peter Angel stands beside the bubble and raises his hand to silence the growing murmur of unsure questions rising from the audience. “Now Harry, is it true we're watching the consummation of your courtship with Wanda Goodman, Carl's wife?”

     Those in attendance erupt in anger, but to their surprise Harry appear any closer to the red door. He does, however, try to answer Peter's question, “No... Yes...” before he drops his head to his hands, tears streaming down his face.

     “Hmm...” Peter contemplates for tension building, grabbing the focus of the crowd before him, “Let's travel back a few months, for a little clarity.” With a circular wave of his hand, Peter clears the image away and brings up a different scene.

     Looking at the memory before him with watery eyes through his fingers, Harry knows what he's looking at even before the vision fully crystallizes. The recognition forces him to cry even harder.

     Peter and the audience see Harry holding a crying Wanda in his arms as they observe doctors futility at saving Carl from a gunshot wound he suffered trying to prevent his store from being robbed.

     Between Wanda's wails and sobs, Harry tries to comfort her, “I'm so sorry Wanda, I know what it's like, and just how you and Carl were there for me when Meredith died, I'm her for you.” With that, Wanda's grip around Harry's neck tightens as she digs her face as far into his chest as it'll go, ignoring the pain in her nose, as her tears ceaselessly rain from her eyes.

     Stepping through the memory bubble, Peter greets the shared pain and pity of the crowd with his hands pressed to his chest. “That's right folks, the affair we saw earlier was borne of a mutual pain that drove the lovers into each others arms.”

     Harry notices he's even closer to the blue light, so close he swears he could grasp it in his hand. As he's cautiously reaching out his arm, he hears Peter addressing the crowd. “How about we go back a couple of years to see the true genesis of their path together, the death of Harry's wife, Meredith.” At the sound of her name, Harry snaps his head around to the center of the stage with Peter and a look of dread upon his face.

     Walking backwards through the previous image, Peter produces a new smokey sphere.

     Drunk and arguing with his wife, Meredith, at the top of their stairs, Harry can't even remember what they were fighting about. “Why are you always yelling at me!?” He asks, gripping her arm in his hand.

     Meredith pulls free, yelling back at him, “Because you're always drunk coming home late with other girls' lipstick on your collar!”

     Enraged at being called out on his extra-marital affairs by his wife, Harry snaps. Knowing what he's about to do is wrong, but he doesn't have the presence of mind enough to stop himself. “I'm sick of your nagging, bitch!” Harry easily picks up the dainty Meredith and tosses her down the stairs.

     The sudden crack and thunk of her body crashing down the stairs and planting on the floor, momentarily sobers Harry up. “Oh baby, baby what happened?” He rushes down the stairs and tries to stir her to consciousness. When that doesn't work, he grabs his keys from the windowsill by the door. “OK, you... you just sleep it off. I'm going to Paddy's for a few.”

     The scene ends with Harry closing the door on his deceased wife.

     Peter stands with his back to the audience as they all direct their rage to Harold “Harry” Cooper, who can only sit silently as the heat of a billion staring eyes burrow into him, or is it the essence of the red doorway emanating ever stronger as it looms over him, closer than the blue door ever reached.

     “When questions about his whereabouts during his wife's accident, Harry here said he was with a mistress, as evidence by the lipstick on his collar, and form there went to the bar.” Peter turns back to the audience, “Both alibis checked out, and Meredith's murder went unpunished. But... on “This Was Your Life” we can't be lied to, and judgment is final!”

     Stirring the audience into a furor, Peter beckons them to join him, “Harold Cooper, for the sins you have committed, bot knowingly and unknowingly, you've been sentenced to...”

     Innumerable voices declare at once “Exit stage left!!!”

     With that, the seat Harry is seated in disappears beyond the door, into the aura and a brief shriek is heard before it fades beyond to portal of the doorway. Peter generates a new bubble before the audience, but instead of a memory, they are treated with a vision of Harry's endless punishment.

     Atop a staircase of jagged black rocks surrounded by free flowing lava, Harry runs towards Wanda Cooper as she looked the first time they made love. As he approaches, she turns around and now standing before him is a towering demon, ten feet tall, and bleeding from all pores with the skin of Meredith's face sown on top of its own. The demon effortlessly lifts and throws Harry down the stairs. After falling for a near eternity, and when he believes his punishment is to perpetually fall down these steps being ravaged by the sharp rocks breaking bones, rupturing organs, he hits a landing. He stands fully healed, and in front of him is Wanda Cooper as she looked the first time they made love. As he approaches, she turns around and now standing before him is a towering demon, ten feet tall, and bleeding from all pores with the skin of Meredith's face sown on top of its own. The demon effortlessly lifts and throws Harry down the stairs. After falling for a near eternity, and when he believes his punishment is to perpetually fall down these steps being ravaged by the sharp rocks breaking bones, rupturing organs, he hits a landing. He stands fully healed, and in front of him is Wanda Cooper as she looked the first time they made love. As he approaches, she turns around and now standing before him is a towering demon, ten feet tall, and bleeding from all pores with the skin of Meredith's face sown on top of its own. The demon effortlessly lifts and throws Harry down the stairs. After falling for a near eternity, and when he believes his punishment is to perpetually fall down these steps being ravaged by the sharp rocks breaking bones, rupturing organs, he hits a landing. He stands fully healed, and in front of him is Wanda Cooper as she looked the first time they made love. As he approaches, she turns around and now standing before him is a towering demon, ten feet tall, and bleeding from all pores with the skin of Meredith's face sown on top of its own. The demon effortlessly lifts and throws Harry down the stairs. After falling for a near eternity, and when he believes his punishment is to perpetually fall down these steps being ravaged by the sharp rocks breaking bones, rupturing organs, he hits a landing. He stands fully healed, and in front of him is Wanda Cooper as she looked the first time they made love. As he approaches, she turns around and now standing before him is a towering demon, ten feet tall, and bleeding from all pores with the skin of Meredith's face sown on top of its own. The demon effortlessly lifts and throws Harry down the stairs. After falling for a near eternity, and when he believes his punishment is to perpetually fall down these steps being ravaged by the sharp rocks breaking bones, rupturing organs, he hits a landing. He stands fully healed, and in front of him is...

This is where I usually tell you about the inspiration behind the story, why I wrote it, where my head was at at the time, and those kinds of things, but truth be told, it was October a few years ago and I had to write a horror story for my old site/blog. This is what I came up with. 

There was a show that most of you have probably never heard of, hell I'm too young to really know it. It was called "This is Your Life" and it aired initially on the radio (back when they had radio shows!) from 1948 to 1952, it was then developed as a tv show from 1952 to 1961.The concept was simple, the host would surprise an audience member or celebrity with a narrative of their life as told by people, mostly, from their past. 

Taking that idea and playing on the title, I came up with what you read about the archangel Peter deciding the fate of all that have passed away.

While writing it, I had this image of the man sitting on stage between the two doors in front of an endless audience of millions of departed souls, and not just humans. Unfortunately, my photoshop skills aren't good enough for that image, they're barely passable for the picture I was able to create. 

Next Monday is Halloween, and be sure to come back. I'll be posting a never before published story written just for the holiday. Remember to always keep reading and enjoy life. 

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