Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy, containing 128 fairy tales that together create one huge story.
Here’s the story so far. The story continues:
Death’s Empty Space
(Containing a mystifying account of a small, empty space.)
“Tell me what happens after death, Death,” said King John the Cute.
Death paused and considered his answer. Then he said, “I do not know what happens after death.”
“He’s lying,” said Minister Vazir, who had lost his fear of death over the past few weeks.
“I only speak to the king,” said Death, who did not deign to look at the minister.
“You will speak with whomever serves me,” said King John the Cute. “Answer my question truthfully.”
“I do not know what happens after Death.”
“Surely,” the king said, “you must know something.”
Death hesitated. “Something… Yes.”
“Tell me that something.”
Death waited one minute, a minute that seemed to last almost three minutes and thirty three seconds. Then, at the end of that minute, he spoke. “I shall tell you what I have seen of the Afterdeath.”
Back in the days when I was young and roaming the land without purpose, during the first weeks after I came to be, back before I had the list in my hands, before I had taken my first soul, back when the land was bright, I came upon a hole in the ground. A strange and terrifying plant guarded the hole, but he made no aggressive moves towards me and allowed me to approach.
This is the hole that leads to the place you call the Afterdeath. It is the hole in the ground that leads you to whatever it is that happens after death.
The hole beckoned to me. It was as if it called for me to explore it. I felt it belonged to me.
I walked in.
There was a short path underground, and beyond it a small light. Seeing the small light convinced me that the path was somehow leading up and into the sunlight.
I walked the short path. But it led down.
At its end, I saw the entrance to a small room. The room was closed on all three sides, and open only in the direction I came from. The room was no bigger than three feet one way and three feet the other. There was no way out. There was nothing further. There was nothing beyond it. The room did not lead to anything.
I tried to walk into the room, but the air itself fizzed and fizzled and burned me and stopped me from advancing. I stopped, and when I stopped, the air changed color, and turned into a black screen. Today, I know that what seemed like a screen was actually some kind of door, and it is a dark door through which light does not pass and no one can see.
I tried to pass a few more times through the black door, but always it blocked my advance.
I tried to look in again, but light did not pass through the closed door. Disappointed, I walked out of the hole in the ground.
Weeks later, when Igda Bigda’s soul was in my grasp, I felt a need to return to the hole in the ground. Eager to learn more about my own nature, I decided to obey my need and see where it leads. I kept Igda Bigda’s soul in a bottomless pocket in my robes, and walked for eight days and seven nights, until I reached the hole.
I walked down the short path. The dark door was still dark and still closed. I felt a need to take Igda Bigda’s soul and pass it through the door. Although the door did not open, when my hand touched it, Igda Bigda’s soul left my hand and moved into the door and past it, disappearing from my sight.
There were sparks of light when she passed, but only for a second. I could see Igda Bigda’s body being reformed, and the small room was suddenly full of objects I did not recognize.
Then the sparks were gone and the darkness returned.
Many years have passed since. I have lost count of the centuries.
During the thousands of years that I have been alive, I had never been able to get more than a rare glimpse of the other side, nor have I been able to enter my own domain. But the few rare glimpses I had seen of the other side have led me to guess that for each creature I put in the afterlife, a space grows specifically for that person, where he, she, or it can roam freely. One time I believed I caught a hint of a large, green park. But I may have been mistaken, for I have never seen it again.
What the souls see, what they do, what they know once they are in my domain – I can attest to none of this. I do not know what happens after death. Nor will I ever know. For even when Death dies, he cannot pass through that door. I have claimed the souls of other Deaths in my time, and their souls rest with me in my bottomless pocket, for the door to the Afterdeath does not allow them passage.
And this, King John the Cute, had been the story you requested, the story of Death’s domain, which you call the Afterdeath. Once more, this was also a story of Death’s first days. Are we done?
“We are not done, Death,” said King John the Cute. “I have more questions for you.”
This has been the story of Death’s second story in which King John the Cute learned of the mystery of the Afterdeath.
(To be continued on Sunday…)