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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2206236
Flash fiction for SCREAMS!!! Contest based on the prompt "Afterlife." Winner 11/24.

Most of us have had that feeling of leaving the body to float above it. As to whether it’s an actual experience or merely a sensation produced by certain chemicals or interactions within the body, I cannot say with certainty. Recent events have made me prefer the reality argument, however.

I woke this morning a few inches from the ceiling, suspended like a ghostly observer of the scene below. There was no sign of my room or the bed I had slept in that night. Instead, my view was of a tiled room with stainless steel furniture and a man bending over something on the table before him. He was dressed in a white coverall and accompanied by a male assistant at his side. Next to this helper was a metal trolley with some fearsome implements arrayed on its top.

My view of the table was obstructed by the man bent over it. I wanted to see more and the thought moved me to a better position above the scene. There was a body on the table.

Recognition was instant. I had not spent forty-two years inspecting my morning face in the bathroom mirror without knowing pretty well what I looked like. Understanding of what was happening followed promptly. The room was clearly a morgue and I was about to be the subject of a post mortem.

Strangely, the discovery that it was my body did not concern me. Apparently, my perception of myself had been altered by death. That figure on the table was just a vehicle that had been useful for a time but was now discarded.

The coroner was inspecting my body in minute detail. He took samples here and there and bagged them, presumably, for transmission to a laboratory. Then he stood back and allowed his sidekick to shave various areas in preparation for dissection. I had a brief moment of terror when my head was shaved. Not that, I thought, mindful more of the imagined noise of saw ripping through bone to access the brain than any protective instinct towards that organ.

As it happened, I need not have worried. The experience was much worse than that. When the coroner brought his buzzing little electric saw in contact with the body’s forehead, a piercing pain wracked my skull and my ghostly form writhed in agony. It seemed there was still some connection between body and spirit.

The tortures I experienced as the brain was removed, then rib cage opened like a bird spreading its wings, were excruciating beyond anything I’d felt in life. To have each organ torn from its bed within the body was worse, leaving a cavernous emptiness, as it did. It seems strange to speak of survival in this context but, somehow, I did, curled up in a corner and blubbering with pain, but still conscious.

The metallic sound of a bullet tossed carelessly into a bowl meant nothing by that stage. I no longer cared.

Word Count: 495
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