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Rated: 13+ · Fiction · Horror/Scary · #2278170
A dark tale of clinging on to the last glimmer of life

The Line-surfers

There is no afterlife. Fact. No Heaven, no Hell, no Valhalla, not even purgatory. There is only the line.

Of course, it doesn't start as a line. It's more of a triangle, or a pyramid even. From birth to death the apex gets closer and then there is just the line or a point. It is at this point you have reached the summit, the triangle of life lays below you. It is here you will meet the line-surfers.

That's what I am, a line-surfer. You will have your own name for me. A spirit, a lost soul, a ghost, a spectre, or a phantom, the list is endless. Every society, every tribe, and every culture has a name for us.

But, we call ourselves the line-surfers. A name that conjures pictures of handsome young people having fun in the prime of their lives. Fit and healthy people living close to the base of life's pyramid. Their future lies ahead of them, their spirits filled with the boundless enthusiasm of life yet to live and a body filled with the glowing health of youth.

The truth could not be further from this. We are grey and feeble; we are the shadows of a life that was. A life that should have been and gone. We are that last pathetic ember buried somewhere in the ashes of a once roaring fire.

I can hear your arguments. If there is no afterlife, then how are you still living? How can you still tell this tale?

Well, let me clarify, I officially died seventy years ago. There was nothing special about my death. There was no drama, I died because my body failed. But it wasn't peaceful, I fought for every breath, I battled for every extra moment. When the time came it was only my body that died, somehow my soul clung desperately to the tip of life. My spirit grasped frantically onto the apex of that pyramid; a still glowing ember trapped in the ashes of a life extinguished.

I don't know why it happened to me. No surfer does, the brief interactions I have had with others have told me that. We meet occasionally, I didn't know what they were at first, a vague greyness on the void we exist in. It was a long while before I came close enough to realise what I was seeing.

That there were others came as a shock initially, but over time I came to realise that there were many. I have also seen them extinguished, finally and for good. Mostly it's the new ones, frightened and alone, the realisation of life having ended still fresh in their minds. I see them wobble and dim, fading like a star going behind a cloud, the balancing act required to maintain existence not yet honed. Often it is when they first see others that they fail to surf, that they fall from that apex.

Is it good luck or bad luck that helps me surf for so long? I don't know. I don't have the time to philosophise on such matters, for doing so would surely be the end of me. This reality requires one's attention and does not allow for such luxuries.

But, it is barely an existence, believe me when I tell you that there is a reason all ghosts look pained. It isn't something that they've carried over from their physical life, it is the pain of hanging onto this sliver of being. There is no respite, there is no moment to stop and get your bearings, for that moment would be your final moment. This is what we do, this is line surfing - a continual balancing act on that final thread of life.

I can hear more questions. Why hang on? If this struggle is so difficult, why continue? Why not just give up and fade from existence like the countless billions before you? Why not face up to the fact of the matter and simply accept your time's up?

I ask myself these questions constantly. The truth is I don't know. Somehow, at the moment of death, my soul reached out and grabbed the line. In the shock of those last moments of normal life my soul somehow fought on, it forgot to die.

It was instinct or perhaps cowardice, or maybe just a fluke of nature. I don't know what, I have no answers. But I wished I'd let go then. Because now I can't. I have prayed for the courage to stop, to just let go and accept the inevitable. Accept that I have died. But somehow a vestige of me lives on, flickering between life and death. A ghost in the machine.

I suppose deep down it is the survival instinct, that same instinct that caused me so much pain as I lay gasping for my dying breath. An unwillingness to face the ultimate void. But even as my memories of a life lived fade to nothingness and the nothingness of the surfing becomes like all I've ever known I still cling on.

But why? There is nothing to exist for, except existence itself. It can only be for this, everything that was mine to look at or touch or love has gone, I have passed it by. This is all there is for me now, everything else lies below, untouchable except for some fading memories.

It is difficult to put into words what it's like here, of course, it's not a line we surf, nor it is the tip of a pyramid that we balance upon, these are just metaphors. It could be described as walking a tightrope in the dark, always buffeted by an uncertain wind. Or clinging desperately by the fingertips to a frozen handhold on a granite cliff-face. But it's more than that, it's a desperate balancing act to preserve a memory of life, a taste of consciousness.

And it's constant, one mistake, one slip of the mind, one wrong....

Word Count 999

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