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Vignette: A Morbid Movie

Sam should have noticed the first warning sign, but he was far too entrenched in the argument he was having with his wife. The high-pitched ringing fell on deaf ears as Sam and Marge yelled at each other across the dining room table. The second warning sign was ignored in much the same way. Sam began to develop a case of tunnel vision. When the third and final warning sign hit him, Sam took notice.

It was too late. Some switch inside his brain turned off, and he became a spectator in his own life. This feeling was always strange to Sam. His body was still moving and acting, but his brain was completely dissociated. He usually told his friends that it was like watching a first-person movie from the front row.

Sam watched the “movie” helplessly as his hand wrapped itself around his wife’s throat and lifted her a few inches off the ground. He saw her were eyes wide with shock. She grabbed his arm with both hands, trying to pry his hand away from her neck. Sam saw her try to scream out, but the grip on her throat was too strong. She began to hit-scratch-bite his arm — anything to escape.

Sam’s body half-carried, half-pushed Marge into the kitchen. Sam saw the knife before his body did, and he knew what would happen. He wished that he didn’t have to watch this part.

The knife buried itself into Marge’s left side and carved a path through to her sternum. Sam stared into his wife’s eyes in horror and watched the light of her soul fade. His body wasn’t done, but Sam and Marge were. He forced himself to think of anything other that what was playing out in front of him, trying to escape the morbid reality.

When Sam finally started paying attention again, he was closing the back door of the car. His body sat in the driver’s seat and backed out of the driveway.

Vignette: A Benign Horror

Hello, my name is Sam. I am dead.

I woke up a while ago. At first, I was content to simply lie there in the silent darkness. My thoughts came and left like the tide. One day, the tide brought in a thought that lodged itself in my mind. Who am I?

I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me earlier. As I began to explore the question, I stumbled upon others that cluttered up my mind. I longed for answers that would make my beach pristine again, but answers never washed up on the shore — only questions. Questions like: Why am I here? How did I get here? Is there anyone else here?

I don’t know how long I suffocated under the weight of those questions in the darkness. Time just didn’t seem to be important to me. It didn’t answer any of my questions. When I had decided that I had enough of my question’s mockery, I started to try to get away from them. I didn’t fully understand the implications of the questions, of the darkness. It hadn’t dawned on me that I was dead. So I sat up and tried to kick my legs over the edge of the bed. Nothing changed.

This brought on a whole new level of panic. I could tell that I was now sitting, but for the first time I realized that I had never felt the bed. I guess I just assumed that since I had been lying down, I would have been on a bed. I sat there for a long time, trying to think what I should do next. I stood up, even though I could not feel the ground beneath my feet.

I think this is when it really started to make sense, in a morbid sort of way. It started with a: What if I am a ghost? This inevitably was followed by the thought: I woke up in a coffin. As an experiment, I began to pretend to walk up a flight of stairs.

When I first broke through to the surface, I was blinded by the brilliance of the overworld. I glanced at my tombstone. My name was Sam. One question down — I knew who I was now. I didn’t know how I was going to answer the rest of the questions, but I started my journey of self-rediscovery at that point.

I wish I could tell you that I’ve made progress. The Others tell me that there are no answers, that “Why?” is the most foolish question of all. They don’t understand. I must know. Can you help me? Why am I here?

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