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This page last viewed: 2017-12-01 and has been viewed 1640 times
Georgia On My Mind
by Emma Peel
Rating: U or G or whatever 'ok for everyone' is?
Warnings: Not really. If you're very staunchy religious you might be offended.
Summary: Face is in the afterlife. And he'd like to go home, please.
Disclaimers: Don't own any of 'em. Archive: Yes
Comments: Yes please.
Authors note: I have no idea where this came from or where it's going. I don't think it's humorous, more.. weird. But come along for the ride and we'll see.
how he'd imagined it at all. No fire. No brimstone. Not much of anything
really, and that was the worst torture of all. Gray was fabulous for a
herringbone, but when it was your whole life...
Not life, exactly. But when that was your eternity, you started to appreciate the more lavish colors you'd known before. What he wouldn't give now for a flash of pink silk.
No one to scam. No one to talk to. No ladies to charm, or even throw drinks over him. No one to hit him, and he even began to miss BA's 'playful' punches. Oh, for a broken nose... just to *feel* something, anything. But no. Just.. nothing, really.
Occasionally he'd be called in for an 'assessment'. It was difficult, getting used to being called 'Richard.' And the tests.. endless tests. Ink blots, quite a lot of them, and he saw now why Murdock said he wasn't any good at them. Face, well, he saw pretty ladies, lots of them, and sometimes roulette wheels, and occasionally cars. But he always said 'butterfly' or 'table and chairs' or 'trash bag', like you were s'posed to. The constant frowns from the assessors were still less than encouraging.
Then there was question after question, all of the 'what would you do if' variety. Like he didn't know how to pass those with flying colors. 'I would give the money back.' 'I would tell her sister I was delighted to make her acquaintance but explain that I don't believe in sex before marriage.' 'If it was an outstanding ass, I would admire it, but not covet it.'
Although... even though he couldn't see it, he supposed there was some sort of all pervasive lie detector surrounding him. It was, realistically, probably futile, trying to con the ultimate conman.
He had no idea how long he had been, or would be, here, in this no man's land. How could they assess his progress, anyway? It was so easy to behave when there was no temptation in your way. 'Reformation.' How subjective was that? It's not like there was a firm set of...
Well, yes, ok, there was a very firm set of guidelines.
Face sighed. Another endless day, literally, stretching out ahead of him. He never got tired enough to sleep. There were no clocks, or watches, no sun to tell the hours by. No day or night, just constant... bland. The terrifying thought was, what if heaven turned out to be just the same, but with even duller company? Not even the assessments to keep your mind occupied. When it came down to it, he had very grave concerns that he just wasn't a heavenly sort of guy.
It was all so unfair. He was the youngest, most debonair... the one with the brightest future ahead of him. Why did he have to die first? And in such an ignoble manner. He sighed, a soul deep sigh. At least they'd given him a pair of pants to wear, down here. If it was in fact "down", it was so hard to get any sense of direction or location.
He looked at his ill fitting suit. Grey polyester with perma-crease seams. A beige shirt ... a brown tie, with some kind of gravy stain that wouldn't come out. And grey plastic slip-ons with no socks. Yes, this was, indeed, hell.
He remembered, vaguely, that there were meant to be ways to get back to where you came from, and he wished he'd paid more attention in bible class instead of trying to look up Jenny Thomson's skirt, or sell marbles to Jake Crosby. In fact, if he'd just gone to confession occasionally. . .
Well, ok. What *could* he remember? Someone had to cross the river Styx. . . or there was something about gold violins, but he wasn't sure if you got practice time or not. And he was never that musical anyway. What else? All the movies he'd seen on raising the dead didn't seem to send them back in any form of body he'd want to have, and he didn't much fancy spending his time chasing screaming young virgins round the cemetery anyways. If you had to work that hard, it wasn't worth it. He wasn't even sure if he'd been buried or cremated. He didn't think making his urn jump around the room would be much fun.
He sighed again. What he really needed was one of those psychics. Someone who talked to people from beyond the grave all the time, and could give him some pointers. Someone who could tell him what heaven was really like, or even if... if there was a way back.
Like the "psychic buddies" phone line. He rummaged through his pockets. Nope. Not enough change for even five minutes. He sighed again.
And then it came to him. He'd always laughed at the idea, but maybe... just maybe...
Who did he know that claimed to have a hotline to the afterlife?
Now all he had to do was find a 'phone.
shifted uneasily in his seat. This idea sounded whacko, even to him. Even by
the standards of the "cabbage gun" and the "opening a
mission" escapades, it was just.. Out There. There. Past the Point of No
Return. And he was kinda uneasy about the number of times he'd impersonated
nuns and preachers, retrospectively.
'No, Colonel. I did not mention it to my doctor.'
He knew what Hannibal must be thinking. None of them had been the same since Face's untimely demise, but Murdock especially had fallen apart for a while. He'd taken a month long vacation in his mind with Thunder and Billy and more costumes than anyone knew he had. No tablecloth or curtain had been safe for all of August.
Eventually a combination of medication, therapy and long talks with Hannibal had drawn him, step by step, back into reality, at least some of the time.
So it had been a hell of a shock, pardon the pun, when the 'hotline' – the old phone handset that wasn't plugged in to anything, the one he used to wind up visiting MPs - started to ring.
The first time, he'd jumped half out of his skin and hid in the corner, convinced it was an aural hallucination.
The second time, he'd let it ring, but he managed to stand beside it.
The third time, he followed the cord out of the back. Made sure it wasn't plugged in to anything.
He had BA take it to pieces and rebuild it, never explaining why, just saying that he was suspicious of it. BA said it was ok, nothing in there that shouldn't be; and if anyone would know, he would.
And the fourth time...
He picked it up.
There was no sound coming from the handset, none at all; but the operator's voice spoke loud and clear directly into his head. Uh huh. Right in there. Right in there where the crazy people heard voices.
Murdock had never *actually* heard a voice in there before, although he'd pretended he had plenty of times. So he was terrified. The only saving grace was that the voice wasn't *telling* him to do anything; it was *asking* him. He was fairly sure that axe murderer's voices commanded, not requested.
'I have a Mr. Banc..', and there was some mumbling, 'Sorry, a Mr. Peck on the line for you, will you accept the charges?'
It might have been a good idea to find out what the charges were going to be, because a call from the afterlife, that could be a pretty hefty bill. And, you know, was it cash, or immortal soul? But he was so stunned, he just said 'yes', and the next thing, there was Faceman on the line.
What did you say to a dead man? "What you been up to?" "Coming to visit?" "Can you get me any good betting tips?"
In the event, he didn't have to say a lot, because Face was there, gibbering away a lot of stuff about ink blots which made no sense at all (didn't he know the trick was to see *happy* things, like rainbows?) and looking for help. Murdock had asked, just to be sure, if he was still dead. It seemed like kind of a rude question, but, y'know, it had to be asked. Well, yes, that was the whole point, and if Murdock could maybe find out ways to be not-dead-any-more, that'd be great.
After the call, Murdock called the operator-up-here to get a note of the number, and then he called the Colonel. He really needed to spend some heavy duty time at the library. Could he spring him for a few weeks?
So now BA and Hannibal were in Murdock's room, having entered by the window, as usual. And they were both staring at Murdock like they were about to hit the panic button and get some heavy duty orderlies in.
That was, until Murdock dialed the number, and the disconnected phone rang at the other end, and a voice said 'Operator Information,' and the song carried on after that, which was surely the most disconcerting, if appropriate, hold music of all time.
BA crossed himself. Hannibal paled.
And the three of them left through the window.
not so much the *work* I object to.. I mean, it seems fairly standard stuff.
Playing on vanity, seducing with deceit, corruption of pillars of the community
- my record here should speak for itself. But.. ah.. well..'
Face squirmed a little in his seat. He wasn't negotiating with the devil himself, exactly, just one of his .. assistants? But still, their not having regular features and all, or even what he'd really call a face, it made them pretty difficult to read.
The.. whatever it was, peered over the top of its papers at him. 'Well, what?' it enunciated in crisp, clipped tones.
'Well.. it might be easier with something a little more...' he indicated his clothing. 'sartorially becoming?'
The creature nodded, but not in an agreeing way. Merely to indicate that he had heard, and understood. But, seeing no great objection, Face pressed his hand a little further.
'And the title.. I mean, most of this game is confidence. Window dressing. And somehow.. when you're out fronting up a scam.. in the back of your mind, it's always there. 'Minion.' It doesn't quite have the 'ring' to it, y'know?'
The beast snarled. 'I myself am a Minion third generation, and proud of it.'
Face squirmed again and did what he could to recover the situation. 'And having been here for some time now, I understand what an achievement that is. But you see.. to them..' He pointed up the way, hoping that was the right direction, 'it just doesn't convey the sense of dignity, of authority, that the position commands.'
A raised eyebrow. 'You had something in mind?'
'How about... Executive Soul Manager?'
The being shrugged. Titles meant very little to him. The next moment, Face found himself dressed in a beautifully cut navy blue suit, crisp cotton shirt and silk tie, with a briefcase in his hand. He stared at it. Then he stared at the minion. There seemed to be the faintest hint of a smile about his.. he supposed the darkened hollows were what passed for eyes.
'For the young.. 'executive'.. about hell,' he said.
Then he vanished.
The ink blot results hadn't been getting any better, apparently. Salvation seemed a long way away. So, when it was suggested to Face that he might like the occasional 'day trip' doing the work of his paymaster, there didn't seem to be any good reason why not. If his soul was already damned, then what was there to lose? It wasn't entirely clear, however, if his role was to save souls or to damn them, or just to create trouble. There didn't seem to be a job description, so he was just going to have to take his best guess.
No different to life, then.
Visits to the mortal realm, however, might give access to Murdock, who might, if he hadn't been completely freaked by the call, now have some ideas about how to help get him back. Or be so insane he'd be able to hold a decent conversation with him.
And if not, well, it'd get him out of the house. Or office. Or whatever that place *was*.
Business first, though. He took a deep breath, straightened his tie, and pushed open the door to Colonel Decker's office.
sighed, rubbed his eyes, and pulled the blanket up further. The TV set
flickered away in the corner of the darkened room. The couch was not the most
comfortable he'd slept on.
It had been a long week in the library. Murdock speed read his way through stacks, Hannibal read at a slower pace, BA was irritatingly thorough, going through needless details.
They divided the bookshelves between them. Hannibal took religion, BA the supernatural, and Murdock the all encompassing subject of 'others'. Even on days when the library was busy, BA somehow managed to find an empty table, and they'd sit from 8 in the morning until 8 at night going over every possible reference.
After that, they'd go visiting. Priests, spiritualists, 'spooky women', whoever seemed like they might have a clue, however obscure. And then Murdock would sit up watching Hammer Horror reruns all night, or at least until he fell asleep on BA's couch, looking for anything that might be a clue, a hint, an indicator.
He'd grown worried, too, about being away from the 'phone. Why hadn't he taken the 'phone? The special 'phone, that was. To rectify that, Hannibal had gone back to collect it. It sat on BA's coffee table. It looked out of place.
Murdock reasoned that maybe it didn't matter where it was, because it wasn't plugged in anyway. But maybe it did? It hadn't rung again. He couldn't hear a dial tone, or an operator, but then he hadn't always been able to hear that.
The operator number didn't work on BA's regular phone.
Maybe it rang while they were out. He had BA fix up an answering machine to it, which was difficult, with no active sockets to connect anything to, but the machine had power, and maybe it would just, somehow, work, if they were meant to get a message. Maybe he should go back to the VA and wait for a call. But then he might not ever work out how to get Face back.
Most surprisingly of all, BA was not calling him 'fool', 'sucka', or any of the more vivid insults. Any insults at all. And Murdock would have thought this was the strangest flight of fancy he'd ever come up with.
Maybe they now thought he'd been sane all along?
But the theorising could wait. What mattered now was finding a course of action. It was all a question of weighing the odds, taking your best guess. Which was one thing when you were gambling with your own life, and here on earth at that; quite another when it was someone else's immortal hereafter.
Murdock was close to giving up. After all, if you could raise the dead just like that, wouldn't the world be a lot more densely populated? And if you could raise the dead, wouldn't it be cheaper to use zombies for real instead of all the prosthetic stuff they put on actors to make them look like zombies? Unless there was some problem with them getting union cards.
He couldn't imagine Face coming back as a zombie. The world's first Armani undead?
They'd been looking for six days now. The seventh was meant to be rest, wasn't it? He was pretty sure of that.
Maybe it wasn't up to them at all. Maybe it was down to Face to find out what he had to do. That seemed to be the way with most of the great quests.
Murdock felt his eyes glaze over. 'I was a Teenage Zombie Rock Star' was coming to an end. As was his consciousness.
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