This chapter was inspired by my mom. Thanks mom. I hope you find the joke I put in here just for you.
Syd the Not-So-Sassy Atheist
To say Syd was unimpressed with life would be an understatement. She never had the lust for life that many share–those who create bucket lists and drag unwilling others on extended vacations into potentially hazardous situations. No, Syd had always been content to curl up in her corner of life and let it wash on over her like a gentle tide. The only movement she made was to scratch away the building barnacles.
However, to say Syd was unimpressed with Life, would be wholly incorrect. This personification of all that breathes and eats and sleeps is very impressive.
Or, Syd supposes, as impressive as a room full of squirrels can be.
After emerging from the tunnel and stepping through the light, Syd found herself transported to an amalgamation of a principal’s office and a waiting room. There are a good dozen chairs set up behind her with scattered magazines, such as Reaper Daily or Spectral Health. The walls are lined with dark wood bookcases packed with heavy, vellum bound volumes. Syd would attempt to read the titles, but the squirrels have a penchant for these books. They run and scurry along the shelves, knocking a few to the floor in frantic scrambles to the top.
Directly ahead of Syd is a large, cherry wood desk. There is a large calendar on it–or, at least, Syd assumes it’s a calendar. It is really just a grid with no numbers or months or holidays, only blank cells. Nevertheless, Life had managed to pen a few appointments in, which tips Syd off to its true purpose. One appointment, marked in red and with an angry face next to it, cements her belief.
“Annoying Atheist Arrives. Argh.” Syd reads the appointment aloud, her head tilted to accommodate the angle. She frowns. “I wouldn’t say I’m annoying.”
“You also wouldn’t say you’re dead, so you’re really batting a thousand today.”
Syd jumps half a mile and spins around to see who had spoken. In one of the chairs is a woman with golden hair and sharp features. Her eyes are translucent, but sufficiently piercing to make Syd wish she could hide under the desk or maybe become one of the squirrels and scurry into the air ducts.
Then, upon thinking about the squirrels, Syd suddenly realizes they’re not here. She scans the room for them, but the only other living thing is the woman.
“I take many forms,” Life divulges and brushes an acorn from the sleeve of her white, loose robe. “A room of squirrels is a new one for me, but I suppose that is your perception of life.” She locks eyes with Syd. “Why squirrels?”
Syd laughs uncomfortably. “Because life is nuts?”
There’s a long pause and then Life’s mouth quirks. “You’re right, annoying is not the proper adjective for you.” She stands fluidly and carefully picks her way to behind the desk. Despite the bookish environment, Life looks regal. Syd can almost swear she feels the cool of a drafty castle.
Life rests her chin in one dainty, pale hand. “Abrasive might suit you.”
“Or alluring,” Syd attempts to no avail. Life just waves the suggestion off.
“I don’t believe you came here to speak to me about your qualities, though. I assume you’re here for reincarnation. What god do I owe this wonderful appointment to?”
“I’m an atheist,” Syd explains, baffled that Life seems to not even know this. “Not believing in a god is kind of in the name.”
Life shakes her head. “I was afraid of that. Sometimes you guys have revelations on the way here and this is so much easier. Oh well, I suppose this is less paperwork for me in the end.”
Suddenly, Life ducks down and begins rummaging in her drawers. Syd tries to crane closer, but is kept in her seat for fear of upsetting Life. She’d hate to have to go back to Life’s Janitor and explain she lost her chance because she was too nosy.
But one question couldn’t hurt, right?
“So I still get reincarnated?” Syd hazards.
Life makes a sound of agreement. Sydney nods to herself. She can most definitely work with that. Maybe she can be a wolf or an elk or a water buffalo always seemed cool. Or she could go into the ocean and be a shark–live off the coast of Australia and chomp some cute surfers in the ass.
Syd’s thoughts are derailed when Life produces a glass display that thumps loudly onto the desk. Beneath the thick pane are two bugs pinned to a canvas pinboard. “So,” Life asks and gestures to each specimen in turn. “A dog tick or a deer tick?”
Syd groans: dead or alive, Life still sucks.