“I’m late” Zuse said. “I can’t believe I’m late again”
It was the same road that thousands drove down every day, except today it was half the size of normal. The local Department of Transportation had been working hard to fix the roads throughout the city before fall. For some reason, they decided to start on this road in the middle of rush hour traffic. Now everyone within two miles was stuck in bumper to bumper traffic.
Zuse knew that he wasn’t going to be in much trouble if he came in late; construction has been a vary large problem ever since that one bridge fell into the river. The bridge hadn’t been used in over a decade, but some politician decided that all the bridges in the city needed to be checked and repaired. While no one had a problem with the repairs themselves, they did have a big problem with being forced to take at least three detours just to get to work.
It took twenty minutes, but Zuse finally made the two blocks he needed to get out of the construction zone. Fitting with the luck he was having, the light turned red just as he reached the intersection.
Looking at his watch, he saw that if he drove a little faster then he normally would, he could make it to work just in time. He took a deep breath to calm himself. It wasn’t the construction workers’ fault he was running behind, it wasn’t really anyone’s fault.
The light turned green and Zuse put his foot down pulling ahead of the cars around him. Just at that moment, a red sports car ran the red light and hit Zues’ Jeep right on the driver side door.
Zuse floated in and out of conciseness. One moment he saw a man in an EMT jacket, the world behind him was flashing red. The next he was in a small room being jostled around while the man in the EMT jacket yelled words that he could not understand. Zuse managed to pull himself into conciseness just long enough to see someone put a needle into his arm and he fell into blackness.
Zuse felt the world pulling at him again, he could hear voices. Soft mumbles at first, the voices seemed to be getting closer. He opened his eyes and found his family looking back at him. They had seen him stirring and gathered around. His father was to his left, his sister right beside. On the other side was his mother. If she was here, he must have been out for a long time as she lives over two hours away.
Someone else walked into the room, it was his best friend, Sam. He had run off to grab the doctor when they noticed Zuse was waking up. Not far behind, the doctor walked in. There was a frown on his face.
He addressed the family. “He has massive internal bleeding, two dozen broken bones, and his kidneys are failing. While he’s awake, you will want to say your goodbyes. I’m sorry, but he will not live threw the night.”
Everyone was devastated by the news. Zuse’s father fell back into the chair, his mother burst into tears, and his sister had to turn away. Sam was the only one who managed to stay composed.
Zuse gestured to the doctor to come over and remove the breathing tube. Knowing there was nothing that could be done, the doctor complied and called the nurse to help pull the tube.
Managing to breath on his own, he forced himself to speak. “I’m... sorry...”
Before he could finish, he fell into blackness again. Three hours latter, he was declared dead.
Zuse felt as if he was floating. He wasn’t in pain like he was before, in fact he didn’t feel anything. He opened his eyes and saw stars. He was in space, floating seemingly in the middle of nowhere. As he looked around, he saw the stars around him becoming clearer. He started to see swirls of color, nebulae were becoming visible. More colors became visible, he could see the energy that connected all spacial objects together. It looked like the Starry Night painting by Van Gogh. It was the most amazing thing he had ever seen.
A loud voice rang forth from everywhere. “You have been chosen”
“Who’s there? Why can’t I see you? Why can I hear you in space?” Zuse asked, not able to control his questions.
“I am what you would call God, you are seeing me right now, and you aren’t hearing me exactly.” the voice responded.
“God? That means I’m dead?”
“But I don’t feel any different, aren’t I suppose to be changes or something. Aren’t I suppose to know the secrets of life?” Zuse wasn’t quite able to accept he was dead.
“Look at your hands.” The voice said.
Zuse looked at his hands, or tried to. When he went to move his hands in front of his face, nothing happened. He tried to look down at himself, but while his view changed, his body never showed. He realised that he was still seeing the stars in front of him as well as the ones below him. With a little concentration, he was able to see everything. The entire universe was just a glance away.
Looking one way showed a star being born, the fiery matter swirling around and gathering. Looking another showed one that had gone supernova, the light just a few short years from earth.
“This... this is amazing, I can see everything” Zuse said continuing to look at everything.
“This is the wonder of my universe. You could spend millions of years just looking. I did that for a long time before I created life.”
“Does everyone see this when they die?”
“No, you’re special” The voice responded simply
“So this isn’t heaven? So what happens when others die?” Zuse felt a little weird asking the question. He had never been much for religion, too much violence, too much intolerance.
“That’s a complicated question. To put it as simply as possible, when others die their soul is reflected back at them. The good have that reflected back, that would qualify as heaven in your terms.”
“And the bad?”
“Even those who seem calm when they’re doing their misdeeds are twisted and tormented inside. What is reflected back at them would qualify in your terms as Hell.”
“And they live with that for eternity? That does sound like hell.”
“Most never learn to cope with what they have done, but some are able to find peace. Their souls change, and that change is reflected.”
“I thought you never changed your mind when it came to things like that.”
“I do not do these things. You do it to yourselves, I just put in place the infrastructure.”
Zuse fell silent.
After a long time, the voice spoke again. “It’s time for you to return to earth and fulfill your purpose.”
“What...” Zuse was cut off. He felt himself becoming heavy and falling back to Earth.
“You will understand when you need to.” Was the last thing the voice said.
Zuse opened his eyes and sat up to an unfamiliar sight. To his left was white lace. In front of him was a wooden table with flowers on it. To his left was a crowd of people sitting in rows and dressed as if for a funeral. That last thought sparked a memory in his mind. He remembered the hospital, he remembered his death. Everything started falling in place and he realised this was his funeral.
A sharp pain started at his shoulders and flowed down and in toward his heart. He ripped open his shirt to find a Y shaped scar that was healing right before his eyes. He could feel his organs shifting back to place inside his body and his broken ribs popped one by one back into alignment.
Someone in the crowd screamed. Zuse looked to see who it was, but in the half a second it took to turn his head, panic had swept the room. Everyone rushed out the door, everyone except for one person. Zuse recognised Sam as the only one brave or stupid enough to stay.
Zuse swung his legs over the coffin and hopped onto the floor. He managed to stand for only a second before he collapsed. His legs were broken from the wreck and hadn’t fully healed yet.
Sam ran over and knelled before his friend. “How are you alive?”
“I don’t know. It’s going to take me a while to understand what happened.”
“But you were dead for three days.”
“Just help me up. I really just want to go home.”
Helping him up, Sam felt that home wasn’t the best place to go. “In the risk of repeating myself, you were dead for three days. Maybe we should go to a hospital.”
Zuse realised that the hospital was probably a good idea. “You’re right. Let’s go there.”
Sam pulled his friends arm over his shoulder and lifted him to his feet. They slowly made their way out of the building to Sam’s car. They passed the group of people that had so recently ran screaming out of the room, now struck silent by the sight before them.
The tension was thick in the air on the drive to the hospital. Sam felt he needed to say something to help clear the air.
“So” he began. “You were dead for three days and now you’re alive again. That ether makes you Jesus, or your the living dead.”
Zuse chucked. “Holy zombie Jesus. I like that. Fitting given my real name is Jesús.”
They both started laughing, for a moment it felt as if the last three days never happened. They were just friends cruising around the city again.
Pulling into the hospital parking lot snapped the friends back into reality. The last three days came rushing back into their minds.
“Stay here, I’ll go inside and get a wheelchair.” Sam said
“No, I think I’m good now.” Zuse said opening the door. He stepped out of the car and stretched, feeling his mussels respond exactly like they should. He felt almost perfect.
As they walked into the emergency room entrance, a nurse that was close by stopped them.
“This entrance is for emergencies only. You two look fine.” She said.
“Yeah, he looks fantastic considering twenty minutes ago he was dead.” Sam responded matching the nurse’s sarcasm.
“What the hell are you talking about.” The nurse asked. She started to think that these newcomers must be drunk.
“Three days ago I was in a car accident, that night I died.” Zuse interjected. “I woke up in the coffin and we figured I should probably come here.
“Fine.” The nurse huffed. “Have a seat and I’ll get the paperwork.”
Zuse looked into her eyes, the intensity freezing her in place. “You do not belong here. Your family needs you. Go home.”
“How did you know my family was having problems?” She asked meekly, the anger gone from her voice.
“Go, now” Zuse said sharply.
With that, she ran out the door.
Another nurse walked up. “Where’s she going?”
“Family emergency.” Zuse answered. “Please inform her supervisor.”
He turned back to the second nurse. “I believe there was some paperwork we needed to fill out.”
The nurse walked over to the desk and grabbed a clipboard with the paperwork already attached. He handed the clipboard to Zuse. “Fill these out. If you have any questions, anyone here can help you. Now, I have to do some damage control with our supervisor.”
Zuse began filling out the paperwork. He leaned toward Sam and asked “Do you think my health insurance is still active?”
Sam just laughed.
They waited over an hour for someone to finally come over.
“I’m sorry it took so long. I’m sure you can understand, we have to prioritise those who...” The man looked them over “Who are in dire need of care.”
“I fully understand. I’m Zuse, I died in this hospital three days ago.”
“I’m Dr. Keith. It’s not every day I get to meet the living dead. Your not going to eat my brain are you?” he joked.
Sam and Zuse laughed.
They were lead to the large emergency room and to a small section divided by a curtain. Zuse sat on the bed and Sam sat on a chair in the corner. The curtain was closed and they settled in for another wait.
It didn’t last long. Dr. Keith came back only ten minutes latter with a vary confused look on his face.
“I looked at your medical history, Zuse, and found the stringest thing. There’s a death certificate and an autopsy report. According to your medical history, your dead.”
“Isn’t that what we said?” Sam asked from his chair.
“Well, yes, but I figured you were drunk or something. I almost called the cops for waisting emergency room resources.” The doctor paused for a moment. “I’m going to run a few tests.”
The doctor started doing the standard tests. He started with the blood pressure, that turned out normal. He put the oxygen and pulse meeter on, that also turned out fine. When he asked for Zuse to take off his shirt he was surprised to see a Y shaped scare. He ignored it and completed his tests.
“Well, despite what the paperwork said, you’re vary much alive. I’ll correct the paperwork and you can go about your day.”
“There isn’t anything wrong with your paperwork. I was truly dead at the time. If I’m not mistaken, the technician that did my autopsy is working now. You can ask him.”
Something told the doctor to check. He left the two and walked down to the morgue. The technician was a relatively new one.
“Were you working three days ago?” The doctor asked.
“Yeah, that was my first day.”
“Do you remember a man, in his late twenties with brown hair and blue eyes, died in a car crash?”
“Yeah, rush job. The family wanted to do the funeral as soon as possible. I still have a copy of the paperwork.”
“Can I see it?”
“Uh... Sure.” The tech walked over to his desk, pulled a folder from his pile, and handed it to the doctor.
The doctor opened the folder and was shocked to see pictures of the young man he just left on the floor above. The pictures vary clearly showed a dead man.
“What’s wrong? It looks like you just saw a ghost.” The tech asked.
“The man in these pictures, did he have a brother, a twin brother?”
“No... he has a sister, but no other siblings. Why?”
“Because this man is sitting in emergency room 5 right now, vary much alive.”
The technician looked at the doctor for a moment. “This is some kind of hazing isn’t it? I didn’t think hospitals did this.”
“This is no hazing. Take a look for yourself.”
The two walked up to the emergency room. On the way there, they passed the emergency room charge nurse.
“What are you doing up here? We haven’t had any deaths today.”
“From what I understand, some of my work is up here.”
The two continued to room 5 where the technician was stunned to see the man he had on his table just three days ago was sitting watching him.
“How are you alive?” The technician blurted out.
“I still haven’t figured that out yet.” Zuse answered.
“But you were dead. I held your brain in my hands, there is no more dead then that.”
Zuse hopped off the table and put his hand on the technician’s shoulder. “Everything’s going to be OK.” With that, the technician calmed down.
“Now, can I leave?” Zuse asked the doctor.
“I... I don’t think you should. We should figure this out.”
“You said I was in perfect health and I do have the right to check myself out. I chose to exercise that right. I have done what needs to be done here, it’s time for me to leave.”
Zuse walked over to the nurses station and signed out. Sam was right behind him.
Just outside they saw the nurse they had encountered when they first walked in. She was smoking a cigarette with a vary nervous look on her face.
When she saw Zuse she ran up to him. “How did you know my son was going to have a seizure?”
“The same way I know he’s going to be fine. The doctors here will find the clot in his brain and be able to get rid of it. Tell them to look at his left leg, that’s where the clots are forming. They’ll be able to fix it.”
“Are you sure?” She asked
“Yes.” Zuse responded simply.
Sam was glad to get back into the car. “What’s going on with you? How do you know those things?”
Zuse opened his mouth, but Sam interrupted him. “No, never mind, I don’t want to know right now. let’s go home, I’ll ask those questions tomorrow.”
With that, Sam turned over the engine and started driving.
That night was full of tossing and turning. Zuse couldn’t quite grasp what had happened. He knew that people had near death experiences where they saw a long tunnel or even the gates of heaven. But those were just hallucinations caused by the lack of oxegen to your brain, weren’t they? Even if they were, the autopsy scars couldn’t be ignored. While it may have been for a short time, his organs didn’t reside in his body. But if that truly happened then what about the visit to god? Did that actually happen as well?
The thoughts turned in his head, preventing sleep from coming. Eventually the thought of sleep was abandoned and Zuse walked out to the living room. He sat down on the couch, picked up the remote, and turned on the TV. There wasn’t much on at four in the morning, and just as he was starting to think the idea was a wash he flipped past the church channel. He turned back and watched for several minutes. It was one of those evangelists and they were singing up a storm.
The words were lost on Zuse, he had an idea. He had was would unanimously be called a brush with god. Who better to answer his questions then a preacher? He quickly pulled up his computer and tracked down a local church. They were having worships at 10:45am. It was perfect.
Just the knowledge that he would be doing something allowed him to relax and get some sleep.
He’s woken by a loud knock at the door.