I guess you could say I went out with a bang. There was certainly a sickening thud as my body made contact with the car bonnet. But actually, other than those final few seconds before everything went black, the last day of my life was unbearably dull.
I ate a cheese and pickle sandwich for lunch. Cheese and bloody pickle, couldn’t be more boring. Even the car accident was a cliché; I was lost in thought when I stepped out into the road. Forgot to check for traffic. And those thoughts weren’t about anything interesting. I was wondering whether I should order ham and pineapple or pepperoni pizza for my dinner.
But the bit that happened directly after my death was significantly more interesting.
I came to with a foggy head and thought I’d survived it. The tarry grit lodged painfully in my cheek told me I was on the ground, but nothing else hurt. I cracked open my eyes and saw the road stretched out ahead of me. The bitter tang of hot rubber hung in the air. A pair of walking boots came into frame and a barrage of abuse came at me from above.
“You bloody idiot! Totally preventable, that. Have a bit of sodding sense, would ya?”
I groaned at the shouting man. I wanted him to piss off and let me sleep. Getting hit by a car really takes it out of you.
“I’m talking to you both here, by the way. Not that the daft prat behind the wheel can hear me. Here—let’s get you up.”
A hand hovered in front of me and I reached up for it with an arm that felt heavier than usual, as though it didn’t quite belong to me. The man yanked on my wrist and heaved my torso up from the floor.
I peered up at him, squinting into the pinky-blue afternoon sky which backlit his silhouette and left his face in darkness. He wrenched firmly on my hand once more and brought me to my feet. When I looked at him properly my mind went all dark and woozy and I thought I might be sick.
“Pleased to see me?”
I gagged. It was my Dad. Weird, because he’d been six feet under for the past two years.
“You’re dead,” I croaked.
“You’re one to talk. Let’s not get into it here, shall we? You’ve made a right mess on this road. Home.” He wrapped his arm around my shoulders and guided me down the street.
I could do nothing but gawp at him, my feet tripping over themselves and my mind running silently over every swearword in my vocabulary.
I told you it got interesting.
This is Chapter One of my debut novel, The Dead End, an uplifting contemporary fantasy story that puts an imaginative twist on the afterlife.
The Dead End took five long years to write. It’s a story that was originally inspired by the sudden passing of my father, which makes it one that is very close to my heart. It’s a little scary to put this book out into the world, but I’m proud of how it has come together and I’m excited to finally share it.
Maddy Ward is almost pleased to find herself dead at 20 years old.
In the afterlife she’s reunited with her beloved late father and she thinks it might be time to wave goodbye to loneliness for good. But the road to happiness is never straightforward.
The afterlife thrives upon the dead’s happy memories of the living world, and with nothing but sadness to show for her life, Maddy is faced with a fate worse than death – her soul might cease to even exist.
And it’s not only her afterlife that’s at risk. Billions of souls, living and dead, are under threat of extinction, and Maddy might be the only one who can protect them. Does she have the strength to put things right, or will she let her fear and self-doubt turn the afterlife upside down?
Witty, imaginative, and wonderfully uplifting, The Dead End asks what it really means to live life to its fullest.