The Underwear Trials at the Fourth Place

The Underwear Trials at the Fourth Place

From time to time, I create worlds in short prose… invent lore on the go… bear fiction into life; as without imagination and the labour of the mind, we are just empty vessels stuck in their shells…

What if death was not an end, but just a short pause of eternity?

The flash fiction piece below is not based on real events or has no connection to actual living or deceased persons in our dimension. 🙂

“The Underwear Trials at the Fourth Place” by Baris Cansevgisi

“Edwin Arnolds, 27, died on the morning of August the thirteenth after misdirecting his right foot into the gusset of his boxer shorts, resulting in the entanglement of his toes in the reinforced fabric, causing him to lose balance with the wobbly, single footing and-“

“What’s a gusset?” Leonard asked, straightening up a little forward from the chair, stretching his feet down to touch the floor. He hoped Werner was coming to an end reading the report. These reports were getting more boring each time. “Why did he have to read them aloud?” He sighed.

“…fall by slipping in the bathroom and slam his head into the corner of the bathtub.” Werner concluded. “Blunt force trauma, but believe me the emotional trauma will be much worse. What a way to go!” He punched in some keys into the console right in front of him and a video clip showing Edwin’s last moments started playing on screen. It, indeed, seemed like the man was trying to punch a third opening into his underwear while performing a one-legged ritualistic dance on the slippery floor tiles.

“With a little bit of accuracy, the man could have died in his underwear or most probably not die at all.” Werner let out a hearty laugh.

“Isn’t he way old to be here?” The tip of Leonard’s shoes were barely brushing the floor beneath. He pulled his legs up when he felt a sudden cramp.

“Not necessarily, but it’s rare,” Werner took a deep breath. “I was… I am 25. Hey! You are not making fun of me, are you kid?” He winked despite wearing a grim face.

“No.” Leonard said, sliding out of the chair completely. “I just didn’t see any adults except you; here. Not many girls either. This place seems for young male children, that’s all.”

“Well, you sure sound like an adult when you’re not asking stupid questions.” Werner scratched his head and punched in some more keys to change the screen. A pop up screen titled ‘Course of Action’ appeared above the words: ‘Underwear trials: 7199 successful attempts required to proceed.’.

“Hmmmm… that seems a tad much.” Werner commented as he grabbed a tablet and sprang up from his seat. “Come on kiddo, we should be there.”

Leonard and Werner hurried down a long, uninviting corridor with disturbing bright lights oozing out of the walls and entered a room at the end. The man, whom they watched dying on screen was standing totally naked right in front of them with confusion oozing out of his eyes. He opened his mouth, but no words came out.

“Mr. Arnolds! Welcome to the fourth place!” Werner said, extending his hand out for a handshake.

“Wh- where am I?” Edwin’s voice trembled as he shook Werner’s hand in automation. “Am I-?”

“Dead? Well, yes and no.” Werner replied. “You are momentarily wiped out of existence! You see, people are judged upon death and end up in heaven or hell. And, there are those who have not yet earned a place in heaven or have not sinned enough for hell.”

“I don’t understand. Is this Purgatory, then?”

Werner shook his head. “As I mentioned at the beginning, you’re at the fourth place… it’s for those who get to receive a second chance in life, at least until their final destination is booked before their final demise.”

“Reincarnation!” Edwin shouted in partial disbelief.

Werner turned to Leonard with a sudden burst of laughter. “He’s definitely too old for that!” He winked and turned back to the confused man.

“No… no. You will be continuing your life from where you left off after you are… properly trained not to die in the stupid way you did.”

“Time is different here.” Leonard cut in. “You’ll be back where you were even if it takes you years to-“

“This is ridiculous.” Edwin shouted. “I know how to wear an underwear!”

“Think of it as training for the underwear to be more weary of you!” Werner started laughing senselessly again. He was getting closer and closer to the moment of snapping due to the huge amount of time he spent at the fourth place. He quickly started tapping into his tablet and the embarrassing video clip started playing once more. He turned the device towards Edwin and saw the man’s embarrassment materialize in his posture.

“My foot was wet and the boxer was too elastic…” his voice faded away.

“No need to explain.” Werner patted the man’s shoulder. “We are all in the same boat here.”

“Huh!” Edwin exclaimed. “So, this fourth location is for those who have died because of their lack of underwear wearing skills?”

“Haha!” Werner verbalized his laughter and turned to Leonard once more. “If it were so, your question about not many women being here would have been answered, Leonard!” He patted him on the back.

“I don’t get it,” Edwin knelt down and sat on the floor trying best to cover his overexposed bits.

“You see, women’s undergarments are way too small for their feet to get tangled-” Werner suddenly stopped and his face took a serious look. He shook his head, passed the tablet to Leonard and said:

“You go on. You’ve watched me countless times… you deal with this and I’m going for coffee… the horrible muck we have here until a barista shows up.” He hurried out of the door part sobbing, part laughing.

Leonard punched in a code into the tablet, resulting in a secret compartment in the far wall to open with a click. “It’s called the fourth place,” he corrected Edwin’s previous remark. “Not location.” Then pointed at the cavity in the wall housing a large package inside. “And, that’s for you. Any questions?”

Edwin got up, walked to the compartment, took the package and shook it close to his ear. “What’s in it?” He finally asked.

“7199 pieces of clean underwear for you. That’s the number of attempts it takes to return back to your life… to the time right before you died… with no recollection of the time you spent here.”

“This is still ridiculous,” Edwin mumbled as he checked out a pair of white boxer shorts with purple polka dots. Then, he chucked it away into a corner and turned back to Leonard. “Stupid deaths… no matter how ludicrous they are, the causing action that lead to death are rarely triggered by people themselves… like someone ingesting bug spray to kill the bug, he has priorly swallowed… how can you train not to swallow something so poisonous for a countless times?”

“You can’t,” Leonard smiled. “That’s why the fifth place exists!”

The Aftermath of Immortality

The Aftermath of Immortality

We are born, we age and we die. In-between the two significant milestones of what we call life, we seek meaning to this long-lasting event fantasizing about what follows. Is death really the end? Or is it just the beginning of a huge unknown? 

What if there was no end to life?

Let’s assume for a minute that the humanity has found the secret of immortality and death is suddenly off the table for the old, the sick and the unfortunate who are perished every day in freak accidents. The perks of immortality would probably be in the lines of preventing ageing after a certain age and possibly through implementing rapid cell regeneration into our bodies to sustain a never-ending life. Surely, the ultra-wealthy would benefit from it first, but then it would eventually be available for all just like how newly found cures are applied to everyone after a certain time, probably pissing off the ones who had paid high prices for the privilege in the first years. Let’s say that an idealistic scientist made immortality airborne before releasing it to the atmosphere so everyone got the cure for death whether they liked it or not. It’s bad news for the ones with suicidal tendencies as the torment would now be eternal. But, what would happen to the rest of us, what would be in the store for us?

At first, people, especially the old and the sick, would probably celebrate the newfound immortality just like in Jose Saramago’s novel “Death at Intervals”, but soon joy would leave its place to sorrow as clergymen, morticians, life insurance providers, homicide detectives, contract killers and murder mystery writers become needless in society. The first signs of unemployment would spread to every profession eventually as the population starts to grow and retirement becomes a historical notion.

All sources of our eternal fear would eventually cease to exist amongst us, turning fear into a pleasant experience where nothing with grave outcomes takes place. Young daredevil wannabes will find new ways of entertainment as they jump off skyscrapers, run into burning buildings after setting them alight and dashing across streets riddled with drivers racing each other, filming the whole thing for the sake of more social media interactions just before finding out that it was only death that disappeared, not the pain and the long recovery times. Hospitals will be overflooded as a result and healthcare professionals would probably riot in a passive-aggressive manner.

Religions would be wiped out of existence or at least downsized to mini fan clubs with the last of the persistent fanatics working to earn a passage for heaven slowly vanish. With immortality in play, humanity would become their own micro gods. We don’t think God has a god, do we?

Breakthroughs in science and technology would be more frequent as brilliant inventors and scientists continue to benefit from their life-long experience to put on top of what they had already achieved. Soon, the whole universe would be our backyard to explore as manned spacecraft consisting of immortal astronauts chart course for distant stars right after the colonization of the moon by adrenaline junkies on painkiller meds and oxygen tanks, building habitats without any protective gear. Remember! The space is freezing, but what is frozen, can be thawed, just like how it works for frozen chicken in a microwave oven, to minimize the efficiency of the lunar workforce.

Image Credit: NASA

Exploration would not be limited just to space. Hard to reach places on Earth like the bottom of the Mariana trench or the insides of volcanoes would be thoroughly mapped and probably be opened for tourism, eventually ruining the last natural beauties of our planet. On the bright side, new life forms would be discovered.

Education would transform into simplicity of teaching the very basic stuff like the language and the culture as there would be no need for a vast number of specialists on Earth anymore other than for the ones that went off world for exploration.

Language is dynamic, so it would certainly change a great deal. Some expressions and words like “death”, “deathbed”, “murder”, “suicide”, “homicide”, “coffin”, “deadly”, “survival”, “survival of the fittest”, “natural” and all related vocabulary items would disappear, while others shift in meaning over time like the word “alone” would probably be used to describe “with few people in the vicinity” as skyrocketing population growth rate would make sure of that. The word “execute” would lose one of its prime meanings, making it used only for computer commands. New words to express new feelings would emerge as well as a new tense to talk about the very distant but experienced past.

New housing would certainly be a major issue. Some lakes would be dried and some mountains would be flattened to make new space for housing and most of us (mostly the poor) would have to live in vast overcrowded underground dwellings. Satellite estate agents would emerge either selling spots on space junk in Earth’s orbit, rent lunar homes, or advertise Martian blocks of flats for the rich.

Finally, natural resources would become so scarce that we would have to leave our scorched Earth to look for a new home across the galaxy. Luckily, being immortal opens up a large number of options that would have never been possible in history. But, some planet where we wouldn’t have to recycle our pee into drinking water would be swell. Not that we would die of thirst or hunger for that matter, but because how it would make us constantly feel. On the bright side, obesity would be gone forever.

The last thoughts of anyone watching the Earth get smaller from the spaceship monitors would be to try to find a cure to undo the damage of not being able to die. Without and end, life is not so precious after all!

Centuries later, we would have the chance to closely observe how human evolution takes place as we would have lighter bodies having to roam in less gravity for a prolonged time. The ones that couldn’t find a suitable planet to settle would have lighter skin colours and their eyes would probably lose sensitivity to light for better vision. In the end, we would lose our ability to reproduce. Why have tiny versions of ourselves to transfer our experience when we could live forever? Never needing to lactate ever again, female breasts would flatten and disappear, leaving behind only the nipples, very similar to how men are now.  

Doesn’t the word “Immortal” sound much better with more appropriate punctuation and spacing, as in “I’m mortal”?

Vampire Philosophy: Thought Shard no:434, On Death and Immortality…

Vampire Philosophy: Thought Shard no:434, On Death and Immortality…

Throughout history, philosophers have been tackling problems relating to a variety of subjects like existence, society, political theory, ethics, values, art, epistemology etc. As most of philosophy is directly questioning aspects of human life and its relations to other matters like the ones mentioned earlier, it can be objective only up to a degree as we are all human after all. What we lack is total objectivity, which can only be possible by viewing these matters from a completely different perspective; a non-human one. This series of texts (recordings) attempts to question us from a unique perspective with a vampiric touch to all matters that matter to us…

death-venice

“Greetings Human!

I am Torbyn leaving this recording in the cave of Lascaux as a reflection of our thoughts; the vampire perspective. This is thought shard number 434, recorded in 1218 AD, based on our perception of death and immortality.

Immortality! Outliving time itself. The long lasting dream of all mankind… Fortunately, all living things die. An end adds immense beauty, value to eternal boredom. As immortals, we, the Strigoi, see life like a never-ending mystery book, with all its mysteries revealed in the early chapters. When there’s nothing more to explore, everything loses meaning, but you keep going out of habit.

You reproduce and transfer your knowledge and values to your young, making them fresh, mini copies of yourselves…

You create works of art, to take place in history, not to be forgotten, living through eternity the best you can… and if you lack the talent for art, you become a politician…

You advance in technology, trying to prolong your life span fighting diseases… a world with limited resources throw at you…

Even what seems like an innocent act where young human couples carve their love onto tree trunks, is nothing more than a feeble attempt at immortality… the love dies but the curvy symbol and the initials around it, do not… is this the immortality you wish upon? Immortality of teen regrets?

Despite all these, you cannot even convince yourself of your dream… as you spell it the same way as its opposing concept: “Immortal versus I’m mortal!” or a similar concept with a slight change of letters: “death versus breath”.

Death is unknown to you until you die and delving into the unknown scares you… yet, it’s the same you, trying to explore the mysteries of the universe. Two unknowns, two completely different reactions… how delusional of you!

The next thought shard can be found in Highgate Cemetary in modern London.

End of transfer.”

dance-of-death-1490

Redefining Death: A Contemporary Guide

Redefining Death: A Contemporary Guide

As persistent seekers of healthy, prolonged lives and even immortality in the modern ages, we, mortals have always feared “death” as it means a definitive full-stop to what we have valued the most: Life…

But, what is death?

1_Grim-Reaper

According to most dictionaries, “death” is the end of life…

For me, it’s “ceasing to exist in the former plane of existence”… but, I am not all into the heaven-hell thing as I believe those two opposite concepts were designed to direct the majority of the human race into doing good deeds, so that all good-doers are led to believe they will have their afterlife retirement lying in endless flower fields above the clouds, drinking mulled wine from its rivers and having sex for eternity (and that is without the help of Viagra for the elderly men). The evil-doers, on the other hand, will burn in agony for eternity

Eternity? A concept valid for both heaven and hell? Wait! Living for eternity is achieving “immortality” Wasn’t that our final goal? Our seemingly impossible dream? To be immortal? Is reaching our final goal through “death”? Or, was the whole concept of immortality just an unintended word play, the creation of a concept due to bad punctuation and spacing (as in “Immortal” vs. “I’m mortal”)? 

Anyway, going to heaven sounds fun, right?

heaven1

Then, why do we feel so down and depressed when we bid farewell to our loved ones on their voyage to a better place? Are we worried they might end up in hell? Are we just selfish for not being happy for them? Or do we secretly know that heaven does not exist? Who knows…

On another note,

As I said before, “death” is ceasing to exist and it happens to our loved ones all the time and in numerous other ways as well, like:

  • when we break up with a partner and never want to see each other again… or
  • when a loved one moves across the globe for a job opportunity, etc…
  • when someone we trust wrongs us in an unacceptable way…

The people in above cases “cease to exist” just like how I perceive “death”… and in all cases time heals us, gradually soothing the pain. The question here, is how we deal with the sudden loss… do we cry our eyes out until they dry out? do we surrender to booze or other similar ways to dull the pain? or do we seek their familiarity in the experiences of our daily lives and remember how they made us feel? No matter how we might grieve, time is always there for assistance…

As a final thought, I must say “death” according to me is like a paradox similar to the Schrodinger’s Cat… we can never know for sure if our deceased, loved ones are happy or not on a different plane of existence… until we are certain of their fate, they may very well be both happy and not…

Vampires: Why they are depicted as they are…

baris-vampire

In modern times, vampires are often portrayed as gorgeously attractive, blood-sucking, immortal creatures who have supernatural powers such as turning into bats, hypnosis and having super senses and ultra speed, to name just a few. Funny enough, as gorgeous creatures as they are, they do not have reflections in mirrors. And somehow, they can easily turn into dust under daylight and can be killed by a wooden stake, when stabbed right through their hearts. Let’s speculate a bit about these elements which have made the modern vampire:

1. Blood-sucking: Blood is what gives life to the living. Since vampires are undead, it’s perfectly normal for them to suck life from us, transferring it from their victim to their bodies. And since they cannot get their daily vitamin D intake from the sun, they drink blood which has at least trace amounts of the necessary vitamins.

2. Fetish for the neck: Picture a scene where a vampire is draining the blood of an attractive victim, which part of the body would the vampire go for? What makes a great scene even when feeding? Fangs penetrating the skin over the abdomen? Knee caps? Arm pits? Or the neck itself?
In Armenian mythology,  there is one queer vampire named Dakhanavar, who sucks the soles (Yes, “soles” of the feet, not “souls”) of its victims while they are sleeping. It surely does not look so cool visually, except for people with foot fetish. And maybe not even for them if the victim is a peasent grandma housing an ecosystem of blisters and bunions on her feet.
Another good reason for vampires choosing the neck is carotid arteries that can be found in each side of the neck. Why drink from an infrequently dripping tap when you can get access to a fountain. Right?

3. Turning into bats: Bats are nocturnal creatures just like vampires. Besides, vampires would not look so cool if they turned into hamsters or ponies, would they? (They would look cuter though). By turning into “vampire” bats, they also gain the ability to fly, which takes the problem of geography off the table: A vampire story would have no limits on the diversity of the locations that it took place at. Do not forget that we, humans have started as explorers as well, not settlers…
vamp-bat

4. Hypnosis, Altering or Erasing Memories: If you are still reading this, it means that you haven’t been killed by a vampire until now. Do not consider yourself lucky as it might be because most vampires would rather feed on their prey multiple times than kill it off instantly. There’s no need to annihilate the food supply at one go. It’s like eating out at your favorite place most nights, again and again. They know that, we, humans can compensate blood loss by generating more blood when needed. Here’s how the hunting process goes for a typical vampire:
Find a lively victim, lure it into a dark alleyway by hypnosis, prevent the prey from resisting (again by hypnosis), fang its neck, drink just the right amount of blood so the victim can survive, alter or erase the memories of the incident and let the victim blame the fang marks on the neck, on a twisted tree branch run into the previous night. Visit the victim again and repeat the process when the victim recuperates.
Now, let’s shed light on why vampires seem to have this ability, which is far less cooler than most other super powers (like being totally immortal or time travelling):
Hypnosis, altering or erasing memories add to the intellectual qualities of a vampire, meaning that they do not only have brawns, but also brains. Plus, it provides them with mysterious characteristics as nobody can know anything about them for sure. The victims’ memories could have easily been altered.

5. The Destructive Sun: Nobody has ever seen a tanned lord of the night. Right?  Vampires are all pale and turn into dust when exposed to direct sunlight. But, why? Well, first of all, the sun provides life to all living things on our planet. The sun and life are as closely related to each other as night and death. And vampires are dead…err…. undead, but I think you get my point.
But, what about the impact of this in modern culture?
Let’s go back about 60-70 years in history, when having a pale, white skin, unspoilt by a suntan used to be a sign of nobility. It was those times when peasents, workers and the poor had to work in fields under direct sunlight to earn a living while the noblemen stayed indoors, in their luxurious castles or dwellings and rarely put afoot outside. So, we can easily link pale skin to nobility and that may be why the vampires are susceptible to sunlight. When stripped out of their nobility (having a suntan), vampires become more ordinary, similar to the vast majority of people living in those times. Ordinary is far from being cool. Turning into dust under direct sunlight may also have reference to our origins: Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust…

6. Being irresistibly gorgeous and immortal: No matter how good-looking we are, we, humans tend to find flaws with our physical appearance (All the women and most men). We are programmed that way. The physical qualities of a vampire, on the other hand, is exactly what we have been looking for since the beginning of time. It’s a spot-on representation of what we have been longing for, just like immortality. Perhaps, vampires are a mere representation of all our dreams: Being extremely good-looking, immortal and noble beings with super powers… And perhaps, that’s why they do not have reflections as they are perfect in every way and we are not. At least not in those countless selfies we take on a daily basis.

7. Death by wooden stakes: Mythologically speaking, vampires go way back in time, when adamantium rods, lightsabers or steel swords were pretty much non-existant and iron weapons scarce. However, wood was everywhere. Although it is still not clear why stabbing vampires through the heart kills them (a heart which does not beat or pump blood), it is good to know that wooden stakes do the job. Especially ones that are shapened from ash trees (Another reference to “Ashes to ashes”?). Ash trees were also referred to “Tree of Life” in Norse mythology. There!

8. Vampire Repellents: A blood-sucker shows up in your doorstep. What do you do? No worries! Just use one of the repellents below that are commonly found in nearly every household:
a) Garlic: It’s the vampire kryptonite! As humans we are, we can barely stand the stench of someone who has recently consumed garlic, how could a vampire with super senses endure it? These creatures of the night can allegedly smell the scent of blood from miles away just as they could be effectively disgusted by the sight and smell of garlic in face-to-face encounters. Besides, garlic is known to eradicate bacteria if we assume vampirism to be a contagious illness spread by bacteria.
b) The Cross or the Crucifix: Although overrated, religion seems to have some power after all. A newly turned vampire can remember his/her sins after turning and run away when confronted by such symbols, possibly succumbing into a temporary depression. When in depression, hunger just fades away… for a while…
It would surely be different symbols (repellents) for bloodsuckers following other religions: A crescent for Muslim vampires or the Star of David for Jewish vampires would work just the same. Just pray that you never meet a heretic vampire!
c) Bag of rice: While not a repellent, common rice has its own tricks up to its sleeves. Most vampires in mythology seems to have a weird case of OCD and they tend to count every grain of rice when they come accross them, thus losing valuable night time when counting every bit.
This OCD may have developed in vampires some time after immortality as when immortal for centuries, anyone tends to get bored of life and look for new… activities to kill time…
This is just a brief summary and speculation of why vampires are imagined as they are.
I hope you enjoyed it 🙂

Dead among the living

Living and dying…There isn’t much difference after all. We, the living are not that different from the dead!… if not worse. At least the dead are remembered, commemorated, idolized and valued while the living are trapped in a vicious circle of routine: working hard, paying bills for stuff that we can’t find time to enjoy, trying our best to be appreciated by society and looking for love in all the wrong places… We are defined and refined by society and cannot or will not act otherwise. We all die alone and that’s the only time we can free ourselves from the tight grip of the unspoken rules of society. Dying is a unique act that can be done individually. It’s like a one-person invitation to a posh party. 

Don’t get me wrong! I am not suggesting that we should all die… but we should definitely do something to change our lives for the better. Ignore what society demands, and live our lives as we wish. The dead can do it (minus living)… we are much more able…we can tailor the society to meet our needs… Here are some tips:

1. Always be honest to people. We all need to hear the truth…

2. Do what you want not what the neighbours would like you to do…

3. Eat as you wish… your soul does not put on weight. It’s always 21 grams…

4. Feel pain if you need to. It differentiates you from the dead.

5. Try new things. You are not your great-grand father… Adapt…in a fun way.

6. Find like-minded people and spend time with them. Learn from them at every opportunity.

7. Make fun of things… life is not something that should be taken seriously.

8. Brush your teeth at least three times a day. (This is for my young readers).

9. Drop me a line… I always listen…

And…never give up…