D is for death and the afterlife.

D Finished


What happens after we pass over to the other side? It is a question that dogs us as soon as we become conscious of what death  is all about.  Of course points of view on this subject are colored  by  the religion that a person follows.   It is a commonly banded about  idea that some Muslims  believe  they are promised 72 virgins,  upon entry to paradise,  particularly those who fight in the way of Allah.

What do Catholics believe? At the moment of death, the soul is separated from the body and no longer sustains order within the natural body; as a result, the body begins to corrupt and left to its own will decompose. The soul, however, is immortal and never ceases to exist, once created. Immediately upon death, the soul of each person is judged by the Lord, either to eternal life or the damnation of hell.

There must be many permutations depending on which religion a person follows. Buddhists give two permutations,  If you still have unresolved kamma (Sanskrit: karma), if the conditions for rebirth are present, “you” are reborn. Alternatively If you have achieved nibbana (Sanskrit: nirvana) during your life, you will have no more kamma, and so the conditions for the creation of the five clinging-aggregates will no longer be present. Consciousness will cease, activity in your brain will cease, and your body will decay. Meaning you will die, and that’s your lot.

The Buddhist  version of life after death,  seems to not only be more appealing than the threat of damnation in Hell  but also seems to  be more logical, as well giving a meaning to life, in that through a life we learn and develop until we reach the point whereby it is unnecessary to learn any more.

From my point of view it is only when we all finally embrace death itself  will this vexing question about what happens after death will finally be answered.  There are those who have recently had their quest  to answer this  question satisfied.  David Bowie is no longer with us, having succumbed to cancer.  He was the type of man a person might imagine could live forever, he was such a part of my life as surely he was for many others.  Is he now in some other dimension  working on celestial music? Has he been interacting with other departed souls,  other geniuses,  departed family  members of the Jones family  (Jones was his real family name).

In my book Flight of Destiny, I present an image of both Heaven and Hell. In my story cast from Hell,  a man is rejected by Hell (for being too good)  and is sent back in the guise of a woman to wreak havoc.  This is his take on Hell.

As you can tell, my expectations of hell were quickly dashed.It was far removed from William Blake’s famed illustrations of Dante’s Inferno, and it didn’t even remotely resemble a Brueghel painting.To my surprise, there was no evidence in Hell of people being  grievously punished. The slothful were not being goaded with burning coals. The gluttons were not being tormented with thirst and hunger.There were no hedonists being bathed in burning pitch and stinking brimstone, or envious individuals howling with grief over that which they could never possess. The proud were not being brought down.The covetous were not being denied. In fact, the damned seemed to be living in a modicum of comfort. I never detected any weeping, wailing or gnashing of teeth. The place, called by some gehenna, the bottomless pit, was admittedly no holiday camp, but things there had grown shoddy and dysfunctional. It would require major rehabilitation to scare even a child. Being lodged with fellow rejects was sobering experience, not unlike being in a holding center for suspected criminals, refugees or illegal immigrants.

This is his take on Heaven.

I took a last look survey of Hell. It looked like a vast airport terminal: vacuous, tedious, and hum-drum. By now I couldn’t wait to leave. By contrast, I have often tried to imagine Heaven. To me it would be one long party in a great vivant night club, not unlike this second life to which I was now looking forward to I closed my inner eye as instructed and waited while Charon transported me to earth’s dimension.

What happens after death, is the ultimate, unanswerable question.

Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.


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Books and Films that have influenced my short stories

Books and films that have influenced final 222

Books and films that have influenced my short stories
Starting with books…
Kiss Kiss by Roald Dahl. Maybe some of the concepts in this book seem a bit dated…but then it was published in 1960 and times were rather different then. Would you call your short story “Parson’s Pleasure” and the main character Cyril Boggis? If you don’t know this story it is about a shady antiques dealer, who takes advantage of naïve country types, and comes across a priceless Chippendale commode, which he acquires for twenty pounds with the intention of selling it for twenty thousand. What we can safely say about Roald Dahl’s stories is that there is a significant twist at the end of each story. It is this aspect that really influenced my short story writing.
With my own short stories, like Dahl, I try to include an unexpected twist at the end. With short stories, you face limits, you have create characters, that the reader will immediately identify with. You have to create strong dialogue. You have to create an opening sentence like no other, that grabs the reader’s attention. Some people believe that authors graduate from being short story writers into full novel writers, a kind of literary rite of passage…me…I really like this format of writing. My work might be much darker than Roald Dahl might have dared…but I really admire his work and “Kiss Kiss” for will always be very special to me.

Any book by Rupert Thompson.
I encountered this author while he was writing his first book “Dreams of Leaving”. I was an Art student at the time, my dream to become a famous painter…Rupert at the time was the boyfriend of an Art College friend and was a bit older than me. He came from a similar boarding education as me, but he and his brother, who I also got know, were of a rebellious nature. His sentences are always sharp, his observations equally cutting. More recently I read a book called “This Party’s Got to stop” which is not fictional, but based on the period when I was in contact with him…it is a moving account of when his father died. It is moving, witty but it has a real edge to it.
So onto films…

I have no idea when I first saw “Kind Hearts and Coronets” It is a film that dates back to 1949 and stars in multiple of roles Sir Alec Guinness. It is a story about a man who ends up in prison having systematically killed off all the relations who stand in his way of claiming the Dukedom. This film had a big influence on one of my short stories, named “Duke”. It is a story about a man who conceivably might not even be a real Duke, but a man who has all the airs and graces of a Duke…unfortunately for him he is in Prison and worst still for some unspecified crime he has been sentenced to death. Like in the film he is afforded all the privileges of a Duke and treats his time in prison like a sojourn and seems indifferent, in deed flippant concerning his impending death.

Another film that influenced one of my short stories is a film called “The Stepford Wives” (the original version, not the more recent version 2004 version with Nicole Kidman starring). The film is about a young family arrive in a town called Stepford…a town populated by “perfect women” who service their husband’s needs. It comes to light that the women are in fact “duplicates”. My short story is called “Body Parts”. It is set in the near future, a world in which rich Industrialist types can go to a factory and have their “ideal woman” assembled. Once assembled they can expect a perfect wife…one that is fully obedient and compliant to all of their needs. When multimillionaire Dalton Kane, goes to the factory to purchase an android woman, he gets more than he bargains for, as his intended has a mind of her own, and is far from submissive to his demands.

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