Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Third Life by M. A. Street

Cover art by: Richard Stroud
Ebook or print; 251 pages
What really happens next? Matthew Wheeler wakes to an afterlife he never imagined—an afterlife inhabited by four spirits, all with great power, and all vying for his soul. He must choose one to complete his journey into eternity—if he succeeds.  And if he fails…?

This time when he woke in the darkness he was paralyzed, immobile, as if wrapped in a separate skin. His arms were folded at his chest, his knees curled toward it. He could wiggle his fingers and toes but little else. He managed to slowly turn his whole body with a shrug of his shoulders and faced again the immeasurable vastness of the darkness of death. The light floated as a distant halo upon some unknown horizon. Part of him longed for it, inexplicably and unconsciously, just as a part of him was deathly afraid.

Then across the endless black sky he caught a glimpse of motion. Tiny pinpricks of light were moving toward the far edge and disappearing beyond it. Thousands upon thousands floated like fireflies, so faint they were hardly noticeable, like distant stars that twinkled and were lost.

He strained to turn again but could not. It was not the same force as before, when the light had pushed him away. Rather, he was held in place as if truly defenseless.

“You have certainly made a mess of things,” came Cyrus’s disembodied voice.

“Only because I have tried to escape you.”

“And you have succeeded.”

“I am still a prisoner.”

“For the moment. When I release you, you will be adrift.”

Again, Wheeler looked outward. “Will I pass into the light?”

“No. Remember what happened before? The light knows, Wheeler. You are not ready.”

Panic rose and spread throughout, but in the end, the slow parade of resignation marched in. “Will I remember anything?”

“No. You will be dead. Just as you desire. You will see nothing, feel nothing—”

“Hear nothing,” Wheeler interjected.

“—It’s such a pity. You are closer to redemption than you know. You could still grasp the highest elements of your soul and move forward in peace.”

“I would rather sleep for all eternity than be in this nightmare.”

“You don’t really believe that.”

“What I believe doesn’t matter. It never has.”

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