I teleported to the Realm of the Living and arrived at the edge of a lake about an hour’s drive from my old house. I’d chosen this spot because it was the first body of water on Earth that I could actually remember the physical location of. Before I’d quit the Boy Scouts, I’d gone to a summer camp near this lake. I’d spent most of my time either giving the younger boys hell or skipping merit badge classes to skip stones in these waters.
The camp was abandoned now, because, judging by the temperature, spring hadn’t even set in yet. But the still water and the crisp air and the mossy, picturesque banks of such a nostalgic scene suddenly gave me a realization that should have occurred to me much, much sooner: I was dead.
I’d never really been a sentimental guy to begin with. But when I died, I was so swiftly caught up in such macrocosmic events that I don’t think I really had time to adjust. There was no process of acceptance. I didn’t mourn the permanent separation from my friends or my parents. I just suddenly found myself in a completely foreign environment with all these urgent objectives thrust upon me. It wasn’t until now that the full understanding of my mortal expiration dawned on me.
I’d never see my friends again. I’d never taste my mom’s potato salad again. I’d never graduate from high school. I didn’t know what I was going to do with the rest of my life before, but I felt cheated that I didn’t get to have a rest of my life to do anything with. I’d never be the guy I was going to be. And even though I felt I’d been robbed of all that by a few kids who’d beaten me to death, I realized now—and almost immediately after I’d died—that I kind of pushed them into it. I’d indirectly robbed myself of all those things by being such a heartless, arrogant bully. That persona seemed strange to me now, considering that I’d spent most of my time in Hell barely hanging on to power instead of exercising it impudently and imprudently the way I had while I was still alive.
I missed being alive. I missed being Jason Giles.
But perhaps the most important thing I’d learned since my death was that when there was work to do, I needed to hunker down and do it. I used to waste my time figuring ways to immaturely torture my classmates. Now I was in danger of wasting my time dwelling on what I’d lost.
I stepped up to the edge of the lake and dipped the still red-hot blade into the cool water. I pulled it out as soon as it stopped sizzling and bubbling.
Then I took a deep breath and teleported back to my new home.