Liminal Space Travel
Exploring afterlife’s mysteries
The last thing I remember was metal crunching and glass shattering. Everything went black after that. I had no pain, but sensed something was wrong. When I opened my eyes, I stood beside the mangled remains of my car. It was all so surreal, like I was watching a movie.
“Is this what death looks like?” I said to no one in particular.
“Death? Not quite,” said a voice.
It was a man’s voice, deep and soothing and British. At first glance, nobody was there. My vision cleared and revealed a Harry Styles lookalike with a warm smile and beautiful brown eyes.
“You’re not quite dead yet, my dear. But you’re not exactly alive either.”
“Who are you? You’re not Harry Styles, are you?”
I felt a sudden rush of fear.
“I am Death. And I look and sound like whomever, however, you’d like me to look and sound. I’m here to take you on a journey. Contrary to some popular fiction, I never take a holiday.”
“What kind of journey?”
I was still confused.
“A journey through time and space; a journey to discover what lies beyond this world.”
I didn't understand it. My belief was that death was the ultimate end. I stood next to a man who claimed to be Death, despite not having died.
“What do I have to do?”
I felt a mixture of curiosity and apprehension.
“Just follow me.”
This said as he disappeared.
How was I to follow him? He had disappeared, and I was alone again, standing beside my wrecked car. But something was different. Everything around me was brighter, more vibrant—a fresh perspective on the world.
My hands made me gasp. They were no longer my own 23-year-old hands. They were smaller, smoother, and more delicate. I looked at my reflection in the shattered car window and gasped again. I was no longer my 23-year-old self, but my younger self, a young girl, about six or seven years old.
A young woman with long brown hair and bright blue eyes appeared beside me and greeted me with a smile.
“What’s your name?”
“I-I don’t know.”
I was confused and disoriented.
“How about we give you a name?”
The young woman knelt at my level.
“How about... Ashley?”
The name had a strange sense of familiarity.
The woman smiled.
“Now, let’s go play.”
Then she took my hand and led me away from the wreckage.
The following hours—it seemed like hours—were a blur of laughter, sunshine, and ice cream. I played with other children, danced barefoot in the grass, and sang songs. I felt transported to a simpler, carefree world.
As the sun set, I heard Death’s voice as he appeared again.
“Time to move on.”
I suddenly felt sad. I wanted to stay in this life.
“Can’t I stay here?”
I felt tears prick my eyes.
“I’m afraid not. But don’t worry. There’s more to come.”
And then he was gone again.
A sudden rush of wind momentarily made me close my eyes. When I opened them, I was standing on the edge of a cliff. The sky was dark, and the stars shone brightly around me. I felt a sense of peace, a calmness, wash over me.
“Welcome to the edge of the universe.”
Death appeared beside me.
“The-the edge of the universe?”
I was awestruck.
“That’s right. This is where everything begins and where everything ends. This is where you’ll find the answers you’ve been seeking.”
I didn’t know what to say. I felt insignificant standing at the edge of something vast and mysterious.
“Can you tell me why I’m here?”
I felt a sudden urgency.
“You’re here because you have questions; questions about life, about death, about everything in between.”
I suddenly experienced clarity, a surge of purpose. I had always been a curious person, always searching for answers, and at the universe's edge, I'd finally find them.
And so, I stepped forward into the great unknown. I felt Death’s hand on my shoulder, guiding me along. As I continued walking, I acknowledged and comprehended the need to continue moving. I didn’t know what lay ahead, but I knew I was ready for whatever came next.
As I walked, I saw flashes of memories. Memories of my childhood, my teenage years, and my adulthood—my college years, my first job. Memories of love, loss, joy, and pain. It was like reliving my entire life in a matter of moments.
"Why am I seeing this?"
“These are memories from your entire life—the positives, negatives, and everything in between. But there is much to come.”
I was both excited and anxious. I didn’t know what to expect.
As we continued walking, I saw a bright light in the distance. It was like nothing I had ever seen, drawing me towards it.
“Is that where I’m going?”
I pointed towards the light.
“Yes. That is where your journey ends. But it is also where a new journey begins.”
I didn’t know what lay beyond the light, but I knew intuitively that it was something beautiful.
As we approached the light, warmth, and comfort enveloped me. It was like being wrapped in a warm blanket on a cold winter night.
Suddenly, I was standing in front of a door. The door was glass etched with intricate designs. I looked back at Death, who nodded.
“This is it. Beyond this door lies the unknown. Are you ready?”
I took a deep breath and nodded. Despite the uncertainty, I nodded and prepared for what was beyond the door.
I walked in without fear, amazed.
I was in a bright white room with a figure standing before me, and as I approached, I realized it was my grandmother. She had passed away when I was a child, but I remembered her face vividly.
I felt tears prick my eyes.
“Hello, my dear.”
She smiled at me.
“I’ve been waiting for you.”
Joy and love cascaded over me. Seeing my grandmother again was like a dream.
“I have so many questions.”
“I know. First, let me show you something.”
She took my hand and led me towards a window. I saw the world I left behind. I saw my family, friends, and the places I had known all my life.
“They’ll miss you, Ashley. They’ll miss your optimism, smiles, and kind heart, but they’ll be okay. You have left a mark on their lives, and they’ll never forget you.”
I was calm then, contented. My fear of leaving the world subsided, thanks to this perspective.
“And now, your questions.”
My grandmother answered all my questions about love, hate, evil, death, and life. And with each answer she gave, I became more serene.
The airbag suddenly appeared in my face in the car. I lifted my head from the airbag and looked around, feeling disoriented. Had it all been a dream?
I heard Death's voice. I turned my head toward the passenger seat to see his “Harry Styles” face, and he smiled.
“Your journey is over, Ashley, but your legacy lives on.”
I felt at peace. My life was not in vain.
And with that, Death vanished, and I was gone.
I wrote this story for my friend Herb who inadvertently became a muse. Our discussion on the afterlife enabled me to take a glimmer of an idea and expand it to its current form.
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