Dear Flash-365 Readers,
Long time no words. I am popping in to announce that What Happened When Frank Died will now be a bi-monthly column in Talk Vomit E-Lit Zine. Every other Wednesday you will be able to find a new installment of this series! Each story will be accompanied by a brand new illustration from Nikita Klimov. For those of you who have never read my WHWFD stories, here is a little blurb to catch you up:
In this column, for as long as I’m allowed, I’m going to kill Frank. Like—a lot. Worse, every two weeks, he will then be subjected to a multiverse of afterlives: absurd, funny, brutal, depressing, wild, creepy, heart-wrenching afterlives. Some will be based on existing theories, some on my own demented imaginings. In each, Frank will begin anew, searching, as always, for his lost family in the messy business of the many potential Great Beyonds. Frank (thankfully) does not remember his past-afterlives. Yet, attentive readers who pick up clues along the way will be able to solve the mystery of what happened before Frank died.
Our first installment is:
What Frank Found Down by the Sea Shore
Frank died. The light of the room became a pinhole; he squeezed through like toothpaste, from a wrinkled wet corpse into a standing, clothed old man.
He stood at the entrance to a long, white, narrow hallway with doors on either side. A woman stood in front of him. She had one of those perpetually-familiar faces. An actress, maybe. He tried to place her; it felt like identifying a particular pancake in an unfamiliar stack. She had brown straight hair pulled back. Frank knew she was either a childhood sweetheart or every woman he’d seen in an exercise bike commercial.
She was wearing white — a snug set of scrubs. Frank looked down at his own body and saw that he was wearing the same.
The woman peeled apart her thin lips and said, “Frank Morgan?”
“Yes ma’am,” Frank said. He shrugged his shoulders as if to say, ‘Who else would I be?’ but then said, “Oh—wow!” He shrugged his shoulders again. The pain that had rested between the blade of his left shoulder to the bottom of his ear was gone. He turned his neck this way and that. The woman waited.
She had a clipboard under one arm. She took it out to scroll through a list with one finger, stopping on a line. “This way,” she said, and turned.
She walked and Frank trod behind, rolling his shoulder this way and that with a smile that almost gave way to a giggle.
The woman spoke as she walked. She had an even voice that fit her even face and even hair. “I assume we can do away with the usual pleasantries, under the circumstances?”
Frank looked down at his own wrists. There was no blood, no wounds. They were smooth and fresh. He felt a sudden urge to lick them.
“No, ma’am,” Frank said.
As they passed door after door, Frank saw that they had no doorknobs, but featured tiny windows looking out onto a variety of landscapes. In one he saw a mother nursing a newborn babe. In another, there was a young boy sitting, fixed to a computer screen. Then a young woman getting married, then an old man fishing.
He stopped at a particular door—it was an old, crusted room. He saw an old woman tied to a chair. A man stood with his back to the door, a match in one hand, a red canister in the other. The old woman was laughing and wet. Frank could swear he heard the man laughing along with her. He placed his hand to the door and felt it vibrate with laughter and then the man dropped the match and the whole room went up in flames.
…Read the rest in Talk Vomit!
In addition to this, every two weeks I will be including in my newsletter a section where I break down what inspired the past week’s story, along with updates for where you can find my other work. If you’d like to sign up for that, you can find me on Substack, HERE.
For those of you curious what has happened to Sasha, he is in children’s limbo. His penance for helping us create Flash-365 was to pick 100 daisies. However, children’s limbo only has Orphan Daisies which are gray and turn to ash when you touch them. So, he might be there a while.