5. Mid-Death Crisis

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"A crusher?" Geoff asked

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"A crusher?" Geoff asked.

"That's the name I gave 'em," said Jamieson. "They're just people, like you two, but left to their own devices down here they've gone bad. They destroy things for fun."

Geoff winced as he remembered the baseball bat.

"You're lucky they just got your leg. Sometimes they grind you down so bad you don't come back. Then it's the world of dust. And that place really is death. At least it's no kind of life that you've ever heard of."

"I don't want to be a crusher," Naomi said suddenly.

Jamieson looked her up and down.

"You don't look like a crusher to me," he said.

Naomi stood up and walked away from the churchyard. She sat on a park bench on the other side of the road, facing the beachside park.

Jamieson looked at Geoff with a raised eyebrow.

If this was the first year of their relationship, or maybe even the first five years, Geoff would have gone after her, but he'd learnt from experience that sometimes the only thing to do was to wait

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If this was the first year of their relationship, or maybe even the first five years, Geoff would have gone after her, but he'd learnt from experience that sometimes the only thing to do was to wait.

"So what are we if we're not crushers?" Geoff asked.

"Well, the way I see it, you're either a crusher, a floater or a builder," Jamieson replied.

"Which one are you?" Naomi asked.

Geoff hadn't heard her walk back across the street. He smiled up at her, happy that the shadow had passed so quickly this time.

"I'm something else," Jamieson said.

Geoff didn't even need to ask what a floater or a builder was, and he didn't need to ask what he was. He already knew. He was a floater. He'd been floating for years before the accident, and now they were down here he was coasting even more freely, aimlessly. They were just going through the motions of life, of death, of whatever this existence was.

Why were they staying in the shack and living their ordinary day-to-day domestic routine, when they could be free? When there was nothing holding them down? 

They didn't need money. They didn't actually need food anymore. They weren't bound by all the ordinary laws of society and the fear of death. They were free. Within the confines of their half-alive bodies and within the tomb of the earth. They could make what they wanted of their skeleton afterlife.

Geoff turned to Naomi. "What do you really care about?" He asked.

 "What do you really care about?" He asked

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"Other than me," Geoff said.

Naomi sat thinking for a moment. suddenly her face shifted. "Bernie," she said with a sad smile.

"Who's Bernie?" asked Jamieson from under his cloak.

"Bernie was our cat. Is our cat," said Geoff, "we left her behind, after the accident. She's still alive up there."

"Are you sure about that?" Jamieson asked.

Geoff scratched the back of his neck bone and looked at the shape of Jamieson under his billowing black robes. He didn't know where the drunk was going with this line of questioning. But he didn't like the tone of it. Why was he talking about Bernie dying? That was the last thing he wanted Naomi thinking about. It would almost certainly rekindle her depression.

"I don't know," Geoff said. He said it slowly and with a sharp tone that he hoped communicated to Jamieson that the subject wasn't a welcome one.

"She had such perfect little paws, with those tiny pink pads underneath." Naomi stared into space as she spoke.

"Have you checked with the DPRS?" asked Jamieson.

Geoff waited for an explanation.

"The Department of Pet Relocation Services," Jamieson said as if it was obvious.

Geoff and Naomi looked at each other and then back at him.

Geoff could almost hear Naomi's mind whirring into gear.

"The department of what?" she said breathlessly.

"You two are new down here, aren't you?" Jamieson said. "Pet Relocation Services. If you bond souls with a pet they get returned to you in the underworld, after they die."

Naomi jumped up again. But this time she was full of a bright energy. There was no shadow in sight.

"Are you telling me we might be able to find Bernie down here?" she asked breathlessly.

"If she's passed on and they have her at the DPRS, then yes," Jamieson replied.

"We go tonight," she said. She held a hand out to Jamieson "And you're going to take us there."

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