Dave grinned as he sped along, and cranked the car stereo when he found a song he liked, cruising, breezing. Things were pretty decent for him at the moment. He started to sing along to the radio in an impressively on-key voice. And he knew almost all the words, too.
"Standing in line to
See the show tonight
And there's a light of
The Chili Peppers were a rockin' band, Dave had to admit. He absently tapped out the drum beat on his steering wheel, and realized he was happy. He liked the song he was listening to. He was on the way to band practice, which he liked. He was going to spend some time with his three band members, which he loved.
"-By the way I tried to say
I'd be there waiting for-"
Dave sighed and turned a corner just as the song ended and some random radio personality starting raving about some random scandal. He was never really able to get his head around that type of shit. Speculations and rumors seemed like a waste of breath to him. He stopped paying attention to what they were saying (he had a vague notion that Paris Hilton was involved, somehow) and let his mind wander to a better place. The music. The band.
I don't know what I'd do without them. That startled him a little, and he snapped his brain back into focus. He had no idea where that last thought had come from. He'd been part of the band, been part of the Foo Fighters, for close to fourteen years, now. It was as much a part of him as breathing. And sure, he didn't know what he'd do without it, but that wasn't the point...
The point was, he had no real reason to even be thinking along those lines in the first place. Everything was fine, he was happy, nothing was going to happen...
Maybe you should remember what happened last time you took your band for granted? a private part of his mind whispered, but Dave quickly pushed that voice away, not wanting to create a blot on his otherwise flawless, happy horizon.
To divert his mind, Dave once again turned to the radio. He hoped the stupid fucking station had finished their rant, and was ready to play some music again.
They were. And it was the worst thing that could have happened.
"Coming up now is an older hit that still sounds as good today as it did when it was recorded eighteen years ago. See if you guys and gals remember this one."
The song began, and Dave recognized it straight away. Even if he hadn't helped record it, he would have recognized it just from the opening guitar riff. He knew that unique style as well as he knew anything.
He wanted to turn it off, but found himself suddenly unable to. It was like his hands were glued steering wheel.
"Load up on guns, bring your friends
It's fun to lose and to pretend
She's overboard and self-assured
Oh, no, I know a dirty word
Hello, hello, hello, how low
Hello, hello, hello, how low
Hello, hello, hello, how low
Hello, hello, hello-"
"That's quite enough of that." Dave's voice was shaky, but he did manage to pry one hand off the steering wheel and fumble with the radio, switching it off. He spared himself the explosion of the powerhouse chorus by a fraction of a second. And, like his voice, his hands were trembling. He tried to control it. Found he couldn't.
C'mon, Dave, get over it. He gave himself a mental pep talk, the same on he used in all these situations. You've heard this song a billion times before. It's still the same song.
Dave sped towards the upcoming traffic lights but he barely even saw them. It was a struggle for him just to register the fact that they were green. Still the same song. Still the same song. Nothing's changed. Nothing.
Dave passed the first set of traffic lights with deeply flushed cheeks and a rapidly beating heart.
Fuck it, man. Everything's changed...
A blaring horn, a sound of warning, came from a neighboring car, but it was too late. He never even glanced at the truck.
The sound of that horn was the second-to-last thing Dave heard. The last was the horrible, final crunch as metal collided with metal, then skin, then bone, and the world and everything in it faded to black.
And some point between that moment and the next, the heavy flush bled out of Dave's cheeks, and his rapidly beating heart slowed... then stopped altogether. And at some point between one moment and the next, he drifted out of existence...
Dave jerked awake, gasping heavily. Even in the violent aftermath of his nightmare, he still realized something very puzzling. He realized it all of a sudden and all at once.
He wasn't in his bedroom.
In fact, he wasn't in any room that he could remember waking up in before. This room was... new. It was alien. He also noticed with a worried pang that the familiar presence of his wife lying beside him was gone. Jordyn was nowhere to be found.
Shivering slightly, Dave peered into the gloomy din of the room. And yelped with surprise at what appeared to be a pair of large, glowing brown eyes protruding out from the darkness. He then realized that the eyes were not in fact floating in mid air, but rather belonged to a young woman, perhaps in her late teens, early twenties at the most. And she was frightfully pale. Dave sighed, and his heartbeat slowed after his initial scare, but only a little. He still felt an overpowering unease that was bordering on full-blown fear. Hesitantly, he cleared his throat to speak.
"W-who are you? Where am I?"
The girl with the glowing brown eyes smiled.
"My name's Siri. Welcome to the Afterlife."
And just like that, Dave remembered -
The blackness was suffocating. The blackness was so final. Dave peered into nothing with eyes he no longer had, and he knew that he was dead.
Far away he was aware of a man named Dave who was buried in a car crash, but it wasn't truly him, or rather, he just wasn't him anymore. On some, distant level there was also pain, but the pain seemed very unimportant. Who cared about pain when they were dead?
He was aware his band mates would probably wondering where he was.
He was aware that he was supposed to pick up Violet from day-care that afternoon.
He was aware that life would go on for them. And it broke his heart.
He cried out silently, and waited for his death to consume him so he could forget everything. But it never happened.
(what's happening oh this is cruel this can't be death kill me kill me NOW)
"Hello," a soft spectral voice murmured to him, and it was like being born again. A white light suddenly filled Dave's mind, and the pain melted away. He wanted to reply-
(angel? are you? am i?)
- but was without a voice. The spectral light however seemed to understand.
"Yes Dave. This is a car crash. And you are dead." The light grew stronger, and Dave felt his consciousness beginning to fade. "Do not fear death. There is nothing to fear. I can take you away. To a different place. You'll like it there."
Dave struggled to stay awake long enough to ask one final question. The light surrounded him, then it was inside of him, and he could feel it answer him from everywhere.
"No, I'm not God. In your world, some people call my kind 'angels', though I'm not quite the kind of angel they refer to. Some people know me by a different name. A fearful name. They say I am responsible for the deaths of all in this world. They call me the Angel of Death. But you can call me Siri. And please, don't be afraid of me. I'm only here to help you."
And before Dave could feel fear or trepidation or anything else, he was lifted out of himself, and the blackness winked out of existence.
"I'm dead." The words sounded so strange. Stupid. Siri watched him carefully. "I'm... actually fucking dead." It seemed it would take him awhile to get used to the idea.
"Yes. You're dead."
"You killed me," he continued flatly, and there was more than a hint of accusation in his voice. Siri sighed, shaking her head.
"No. That's just what you want to think. I don't kill people. I merely look after their souls once they're dead. And don't even bother asking me who killed you," she rushed ahead before Dave could respond. "You know perfectly well who killed you. You killed yourself." Dave went to protest, but she easily overrode him. "You killed yourself, Dave," she repeated for emphasis. "You lost your concentration on the road and a truck ploughed into the side of your car. And that was it. There's nothing you can do about it now." Dave could only gape at her, his eyes searching for understanding and his eyes wide open. Presently though, he found his voice again.
"I, I c-can't believe this..." he groaned, a shudder unfurling through him. "It can't... be over. M-my family, my wife. I, I can't just-" He broke off with a small moan of pain, and there were frustrated tears pooling in his eyes. "I'm not dead. I'm not. I mean..." He searched for the words. "I can still think. I can feel. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest just a minute ago. I could feel my pulse. I'm not dead. My body's not dead. It's alive, I'm alive, so this isn't, I can't be..."
"How is it that you know so well what death is supposed to be like?" Siri asked simply, and Dave immediately fell silent. "Death is not the end of all things. It's just a new start. A beginning. Why should your body be old and broken? That isn't very practical at all."
"But, I..." Dave's speech was halted and hesitant. His mind was reeling. "Wha.. what about the people I love?" Jordyn. Violet, and Harper - she's just a baby. M-my little daughters. What... what h-happens to them?"
Siri smiled softly. "You married a strong woman, Dave. Jordyn has so much will-power, she will go on, for your daughters. They'll all go on. They'll have a good life together, I can promise you that."
"Jordyn." Dave breathed a soft word of thanks to his wife as tears spilled over his cheeks. "Oh, Jordyn."
"Harper will have no memory of you." Dave bowed his head and his heart sank at the news, but it was what he'd expected. She was just a baby, after all.
"... I suppose that may even be for the best," Dave murmured to himself, trying to still some of the burning pain in his heart. His vision swam with tears. After a long moment, he managed to pull himself together a little, and ask his next question. "And my band? My friends? How will they..?"
"They'll go their separate ways," Siri said gently, trying to take the sting out of her words as best she could. But then she both surprised and dismayed Dave when she asked a question of her own. "Don't you remember how you felt when Kurt Cobain died?"
"I..." Dave's first word came out as a croak, an automatic jerk of the tongue, and he found he was suddenly breathless. He tried again. "I..."
"Hello, hello, hello, how low
Hello, hello, hello, how low"
"It hurt you, didn't it?" She answered for him. "But you carried on. You all carried on."
"My soul went dead to music," Dave muttered, mostly to himself. Tears falling a little faster, now.
"But you started again. You created a band of your own, and you were happy again." She hesitated, then added, "Taylor joins another band. The others sort of just... fade away. Remember, they're a lot older than you were when you lost Kurt. And they knew you almost four times as long. It's harder for them than you probably realize." Dave gritted his teeth. His family, his babies, gone, and now this. He saw red as a private part of him was violated and hurt.
"Don't you... don't you fucking dare underestimate how I felt when... that happened. It fucking killed me inside!" He glared with passionate anger, surprising Siri. "Losing him was the worst thing that ever happened to me. Understand?"
"Of course, Dave-"
"When, when he died, I was left with nothing. Do you get that? Nothing!" He tilted his head back, and sobbed. "And now, now I'm left with nothing all over again! I don't want to be alone! Oh God, please, I don't fucking want to be alone.."
"David." Siri's voice was soft and gentle. "You're not alone. People come here every day, just like you. You're with them, Dave. You're all together."
"But I don't want them," Dave whispered, and swiped furiously at his leaking eyes. "I, I just want someone here with me, someone I know, a friend, so we can at least be together."
"You'll find someone." She tried hard to be reassuring. "Everybody here always finds someone."