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DUE DATE - Chapter Two

by Deborah 

Posted: 29 January 2009
Word Count: 2106
Summary: We get to see things from Janie's perspective...

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Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.

Janie gulped. Her head span slightly and her feet didn’t feel in any way connected either to her legs or the ground she presumed was beneath them. Or at least supposed to be. In reality. But then this day was turning out to be one of the most unreal – surreal experiences she’d ever… um… well, experienced, frankly. She twisted her head up to meet that of her partner in crime and gulped again. She thought Elvis was dead. But here he was – or at least a remarkably close facsimile of the young King - standing beside her. How the hell could that have happened? Ah, perhaps he was a jobbing builder on his way to an Elvis convention or something? Was this the reason for the fifties style suit and glossy black hair that fell sexily… no… no, she meant floppily…fell floppily over his eyes? Of course that could have explained the fact that he couldn’t see where he was going – maybe he’d been running late for a ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ opener and then his hair had… now wait a minute – just who the hell was he? Apart from the ignorant arrogant twat who’d just careered into the side of her… well her boyfriend’s… lovely shiny car? And why were they still standing here when the ambulance had just whirred it’s siren off over the hill and far away into the distance? Why hadn’t anyone approached them to find out if they were okay?
And how come they’d ended up about 50 yards away from their wrecked vehicles and without so much as a shard of metal to speak of stuck in any part of their respective bodies between them? Hang on - bruises? She peered down the length of both arms and frowned in agitation again at meeting with the sight of something she could only ever remember having worn the once to a party when everyone had gone dressed as either Maid Marion, Robin Hood or a host of Merry men. Maid Bloody Marion! Now how the hell had that happened?
For a brief, weird head moment she actually had an idea that she’d perhaps been going to a fancy dress party as Robin Hood’s squeeze and had met Elvis on the road doing much the same thing. That seemed like a fairly plausible thing to have happened and of course, they could easily have collided if they’d been racing along late for the same event. The trouble was, she didn’t remember having been invited to any such occasion and she was sure that yesterday had been Christmas Day and so this morning she’d more than likely have been just driving back from her mum’s to….where did she live again? Home. Of course, home. But - home? Come on now, think. Where’s home? Who’s at home? What’s going on? How come I can’t remember where I freaking well live now?!
‘Are you calmed down now?’ Elvis turned to face her.
‘You what?’
‘Calmer... are you calmed down now or can I expect more of the same foul language?’ he was attempting a smile but he hadn’t got the Elvis lip-curl.
She sniffed deeply. How dare he!
‘How dare you!’ she growled. ‘You come careering round the corner with no thought in that ridiculous quiffed head of yours for anybody’s safety – even your own and… and… well… look where that bloody well got you, where it bloody well got us both, thank you very much!’
She was aware of her foot tapping and tried to control it. She didn’t want to end up like her own mother. She unfurled her crossed arms. God, she really had got to try and curtail these mannerisms. This would not do!
Elvis had the courtesy to lift a tentative hand to his head and touched it as if he’d somehow forgotten he’d gone out dressed as The King. He even frowned in shock as he stroked it, then he shrugged his shoulders in resignation and did a lip-curl.
‘Uh-huh,’ he said in a very passable impersonation and grinned down at her.
Janie, maintaining her angry stance, fought hard and did not smirk back.
‘So what’s just happened and who the heck are you?’ she managed.
‘Heck! Now “heck” I can handle coming from the lips of a beautiful babe like you – all that “fucking” back there earlier was doing my head in – it’s just not in keeping with your image I’m afraid.’
‘And what the fuck would you know about my image?’
‘Uh-huh,’ he grinned, scanning her up and down superciliously again, attempting another curl of the lip.
‘Name,’ she demanded, forcing herself to ignore the curling. ‘Just tell me your goddam name will you!’
‘Well I thought you’d never ask – Janie Davis…’ he started. ‘And here I was thinking you hadn’t even noticed I was alive…’ he stopped briefly and rubbed his chin, then ran a hand through his Elvis coiffure again. ‘Ahhh….’
‘I think we have a slight issue we need to deal with before we start getting too friendly.’
‘Which is?’
‘I think we might need to find somewhere to sit down. This is going to be weird.’
‘Uh-huh – I think so…um…’ he started staring about.
‘There’s nothing here to sit on,’ she decided for him. ‘Just tell me what the problem is will you? Then we have to try and get some help.’
He started rubbing both his cheeks with each hand as if he was trying to wake up and Janie sighed again.
‘What!?’ she demanded again. ‘Tell me what the fucking problem is!’
She retracted quickly as he held up a hand to quieten her. Really this man was possibly the rudest, most arrogant, selfish, inconsiderate… Elvis substitute she thought she’d ever met – and she’d met…. Um… well, only one – but records have to start somewhere don’t they? And when better than today?
‘What’s the last thing you remember?’ Elvis asked, his arms folded and his face bending down to meet hers. He was very tall. She didn’t think Elvis had been that tall – so ha! Not a very good impersonation then! He should have tried someone shorter like… oh, she didn’t know how tall singers were any more than he clearly didn’t. Oh, unless she was unusually short – which she’d never thought she was. Five foot eight was pretty average, she’d always imagined. Anyway – what was he going on about now?
‘Come on – what do you remember from – back then…’ he flicked a thumb in the general direction of their crumpled car wreck and frowned. ‘And then I’ll tell you what I remember. That way we’re part way to working out what the hell is going on here.’
Janie lifted her head to full height and clasped her skirt folds again. Seriously – this was weird. She couldn’t remember what she’d put on to wear this morning but it certainly hadn’t been a Maid Marion costume – in fact she didn’t even think she still had that outfit – it had been a good ten years since she’d…
‘Are you thinking or are you just trying to be really annoying?’ Elvis asked.
She frowned.
‘I left my house.’ She said finally.
‘Which is where?’
‘Actually I don’t think it was my house. What day is it again?’
‘It’s Fri..it’s… no wait, it’s Thursday. No. No, it’s not – it’s… Christmas was um…Christmas is really close – isn’t it?’
Even Elvis looked a little scared and confused now. And she was hoping he’d got a handle on this situation because she was mightily mystified right now. For all his rudeness and overconfidence and smirking, it felt to her like he was her only hope of making any sense of this situation and sadly she now found she had to agree with at least one thing he’d said so far.
This was most certainly going to be weird.
‘Can’t we just stick to where we are right now?’ Janie almost pleaded, her eyes darting back and forth across the calmest, brightest landscape she’d seen since summers at Morecambe Bay. Only with hills. Were there hills at Morecambe Bay? Whatever had happened to her in the car back then, it had obviously done some damage to her cornea or her retina or something because everything looked fuzzy, vague and unreal. In fact it was like looking out of a window through the nets – nothing was clear, nothing had any clarity and yet it was there – out there but not tangible. She shook her head and sniffed deeply.
‘Okay. Where are we?’ she tried.
‘Well I’d have thought that was obvious,’ Elvis said, rubbing the back of his neck with his hand and staring around as she’d just been doing. Janie realised he had no more idea than she had. Excellent. He must have suffered a detached retina or something too.
‘Our cars are... were… over there,’ he said pointing vaguely. ‘Perhaps we should start with them.’
Janie nodded. It sounded sensible.
‘Then shall we?’ He said holding out an outstretched arm and sounding as if he was asking to take her hand in the last waltz.
‘What’s your name?’ Janie asked as she fell into pace beside him. It seemed as good a question as any. Under the circumstances. What circumstances?
‘Evan.’ He replied.
‘Nice name.’ Shame it didn’t go with his personality, she added to herself. Twat. ‘What do you think’s happening to us?’
He stopped mid-step and did the rubbing the back of his neck thing again. She peered up into his eyes. He seemed deep in thought. Almost an impossibility.
‘Y’know what, Janie Davis,’ he said, bending his head slightly towards her. ‘If I’m not mistaken… and it has been known, believe me – although not that often I grant you… I’d say, hand on un-beating heart – that we are actually dead.’
A lukewarm chill crept over her skull. She’d half had that idea herself, in fact, but thought it way too ridiculous to actually voice – especially to this… this… person. Hey – wait a minute! She was thinking “creep” – now how had that description been replaced with “person” all of a sudden? What was this? Was she becoming less and less in control of any individual thought process? And why the fuck wasn’t the idea of being dead actually freaking her out? Why did it feel like Evan had told her they were merely a tad dehydrated and just needed a nice cup of tea to sort their predicament out? Hmm? And who was this woman whose face kept flashing through her mind… this fluffy-haired blue-eyed lady who looked so sad and swollen about the eyes… hang on a minute, didn’t she know her? She was becoming familiar… it was…was it? Her mother?
‘You getting anything weird happening in your head?’ Evan asked suddenly, pre-empting her thoughts.
Janie nodded.
‘Me too,’ he frowned.
‘Like what exactly?’ she tried. Let him speak first. He might just be winding me up.
‘Like I keep forgetting where I live – where I was and where I’m going?’ he said sheepishly. As if it would make him less of a man to admit it. What? Did he think it was going to kill him to open up a little?!
‘Uh-huh, me too. I think I just saw my mother in my head. Can’t be certain but I kinda knew I should know her – do you know what I mean?’
Evan nodded. ‘Hang on….’ He started. ‘So if we really are dead – then where’s the formal greeting party then? I mean, aren’t we suppose to be met by Saint Peter or somebody – or at least a handful of dead relatives, somebody we can connect with, surely? What’s the big deal here? Why are we all alone and why haven’t we been told what to do?’
‘And why don’t I feel angry or sad that I might be dead?’ Janie added. ‘I’m not even pissed off that I won’t find out if I got that promotion at work now – oh… I remembered I had a promotion – Jeez! My thoughts are all over the fucking place!’
‘But at least your language is consistent.’ Evan added dryly.
Janie ignored him, turned back to face the direction of their fused vehicles then retracted in alarm as she came face-to-face with someone who certainly hadn’t been there five seconds previously and who also certainly wasn’t any dead relative of hers that she could remember.
‘Stand back…! The voice ordered.

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Comments by other Members

Account Closed at 13:54 on 01 February 2009  Report this post
Hi Debs

I really like this chapter, flowing on from the previous one.

It's sort of an unusual premise, but one that you have handled well. The 'problem' with stories about the afterlife is that there are no baseline points of reference so that basically you can write whatever you want to as no one knows what it's like anyway. The important thing with having no point of refernce is to know that it is working, and I think this story works.

I like your take on the memory thing. It reminded me of a film I saw where precious memories were in bubbles that were gradually stolen (was it The Never Ending Story?) and it really appealed to me.

I can see the love interest between Janie and Evan growing and I love the way you have cast him as a young Elvis - very appealing! I was left wondering about the Maid Marion outfit, a great hook for the next bit.

I think the storyline conbined with your enchanting writing style makes this a winner.

Jacqui xx

Deborah at 07:17 on 02 February 2009  Report this post
Jacqui - thanks! I really appreciate that you think it works (so far...so good) and that - more importantly - that you like it.
It IS great having no point of reference, as you say, I can chuck in whatever takes my fancy and can't be slated for not reserching it thoroughly enough - I am having a lot of fun with this already - there are some proper 'live' people in in soon and it is amazing how quickly Evan and Janie have already become so real - 'dead real'!Thanks so much again - made my day!
Debs x

Caregan at 13:52 on 03 February 2009  Report this post
Hey Debs,

This is a great chapter, and as Karris said it flows beautifully from the first one - in fact it absolutely solves the niggles I had about Janie's POV from that one. I love the interaction between Evan and Janie - you've captured a wonderful frission of sexual tension there, and I can't wait to see how that develops. Loved the fancy dress, too!

Couldn't really see anything that screamed out for editing, so this is the smallest most miniscule nit-pick - in the line
A lukewarm chill crept over her skull

lukewarm chill felt like a bit of a contradiction in terms - would it work to rewrite this to something like
A chill crept over her skull like lukewarm water

But as I said, it's a tiny quibble that you should absolutely feel free to ignore. This is a lovely piece - witty and absorbing - great stuff!


Deborah at 14:07 on 03 February 2009  Report this post
Caregan - thank you! And I'm really glad you picked up on this little bit - I did a lot of pontificating over it myself!
Because of their "situation" I don't really want them to be 'experiencing' too much in the way of sensations - of touch, of smell, of anything properly - so I didn't want the 'chill' to be properly cold - does that make sense...? hence the lukewarm and I knew it would read strange - in anything 'usual' - but this isn't a usual situation so I wanted an 'unusual sensation' to help it feel 'Otherworldly' - does that make the slightest bit of sense?
I'm so glad you like it and thank you so much for taking time out to read and say such nice things about it!
Debs x

Forbes at 10:48 on 04 February 2009  Report this post
Just read this and I agree about the flowing, it does that very nicely.

One picky point, if they are dead at the scene, do ambulances put on the flashing lights & sirens to take the remains away? & why aren't the car removers there & the other emergency services? Sorry to be pedantic & I know that's not the main thrust of the story! But it occurred to me as I read.

I hope the excuse me voice is going to do some serious explaining, as I want some on their behalf!

Gripping stuff.



Deborah at 10:28 on 05 February 2009  Report this post
Hi Avis, and thanks for this - you're absolutely right - in fact when I read it back over I thought "ah... missed something there - better get the LIVE facts straight because there's going to be a lot of made up ones *on the other side*". Thanks! Will get the emergency services involved sooon as!
Debs x

pachelbel at 04:40 on 08 February 2009  Report this post
I like where this seems to be going Debs! It's an unusual idea but there is definitely a growing market for paranormal chicklit.

I only have one little niggle: in my head, which is a terrifying place to be, Elvis says 'Uh-huh-huh' with one extra syllable. At least, that's what he was saying when I was reading it but there were only two syllables written down. A tiny point, but all I could find!

A x

Deborah at 17:30 on 08 February 2009  Report this post
Annie, do you mean the REAL Elvis
says 'Uh-huh-huh' with one extra syllable
or do you mean the one here says that - because I couldn't find where you mean?
D x

manicmuse at 14:52 on 10 February 2009  Report this post
Debs, great stuff as usual.Want to know now whose the voice is. More? Fx

Deborah at 16:21 on 10 February 2009  Report this post
Thanks, Fi - more on the way soon.
D x

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