What is there after death?
According to Christianity, you are judged by your actions from when you were alive. You could experience eternal paradise in Heaven or eternal punishment in Hell. You are unable to get a second chance at life and have to remain where you are.
Likewise in Greek mythology, you are also judged by your actions during your time alive. Consequently, you are placed either in the Fields of Asphodel, the Elysian Fields, or Tartarus. A neutral area, paradise, or punishment respectively. However, unlike Christianity, the Greeks believed in reincarnation and the fact that souls could be reborn again.
Buddhism teaches about an endless cycle of rebirth, or samsara. Depending on your karma, or the merit of your actions, you are reborn into one of the six realms, some of which are not even human. While the ultimate end goal of Buddhism is to reach nirvana, some traditional practices center on gaining kushala.
Though most religions have different beliefs on what happens to you when you die, most agree on one a few aspects. That where you end up after your death depends on your actions while you were alive. And that your body is nothing more than a glorified container for your soul or spirit.
Lucas pondered about what was waiting for him. He wasn’t a religious guy, but what he was currently experiencing went against everything he was taught. Being dead meant that someone was unable to think, but he was doing that just fine. He knew that he was dead, he was absolutely sure, but he had assumed that death was like falling asleep and never waking up. It was so bizarre that he assumed that he was dreaming at first. Whatever he expected was waiting for him after his death, this definitely wasn’t it.
A large, expansive field of particles filled his entire vision. An endless flat plane of black and white particles whizzing back and forth, like a really large static TV screen. The sky was completely white, blinding almost. In the corner of his eye, a blob of glowing particles caught his attention. Looking down, he realized that he was no longer in his body. What he was in now, was an amorphous, pulsating, aggregation of a bunch of glowing fragments.
He focused his attention on one of the particles when it suddenly changed shape. It flattened itself into a triangle, and then began to rapidly expand outward and solidified into a screen. Lucas raised his shapeless arm towards the screen and touched it. From the point of contact, the particles began to reorganize themselves into an image. He moved his body back a bit and looked at the whole picture
A cold chill went down his spine as he gazed upon the image. It showed the memory of his 6th birthday. It was an ordinary party with his friends and family, but that was the day when he first tried strawberry and chocolate together. He had quickly fallen in love with the combination and had loved it ever since. The memory itself didn’t scare him. No, it was the fact that he had forgotten about it.
His vision shook as he collapsed on his hands and knees. What else had he forgotten? What other aspects of his identity have been taken from him?
His attention focused on the ground beneath him. Upon a closer look, he realized that they weren’t just black and white particles moving around. It was a tiny black and white image of people. His memories. Hundreds of thousands of millions of tiny minuscule fragments playing out every second of his entire life. Each scene lasted only a few seconds, before quickly moving on to the next. Around half of them were purely black, which he assumed was when he was asleep. Of the rest, a large amount of them was extremely simplified, without much detail.
Suddenly, a loud crack echoed throughout the previously silent field. Lucas looked up and stared in abject horror. The screen that had been playing his past had splintered. Although it was still playing various memories, large cracks had now spread across it.
The sides were also starting to fall apart. The edges were slowly disintegrating into nothingness, steadily approaching the center of the screen.
“No,” he muttered, “no, no, no, no.” Scrambling towards the screen. He attempted to slow down the destruction of the screen. But there was nothing that could be done. All of his efforts were in vain, and he slowly watched as it inevitably crumbled away. Once again, he collapsed onto the ground, staring blankly into the blinding brightness of the sky, when he realized something.
The screen wasn’t the only thing that was crumbling away.
The edges of the vast, expansive field that seemingly went on forever were now visible. And they were approaching fast. He had already failed once trying to prevent the destruction of the screen, and he knew that there was nothing that he could do. He sat down and stared at the approaching edge.
And he waited.
And waited some more.
And then he got bored.
There was nothing for Lucas to do except to await his impending demise. And so, he decided to take matters into his own hands. He quickly moved to the edge of the field, which didn’t take him as long as he had expected. Looking across the field caused a mild headache. The top half of the area was a blinding white shining the entirety of the fields. The bottom half was inky darkness absorbing any and all light. And there he was, in the middle of both extremes.
“Well then. It's time to face the inevitable.”
Lucas moved back a bit to get a running start. He sped up and was about to jump into the void when his foothold disappeared. Instead of diving in as he had planned, he tripped and fell inside. He looked up at the field of his memories and watched it slowly fall apart. He watched until there was nothing left. Until the darkness of the bottom consumed the light of the top. And then he knew nothing.
Or so Lucas thought.
His first thought was something like:
Wait a minute I’m not dead.
Followed almost immediately by:
I THINK MY NOSE IS BURNING OFF!
A horrific combination of feces, urine, blood, saliva, mixed with the smells of wet dogs, rain, various kinds of wood, some animals, dirt, and some flowers. They smelled more complex than he remembered. As if they had layers, like onions and ogres. Along with scents that he had remembered, there were some that he did not recognize. They felt familiar, however, like he knew what they were but didn’t.
The scents had a wide variety of strengths. The scents of animals were the closest, which was the main cause of his suffering. The plants had a wide range of strength, with the scent of trees being the most common.
Under the assault of the worst combination of scents he had smelled in both of his lives, he opened his eyes.
His third thought went kind of like this:
Where did all of the colors go?
The entire world looked as if it had been bleached out. Everything looked blueish, yellowish, or a combination of the two. The leaves outside, which should have been green, weren’t. They looked yellowish, but not the kind of vibrant yellow in fall, a more subdued grey-yellow.
His field of view was also wider, which caused him to be a little disoriented. His improved peripheral vision only worsened that headache. Every little movement caused his eyes to look towards said movement.
The world became blurry closer than he had remembered. What he should have been able to see clearly was now a blue, yellow, and grey blur. He was still able to detect movement at that range. The smallest of motions caused his vision to shift, causing him to rarely look at the same thing for an extended period of time.
It was then he saw his snout.
As soon as he saw it, he knew that he was no longer human. It was brown on top and white on the sides, with a black nose in the front. The improved smell could be chalked up to biotechnology. And the weird sight could be color contacts.
But that snout was definitely a wolf’s snout.
If it was a fake, then it was done incredibly well. He could see the individual hairs and pieces of stuff stuck in them.
And then he felt his nose twitch.
And he saw the nose twitch.
And then he sneezed.
As his body jolted, it felt as if he was wearing full-body spandex and someone brushed millions of feathers over him. It wasn’t exactly unpleasant, and it felt kind of nice.
The sneeze caused some of the nearby wolves to wake up, and one of them yawned and stretched.
Instinctively, Lucas followed suit, and that was his first bad decision in this new world.