An essay by Dr Quintum Magnamaby, as provided by J. R. Hampton
Art by Luke Spooner
For this report, I have implicitly assumed that there is an afterlife. This may not be so. There are three possibilities:
- There is an afterlife.
- The afterlife exists as a hypothesis based on infinite impossibilities, which can be regularly tested and proven by repeated lack of evidence.
- There is no afterlife. The arbitrary observations are evidence of a deluded mind, and anyone encountering such should immediately seek medical attention at once.
In this account, I will share my observations on my own pesonal experience of the underworld and describe for the atheist the correct protocol, should they unexpectedly find themselves there.
I clambered and skidded down the path, too afraid to know or care what I was doing, and before I knew it, I found myself standing just a few feet from a large beast. It regarded me with little interest, having plenty already to chew on. A length of dripping intestine was hanging from its gnashing jaws, and its face was glistening with blood. Its pink gums displayed a rack of stained teeth, and its rancid breath, together with the hot fetid air of the chasm, combined into a stench so overpowering that my eyes were streaming, and I was overcome with nausea. I reached into my pocket and slowly took out my camera. Testing the angle, I pressed the button. Click, a selfie with the great mythological beast, Cerberus.
1. Check the Expiry Date
In which we learn how to respond appropriately to the dead.
It was now almost impossible to comprehend that only hours before, I’d been sat in the living room of a student’s house, invited by someone I vaguely knew, attending what could only be described as an unsuccessful attempt at a New Year’s Eve party.
The New Year had arrived as unceremoniously as I had departed. Unable to catch a taxi and unwilling to accept a lift from a bearded economics student, I took a shortcut through the woods.
The entrance to the underworld is as unspectacular as it is frustrating. I don’t know whether it was the three shots of jellified vomit, out of date cocktail sausages, and soggy pretzels that I had consumed previously, or the overwhelming cordiality thrust upon me by a man who insisted that I called him Leo, which made me agree to go. I followed him through a small burrow and stumbled down a stone spiral staircase, which cautiously reminded you to “Mind your head” when the surface was uneven and “Uneven floor” after a brick had hit your head.
To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Autumn 2016 collection.
Dr Magnamaby is a theoretical physicist at the London College of Hypothetical Science. His papers on the tangled cosmic helix, swirly black bits in space, and the social habits of muon neutrinos have been widely praised and published in peer-reviewed journals. The smallest object in the asteroid belt, Magnamaby B4C1, is named after him.
J. R. Hampton is a writer based in Coventry, United Kingdom. His stories have appeared at Tethered by Letters, Flash Fiction Magazine, Hoot, and The Flash Fiction Press. He writes sci-fi, humor, and mysteries.
Luke Spooner a.k.a. ‘Carrion House’ currently lives and works in the South of England. Having recently graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a first class degree he is now a full time illustrator for just about any project that piques his interest. Despite regular forays into children’s books and fairy tales his true love lies in anything macabre, melancholy or dark in nature and essence. He believes that the job of putting someone else’s words into a visual form, to accompany and support their text, is a massive responsibility as well as being something he truly treasures. You can visit his web site at www.carrionhouse.com.
“An Atheist’s Guide to the Afterlife” is © 2016 J. R. Hampton
Art accompanying story is © 2016 Luke Spooner