“Carol of the Bells”

(c) Katie Mattiuz 2015

(c) Katie Mattiuz 2015

There was a flash of pure white light and a clang.

“What do you believe?”

The voice came from his right, the clang apparently from the church steeple in front of him, and the white light from parts unknown. It still stung his eyes.

“What do you believe?”

Anderson turned to the voice and was surprised to find a man in his sixties, clean shaven, and sun worn, wearing clothing from an era a hundred years prior to his own.

“Who are you?” Anderson said.

“My name is Basil,” the man said.

“What is going on exactly?” Anderson said.

He looked around at his surroundings. On the surface they appeared to be on a quiet residential street on a quiet winter’s night. In front of them was a gothic, cathedral-like church. The clock tower read 11:59 and the bells soothed a familiar carol of the season. The song now felt as though it was playing only in Anderson’s head, not clanging as it did when they initially popped up on the street.

“I will answer that. First, please tell me, what do you believe?”

“I don’t believe in this,” Anderson said, gesturing to the church.

“I didn’t ask what you don’t believe in,” Basil said and cleared his throat.

“Well,” Anderson said and considered the question again. “I believe in the soul…the cock…the pussy…the small of a woman’s back…the hanging curveball…high fiber…good scotch…that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent crap…I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a Constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf, and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve, and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.”

Basil considered this with a smirk.

“While Crash Davis was charming and Bull Durham was a wonderful film, I didn’t ask for his beliefs,” Basil said.

Anderson took a deep breath and was surprised no steam appeared when he exhaled as he was becoming heated.

“I believe in nothing,” Anderson said.

“Then that is where you will go next,” Basil said and placed his hand on Anderson’s shoulder.

“Wait,” Anderson said. “Why did we come here?”

“What do you remember before these past few moments?”

Anderson searched his cache. He remembered Georgia’s life-affirming smile being the last thing he saw the previous night. He remembered going to work that day. He remembered giving the pizza girl an extra tip because he was feeling generous. He remembered Christmas mornings with his family, and New Year’s Eve last year with his friends. He remembered hating how cynical and disconnected he felt the world had become. He remembered hating how people used religion and buildings like the one before him for their own selfish means. He remembered wanting nothing more than nights in bed with Georgia that would last forever.

“A lot of things,” Anderson finally said.

“What is the best of the lot?” Basil said.


Anderson was torn from the conversation by lights that appeared to originate from the street and, seemingly, out of nowhere. When he focused on the source he recognized a yellow cab, also from a bygone era. The subtle sound of the “Carol of the Bells” that had been background music for his uber-odd conversation with Basil, was now replaced by the sound of “Feliz Navidad” blaring from the taxi’s interior. The weirdest part was the driver was a drop-dead doppelganger for Santa Claus, who, as he drove-by, appeared to be giving Anderson and Basil the middle finger salute.

“Oh Nick,” Basil chuckled. “Must be having another of his crises. Seems to happen every few decades.”

“What the actual fuck is going on?” Anderson said as the red lights of the taxi fled around the corner.

“You are in what has been called by various cultures as limbo, or purgatory. On one planet they call it *#(&$^@*()^@*)*@^&$^%$($)(@)*)#@%@%@%@, which has always confused me because on another planet, that means **************************#&@#$@!)(!). But I am just a monitor, or a guardian.”

“I’m dead?”

“Almost, but not really,” Basil said. “I’ll explain it the easiest way I can. You are at a point in the existence of your soul where it is ready to move on, however, the last physical presence, your body, is not ready for it to leave – ”

“So – ”

“Please Anderson, let me continue. The universe is endless and timeless and souls are not limited to what you refer to as, living things. Every particle has a soul or life force and because these life forces are a part of the endless universe, they are also infinite. Some souls remain in the same physical form for eternity, and some jump more than that Kriss Kross song suggests. For a thousand earth years, your soul was in a tiny dust particle located in the Andromeda galaxy. It jumped from there because it wanted to experience being an earth human,” Basil said.

“Alright”, Anderson said.

Are you alright?”

“Not even close.”

“The reason we are here is, like I said, because your last physical presence is not ready for the soul to jump. The dust particle was entirely indifferent and shrugged its tiny dust shoulders when you left and another popped in.”

“So my body has a consciousness?” Anderson said.

“Think of it as all a part of the consciousness of the universe, just with different divisions.”

“So then what can we do?”

“Well, I brought you here to show you where your soul is to go next and see if your body will accept that. When there is a disconnect between physical form and soul movement, that is when we step in as arbitrators. We want harmony throughout the universe and if that can be facilitated, then we intervene.”

“So I have a choice then?”

“Yes. You can choose to go to the bells in that steeple and provide song for people to enjoy or go back to your last fulfilling memory and live out the remainder of this physical form. What do you believe in the most?” Basil said.

The white flash filled Anderson’s vision again and he felt cold. There was absolute silence. As he began to acclimatize to his new surroundings, things slowly took shape. He felt a warmth creep in around him.

“Are you asleep?” Georgia said.

“Not yet,” Anderson whispered.

He cracked his eyes a sliver and the clock by his bed read 11:59pm. Anderson turned his body from one side to the other to face the middle of the bed and Georgia’s waiting smile.

“Did you want to get the tree tomorrow and decorate it? We can make mulled wine and bake – ”

“Yes,” he said. “Everything yes.”


About jtkwriting

Writer living in Toronto. "Sneak out of your window darling, let's live like outlaws honey." View all posts by jtkwriting

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