Salvation Syndrome

October 19, 2011
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A small, precise pain. That’s all that I felt; the rest of my body feeling as though it was floating, like I was a ghost. It was like my entire being revolved around one tiny throbbing in the crook of my elbow, near the vein. I opened my eyes and was assaulted by a bright light. It was unbearable. The sun itself couldn’t compare to the impenetrable, all-consuming whiteness I was in. I grimaced and shut my eyes again.

“Intense, isn’t it?” A voice to my right said. Without meaning to, I sat up and saw a dapper old man in an impeccable white suit. He smiled, and I immediately liked him.

“Am I dead?” I asked. I wasn’t really concerned, just curious.

The old man shrugged. “You feel dead?”

I shook my head. “I’m not sure. My arm hurts. Can you hurt when you’re dead?”

The old man shrugged again. It seemed as though he could answer any question with that shrug. I sat up farther and the whiteness faded slightly. I looked down and saw that I was wearing hospital scrubs.

“Where am I?” I asked.

Sure enough, he shrugged again. But this time he added “Why don’t you follow me.” I stood up and followed the old man through the harsh white. We walked for awhile and I began to make out silhouettes moving just beyond the reach of my sight.

“Who are they?” I asked.

The old man stopped. “They are like you. Test subjects.” He stopped a young man as he got close, placing a hand on his shoulder. This man didn’t have scrubs like mine but instead was wearing jeans and t-shirt, though he was soaking wet.

The old man lifted the young man’s hand and stared at it for a moment before mumbling, “Subject 1354. His car went over a bridge overpass and into a river. He was on his way home from school.” He patted the young man on the cheek, and he walked away, dripping onto the bright white floor.

“And he’s not dead?” I asked, skeptical.

The old man sighed and said “No, not yet anyway.”

We continued to walk until we came to what looked to be a park bench, painted white of course, and sat down. We sat for awhile, not saying anything, and I was content to sit there forever. It seemed as though I had become endowed with patience as voluminous as the white. The old man sniffed and then pulled a handkerchief out of his suit and blew his nose.

“I know for a fact that you’re not worried. We built it that way. But I feel compelled to tell you; I tell everybody. That’s my job you see, I’m the tour guide.” He nodded to himself. “You see Michael; I work for an enigmatic force, a mysterious company if you will. Our job is a depressing one, to say the least. A lot of lost souls end up in here, and it’s out job to figure out whether or not to send them back. Do we make a believer out of you? Or do we let you take the ride.” He pointed to a shiny white elevator a few yards away from them.

“So I’m not dead.” I said.

The old man nodded. “No you’re not. But you could be. You see, if we send you back, there is a return that is expected. It’s different for everyone, and that’s why we take the time to decide whether or not you’re worth bringing back.”

I finally felt something new to this world. Anger. It sparked for a moment deep in my chest.

The old man slowly turned towards me and smiled. “Yeah, I get that a lot. But this is a very powerful thing we’re dealing here. Life.” He smiled again.

“It’s not up to you who lives or who dies,” I said. “That is God’s work.”

He nodded again. “No doubt. I believe in heaven son, and God. But this isn’t heaven and I’m not Him.”

“How long has this been going on?” I asked.

The old man stroked his white beard. “A long time. You know how people say they saw the light at the end of the tunnel? Right before they are brought back to the real world? That’s us.” He chuckled and said “And with the way you people live, business is booming.”

“What happens to people who don’t return the favor?” I ask.

The smile disappeared. “No one has ever tried it. It’s too easy to reel you back in here.” He patted me on the knee. “Don’t fret though. I just received the signal. You’re headed back in.”

“What is expected of me?” I asked, frightened to know.

“You’ll know it when you wake up.”

“CLEAR!” A shock shot through my chest. I heard someone in the background yelling excitedly. “He’s back! We’ve got a pulse!”

I floated away.
I woke up a few hours later in a hospital bed, still in my scrubs. I sat up slowly in my bed, trying not to loosen any of the tubes they had poked into me. I glimpsed a man in a brown trench coat leaving the room, a brief case in one hand, and a syringe in the other. He glanced over his shoulder at me, and winked.

I shivered, and then lifted up my arm; right in the crook of my elbow, a tiny pinprick.

Join the Discussion

This article has 13 comments. Post your own now!

Danealle said...
Nov. 11, 2011 at 3:00 pm
The story is good overall, but I would be careful with generalizations. Remember your version of "impeccable" and "dapper" are different for everyone. 
Emiri said...
Nov. 4, 2011 at 2:13 pm
Hahaha.... old man comes back to the real world. I like what you did with the "light at the end of teh tunnel" thing people always hear about. And teh slight...what is it? ominous? dark?... part of the old man. But I would like to have a better description of this place. More knowledge of the organization here. Other than that... i like it. said...
Nov. 3, 2011 at 8:38 pm
I don't think I can add on anymore to what the others have said, but it's inthralling and the plot is good. 
AntWrangler13 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 3, 2011 at 11:17 am

This is such a captivating story, the description holds you, and, it may sound cliched, but I just couldn't stop reading. If you've ever watched the movie Ghost, it reminded me where Patrick Swayze is in the hospital, and he finds out he's dead. :) Like CarrieAnn said, it does need some correcting, but I can't deny this is an amazing piece. Keep writing :D


Kvothe28 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 3, 2011 at 5:28 pm
Thank you, and I will. =)
Little.Miss said...
Nov. 1, 2011 at 3:25 pm

This was pretty good. It doesn't completely forget about God and what really happens, and it's interesting. It doesn't need a tad bit of work though, as CarrieAnn13 pointed out.

Good luck and keep writing! :)

CarrieAnn13 said...
Nov. 1, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Great story.  But first, I have a bit of criticism.

1.  ‘But this time he added “Why don’t you follow me.”  You need a comma after added and the period should really be a question mark.

2.  “They are like you.  Test subjects.”  You do really well with your dialogue until ‘They are…’  I rarely hear people say both words properly.  It’s usually a contraction (ie: they’re), so... (more »)

Kvothe28 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 1, 2011 at 5:35 pm
Thank you so much for giving me such in-depth feedback. I really appreciate it. =)
PaigeStreet This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 1, 2011 at 12:44 am
This is truly original. I'm impressed and pretty curious about this whole organization! I don't have any other constructive feedback, sorry. 
JillianNora said...
Oct. 25, 2011 at 7:49 am
Really, really great idea. Well written, perfect grammar, superb idea. I would definitely read the rest:) (if you're bored, I'd love some feedback on my novel "Stuck in the Past":)
Kvothe28 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Oct. 25, 2011 at 5:18 pm
Thank you so much. I'll read your piece soon. =)
applesauceHater said...
Oct. 24, 2011 at 10:58 pm
Two things; first is you got pretty good grammer and sentence fluency and such(I look for this when reading because otherwise it becomes unbearable), so thumbs up!:)Anywho, second; this is AAAA PIECCCCCEEEE FORRRR SURRREE!!!!!!!!!! Dude! Write the rest. I was hooked from sentence one.
Kvothe28 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Oct. 25, 2011 at 5:19 pm
Thank you! I wasn't sure if this could stand on its own or not... =)
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