This was a strange place.
I had been walking for hours, days, possibly even years.
I could not tell. It felt like an eternity, yet the sun had not set even once since I first found myself here. The sky was the same, clouds hovering motionless in the sky. It was nothing but a vast desert of sand. But how the hell had I gotten here in the first place?
I never remembered entering this desert. As though I had been daydreaming, I just found myself walking through this place. I longed for food and water, but I was not really hungry or thirsty in the true sense of it. I just wanted to get out of here as soon as possible.
I guess I was dead.
With no bearings whatsoever, I simply decided to avoid walking in circles by walking as far as possible in as straight a line as I could manage. And yet, there was a rock I saw on the first day, and I swear I passed by that very same rock, every single day.
One day though, I saw the sign. It was a very peculiar sign. It was just a small, wooden arrow-shaped sign; And on it read, 'Lost?'
Now I knew I was dead.
Well, it sounded quite suspicious to me. Of course I couldn't think of anywhere else to go. So I followed the sign.
Eventually, going in the direction the sign pointed to I saw the last thing I would have expected. In the distance I could see a patch of grass. This grass was shockingly green and vibrant. It was just one small patch of grass, and on it stood the very last thing I would ever have expected to see in a desert. Ah yes, the grass wasn't enough, was it?
He stood there, striking ball after ball into the distance. I could not see what was beyond him yet, so I ran up to him. I tried yelling too, to get his attention, but he appeared to ignore me.
Oh great. A golfer who's an arsehole.
I ran right up to his side. And I almost fell over a cliff. Yeah, I was shocked. This golfer had just been standing before this huge gaping cliff, hitting ball after ball into whatever was below. I could not see the bottom. It was shrouded in a thick mist.
The golfer took his golfballs from two buckets on the ground, to his left. Behind the buckets there was a huge box, but it was closed so I did not know what it contained. He reached into his bucket and picked up the very last golfball, placed it on the ground and gave it a good, hard bash, sending it flying far off the cliff, disappearing into the distance.
Then he squatted down and opened the box. And in the box were many tiny boxes. He opened each tiny box, and inside each box was a golfball. All this while he had not spoken to me or even glanced at me. He just kept collecting golfballs and placing them in the buckets.
When the buckets were finally full, he picked out one last little box from the bigger box. He looked at it for a slightly longer moment than he had looked at the others. He glanced at me for a moment.
I just stood there staring at him, and I had no clue to what was going on. I probably looked pretty stupid. He smirked, put the golf ball in his pocket and turned to continue playing his golf.
"So, Dave, what brings you to this place?"
I was shocked. How did he know my name? I struggled to think of an answer.
Then I looked at what I was wearing. Oh. I was still in my EZ-Mart uniform. Strange, how I never noticed it until now. I had a big embarrassing badge on my chest which read, 'Glad to be of service to you! My name is DAVE!'
The damned thing even had a bloody smiley face on it.
"Oh hey, don't say 'damned' around here, friend. Don't even think it." He turned towards me and grinned. "That's a very touchy word around these parts."
Okay, by now I'm freaking out.
"You muttered it out loud. 'Damned thing.'" He winked. "Just don't. But don't worry about it; I'm not the one who's offended. Here, want a go?"
He picked a ball from the bucket and threw it to me. Then he passed me the golf club and patted me on the shoulder. "Don't worry, friend. Just try it. It's fun."
I placed the golfball on the ground and I swung as hard as I could. Even as I looked out into the distance, my face flushed red when I realized that I had not hit the ball at all. It still sat there on the ground, almost grinning at me.
"Just swing it, friend. Don't worry about the club." He demonstrated a swing. "It's okay for the club to hit the grass. Just swing low."
And so I did.
On my third try I had the ball flying through the air, and for some reason I felt an amazing feeling of achievement. Success.
"Feels good, doesn't it?"
I nodded. This guy is pretty alright after all.
He let me play for him, hitting golfball after golfball into the distance. He sat down on top of the box and rested there for a while.
"It's fun, sure, but doing it the whole day? It can get real tiring."
Eventually both buckets were nearly empty. He got up and started stretching.
"Well, it's been nice chatting with you. You're a fine guy. ' The golfer pulled the last golfball out of his pocket. He placed it on the ground.
"Have a last swing before I head home."
I stood over the ball, looked out into the misty distance, and then took a good, hard swing. But while the ball flew through the air, I heard a strange sound. In fact I think I had heard it before. Just that it was not this loud. It was the sound of chains, running across the ground. The sound was near, as though it was right at my feet.
But I could not see anything on the ground.
"Yup, it's at your feet alright."
The golfer walked over, and with his finger, flicked me on the forehead. Suddenly I could see, hear and smell everything that I did not sense before.
This was not a desert.
It was a huge vast plain of barren land and cracked clay. But it was not empty. I had not been alone. There were people everywhere. From where I stood to the furthest my eyes could see, people wandered around, moaning, groaning, and looking just as lost as I was.
"They're souls, Dave. Lost souls. This is where you come before the big 'uns decide where you go."
Most of them wandered around lost. But where we stood, in front of the box, there was a long line of souls. The golfer took a little box out of the big box, and removed the golfball. Now I could see it. A long, glowing chain connected the golf ball to the chest of the first soul in line.
"Only a week ago, you were working at the EZ-Mart as usual. Going about your daily work and whatnot. Then your colleague told you that they were all out of canned pea
soup. Since it was a busy day with lots of customers, you opted to go in to get the pea soup on your own and let your colleagues serve the customers."
The golfer took out a cigarette and put it in his mouth.
He winked at me and lighted the cigarette, without touching it. He just
snapped his fingers and his cigarette was lit.
By now I wasn't really even surprised anymore.
"Now, the pea soup cartons were placed pretty high on the cupboards because they rarely ever went out of stock. Who drinks pea soup in your town anyway, right? But people still bought it from time to time. Anyway, you climbed up to get it, you lost your balance, you fell, and the pea soup carton fell onto you and broke your neck, and then you came here."
I welled up with a mix of confusion, fear, and most of all, anger. "Where the hell am I?"
He grinned again, took a long pull from his cigarette, then he looked at me again to resume his grinning. For a moment there, I thought I saw his eyes sink back into his
sockets and disappear completely. Then I realized that I had not imagined it.
"You're a lost soul too, Dave."
The golfer chuckled and flicked his cigarette off the cliff. "Whoooooo... Look at it fly... Looooonng way down! Wondering what the chain's for, Dave?"
"It' s to make sure there' s enough time for me to make you leave feeling really fucked-up." The bastard grinned again. "Yes, the grinning's supposed to annoy you extra. You're probably wondering what you did to deserve coming here, but, hell - I don't actually care. That's not in my job description."
"Oh, and in case you're really blunt and you still don't get it, that golfball you just hit was yours."
I moved forward to run up to him to punch him. But at the moment of my first step, I realized that the sound of running chains stopped.
The golfer started laughing wildly; the sound of which refocused all my emotions. No anger now, nothing. Only fear. His face warped, into a something that was less a face than a mess of eyes and teeth. Then he froze, cracked, and crumbled into dust, that was blown off with the wind. But his laughter never ended.
That's when I saw my own chain, connected to my chest, pull taut, and then I felt my feet lift off the ground, and as I flew off the cliff I came to realize that I was headed straight for Hell.