The Grim Kingdom

Cedric awakes after a car accident to find himself in a world filled with strange and wondrous things, only to be told he is actually in a coma. Will he escape the madness or give up and become a 'lifer'?

Cedric had nothing against trees. They provided him with shade and oxygen and natural beauty, and although they occasionally dumped leaves on the ground that he would have to collect and be rid of, he certainly didn't want to do them any harm as a result.

Of course, he didn't want to harm his car, either, or himself, but, for some unknown reason, the urge to not do harm to a particularly out-of-it bird perched in the middle of the road overruled any sense of self-, tree-, or car-preservation, and thus he came to be in the unfortunate position of having a trunk in the back of his car and a trunk in the front of his car.

His last conscious thought was that he'd always assumed being in an accident would hurt a lot more.

He awoke in a hospital bed, which he sort of expected after a flash of thought reminded him of what had happened before he blacked out, but something didn't seem right. After studying his surroundings for a a moment, he figured out what it was; the green lines on the heart-rate monitor were forming not the typical spiking graph, but instead simple sheet music.

Or maybe it was actually the fact that his saline drip was glowing blue. Or that the sensors that were always stuck to people's bodies on TV were not in fact stuck to him, but were instead latched onto him with strange, toothless mouths (as soon as he found this out he tore them off and threw them to the floor, where they flailed for a moment and then were still). Or that the television bolted to the wall was displaying a video of him, lying in a much more normal looking hospital room, unconscious, his mother and father sitting beside him looking worried.

As Cedric noticed more and more small details out of place in the room he currently inhabited, he couldn't help but look at the scene on the screen with a certain amount of longing. Sure, it was a little melancholy, but it was normal, and right now, there was very little he wanted more than some normalcy.

"Oh, you won't be seeing anything normal for a long, long time," said a voice.

Cedric thought he saw something in the direction the sound seemed to be coming from, but when he turned his head, there was nothing there but another corner of the strange hospital room. The voice let out a light, airy, and yet somehow insane tinkling of laughter, and though Cedric turned toward what seemed to be the source of both what he was hearing and catching fleeting glimpses of, he again found nothing was there.

"If I keep talking, will you keep doing that all day?"

Cedric at first turned his head toward the voice, but upon finding its supposed source had moved again, still talking all the while, he instead stared in the new direction through the corners of his eyes, not moving his head at all.

This new approach paid off, and he could make out the form of an absurdly tall man-shaped creature over by the window, hunched over so his (its?) torso wouldn't extrude into the room above. His legs alone were feet taller than Cedric, and yet they seemed to have very little meat on them. He was wearing a full formal suit, complete with a top hat and cane, but not one piece of the ensemble could seem to make up its mind on whether it was blue, red, or purple, sometimes being more than one at once in a way that made Cedric's head spin.

"Oh, you're a bright one, aren't you?" said the voice proudly. "It takes most of them a lot longer than that to find me."

Cedric tried to look at the creature's face, and thought for a moment he'd seen his brother. The shock of this caused him to rapidly turn his head to make sure he'd seen correctly, but this of course made the man disappear entirely. He waited patiently for the man to speak again, so he could once again espy him through his peripherals, but he was met only with silence. A long, quiet minute dragged by before he heard the voice again.

"Are you just going to lie there forever? That's no fun at all."

Cedric glanced straight ahead and could just barely make out the sink to his left, in which the creature was now sitting, the entire manner in which he did so highly improbable. His face now resembled a kid Cedric had gone to highschool with, and then a past girlfriend's, and then one that he couldn't place, even though it was tantalizingly familiar. All of this shifting happened nearly in the blink of an eye, and Cedric simply could not handle looking at it anymore, so he stared right at the man, causing him to disappear once more.

"Where am I?" Cedric asked, ignoring the thing's own question.

"The Grim Kingdom," said the voice, as if this was quite obvious. Which, of course, it was not, but before Cedric could inquire, the voice went on. "Or so I call it. Others call it The Buffer. Or Limbo. Or one of many other names. That which you would call this place, it is. The last one to come through here decided on 'Coma Land' in the end, but he didn't make it, so I wouldn't trust his opinion."

This speech garnered many more questions than it answered, the most pressing (in Cedric's mind) being "So... where am I?", "Why would he call it Coma Land?", and "What do you mean, 'he didn't make it'?". He didn't even have a chance to ask these questions, though, before the odd creature answered them.

"To answer your first two questions, you are in the place where humans in comas go. I cannot be more specific than that. 'Coma Land' may not be the most original name for this place, but it does a good job of summing it up. As for the third question, you know very well what I mean. 'Coma Land' man is dead."

Cedric ignored the part about the dead man (it was really of no concern to him, for reasons he considered very good, what happened to this other man) and focused on the coma bits. "So what you're telling me is that you are a figment of my imagination, and I am actually in a coma right now? You, this room, the dead guy, this entire mess, it's all just strange comatose delusions?" Cedric laughed. "Why am I even bothering to talk to you?" he mumbled bemusedly.

"That depends. This place is a state of mind brought upon by the fact that you are in a coma just as much as heaven and hell are states of mind brought upon by death."

Cedric, frankly, did not buy it. But the creature kept on selling it anyway.

"You lead a good life, you die, you go to heaven. You lead a bad life, you die, you to go hell. You lead any life, you fall into a coma, you come here. The good news, though, is that unlike heaven and hell, you can leave this place."

"Wonderful," said Cedric, rather unappreciatively. "Then send me on my way, will you?"

"If it worked that way, Cedric, all comas would last five minutes."

Cedric didn't quite care about this development. He was still convinced this was all just a very, very strange coma-dream, even if the creature had the coma part right.

"Suit yourself," said the creature, whose mind-reading might have bothered Cedric if he wasn't dreaming. "But it's the ones like you who end up sitting here doing nothing until someone decides to pull the plug on the outside. They're the 'lifers', the die-ers.. You don't want to become one of them."

Cedric relaxed further into the hospital bed, doing a valiant job of ignoring all the strangeness surrounding him, and stared defiantly at the TV. He had found a strange remote and was trying, with no success at all, to change the channel — everything on TV was the same image of his parents sadly watching his inert body.

"I cannot do any more, Cedric. It's up to you to decide what happens now. You can stay here for the rest of your life if that is what you wish. As soon as you give up the will to fight, you go into autopilot and pass the rest of your life without consciousness. Or, you can leave this room and find your way out of here. The door to the Grim Kingdom is open, Cedric, all you have to do is get out of bed and do something."

The End

26 comments about this story Feed