All but running down the stairs of his Washington, DC, apartment building, Matt Brown was clearly energized for the day ahead. He finally had the goods to nail Carl Keller. Although, even with his newfound evidence, Matt knew this wasn’t going to be an easy win. During a contentious two-year investigation, he had learned not only the depths of Keller’s depravity but also the magnitude of his political power. A senior US senator, who was thought to have the White House within his reach, Carl Keller was the darling of the media and moneymen alike. The senator was, however, also a criminal. And now with the evidence to prove it, literally, in hand, Matt couldn’t wait to see the object of his near obsession behind bars.
Resting his Starbucks cup on the roof, Matt unlocked the door of his vintage black Lincoln. Once in the driver’s seat, he took a moment to drink his favorite morning beverage, and place a quick call to his FBI partner, and closest friend, Bob Volpe, before heading off.
“Bob, we’ve got him,” Matt interrupted.
“What’s happened?” Bob asked.
“You already at work?”
“I’m on my way, I’ll show you when I get there,” Matt said, ending the call, and taking the final gulp of his coffee.
Crumpling the empty cup and throwing it into the gym bag that was sitting on the passenger seat, Matt put his key in the ignition, turned it, and, with that, there was a massive explosion. In just an instant, the car was engulfed in flames. He felt a flash of excruciating pain as the fire melted his flesh, then nothing. Seconds later, and just as suddenly, Matt awoke. ‘What the hell was that?’ he wondered. Now, out of his body, and floating above it, he looked down to see flames, and black smoke billowing from what was left of his much beloved vehicle. Somewhat dazed, Matt thought he must have been having a nightmare, but was snapped back into reality by the blaring sirens that harkened the arrival of multiple emergency vehicles on the scene. He watched as the EMTs stood, helplessly looking at the burning car, shaking their heads.
“Looks like a professional hit,” one of the police officers said, as he walked up to the assembled group, and surveyed what was left of the shredded vehicle.
“Or a terrorist,” offered a firefighter who, with the other members of his ladder company, had set about extinguishing the blaze.
“Nah, not targeting one lone car, this was a hit,” the officer said, with authority, then headed over to take a closer look at Matt’s license plate which had been blown off, and was lying, face up, across the road.
From his elevated vantage point, the deceased had a bird’s eye view of not only the crime scene but his entire neighborhood. And, if he hadn’t been in complete emotional overload, would surely have picked up on three obviously, not, disinterested onlookers; two of the human variety, and one of the spiritual. All of whom were quite pleased by the current turn of events. Having confirmed that Matt was, in fact, dead, the two living witnesses, who’d been sitting in a gray sedan about a block away, drove slowly off. The single spirit, who had also been observing the scene, left, as well, anxious to report on the successful outcome of this interstellar plot.
As for Matt, he simply expected that things would soon go black, but, instead, he was gently pulled into a tunnel of lights, and soon found himself surrounded by a Jell-O like atmosphere. Much to his astonishment, selected moments of his life began to play out before him. The visions were not within his mind, but as if he were an invisible observer at each scene.
Matt saw a young child lying dead on the floor of a stark apartment and recognized himself as the four-year-old boy being led away, in tears, from a man that he rightly assumed was his father. He’d previously had no conscious memory of that event.
The moments of his life continued to race by him; there were the multiple foster homes where he’d been raised, as well as the numerous scrapes with the law that had defined his early childhood. Then the review slowed, and Matt focused on the pivotal event of his life, when, at the age of ten, fate had stepped in, and led him to an epiphany.
Matt watched himself, and one of his young partners in crime, roughhouse at poolside, as they waited for their swimming instructor and the rest of their classmates to arrive. Suddenly, his friend bolted, ran out on the diving board and began to use it as a trampoline. After several gleeful bounces, one jump went seriously awry. As he tumbled into the water, the boy hit his head on the board’s edge and sank slowly to the bottom of the pool, where he lay motionless. Matt saw himself jump into the water without hesitation, and, despite his almost nonexistent swimming skills, somehow make it to the bottom, scoop up his unconscious friend, and ferociously fight his way to the water’s surface. After the boy was revived, young Matt stood with his swimming teacher, as she told everyone, within earshot, about his heroic act. There was a slight smile on his face, but it wasn’t because of her praise. In fact, he had barely been listening. Saving the boy had brought the first moment of genuine happiness into his bleak life. Matt had found his true nature and was forever changed.
The successes that followed, now rolled past his eyes, and, while it was pleasant for Matt to revisit all that he had accomplished in his relatively short life, it was impossible for him to miss the one overriding constant. He’d always been alone. There had been no family, and, with the exception of Bob Volpe, there were no significant relationships. There were people he’d helped along the way, and lots of random girlfriends, but, other than Bob, no serious attachments.
As the review faded, he had an overall feeling of loneliness, mixed with a sense of confusion. Enough time had elapsed, however, that Matt was beginning to, at least, entertain the idea that this might actually be more than a biological blip.
He looked at the tunnel. It was like a night sky with streams of pink and orange lights swirling around, and streams of bright yellow and white lights zipping back and forth on all sides of him. He took a moment to look at himself. He had a body, and, while it was spiritual, it seemed to be gaining substance as he moved out of the denser atmosphere and closer to the warm glowing light at the far end.
Moving along in silence, Matt was startled when a male spirit came speeding in his direction, stopped in front of him, and said, “Hey Matt, good to see you.”
Matt gave him a questioning look.
“Oh, right, you wouldn’t remember me. I’m your brother, Steve.”
“I don’t have a brother,” Matt said, with conviction, but oddly feeling a definite connection to the stranger who stood before him.
“You just don’t remember. Dad killed me when I was eight. That’s why they took you away from him.”
Remembering the child’s body from his vision, Matt said, “Oh ya, I just saw that.”
“In the Locum Videre?”
“That’s what we call the dense part of the portal, where the life review takes place.”
When they reached the tunnel’s end, Matt was surprised to see that, what from a distance had seemed like a solid bright light, was actually emanating from the thousands of spirit escorts who were waiting there.
“What’s beyond that?” Matt asked as they stood looking at the vast, hazy opening before them.