Fiction Prompt: The Afterlife
by Ron Gavalik on June 15th, 2013

The best part of summer for this writer is the freedom I feel to muse aloud. Physically, we can all stretch out, walk around, exercise more, etc. But mentally, my mind is somehow tied to the local environment in Southwestern, PA. In the winter, I feel closed up, suffocated and often run down. In the fall, I feel a creeping death washing over plant life. In the Spring, however, the rebirth always, always ignites new ideas.

Today, as I was getting ready to perform a little marketing work for my publishing group, Grit City Publications, my mind started to dwell on some unsavory family ties I can’t seem to shed and a few family members that have passed that I dearly miss. These thoughts, along with a recent discussion about spirituality on Facebook led me to singular contemplation: the afterlife.

I’m a Roman Catholic. I was raised a Roman Catholic. I believe that my faith is built upon the exact word of Christ, who said, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” He then pointed to the apostle that would later become the first pope, Peter and said, “You will lead it.” (Not an exact retelling.) Even with the church’s abuses of power, poor standing in modern society, and unpopular political leanings, I believe in my faith.

But even in stubborn rigidity, I know for a fact the bible doesn’t have all the answers. Fundamentalists are nutty bananas. The very idea that we should never allow for scientific exploration or artistic endeavor (because it’s Satan’s work) is silly at best and criminal at worst. Criminal in the sense that it spits in the face of God, who provided a world of color, splendor, and given upon the human race, a sense of curiosity and talent.

On Facebook recently, a group of writers and others were debating the existence of God. Some were pro-God. Others weren’t sure. Few held atheistic views. It seemed like a good sampling of our larger society. Many people wanted proof of God, which seems valid at first glance.

My question is, “How much proof does one need?” God exists in all things, many religious scholars have told me. Growth, life, love, even my iPod. Proof, like much science and all philosophy, is in the eye of the beholder. How many angry right-wingers believe government welfare creates bums?  How many enviros know for a fact that CO2 is polluting the earth? How many people know for a fact that mushrooms are delicious?

Proof matters not. What matters is what we “know,” “feel,” and what we can control. That’s what infuriates people and leads to heated debates.

It’s also what leads me to this fiction writing prompt:

If you’re unsure of life after death, why not write a story, where the protagonist decidedly gains control over his or destiny and builds an afterlife, much like a carpenter builds a home? You see what I’m proposing? People often debate religion from a point of recognizing their lives as small in comparison to God. I agree with that, but what if God, in all of his greatness, decided that people had the ability (if they so chose) to construct their own heaven or hell?

What kind of world would such a tale take place in? Steampunk? Interesting gizmos could be employed to help the character come to this understanding and then construct his afterlife? Cyberpunk, like the Matrix? People could be plugged into their permanent heaven? What about historical? The character could make this discovery of complete free will in the 15th Century.

How would the story go? Think about it.

I’m not going to write it. I have enough on my plate these days. I’m just musing and daring someone out there to see what they can create. I’ve never seen or heard of a novel with this exact kind of philosophical and fantastical lean, so it would be original.

Any takers?

Posted in The Writing Life    Tagged with writing, fiction, afterlife, story, brainstorming


Beth - June 25th, 2013 at 7:14 PM
What if God is in fact a part of each of us rather than being larger than life? Maybe he is life within us and all things. If this were to be the case the proof of God would be everywhere. Granted not everyone or everything is good. Would what is bad be considered the work of Satan? Possibility that those with less good are simpky out of touch with their inner lights, tempted by the world around them or tainted by environmental factors in their pasts....I'm unsure but feel there are many reasonable explanations. In terms of heaven, hell or purgatory does it really matter where one goes once they have moved on from life? Of course everyone would love to go to a paradise. The future after death doesn't effect the now though or even life. I prefer to create a heaven on earth. I follow what I believe to be right and good. I enjoy as many moments as I can. Living this way I enjoy the now no matter what it is and if the afterlife exists I feel I should be good. I find it important to help as many ppl as I can, to ease those who are down and burdened not bc there is a payday in heaven but bc it helps soneone who needs it plain and ssimple. Life and even God can be whatever you make them into within your heart/soul/mind. That's just my take.
Ron Gavalik - July 1st, 2013 at 12:39 PM
Excellent perspective.
Sheri - June 26th, 2013 at 2:43 PM
Thanks for the prompt. I love prompts and I will write a story based on it. First I must murder my neighbor who is, again, playing his music much too loud. Hmm, that gives me an idea.
Sheri - June 30th, 2013 at 5:26 PM
The old woman walked through the hallway where the wall of glass allowed her to see into the back yard. Strangers were playing in the pool. She entered the family room and sat down on the chenille couch. There were people there, no one she recognized, but they were sitting in chairs, chattering away not bothered by her presence. She thought that they might be family but they were all so young and unfamiliar that she became confused.

She looked down at her hands. They%u2019re so old, she thought and brushed nonexistent wrinkles from her skirt.

The walls were white with hunter green trim. She had not painted any part of the house hunter green. She wouldn%u2019t. The house was her home and she didn%u2019t like hunter green. There was a foreboding aspect to the color being used inside the house. Maybe it was just ugly.

The conversation around her continued like the buzzing of a fly and, in fact, made her drowsy. She relaxed and closed her eyes.

She soared upwards over the house, looking down at it completely divorced of feelings. Who are those people, she thought without words.

She continued to fly towards the sky but not like a bird. She simple moved up very quickly without even thinking.

She didn%u2019t stop until she was very far away, outside the solar system, at the edge of the spiral arm holding the world which she once called home.

She looked back. She knew that everything was going as intended. She wasn%u2019t needed and could continue her journey.

Ron Gavalik - July 1st, 2013 at 12:38 PM
Great beginning, Sheri. Keep developing. Have fun with it!
Leave a Comment