“The Seven Circles” (Chapter One)

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

By J.H.Williams


Every once in a while as human beings we question our own reality, the barrier of life and death, what it means to cross from one to another.  I’ve always pictured that we are born, we live and once our life has reached its expiry date, death takes us.

Is death really such a bad thing?  Why is there such a fear?  I guess it’s just the knowing we have no control of our own ticking time bomb.

It’s been said that once you have taken your last breath and you die, your brain stays active.  In those few minuets you see and witness your whole life, flashing through your brain giving you one last peaceful glimpse of life.  I guess to some that would be the ideal version of heaven; if such a thing even exists, one day we will all find out.

Watching your life flash in front of you, for some this may be a beautiful thing, or others it may be hell.  But then again what is the definition of hell?  Fire! Everything on fire or could it simply just be a bad day at work repeating over and over again, I know which I’d choose.

On the other hand, what about those of us that don’t go to either, purgatory the in-between I guess that’s were I fit in, not knowing if the past your future, is the present or a dream.

Its too real to be a dream, I’ve been telling myself for the past few months, weeks, days, seconds, or years, I really don’t know which, or could I’ve imagined my whole life.

I’ve never been a religious person or someone that, goes to church, I just think of myself as a believer in the here the now, and now is exactly the nineteenth of march year two thousand.

I’m twenty-one years old, but in the year two thousand I’m six or should I say a version of myself that is.

Each day I open my eyes and stare up, wanting to wake from this dream, but instead I’m greeted with this reality.  Until I realize my purpose, I’m going to be stuck here, in purgatory so I guess, its time I told you how I got here.

My Name is Noah, and I’m dead…

©Jack H W Williams. All Rights Reserved

Chapter one

The Fox

Day broke, sun beaming through the slightly open curtains, onto Noah’s face as he slept, one leg hung out of the bed drooped nearly touching the floor. The smell of his gravy soaked work shirt lingered in the air; from night before in which he accidentally dropped a serving tray full of gravy jugs, at a private business function he happened to be waiting on; a room full of high profile council members at their monthly gala, he hated those functions, everyone always seemed to be so rude, and well highly demanding, so the fact he tripped over a fallen dinner jacket, and propelled a tray full of gravy ten foot into the air, directly at a table full of guests, horrifying and humiliating, but part of him thought they deserved it.

“ring ring” ring ring” Noah’s mobile jerked him awake, the vibrating from his bedside table directly to the right of his head.  He reached forward eyes still closed and fumbled for the phone, in doing so he knocked over a stone-cold cup of tea, left there for him by his mother.  Tea went all over him adding to the putrid smell of gravy already bring back the pervious night’s grief.  His eyes now fully open still gripping the tea soaked phone, “oh shit” he groaned his throat dry, he placed the phone to his ear, “hello” a voice seemed to bellowed back “who you calling a shit” taken aback “not you Sam, I’ve just gone and” before he could fully reply Sam cut Noah off mid sentence “right so are you coming to this party later or what” Sam eagerly said “oh I don’t really know, I only know you” the tea now slightly filling his ear “listen drink, party let your hair down, I haven’t seen you in like a week, and you never come out anymore work work work, and who knows you might even get lucky” Noah couldn’t help but start to chuckle “well I guess I can not for too long though, and please don’t let it be a repeated of last time, I’m not taking you home after a few hours because you’ve got too plastered”, Sam replied sarcastically “ I have no idea what you mean, it was a beer festival and well you drink and have a fiesta”.

After a long pause Noah replied “okay then if you insist, I’m not drinking just the designated driver ok?”. “ok fine, at least it’s a free lift, 8pm pick me up and don’t be late”.

The phone dead, he placed it now partially dry to his side and sat back just wondering about the events ahead of him that night, with a smile across his face, then the smell hit him, “I absolutely never want to see or smell gravy again” he said to himself.  He picked up the shirt and flung it across the room.

After what seemed to be an eternity to get the smell of it, out from his shaggy black hair, now clean freshly showered, made his way down to the kitchen.

In the kitchen was his mother Alice sipping coffee, and reading one of her favorite women’s magazines, she was peering over it towards his sister Emily, who also sat at the dining table, continuously tapping away at her phone, not even giving her fingers time to rest.

Noah always hated the way modern teenagers would just seem to be droned into these pieces of glass and plastic, always having to know what each other is doing “lol saw this pug aint it funny” or “omg just having a shit lol”.

Noah walked over towards the kettle and proceeded to make this time not a cold cup of tea”.

“You should really eat something Emily, that toast has been sat in front of you for over ten minuets” said Alice in a calm tone.  Emily peered up from her phone for just long enough to catch her mothers eye. “I don’t like white bread now” said Emily tilting her head, within what seemed to be a fraction of a second her fingers started to frantically tap away again.

“Mum I’ll eat it” Noah walked over towards his sister and scooped up the plate of glazed now cold toast, and placed it on the side while he made tea.

“Aren’t you late for school” Noah said with his back towards his sister, “aren’t you late for a life” Emily said derisively towards Noah. “right that’s enough off to school. Now.” Alice said sternly. Emily jumped from her chair making as much noise as she could muster, grabbing her bag and stormed out of the room, seconds later slamming the front door, which left a ringing echo over the noise of the kettle, for then there was silence.

Alice a short woman of forty-six, her hair turning a pearly grey, was a kind and caring person who always infused those closest to her, with a sense of comfortable longing. Never venturing too far from her childhood home, she resided with her two children, in Moxhull close, a quite cul-de-sac, in the tranquil setting of Norfolk, with no fewer than fithteen houses, everyone knew everyone, a community that always stuck together.

Having worked ever since Emily was old enough to start primary school, Alice had always been independent.  Since two thousand and five, she had worked in a local care home called Elm House, continuously lifting others in her company. She loved her job.

The gentle woman was a pillar of their local community.  Even starting her own book club in which the local housewives, would come from near and far to enjoy cakes, and have wine all cramped in her living room on a Tuesday evening.

By the time Noah had felt energized for the day, it was already late afternoon, having already wasted what seemed to be a blur of binge watching episodes of his favorite show online, for hours, he thought it would be best to take Jessie for a walk, who had been for sometime restless jumping all around the lounge, looking up towards him, with every movement he made a, flicker of hope in her eyes. “come on then” he said, ears suddenly pricked, she darted towards the front door, wagging her tail eagerly, grabbing his coat, her ball and a lead they left through the door.

They both walked, Jessie leading him, up out of the cul-de-sac round towards the wood that bided at the back of the houses. The cold air crisp and refreshing felt moreish in his lungs, the days slowly turning shorter, and the weather turning colder. His eyes met the sky which was a stunning vivid orange and pink, as day now changed to night, the visible sun slowly dipping below the horizon. After walking up a slight incline they had reached the footpath gate through which lay the wood, he bent down and let Jessie of her lead. Pouncing under his feet he threw the ball, she darted in its direction.

After half an hour or so Jessie now slowing, finally satisfied, her pace shifted walking by his side, now being covered in mud after Jessie refused to retrieve the ball from some undergrowth, they turned and headed back towards the path, remainder of daylight nearly gone.  Noah’s eyes started to catch on the contorted branches of oak, that bowed above, shapes of light cutting through the gaps in the leaves, they started playing tricks on his mind, watching him.  He knew that trees couldn’t see or watch for that matter, but something seemed to bother him. “they are just trees”, he muttered aloud, every now and then checking over his shoulder to see if eyes were piercing back at him, following him.

Over head a shower of amber leaves fell before him, a rustle and a noise were heard above, not wanting to avert his vision away from the exist, he continued forward.

It grew colder, his coat now feeling thin, as the cold pushed tightly against his chest, his windpipe now being sliced by the icy shards of air, that he gulped down uncomfortably with every breathe, and a numbing mist that bellowed back up his throat as he walked.

The pace quickened, the trees around him blurring, head pointed in the direction from whence, they had come. “why am I, so anxious I walk here all the time, trees, their just trees, they are green, they give us oxygen, but why do they seem to take it away” he thought, pulling the tight pinching coat away from his chest.

End almost insight the path growing wider, the arching branches above him almost seeming to grow closer, though not wanting to let him go, then the sensation lifted, he could breathe again.

They reached the gate, scrambling to undo the latch, he looked down, Jessie was gone, once again the air grew colder, his chest tighter in a fraction of a second.  He turned round frantically, face now even more worried, not wanting to go back down that path. He suddenly saw her thirty feet in the opposite direction, dead in her tracks transfixed looking forward, “Jessie” he shouted, the words echoing down the now darkened hollow, inviting him in.  She didn’t move, he moved towards her, each step, seemed to be eternal, now with her clearly in view, something was standing in front of her, a large mass, Noah then caught sight of two eyes, petrifying her still.  The large orbs of onyx looked into his own, freezing him still.

A large Fox stood before him.

Still bewildered after the events of the walk Noah sat on his bed under lamplight, mind racing over what happened did he really see a fox or had he imagined it, just standing their not moving just watching, he tried to reassure himself that it was tricks of the light, it had been dark after all. Stress maybe its because he was tired and overworked, he just needed to relax, this party tonight couldn’t have come at a better time, he needed an outlet, he looked around the room his laptop lay on the desk below the window, shelves of books and films bare on the wall to his left he needed something to do, now to comfy to move off his bed, Jessie at the foot of it quite, and still, both still mudded. The room around him dark and silent, he lay back, his head hit the pillow and eyes closed, quickly drifting into a sleep.

Noise awoke Noah hours later, noises carried from downstairs, disturbing his solemn sleep, in a cold sweat, he clambered back to reality, a glowing red light from his alarm clock shone over him, the time was already seven thirty, he only had half an hour to get ready and he still had to venture out of the house get the car and drive to Sam’s house then to the party.  The dried mud now crumbling around his ankles as he stood, sleepily dazed he stumbled over towards his wardrobe, the sleep sticky in the corners of his eyes, it creaked open, Noah started to pull shirts and jumpers from its deep depths, discarding one after another, trying to find something to wear, everything too small or too old, nothing was appropriate.  His hands felt something cool, and slightly hard approaching the back, he uprooted it, heavy pulling it forward, out came a brown leather jacked, it was cracked, worn with darkened white stripes that had aged at the shoulders, looking for a few moments the realization of what it was hit him, all of a sudden,

it was his fathers.

He held the jacket within his hands, trying to remember the last time he had seen it, the only part of his father he actually had.  Noah’s mother had given it to him years pervious, for his sixteenth birthday. he felt a sudden guilt, for not wearing or looking at the jacket more often, forgetting it even existed left decaying at the back of a wardrobe, he could remember his father wearing it so long ago, it was his favorite.  Carefully placing it on the wardrobe door he proceeded to grab jeans, shoes and a shirt to wear with his father’s jacket, tonight he would for once wear it.

All ready and rearing to go the party, the worn brown jacket draped fittingly over his chest, he made his way down stairs at the foot, he saw his mother her face beaming back at him, towering over her, he admired her, the years had treated her well considering she was left a widow, pregnant at the age of thirty.

Being the only dominant figure in Noah’s life, since his father Paul had tragically died.  Although pictures and images scattered their home, Noah would always look at the tall, burley strong faced man who looked always full of joy holding up his son, and his small wife clutched to his arm.  To him the face, was that of a man who he couldn’t clearly remember, the memories were blurred, all he could remember of him was that, he was tall, kind, and always wore a tight fitted, then new shiny brown leather jacket. Alice had always told her children of the man their father was, story’s of how they had met at the age of eighteen, married by twenty how a family is what they wanted, and when Noah was born, he couldn’t have been more ecstatic.  Although Noah could always see his mother eyes well each time she spoke of his father, a smile would always outpace the grief she held with her every single day. Her one true love, her only love. Noah enjoyed listening about his father, but couldn’t help but feel for Emily, even though he vaguely remembers those six years they spent together at least he had that, Emily had nothing.

Noah smiled back towards his mother, she looked at him studying his face “what are you grinning at” Alice replied, Noah now taking each step down closer to his mother, smile not moving until he stood above the short woman and kissed her softly on the head, “just someone I love more than anything. My mother” said Noah.  Alice reached out her arms and embraced her son’s waist, now being even significantly smaller than she usually would.  She held him there. Her face rubbing against Paul’s leather jacket. She now looked up into his eyes, realizing what Noah was wearing, eyes welling she spoke “it suits you, your father would be so proud too see the man you have become” he smiled back at her, the smell of old leather encasing them both, like he was there with them. With a long caressing look upon the jacket, Alice wiped the streams of tears welling in her pale pea green eyes. With one last look, she let go of her son.

©Jack H W Williams. All Rights Reserved