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Memoir Of A Deadman

Adaptation of a novel in progress

By Hyde Wunderli Published 10 months ago Updated 5 months ago 14 min read

Never thought I’d be the victim of a murder. Shot in silk and disarrayed bed sheets. If I had my choice I’d be hugging a bottle of fine scotch with Bruce Springsteen playing in the living room. While I slept, my subconscious would be having a confrontational conversation with the thunder until my heart finally threw in the towel.

I was enjoying the simple pleasures of a nightly routine. A shower’s hot temperature that was probably bad for my olive skin, an audiobook to remind me of my importance, and the ritual of unveiling clean sheets beneath a comforter, topped off by an unnecessary amount of pillows to support my bad posture and chicken neck.

Thunder clapped the sky. It did a decent job at drowning out the tape playing on my nightstand while I clipped my nose hairs from my aquiline nose. The bright lights that bordered the magnified mirror shadowed the sides to each nostril making the downward curve of the bridge stand out. It’d be a fine-shaped nose, accepted for a Greek God, if it weren’t for the slight curve in the middle that was caused by a glass bottle my Dad threw at me as a kid. Before leaving the bathroom I eyed the box of burgundy hair dye on the shelf and did a quick check for gray hairs. The vents kicked in and blew heat out quickly filling the bedroom. I don’t like the cold, given my thinner body structure, so I like to keep the house warmer.

“Your decisions will shape your future.” A consequential voice said from a fuzzy speaker.

Little did I know someone was lurking in the corner of the room. I was too busy reviewing medical charts, I missed seeing the stranger's large frame slumped by the window. My back turned towards the bedroom door. I peeled the left corner of the comforter like unwrapping a Christmas present.

Before the stranger yet revealed himself, I felt a watchful feeling upon me. My gut turned. I stuttered my breath to my quickly elevating heartbeat.

Despite the sound of the book on tape and the roaring thunder, the quiet and distinct sound of the gun’s trigger being cocked was distinctly heard.

“Turn slowly so I can look at the terror in your eyes.” A trembling voice said.

His hand shook wildly, trying to pick a spot to aim. I stupidly called his bluff and walked towards him.

“Where you going to shoot me? Better make it right here.” I said letting the gun tap my forehead. I indulged his request to look into my brown eyes but denied the satisfaction of giving him terror.

“No, I want to shoot you right here. To see if there’s even a beating heart in there.”

There was definitely a beating heart. It drummed like the deep echoing of a thousand taiko drums. But I hid my fear like I was once taught through my Dad’s violent parenting. The intruder lowered the gun towards my chest and pressed it firmly. The tip made a dull thud noise against my sternum.

“Could you actually back up a little bit, your stench is hard to breathe in,” I said.

He widened his eyes and stepped forward almost as if to spite me. “Even at the brink of death, your arrogant tongue steers your fate?” His hand stopped trembling. He stood taller, his confidence fueled by growing vindication. His fingers turned white with the tightening around the handle.

The Taiko drums quickened inside my chest. But I still kept it hidden. “A man as pathetic as you doesn’t seem to have the balls. Have you looked into a dead man’s eyes?” I asked.

He stepped close enough for his sharp nose to almost touch mine. I wasn't sure if he'd cut me with it, or shoot me. His greasy blonde hair fell to his brows. Without moving the gun, he slicked it back.

“I don’t know who you are,” I said calmly.

“I found you. It took me time. But I found you.” He said.

“It would appear that way. But I don’t remember you."

“You’re the devil, disguised in a lab coat.” He said.

And with those last words, riding on the wings of neglectful hygiene my body became a crime scene.


Let me formally introduce myself. Though I'm afraid it’ll be under false pretense for a few reasons.

The first reason being, that in Hell, it’s easy to forget one's name and identity. So I’m afraid you won’t know me by my real name. I’ll consider this yet another chance to reinvent myself. You can call me Ren Sannci. I think I heard the name somewhere. Don’t remember where but I’m taking it. Just like I took everything else in my life.

Hence the second point of false pretense. I’m no longer the strong, independent, and willful man I once was. Instead, I rely on the strict boundaries I'm given. My body is quickly deforming into the opposite of my approachable physical traits. And the will to keep going is only being subtly driven by the strong desire to be set free.

There was a time when I was ambitious, and focused. My priorities restricted me from engaging in human relationships. Not that I had the interest anyway. People are unreliable, instinctively violent when given the chance, and can only let you down.

And that brings us to the Third pretense. When alive, I was a man of my word, I understood my life fully and the direction it was headed. I knew my world and was comfortable not letting untrustworthy, idiotic, and wasteful people in it. I’m afraid my world now has flipped on its head to a constant uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and forced dealings with past affiliations.

Somewhere along the way, I’d become accustomed to the lack of light and all the beckoning sounds, the riddling words of Charon’s persistent singing as he steers us through the river Styx, the crowd of mindless Reapers that smelled of decay and hopelessness. And I’d even gained a sort of calloused approach to the job itself. Even though the twisted memories of my past attempt to haunt me into submission.

I am a courier of death, punished until my decisions from my past life have been reconciled. Not yet a spirit, and no longer a man. I suffer as a man but am expected to carry out spiritual endeavors. We do not interact with the dead. We do not interact with the living. We simply call to the soul and move on our way. Any contact with the living world, other than in the confines of our duties is forbidden. I didn’t care to find out what could be worse than the hellish prison I was already in so I made it a point to stick to the rules.

Now that introductions are over I share with you, a taste of my sufferings. Try not to touch anything.

The void between life and death, in my eyes, is just a battle field of death ready to be collected.

This particular soul however was not ready to be found quite yet. It hid from me like a child running from it’s unwanted chores.

It’s overcast. My presence shunned away any form of light. I walked cautiously along the damaged boat beginning my search. With no one to steer, it swayed and tumbled like a drunk old fool. Why does this one have to be on water? The unforgiving sea quickly made me sick. I clung to the rail. The grainy metal felt like braille on my fingers. It didn’t alleviate any of the nausea, but aside from the chance of having calluses later, it allowed me to keep hold, in the growing storm.

If wet metal, under an angry sky and on a vast ocean had one word for its smell, it’d be chilly. Similar to the smell of early morning dew on a car windshield. As much as I played victim to the cold, this chill didn’t care for my well being. And it seems it didn’t care for the body I was yet to retrieve.

‘Where are you anyways?’ I thought, scanning my eyes across the empty floor of the boat and spotting all its imperfections. There were loose panels, damaged flooring, corrosion, rusty walls, and a lot of water damage.

With closed eyes I let go of the rail and pressed forward expecting much resistance. There was none. Instead, I slipped through the hissing wind undetected. I felt stupid and deceived.

I found a latch door to the left, leading to the cabin room. A metal box pushed its weight against the door keeping it from being opened. To the right was the captain's room. That room was empty. So then the body must be in the cabin.

Navigating along a deserted boat during a storm, you could imagine the effort it took to move the metal box from the hallway. I spent half my strength balancing between the small space of the two rooms, and half my strength sliding the box out of the way. Once the door was clear to open I feared going inside. Maybe I didn’t check enough up here.

The current rocked me backward. I grabbed the handle of the door before it could tip me on my ass. Before it could do it again I opened the sealed metal door. The wet hinges sang a song of a thousand off-tune violins. Water that came as high as my knees, rushed out of the room and spread across the deck.

In front of me was darkness with a hint of regret. Despite my above-average swimming lessons from a survival nut of a Father, I hated the water, particularly boats on the water. And now I was about to venture down into a confined space, with no light, and my vessel tipping like a cradle.

Only the top stair was above water now. As the boat continued to rock, water spilled up over the last stair, fleeing from the dark room. Somewhere down below I could hear water flowing in. I’m sure the whole boat will be underwater soon. Inside the cellar-like room, it was murky like a swamp. I could barely see. I tried to call to the soul from the one surviving step, but nothing happened.

From what I could manage to see up top, the room was made of mostly metal, appeared to have rusty hinges, rusty corners that climbed to the ceiling, and a small cot welded to the metal wall.

Diving in gave me a closer look at the room that was stripped of any personality. No decorative wood to cover the ugly metal material. No decorations or small furniture to give it life.

Though it proved to appear strong and sturdy as was its purpose, in any disaster, there’s always room for leaks. The rusty metal walls held strong, but water spilled in from the side of the boat where there was a weak spot in the welding.

On the opposite end of the leak was the body. It was a combination of bad luck and carelessness that pushed the metal box against the door and blocked her in while the hole in the side allowed water to come spilling through. She was trapped in a gap between the stairs, A piece of her clothing snagged on a loose screw. It's unclear if she died at the top of the stairs pushing at the door, then sunk down. Or if she got stuck at the bottom and didn’t even get much of a chance to fight her way out.

There was no call to the soul yet. No magnetic pull from my bracelet. I was playing a risky match of catch and release, being as close as I was. Her legs prodded and nudged back and forth. Her upper half stayed pinned against the stairs but was close to being set free. Each nudge of her legs back towards me reached closer to running into me. Still, nothing calling the soul to me.

The boat's violent shakes helped push her free and shot her towards me like a spear gun. I was caught off guard and didn’t have time to move. Even just a graze of her wet skin sent me spiraling into just moments before her death. A moment when the sun peaked from bulky clouds, shining beams of light upon rock, and perched birds. The moment where She loosely tied knots to weakly secure the sail, retreated down below, and tiredly drank water after quickly taking a gulp of cold medicine. She stared at the wall as if looking into a mirror. Then she brought her hand up and slammed it into the metal wall with a heavy open hand. The boats Skelton groaned in a low echo.

Even at just a glimpse of her life just before her death, I felt her pain. I was thrown into her emotions as if she were a wave pulling me out to sea. An ancient memory itched at me. I scratched at the corrosion guarding such memory. But then I returned to the trouble at hand. Slightly more disturbed.

Her body swayed back and forth in the water. The boat rotated downward and torpedoed toward the depths. I was still getting my bearings from the anomaly that took place. I tried dodging her again but couldn’t move without having to lightly press my hands against her femur.

I was pinned in the corner of the dirty aquarium like a helpless fish scrambling to get away from a predator. Again we came in contact. Another moment up on deck, moments before the crash. she sulked with a surrendering posture in the captain's room. Eyes longing to spot land and dreading the endless sea. Again, I felt the wave of her suffering. She was fatigued. Face pale as the white painted posts near her. She cried softly. Leaving the captain's room, her hand palmed the cargo box as if she were trying to feel the presence of what was inside. She sat on the box and leaned her tired back against the wall. She was sitting in the small hallway between the Captain's room and the tiny cabin space. She cried out just as the winds picked up. It took the bit of energy she had left. She rested her weary head against the wall.

Again a memory of my own knocked at the dusty corridor in my head. It felt as if I was looking through a glass window I wasn’t supposed to. But her sadness was captivating. Somehow inspiring.

The scene of suffering was so beautifully contrasted among a backdrop of perfectly painted clouds and a sun that smiled solemnly at the woman. The warm hues of light shone through the clouds like arms reaching to bring comfort; as if the boiling giant orb in the sky was telling her future.

Behind her, appeared a familiar face. Lifeless looking eyes. Yet, a grieving face that proved his impetuous existence. This time, his stench and wilted shirt didn't bother me. Even the gun he was again pointing at me, didn't disturb the consistency in my steady heart.

His name was Shay. I managed to excavate the crud from the memory desperate to get out, like brushing away dirt to discover old bones in the ground. Shay was a loving Father. A husband. Who lost a wife. A wife who was in my care. I'd paid little attention to her while she was losing grip of her life in a coma.

Somewhere along the way, I'd let my misfortunes take control of my life. I did my job with complete disregard for other people's emotions. I assumed the worst in others. Refused to sympathize with the downhearted.

Shay’s raised gun held steady regardless of the rocking boat. His black eyes loomed upon me. Instead of feeling fear, I was ashamed. Not just by the way I treated him and his dying wife. But how that was a reflection of how I lived my entire life, up until he shot me.

I looked towards the woman I originally came for. The touch of her skin reminded me of a clock that ticks upon those who climb up and down its striking hands. It invigorated in me the need to feel. The value in taking upon me, the strife and burdens of another. The foreign feeling felt like something I was going to be either chasing or running away from until I no longer could. I was still sorting out new feelings. And yet it was all clear. As if I was supposed to feel it, but also not yet deserving of it. It was refreshing and yet forbidden. The new sensation brought me closer to a sun I forgot existed. But also the storm that follows. I wanted to hug that feeling, and stab it and kick it at the same time. Both sides of the spectrum were just tipping examples of being human.

Redemption feels like punishment when you think you don’t deserve it. Second chances don’t exist because of immeasurable mercy. Our wrongdoings can only be reconciled by the choice to look upon our shadow. I’d been spending my time collecting souls, as a victim. I couldn’t grasp why I’d ended up as a Reaper after my discomfiting death. And I now know it was my selfish decisions that hurt others that brought me to this world of harsh redemption.

It feels different writing a memoir while I’m already dead. Being forced to see memories I thought I left behind. If I were to go back and tell it all again, I’d tell it differently. I’d tell it in the souls of those I hurt, for the sake of my own damaged goods. I’d tell it that way because I now know it's crucial to understand the pain we can cause. And feeling the pain I caused, feels worse than the pain I received.

I gazed at the sun as much as the bright light would allow. The Woman stopped crying and the moment before her death, she too, saw the power of nature's tranquility. I believe we felt the same sensation of Freedom. The Freedom to choose what our suffering will be. The last glimpse I saw of the woman was a brave face. An honorable scowl towards the universe that betrayed her.

I knelt beside her lifeless body. Her soul jumped to me with open arms. I sat and marveled at the sun for as long as it was willing to show its face. Shay came and sat by me. He crossed his legs and dropped the gun beside him.

He touched my shoulder with soft hands and said, "You can wake up now."

There was beeping coming from the sky. I was pulled away from the swaying ship and dropped into a hospital bed. a soft breeze of oxygen tickled my nose hairs. I wiggled my fingers. Managed to lift my hand to my chest. My entire midsection was covered in a white bandage.

Later I'd be told that the bullet just missed my heart and entered my lung. The gun had to of been slightly angled just as the trigger was pulled. Intentional? Maybe. I'd have a damaged lung for the rest of my life. It was a small price to pay for a chance at redemption.


About the Creator

Hyde Wunderli

Enthusiast of dark romanticism or, gothic romance.

Inspired by the works of edger Allen Poe, Herman Melville, Charles Dickens, and Stephen King

Here for the dopamine, the passion, and the challenge to push my comfort zone.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  2. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (1)

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  • Mescaline Brisset5 months ago

    Thrilling! I enjoyed reading it and the concept as well. May I ask if your novel is completed?

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