HUMOUR: My Date with the Dead – Riley J. Froud

The day that I died was ordinary.  Ordinary until I died, that is.  I suppose for everybody else, it was still pretty ordinary – people die all the time, but I’d never died before so it wasn’t ordinary for me.  It was extraordinary.

Death is nowhere near as exciting – nor as worrying, as I’d always feared.  It was almost mundane (only almost though, and most definitely not ordinary).  I’m not talking about those times when people die and then are brought back to life.  Oh no, I died for real.  I’m dead.  There, I said it.  I was there one minute, then not there the next.  Then I was there again, but somehow thinner.  Not thinner in the sense that I’d always wanted mind you, but less…present I suppose.  I pack a lot less substance now-a-days, like not-enough butter spread on too much toast.

So that was my death.  After-death, well…not so easy.  It’s confusing, I can tell you, waking up to realise that you’re not waking up and that you’re not going to wake up any time soon either.  And this spirit guide that they tell you about?  Utter tosh.  Guide Schmide.  There was no ethereal being there to guide me through to the other side.  At least, that’s what I thought back then.  It was just a whole load of living people who couldn’t (or wouldn’t) answer me and a bunch of dead people wandering around like zombies.

Huh.  Ironic really – the dead folk acting like zombies but it’s true.  It’s like all their brains fell out when they died and now, they just wander around aimlessly, blank and unsure what to do.  Well, that really got my goat as you can well imagine.  I was not turning into one of those, not on your nelly!  So I put my foot down, stamped it quite hard too, determined to find someone who knew what was going on.

I couldn’t find anyone.  Not one little dwt who knew what was going on.  No-one would talk to me, living or not – not even those ridiculous folk you see on TV supposedly talking to the dead.  Which dead are they talking to, I ask you?  Certainly not me.  So I was well and truly on my own.  After a few frustrating weeks of this, I realised that it had happened.  Yep, despite all my protestations and foot stamping and nelly nudging, I’d become one of those…those zombie things.  Ugh!  I was wandering around, staring into space with my mouth hanging open.  I had become a fly trap.

The realisation of what I had become came so suddenly that I teetered when I stopped ambling.  Anger washed through me – anger at myself, anger at the lack of a spirit guide, and anger at the aimless dead who were doing nothing to improve their deaths.  I shook my head, lumbered my limbs, and got ready for action.  My sudden movements caught the attention of everyone around me – even the living, although they couldn’t quite work out what it was that had attracted them.

The dead though, they looked so sad, so lost.  The pang of sympathy that shot through me made me realise that they were in the same boat as me, I couldn’t just leave them to it.  I had to come up with a plan!  So naturally, I found the biggest stick that I could.  Oh yeah – that stuff about ghosts not being able to pick things up, that’s nonsense too.

I wasn’t going to beat them with the stick or anything, if that’s what you’re thinking.  What kind of monster do you take me for?  No, the stick was forherding them.  So herd them I did – I held the stick lengthways and gathered all the dead in my vicinity into one group, their groans of confusion sounding suspiciously like bleating sheep (surely they weren’t that confused?! Or perhaps they were having me on?).

Once gathered, I pushed and prodded them in the direction of the first place I could think of: an underground comedy club called Dead Funny.  I liked the irony of it – we’re dead, and they’re quite funny to watch.  Dead Funny – get it?  No?  Never mind.  So we shuffled down the stairs to the entrance, pushing and shoving as we went.  A group of them got stuck in the doorway as they tried to pile through together but a little stick-prodding pushed them through.  Once inside, I spoke.

“Okay dead people.  Get a chair and form a circle.”  Of course, the club was closed – had to be, or all those living people would see us moving the chairs and what not and then they’d know what we were up to, and we couldn’t be doing with that.  This whole ‘being dead’ thing was difficult enough as it was.  They were surprised to hear me speak, the deadies (that’s what I like to call them now, affectionately of course).  I could tell by the way that their eyes grew massive, but they responded anyway, nodding slightly as though bits of their brain were miraculously returning.  Once everyone was plonked in a haphazard circle, I goose-stepped my way into the middle and spoke again.

“Look, I don’t know about you guys but this is no existence worth livi…er…existing.  Am I right?”  There was a grumble of reply.  I pushed on.  “And with no guide to show us what’s what, I thought it would be a good idea if we got together,” cue slightly more roused grumbling, “and form some sort of group, a support group, I suppose.”  And that was that, really.  The Dead Funny Support Group for the Dead was formed.

We had a massive influx of members in that first week.  Deadies who just needed someone to talk to – anyone really, who would listen to their woes and laments of being a deadie.  You know the types of things: “my husband hasn’t been cleaning the kitchen properly,” or “my wife is ‘aving it off with another man.”  Just normal stuff like that.

With each session, the group grew until we had to break it down into smaller groups and eventually, I made Dead Funny my home.  As the group grew, so did their confidence and even their substance.  I remember the first time it happened, a passing.  Old Billy Thornbread it was.  Over the weeks, he had gone from a wraith of a thing, barely visible, to a vibrant, colourful being full of substance and post-life life.  Then one day, he just popped out of existence with a ding and a flash.  His disembodied head reappeared just long enough to thank us for helping him pass over.

That was three years ago now.  In that time, I’ve seen hundreds of deadies come through my Dead Funny doors, each of them moving on when they’re ready.  It was heart-warming but at the same time, saddening.  Why wasn’t I going anywhere?  That’s when I realised – it’s not that there isn’t a spirit guide, it’s that I am the spirit guide and I am the one who is supposed to guide the deadies through to the other side.

So that’s me, and that’s what I do.  Now, why don’t you tell the group about the day you died?


To read more by Riley J. Froud, visit her website, where she posts short-stories, reviews, and general bookish nonsense.  Or if you really want a laugh, you could always read her book.  

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