Ryan looked at his watch as he entered the bustling call centre. It was 7am and very busy… like the entrance to a superstar concert.
He recognized Jayne, his mum’s best friend in the crowd. Hadn’t she died several years before? She was chatting animatedly to her husband, Jeff.
Hang on? Hadn’t Jeff also died? Ok not so long ago… but of cancer? Ryan was almost sure.
He wished he had paid more attention to his mother’s phone calls.
Ryan walked across to look out of the window; he was obviously in a sky-scraper of some magnitude. He looked down and saw the lights of the city twinkling below. He remembered his trip to NYC with his parents back in ’99′… this building was way, way, WAY TALLER.
‘Here is your new desk Ryan,’ a stranger said.
‘There? You must be joking! It’s tiny, I’d rather have stayed where I was!’ Ryan answered.
‘You have got to learn Ryan… as I have had to,’ the girl at the desk opposite spoke.
Ryan slumped onto a seat as he had a revelation. Her name was Holly, he had gone to school with her… but this time there was no doubt. She was definitely dead!
He remembered the headlines!
‘Holly! You killed yourself! This is a dream isn’t it?’ Ryan shouted.
Holly looked up as if pleading… hoping Ryan would just shut up. She looked back to her desk, as if unable to take her eyes away from her work for more than a second or two at a time.
Ryan stood and leant across. Holly was reading a book. Despite the recent interruption and noise all around; she was purposeful, composed, serene. Ryan noticed others ranting and raving in the aisles, while several sat reading, cocooned like battery hens… soulless, anonymous.
‘I should be on my way to work, on the Northern Line with a Starbucks, reading The Metro!’ Ryan thought.
It must be a dream.
But he did not wake up.
He ran to the lift. A thousand others had already beaten him to it.
‘GET OUT OF THE WAY! LET ME THROUGH, I WANNA GO HOME!’ Ryan wailed.
The baying throng miraculously evaporated as Ryan lunged to press the ‘Down’ button. The lift duly arrived, doors opening. He took a step but there was nothing below. He fell back onto the floor behind, relieved not to have plummeted to his death.
He turned and saw Jayne and Jeff waiting. Jayne guided him back to the tiny desk as Holly sat silently philosophizing at her desk before him.
‘I am sorry Ryan. You are here to learn what you did not in life…’ Jayne said, handing him a book. It was a tiny book, like one of the ‘Ladybird’ books Ryan remembered his mum reading to him in his youth. The title was ‘Ryan doesn’t like women; He wants men.’
Ryan remembered the shame, the self hatred. The school kids who called him names as he grew up… the disapproval from society… the random strangers who had mocked him in the street. Then he remembered the pills… the slashing at his wrists.
He had taken his own life.
A voice from above said ‘Everyone is made in my image Ryan… I loved you so much. Why did you kill yourself?’
Ryan was gob smacked, dumbfounded. He could not answer.
The voice continued ‘You should have been proud. You all need to know that I love everyone. I love the whole of humanity… you will have to learn, I want you to go back to the beginning and start again…’
For more from Christian James go to http://www.globalsuperstar.co