So there I was, lying on the ground at Ascension Bridge, the angel’s boot on my chest, shock rifle pointed at my head, with anger in her eyes. Well, I can only assume she was angry at me. Probably something about a rebellion or something, eh? But let’s pause for a second. You’re probably wondering: how the hell did I get to this moment? You’re almost asking the right question. The right question to ask right now is how did I get here from Hell? Yeah, that was corny, I realize. But it’s still a good question to ask. Probably the right one too.
Well, that’s a complicated story to say the least. Let me start at the beginning.
I guess some introductions are in order. I don’t actually remember my name. None of us who get here do. The local community (yeah, hard to imagine one exists here, but there is one, I promise) gives newcomers a new name. They call me Joker. I guess they think I’m funny. Not everyone does. Maybe you will. Maybe you won’t. I don’t honestly give a shit one way or another.
But where is here, you ask? Ok, maybe you didn’t ask, but I’m gonna tell you anyways, and I won’t even ask for any money. Alright, maybe I will later, let’s see, depends on how you act. Here is Hell. You know how those really religious types would scare you into “doing the right thing” by continually going on and on about how we’d go to Hell otherwise? Well, turns out those motherfuckers weren’t wrong. They weren’t right either, but we’ll get to that. Hell is real. So is Heaven. If you’re good enough, you’ll end up in Heaven, otherwise, you’ll end up in Hell. But it isn’t as simple as deeds and all that. To be really honest, it’s never that simple with anything is it?
Ok, backtrack again. Let’s start with as far as I remember. I remember the day I died. I was actually arguing with some religious whack job (oh the irony!) in New York who’d been standing on the corner of some street screaming about us all going to Hell if we don’t accept some bullshit about some other bullshit. I was having a particularly bad day, so I started screaming at him and arguing with him. Then a car swerved into us both and we died. Pretty happy ending, eh?
It got real interesting after that. Not gonna lie, I was never really religious, even though my parents were, so I was just expecting nothing. I didn’t think there’d be any angels and shit. I certainly didn’t expect Yamdoots to show up at the hospital I died at.
What’s a Yamdoot? You know Hinduism? It’s a polytheistic religion, pretty popular in India and surrounding locations. So they’ve got a god of death, Yamraj. His underlings and workers are known as Yamdoots, and they’re responsible in Hinduism for bringing recently dead souls to the Beyond.
Now you’re probably thinking: wait a minute, Hinduism was right all along!? Not exactly. Well yea, they’re there, but so’s everyone else. It’ll make more sense, I promise. So as I stared at myself in a literal out of body experience, the first thought I had, looking at my body lying on the hospital bed was damn, that car seriously fucked me up. How did that motherfucker swerve onto a street corner like that!? Asshole.
Then, suddenly I heard someone call out.
“Hey asshole! You gonna stand there forever staring at yourself or you gonna move!?”
That’s when I first noticed the Yamdoot. He looked less like a Hindu deity and more like somebody out of Men in Black. He was wearing a black suit with a black tie and black sunglasses, along with those secret service style ear communicators. The only thing that he had on that looked completely insane was this gold crown on his head and he was holding a giant gold mace in one hand.
I stared at him, especially since nobody seemed to notice him or me. In fact, people were walking right through us. I remember being fairly unnoticed in life, but this was a bit extreme.
The Yamdoot sighed in exasperation.
“Looks like we got a soul in shock still. God fucking dammit. I’m gonna be late again, and the Supervisor is gonna have my ass again. Alright buddy, before you ask, you’re dead. You died. Congrats, you ain’t a part of Earth anymore. Your ass for now belongs to me. And when I say ass, I mean your soul. I’m gonna take your ass along with a bunch of others up with me to the Beyond. The Beyond is where they’ll figure out what to do with you. Until then, just try not to be a pain, got it?”
The Yamdoot stared at me impatiently as if I really had a death wish and wanted to be here. My first question threw him a little.
“Wait a sec, so what are you, exactly?” I asked.
He looked a little surprised.
“What do you mean what am I? I’m a Yamdoot, a poor angelic class being in charge of dealing with this sorry ass job of hauling you motherfuckers back to Beyond”
“What’s a Yamdoot?”
“Oh you jackasses are more ignorant than they used to be. A Yamdoot is a dude that works for Yamraj, the Hindu Lord of Death. You know what Hinduism is, right, or do I have to spell that out for you too and make my job tougher than it already is?”
“So Hinduism was right all along?”
“Ah I get it, you’re in shock over seeing us. Every religion was right. They’re all up there in Beyond. Thing is that the Death and Soul Retrieval department is so overburdened that we’re all pooling resources together to retrieve you fools. You assholes spend so much time killing each other, we’re having a rough time processing y’all fast enough. There ain’t enough Grim Reapers to go around so now we’re load sharing. Yeesh. So many questions. Can we get on with this now? Or are you gonna go ahead and write a fucking newspaper article?”
He then pulled out an iPad. Of all the damn things I expected to see, an iPad.
“Is that an iPad?” I asked, somewhat shocked.
He looked up.
“Steve Jobs is dead, remember? He’s helpin’ us modernize these days”
He then tapped a couple of times on the iPad.
“Hmm, let’s see, so seems your classed as an Atheist, younger side, not married but has a girlfriend. Alrighty, please verify and sign”
He handed me the iPad. On it was an app (yes, an app) specially designed for Death and Soul Retrieval with all the tiniest details about me. It was me alright. I signed and handed the iPad back to him.
“You guys got an App Store too?” I joked.
He looked up at me from the iPad.
“A wise ass, huh? We’re gonna have a fun time together on this trip. I just love wise ass motherfuckers like you.” He sarcastically exaggerated the love as if I was responsible for every problem he had in his supernatural life.
“Not my fault you’re on this job!” I snapped.
“It’s you people’s fault that you kill each other so much!” he sneered.
I stood silently. I clearly wasn’t winning this argument. Shit, I didn’t even win the last one. I got hit by a car. Who knows what’d happen this time?
After some time, I asked:
“You got a name or something?” I asked.
“Yea, the name’s YD-404” he responded.
I unsuccessfully held back chuckles. He rolled his eyes.
“Alright Joker, look, don’t even start asshole, I’ve heard every URL not found joke in existence, literally, so don’t even. Now come on asshole, before I get even more late on this haul”
And that’s how I got the name Joker. YD-404 had christened me Joker, and the name stuck. We walked through walls into the next hospital room. The religious nutcase was dead on the hospital bed. YD-404 pulled out his iPad again and tapped away on it.
“Motherfucker! The Soultooth won’t fuckin’ sync! There we go!” he said exasperatedly.
The religious nut job’s soul form rose from the bed. He looked around, in the same stupor I had. He then stared at his body. He yelped in surprise.
“Alright come on asshole, let’s get going moron” snapped YD-404.
The guy turned around.
“HEATHEN! DEVIL! SATAN! STAY AWAY! WHERE ARE YOU MY LORD!? SAVE ME!!!!!” he roared as he attempted to run.
“Oh fucking good, a whack job. Just what I needed today” wailed YD-404.
He tapped some more on his iPad and the man in soul form froze in place. YD-404 tapped his earpiece.
“Dispatch, we’ve got a non-compliant rabble raiser in Sector 12, request bag and tag team, sending details, over”
YD-404 listened for a second.
“Right, over and out, see you soon”
He turned to me.
“Alright, come on Joker, I’ll take a Joker over a rabble raiser any day, let’s go” he said tiredly.
As we drifted through the hospital, I asked some more questions.
“Have you guys ever had to deal with people who try to run and stuff?” I asked.
“Oh we’ve had all sorts of nut jobs. One guy was some ex commando type and used all this commando shit on us to get away. We can’t have loose souls out and about, so we had to bring in the SWAT team to bag and tag that asshole. It’s always annoying to deal with those types, because they literally cannot run away from us. They’re just makin’ it harder for us. I’ve seen all sorts of nuts on this job. And man does this job blow” he replied.
As we drifted, I saw some others like us, drifting. Another dude was being literally dragged by a man in a hoodie and jeans with a giant scythe in one hand. Well, there’s a Grim Reaper I guess. Another lady from some religion I didn’t recognize was leading another guy.
As we all drifted, I bumped into another recently dead lady (yes apparently physics are different with dead and not dead people).
“So how’d you die?” she asks.
“Fuckin’ car swerved into me while I’m standing on a street corner” I answer.
“Wait a sec, that’s the same car the killed me! He swerved into my restaurant and slammed right into me! That guy was goin’ like 80 miles an hour or somethin’!”