Only Watching North
Jimmy receives an unexpected letter of invitation. But it’s more than that, it is finally a way out of the coffin that he’s been stuck in for the last six months. But what awaits him on his escape? This short story was adapted from a previous idea I had about interviewing the Devil’s Administrator. It changed and transformed into a very short, light-hearted twist of what could lie beyond.
This for me, was just a short examination of the pre-afterlife, that limbo space between having died and waiting to get assigned to a new place. I liked the idea of keeping the story light, so that you could actually engage the main character in a little bit of flippancy about the whole situation. I didn’t feel that Only Watching North would quite work if Jimmy would just have been afraid.
If he had ended up being so petrified of his situation when arriving in ‘Hell’ then it would have taken away the impact of his interactions with the Administrator. There is that and the probability that not everyone perceives Hell with the same degree of fear.
After all, he had spent several months in the coffin, lying in limbo so he would have had a lot of time to come to terms with his situation. So I wanted him to be a bit blasé after that and ending up in any place would have felt like a bit of a relief after being locked up. I wanted the juxtaposition of him not fearing Hell as most readers would probably expect a character to be doing in that position.
The overall original idea actually came from a fictional interview that I attempted, many, many years ago. It was going to be a one-on-one engagement with the Devil’s Administrator and what it was like to be in such a position. It never panned out as an interview and it ultimately morphed into the short story that it is.
It’s not meant to be particularly insightful, I deliberately only touched upon the soul in the afterlife because that’s not the direction in which I wanted the story to go. I just wanted Jimmy to get out of the coffin and to be fearing the worst, namely facing Hell for all eternity, only for it not to quite be that way.
Of course there was a not-so-subtle plug towards staying on the right side of the points-count so that you don’t actually end up in Hell. Just in case it does exist, you know?