, Research Paper
The Consequences of a Lead Migraine
He looked as his watch, a drop of sweat dripping from his forehead, his heart beating 20 to the dozen. McNeill was scared as hell. It wasn?t his first mission for the LAPD SWAT team, but it was possibly one of the most scary. Set in a cramped house, with nothing but darkness all around (The LAPD don?t ?negotiate? with terrorists, they said) he crawled past another darkened room, his MP5 constantly raised in preparation for a gunfight. The fact that he felt ill didn?t help either, and McNeill tried to put it down as the flu that had been going round the precinct.
He checked his watch again. 3 minutes until the terrorists execute another hostage.
?Damn?? he muttered under his breath.
?Russian extremists, bunch of fools. Why can?t they just get JOBS!? McNeill angrily thought to himself. Frantically, he checked his watch again.
?Good,? he thought ?30 seconds till rendezvous?
He rounded the corner and spotted the rest of his team. They were crouched around a locked door, with Agent Johanssen setting up plastic explosives on the door.
?Stand back, it?s gonna blow? Johanssen’s voice crackled down the Comm system.
The soft hiss of the fuse got faster and faster, McNeill held his breath. Any second now?
And then he felt a hand on his shoulder. McNeill turned his head, only to hear the door blow open behind him. As he turned, he saw an ominous figure standing with a toothpick in between his teeth. The face, was?was almost skull like?
?Morning son, how?s you?? Death said cheerily
McNeill stood in silence. All kinds of random thoughts rushed into his head, but the first one was to run away. As he spun round to run, a small red light centred on his head. He looked up, only to hear the click and shut of the firing mechanism in the gun, and a silenced bullet escaping a barrel somewhere in the room. He closed his eyes tightly shut?
A sudden sensation of being caught in a gust of wind hit McNeill. He felt as though he was being thrust upward, toward the sky. He opened his eyes to see what was going on. He wished he hadn?t. Because were he was didn’t make him too happy.
As he looked around, he realised he was in some kind of lift -a glass elevator to be precise- and was hurtling towards the sky at hundreds of miles per hour. He turned around to see Death leaning against the walls of the elevator, cursing profanely under his breath at something or other. Death looked up, embarrassed.
Death began what appeared to be a speech that had been said over and over until it quite literally bled from Death?s mouth.
?Behold ye, ye dead spirit. For thoust are dead. Thy hath been chosen by God to join him in his armies of heaven. May thoust have a good eternity? Death appeared to say this with such lacklustre appeal, that McNeill wondered if this was for real.
?So in other words I?m?? McNeill began
Death cut in,
?Yes. You snuffed it, you?re dead, you hit the big one, you caught the last taxi, you?re pushing up the daisies, you?re riding the last train. You. Are. DEAD.?
?Oh, and I think you owe me a new tooth pick.? Death added.
McNeill slumped against the walls of the elevator, attempting to put these things in perspective in his brain.
?This? this is all so? so soon? McNeill stuttered
?Ah well? poor you. At least you didn?t have to crucify Jesus Christ.? Death quipped sarcastically.
The elevator slowed to halt, and with a loud ?DING!? it stopped. The doors opened, and hissed Star Trek style.
They stepped out of the lift and onto a silver road. The horizon was dotted with clouds, and the air was fresh and relieving. McNeill breathed a sigh of relief; being in a lift with Death wasn?t his ideal vacation. As he began to think of his ideal vacation, he felt a tap on his shoulder. Death pointed towards a bright light in the distance. Somewhere near the horizon, a large golden arch reached out of the silver road. Angels adorned the golden pillars, and choirs sang in the pulpits at the bottom.
McNeill turned and gazed at the gates. Awe-struck and gazing too far up towards the gates, he fell flat on his back.
?Since this is your first time in heaven, I have to give you mandatory tour of the cursed place.?
He let the sentence dribble off as a he winced at the thought of God and ?his Heaven?.
?Since you haven?t reached celebrity status, you don?t get to go to the real Pearly Gates??
With his arm outstretched, Death?s pointed to the left, towards a tacky plastic replica
?And even there, at the chat show hosts gates, no, not even there.?
McNeill was beginning to wonder where he would actually be staying. He started to open his mouth to speak, when Death cut in again.
?I know, I know, I can read your thoughts and I know that you want to know where you are actually staying, yes??
McNeill nodded obediently.
?Well,? Death trudged on, ?over to your right, yes, you see the small hole??
McNeill turned slowly around, and stood head on, facing the hole.
McNeill said this with a rather worried tone in his voice.
?Well, that would be the stairway to hell,? Death said ominously, ?And the place where most people who don?t have any real social status go?
With the last sentence, a chill in Death?s voice was apparent.
?You see, Mr McNeill, we don?t like to jest much up here in Heaven, and when a job has to be done, it will get done??
Death was fast becoming a less humorous character, and the warm glow that he seemed to have about him disappeared. The bumbling fool that McNeill had met down at that LA apartment was fast disappearing, and a chilling, cold and fearsome character was emerging.
In the distance, the fluffy white clouds dispersed and thunderous black clouds rolled in. The wind started up, and the Angel?s retreated. McNeill was sweating whilst muttering hurried prayers and curses under his breath.
Death rose from the ground, arms outstretched in a pose of sheer power. His face contorting to that of a madman. He began uttering loud curses in a foreign language.
McNeill sat quivering, fear taking over his entire body. His mind said ?Run!? but his body refused. He was oblivious to what was going behind him?
He turned round, the hole gaping open again, but this time a view of a hospital ward, his kids and wife crying. He turned, jumped and ran.
McNeill shot bolt upright. He looked around, sweat pouring down his face. It took a short while for his eyes to adjust, but when they finally did, he realised that he was in a hospital. Not any hospital, but the one he saw through the black hole. He looked around, shooting glances at sleeping patients. He looked at the hospital clock;
?11pm, Damn,? He thought to himself, ?visiting hours will be long over.?
?Man, what a strange dream, I wonder what the hell really happened.? His head was spinning and it hurt. He needed to get some more medication or something, he thought.
A nurse stood folding bed sheets a few feet away; her back turned to McNeill. He decided to shout on her, but as to not wake the patients, he quietly whispered ?Excuse me? to the nurse.
The nurse turned round.
?Thought you could escape, did you??
The nurse?s face was replaced by the grotesque image of Death, his voice echoing throughout the hospital ward.
Death began to laugh maniacally.
McNeill began to scream?