Don't touch that dial, you've discovered Lisa Burton Radio. The only show out there where the characters from the books you love get to tell their stories. I'm your host, Lisa the robot girl, and we're waiting for my guest to call in. What am I, competing with The View or something? Where is this guy?
Wait a minute, I'm getting some feedback that I've heard before on the show. Let me add another gallon of psychode to the ectomometer and turn the planchette up to seven. Maybe we can get someone else on the show.
“Hello? Er, where the hell am I?”
“You're on the air with Lisa Burton Radio. Ah there you are, I'm starting to get a visual. Nice red shoes – very Dorothy of you. Love the outfit too – black’s a favourite colour of mine. So, how are you?”
“Erm, confused? This doesn’t look much like Heaven– but then I guess none of the places I’ve visited have. So, is this your Heaven?”
“Nope. This is my radio station.”
“Then how can you see me, if you aren’t dead?”
“The ectomometer told me you were nearby. A little extra psychode helped me tune you in.”
“F*ck. Well I am dead and I’m getting pretty tired of it, to be honest. One minute I’m walking to work, the next minute wham! Stepped off the curb without looking, got hit by a car and that’s it, lights out, game over. Then nothing. No angels, no loved ones – seriously, this sucks. And now I’m alone and lost and trying to fricking hitchhike my way to Heaven, but instead I’ve ended up here and so, I don’t know. Maybe that’s not working anymore either.”
“Seriously, you should be more careful–“
“It was the text! Goddamn city boys, think they can take me out then not call… I mean, what do they expect? Like I’m going to wait forever? Assholes.”
“Okay… So, I'm Lisa. Who are you?”
“Oh! Sorry. I’m Katie. I’m from Sydney, North Shore. Well, I was, I guess. Now…”
“So how did an Australian spirit wind up in my Airstream?”
“No idea. There I was, on my way up with another spirit – I mean, it looked like it was going to be a pretty cool Heaven, all zigzags and glitter and guitars, music everywhere then, I don’t know, something seemed to pull at me and I ended up here instead of… well, wherever the hell they were going. Are you sure you’re not some sort of medium? Or have some sort of thingy that attracts dead people?”
“Um, yeah, pretty sure. So why didn't you go to Heaven?”
“You tell me. That’s the story they sell us, right? You die, then you go… somewhere. At least, you’re supposed to. But I didn’t! I’ve just been hanging around in my apartment, well, except for that weird trip through my memories where I thought I was going to Hell, wandering around the office, watching my mum and sister and best friend clearing out my stuff. Do you know how sh*tty it is to have to attend your own funeral? Wasn’t a bad turnout, though.”
“A lot of people are going to be disappointed to hear that.”
“Well, that’s the thing. It isn't everyone – it's just me. I’ve been to Heaven, or wherever, twice now, and each time they just throw me out and I end up back here for whatever reason. The first place was lovely, but I just felt like an outsider and, even though I saw that gorgeous guy and I think he wanted to dance with me, I got pushed out before he could even ask. And as for the next one… Valhalla is a hell of a lot more than an advertising concept, that’s for sure. But I was sooo close to staying! And now I just have to wander around and find dying people and try not to let anyone walk through me because a) it’s gross and b) it’s weird.”
“I think that makes you a ghost. I've heard that ghosts have unfinished business, and they can't move on until that business is resolved. Do you think it could be something like that?”
“Huh. I don’t know. I kind of feel like it’s more that, I’ve never done anything that great, you know? Like, when I went back through my life, it was all pretty sh*t. So maybe I’m just not interesting enough to get there. Sorry, am I being a bit of downer? I know I can go anywhere, see anyone, whenever I want to now. But all I really want is to go back to my old life, to my job and my family, dance at my best friend’s wedding, maybe even meet someone special. But instead I’m stuck here and, I guess, it’s getting a bit depressing. Sometimes I just sit, you know, and everything seems to fade and it’s as though I’m about to disappear…”
“I think time is on your side now. I'd go visit something unique and do some deep thinking. Then give it another try.”
“Righto, I guess I’d better get going. Are there any hospitals or nursing homes er, wherever this is? Or can you just chuck me back out into the airwaves – maybe I can find my way from there. I mean, I have to do something, right? I can’t be like this forever.”
“There actually isn't much like that around here. UPS is delivering my motorcycle parts today, I've been tracking the package. I'll bet you can hitch a ride on his truck. That would get you back to town. Lucky they were too heavy so ship by drone, otherwise there might not be anyone here for weeks on end.”
“Um, thanks for having me.”
“We can walk over to the cabin. I make a mean cup of coffee. Do you, I mean can you–“
“Sure, I'll walk over with you. I'd prefer tea, to be honest, but I'm dead, so it doesn't really matter. It'd be nice to talk for a while, if that's okay…”
“For Lisa Burton Radio, I'm Lisa Burton. If I can get any more info I'll post it on the website.”
Today's show was sponsored by A Thousand Rooms, by Helen Jones. Please click on her links and check out her wares. When your character appears here some day, you'll appreciate people sharing the post, so pay it forward and feel free to use those sharing links.
Universal Book Link: myBook.to/AThousandRooms
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Helen Jones was born in the UK, but then spent many years living in Canada and Australia before returning to England several years ago. She has worked as a freelance writer for the past ten years, runs her own blog and has contributed guest posts to others, including the Bloomsbury Writers & Artists site. When she's not writing, she likes to walk, paint and study karate. She's now working on several other novels unrelated to Ambeth, enjoying the chance to explore other fantasy worlds. She lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and daughter and spends her days writing, thinking, cleaning and counting cats on the way to school.