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The Afterlife Mortals

By A.M. Romero All Rights Reserved ©

Thriller / Adventure

I - Pancakes with A Side Order of Writer's Block

Jo Silver knew the minute she woke up that this was another day for her writer’s block to continue it’s long haul of emptiness.

She had spent most of her night scribbling and doodling, trying to find a good storyline for her characters that had only names from Google and partial description of their appearance only to still be stuck on the seventh day of her Writer’s Block dilemma.

She had no idea that there was actually a word for when a writer is stuck on his or her story and can’t brainstorm anything, but there is and she hated it. Writer’s Block is probably--- from what she read on the internet--- the most common struggle that all writers get at some point in their writing life.

“‘Write a book,’ they say.” Jo muttered under her covers. “‘It should be easy for you.’ they say.” Jo had never really been interested in writing a book at first. Her teachers were just amazed at how good she was at capturing their attention with her words in essays and English projects. She didn’t know how, but she was just good at writing--- really good actually. It was her best friend Avy who suggested that she should write a book.

“Just try it and see.” her best friend told her. “If you don’t think it’s your thing, then at least you’ll know. But give it an effort and who knows? Maybe I’m best friends with a best selling author.”

So Jo tried it. She started off with about four main characters---Ozias, Dezmon, E.J., and Abaddon--- who were all best friends living in a dystopian world--- that was still in need of work. She thought she had a pretty good idea of what it was going to be about but when she got to writing the actual chapters, nothing came to mind on how to get from Point A to Point B. So that was when her Writer’s Block happened.

Jo then decided to change the setting of the book. She went from outer space (always confused during science class), to medieval times (those names wouldn’t seemed accurate there and it was hard enough finding those four names in the first place), to ending up into a more realistic setting (let’s face it, she’s living realistically). But what would these four do in this plain, dull world? There was no way that they could solve crime because she wouldn’t know how to make the story mysterious like in the Nancy Drew series. She thought of time travel, but then again, she would have to figure out what setting -- or time-- they would land on and learn how to make it accurate. And there was no way that she could write a romance book! Jo herself has never had a boyfriend. How could she ever describe any romantic relationship with these guys pairing up with girls? If that were to happen, then she would have to create four girls which adds more characters which leads to confusion and whatnot. They’re boys for crying out loud! So what do boys do that makes a story interesting?

Her teachers had told her when she asked for advice to just go out and be active and maybe an idea would come to mind then. She tried writing prompts she found on Pinterest but nothing seemed to click into her story.

Jo was just stuck with only a white empty document on her laptop screen.

“Pancakes!” hollered her mom from downstairs. Sleepily, she got up and went to her closet to get clothes---and her black bandana she always wore around her left wrist--- and disappeared into the bathroom. Within ten minutes, Jo went down the hall with her backpack she was taking to school and was welcomed by the smell of vanilla cinnamon pancakes as she sat at the kitchen table.

“Morning, Jo.” her mother came, placing pancakes on the plate in front of Jo. Looking at Jo’s face, she immediately knew the cause of her daughter’s drowsiness. “Still on Writer’s Block?”

“Maybe writing’s not my thing.” Jo said, taking a bite of her delicious pancakes.

“Honey, it just takes time.” her father said, coming in already ready to go to work. “Maybe the idea is already inside of you, and all you have to do is wait for it to be ready to reveal to you.”

“Your father’s right.” her mother came in, “ideas come when they think the time’s right.”

“I guess,” she said, looking at the stove digital clock. “Crap! I’m late!” Jo devoured the rest of her pancakes in a flash and after kissing both her parents goodbye, she raced out the door, heading towards the bus stop.

Luckily, she made it before the last few kids -- including Avy who was stalling the bus driver for her -- got on the bus. “You’re late,” Avy told her as they both got on together. Her blonde hair was in a tight, slick bun that was at the crown of her head as she wore a blouse and thin scarf with a skirt and leggings underneath. And covering her feet her were her soft boots she uses all the time. If you didn’t know that she does ballet, you would probably know just by looking at her. Comparing the two, Avy dressed like a casual ballerina, and Jo dressed almost like a rocker chic from the sixties.

“Way to state the obvious.” Jo huffed as they got their seats right before the bus moved again. Jo had on the usual -- which she always wore --  a t-shirt that was tucked in by her high-waist shorts and her thin legs were covered by tights that only went up to the ankles. Her brunette hair was either loose or in a pony tail and she always wore a leather jacket over most outfits. She would also wear her red converse everywhere she went.

“I seriously thought you called in sick without even telling me.” her best friend admitted. “I mean, I seriously didn’t think you would be this late to the bus stop so I came up with like over a hundred scenarios of what happened to you. One of them was getting killed by a sharknado.” As much stupidity as there was in all of the Sharknado movies, Avy and Jo still find themselves laughing every time they watched them. It was too dumb and funny to hate them and it was one of the things they do for “fun” together.

“Well, I’m sorry that it’s been a week of nothing going on up here.” Jo replied pointing at her temple.

“Still on that Writer’s Block?” Avy asked. “No wonder you look like a walker. You put too much blush on.”

“You know I don’t wear makeup.” Jo told her.

“I was just making sure you weren’t a full-on zombie yet.” Avy teased, checking her own makeup in her tiny mirror she held in her hands.

“I’m still awake to where you can’t put any foundation on me if that’s what you’re thinking.”

“Oh darn,” Avy said, snapping her fingers. “Looks like you’re partially yourself.”

The bus driver dropped them off in front of Shaw High School about thirty minutes before the school bell would ring for class. As Jo and Avy got off, they made their way into the school building until Jo’s eye caught something in the school parking lot--- or she thought she did.

“What’s up?” Avy asked her.

“I thought I saw something weird.”

“Oh-kay?” Avy asked. “Whatever it is, I’m sure it’s not something like--- oh I don’t know--- a crack.”

Jo looked at her. “Seriously? A crack as in The Maze Runner cracks?”

“I mean it’s not like we both read the book and watched the movie or anything.”

“C’mon then,” Jo said, pulling her brunette hair back behind her. “Let’s get to class before the Peacekeepers find us.”


Jo was so anxious to have her lunch period throughout all her morning classes. She somehow couldn’t concentrate on the lesson because all she could think about was how to get out of her Writer’s Block. It was crowding her focus at school that she barley understood most of the things they taught in her classes. When lunch came around, Jo told herself that she had to let the story go in order to focus on getting a good grade. Even though she mentally decided it, Avy could see it on Jo’s face.

“You’re quitting the book writing thing, aren’t ya?”

“What---?”

“Don’t even, Josephine Silver---.”

“Hey!” Jo exclaimed, covering Avy’s mouth. “Don’t say the full name in public!”

“I will if you don’t admit that I’m right.” Avy threatened with a smirk.

“Fine,” Jo grumbled, removing her hand from Avy’s mouth. “You’re right, I’m giving it up.”

“You haven’t even started the first chapter.”

“That’s the problem, I haven’t started the first chapter because I don’t even know what to write about. I mean it’s easier to write essays and school lit papers, but an entire story? I don’t think it’s my thing.”

“Well,” Avy started, “What if it is and you’re going to give up on it right now?”

“Avy, c’mon.” Jo told her. “It’s not,”

“Jo Silver! A best-selling author of many books that turned into blockbuster movies and TV shows.” she said, sounding like a news reporter, “Oh wait, she quit before all that had even happened.”

“Shut up!” Jo said, shoving her best friend playfully.

“Don’t be like Emma Swan who for so long had denied the fact that she was the savior.” Avy told her.

“Okay, okay, I’ll give it a try.”

“Thatta girl!” Avy exclaimed happily. “Oh and you can’t forget! Ballet Recital is this Friday at six. I’ll get there around four if you wanna join me.”

“Hmmm, let me think about it.” Jo replied, “Okay, I’ll go.”

After awhile of discussing the facts, clues, and unsolved mysteries of their all-time favorite TV show Once Upon A Time, Avy had taken Jo’s offer of getting her a Coke from the vending machine before their lunch period ended. Jo’s mind was still searching for a story as she walked towards the vending machine.

What if, she asked, staring at the Cokes that were in front of her. There was an extinction of soda? That’s stupid, Jo. Why in the world would you think that?

She placed the dollars inside the machine and pressed the buttons that led to the Cokes.

Monsters taking over what was left of Mars? That’s a children’s book for sure!

One of the Cokes got stuck during the process of delivery. In frustration, Jo banged her hands hard enough to attempt to get it unstuck but didn’t succeed. “Stupid machine! Why won’t you work?” When she finally stopped banging it, she noticed something on the machine’s glass display of the sodas. There was a reflection of someone that -- from what she could tell -- had blonde hair and was wearing all white with the face of worry. Then there came a petrified cry from some random girl in the school that led into multiple screams and footsteps running. When she turned around to find the owner of the reflection, no one was there behind her but a boy taller than her wearing all black with a handgun pointed right at her.

Jo dropped her change in fright as she raised her hands to where he could see them, not even worrying about what was happening around her. She kept her eyes on the gun that was trembling in his hands, making the click sound that meant it was loaded. His eyes had dark circles underneath, indicating that he could be exhausted at this point. Dark hair, not-too-pale skin, dark zip up jacket with the hood over his head, along with t-shirt, and  jeans. Jo looked at his face for the longest time, even though it was hard to see his whole face in his hood.

“What do you want?” Jo managed to choke out.

“I don’t want to do this.” he said to her. Once she heard his voice, she knew he wasn’t a complete stranger. She knew him from somewhere but it wasn’t from school. For some reason, it was hard to picture where she knew him from. It felt like years of thinking until she noticed something that made her brain click in realization. There was a black bandana that was wrapped around his wrist— the same color and wrist Jo had always put her bandana on.

“Axel?” she asked, knowing that she only knew one Axel Lardica in all of her life.

“I’m sorry Jo,” Axel said with a cracked voice, “I’m so sorry, Jo. But if I’m starting over, I’m doing it with you.”

Jo Silver fell back from the impact of the bullet that went straight to her heart and lost sight of everything she had ahead of her.

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