Sadly, the majority of us know someone who has left this earth far too early. Whether it be due to a sudden illness or tragic accident, bad things have a way of happening to good people. When this occurs, it also creates a great deal of shock and grief for the loved ones who are left behind. They will inevitably question the arbitrary nature of death. Why did it have to be their loved one! Why now? In such a state of grief and dismay it is so difficult to find any type of ultimate meaning. However, what if an overall purpose actually does exist? Maybe there is nothing arbitrary about sudden death at all. Perhaps it is part of a larger plan. Would that change our perception of things? Would it give comfort in the most heartbreaking of situations? In her short story, Winston’s Supernatural Disaster, author C.R. Everett explores this very concept.
Basically, the story follows the afterlife journey of Winston and 450 “souls” who have just perished due to a natural disaster. They all end up in a heavenly holding place and are welcomed and comforted by angelic sages. While the angels are a bit flustered and harried due to the larger number of sudden visitors, they do their best to calm and reassure the group of sad, scared and confused souls. Not surprisingly, the souls want to know what they did to deserve this fate. Winston leads the way for the group by asking the angelic sages this very question. What did he do to deserve this? Surely anyone who ends up here in such a cruel and sudden fashion is being punished for a misdeed or sins in their worldly life? They have all been unexpectedly torn away from their loved ones and feel they are now to face the sanctions of the afterlife. However, the main angelic keeper named Jory, lets them know something very interesting and intriguing. There sudden arrival was not the surprise which they all believe it to be…and in no way is it a punishment. How can this possibly be so? And how could such a cruel blow actually be a positive gift?
There can be little doubt that this is a very big topic to tackle. The author has a very unique and hopeful perspective on what is otherwise a dark subject. That alone makes this story well worth reading. To give people hope that good can come out of even the worst situations. Without giving away the main points of the story, I will say that to portray even death as having a predetermined and positive impact is a very hopeful and reassuring concept. Many of us would gladly give up our own lives if it was to ensure that our loved ones could live and thrive.
All that being said, I do believe such a weighty topic needed more substance and story events to back it up. The story was so short it certainly left me wanting more. There are no background events or even a clear beginning middle and end. Also, there is really little to no development of the characters. Little information is given about Winston and the main angelic sage, Jory, is described only by his address to the lost souls. I wanted more background on the angels and the souls who perished in the disaster. Lastly I was not totally sure where they actually ended up. Was it in heaven…purgatory? Essentially it was described as a “place.” Proper world building could have greatly enhanced the overall plot.
Overall, I did like the story. In fact, I believe the ideas are so thought provoking and heartwarming that this could easily be turned into a full length novel. The story however was presented as more of an outline to something which could be much bigger.
3 out of 5 Hopeful Stars for this one!