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No Heaven, No Hell
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-131-5
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Suspense/Thriller
eBook Length: 374 Pages
Published: October 2013

From inside the flap

What if—
Everything we’ve ever believed about life after death is wrong?

What if—
Our beliefs about the reasons for much of human behavior, attitudes and mental acuity are also wrong?

Suppose— Autism, homosexuality, criminal behavior, mental illness and other aberrations from the norm are caused by the same essential factor?

And suppose—
Changes in human behavior such as teenage angst, descent into criminality, a sudden successful desire to better ourselves, incredible success in finance or business and other transformations are due to a phenomena that is known to some but never discussed?

And then what if—
All this knowledge is suddenly revealed by a small group of people who have figured it out but are in fear for their lives for doing so?

The afterlife isn’t what he thought it was. When Daniel Nelson’s cancer-ravaged body finally gives up he finds out that dying was easy compared to what comes after. He learns that while there still doesn’t appear to be absolute proof of heaven or hell, there is indeed life after death--for some.

But what a life! Dan’s mind is now attached to that of a fourteen year-old girl, Jeannie Stanforth, who was nearby when he died, but she has no knowledge of his presence. What does this mean? Are there others like him? If so, what are the consequences for their hosts?

Under dire necessity, Dan finally makes contact with Jeannie several years later and eventually Jeannie reveals the details to her father John Stanforth and to her stepmother, Rosie. Rosie immediately collapses in relief and tears because, like Jeannie, she thought she was the only one who had an attached mind, that of a young man with Asperger’s syndrome who passed his incredible talent for numbers on to her. From there the three of them form a foundation to explore what all this means. They find a few others like them but then they learn that there is a Cabal of men and women with multiple attached minds who have gained tremendous financial and political power through the synergistic effect of the minds working together.

The Cabal is adamant that no one learn where their ability came from. After two attempts on their lives, Jeannie and her new husband, Abe, and her parents decide they must reveal the presence of attached minds to the public in order to save their own lives.

And then all hell breaks loose.

An amazing, unusual, completely original novel that will challenge almost every belief you’ve ever had!

No Heaven, No Hell (Excerpt)

Chapter One

Dying isn't that hard. The heart stops, you take a last breath and then the brain dies and you're gone. Dying is really uncomplicated compared to the process leading up to it--in most cases. The lucky ones go with a massive heart attack or a killing stroke or an instantly fatal accident and that's all there is to it. But for most of us the approach towards death is long and drawn out, painful and degrading, with tubes and diapers and beeping monitors if you happen to be dying in a hospital. At home it's the same thing without the monitors. It is usually very painful, too, especially if you go the way I did with metastasizing cancer that slowly ate its way through my body. God, I hated it. I wanted to die well before I actually did. I tried ending it on my own but the damn kids wouldn't let me get away with it. They took my pills away from the bedside and put them out of my reach. By then I couldn't even walk unassisted.

During those last weeks I suffered the agonies of the damned, as if I'd gone to hell before I died. Pain medication didn't help much, especially after I tried overdosing and miscalculated. I forgot how much of a tolerance I had built up to the drugs. I simply slipped into a deep coma for a day or two then woke up and began hurting again, worse than ever and I couldn't even grab a pill when I wanted one. I had to wait until someone else decided I could have it. I cried and begged for release. I pled with the doctor to give me higher doses of the meds. He refused, categorically. He told me he was already giving me all he could and cited DEA regulations that could get him into trouble if he upped the dosage any more. I cursed the damn DEA then cried and begged again and again until no one wanted to visit me for fear of hearing me plea with them, with anyone, to bring me something to ease my passing. All for naught. I had to bear it all the way to the end. When that final breath came it was like a gift from heaven except that I didn't believe in heaven nor hell either. If there is a God ordering our lives He could sure as hell do a better job of letting us die. That was my final coherent thought. Death came a moment later.

It was just like the descriptions of those who have had near-death experiences--up to a point.

I could see my body on the bed where I had come home from the hospital to die with family members gathered around. It was so arresting and I was so happy to finally be free of pain that I almost finished dying right then. My wife was crying, my son and daughter were holding each other. She was shedding tears while he manfully tried to hold them back without much success. I finally turned my attention from them when I felt my mind coming under stress that increased from second to second, stress from trying to hold itself together. It was then that I realized I wasn't quite dead--my brain was still partially alive. That is, the brain cells hadn't died yet from lack of oxygen, they had simply ceased to support consciousness, but so long as they were alive so was my mind. However, it had already been a couple of minutes and I suddenly realized I would complete the process of dying very shortly, just as soon as the brain cells expired.

That was alright, I thought. I welcomed the stress at first, welcomed the oncoming death. I didn't want to have to go back to all that suffering, the intractable pain that went on and on without relief, the embarrassing degradation of failing bodily functions and the visiting nurses who came and went but were helpless to give me the release I sought and begged for. Worst of all was having to see the twisted faces of Mary and the kids trying to reassure me that there was still hope and if not... well, there was always a better place. I surely hoped so. Anything was better than the situation I'd been in, even oblivion if there was no afterlife. I said I welcomed my impending death but it wasn't like that afterward. Now that I was free of pain I began to get scared. I didn't see any tunnel of light or welcoming relatives who had passed on. The only ones I could see were my family and they weren't dead, not even close to it.

That was when the sight of my loved ones still among the living suddenly vanished, as well as thoughts of those who had gone before. I was alone and was soon to die. I felt myself drifting this way and that in space that had no end nor up nor down. It was confusing. My mind grew weaker. I knew I was on the verge of dissipating into a field of darkness I could sense rushing toward me, what I knew would be the final oblivion. I turned away from it, scared of the end, the final end. It was in front of me, too, an ebony black so dark that the few pinpoints of light breaking through it seemed brighter than searchlights. I gravitated toward them, looking for a way out, away from the death I had been wishing and hoping for but now was running from. I knew without doubt my heart had stopped beating and my mind was still existing only because my brain cells would live a few minutes past that, but only a few. Even my mind was weakening perceptibly with only a rapidly dying brain to support it.

Right at the last, just before the final nothingness I suddenly discerned the lights as living minds, of living people near me although at an indeterminable distance and of indeterminable age and gender. I rushed toward one of the brightest and clung to it for protection against the impending, deepening darkness of final death. Miraculously, it worked. The threatening ebony blackness retreated as the mind I had gone to showed no resistance or even awareness of my presence. I entered the mind, felt my own attaching to it but still separate and as I was soon to find out, the lesser of the two of us. The darkness was overwhelmed by burgeoning light seen through the eyes of the person I was becoming a part of.

I was in a room I recognized, the one where Jeannie Stanforth was staying. She was the daughter of John Stanforth, an old friend who had come to see me one last time before I was gone. I vaguely remembered them arriving a couple of days before I died. But... surely not? I couldn't be part of a fourteen year old girl! I hadn't seen either him or his daughter Jeannie for years but I realized it must be her eyes I was using for vision. She twitched and shivered when I settled into her, as if she were suddenly cold. Her fingers froze on the icons of her phone where she had been looking at a group of photos. I didn't notice exactly what they were because she hurriedly switched to something else when she heard a knock and the door opened almost immediately afterward. John, my oldest friend, stood there for a moment with grief distorting his normally handsome features then he came on in. His eyes narrowed.

"Are you all right, Jeannie?" he said. "Jeannie? What is it?" She hadn't answered him. She was lying sideways on a big easy chair holding her phone in both hands.

"Huh? Oh. Sorry, Dad. I just felt funny there for a minute, like a draft of cold air was in the room." She shivered again, not understanding what had happened and not the least bit aware of my presence.

He glanced at the window, saw that it was closed. I could practically see his thoughts moving behind that familiar face. Unlike me, he didn't care for anything out of the ordinary, the unexplained, and he didn't know what had happened with his daughter.

"It's okay, Dad. How is Mr. Nelson?"

"Dan just passed away, honey."

"I'm sorry, Dad. I know you were good friends," she said. By her tone I figured she immediately felt guilty at her expression of sympathy when probably all she really thought was that him dying meant they could go home soon where she would be back with her friends. Right after the funeral. But that was only a surmise. I couldn't read her thoughts at all, but I could feel the sensation of her sitting in the chair and moving and talking even though she wasn't even marginally aware of my presence.

"It's just as well. He was suffering a lot there at the end and there was nothing anyone could do for him."

He was right about that but I hardly heard him. I was still adjusting, wondering if this was what happened when a person died, finding a new home in someone else's body. That couldn't be it, though. Or only a small part of it I thought, otherwise everyone in the world would be made up of innumerable minds going through life with them. But maybe that was it, since Jeannie had no idea I was there. No. It didn't make sense that way, either. She wouldn't be able to function if very many other personalities were vying for space. Maybe everyone wasn't successful in finding a host for their mind as I very nearly hadn't. Maybe that was it. I'd have to think the whole thing through. In the meantime I was still adjusting to my death and... reincarnation? I didn't know what else to call it unless I was still living and this was all a giant hallucination. I didn't believe that, though. I was certain I had died. I was almost as certain that reincarnation wasn't a very good description of what was going on with me or her either. I decided to just accept that it was a form of life after death that I didn't understand as yet. Hell, what else could I do?

It felt weird to be seeing with her eyes and feeling the sensations of her body while she moved and talked with me as part of her now, yet she had no idea I was there. For a while I paid little attention to anything being said and not very much to her movements or thoughts as I fitted myself more firmly and closely in her mind, becoming a part of her, a silent observer but a gleeful one as it gradually sank in that I was still functioning, still alive... after a fashion. At least the essence of me was still around and that was good enough for now.

I wondered if I could influence her or make myself known? Or whether I should even try. Before I thought much about it I spoke as if I were in my own body but not very loudly, more like a whisper. Move your right arm.

Nothing happened. I didn't get through to her. Upon reflection I was glad I hadn't, not yet, although I realized I probably could if I tried just a bit harder. It doubtless would have scared her to death, thinking she was hearing voices. That wouldn't be good. It would worry the hell out of her but like most teenagers she would be secretive and not tell a soul. That's when it occurred to me that maybe schizophrenia was a result of cases like mine where the dead person breaks through a... barrier, I guess, to the other mind and makes itself known in no uncertain fashion. The voices would make a person think they were going insane. No, that wouldn't do because Schizophrenics knew they were hearing voices and didn't believe they were mentally ill. I tried again, more cautiously this time, simply thinking I'm here. Nothing. Was I going to have to live the rest of Jeannie's life simply tagging along with her and never having any experiences of my own? I tried harder, making my thought "louder". I'm here!

This time she jerked and looked around. She saw no one near but her father, who was busy talking on his phone that had just buzzed him. There was no doubt at all that she had heard my silent comment. There was no doubt that it frightened her, either. I decided not to try communicating with her any more for the present because I imagined how I would have reacted to the same thing before my last illness or worse, as a young person like her. She was only fourteen if I remembered right. Or was it fifteen? In either case I would have thought something was wrong with my brain and would have been way too fearful to admit it to anyone. I was almost certain she would react the same way if I persisted because I suddenly realized I would know everything she did, if not anything she thought, once I had been with her for a while. At first I was too busy adjusting to the situation to worry much about what she said or actions she performed to pay much attention but once I was comfortable with her then most of her daily life was my life as well.

It was a quandary. Simply being with her but doing nothing else wouldn't be much of a life. It would be like reading a novel about someone, or more accurately, a biography. A long, long detailed biography but probably a boring one in any case because I couldn't tell what she was thinking unless I asked her and I had no intention of doing that yet. Maybe it was more like a never-ending movie. On the other hand making my presence known would certainly upset her and the life she had now. It would impact on whatever future she had as well. I decided to be still and observe and think about the situation before making any decisions at all.