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Andrew J. Hogan
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free.jpg
Art by Ann Marie Rhiel 2017

FREE

 

by Andrew J. Hogan

 

 

“Run,” she said. My sister’s eyes pleaded with me.

 

“Why?” I said.

 

“Because I am going to kill you.” The pupils of her eyes started to widen and darken. “Run!”

 

I started to run. I don’t know why I believed her. It didn’t make any sense that she would want to kill me. But there was something in her, I guess, that did. After about fifty feet, I looked back. She had gotten to her feet. She picked up a large, jagged rock. She glared at me and started running in my direction.

 

I ran up the trail, back to the parking area where our mother was waiting for us. I ran as fast as I could, but I wasn’t fast enough. Something was wrong; my sister could never run as fast as I could, but she caught me and cracked my skull with the rock.

 

~     ~     ~     ~     ~

 

          It’s been twenty years, and today my sister brought her two daughters to the same spot where she killed me. My sister led my two nieces down by the creek and then walked back to the picnic area at the top of the hill near the parking area where I have stayed, ever since she killed me. I think only one of my nieces is going home today.

 

          “I don’t understand why you killed me,” I told my sister. 

 

          “I don’t know myself. I only know that I had to do it,” she said.

 

          “It doesn’t make sense,” I said.

 

          “Only one of us can live.”

 

          “But why?”

 

          “That’s the way it is.”

 

          “Don’t you feel guilty?”

 

          “No,” she said.

 

          “You killed your own sister.”

 

          “I told you to run. You could have gotten away.”

 

          “I don’t understand. Why should I need to get away?” I said.

 

          “You didn’t need to understand. You only needed to die.”

 

          “It must be wrong. I’m here haunting you,” I said.

 

          “Not for long.”

 

          “What do you mean?”

 

          “Look,” she said.

 

          My nieces ran up the hill toward the parking lot, where my sister and I were talking. Julia chased Vicki with a large, jagged rock, like the one my sister used to kill me.

 

          “Why are you letting her do this?” I said.

 

          “To get rid of you.”

 

          “What do you mean?”

 

          I heard the crack of the rock on Vicki’s skull; I could still feel it, even though I’d been dead for twenty years.

 

My sister was right. Julia came up the hill, followed at a distance by Vicki’s ghost. My sister led Julia to the car and drove her away. As they left and Vicki came closer, I faded away. My sister was free, and I am gone.

 

“Free” originally appeared in February 2012 Issue of Twisted Dreams Magazine.

 

 

 

usingyourkit.jpg
Art by Hillary Lyon 2019

USING YOUR KIT

By Andrew J. Hogan

 

 

 

 

Congratulations!!! You have chosen the Heavenly Vapors Home Self-Immolation Kit (HVHSK), the most practical way to end your life through conflagration available to someone not a member of a suicide cult. The HVHSK’s unique formulation of heavy petroleum, gasoline and jet fuel not only burns more thoroughly, leaving 30% less unincinerated tissue than other products, but the HVHSK is more effective, causing death in an average of four and a half minutes, minimizing unfortunate rescue attempts and the pain and expense of prolonged burn unit stays.

Preparations: Site selection is paramount when using your HVHSK. Self-immolation can be hazardous to pets, property and other persons if undertaken inside a flammable structure. The HVHSK will produce a satisfactory open-air immolation under most climatic conditions, including light to moderate precipitation and winds less than 20 miles per hour. Non-flammable structures, such as concrete parking garages, are suitable for individuals wishing to self-immolate during a thunderstorm.

For those desiring wet open-air self-immolation, such as in heavy rainfall, a swimming pool, river or lake, please exchange your current kit for the HVHSK-M, which contains heavier petroleum, a waterproof binding agent and three pounds of magnesium crystals. In the presence of water vapor released by burning flesh magnesium will produce an explosively hot flame, effectuating incineration even while submerged. Attempt wet self-immolation only in larger bodies of water, at least ten thousand gallons. Hot tubs are not suitable for wet self-immolation, as the superheated water may damage tub walls.

Instructions: After selecting a suitable self-immolation site, mix the fuel and the binding agent in a large pail. Complete incineration can best be achieved by wearing absorbent clothing on all parts of your body. Cover your head with several stocking masks or ski caps to completely incinerate the skull and brains. Wear heavy socks on your feet. Light cloth gloves should be all that is needed for your hands, unless they are unusually meaty.

Once clothed in absorbent material, stand in the special immolation pan included with the kit and carefully wet all areas of the body, starting at the top and making sure there is at least one inch of liquid in the pan. Once completely saturated, ignite the Heavenly Vaporizing Lighter and drop it into the pan. Enjoy the rush of warmth that will quickly envelop you.

Do not attempt to ignite your clothing directly, particularly the upper body; this may lead to incomplete combustion if you lose consciousness and collapse before your lower extremities are ignited, leaving grisly remains for loved ones to clean-up. To prevent premature collapse, perhaps due to a pre-existing medical condition, we offer the HVHSK wooden body rack, designed to fit inside the immolation pan and to keep you upright during initial combustion. There is a stainless steel version for plus-size customers needing up to nine minutes to achieve satisfactory incineration. If the self-immolation procedure is performed correctly, all ashes and bone remnants should collect in the immolation pan for easy disposal.

Disclaimers: Emergency extinguishing devices for customers having second thoughts after beginning the immolation process are available, but our research shows these devices produce poor customer outcomes, usually crippling burns and lingering death. Instead we suggest you attend a Heavenly Vapors Warm Sendoff seminar to assure that self-immolation is the best choice for your final departure. See our website for locations and dates.

Heavenly Vapors cannot guarantee that its self-immolation kit will obviate the need for cremation.  Many factors can affect the completeness of combustion. A combustion-friendly diet can be helpful—See “Healthy Diets for the Prospective Self-Immolator” by Fiamma Lancia, available directly from our website or Amazon.com

Most organized religions are close-minded about self-immolation, and civil authorities frequently attempt to prevent or interrupt the self-immolation service. Unfortunately, most self-immolators find it necessary to perform a solitary service, away from family and friends. Our website offers a full range of audio tapes, CDs and DVDs with musical selections, readings of philosophical and religious texts, and images of religious and artistic symbols that enhance the self-immolation ceremony for some individuals. In our experience, most satisfied customers prefer the simple, no-nonsense ceremony in a familiar driveway, backyard or nearby parking lot.

Your satisfaction is one hundred percent guaranteed, with a full return of the purchase price if self-immolation is unsuccessful due to a manufacturing defect in our product.






Andrew Hogan was a faculty member at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. He published more than five-dozen professional articles on health services research and health policy. He has published more than 100 works of short fiction.





                                   

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