"Waiting for the Long Shrink" by Ian Creasey — story background

"But I was going to put the money back," I said.

The angel's stern gaze lacerated me.  "It is too late now," he said, his voice resonant as church bells.  "Your fate is sealed.  You should have redeemed your sins while you could."

Nowadays, counselling is an inevitable corollary of adversity.  Whenever the newspapers report a disaster, they also report that the victims are being offered counselling.  You can get counselling to help you cope with job loss, relationship difficulties, substance addiction, past-life trauma... indeed, just as soon as any modern ill is identified, a counselling industry springs up around it.  Nothing, it seems, is so terrible that counsellors can't help.  Have you been kidnapped and tortured?  Have you been in a plane crash and survived by eating the flesh of fellow passengers?  No matter how horrific and unprecedented the situation, trained counsellors are on stand-by, with coping strategies already prepared for you.

I enjoy writing satire, and I decided to satirise the counselling boom by applying it to the ultimate adversity: death.  I conjectured that after you die, your spirit gets counselling sessions to help you cope with the transition to the hereafter.

When I wrote the story, its territory shifted from comedy to horror, but the satirical underpinning survived.  This is one of my more straightforward "flash fiction" pieces, with basic characterisation and plot squeezed into a short narrative — a genuine mini-story.

Page last updated: 15 July 2021