When Kenneth died–or was unwillingly murdered in a lonely field outside of town, as he would be quick to tell anyone that would listen–he found that he could not move on. It is true what they say about unfinished business, and so Kenneth stayed behind long after his body had left.
At first, he wandered around the world looking over the shoulders of old friends, family and long-lost lovers. He would stare at them while they slept, watch them go about their days, peep at them in the showers and be there for their intimate moments with their partners. He would giggle and, occasionally, manage to knock over something small, like a picture or a glass off a table.
But most of the time he just watched.
Eventually, this grew boring and he wandered further afield. He found his murderer, but after knocking over and rattling everything he could–which was not very much–and screaming at her repeatedly while she slept, Kenneth got bored of this too. In fact, he suspected that she liked it. Bitch. There just was so little you could do from this side of the world.
And so he found himself wandering back to that lonely field just outside of town.
It was a nice, quiet, little field. A small river slipped quietly by it and, at dawn and dusk, a small crowd of ibis would cluster the banks of it. Their occasional caws would break the quiet as the glory of the rising or setting Sun would streak the sky with brilliant reds and golds, deepening the soft, wavy green of the grass and reeds in the nice, quiet, little field. Occasionally, people would wander out here to fish, take pictures or even picnic, but he would scream at them and whoosh the long grass near them, and, eventually, they would leave him and his field in peace.
But time changes all things, and his nice, quiet, little field was no exception.
The days became years, and the years became decades and then centuries. The nearby city grew, roads popped up around the field and factories spewing out smoke before a large block of flats popped up where the field was. Thousands of people began appeared overnight in this block of flats, they came and they went and noise and neon light roared all around them, but the small crowd of ibis no longer came by and the sunrises and sunsets no longer sparkled on the bogged, polluted river flowing by.
Kenneth raged! He screamed and shouted, knocked everything that he could down–which was not that much–and cursed these nameless, squalid people from ruining his quiet field. He thought less and less about his friends, family and, even, his murderer.
But time moved on, and within the century, the block of flats was abandoned. The factories around it were still. The pollution still came and the city light all around him blinded the night sky while the traffic noise deafened him by day. Then the planes dropped bombs in the distance, fires began to rage and soon the city was wiped out. It was quiet all around him again, but his crowd of ibis never returned. His field was little more than a slowly collapsing building or a slowly forming pile of rubble in a blackened land.
Then, early one morning as Kenneth was whooshing around two thin, starving pigeons fighting over some seeds on the ground, a light started over the horizon. The light grew brighter and in moments everything was blasted into dust, except him.
Kenneth remained. There was nothing left to push over, scream at or whoosh. There was not even a river anymore, so clogged up with dust was it that the land had disintegrated into a desert. A dusty, grey desert.
There was nowhere else for him to go. Besides, this spot reminded him of his field. So he just stood there waiting.
The earth was silent now. He found himself wondering if he was the only thing alive on it, but then he reminded himself that he was actually dead too. He would manically laugh at this before screaming at the wind as it blasted fine nuclear dust through him.
But time moved on, and the centuries became millennia, and the millennia moved into a unit of time that Kenneth did not even know what to call. He had long forgotten about his friends, family and, even, his murderer. The earth grew dark and cold, and then the sky started to get brighter and brighter until even Kenneth needed to squint to look at it. Even the sand and dust started to burn as a steadily growing roar began to penetrate the air.
And then the Sun exploded.
Such fire and destruction reminded Kenneth of the humans and their little bombs and wars. The earth was literally ripped apart by the force of it, but Kenneth remained. It all just went through him and left him floating out there in space.
He missed his quiet field with his crowd of ibis and his lazy little river that flowed by. He now missed his planet too. But, he had nothing to do in space but float there in agonising boredom and let the millenia’s millenia slip by…
“Kenneth? Kenneth? Do you know where you are?” a voice began to penetrate his consciousness. It was a familiar voice, he thought, but he could not place it, “Kenneth, please respond? Do you know where you are?”
He opened his eyes and, at first, everything was blue with green lines framing it. Then he recognised the sky above. The real sky, from earth. The green lines were the grass in his field. He was lying on his back in his field, the grass around him and the sky above him.
He sat up abruptly, surprising a nearby ibis that cawed and flapped to a further part of the nearby quiet river. God, he had missed them!
“Kenneth, do you know where you are?” said the voice again. Kenneth abruptly looked at it and saw his wife.
“I, I, I dreamt that you murdered–uhm, I, I was just asleep, wasn’t I?” he answered, the words feeling unfamiliar as they left his throat. His throat was dry and his mouth tasted like dust. But then he felt a surge of relief that had all just been a bad dream.
His wife smiled at him, which for some reason made him feel uneasy. Something started to bother him, nagging at his subconscious.
“Oh, Kenneth,” she began as she stood up, a gun in her hand, “But I did murder you, and now I am going to do it again.”
The crowd of ibis were startled at the gun shot and flew off into the sky loudly cawing. His wife laughed evilly and walked out of his sight and off of his field. Kenneth lay there bleeding, or, at least, his body did. He was already standing in that field looking down on himself dying. He found himself wondering how times this would happen? How many times had this happened already? Somehow, deep down inside, Kenneth knew the answer and it terrified him, and then he suddenly realised what had been bothering him.
He had never had a wife.
The grass in that quiet field whooshed angry by an unseen wind.