Purgatory

When Raina falls to a death clouded with mystery and horror, one which not even The Elders can figure out, she is placed into Purgatory. As the mystery unveils, as well as the secrets of the place between Heaven and Hell, she learns that at every corner a sea of possibilities awaits. But will she be able to realise the correct ones, or will she stay in Purgatory for eternity?

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It was all black. My mind, my sight, my...everything. It was all pitch black. My fingertips gently skimmed the surface around me. There was nothing. However, in an instant, colour blinded my eye-sight and scenes started to appear. Events that had happened to me. My birth. My first day of school...I'd heard of life flashing before you, when you're...dying. I was dying. Why was I dying? Another event played out. All I could make out were two shadows, and a blood-curdling scream. My scream. My death. How? Questions blurred through my mind as I felt myself slowly spiral towards a flicker of light. As I got nearer, I saw gold, and realised exactly where I was heading. Another stereotypical phase of death: the tunnel. No one was there to greet me, though. A wash of loneliness fell over my body as I landed onto firm ground. No fluffy clouds there. 
A hand grasped my own, and pulled me in a certain direction. I glanced up at the figure. His facial features , except for his mouth, were obscured by a veil,  His toned skin was clad in silk robes, which were cream but had glimmers of silver in the gossamer threads.
"Where am I?" I choked. 
The man turned his top half towards me. I was certain that if he had eyes, they'd be glaring at me. "Haven't you learnt anything at Church?" he growled. His fingers scraped my neck. I flinched, scared as to what he was doing. "No cross. I should have sensed your non-Puritan aura." We approached a pair of pearly white gates. To me, they resembled bones. I shuddered. "Heaven’s gates repulse you?" the man snarled. 
 A weary elderly man was standing at a podium. He was holding a scroll in one hand, and holding a pair of keys in the other. One key was blood red. One key shimmered like the sun. It was obvious what each one was for. "Stop it, Guardian," the elderly man croaked. The man who had led me to the gates bowed his head. 
"Sorry, St Peter," Guardian sighed, taking a step back. 
Peter turned towards me. "Hello, Raina." I was going to ask how he knew my name, but I held back my question. I was sure he knew everything about me, not just my name. It was probably all on the scroll. "Do you have any idea what you are doing here?"
 I pondered for a second, trying to recall some religious reason from my head. "You're going to send me to either Heaven or Hell," I simply stated, figuring that one of those two places were where I was heading, if my RE lessons had taught me the right information.
Peter nodded. "Yes. Now, let’s have a look at your file, confirm some facts, shall we?" It seemed to be a rhetorical question, as he carried on anyway. "Raina Willowsbrook. Date of birth, June the sixteenth, year nineteen-nineteen-six?" He looked at me to confirm. I nodded. "Date of death, February the twenty-sixth. Cause of death..."His brow furrowed, as he stared at the scroll. "There isn't one," he breathed. Peter’s eyes darted to mine. "How did you die?"
My stomach dropped at the word 'die'. It terrified me. Nevertheless, I tried to remember. "I don't know," I whispered. 
Guardian stiffened beside me. "I've only ever known one case where a death has not appeared..." he muttered, his eyes widening. 
Stephen grimaced. "Yes. That was the only one. Up until now." He sighed, shaking his head.  "I better find The Elders." He disappeared in an instant. Guardian huffed, and dragged me towards a different set of gates. 
"You'll stay here whilst The Elders discuss the matter of the fact your death is not accounted for," Guardian stated, unlocking the rusted copper gates before me. "Welcome to Purgatory." Slowly, clouds started to part as I took steps further, further inside the mysterious land that was unveiling before me. My bare feet skimmed jagged objects the texture of rocks. My nose inhaled the intoxicating scent of salt water. My hair flew around my face as a cold, harsh breeze greeted me. I shut my eyes, taking in the sensations surrounding me. 
I then opened them, and the setting of a beach was before my eyes. There should have been golden sands, a clear ocean, and smooth rocks in pastel shades. However, the sand was grey and gritty, the ocean was black and polluted, and the rocks looked exactly as they felt: ragged and coarse. Beaches are supposed to be heaven, yet this one was hell. A place in between the two, I suppose. That's what it was, and that's where I was: Purgatory. 
I turned around to face the guard, expecting some explanation on what to do there. Where could I find nourishment, activity? But the guard had disappeared, and I was left standing on my own, uncertain of what my next step should be. 
I didn't know what to do. What I was doing. How I was feeling. Anything. I was...numb. Tears slowly starting filling my eyes, and I collapsed onto the sand into a heap of pure fear. What was going on? I stayed like that for a while, just quivering, completely lost. Yet common sense slowly started ticking into my brain, and I sat up, surveying  the shore. All the camping trips that I'd been on with Mum could actually come in useful, even though at the time it had most definitely not been on my list of fun activities. Mum. I let out a small sob; for I knew that I wouldn't see her again. Trying to distract myself from the dismal thoughts, I peered even closer at the beach. There was driftwood, shells and of course the ugly rocks. A plan started whirring in my brain. Two pieces of driftwood crafted together could be a make-do fishing rod, for whenever I got hungry. The creature inside the shell would be bait. The rocks rubbed together would provide fire: an essential element for survival. The plan relied on the hope that was fish in the ocean, though. If there weren't any...I decided to cross that bridge when I came to it.
 I walked across the coastline, scouting for one medium sized sturdy piece of driftwood, and one long, flexible but not easily broken piece of driftwood. After walking for what seemed like forever, I came to realise that the shore was endless. I also came to realise it was cliffs, cliffs and more cliffs, with the occasional dent in the smooth line at the back of the beach.  Nevertheless, I had found enough pieces for not only a fishing rod, but a bed for the fire and another two pieces, with the two factors I needed for the rod, in order to make a crossbow. I twisted the pieces for the rod together. They snapped. Frustrated, I scoured the beach again, this time getting a much more sturdy pile. I sat down once again, and got to work. 
After many attempts at both crafting both the rod and the bow, I had created two marginally sturdy pieces of survival gear. Then, I pulled on the hem of my dress, for some yarn for the line, and elastic for the bow.   I fastened them onto both pieces of equipment. I plonked myself down on the driest piece of sand, and attached my bait to the end of the rod. Then, I cast the line into the sea. Just as I had felt a jolt on the rod, the sound of footsteps echoed around the beach. I turned around abruptly, forgetting about the possibility of a bite. Nothing was there that hadn't been there before. Sighing, I glanced at the rod. Attached to the bait was a large fish. Exactly what I wanted. Slightly stunned at the stroke of luck, I guiltily used one of the rocks to saw off his head. It was gruesome, but it was necessary if I wanted to eat. Besides, I was going to have to get used to it. The rock has the perfect edge, so I settled for it to be my 'knife'.
 I placed the large pile of driftwood I had collected onto the driest acre of sand closest to me, and scooped up two large rocks from the water, and dried them on the hem of my dress. Briskly, I started to rub them together. After a short period of time, a small flame started to glow. I placed one of the rocks onto the wood. The spark flickered out. Guess my brief bit of luck was a fluke. Once again I rubbed together two rocks. This time when the flame lit, I carried in rubbing, creating a much more steady blaze. 
When I chucked both rocks onto the driftwood, the fire started to spread amongst the wood. Whilst I waited for a larger light to grow, I twisted the pieces for my crossbow, and even bent a few pieces into arrows. Once the bonfire was a suitable size, I put the fish onto yet another piece of driftwood, and started to roast it. As soon as the flesh was a delectable colour, I pulled it out and tucked in hungrily. The taste glided on my taste buds. Relaxed and content, I lay down a few inches away from the fire, attempting to get some rest. Slowly, silently, I fell into the land of slumber.
The bright sun woke me up, as it was pointing right in my direction. In a daze, I fumbled around for my duvet, but then I realised. I was dead, and was currently stuck on this beach whilst waiting for The Elders to decide whether I deserved to go to Heaven, or whether I was to be dumped in hell. I grabbed my fishing rod, and decided to spend the day fishing. It was a relaxing exercise, and I'd be able to have a hearty meal of breakfast, lunch and dinner.
 As I cast the line, I wondered how long it would take for me to get sick of eating fish. Hopefully by time the taste made me physically sick, The  Elders would have made their decision. I glanced at the fire, which was merely a pile of ash now, and tossed the pieces of driftwood that I caught onto the pile. 
By mid-afternoon, I'd caught a huge amount of fish, as well as enough driftwood to last me the rest of the day. After I'd categorised the fish into three piles (small, medium, and large) I started to scour the beach for ingredients to make the fish slightly more exotic.  A familiar sound echoed across the coast. It was the   footsteps again, and this time, I decided to go after them. With my crossbow loaded, I started to track the footsteps, which I noticed had imprinted on the sand. They led me to a hollow entrance. A cave. Echoes of laughter rang out from it. Then the laughter stopped. Then the footsteps started again. Then a pair of eyes the colour of ice appeared from the darkness, the figure who was the owner of them holding out a knife. A silver, deadly knife.
A scream released from my mouth. 
"Shut up!" the figure hissed, his eyes darting around erratically.
 "Who's going to hear me?" I laughed a short, harsh laugh.
The figure stood there awkwardly, trying to think of a comeback. Shrugging his shoulders, he stepped out of the shadows. He was of medium height, with auburn hair, tousled from the sea salt. His clothes were black, though they were grey in patches from wear. His face was angular , yet the skin on it was ridden with scars. It was his eyes that struck me though. They seemed to hold both the forces of evil and the wonders of the heavens. "Fair play," he answered in a low voice, with a hint of an accent I couldn't quite put my finger on. He held out his hand. 
I winced, as the blade of the knife jabbed me in the chest slightly. "Could you, err, put the knife down?" I asked, my voice wavering slightly. 
 "Only if you put the crossbow down," he darted back. Like he was going to comply.
 "Count of three?" I cocked my head, challenging him, even though I knew what he was going to do. 
"Deal."
"One."
"Two."
 "Three." Neither of us dropped our weapons. He looked at me, amused. "You're smarter than I had you penned out to be."
I raised my eyebrow. "Maybe you're just bad at weighing up people."
He shook his head. "Neither of us are going to back down. Why don't we just get to know each other a bit better, seeing as we'll be here for a while?"
I contemplated this. "I don't even know your name."
His fingers drummed against his thigh. "Call me Kai. And yourself?"
"Raina," I replied.
Kai chuckled. "Kai and Raina. Kaina? Rai?"
I also giggled a little bit. "What are we, a comedy duo?"
He searched my face, then held out his spare hand. "What about just a duo?"
I stared at his outstretched hand, and nodded, lowering my crossbow and linking my hand onto his. "I suppose I could tolerate that." We both looked up at each other, and smiled gingerly
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