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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The light in the temple drew darker as evening fell. I wondered what time zone it was. Not that it mattered too much. The question was merely a distraction from my worried thoughts about Kai. Sighing, I started to pace around the temple, debating what my next move should be. I know I said I wanted to stay in the temple forever, but that idea wasn't so appealing as in reality. It was hard, jagged, and not the most comfortable living space. Mind you, there wasn't much that was comfortable in Purgatory. Then again, I couldn't go back to the beach, the main area. Kai wanted to be on his own, and I would give him that space, even though I did not understand the reason as to why he wanted to be on his own in the first place. After a fair bit of time pondering, I decided to camp out on my own, in the temple, in the dreaded darkness. There weren't any materials to create light of any sort. There wasn't anywhere to rest. Nowhere comfortable, anyway. A grey, long, rectangular piece if stone caught my eye, the colour not synching in with the rest of the temple. It certainly wasn't ideal, but it'd have to do for the night. Suddenly, my brain and my body started to shut down for the night. It was an almost dream-like haze that was falling upon me. I lay down on the hard, cold slab, and shut my eyelids.

***

I felt all my weight descend out of me, as the darkness swamped me. I felt my features fade into the unknown, until I was merely an outline. The tunnel that I'd travelled in when I first met my death seemed to be where I was, as I spied a light at the end of the path. I made my way towards it. I was almost floating towards it. Eventually, I reached it. I peered inside it. Slowly, it started to widen, revealing a grim town. My home town. My home. I gasped. It was all exactly as I remembered it. The bricks were chipped at the edges of the house, the post box was barely standing on the slim piece of timber and the familiar smell of bacon was wafting through the air. I grinned inadvertently. Home, sweet home. I made my way towards the door. 
The leaves did not crunch under my footsteps like usual, though. They flew under me. I was a ghost, it seemed, if that was the proper name for it. My almost invisible fingers grabbed the door knob. They went straight through it. I started to try and think of what the ghost did in that daft old movie. I couldn't remember the name. Realisation struck on what to do, however. I took a few steps back, then collided into the door. I was inside the house. The scent of bacon was even stronger, however it was now laced with the scent of eggs, ketchup and toast. It must be a weekend. For a few moments I paused, mentally preparing myself. I was going to see my mum for the first time since I…died. And someone else. I sensed vaguely there was another occupant in the house, however no one came to mind. Nevertheless, I shook myself gently, jangling out the nerves, and plunged into the kitchen door. 
My mouth dropped open. The other occupant was...me. She certainly looked like me. I tentatively took a tiny step forward. She had my blue eyes, brown curly hair...yet it was short. A memory came back to me. Roughly a year ago, I'd given myself a crew cut. It was unclear as to why in my mind, though. Even so, I sat on the chair to the left of her, and studied her. She was reading a book. I studied the title. "Of Mice and Men," I murmured to myself. I instantly remembered enjoying the book, but crying for an hour straight at the ending. It seemed this Raina was halfway through it, perfectly unaware of the ending. 
"Where do you want your ketchup?" Mum called. I took a shaky breath in. Mum. Tears slid down my face. It had been two days since I last saw her. I'd been so pre-occupied with all that had happened in Purgatory, I'd forgotten how much I needed her. How much I missed her. But I wasn't forgetting now. 
"To the side," Human Raina called, not glancing up for a second. I beamed. Typical bookworm me. 
Mum placed the bacon and egg sandwich in front of her. "Put your book down, love."
 Human Raina pouted. "But Muuuummmm," she whined. I chuckled. Mum did also. 
"Fine. But don't wolf the food down!"
Human Raina tightly hugged Mum, and Mum embraced her back. The scene was enough to set me crying again. I wanted to be Human Raina again. I wanted Mum. I wanted to go back to my normal life. The tears dropped down onto the table. It rapidly started to disintegrate the table. Then Of Mice and Men. Then me. Then "Mum!" I screamed. I grabbed onto her shoulder. It melted at my touch. "No!" I howled, sobbing hysterically as the whole scene faded, and darkness clouded me again. My features became clearer again, and I felt my body weight sink back into me. A light at the opposite end of the tunnel started to widen. I had little choice in the fact I was being pulled back into the temple, back into Purgatory, and back into my undesirable fate.

***

When I opened my eyes, to my surprise, it was still dark. I whimpered a little bit; I'm one of the many people who are afraid of the dark. But I felt a warm hand resting on my shoulder. A gloved hand. For a second, my stomach dropped at the fact that it was obvious it wasn't Kai. Nevertheless, I turned towards them. "What are you doing here, Guardian?" I yawned, awkwardly stretching to avoid making physical contact with him. In the process, his hand fell off my shoulder. 
He jolted, and wearily looked at me. "Oh, hello there Raina," he murmured softly. Realising he was out of character, he stiffened, stood up, and cleared his throat. "I mean...Good morning," he gruffly corrected himself. "I hope you had a pleasant sleep." 
I blinked and rubbed my eyes, getting the sleep dust out of my eyes. "But it's dark," I frowned. 
Guardian blinked himself, and stood silent for a second. He then answered me. "It's winter."
"Are there even seasons here? Or months, or weeks, or are the days even Earth days..." I trailed off, awaiting a response. 
He shrugged. "Does it matter? Honestly, Raina?"
 I bit my lip. I was always a little intimidated by Guardian. He was broad and lean, and could probably crush me with a squeeze of his palm if that were his wish. "No…anyway, what are you doing here...?"
He cut me off promptly. "How was the dream? Or vision, more like." He sat at the end of the long grey block of stone, angling himself so he could still me out of the corner of his eye.
I smiled at the question, remembering seeing myself and my Mum at breakfast, the familiar scene making me grin. My brain quickly reminded me of the fact that it had all dissipated because of one single tear that I shed. I shook my head vigorously, trying not to start crying again. I had to learn to get a hold of myself. I couldn't carry on starting to cry at the drop of a hat. "It was nice at first. I got to see my Mum again." I beamed. 
"And your father."  He didn't question the fact; he merely stated it. This was slightly perplexing. I expected Guardian to know my history, inside and out. He was an almost God-like figure. He had powers, certainly. He had strength, sorcery...and many other traits I was uncertain and slightly scared of. That fact alone gave me the impression he had the power to do and know anything he pleased. 
"My Father is dead," I stated bluntly, looking straight at him. "Did you not know that?"
He laughed, if a little harshly. "Why should I know everything about you, Raina?"
I glared at him. Not that he would see this, of course, seeing as he had that cloth covering the majority of his features. "Not that you should, I just thought you would. Because, you know, THE Guardian."
He chuckled dryly. "You must think very highly of me Raina. But I'm sorry to disappoint, I don't know everything." He paused, bowing his head, deep in thought. "It'd be damn helpful if I did though." 
I mock-gasped. "You SWORE," I breathed. "And that's frowned upon in the Bible."
"I thought you hadn't read it," he said suspiciously. If I could see behind the veil, I was certain he'd be narrowing his eyes.
"I paid attention in R.E" I replied. 
Guardian groaned, his head in his hands. "I can't even remember what we were talking about originally," he said, swiftly changing the subject. He sat silently for a few seconds. He then raised his head, the topic coming back to him "What did you mean by 'at first' it was nice?"
"Like I said, I got to see my Mum." I sighed sadly. "But then, it all disappeared, which was really sad." I held my breath, choking back the tears.
"That was the only part you were upset at?" he murmured, cocking his head towards me in an inquisitive manner. 
"Yep."
"And what about when you saw yourself at the peak of happiness? You didn't..." He waved his hands, trying to phrase the question in the manner he intended. "It didn't bother you?"
I tilted my head back, thinking. "It didn't bother me, no."
He carried on with his inquisition. "You weren't envious in any shape or form?" he asked huskily. 
I raised my eyebrow, confused. "Envious? Why would I be envious of myself?"
"Well, didn't you want to be her? Be back in that situation?" He stumbled a little bit on his words, slightly unsure of himself. 
"I wanted, for a second, to go back to my old life. But not just in that situation; I wanted to go back to my old life in general."
He contemplated on this. He pressed his head against his hand, in deep thought.  After a few minutes his mouth curved into a small grin, and he held out his hand to me. "Congratulations."
I stared at his outstretched hand, confused. Congratulations? "What did I do?"
He stood up, and shifted his weight. "You completed the second trial."  
"I did?" I gasped. Then I started smiling too, and danced with him, humouring his rare personality trait of happiness. I stopped, abruptly. "Wait, how?"
"The whole vision was to see how honest you are." He sighed a little bit, his breath coming out foggy in the cool temple. "This would be a whole lot easier for you if you read the Bible. You'd understand..." He cleared his throat. "Ah, never mind. But anyway, I better be off now." Guardian clicked his fingers, the light surrounding him. "I've got to report back to The Elders," he explained. "They have a few ideas about your murderer, by the way."
I stood up abruptly, slightly lightheaded.  "They have suspects? Guardian, wait!" But it was too late, as the rays of light has already absorbed his figure, swallowing him to his next destination: his meeting with The Elders. 

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