The Crossing

If you had the power to change your past - to fix every mistake you've ever made, to live the perfect life - would you do it?

Alice Carlton, the sixteen-year-old good girl, is dying because of a single mistake.
Charon is trapped in a living death because he dared fight his fate.
Two wrongs never make a right. Or do they?

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2. Charon

            Alice woke in an artificially lit room, the harsh fluorescent bulbs burning her eyes and making her squint. The bed under her was hard as a rock and lumpy, the pillow squished into oblivion. An irritating beeping was accented by the hysterical sobs coming from beside her.

            “Mom? Where is this?” Her voice sounded strange to her own ears, echoing inside her skull in a harsh whisper. Alice sat up to look at her mother, but the woman didn’t even respond. She didn’t seem to hear her daughter.

            The door swung open with a creak and a solemn doctor in scrubs entered with a chart. Alice’s mother looked at him instantly with an expression of hope and fear. Alice swung off the bed and was surprised by the absence of pain in her body.

            “Mrs. Carlton, I have some bad news.” Alice’s mother’s face seemed to collapse into itself, and the hysterical tears returned with a vengeance. “Your daughter’s accident has left her spine damaged. There is still a chance she might wake up, but even if she does, she will be paralyzed from the neck down. I’m sorry.”

            Alice missed whatever her mother said in reply. She felt dizzy. She wasn’t paralyzed! If they would just look at her, they’d see that for themselves. But neither did. Alice tuned back into the conversation, seeking a way to announce her presence.

            “… have to ask yourself, would your daughter want to live like that?” Oh my god, they are going to kill me! The thought was more terrifying than it should have been. Alice had a vague memory of screeching tires and hard, cold metal, but it was lost behind a veil of pain.

            “Absolutely not! Alice is strong, she’ll wake up. She has to.” Alice was proud of the outrage in her mother’s voice, as well as relieved that she wouldn’t die prematurely.

            “We will keep her on life-support for now then. Is there anything you would like, Mrs. Carlton?"

            Alice’s mother’s resolve seemed to collapse suddenly. “Three days. Give her three days.” She turned away from the doctor as if he’d ceased to exist for her and faced the bed Alice had just vacated. “Come back to me, baby. Come back. Please.”

            “Mom! Mom, I’m right here! I’m fine! Look at me, damn you!” Alice felt tears start trickling down her own cheeks when even waving her arm in front of her mother couldn’t provoke a response.

            “She can’t hear you.” Alice jumped at the new voice. It was male, harsh and bitter. “None of them can.”

            The boy – for he didn’t look that much older than Alice herself – was wearing loose black jeans and a black hoodie. His eyes – dark as pitch – peered out from under his long, shaggy black hair. He was muscular and lean, but in a dark, frightening way.

            “So who are you supposed to be?”

            The boy laughed. Like everything else about him, it was a dark sound. “My identity doesn’t matter. All you need to know is that I know how to manipulate it here. I can teach you, for a price.”

            “What do you mean, manipulate it? What price? Who are you?”

            The boy signed and shook his head. “Single minded, aren’t you. Just call me… Charon, if you will.”

            Alice knew it was a fake name. Charon was the ferryman for the river Styx in ancient mythology. “Ok, fine then… Charon. Now please will you speak like a normal person? What are you going to show me?”

            Charon’s eyes glittered dangerously as he stepped closer to Alice. “I am going to teach you to do this.” And he waved a hand. Suddenly, Alice was falling.

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