Before we die

What happens on the verge of death? You glimpse the afterlife, a haven to those who only accept it. But for those who aren't ready to die, get ready to run.
* For the after life competition*

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2. Deaths chase

Deaths chase

I run. The rapid shift of my limbs as I sprint across the clearing, is swifter than I ever thought possible, as the soles of my trainers once again pound against the rough terrain, I can’t begin comprehend what’s chasing me. But I know something is. The threatening stature of an unseen force invisibly shadowing my every movement. But deep down I know what it is. And if I want to live I can only run. 

 

The perspiration pouring down my damp forehead sends a trickle of sweat down the length of my features, causing my vision to momentarily blur, and at that the fleetness of my pace vaguely slackens and for a moment I halt, slowing the rapid inhalation of my breath. I glance back tentatively but even at the focus of my vision I make out only the obscuring darkness and I breathe in relief. But as I run hand along the sturdy surface that supports my back the swiftness of a pale palm seizes my wrist, its lean fingers securely grasping my lower arm as I’m pulled around, a cry of surprise emitting unintentionally from my lips, as I’m heaved into the darkness of what is seemingly the stretch of an underground cave- and I curse myself under my breath for having no recognition of it before. But as I begin to resist against the tightness of the grip, I’m jerked further within, a hand clasping firmly over my lips to muffle the panicked yell of my voice. I begin to anticipate the features of the old man at the fields to snap into view but, in the faint flicker of what I assume to be the lighting of a fire lit further across the inner of the cave, I catch the briefest of glimpses of a pair of dark eyes- and I know it isn’t him. And as I once again begin to struggle, the figure looms forward, leaning in close, then in the softness of a barely audible whisper, “If you scream now, you and I are gonna be here for a very long time.” At the utter the sound of the youthful voice, I pause, peering curiously in the darkness as he slackens his hold. I could’ve made a runner at that moment, break free of his grip entirely, but I don’t. An apparently unseen force grasps me in the position in a resilient hold, causing me to just stand there seemingly motionless. And at my sudden serenity, he slowly leads me in further into the darkness with a hand at my spine, slightly encouraging me onwards.

 

The dart of my eyes observe the hazel glow of his hair, the darkness of his irises, as we near the soft amber glow of the vigorous flames burning energetically along the surface of an array of uneven branches scattered across the centre of the flooring. “What is this?”

“He hasn’t found this place yet,” he whispers, casting his eyes across to me, “I’ve been hiding for months.”

I shake my head in bemused puzzlement, “I don’t understand.” And as a thought flashes across my mind, at the turn of his spine I back away slowly but the scrape of my trainers along the flooring causes him to jerk around, “There’ll be plenty of time for running.” He gestures across, “But for now I think we have a lot to discuss, wouldn’t you agree?”

I saunter over hesitantly but meet his curious gaze with forced defiance, “Then go ahead, tell me about yourself, I’m all ears.”

“I’ve been here a lot longer than you have, Cara,” he says quietly, diverting his eyes, “My body succumbed to coma months ago now. To get back to the real world I need to keep away from death, it hasn’t found me yet but I haven’t won either.

You entered a door when you came here; you need to go back through to get out. There’s an exit door I know of on the other side of the complex, there’s thousands of others, but the whereabouts keep altering, it’s hard to keep tabs.”

“So what is this?” I ask, walking closer, observing him intently, “The afterlife?”

He nods his head, “You can stay here if you like, it’s a nice place, many choose to… but others aren’t ready to die just yet.”

“So you’ve been running?”

“You could say that, keeping one step ahead of death, but I won’t be able to, not forever,” he glances around, “I sensed you running, I thought we could do it together.” He reaches a hand towards me in a polite gesture to shake, “Kent Adams.”

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