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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1. Memories of a fallen girl

 

 

 

When you’re lying apparently motionless beneath the soft drape of the hospital bed covers, your breath emitting shallowly from your parched lips, and your heart beating faintly against your chest, there’s no certainty of death. Not until a vague sensation of limpness passes rapidly along your palms, your legs stiffening momentarily. But until the last breath abruptly catches into your tightened throat, there is no certainty of death. But when that moment dawns upon you, with such suddenness, your racing mind would fail to immediately register the moment before your life ends and your existence begins.

But before that rushed minute occurs you have one final flustered attempt to beat death.

 The chase for your life is on. Just run. It’s coming.

 

 

Memories of a fallen girl

 

The abrupt blur breaking across my vision sends a fresh thunderclap of agony along my senses, causing me to stumble involuntarily back against the wall but the anticipated thud of my spine reverberating along the surface fails to reach my ears, the force in which I had propelled myself back is only met with an unsettling silence. As confusion registers across the dizzying haze of my mind I rub my palms coarsely against my eyes to clear my vision, and I stare around at the strangely shadowed room that surrounds me, squinting my hazel irises against the penetrating gloom and the dancing animation of shadows that are cast along the walls. Struggling to grasp a firm foothold on my wavering legs, I steady myself against the surface of where I initially expect the sidewall to stretch and although I sturdy my pulsating limbs I realise with sudden clarity that the tips of my fingers can’t feel the wall itself. I jolt back in surprise, staggering uncertainly along the flooring as though I’m an unruly teenager who had consumed one to many pints at a night club. I back up against the wall again, allowing it to freely support my juddering body, as I force the deepness of a prolonged breath to momentarily calm me. Where am I? I shake my head as a burst of visions playing within my mind threatens to engulf my senses entirely; I make out faces, words, places and people, but none send the slightest of recognition to me. Who am I? A name mimes itself instantly along my crimson lips in response but despite that it sounds distant and awkward to me and I frown unintentionally as though I’d just uttered a foreign word and was unsure whether I’d pronounced it correctly, “Cara?” At the sound of the use of my vocal chords I wince at the utter low depth of my voice as though I’d never perceived the sound of my own speech before. I shake my head, but a sudden thought occurs to me, curiously I raise the edges of my fingers tentatively along my hair, the length, the curls. I hadn’t expected them. I inhale a lungful of breath, this time a lot deeper, as I shake my head again, slowly shifting from my position against the wall and gingerly venturing further across into the room. Blindly ambling in the consistent obscuring darkness around me with curious out stretched palms, my hands eventually enclose across an unfamiliar object, apparently solid to the touch. I run the tips of my fingers along the surface as I struggle to comprehend what it is. I’ve seen one before, I don’t know where but, instinctively, I know I have. I turn my wrist and on cue there’s a faint click and as I move forward a door creaks against its hinges. A knob? A doorknob.

And just as my inner senses scream the words with a tone of relief at the small recollection, something within me snaps, a scene flashes before my eyes and although it threatens to constantly fade and flicker I thrive to take it all in before blinks from existence.

There’s a girl standing idly at the frame of a door, the locks of her dark hair loosely spilling before her pale forehead as she makes a display of just leaning there casually against the wall, smirking knowingly at the other occupancies of the room. “Like I said, kids’ stuff,” she shakes her head sceptically at the two guys (who bare a strange similarity to the girl herself)  hunched over the PC, rapidly thumping the arrow keys to manoeuvre a vehicle in an apparently addictive online game.

“And since when where you an adult?” The vaguely familiar tone of a woman cuts across the girls’ humour, as she steps into view.

“A lot longer than you know.”

“Oh, right.”

The girl begins to protest feebly, “Mum, I’m serious!”

“Now that would be another first this morning.”

She shakes her head, the annoyance bubbling in her eyes but before she can begin to muster an appropriate response, she cocks her head, straining her ears at the unmistakeable crunch of rubber tires making its way across the gravel of the concrete. 

An abrupt wooziness spreads through me, the final fragments of the vision tense visibly then suddenly rush from view, and I force a breath to resist the constant rise of vomit threatening to spill up my throat. Blinking my eyelids, I concentrate on the opening of the door, how it now stands slightly ajar, the gap sending an illuminating glow of faint light along the room. Adjusting my vision to the abrupt lighting cutting across the once insistent darkness, I gaze around dubiously, eyeing the stretch of the high ceiling and the streak of uncountable securely shut doors that line before me. I’ve never seen so many. I saunter over hesitantly, registering the signs firmly engraved upon the wooden surface of each door, trying to pronounce the words with the movements of my lips but all I manage to do is stutter unexpectedly at every syllable.

I can’t read the words correctly to enable myself to say them. Shaking my head with smothered agitation, I tentatively amble forward, grasp my hand tightly around the handle, then suppressing my continuous hesitation, I step through.

 

As I stride across the opening of the door, on cue as I step attentively through it swings swiftly shut behind me, causing the sudden abrasive surface of the wood to brush heavily against my sensitive skin. The ragged uneven texture of its external design opening a slight cut across the tip of my finger, causing a thin trickle of crimson blood to run slowly along the length of my palm. And at that, before I can even begin to register the shifting scene that plays before me now, as I stare transfixed, an unexpected array of visualisations once again glimmer before the haze of my irises.

 “Maybe you should take it easy,” she remarks coolly, shaking her head with imposed impassiveness as she runs her gaze along the tense grip of his hands against the cool touch of the steering wheel.

“What does it look like I’m doing? You’re staring at a guy who passed the drive with ‘flying colours’, remember?” He replies, flashing his glittering azure eyes around at her with indignation.

But as he momentarily diverts his gaze, the wheel jerks from his grasp.

The sudden jolt of the passenger seat as the vehicle veers along the side road, causes her to jerk abruptly forward in the tight restraint of the seat belt, and the panicked flailing of her palms securely catch the surface of the dashboard, steading her juddering body. But the car turns again, spinning her violently and the side of her head collides unexpectedly against the misted window screen, lines of blood beginning to seep from the cut…

And as the scenes slowly dismantle within my inner senses, instinctively, the centre of my trembling palm darts towards my forehead, my fingers curiously probing the unevenness of my skin, my eyes instantly narrowing as I wince involuntarily, my fingers coming away with the darkness of my own blood, comprehension spreading across my features. “That’s me,” I murmur quietly, torn between utter disbelief, “I’m dead.”

The softness of a low tuneless whistle jolts me from the embracing grasp of my thoughts, drifting across the silent playful breeze that gently whips across my face, rushing me back to my senses. Instantly, my head twirls defensively, eyeing my surroundings then I stop in sudden awe at the glittering grass against the azure backdrop of the sky. It is as though the sky itself is the surface of an ocean, the stretch of the thinning clouds the ripples.

“Close enough to the truth,” a voice cuts promptly across my thoughts, the deepness of his speech startling me as I jerk around, “Though not quite.” And I make out the unmistakeable stature of a man; emerging from seemingly nowhere as though he just literally blinked into existence. And he steps towards me, observing me with open curiosity. He brushes a pale hand across his bleached hair, his blue eyes glittering in the same manner as the occasional twinkle of a far off star.

“Who are you?” I ask nervously, backing across the grass, and then reconsidering my own response as a settling silence continues, “Where am I?”

He smiles, waving briskly across, “My home, it could be yours too.”

I shake my head, confusion blinking into my eyes, “I don’t know what you mean.” Then, as I register the grin widening across his face and the knowing twinkle in his irises, I venture on tentatively, “I’m dead, aren’t I?”

“You may as well be,” he says impassively, “You’ll enjoy it here, Cara, truly you will.”

“I’m not ready to die,” I mutter darkly. A shadow momentarily falls across my surroundings, fleetingly casting an obscuring darkness along my vision and I stumble back in surprise, “What’s happening?”

“He’s coming.”

“What?”

The man glances around at me, his figure beginning to lose its defiance as he fades from view, “You want to live?”

“Heck, of course I-“

But my replies cut short as the whisper of his voice rings in my ears, “Then run, girl.”

 

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