More Than This

A boy drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments.

He dies.

Then he wakes, naked, bruised and thirsty, but alive.

How can this be? And what is this strange, deserted place?

As he struggles to understand what is happening, the boy dares to hope. Might this not be the end? Might there be more to this life, or perhaps this afterlife?

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2. Struggle

Seth fought alongside Rita, slowly gaining more wisdom about this world, and everything contained inside it.

 

After an eternity of fighting through villages, forests and mountains, Rita and Seth stopped for a break inside a dark, hollow, stretching cave. They were covering from the ice pellets that are shot from the clouds down to the ground.

 

After a sustained silence, Rita asked, “Do you want something to drink?”

“What have you got?” was the reply.

“Passion fruit,” he was handed the drink.

“T-thanks, Rita,” stuttering, he took a sip.

The slightly sour taste felt like butterflies dancing aggressively on his tongue, yet the sweet aftertaste felt refreshing.

“Stole it from the last village we were in, in the mix of all the commotion from another group of bandits stealing food,” Rita brought up casually.

“Again! Well if you weren’t working for it, what took you so long to get it?” Seth stressed.

“Well.. I got some food for lunch, and dinner, and also the meals for tomorrow…”

As she trailed off, Seth gave a very uneasy look to Rita, and flapped his hands around anxiously.

“I told you to stop! We are going to get caught and imprisoned, which means we’ll disappear! All this effort just to-“

“-Chill out, I’ve been getting away with it all the times I’ve got food and stuff, we don’t have time to waste collecting materials for the people to create-“

“-I won’t disappear! I’d rather have to collect materials and items in exchange for food and clothes. They can’t fight to collect it themselves, they are just there to provide us with the necessities to fight, and grant those who helped us through, their eternal happiness..”

“Whatever, it’s a waste of time, I’m fed up of this place, if you want to join a group that plays by the rules then leave, I don’t care if I go it alone.” She stated stubbornly.

“Maybe I will,” he paused, unable to continue anything from that sentence, his mouth just remained open enough to reveal his nervous tongue twitching and slamming against the roof of his mouth and the backs of his teeth.

“Let’s face it, you’d be erased without me,” she accused, with a hint of a snobby tone.

“W-what would make you think that?” he exclaimed defensively.

She didn’t reply, her heart wasn’t in the right place.

“Hmph.”

“Whatever! I can do this on my own!” storming out of the cave, the snow was only falling lightly now, yet it was still dangerous for Rita to go out, alone, into the non-human populated mountains.

“You’ll be the one that gets erased..” his voice straggled, as his eyes were locked onto the side bag stuffed with stolen goods that got left behind.

 

I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her. She saved me from being erased, she made my life worthy, she showed be there was more than this. Though there is no way I’m going to survive without her.

Eyes opened. Soul tingled. Darkness crept it’s way through his heart, through his body, through his mind, to the edges of his vision. His vision of life.

Suddenly, he leapt up and yelped, “No!”

I won’t disappear. I deserve a second chance. A chance to prove myself. There is more than this to my life. More than a useless first life. There is more to this life, to that life. I will get my second life!

Withdrawing the horrifying sensation, he recklessly yanked onto the long strap of Rita’s bag, stumbling under his own speed. Regaining his balance, he sprinted like his life depended on it. His life did depend on it.

 

“Rita?” He called, with the voice booming from the back of his throat.

“Rita!”

In the direction they would have headed together he ran, past snow covered trees, rocks glimmering with ice and the cliffs above with killer sharp icicles hanging loosely.

Between two drops, with endless bottoms, the path became narrow, compressed. The snow mixed with ice underfoot was glazed like a skating rink; with no grip, he continued on the fatal collision course, with a desire of finding the only girl that would bestow him with his rightful afterlife.

Snow blinded his perspective, as the storm was starting up again. Danger was in the air.

D-dammit. If anything happens to her I’ll. I’ll.

Neutralizing his thoughts, he progressed into the storm.

With a threatened screech, Seth’s pursuit was halted.

He could only just make out the area around him.

Rita!

And.. The creatures of the night, those without a name. The nightmares of people’s dreams. The fight to prove you’re worthy.

“Rita!” screaming at the top of his voice, he attracted the attention of the un-named creatures.

 

Multiple thoughts racing through his head at the speed of sound. His body paralyzed, barely able to move an inch. Not even when his only friend’s existence was at stake. He had a strong feeling she was just about to disappear, like a poof of smoke. At least that’s how he imagined it to be. He hadn’t seen anyone been eradicated, yet. In fact, he hadn’t seen many people trying to fight through to the ‘Next-Life Jewel’, only craftsmen, food suppliers and shop workers. All depending on an immaculate human, with the true consideration for others, and wish for all to have the perfect eternity life. Not many were fighting for that, not many with the thought in the previous life, that there has to be more than this.

 

No. Seth was different. He was determined that he would reach the Jewel, and make something of his life. With Rita by his side, he was certain that he would achieve that.

 

He could clearly see Rita, and the creatures in front of him now, only a few metres away. Rita, with blood covered hands, and blood stained clothes. Rita, with the look of horror and pain engraved onto her face.

“S-Seth..” she scrambled away from the creatures, which seemed to be advancing towards Seth.

“Rita.. I’m sorry!” he snivelled, taking in the sight of her, and the damage she had taken.

“W-why.. Why now.. Seth…” she whispered softly, melancholically.

As Seth stepped towards her, Rita stepped backwards, only moderately aware of where the cliff ended. The creatures were obviously struggling to manoeuvre their delicate spindly legs, their arms with claws scraping against the solid ice, through the layers of snow. Stopping at the edge, Rita was now sobbing, with both pain and sadness.

“R-Rita..” Seth sighed, and held out his hand.

Continuing to get stronger, and thicker, the blizzard storm released a jet of air, from behind Seth, pushing Rita backwards. Losing her balance, and slipping in the snow, her left foot dropped from the cliff edge. On instinct, she threw her hand at Seth’s, who managed to grasp it tightly. The force of the wind, and Rita descending backwards, made Seth follow through, and he ended up on his knees, with Rita dangling helplessly from the cliff. Blood trailing down Rita’s arm, originating from her hand, loosened the grip between the two.

“I won’t let you go, I promise. Forgive me Rita!” he begged.

“I know you won’t...” she paused to inhale a painful breath, “That’s why.. That’s w.. Sorry, I can’t. I know I couldn’t get to the Jewel, I’m not strong enough to get another life. I don’t know why I made it this far. I guess it was because I was hurt with being so weak in my previous life, I just wanted to fight.”

Seth had nothing to reply to this with.

“I.. I don’t deserve to be here any longer. But you.. You do Seth. You can get to the Jewel… Stronger than me. You’re better off now, Seth.”

A single tear rolled slowly down Seth’s cheek, speechless, this was all his emotions could do to step in as a replacement for his voice.

“Forgive me. I don’t belong here, I never did. I’m a coward, I worked with people, but when they got down, I just let them disappear, I didn’t know what else to do. Just.. Please.. Live happy for eternity. Promise?” She requested, as her final tear fell.

 

Flashing a sweet smile to Seth, Rita’s body dematerialized; her hand slipped through his. With nothing to hold onto, his body sank deep into the snow, he watched the glistening tear of hers fall into the depths of the everlasting gap in this world. The only thing left of Rita, remained on his hand. Cold blood, from a cold, sorrowful soul.

 

Damn you Rita. Damn you to hell for giving up.

The image of Rita’s melancholy, yet peaceful smile replayed over and over in his mind.

“Haven’t you ever felt like there has to be more? Like there’s more out there somewhere, just beyond your grasp, if you could only get to it?” Her eyes, radiating with eagerness, with excitement, passion, with hope.

 

Tears streaming down his smooth, soft cheeks, the outside freezing over with a layer of frost.

 

“You’re better off now, Seth,” A whisper faded away in his unstable mind.

Shivering hands rose and aggressively punched away at the tears, removing all evidence of them.

He was a cloud-breathing dragon in the ice cold air. A soul overflowing with a bitter rage. He reached for the sword on his back, extracting it hastily. Eyes locked onto the enemy in front, clumsily trying to move anywhere, struggling to get any sort of grip. The easy kill was now gone, they were left vulnerable. With a rapid step forwards, the sword, carrying painful memories, slashed through the first beast and sliced through the second. Gone. With a wisp of black smoke, their life was drained, as was his sorrow.

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