~~So, basically, I am a person, and this person is dead. As in actually dead, six feet under, not breathing, taken out of life dead. And, if I’m honest, it’s really inconvenient for me, especially this whole whatever with the tape recorder and the dodgy-looking microphone… Thing. Insert sarcastic smiley face via emoji, android or any other whatever, right about HERE. Yay.
See, here’s the thing, I don’t want to come over as offensive or whatever the hell you want to call me, but I was kind of in the middle of planning how I was going to break up Connie and Michael – he was my ex, by the way – and it was actually a pretty good plan. Connie acts like she’s all that, you know, like she’s always in control, like no one can ever get to her, like nothing can ever jurt her.
But I know better.
Like most teenage girls our age, she’s super duper loop-the-looper paranoid. About her hair, about her make up, whatever, she’s just really, really paranoid, which is not a very good hing to be when every single freaking person that you freaking know is also so freaking paranoid that they have to cover their own freaking parnoia with the lamest and cruellest freaking insults in the whole freaking world, which makes everyone else even more freaking paranoid about their own freaking self, and then boom, next thing you know it’s just some endless freaking cycle, and the bike has a wheel missing, which is super unsafe in reality, so I don’t recommend trying to ride one like that unless you’re a total freaking idiot or you’re seven, because that’s pretty much the exact same freaking thing, and if you’re either of those then why the hell not? You know, YOLO and all that jazz.
I mean, sure, if you do try it you’ll probably break about a gazillion squillion bones, but what’s life without a little risk, right? My sister, Reyha, would probably say ‘a whole lot longer’ – totally ignoring that it was a rhetorical question, obviously – but it really doesn’t matter now that I’m dead and getting, like so totally sidetracked. What was I thinking about? I can’t even freaking remember, I think maybe it might have had something to do with goats, but probably not, because I’m confusing that way and this is probabaly the point where Connie would through a plastic fork at my head and I’d through a couple of spoons back at her, but IT DOESN’T FREAKING MATTER LILLIAN FOR GOD’S SAKE!!! I’m an annoying idiot, I know, but I need to tell the freaking story. Connie – yeah, Connie. HER.
I freaking hate her. I – well, we, really, but Marianne would hate for anyone too know – decided to start this rumour that wasn’t exactly a rumour exactly but oh well, who cares. The rumour (that, as I said, wasn’t exactly a rumour), that she was the one that mysteriously broke Lisa McConaghan’s arm the day before her important gymnastics competition we were all competing in.
Most people would have probably have believed me too, given my unbelievably (NOT) clean record of telling the occasionally painful truth. I suppose being in the ‘in’ crowd at school helps to, and the fact that I, Lillian Darling would never, ever, lie about my best friend since primary one.
But now, of course, my plan is royally screwed up, thanks to whatever idiot decided to accidentally half attack me on the way to their next class (which was proabably PE, judging by their eagerness to not be late), and send me to this boring old dump after death, which is really, really, inconsiderate of them. So, yeah, thanks a lot for that, whoever you are if you’re listening to my mind which is really weird but oh well, who the hell cares, I’m dead anyway, thanls to YOU. Now I’ll never get to see the look on Connie’s face when she gets dumped by the guy she says is ‘her one true love’, ‘her soulmate’and ‘the one she will never let go of’.
Thanks a whole frick-frack-freaking lot.
I hate these Human types sometimes. Do they never realise how idiotically narcissistic they sound, when they whine and whine on and on and on about ‘oh, how terrible my life is’, ‘oh I’m ugly, oh no one likes me, oh I hate her, aahh I’m dead why didn’t I get a chance to be a good person.
It’s stupid. And, thank to Carlotta’s ‘ingenuity’, I have to listen to these stupid death tapes until I can recruit, which is a really, really boring job. Choose the best four hundred thousand fighters out of a potential fifty six million that are joining us every day? Not fun, Carly, not fun at all. I really hope she hears me. I could do with a promotion, especially now that girl’s yappy voice is in my ear again.
Oh, look, a person, thinks the absolute genius. Thank freaking God. I really need to work out what’s going on with this whole death whatever. I wonder what this person did to end up here – wherever here is. My guess is they died of a broken neck or something, in like a tackle or attack or something: they’ve got that wrestler/rugby player/possible cannibal thing going on, which is more than a little daunting, but I can’t let it show. The guy doesn’t ven look like he would want a fight in a thousand million gazillion yearas, though I suppose dying can do that to a person.
Up closer, I can see more of his features in more details: dull green eyes which are pretty narrow, and earring-size hole in his right ear that looks like it hasn’t seen an earring in forever, and the kind of nose that puts Pinocchio to shame. He looks kind of like my old primary school teacher, the one who really didn’t like me and always made sure I was in the group clearing away jotters last before lunchtime, especially one pizza days. He was an asshole.
Fudge monkeys, I’m getting hungry now – his fault obviously. I wonder if dead people can eat, but going by what I’ve heard, which is surprisingly a lot, probabaly not.
Maybe I can ask this guy, who is suddenly looking really freaking tall, so tall he could pass as the human embodiement of mount freaking Everest if he painted himself white and purple, which would be pretty funny, in my opinion.
“Sucks, doesn’t it?” he says, staring out at the expanse of nothingness before us. “All this boring, boring death.”
“I guess,” I reply, shrugging my shoulders. “It’s not like it’s permanent, though, right?” It’s hard to keep the fear out of my voice, just as hard as it is to keep away the sense of hope that for some reason comes hand in hand with the ineviatable oblivion.
“What do you mean, ‘not like it’s permanent’?” the man asks.
“You mean death? You don’t think death is permanent?” I nod, and he laughs hollowly. “I hate to crush your dreams, kid, I really do, but this is pretty much just it. Death.”
His words make me shiver, which could possibly be a good thing because it means I’m not in Hell, but I’m pretty sure I’m still dead, and at least Hell might provide some form of entertainment. “Well, that’s great,” I snap at him. “I’m trapped in the freaking land of eternal freaking boringness, ex-wrestlers/rugby players/possible cannibals and probably no pizza whatsoever, which is a real freaking downer for mw, if you hadn’t noticed, and you just tell me this straight like that with no freaking thought for whether or not I actually freaking want this? Seriously?”
“Most people don’t want death, Lillian,” he says with a hint of a smile. A thought flits into my mind, but I push it out just as quickly. I can’t think about her. Not after what she did to me, to us.
He doesn’t seem to want to listen. “What age are you?” he asks curiously.
“None of your business,” I spit back at him. “I don’t even know who you are. You could be a freaking psychopath for all I know, or a pyromaniac, or, hell, you could even be freaking axe murder. With an invisible axe.”
He laughs again, and this time I can’t quite distinguish between him thinking I genuinely intend to be a master comedian – which I don’t, by the way – or if he just thinks I’m a silly little girl who lets her imagination run away with her, dancing in meadows of fear, which is actually a pretty accurate description of what I thought death would be like. Not this.
“No need to worry, Lillian,” he says, as I wonder how he knows my name. “No axe murderer or psychopath can jurt you know that you’re dead. It sounded like he was going to say something more, something important, but he’s, well, gone, don’t ask me where. I’m gone too, I realise, falling through the air into the darkness, voice shrieking at me to let go of it, but I can’t, I can’t, she CAN’T.
I am myself again, lying on a hard bed of rock in the palace, flames licking the ash black floor.
“Did you find one?” Carlotta asks, Daesia running over to us;
My throat is dry, my fingers numb, but somehow I manage to nod, albeit slowly, feeling a harsh pain like a bright light across the back of my head. “Her name,” I begin to croak. “Is Lillian.”
“And?” Dae prompts, her eyes dancing with a fire that seems almost too bright to be lit by an empress of darkness. “Who is she with?”
“Us.” My shoulder hurts, probably from Lillian’s impact. “In her death.”
Daesia’s smile curls across her face like the flames, arcing across her to her eyes, where flames meet flames and the world is set ablaze. “Thank you,” she says, though she doesn’t seem to mean it. “And Kear? Don’t forget you’ll have to do it again.”
Briefly, I consider striking her for how inconsiderate, but I don’t. She’s too strong for that, and would probably set me ablaze, which is one thing I definitely can’t handle in my death like state right now. Instead, I use words, complicated words that she might not understand, if I’m lucky. “Do what? Do whatever you want me to, bow down to the almighty Daesia, Ruler of the Core, the most parsimonious being ever to walk in the flames, the one who is so avaricious she might as well take evertything for herself, leave all of us to crawl on our knees and beg for her divin mercy.”
I half expect her to throttle me, if I’m honest, but to my suprirse – and slight fear – she laughs. Properly laugh,s a melody carried in the spaces between stone, spiralling upwards to create or destroy, a sound that is rare, and not altogether good.
Carlotta raises her eyebrows and exchanges a look with Daesia, who nods without bursting into hysterics at me vlearly being the most imbecilic imbecile in the world. “Kear, my dear. You have a lot to learn.”
She grabs my arm as Carlotta takes the other, smoke clawing at me skin as I let out a choking scream.
“What do you think you’re doing?” I shriek, pulse racing. “Put my down you idiots! Let me go.”
I am flung on the ground as the smoke clears, allowing me to see something of my dark surroundings before a flame launches itself at me, charring my skin.
Daesia laughs, but this time it is cold, a laugh telling only of destruction. “Kear, Kear, Kear. Whatever will we do with you?”
Then there is a scream.