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Out of the Dark
'No, I’m not dead. I can’t be dead…'
Darkness surrounded me, smothering me and pressing down on me from all sides. In the distance I thought I could hear muffled voices, dampened, as if spoken through a screen of water. Then why did they sound like they were all speaking in my head? I tried to shake my head but I felt nothing. And it hit me, I had no body, no existence.
'Oh. My. God. I am dead.'
I never thought this would happen. In all those books I read, the heroes never died. Not the good ones, the brave ones anyway.
The voices were getting louder, clearer, like a signal on the radio. I struggled to hear what they were saying. I thought I could tell a difference between the deeper ones and the more high pitched screeches that obviously belonged to a young girl. And a sharp cackle, cold and malevolent, that sent a chill through me.
Along with the voices came thin wisps of light, sweeping across my vision then disappearing into the darkness, like a wind would blow a trace of sand through the air. Every time the light grew brighter, and then colors began to appear – red, midnight blue, and grey.
I could begin to make out words, Eva! Eva! Eva… the screeching voice kept repeating. 'Eva.' That was my name. My mother once told me when I was a child it meant ‘breath of life’, before she died in a car accident. Or at least I thought it was an accident. I wished I could ask her why she really died, and just have her tell me. 'Well if I really am dead now, maybe I could just ask her.' I thought, 'But could I ever even find her? Is there even a way? Or is death just this, darkness and voices…' It was trying to find out what had happened to my mother that got me here. 'Maybe now that I’m dead I should just let it go…'
The light was beginning to take shape now, become more solid, and spread. The grey began to take over the right side of my vision, in all different shades, while the blue dominated the right. And there was red spattered on the grey, forming into pools. Slowly, as if seen through a haze, the blurred shapes turned to blood, running away from me, a grey cement floor, and a night sky that stretched overhead. Then everything came into focus, and I saw two figures standing before me, an older woman and a younger teenage boy, his throat gripped in the woman’s sharp bony hand. She had thrown her head back in a gleeful cackle, while the boy stared down at me with a mix of horror and disbelief, his sandy hair falling into his green-grey eyes. Aiden.
As quickly as I remembered his name I recalled everything that happened the moment I died. She had him, she said she was going to kill him; she had a knife pressed against his neck. She was going to slit his throat. I couldn’t let that happen, I had to stop her!
But I wasn’t fast enough. The second I started moving towards her she whipped her arm forward and suddenly the knife wasn’t in her hand, it was embedded in my chest, the blood pouring into my lungs. I had never felt such burning pain, it ravaged my body and ripped through me with raging intensity. I was too stunned to move or utter a sound, and as my eyes met with Aiden’s I sank to the ground, my hand gripping the hilt of the knife, too weak to pull it out. And then I was dead. 'But I’m not,' I thought, 'I must have only blacked out.' I could now feel the hilt, still gripped tightly in my hand; the cold cement seeping the warmth from my cheek; the freezing night air whipping through my hair. I was alive.
Instantly I snapped out of my haze. I could clearly hear the screaming now; it was Anna, only thirteen years old. 'She thinks I’m dead. They all think I am.' But I wasn’t. I knew what I had to do before that witch realized I was still alive. Holding the knife in place with my hand I scrambled up from the ground and sprinted over to the witch. Biting down hard on my lip, I steeled my nerves, yanked the dagger from my chest, and plunged it into the witch’s arm.
With a scream she released Aiden’s throat and jerked her arm to her side. In a flash Aiden lifted his arm up and smashed his elbow into her face, knocking her to the ground. As soon as she hit the floor he was on her. He gripped her shoulders before she could do anything, lifted her up then slammed her head onto the ground over and over until her eyes rolled closed and her arms fell limp at her side. For a minute he remained still, crouched over her unconscious body, his hands gripping her shoulders till his knuckles were white, his breathing heavy and his body shaking violently. I couldn't see his face, and I didn't dare to move to touch him, so for a few moments we just stayed frozen like that, neither of us moving, neither of us making a sound.
“Aiden…” I finally whispered.
Suddenly his head snapped up, his hair a tangled mess and his pupils contracted to pinpoints.
"Aiden?" I followed his line of sight to the point they were fixed, and let out a chocked gasp as my throat constricted. That’s not possible. I thought. I was looking at my body – crumbled on the ground, cold and stiff, blood seeping through my clothes and running through the cracks in the floor. Anna was at my side, her hand gently placed on my shoulder, gently shaking, gently weeping. “Anna…” I choked out. She was my sister, my precious little sister. Why did I have to make her see this? Why did I have to drag her into all of this?
I looked down at Aiden, now acutely aware that he was completely oblivious to my presence. “Aiden…” I whispered again, then, finding my voice, I shouted, “Aiden! ...Aiden!!” In a panic I dropped to his side. But before I could reach out to him he quickly stood and strode over to Anna and my body. Once he reached her he slowly crouched down and extended his hand as if to stroke my cheek, but then drew it back with a slight tremble and rested it on Anna’s shoulder instead, his head bowed and shaking.
My eyes burned but no tears came, and as I sobbed silently my shoulders heaved. 'Why is this happening!? Am I just dreaming? Am I really dead or this is just some recurring nightmare?' When I looked down I saw that the knife I gripped in my hand was completely shiny and clean, while the witch’s arm showed no sign of ever being harmed. I gasped and put my hand to my wound. When I drew it away, it was completely dry. I looked down – there was the wound, nothing more than a thin line, but not a trace of blood.
My breathing quickened as I thought of the impossible, 'Am I… Am I a ghost?'