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Her same was short for something in Greek
He had never felt his muscles this tense before. He had never felt his body this tight around his core as he pried his eyes opened to see he was afraid. Slowly, he let his shoulders fall below his ears, he raised his head to remove his chin from his chest, and he dropped his legs, not letting his knees drill a hole into his gut. He looked around to see he was terrified, and alone. His body rest stone still on a twin sized bed in a rundown hotel room. The room was lit in a warm yellow glow from the buzzing bedside lamp, and the curtains to a drafty window blew like dried autumn leaves in a parking lot. The other bed in the room was empty, and the wooden furniture displayed open drawers and cabinets of the same status. The old box tv from what he can only assume belonged in the century before him was screaming static noise at him, and the ceiling was dropping house dandruff onto the floor and furnishings as if someone were walking above him. It fell like snow to the constant headache he had pounding at his skull. It was almost as if it was falling to the beat of each throbbing moment he sat in pain. He realized, however, that over the white noise of the television and the lamp, the pounding in his head was not from confusion and pain, but instead a poor response to a rapping at the door to this room.
He sat himself up slowly, and, even slower, forced his tense and aching body to the door. Raising himself up to look through a peephole that didn’t exist, he sighed and opened the door to an empty, equally run-down hallway. He groaned, closed the door, and turned back to the room, only to find a small woman sitting on the bed next to the one he woke up in. She sat cross legged in a torn and weathered white dress, her dirty blonde hair falling messily over the sides and front of her face. She had bruises, cuts and scars peppering her very thin arms and legs, and a single pearl bracelet hanging loosely on her left wrist. She did not look at him, or seem to acknowledge his presence. “You took way too long to answer the door” she giggled, her shoulders rising up just enough as she breathed and laughed to show she was, at the very least, a living person. “Hope I didn’t spook you.” She said as she turned her head to look at him and smiled. Her complexion was ghostly, and her smile was equally as white. Her eyes dropped deep into her face, the red and purple circles underneath complimenting the pinkish color of her thin lips, and drawing attention to the dazzling blue color of her irises.
“Who are you?” He demanded defensively. “Where am I?”
She looked him up and down, stood up slowly to reveal she was just as short as she was thin, and lead him to the bathroom. Lit in horrible white florescent lights, the dirty white tub shower with the broken sliding door, and the near yellow porcelain toilet did not convince him he was in a safe or clean place. They stepped barefoot over the broken tile floor, and he realized for the first time what he was wearing. When she turned him to face the mirror, he was so much worse than he could have imagined. Deep cuts in his face, chest and arms sat bloodlessly on his skin, and crooked features with sloppy hair and even a broken tooth set to light exactly how unaware he really was. He stared and stared at himself, the sound of grinding metal and smell of exhaust filling his brain. His muscles started to tense again, and he doubled over the cracked sink as his body reminded him of pain he didn’t know how to remember. He started losing his footing, and as he kneeled on the ground, he felt her gentle hands ghosting over his shoulders and arms. He was near shaking, having no idea how to handle his body or his situation, and his hands flew to his head and gripped his hair so tight he could have pulled it out. He opened his mouth to scream, but before any sound could escape his body, he found himself calmly sitting on the bed again, across from the woman as she stared at him. He was panting, confused, and afraid.
“Who are you?” He asked again, gentler this time. “And where am I?” He still sounded tense, and impatient, but it wasn’t angry or demanding like he had been previous.
“I would love to answer your questions Marcus,” She replied, her voice like broken Christmas bells “But first I need to make sure you’re okay. Do you know what happened before you woke up here?” She asked.
Marcus dropped his head in his hands, but could not remember. He could only think of a young boy with dusty brown hair and an orange shirt. “There was a kid…” He started. “He was young, maybe six or seven…” He tried to think of how this child was relevant, or what could have come after him, but Marcus could not remember forward or backward from that child.
The woman nodded, as if she knew that this exact thing would happen. “What do you know about yourself?” She asked.
He lifted his head, and looked at his hands and arms. They sat over a pair of torn and dirty black pants, which seemed to be holding of the bottom an equally torn and equally dirty black long sleeve shirt inside of its waistband. “My name is Marcus…Marcus Jorden. I’m twenty… I’m thirty one, I think, and I’m from Massachusetts.” Again, she nodded as if she understood something. He looked at her. “What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I know anything? What’s going on?” He was getting angry, the confusion making him frustrated and very upset.
She just watched him, as if she was studying his behavior. She reached her hand out and rested it over his. “I’ll explain what I can, but you can’t get angry.” She bargained. The two stared at one another for a moment, before he nodded in agreement. “Hi,” She started with a giggle. “You can call me Percy, it’s short for something Greek and you probably don’t care. Right now, you’re in what you would know as the Underworld or Hell or anything of that nature. It’s essentially the bad afterlife. With that being said, you passed away early this morning due to a really bad car accident on a rainy highway involving your sedan and a drunk 16 wheeler. You don’t remember anything because you’re, well, dead. Memories will come back to you though, as time goes on. You’re not here permanently though; there was, essentially, a mix-up with trying to get you to the good afterlife. You should be sent there relatively soon, but until then, I’m here. I’m supposed to keep you safe, stay with you often, and make sure you don’t do anything that will ruin your chances of going where you belong.” As she spoke, she watched him react. Thorough confusion painted his face like a Jackson Pollock, as well as the occasional paint splatter of anger, grief, and more confusion. “You said you won’t be mad…” she finished, tensing slightly to prepare for him breaking his promise.
He nodded subtly, and stared at her for a long moment, his eyes darting from point to point around her face, then staring at the room they sat in. Then suddenly, and all at once, he began to cry. He dropped his head into his hands, resting his elbow heavily on his knees, and she could hear his sobs leaving his broken and damaged body. He cried for a long time, attempting to calm down for a few moments, then noticing a new cut or hole in his skin or slash reminded him again of exactly how confusing and upsetting his situation is, and would cry again.
This went on for a few hours, and less than five minutes in, Percy held him gently, her hands ghosting over his damaged shirt or broken skin, and she shushed him quietly and ran her fingers through his messy, tangled, brown hair. When it stopped, his body was simply a shivering, whimpering, broken man in the arms of a deathly pale, mysterious woman. He nearly cried himself to sleep, and when he woke up, Percy was missing, but he was gently tucked into the bed, and some of his bigger cuts and injuries were wrapped in bandages. His clothes were no longer torn, and his hair was brushed into a tangle free mat on top of his head. He, again, sat up and scanned the room, this time looking for Percy. As a dead man, he did not want to be alone.