It wasn’t supposed to happen.
There was a flaw in their design. Don’t ask me how. Hell, don’t even ask me who They are. If I knew- things might be different.
Or they might be just as they were now.
The last I remembered of life was the screech of metal tearing apart. Twisting and scraping in a horrendous mess. Most of all I remember the burning flesh. The smell would forever mar my senses. Even now I could sense it was still there, in the back of my mind. I could see the skin burning, layers flaying away in molten masses to show the glean of impossible white. Bone.
Who knew it could be so white?
At the most, it was unfair. Cruel even, that my last (and only for that matter) memory of real life was so horrendous that I pretended It wasn’t mine to begin with. In reality however, I knew that it had been my flesh melting away. My bone. The metal around me had trapped me inside, burned me alive. Even now I couldn’t tell you what the metal was.
It didn’t matter. It wouldn’t change anything.
I awoke to a room far to child like for my own comfort. Pastel yellows and pinks blended around me. There was no furniture however, no fluffy bunnies or happy ponies. Only pastel yellow walls, trimmed with pink lining. No bed. No door. No window.
Only walls surrounded me. Had I been claustrophobic I may have died. It’s only now that I can laugh at that expression. The moment I woke up, my mind hadn’t exactly wrapped around the fact that I wasn’t breathing. If I had put my hand to my chest, there would have been no hammering where my heart should be.
It wasn’t until the robed figure marched through the wall that I began to panic. Upon entering my room, the figure stood in front of me even as the walls began to evaporate. Around me now, was nothingness.
To my credit, most people would have done more. Most people wouldn’t stand and listen as a faceless robe explained to them that they were dead, and that now they had a job to do. I did, however. Once the warm greetings were out of the way (Not that there were any), I was sent back to Earth. Not to live, but to start my duty. Before me was a list of names, people that had to be taken care of.
I was given only this list, a spotted feline like creature, and the task of collecting these 99 souls. I would take them to where I had awoken. I would not harm them, not spiritually at least. It took me years, yet I found them all.
To my credit, the 99 souls were collected far faster than the robes expected. One by one they were captured in my private hell of nothing, and even though not one of them looked familiar to me, I knew that they had played some part in what had happened. I believed that.
It was the feline that brought in number 99. He was the evasive one. He seemed to always know when we were upon him, and when we would strike. Earth children called him magical, their adults called him crazy. I didn’t care much for calling him anything.
I only wanted him.
Once inside the vast nothing I had been ‘born’ into, he stumbled. Clearly shaking, and understanding well of what was to become of him, he demanded I let him go. He threatened he would harm me.
Then he fell to his knees and begged me not to harm him.
â€œWhere am I?â€ he stammered. It was a question I had never allowed the others an answer to. Now, with them all here however, I granted him the pleasure of knowledge. If only this once.
â€œYour in the in betweenâ€ I announced, my voice cold and raspy from years of non use. I had already forgotten what I had sounded like in life. â€œNow it’s time you moved forwardâ€
They all became alert. As they should have. Yet nothing they did could have deemed any difference to the robes. The appeared from nowhere, encompassing the room within seconds. Once they were gone, so were my souls.
All 99 of them.
In there place now where lanterns. They floated in exact locations where there had once been a person. Or at least the remembrance of a person. I stared on at this site, suddenly feeling robbed. It was only then, that the feline who had accompanied me in my many conquest, finally spoke:
â€œIt wasn’t supposed to happen. You dying. There was a flaw in there design. In ancient China, the symbol of a lantern burning bright through the darkness was meant to welcome lost souls. You’ve captured all ninety nine.
All those that participated in breaking the original plan of life, thus causing your death.”
I smiled. Yes. This was what I had wanted. Revenge.
The triumph however, was short lived. Pain shot through me, causing me to double over in an effort to stay on my feet. Falling in the in between- was much different than standing after all. Acid burned through my veins, causing me to dig my nails into flesh. I shouldn’t have felt pain. Pain meant I was alive.
It didn’t matter. The pain continued, getting worse. The tearing of flesh filled the air. It was then I decided that burning wasn’t the worst memory I had.
Once it all subsided, and I stood- I knew all to well what had happened. Without a mirror, I knew without a doubt about the wings that had grown outwards. The feathers were still bloody, streaking down my back and onto the floor.
"We aren’t offering you a new life. We’re simply giving you the right to consume itâ€
- To be continued??? -
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