Imagine you wake up one day to discover you’re dead. You’ve no memory of how it happened or when or how you ended up in this mess, but as a trade-off you do appear to have some pretty nifty powers. The afterlife isn’t so bad at all until the mysterious albeit very good looking man moves into your apartment… and it turns out he can see and hear you as well.
As you struggle to come to terms with adapting to the biggest lifestyle (or should that be after-lifestyle) change ever it soon becomes apparent that there are many mysteries surrounding your death and in order to find peace and move on, you must unravel a trail of clues with your nice friendly (unexpected) flatmate.
Only this isn’t an average death, something unexpected has happened and soon it becomes apparent, that the world of the dead houses more than a few wandering spirits, something else supernatural and extremely powerful is abroad and it is threatening both the world of the living… and of the dead.
I was twenty six when it happened and the day started like any other day. I had got up and dressed ready for my thankless, dead end job in a call centre. I left my flat bright and early, never to return. It was my own fault I suppose. Due to waking up late I had skipped breakfast and decided that, even though it was against my traditional morning ritual, I would grab a coffee from the breakfast van a few streets from the office. It seemed like half the town was there when I arrived and upon paying for my beverage and checking the time, I could see I was later than ever. Godamnit. A perfect record blemished for the sake of a coffee. I was always in on time at my station ready for the first call of the day. Even when I felt ill I was in – I was not going to let a late morning ruin that, so I ran. The coffee slopped around in the flimsy cardboard cup, as I pushed through the crowds of commuters all desperately trying to reach their own destinations. I had seven minutes… I could do this I thought as I reached the busy main road…
I didn’t see the car until the last second. I heard the squeal and the horn and knew I was headed for me. The next second I felt a burst of pain hit me square on and the next second I was floating… no I was flying through the air, it could have only been a few feet but it felt like miles. The world spun upside down, my coffee flipped over the lid coming away and spilling the brown liquid everywhere… the empty cup hit the tarmac a second before I did. I was aware of another pain, this one in my head but it only lasted a second. People were screaming as shouting as I somehow crawled to the pavement, unaware that the pain had all but vanished. People were running towards me gasping and pointing. I pulled myself to my feet to assure them I was okay… but they only ran straight past me. What the…? It was then I saw it… someone else had been hit, they were lying in the road not far from where I’d been hit, it didn’t look good. I joined the throng and walked over pushing my way through… and froze.
The person who had been hit wasn’t another person at all… it was me! I stared down. How was this possible? If I was standing there looking down at myself did that mean…? Oh God! I felt sick. I wanted to scream and retch at the same time. I wanted to shout at that lifeless body to get up and stop this stupidity. A man was leaning over me checking my vital signs, his sandy dishevelled hair framed a face etched in concern.
‘She’s not breathing,’ he exclaimed. ‘Someone call an ambulance!’ A middle aged woman was already onto the emergency services, he voice shook as she stuttered
‘Ambulance please. Yes hello, a – a lady’s been knocked down, she- she’s not breathing I think she’s- she’s de-‘ her voice cracked at the end of the sentence. All around serious faces were gravely turning away, parents with children were shielding their eyes or steering them away from the scene. The world around me was spinning. I couldn’t stand, I wanted to run, I wanted to get as far away from there as possible, but another part of me wanted to stay. If I stayed here if I stayed next to my body maybe I could somehow… I saw it! The car that had hit me. The front was badly dented and now I could see flecks of blood, all at once bringing home just how hard I had been hit. The driver, a young lady with long black hair had been helped out of the vehicle and was standing, there leaning against the door for support, in obvious shock and terror at what she had just done. I wanted to feel mad at her but I just felt sorry. She looked so distraught. As the first of the sirens cut through the air my eyes wandered back to the car… only something was wrong. It seemed to be melting. The whole front including the bonnet and lights looked like it was made of wax. The rest of the world seemed to fall away as I struggled to make sense of what was happening. Then all at once, the wax formed the face of the most terrifying creature I had ever seen. Almost like a mad canine with wild eyes and sharp horns on its head. It screamed at me in rage, the people around me, the man next to me, the driver of the car had all but vanished as the creature before me advanced with drooling jaws and crazy eyes. It jumped and I shielded myself as an alarm rang through the air. What now?
I jolted awake. I was trembling with fear drenched in a cold sweat, but safe and tucked up in bed. I lay there for a few seconds my breathing ragged. Just to be sure I reached up a hand to my chest, my heart was hammering underneath my skin… It was just an awful nightmare. The alarm rang again and I realized it was my alarm clock after all. I shut it off starting my morning by uttering the same word I did every morning.
Before I tell you about the end, I should probably go back to the beginning. I was born in a large city on a freezing winters morning. It was later described as a magical snowy day with a blazing blue sky- hence my name Skye. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling it had been grim and overcast like most winter days. I don’t remember my parents, not my real ones. I was given up shortly after birth and was passed from one foster family to the next, never staying long enough to form such a thing as a close ‘family bond.’As soon as I turned sixteen, I was able to do what I wanted since I was eleven- move out and get a place of my own. With the wages I earned back then it wasn’t much. My studio apartment was in a dodgy part of town with a rough neighbourhood and worse residents. As soon as I could afford to, I moved again, to a small but much more comfortable apartment where I lived for the next five years. I planned on spending many more there, but fate had other ideas.
The day it happened was just like any other day. Grey rainclouds hung over the city and life carried on as normal. I began my commute as I normally did, taking a bus to the city centre. The nightmare had left me feeling very unsettled and feeling slightly sick in my stomach. It had been so vivid… so real…
I shuddered as I reached the main road and took extra special care as I crossed! I made it to work and started a day at the call centre, just like any other. Shouting customers, shouting managers and work colleagues shutting me out of their conversations… not that I minded. I had little interest in celebrity gossip or what make-up they’d discovered. I’d long since accepted that my role was to sit down, head down and go home. I sometimes wished I could be like them, to be included in their little gang, but at the same time, I was glad I wasn’t. I didn’t quite grasp the concept of friends- I had always had difficulty with that. Years of being shipped from one family to another meant never staying in one school or neighbourhood for very long… in the end, it was less hurtful for everyone to be the ‘loner.’
The long boring day finally came to an end and I packed up my stuff and left, without bothering to say goodbye to anyone. I debated treating myself to a takeaway but decided against it. It always looked so appetising but was always disappointing when it came to unwrapping it- just like everything else in that city. I like to think that I wasn’t being cynical, but there had to be more to life than what currently was, work, bills, taxes… I sighed. Someday, if I just waited, something would happen. Little did I know that I didn’t have long to wait before something did happen, but not in the way that I was expecting.
It was already raining by the time I realised my bus home was not coming. Experience had taught me that if you waited fifteen minutes, you’d be waiting for another forty-five. I could walk it in thirty, maybe less. So, I walked, the rain steadily growing worse. This was ridiculous. I stopped at the entrance to an alleyway and looked down it. As a general rule I avoided it at all costs, it was poorly lit and not exactly inviting even in the day. But I was cold, I was hungry and tired – just this once I said to myself.
I was halfway down before I realised I was being followed! I whirled around but nothing was there. I carried on walking, my pace quickening but the presence grew nearer. I was panicking now. The last thing I wanted to do was run but every natural instinct was screaming to do just that. Just as I was about to break into a sprint, a figure flashed out from behind me… revealing itself as a cat. I muttered something under my breath feeling foolish. No one else was down here on such an awful night. I slowed my pace but couldn’t shake the uneasy sensation of being followed.
I had gone a few yards further, when a sound stopped me in my tracks- a tin can clattering down, just behind me. I tried to forget my thumping heart as I looked around.
‘Kitty?’ I asked hopefully. A shape moved out from the blackness and terror flooded through me. ‘You’re not a kitty,’ I murmured. I was running without hesitation a second later, my instinct had won. What WAS that? I was being pursued, I could hear the footfalls. Just a little further- I could see the end of the alleyway… I was going to make it- and I was down, pain flooded through me and I blacked out!