I don’t understand. I swear a second ago I was not standing in the middle of the road. Wait, where am I? I don’t recognize any of these buildings. This is not making any sense! I know this is not where I was. My hometown is small. I know every inch of it. There is no possible way I am home. Oh! Someone is coming down the street! Maybe he can help me!
That’s weird. He looked right at me when I spoke to him, but he turned around and ran off to his friends down the street. They took off around the corner, but they were gone when I got there.
Maybe I can find someone else around here who can tell me where I am. Maybe if I walk down this street I will see something familiar.
Oh my god. Oh my god. What just happened? I don’t- I can’t- Oh my god! I need to gather my thoughts. I found a woman walking her dog. She was going the same way as me. I called to her but she didn’t answer. I ran up behind her and touched her arm.
When she turned around… it was like I was seeing double. I could see her just fine. Her ear buds fell out when she turned around. But super imposed on her was another version of her. As I watched, that second version of her started aging! I jumped back as she screamed and the effect vanished. She ran.
What is going on here?
I need to find a police station. Surely they can help me. If I had my phone, I could just call my sister. I guess I left it wherever I was before this happened. Hold on. Where was I before this happened? I remember waking up this morning to my cat jumping on my head. He always does that when he thinks I have slept too long.
I was planning to go to the mall with my friends to get a birthday present for my sister. Did I go? Yes, I am sure I did. I remember getting a beautiful snow globe with a ballerina in it. It’s set on an ornate silver base. She loves ballerinas, but she thinks she is too clumsy to be one. I know we left. I remember driving home. But I don’t remember actually getting home though. But how did I get here? There is no town between where I live and the mall. I know this isn’t the city where the mall is, because it’s too small. In the time I have been trying to work this out, I reach what looks like the edge of town.
There is a school here. It says “Bedford Elementary School”. I don’t know of any town called Bedford anywhere near where I live. Okay, I can figure this out. There is a playground here. I can sit and gather my thoughts. Where is everyone? It’s Saturday afternoon but I have only seen a few people.
Wait, is that a person hiding around the corner?
I’ve been sitting in this swing for what seems like an eternity. The person I spotted hasn’t moved an inch. Either they are really bad at hiding, or they want me to know they are there.
After what happened with the dog walking lady, I’m afraid to talk to anyone else. I’m sure it was just the stress of the situation that caused a hallucination. It was really weird though.
I can either leave and try to find the police station or confront this mystery person following me. For some reason, that idea does not appeal to me. Since I didn’t see any payphones on the way here, I don’t really see any other option but to try talking to the hider.
As I stand up, the person steps out. What is this?! It’s a guy, I think. He’s wearing pants and no shirt, average height, muscular, but his skin is abnormally grey. That’s not even the worst part. His eyes are red! Not the bright red of an albino without iris pigment, but a darker red that almost seemed to blend with his skin colour.
He is staring at me. I have to look away, and that’s when I notice his mouth. A tiny squeal comes out as I try to suppress a scream. The corners of his mouth go all the way back, almost to his ear lobes!
We have been standing like this for a while. He just stares at me. Then he starts to smile, and all I see is a row of sharp teeth.
When he smiled, I stumbled backward, tripped on the swing, and fell to the ground. The pain momentarily distracts me from the horror before me. I start scooting backward as he moves toward me.
I don’t make it far before he is standing in front of me. For a moment, I’m not sure what to do. Then I realize he is holding out his hand. He has thankfully stopped smiling. A short nod indicates he is telling me it’s safe to take his hand.
Seeing no other option, I take his hand. Suddenly, I hear what sounds like a far away wind tunnel. His voice comes through, softly at first, then much louder.
“Can you hear me?” The voice is coming from inside me!
“Yes?” I think, not sure if he can hear me. He pulls me up but doesn’t let go of my hand.
“Good. We have to be touching to communicate,” he responded.
“What is going on here?” It’s hard for me to correlate this monster before me with the friendly voice I’m hearing in my head.
“You must be new.” he seemed to sigh. “I’m sorry to have to break it to you, but you’re dead.”
We walk down a side street as he explains what he knows. His name was Mark. He says he woke up one day in a field nearby. He doesn’t know how he died, but the person who found him assured him that he did.
Mark calls this person Andy. He says Andy brought him to the house he is taking me to. It’s an abandoned house that the city hasn’t got around to tearing down yet.
It was there Andy told him what they were. As far as he knew, they did not have a name. Most did not “wake up” in populated areas like I did. Others like us have passed on what knowledge they have discovered through the centuries, but nobody knows how many of us there are. Mark says that besides me, Andy is the only other one he knew.
I ask him where Andy is now and his only answer is, “He’s gone.”
We have been holding hands to communicate and he holds my arm up. It looks so bright against his grey skin. We go up the steps of the house and he stands me in front of the door.
It’s an old two-story house with no real defining features. It has a glass door in front of its regular wooden door. I can see my reflection in the glass. I watch my jaw drop in the reflection, revealing a row of sharp teeth.
I stare at my very normal-looking arm and back to my reflection. “How?”
Mark informs me that we all look like this. You look normal to yourself, but your reflection will show you what others see.
No wonder that boy ran off, and that woman screamed. I’m hideous!
The woman! I ask him about the double vision. “It’s how we take life,” he says. “Touch a normal person and you see their soul age.” If I touch them long enough, their soul crumbles to dust and they die.
“I can’t do that!” I almost scream at him.
Mark seemed to only sigh again. “It’s the only way to find peace. Take a hundred souls and you disappear.” Andy thought that must mean you finally get to move on.
I ask him if he had meant Andy moved on, but he said no, Andy went to a bigger city to take his lives.
Then why is Mark still here? As far as he can tell, he has only been like this for a month. He is also not keen to take a life.
Suddenly, there is a pounding on the door.
“Police!” someone screams.
Mark looks at me. Those two people I ran into must have gone to the cops. He yanks me to my feet and runs to the back door. Throwing open the door, he shoves me outside and follows.
Immediately, I run into another officer. Of course there would be one at the back.
When I run into the cop, I grab his arms to steady myself. The double vision comes immediately. Mark tries to pull me off the officer, but I find I don’t want to let go.
The first time this happened I was scared. This time I know what is going on. A pleasant buzzing courses through my body. I want to keep it going.
Before I realize it, the double vision crumbles, and the cop falls to the ground. He is definitely dead. Mark practically drags me through the neighborhood. We don’t stop until we are in the field at the edge of town.
We collapse in the tall grass and listen. Sirens are going off the way we came. I have the urge to laugh. “That was amazing!” I tell Mark. He says he wouldn’t know. He has not touched anyone since he’s been here.
I move my hand away from him and think. I attempt to process all this new information. I raise my arms up and stare at their normal skin, then look at him. I can’t live like this.
If the only way to make this go away is to take a hundred lives, I need to get started. Mark seems to understand that I have made a decision. I touch his arm. “Goodbye.”
He nods and stares at the sky while I walk away. I will find a city like Andy did.
Consider yourself warned.