There are certain things that happen to you when you die that greatly contradict ingrained stereotypes about death. Some say that when you die, a bright light awakens your spirit and when you succumb to it, you are brought to a special place, a judgement podium that is made for you and only you.
Some say that you meet God, while others say that you don't. Some say that all of your memories come rushing in like a powerful wave, but others say differently. The tales didn't matter though because Adrianna knew the truth, or at least her truth, about her death; and it was not a certain experience in which she was beckoned forth, but more so an ever-foreign ebony body that wrapped itself around her and caused an eternal paralysis that she could not shake herself from.
She remembered things; distinct emotions like the fearful shock of seeing a semi-truck begin to drift dangerously into their lane. The tenseness of the air as Dante's hands tightened on the steering wheel and tried to ready his nerves enough to act quickly for possible disaster.
It wasn't enough though, and with the action of the driver straightening himself out, came a sudden collision that they themselves could not be shielded against. Glass shattered, metal crunched, and Dante tried to move the car out of the way to stop the detrimental collision, but it wasn't enough.
There was no pain for her, and in fact it was almost as though she had died on impact, but despite that, it was the last time that she physically felt something, even if not pain. There was no sound, no sight, it was just... nothing, or at least it was until her weightless existence trapped within that ebony paralysis began to lessen. She began to feel things, little things at first, like the comforting feeling of warmth, and the weird feeling of existence that one doesn’t realize that they can miss until it is taken away.
The darkness became subtly brighter then, until what could only be described as black, turned into a dull grey but the change was so slow, so subtle that Adrianna didn’t notice it until it was complete.
The next change was also faint and at some point she felt herself being pressed up against something solid and smooth, but her eyes picked up virtually nothing. She was still in a brighter sort of nothingness, but now she felt solid.
She couldn’t see herself, as when she looked down she saw no hands, no feet, no traces of hair, but now she didn’t float, she walked, or more so felt like she was walking despite not seeming to have any limbs for the action to occur. There was no fatigue in the action, and no certain destination, but as she walked, it was as though things were being etched into her bland grey universe like a careful artist with pencil.
The first thing that she noticed slowly coming into being, was a pathway whose direction seemed to only go straight. Although, after proceeding to follow it, Adrianna eventually came across a fork in the road that had no sign of what each pathway entailed and for the first time since her demise, she began to feel emotion—a perplexed one that was an echo of the girl that she had once known.
“...Why?” she said.
The sound of her own voice surprised her with how raspy and low it was, but then again it wasn’t like she had used it this entire time so the surprise was a given.
The only other thing that was even more surprising than her own voice, was the sound of another voice replying.
“Why what, child?” The voice was a whimsical one, female and yet male in the sense that it was as if two people were speaking at the same time and of the same tone, their only difference being gender; and with no indication of where it was coming from, Adrianna was once again perplexed as to its origin. Was this God? The idea was highly doubtful, as this place had nothing. No fiery flames or beautiful fields. Where was she?
“Why….is there a fork in the road…? Who are you?”
“I am…the ground at which you walk, the wind, and the trees, the universe in which you know it… and as for the fork in the road… it is a choice that you must make.”
“So… you’re God?”
The voice laughed, and it was almost like how a breeze felt as it played with your skin, gentle and comforting with its distinct presence.
“Who is God, child?”
The two different pathways grew more distinct. The one on the right became wet, rain pouring from unseen clouds in gentle rhythms that stirred some sort of dreadful yet forgotten memory. There were sounds of cars in traffic, sounds of laughter, business, people.
The other path was much more quiet, although waves of warmth could be felt and smaller, less distinct voices could be subtly heard down the path.
“Why give me a choice…? I died….right?” Adrianna’s voice sounded fearful and that muscle in the middle of her chest that she had thought stopped beating upon her entrance into this void, began to do so avidly. She felt… anxiety… fearfulness that shouldn’t have felt so foreign but it did.
“Adrianna Rose did die…yes. However, you are no longer Adrianna Rose.”
She looked down at herself expecting to see something, although out of all of the advancements that her senses had gone through, she was still left with no body.
“Who… am I then?”
This time there was an actual breeze that ran around her.
“That is for you to choose.”
The path on the right that had played with all of her senses but sight, suddenly showed a picture that made the air around her run cold.
It was him…
His loose dirty blond curls splayed against a rug, his body in a fetal position, a nasty gash on the side of his head, bruises, a cut lip, and his hazel eyes dazed as he seemed to be in a lot of pain.
Adrianna felt something raw and hot then, something consuming. At first it was helpless confusion and disturbance as she didn’t know where this scene was coming from or why she was being subjected to it, but then she saw a man’s rough hand yank on her lost love, hoisting him up almost like he was a doll, which to this man who seemed to have muscles on muscles, probably was.
Confusion turned into anger as she watched Dante struggle, fighting so hard only to fail.
“Why would you show me that?!”
This time the voice didn’t answer, merely stopping the scene on the right to then show a scene on the left side play out in the same fashion that the first had.
Dante wasn’t in this vision, in fact there wasn’t much to see, as the quiet audio that had been revealed to her earlier stood its ground and revealed the scene of a lovely family enjoying a picnic in the warm breeze, talking, laughing. It was normal, almost in complete contrast with the violence that she had just seen on the other pathway, but it was clear where this was going.
“You know why I showed you what I did. Now, your choice is permanent. Once you begin walking a certain path, you will not be able to come to this fork in the road again until the cycle of life and death comes back forth. Decide and go, or be swallowed into nothingness again until the next opportunity arises.”
As if that was the end of the conversation, Adrianna looked behind herself and saw that there was a creeping darkness that was spreading, turning all things that had etched itself out and turned brighter, into the pit of darkness that she had spent so long sitting in.
Adrenaline rushed through her, and there was no other presence with her now but herself and the ever- growing cold feeling of nothingness creeping up behind her. She had to make her choice now, and in truth the choice was easy. Dante needed help, and although he was older now, there was still a warm feeling that overcame her when she thought of him, even now. Even in death.
She had to save him… from what, she wasn’t yet certain, but she would not go about her existence knowing that he was in such a violent predicament.
The darkness behind her felt as though it was pulling her back now, beckoning her to return to where she had been for so long, but she wouldn’t let it tempt her. She ran then, and she felt as though she had feet when she did so, down the right path, not even taking a second glance at the left. The darkness behind her creeped up faster, threatening to take her back with its pull, but she would not let it.
There was a light at the end of this path, a bright one and she ran and ran reaching out an actual hand that she could see, out towards it and….
she felt something.
The rain became louder; the sounds became more distinct.
Adrian…? Who was Adrian?
“Adrian wake up you lazy ass!”
And then, Adrianna as she knew it, collapsed.
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