Chapter One: Eli Awakes
I woke to brightness. Brighter and whiter than the sun itself. Almost blinding me, I kept my eyes shut, sure that this was my journey to the afterlife. The only thing I wasn't sure of was how I ended up dead.
Eyes still shut, I felt myself sit up. For a minute I just sat there, contemplating whether I was real or not. Whether I could, think, talk, breathe. I found my answer when slowly words start forming in my head. Words of my own.
"Where am I?" I thought.
Without completely realizing, I answered myself.
"You're dead, duh."
Now on my knees, I feel around the surface like a blind person trying to spot anything my eyes normally would but right now can't.
So far, all I could tell was that this white place seemed to stretch on for miles and there is not a single thing identifiable in this place.
I sat back down and just waited, thinking that someone would come to get me eventually. I thought about just going back to sleep again but curiosity wouldn't let me. I must at least try to open my eyes and fight the intense brightness. At least then I would be able to see and get to where I need to be, wherever that is.
Bracing myself, I opened one eye a crack. Cringing from the light I immediately I closed it again, and groan. The sound of my raspy voice surprised me. My mouth is dry. I must have not talked for a very long time.
Again, I attempted to embrace the brightness, except this time with my hands covering my face first. I open my eyelids and take in the shade of my hands.
As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, the small cracks of light from my fingers were noticeable.Tired of just waiting, I decided to risk it all and just open them. Counting innerly in my head, I counted to 3 slowly.
"One..." I started. "Two... " Another pause, and then I went for it. "Three."
I ripped my hands away from my face, and let the blinding white light burn my eyes. Blinking rapidly for several long minutes, my vision cleared and slowly it adjusted to brightness.
Looking up, I suddenly drew back, with the look of absolute horror plastered to my face. My eyes darted frantically looking for an escape, but not seeing anything besides white in sight. Either way it was too late, the thing had already started to approach me.
"Elias Depture," it called surely. I nod towards it hesitantly, not knowing how it knew my name.
"Good," It smiled.
Shivers went down my back. "Uh..."
"Elias," it went on. "Welcome to Chosen Tale, a book whereas you must walk your own path and reach the ending. Your happily ever after.".
I stare on, dumbstruck.
" ... book?" I stutter, appalled and yet terrified by the thing in front of me.
"Yes, Elias." It answered sweetly, still smiling.
"I...I thought I was dead, I'm dead aren't I? And you're a ghost?"
The figure shook it's head. "No, you are as alive, as every other character in this book. You are merely just in this book."
I briefly noticed how it didn't answer my second question. But this was not the time to point it out.
Now I shake my head. "That's not possible. Who... what are you?"
The smile disappeared from the figures face and suddenly it looked embarrassed.
"Oh, I am terribly sorry my prince I--- I mean Elias. I forgot to introduce myself. Um, forgive me, I am Narra. I will accompany you along your journey throughout this book. In other words, I am your narrator."
"Yes, and you are the prince."
Everything is silent just then. We both look at each other. Her face was serious while mine was...
I couldn't help myself, I burst out laughing, my laughter ringing like vibrating echoes around me.
The ghostlike figure just stared at me, seeming to not know what to do. My palms hit the ground hard, my face red and tucked down.
"Y-you expect me," I heaved. "to believe that this--that this is a... god you're killing me."
"My prince?" the ghost called tentatively. "Have you finished?"
"Give me a sec," I say while trying real myself in from this hauntingly, funny reality.
"So I'm dead." I conclude after settling down.
"Elias, no you're--"
"Dead," I say. "It's beyond obvious now."
I start to get up.
"Prince Elias, you're not dead. You're in a--"
"Book? yeah... no, it's impossible. Being dead make more sense than that, so just stop."
"It's cool," I go on, cutting her off again. "Being dead is not so bad. I like it so far. You spirits are hilarious."
The ghost spirit sighed.
"Elias, you must come with me now. Your stories are about to begin." The ghost started walking in the opposite direction from where we stood.
"I do hope you believe your current situation so you'd understand."
I snicker at her once more and quietly, I follow from behind having no choice but to.
As we walk, I couldn't help but noticed the ghost's features. Before I wasn't thinking gender. Now I can see that this ghost is a girl. No wait, she's dead, meaning she was a girl.
Or is she still a girl, even dead? Am I still a guy?
The ghost, Narra supposedly, was pale. Not only was she pale but her hair, eyes, clothes, were all bland in color. She resembled those from a uncolored coloring book. Yet the dark aura of smoke radiating around her is the only reason why she hadn't completely blended into the white room itself. I wonder if this was a result of how she died.
"She's not dead." A voice whispered in my head.
I flinched back, my mouth hanging in a O. Looking ahead of me, Narra kept walking, seeming to not know or care that I've stopped. Thinking I'd imagined it, I race up to catch up with her.
Narra turned around quickly as if she was anxiously waiting for me to speak.
"Yes, my prince?"
"Well, I don't know about the Prince stuff, but just call me Eli or something, anything else."
"Sorry my prince," She mumbled then caught herself, "Elias"
I shake my head at her, strangely bemused.
"Okay, so where exactly are you taking me?"
Narra started to smile brightly compared to her ghastly complexion, but then it stopped halfway and she faltered, growing serious again.
"You would not believe me if I said." She dismissed, turning around.
I smile quirkily at her.
"Okay so I'm just supposed to trust you? Wherever we are?"
The ghost girl turned back, looking slightly hurt.
"You may choose whatever first impressions of me as you like right now. Just know Elias, you are the prince and also my prince for the time being. Please accept that."
We continue to walk in silence.
"But," I inch in again. "Okay I'm sorry, truly. Just tell me where we are going. I won't freak out just because I'm going to heav--- Wait!"
I stopped and barely grab her arm to force her to stop. Her arm slipped right through my grasp causing me to shiver.
"You're not taking me to hell are you? Is that it? Is that why you're so..."
I look back at the black smoke radiating around her.
I start to back away from her, suddenly fearing her again.
"What do you really want from me?" I asked, while keeping my distance,
Though I tried not to see it, the ghost girl looked very confused. I tried not to read into her innocence too much.
"I'm not going anywhere with you." I tell her defiantly.
Though hardly noticeable, I saw her white eyebrows furrow into a worried expression.
"Elias? Are you alright? Do you want to rest before we start?"
"Start what?" I ask protectively.
"Your story, sweetheart."
That statement made me blink. Whether it's just being called sweetheart by anyone other than my mom or being called sweetheart by a ghost girl who doesn't even seem to be any older than me, it seems genuine. Can a ghost from hell sound and say such sweet things?
They can if they're trying to manipulate you, my brain reasons.
I keep my stance.
"How can I trust you?" I asked.
Narra walks towards me slowly, and it takes every effort for me not to sprint away.
Instead, Narra stops in front of me and drops to her knees, bowing at my feet.
"My prince," she says softly, her hair sprawled around her, gleaming. "You must come now, okay?"
She stands up just then and grabs my hand. I'm surprised that I could feel her touch faintly when before I couldn't. Her grip on me, all though weak, was enough to pull me away with her. And I followed willingly somehow hypnotized by her weirdly soothing touch on mine.
I bet she's drugging you with something my brain is telling me.
I consider this, then dismissed it. There's nothing I can do about it now.