Amanda lies in a comatose state in the ICU. Although her body is lying still, her mind is active in a different realm. Everything is black until a door opens, displaying a white void. Amanda walks through and looks around, but sees nothing but an endless void of white.
“Hello!” she yells out. No one answers. “Hello!” she shrieks. She looks all around and still sees nothing. She throws up her hands in frustration. She begins walking around. “Where the hell am I?”
Something squeals behind Amanda’s ear, and she takes off running and doesn’t look back.
“Oh, are we racing right now? Let me create the finish line first!” a female voice exults. A finish line appears a few feet away from Amanda, and a white blur runs past her and crosses it. “I’m amazing. You weren’t even a challenge!”
Amanda’s face becomes haunted when she sees a version of herself that looks like a white negative from a photo standing in front of her, across the finish line. Amanda slows down and begins to back away. “What are you?”
“I’m your kundalini, but that’s such a terrible name. Call me… Amanda! No, that’s a terrible name too. Ha, just kidding. I know that’s your name. Still didn’t answer your question. I guess you can call me Leyna, the kundalini of truth, since you’re the acolyte of truth. To sum that all up, I’m the thing that’s going to rock your world with awesomeness,” she bubbles.
“I still have no idea what you are, or even if this is real or not. I’ve never had a dream this interactive before. Keep your awesomeness away from me!” Amanda frets, backing away.
“If you were dreaming, would you be able to feel this?” Leyna runs over and pinches Amanda.
Amanda grabs her arm and rubs it. “Ouch! I don’t know; I’ve never been pinched in a dream before.”
“Oh, this isn’t a dream, baby. I’m real, and this is my realm—and yours too, I guess. After all, we are in a plane of existence that lies inside of you,” she says.
“What?” Amanda asks.
“From the day you were born, I was sitting in darkness, lying dormant next to your ass and waiting for you to accept your deity’s help and be awakened by it. That awakening freed me.” She begins to do various stretches. “Feels good to stretch and see and do whatever I want now. It’s just me in here, though, so the only thing I do here is train, develop new abilities, and find ways to get stronger and push my limits. Then, I pass these abilities on to you when you’re ready.”
Amanda stares at her in confusion.
“Screw it, you want to learn something cool?” Leyna asks.
“Sure,” Amanda answers hesitantly.
“Alright! Prepare to be amazed. Within your hands lies power.” She scrapes the side of her hands together, as though sharpening knives, then thrusts them forward, creating a rift in the air. When she pulls her hands back out, two rose-gold desert eagle guns are clutched in her fingers. “And voila, your new weapons. Now, let me see you do it.”
Amanda looks at her hands.
Leyna jumps with joy and claps. “Come on! You can do it! Try it out.” Amanda does the actions she was shown, and nothing happens. “Oops, I forgot something. You’re missing your links. I thought long and hard about what to get you.” Two platinum five-finger bracelets carved to look like the heads of lionesses fall from above.
Amanda picks them up, staring curiously at them.
“Go ahead and put them on.” Amanda puts them on. “I put the lioness head for the bracelet part because you’re the queen of the concrete jungle! Now, try the actions again.” Leyna clasps her hands, hoping it works.
Amanda does the action and sticks her hands into the holes, where she grips the guns and pulls them out. “Holy shit! This is freaking cool.” Amanda points the gun away from her. “Freeze, motherfucker!” Amanda giggles. “I love Samuel Jackson.”
“See, I told you that you could do it. The best part about this is you can do this in your world, too.” Leyna says.
“What am I supposed to do with these? I’ve never shot a gun before in my life.” Amanda scratches her head with the point of her gun.
“What are you supposed to do with them? Not what you’re doing, that’s for sure. But you can do this!” She points one of the guns at Amanda’s face.
“Wait!” Amanda says, putting up her hands as Leyna pulls the trigger, creating a loud bang. Amanda opens her eyes and sees that nothing has happened.
“You’re such a wimp! All these ‘bullets’ are nonlethal,” Leyna says, air-quoting with her index fingers. “The bullet stops before it makes contacts with something, or, if there’s no target, it simply stops and does what you tell it to do. You see, these beautiful guns are linked to your mind and follow your commands by shooting out bullets that can do anything but kill. For example…” The kundalini points the gun into the air and fires, and the bullet turns into a flare. “See, I imagined that’s what it would do, and it happened.”
“What’s the point of a gun that can’t kill? Seems useless,” Amanda says.
“You can do party favors for money. Quite sure you can use the money—teenage girl fresh out of high school, no job, no intention of going to college. Doing tricks with bullets could be your calling, or you can help people and become a superhero like I want you to—like Deadpool! No, never mind, you’re not funny. The bullets can’t kill, but if you think of a bullet that flashes a bright light in someone’s eye while they’re driving, it could kill them. Wait, I forgot—I have to show you something.”
A TV slides from deep within the white void and stops in front of Amanda. Leyna kicks the TV, and it turns on. It shows Amanda lying in a hospital bed, unconscious.
Amanda looks closely at the TV and realizes it’s her. “Hey, is that supposed to be me there? What happened? Wait! I was in a bad car accident. Is this heaven? Where is everyone?”
“No. I told you, we’re in my realm in the base of your spine. That’s what’s happening to you in your world right now. The only reason you’re asleep there is because you can’t be here and there at the same time. When you’re here, your body is unconscious. When you leave this place, you’ll wake up out there. Got it?”
Amanda shrugs. “I guess. Why am I here?”
“Well, I had to introduce myself. I was excited to finally meet you. I’ve practiced everything I was going to say to you, but nothing is coming out right or in the right order, and everything is all over the place and confusing. I’m super nervous right now. I’ve been watching you on this thing since the day you were born.” Leyna sits on the TV. You have no privacy with me, by the way. I’ve also noticed you’re not the sharpest tool in the shed. I see why you don’t want to go to college. Sorry, my conversation is all over the place. I wanted to show you this sooner but got distracted. Can I use your body for a day? Wait, that’s rude. I should get to know you more first. I see you’re still single—”
“Stop talking! How do I get out of here?” Amanda asks.
A door drops down and lands next to Amanda. “Through that door right there.” Amanda turns toward the door. “But why go back to the real world right now? Your body is not in any danger. Stay here and learn how to use your guns. Whatever you do and learn in here will transfer to you out there thanks to the links you have on. They’re directly connected to me, your source of energy. Please stay!” Leyna begs.
“Nope,” Amanda answers.
“Well, if you want to come back, just say my name and that you want to come back.”
“So long, ugly version of me!” Amanda laughs, then walks through the door.
Amanda slowly wakes back up in her world, blinking her eyes and rubbing the crud out of them. She looks up and sees Jamie standing next to her.
“Hi Amanda, I’m Dr. Connor. Remember me from the picnic? You squirted me in the face.”
Amanda scratches her head. “Yeah, I remember you.” She notices she has on the bracelets from the white void. “Who put these on me?” Amanda tries to take the bracelets off but can’t.
“Probably your sister over there.” He nods his head in Saira’s direction.
Amanda turns her head around and sees Saira staring at her, along with a brown Siberian Husky on the ground. “Did you put these on me?”
“Nope.” She continues to stare.
“Amanda, how are you feeling this evening? You were in a car accident and needed emergency surgery. You were out for three days,” Jamie says.
“I feel better, like the accident never happened,” Amanda says.
Jamie raises his eyebrow in suspicion. “It’s funny you say that, because everything healed up within hours, and there’s no sign you were in an accident. No scar from surgery, just scars from a dog bite on your arm. Now, either I’m a really good surgeon, or there’s something deep inside of you. Long story short, there’s no reason to keep you here. As much as I would like to dissect and see what separates you from everyone else, if everything is fine tomorrow, you can go home. No reason to keep you. Do you have any questions?”
Amanda scratches her head. “Yeah, where are my parents? Do they know I’m in here?”
“Your mom is with your dad,” he says. Jamie glows green.
Amanda rubs her eyes. I must have hit my head really hard, she thinks to herself. The glow has already faded. I’m seeing things.
“Any other questions?” he asks impatiently.
“No. I can’t think of any,” she answers.
“Alright, I’m off to see your father next. Enjoy the rest of your day.” He gives her a head nod and walks out.
Amanda looks over at her sister, then at the brown Siberian Husky beside her. “Are you going to stare at me with that same dumb face or say something?”
Saira gets out of her chair and sits on the edge of Amanda’s bed. “I think we might finally have something in common. You asked me what I’m always doing on the computer. I look at videos where someone spots something strange and records it, but the next day, the video is always taken down or altered. I message the people that post the online videos, asking them why they change the video, and they act like I’m crazy.”
“You are crazy, that’s why. There’s this thing called editing people do to their videos. They probably didn’t like it and changed it.” Amanda rubs her eyes with her blanket.
“I thought about that, and I knew you were going to say that.” Saira grabs the call light from the bed and presses the nurse assist button.
“What are you doing?” Amanda asks, getting out of bed to grab a paper towel. She puts water on it, then puts it over her eyes.
“When the nurse comes in, ask her how you got to the ER,” she answers.
“I think I’m allergic to this damn dog. It’s bothering my eyes,” Amanda says.
A frizzy-haired nurse comes in, rolling her computer. “Hi! My name is Rebecca, and I’m your nurse today. I see that you pressed the call light! Can I help you with something?”
“Yes, I was just wondering how I arrived at the ER.” Amanda wipes her eyes with the paper towel.
“Alright, let me just check the computer. So, a good Samaritan rescued you, your father, and dog out of your crashed vehicle and brought you in. Anything else I can help you with?”
“No that’s all.”
Rebecca walks out of the room.
“Saira, what’s the point of all this? And whose dog is that?” Amanda asks as she lies back in bed with the wet paper towel over her eyes.
“There are forces in this world that control what we see and hear and can even alter our minds, or at least the minds of those who are not like us. We remember everything, and we know the truth,” Saira says.
“You’re crazy,” Amanda says.
“You said that already. She said you were brought in that way, but video footage that was uploaded to the internet shows you were brought in on the back of this dog.” Saira hands Amanda a picture she captured from her laptop. “These things are so easy to find because stuff like this goes viral immediately—which is probably how whoever is deleting this stuff is finding it too.”
Amanda looks at the pictures. “You printed this off before it was deleted or altered on the internet, I’m guessing.”
“Yes,” Saira replies.
Amanda ponders this while rubbing her chin. “I see. This can only mean one thing: that I don’t care about any of this. This information is pointless to me. What room are Mom and Dad in, so I can go see them?”
“You didn’t find it strange that the doctor said your body completely healed from surgery in three days, but the dog bite remains? If I cut you deeply with a knife right now, you’d be healed in hours. With a small cut, minutes. If I had to guess correctly, this dog that bit you is just like my deity. Wounds from this dog will probably take seven days to heal. I know this because my body does the same thing, and the wound on my back from the deity that cut me has finally healed after seven days. Amanda, have you been inside of a white void?”
“I don’t care about this stuff.” Amanda rolls her eyes. “Where is Dad?”
“If you don’t want to listen to what I have to say, then go and see Dad in the ICU—room four. I’ll stay here with your new dog. If Mom asks where this dog came from, just tell her Dad bought it for you after your fight. Just to give you a heads-up, Dad is going to die. Mom will explain the rest to you. I have to think about this discovery.” Her face remains emotionless.
“What? Dad is going to die? How?” Amanda asks. Saira remains silent. Amanda grabs her by the shoulders and starts shaking her. “Answer me!”
Amanda lets her sister go and leaves the room in a panic.
Amanda arrives at the ICU panting and looks for her dad’s room number until she finds it.
“Dad!” she gasps as she peers into the dark room and sees her dad hooked up to a ventilator, a feeding tube, and an IV. She runs in bawling, but is intercepted by Jean.
“What’s wrong with Dad?” she sobs, hugging her mom.
“Come on, baby, let’s sit down.” They walk over to a chair and sit in it together as Jean continues to hold her. “Your dad is sick, but sweetie, how are you up here right now? Did you just wake up? Are you in pain? You should be resting. Why did they let you leave the room and come up here?” She feels her forehead and wipes tears off her face.
“Mom, what’s wrong with Dad? Why is he like that? Saira said he’s going to die!” Amanda blubbers.
Jean grabs a tissue off the counter, wipes Amanda’s eyes, and sighs. “He’s not doing well.” Jean glows green as Amanda stares at her. “Amanda, where’s your sister? You can’t leave a six-year-old alone.”
Amanda wipes away her tears. “She’s downstairs in my room.”
Jean grabs Amanda by the arm. “Let’s go and get your sister. There’s too many weirdos in the world to be leaving her alone like that.”
Amanda snatches her arm away. “I’m staying here with Dad.”
“That’s fine. I’m going to go get your sister.” Jean hurries out of the room.
Amanda walks over to her dad and begins crying on his chest. “This is all my fault. I should have trained more and advanced in that tournament. Then we never would have been in that rainstorm.”
“It wasn’t your fault,” assures Jamie from behind her.
Amanda turns around. “It is my fault.”
Jamie walks over, puts his hand on Amanda’s shoulder, and looks her in the eyes bleakly. “What put your father in this position was a massive heart attack that was bound to happen. He had a major plaque buildup that was close to clogging up an entire artery. His heart was working too hard; the car accident was just a catalyst.”
Amanda turns around and hugs Jamie. “Can you please save my dad?”
Jamie is hesitant to hug back. “Unfortunately, I can’t.”
Amanda lets go of him and sees his entire body glowing red. “What do you mean, you can’t save him? You’re a doctor. It’s your job to save people. You need to save my dad.” Amanda tears up again. “You have to save my dad,” she laments as she puts her head to his chest.
Jamie gently pushes her back with one hand. “Sorry. I didn’t get any sleep last night. Too much drama. I found out my son has cancer. Probably not going to live much longer. So, I know what you’re going through.” Amanda looks at him, and he begins to glow green. “Parents aren’t supposed to bury their children. I can’t even picture burying my son. Hypothetically, if you had the opportunity to save your kid no matter the consequences, no matter who you had to hurt, would you do it?” he asks.
“Of course, I would. I’d do that right now for my dad. If I could chain the hospital doors and take all the medical staff hostage until my dad was better, I would.”
“After hearing you say that, I don’t feel so bad now. Remember when you asked me if I would make your dad better, and I said I couldn’t? Well, I wasn’t thinking straight. Yes, I will save your dad,” he reassures her. Amanda sees him glow green again, then watches the glow disappear.
“Are you giving me false hope?” she asks.
“No. I’ll do it tonight, if he lasts that long.”
Amanda hugs Jamie again. “Thank you.”
“Knock-knock,” Leyna says in her head.
“Did you hear that?” Amanda lets go of Jamie and taps on her head.
“I didn’t hear anything. Are you okay?” he asks.
“I’m hearing voices in my head and keep seeing people glow red or green. How are you going to fix my dad?” she asks.
“With the help of the voices I hear in my head.” He glows green. “Just wait and see. Don’t tell anyone. This is between me and you. What I’m going to do is against the rules. If you tell anyone, or if I’m questioned about how I’m going to save him, I won’t do it. Do you understand?” Amanda nods her head yes. “Good. I’ll see you later.” He pats her on the shoulder, then walks away, passing Jean and Saira on the way out the door.
“What’s going on here?” Jean asks.
Amanda wipes the last of her tears from her eyes and gives a sigh of relief. “Nothing. He just told me what was going on, and you know what? I’m feeling a lot better now.”
“Saira, stand next to your sister.” Saira walks next to her sister and looks down at the ground. “Amanda, Saira, that accident and the heart attack did a number on your dad’s brain. There’s no chance of him getting better. He went too long without medical treatment, and the damages are irreversible.” Jean hugs both her children at the same time.
“Mom, I completely understand,” Amanda acknowledges.
“Okay,” Saira answers, unfazed.
“Wow. Okay. I’m glad you two are taking this so well. Um, this is really unexpected.” Jean gives them a perplexed look.
“Dad gave me that dog to make me feel better for losing the fight, so don’t get rid of it,” Amanda explains.
“Okay. They asked me whose dog this was, and I said I didn’t know, so they were having someone pick it up. I guess I’ll take it home. I need some fresh air and a change of scenery for a bit. Let’s go, girls.”
“I’ll stay,” Amanda answers quickly. “I want to spend time with Dad.”
“So will I,” Saira says.
“Ok… um, I’ll see you girls later, then. Call me if you need me.” Jeans calls the dog and walks out of the room.
Amanda and Saira go sit in separate chairs. Amanda closes her eyes and relaxes.
“Hello? Can you hear me? Earth to Amanda!” Leyna says.
“What? Who said that? Did you just say something, Saira?” Amanda asks, looking around.
“No,” Saira says.
“It’s me! Your kundalini. I can hear your thoughts, so no need to speak—just think them to me. It’s nice and quiet now. Seems like a good time to test out what I taught you!”
Hello! Can you hear me? Amanda thinks warily.
“Loud and clear!” Leyna says.
Um I’m a little busy. My dad might die. Not in the mood to hear imaginary voices right now.
“I’m realer than your nails. Come on, try it out! Your dad is going to be fine. You heard the man say he was going to save your dad. Did you not see him glow green when he said that? He was telling the truth.”
Yes, I saw him glow green. I thought it was a side effect from getting punched in the eye or the accident. So, if someone glows green, they’re telling the truth?
“Bingo! If they glow red, they’re lying. With enough practice, you can turn this ability on and off at will. Now, enough of the boring stuff—bring out your guns!”
Alright, I’ll try it, but if it doesn’t work, you get the hell out of my head! Amanda scoots to the edge of the chair and looks down at her hands. She makes her hands erect with her fingers pointed straight and swipes them together twice, like she’s sharpening a knife. Then she thrusts her hands forward, and they disappear into a rip in the air. She feels the guns and grips them, then pulls her hands out along with two rose-gold Desert Eagles. She looks at them in amazement. “Yo, what the f—” One of the guns disappears out of her hand. “Hey, where did it go?” She looks over at Saira, who has one of the guns in her hand.
“I think we might have something in common. Maybe now it won’t be so hard for you to believe that the dog that bit you possibly gave you your powers, and the deity that scratched me gave me mine,” Saira says.
Amanda looks slack jawed at her sister, then goes over and sits next to her. “I think I finally figured everything out. I’m still… in a freaking coma. That’s the only explanation for all this weird stuff. None of this is real!” She sighs. “I feel better. Now, I can sit here and relax.” Amanda lays her head against the wall and closes her eyes.
Before she can get too comfortable, she feels heavy metal smashing against her fingers, making her squeal from the pain. She opens her eyes and sees Saira getting ready to strike her with the gun again but wrestles it away from her before it happens. “Saira, what the hell? That hurt!”
“I wanted to show you this is the real world,” she says.
“Alright, fine! All of this is real,” Amanda says.
“Hey, Amanda! It’s me, your kundalini again. Snap your fingers to make the guns disappear, or just snap one finger to make one gun disappear!”
Fine! Amanda snaps one finger to make the gun disappear, then snaps her other finger to make the other gun disappear. “Alright, Saira. Talk. Tell me your conspiracy theories.” She pokes her in the arm with her finger.
“So, you believe deities exist now?” Saira asks.
“Yes!” she says.
“Okay.” Saira goes silent for a few seconds.
“Okay? That’s it? I thought you had some information or something!” Amanda inquires.
“I already told you everything, and you having powers like me confirmed my suspicions. I too have a deity and a kundalini that I speak with in a white void. I accepted my deity’s help, and you must have too. I think yours left with Mom and will hopefully be home when we get there, so I can inspect it,” she says.
“So, apparently, I’m the acolyte of truth and I can summon these guns that shoot any type of bullets I can think of, and I can tell when someone is lying. I can’t control the truth-telling thing too well yet, but it was working when I asked the doctor in my room if he could save Dad and he said yes, and it turned out he was telling the truth. What can you do?”
“If he can save Dad, he might be like us. I’ll know for sure if Dad makes it out of this alive. I can make items switch places with each other. I’m the acolyte of transcendence—”
“Of course you would be the acolyte of a big word I don’t understand,” Amanda chimes in.
“In order to take your gun away from you, I needed something to swap it with. So, the quarter I had in my hand went where you gun was, and the gun ended up where the quarter was, which was in my hand. As you already know, my intelligence is immeasurable, considering the fact that I never forget anything and have a constant hunger for knowledge. But what you have yet to witness is my critical thinking skills. Unfortunately, the side effect of all of this was my loss of emotions and becoming monotone. Those seem to be the only things I can’t relearn right away, but I’m working on it,” she says.
“You know what? I think this is the most you’ve talked to me in a long time without pissing me off. Although it was a bunch of stuff I didn’t understand, I enjoyed it. I think you’re starting to like me as your sister. Now what?” Amanda bats her eyes.
Saira covers Amanda’s eyes with her hand. “Don’t do that. We play the waiting game to see if Dad survives, and to see that dog again. I have a feeling that dog is the key to more knowledge.”
Amanda slaps her sister’s hand away. “Sounds good to me. Now that I know you’re not crazy, I will never doubt you again. Tell me what to do, and I’ll do it. But don’t forget I’m the big sister, and you need to respect—”
“I’m going to my kundalini realm. Goodnight.” Saira’s eyes close, and her head rests on her shoulder.
“Hey, get back here. I wasn’t done with my speech. Ah, forget it. I’m going to my kundalini realm too.” Amanda’s chin falls to her chest, and her eyes close.
Night falls. It’s dark inside the hospital room. The curtain is pulled, covering the big glass doors so no light can enter in from the halls. Only the moonlight is shining in the room. Jean is sleeping in a chair, while Saira is wrapped around Amanda, both sleeping on a recliner. They are no longer in their kundalini’s realms.
A dark-hooded figure creeps into the room, appearing from a shadow on the wall while everyone is sleeping. Its pupils shine bright white, and it puts its hand over Logan’s face, emitting a bright, flashing purple light from its hand. The flashing stops, and the hooded figure begins to move toward the wall. Amanda wakes up from the bright light and looks over at her dad, then notices the hooded figure and his glowing bright white pupils as it disappears into the shadows on the wall. Amanda runs over to the lights, switches them on, and looks around. She sees nothing.
These damn eyes are getting on my nerves.
She turns the lights back off and goes back to lie next to Saira.
“Don’t wake me,” Saira murmurs.
“Shut up,” Amanda says.
Logan wakes with a start to complete darkness. There is nothing above, around, or below him. For a moment, he wonders if he’s dead.
“Hello?” Logan yells out. A brown door opens that showcases a white void. He walks through, and the door disappears.
A chair quickly comes rolling in from deep in the white void behind Logan, sweeping his feet from under him, and continues to quickly roll until it arrives in front of a desk. On the other side of the desk is another chair, this one facing away from Logan. As the chair turns, a man comes into view. Logan frowns—the man looks like Jamie, but he’s wearing a hood, and all the colors that make up his body are inverted, like a film negative.
They both stare at each other for a few seconds.
“So, am I dead?” Logan asks.
“Not yet. Your real body is in the ICU right now, clinging to a life that will end in a few hours. My name is Grim, and I’m what’s standing between life and death for you. I’m ready to give you a second chance, so let’s negotiate.”
Logan gets excited. “Okay, let’s do it! Wait… what’s the catch?”
“You have to do whatever I ask you to do in the real world. If you refuse, you die. It’s just that simple. In return, all your illnesses will be reversed, and you’ll be healthy and age gracefully. If anything life-threatening happens to you, I’ll bring you back, and you’ll live until you’re ninety-five.”
“What are you going to ask me to do in the real world? Is this how you actually look? How are you going to find me?” Logan wonders.
“Same facial structure, but different color. The chances of you seeing me again are slim to none, so no point in worrying about what I’m going to ask you. I know where everyone is at all times.”
Logan’s smile stretches from ear to ear. “Sounds simple enough, I guess. I can’t imagine anyone would pass up a second chance at life. So, where do I sign?”
“Hold out your hand.”
Logan holds out his hand, and Grim pulls his own from under the desk, revealing skeletal fingers holding a scalpel. He cuts Logan’s finger and holds out his other skeletal hand. “Now, drip blood in my hand. That will be your signature.” Logan does so. “The deal is done.” The chair Logan is in speeds in reverse through a dark open door. The door closes.
Back in Logan’s ICU room, alarms start going off, waking up Logan’s entire family and sending them into a frenzy of panic as Logan rocks around in bed as if he’s having a seizure. He begins coughing and pulling at his endotracheal tube until he extubates himself. Nurses rush into the room as he stands from the bed with wires still connected to him. He sees his family as he battles the nurses and reaches out his hand while walking, dragging equipment and nurses with him.
“My little girls,” he says in a raspy voice.
Amanda screams in fear as the nurses try to restrain him. Another nurse rushes in with a syringe and inserts it into a line in his IV, injecting Logan with a medicine that puts him to sleep.
Jamie walks up to all the commotion and peeks into the room. He and Amanda make eye contact. He winks at her and walks away.