AT ONCE, BETHANIE KNEW SHE was beyond the world. Beyond the normal. Beyond the living. The only thing she could acquaint the darkness to was the darkness just before you fell asleep – the nothing dark, where you’re both conscious of it and entirely elsewhere.
And the cold. My god, the cold.
Her bones felt like icicles; her skin was brittle, as if doused by liquid nitrogen. One touch and she thought she would shatter.
But there was nothing to break her here. She was floating in silence and complete emptiness. All concepts of time and direction fled from her grasp. Was this what it was to be dead? Was this meant to be the peace everyone spoke of?
If so, Bethanie decided she’d pass. This was a non-place. A void of a world. An eternity here felt like a worse fate than the burning pits of hell.
No wonder, she thought, Florence wanted out so bad. No wonder all the ghosts were crazed and deranged – empty shells of their human selves. This placed had driven them insane.
Bethanie span around, eyes peeled for some sign of…something. She had to get back somehow. Dylan needed her. Hains needed her. Hell, maybe the whole world needed her. How was she to know how far the Hallow’s reach extended?
She spotted it quickly: a light in the distance, shimmery and pulsing. She moved towards it and the closer she got, the more defined it became, until she was looking at a rectangle of slightly transparent silver light. If she squinted hard enough she could just make out the outlines of trees with figures weaving through them, all of it distorted as if under water.
This was the way back – she was sure of it. Bethanie took one last look over her shoulder at the darkness and swallowed. Intrusive thoughts pushed at the boundaries of her mind and she tried hard not to dwell on them. After all, she had begun this day looking for something different, something extraordinary. And that’s what she had found.
Maybe that was all the peace you needed.
[Poem Idea #91: In Death, Girl Learns New Ways to Live]
And with that, Bethanie left behind the beyond, passed through the light, and returned to the world.