Aiden opened the door for Lydia—and in an old-timey gentlemen’s voice which Lydia was not used to hearing from Aiden—said, “after you my dear.”
She walked through the door into darkness. That’s all it was. Just darkness.
“Where are we?” Lydia asked annoyed. If she wanted to sit in a dark room she would have went to bed, especially considering all the hot movie star action she was missing out on back at the mansion.
“Nice tone. We’re just exploring Lydia, relax. I don’t always have a plan you know,” Aiden said through a smile, one Lydia could only hear and not see in the abyss she found herself in.
“There’s no danger. Well, real danger anyway. I think. Just let your other senses take over. Close your eyes and enjoy the darkness.”
They stumbled through the pitch black together, holding hands and afraid of any unknown threats that could be lurking. Of course, they were already dead so there was no reason to be afraid at all.
‘But could there be something worse than death?’ Lydia thought to herself as the fear took over. ‘You’re already dead. Nothing could be worse than that.’
The bad memories clause wasn’t worse—although terrifying—it was definitely not worse than death itself. And the lost souls, well that was a walk in the park compared to death. Literally, that’s all they did. Walked around in their baron, foggy park waiting for… nothing. She was just about to laugh at her own fear when she was grabbed from behind. She let out a high-pitched yelp, like something you would hear coming out of the mouth of a Pomeranian.
“Lydia, what’s happening!” Aiden yelled.
“I don’t know! Something’s got a hold of me! Help!”
“I can’t find you Lydia, where are you?”
Aiden’s voice got further and further away as he continued to yell, alternating between where are you and just Lydia’s name. She ould tell her was disappearing into the darkness and as his voice became a low echo, she struggled more to free herself from the clutches of whatever was pulling her away from him, and the way out of the darkness. She clawed at the arm-like appendages that slowly dragged her across the ground, and they felt cold and dry. Not skin dry. Something else. Almost like a snake’s scaly body. And that freaked her out to the point of hysterics. She screamed and fought, and squirmed and wailed trying to regain her freedom and run like hell. But nothing gave. She was stuck in the grips and there was nothing she could do about it.
’If it wasn’t so damn dark at least I could see
what this thing is!’ she thought as she gave up fighting. The dragging got slower and slower and she could feel her trip coming to an end. ‘This is it. As soon as this thing lets me go I’m running.’
But when it did, she didn’t run. She just sat there, feeling confused and scared, but most of all intrigued. She spoke at the creature for the first time since it grabbed her.
“Why did you let me go?” she asked.
“Hello, I asked you a question,” she yelled now, not knowing if the thing could even hear her at all. She also feared she was screaming in its face, but she yelled anyway.
“I’m out of here!”
Lydia began running through the darkness so bemused and downright flabbergasted than she had ever been before and she wasn’t sure if this was the way out or if she was just running deeper into the pitch-black void. Then she felt a presence around her so strong she was surprised she didn’t feel it the first time. Then bam! She was back in the grips of the unseen monster, awaiting to be let go once again. She didn’t know what kind of game this thing was playing, but she didn’t like it. It let go of her again. It was almost as if she was involved in a game of fetch only she was the ball. And then she heard it.
A man’s laughter. A childish chuckle coming from the left of her a bit of a ways away.
“Aiden, is that you? What’s going on?
By this point, Lydia was infuriated and just wanted the ‘exploring’ to end. She was done with whatever this was and wanted Aiden to show her the way out. But as the laughter got closer she realized, that’s not Aiden at all. That was a different man, and considering she didn’t take much time to get to know anybody else, she was really hoping it was Valentine. Didn’t sound like a posh elitist laugh, like how Valentine usually sounds, but a girl can hope.
“Show yourself!” Lydia exclaimed towards the laughter. “You tell me who you are right this instant!”
The laughter got louder now, and that only made Lydia angrier. She began bellowing out in sarcasm laughter of her own.
“Oh, har har, this must be the best moment of your afterlife!” Even she thought that was a pretty clever thing to say but she was too mad to appreciate her own wit.
“Boo!” The voice was right in front of her now and although the boo did cause her to jump back on her heels and the hairs to stand up on her arms, she couldn’t help but think how stupid the brain is that it came from because she still couldn’t see who it was. They were in pitch black, after all.
“It’s me Oliver. Caleb Oliver. We met inside, remember? I followed you and your boyfriend out here and then I got kind of lost. When I heard you screaming I started following the sound and here you are.”
“Oh.” She was breathing heavily now. “Okay, wait a minute that doesn’t explain—” Lydia was rudely interrupted by Mr. Movie star but at that moment she didn’t care. She was quite tired and annoyed and she wasn’t wasting any of her energy on some pee-brained celebrity that laughs when someone is being dragged away by a monster into the black. That’s just sadistic.
‘Did he call Aiden my boyfriend,’ she thought to herself. Because she had enough energy to clear that up.
“So, something was really having fun with you, eh?” Caleb chuckled. “Do you know what it was?” He didn’t wait for her response. “I sure have no clue. This whole middle thing is quite the adjustment. There’s so many people in this one house. Do you know everybody? Is there anyone I should avoid? What’s there to do up here?”
He asked questions like a three-year old in the ‘why’ phase and Lydia’s patience was running out very quickly.
“It’s a good thing you’re attractive,” Lydia said, accidentally out loud.
“That’s more of a keep-it-in-your-head comment,” Caleb said slighted.
“Sorry, I thought I did say it in my head. That always happens to me here. I’m not sure why.”
“Well can you answer some of my questions then?”
“Okay, question one. What was question one again? Oh right, do I know everybody. Well, the
answer to that is no. I avoid mostly everybody. Not because they’re not pleasant to be around, although some aren’t, it’s just I like to spend most of the time here exploring with Aiden. And now that I know that some of us can see what happens on earth, I’m going to be exploring more than ever.”
“So, there’s no one here I should avoid?”
“Nope. Not really, I mean, Jerry down the hall from me is a bit of a prick but he’s been here forever so it’s understandable. And Jessica, the hot jail bait is a little bitter about how she got here so she’s a little rough to be around. Other than that, you’ve got a good selection of souls up there. You got lucky.” She laughed.
“Why’s she bitter?”
“She was a promiscuous young thing. One of the popular girls in high school. And from what I can tell she acted like Regina George. I guess she ended up in the back of the wrong guy’s car. She was murdered for it, too.”
“Oh wow,” Caleb said exhaling. “That’s terrible.”
“Meh. It’s not that bad. Not after you know where you go when you die. We all get another chance at it. It’s not depressing at all, really. Now maybe in her next life she won’t spend all her time doing old guys in public places.”
“Girl, you’re cold,” Caleb said. They both laughed in unison.
“Oh shoot, where is Aiden. Did you see him?”
“He’s not my boyfriend, but nonetheless I need
to find him. And besides, there’s still a creature out here somewhere that likes to play fetch with people so we should get the hell out of here.”
Caleb nodded and they started to jog through the shadows. The ground was flat and smooth, like ice but not as slippery. And there were no obstacles around them. No trees, no shrubs. Not even a lone stump. Though Lydia couldn’t see what world they were in, she could still imagine what it looked like if she could. She pictured a Rubik’s cube, with a hollowed-out centre and all the squares painted black. For some reason, it made her smile.
In the distance, she could hear a familiar voice and it only took her all of about 2 seconds to realize it was Aiden’s. She ran towards his voice and barreled right into him, knocking them both into the ground and sending them rolling.
“Lydia, what the hell,” Aiden gasped while dusting himself off, as if there were any dirt on his jeans.
“Sorry, I got excited that I found you! Did you see that thing that was dragging me away, what was that?”
“Of course I didn’t see it Lydia. It’s completely black in here. But I found the door so let’s go.”
“Sweet!” Caleb yelled, startling Aiden.
“Oh, right. Caleb followed us in here.” Lydia said, rolling her eyes for no other purpose than to express annoyance.
“Right, okay. Well let’s all get the hell out of
The three walked in silence towards the door for about 5 seconds before Caleb opened his mouth to go on another question asking rampage. He asked what it was like here, how it was even possible—of course Lydia and Aiden couldn’t answer that question. He asked why Valentine wouldn’t tell him anything and that made Lydia laugh out loud even though she still wasn’t happy about Valentine’s ambiguity. It was funny when he did it to someone else, though. That was for sure.
“Okay, listen. We don’t know much more than we’ve already told you. You come here when you die to wait for another body to go to. It’s simple.” Aiden was getting irritated with Caleb and with how much attention he was paying to Lydia. Every question seemed directed at her, and it made him wonder why.
“Whoa, man. Relax. I’m just trying to get informed.”
Caleb had this arrogant way about him. He was the epitome of man when you appreciated him visually but as soon as the conversation started flowing it was an instant switch to cocky teenager. Every so often though, like when Lydia tripped through the doorway on their way back in, he would open his mouth and say something extremely sensitive, or smart and blow their views of him out of the water.
“Be careful darling, you need a hand?”
That was it. That was all he said when she
tripped and it made her look at him in a completely different light. She thought that maybe this whole cocky actor thing was a mask for a poor lost sad puppy on the inside. Or something like that.
Until he said “boom, that’s a hot blonde” as they walked down the hallway back to their rooms, which revoked her mysterious adoration completely.