The Reincarnation of Lydia Ashes

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2

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE ANGRY

Lydia heaved herself over the last incline and her mouth swung open. There were people everywhere—tall ones, short ones, old and young. Lydia couldn’t believe her eyes. It was as if she was hurled back to earth, smack dab in the middle of civilization—an older less functioning civilization, but civilization nonetheless. Lydia and Valentine walked through the crowd in silence. The tiny blonde hairs on her arms stood up and her shoulders shuddered, a feeling that once she had it assumed was one she had left behind on earth with her human body. She guessed fear functioned at a spiritual level and not just a

human one. She looked around at the eerie scene she found herself in. It was like a picture of a Stephen King novel and she started to feel the fear part of the middle, not knowing why. None of the people around them had even looked up, or noticed they were there. Their blank faces were virtually emotionless, and their eyes empty and black.

“Be quiet and just keep walking Lydia.”

The people in the unknown land put one foot in front of the other slowly and the sound of dragging feet echoed around them, so loud it was harrowing through Lydia’s ears. They were

moping around in circles it seemed, each of them pale as a ghost, and wearing tattered clothing that looked like it belonged on the set of some 1800’s Civil War movie. Lydia could feel her steps getting faster and less steady. She was less cautious with her walking and more concerned with getting herself the hell out of there. They weren’t looking or talking to each other. They were just walking around, staring into nothingness with glazed over eyes.

“What’s wrong with them? They’re not even looking at us. Are we invisible?”

“No. We are not invisible.” Valentine rolls his eyes at Lydia, “Now shhh!”

“Well why aren’t they even looking at us? You know Valentine if your explanations actually explained something I wouldn’t have to ask so many questions.”

Lydia, annoyed at this point, picked up her pace to a jog through the crowd of the uncons-

cious souls.

“Lydia, stop!” Valentine chased Lydia through the crowd. “You need to stop right now!” Lydia rushed through the crowd until she noticed it. Every set of eyes in the valley of souls was on her. Just staring with their emptiness. Their gaze stopped her in her tracks.

“We need to get out of here.”

Lydia and Valentine began sprinting through the lifeless crowd, trying to find the way out. As they ran, the zombie-like characters got faster and faster in their direction, each one turning and running towards them as they

passed. The thrill of being chased was nowhere to be found, and Lydia could barely catch her proverbial breath as the panic of being targeted in an unknown land crept over her.

“Run Lydia faster, come on! We have to get out of here!” Valentine was just as panicked as Lydia was, and that tormented Lydia’s sense of safety. He had already been in the middle. He should be prepared for something like this.

They reached the end of the clearing and landed at yet another monumental mountainside.

“Lydia, start climbing, hurry!”

They had barely escaped before the souls took hold of them both, and the vision of pale flesh-like white fingers reaching out for her will haunt her for as long as she remembers it. She would have thought the rest of her life, but recent developments proved she didn’t have a lifetime to speak of.

She had never been more terrified, relieved, and confused. “What the hell was that?” Lydia exclaimed as she tried to catch her breath, as if she could be out of shape when she was dead. “And why the hell can’t I run faster? I’m dead for f..”

Dexter cut her off as he dusted down his plum double-breasted striped suit and adjusted his vibrant clementine pocket square.

“That was the Valley of the Lost Souls. They are the souls that didn’t make it out of the valley when they arrived here in the middle. Whether it out of fear or an inability to make it to the next step, they never made it out and now they are stuck there for all eternity. So, as

it is, they are not given another chance at life; they are left to roam the valley for all of eternity. They grew hostile and lost the essence of themselves and now they are hardly aware of their existence at all—unless provoked that is. And even then, they aren’t aware of what they’re doing. They don’t know they’re trying to entrap you, too. They just know that you’re there and you’re different and that threatens they’re eternal existence.”

At first ear, it sounded as if he was blaming Lydia for the whole thing, but then she realized he was just as relieved as she was to be out of there, so she let it slide without protesting with a curse word infused speech.

“Well that was incredible.” She let out with a sigh of relief.

“Incredible is not the word I would have used.”

“Well, not incredible in the good way. It’s just… although I am dead, I’m sure I’ve never felt more alive. That kind of incredible. What word would you go with to describe all that?”

“Inconvenient.” He tipped his hat and smiled slightly as he walked on.

“And understatement of the year goes to? Mr. Dexter Valentine everybody!”

The two laughed together quietly.

Lydia wished for a moment that she was alive again, or at least that she knew how she was taken from her body. She wanted to remember her family, if she even had one. Was she happy when she was alive? And if she did have a family, were they left behind mourning her

death at this very moment? She couldn’t help but hum the tune she had stuck in her head since she awoke in the darkness while she pondered the endless unanswered questions swirling around in her mind.

“What’s that you’re humming?

“I’m not sure, but I think it’s my favourite song.”

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