The Reincarnation of Lydia Ashes

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34

THE LOST SOULS COMETH

The lost souls—each and every one of them—were scratching their way up the side of the mountain in swift almost motionless movements. Lydia’s eyes widened and she went stiff. Staring down below, she couldn’t see the arch. Just the souls. And she couldn’t hear anything. Just that scratching. The sounds

mimicked nails on a chalk board, but were amplified to the point where she wished she’d had the ability to deafen herself just for a moment of peace. The scratching was driving her mad. Aiden cried out to her but she could barely hear him over the sound of that damn scratching.

“Lydia, what is it!” He howled. “Lydia!” He cried again, and she snapped out of it.

“They’re coming. All of them. They’re coming for us.” She could feel herself moving. “We have to run. We have to get out of here!”

“No, Lydia there’s no time! We have to get to that arch!”

“We have to find a different way Aiden! There is no way we can make it down with all those things… with them coming up, take a look for yourself!” She was almost crying now and her body was trembling uncontrollably.

Aiden jolted over to the side of the mountain and peered over with almost the same reaction as Lydia. It didn’t take him long to snap out of it though, and when he turned, he begrudgingly could see that she was right. Lydia, still trembling and eyes focused in the distance seemed almost catatonic.

“Lydia, we have to go, now. Come on,” Aiden said in almost a whisper. “Lydia?” She wasn’t responding. He shook her once. And then a second time. A third time, this time violently.

“Aiden, what are you doing, stop shaking me!” “We have to go! Now!”

“Where is Quincy?”

“I don’t know, he was here just a second ago. Quincy?” Aiden called out.

“Quincy,” the two started yelling as the scratching got closer and closer and they looked back towards the mountain and saw that the cold dead hands started to reach over, pulling the lost souls they were attached too upwards over the mountain.

“We can’t wait Lydia, we have to go!”

The two sprinted away from the mountain and another surge hit Lydia so hard she fell to the ground.

“Aiden,” she spoke quietly. “We have to find another way down.”

“How are we going to do that? Quincy is gone. He was our guide.”

“Please Aiden.”

Lydia looked so weak Aiden could barely make eye contact. It pained him so much to see her like this that he almost just wanted to give up and let her soul go to where it was meant to be. The selfishness he felt to keep her forever wasn’t enough to let her suffer through whatever she was feeling.

“Don’t give up on me.” She looked at him and gave him a sweet smile.

He couldn’t bear to let that go, once her saw her smile. He wasn’t ready to, and he would fight until the end. So, he picked her up and put her arm around his shoulders.

“I got you, baby girl.”

He glanced around aimlessly, trying to find another way down. His pace, as fast as it could

possibly be, wasn’t fast enough as he knew they were still being chased. He picked her up and flung her on his back in a piggy-back type way, and picked up his pace. Sprinting away.

“You know what I don’t understand? When I first got here, Dexter found me in the darkness.” Lydia said into his ear as he ran.

“Yeah, he found me too.” Aiden yelled, nonchalantly.

“Wait, what? He found you, too?”

“Yeah. Said he liked to wander and stumbled upon me, or something like that.”

“I knew it! I knew he was lying!” Lydia wasn’t confused now. She had thought Dexter was dishonest from the get-go but telling both her and Aiden the same thing couldn’t have been a coincidence.

“Lying? Lying about what Lydia.”

“Who he is! He isn’t just some soul like us. Oh no. He is something a lot more than that. Why he is always watching and lurking around. How he’s always telling us about what the higher power will and will not stand for and what doors we can and cannot go through. He’s part of it. He’s as part of the higher power as they are themselves and I’m willing to bet on it.”

“Lydia, I think you might be reaching a bit.”

“Oh, am I? What about Caleb, Aiden? He came to check on Caleb and that slice he was with at the party. And then what happened? He was gone. We never saw him again. Why is that?”

“I don’t know, Lydia. Maybe his soul was

reborn?”

Lydia made a buzzer sound to indicate that Aiden was seriously incorrect.

“I’m sorry Mr. Wrong, but I think his end fate was much crueler than that. And ours will be too if we don’t hurry up and get to that arch. Anyway, my point is this. Dexter Valentine was never there to help us get to the castle and adjust. He was there to make sure we got to the castle and stayed there. He’s working for someone, that’s for sure, and it sure isn’t someone who’s looking out for the best interests of the souls. He said it himself, we exist in a different way out here, almost in a limitless way. And do you honestly think if each and every soul out here knew that it wouldn’t be chaos? Even if it was only for a short time before reincarnation? It would be unimaginable chaos. Creating different worlds and bringing back memories over and over again just to hold onto their old lives. That well we only got to use once or twice, I really don’t think the average soul is a privy to that. That place would be packed!”

Everything Lydia said made sense but Aiden didn’t want to believe it. The afterlife couldn’t possibly have so many rules and regulations.

“So, what are you suggesting Lydia, that were just the smartest souls?”

“Of course not, Aiden. But maybe we happen to be a bit more receptive, for whatever reason. Maybe because we found each other. Maybe when you find your soulmate, the ability to see

the middle for what it really is and has to offer becomes easier and since we arrived at the same time we had to be contained.”

Aiden smiled. “Contained?”

“You know what I mean.” She smiled back.

“Are you okay to walk now?”

“Yeah, yeah. I’m fine. Besides,” she looked back. “They’re really gaining on us.”

Lydia and Aiden both looked back, and the lost souls had managed to really catch up to them. They were lucky the lost souls had a Romero-style zombie walk to them or they would have been caught already.

“Back to what I was saying. Valentine had said that these souls were stuck in the Valley. They couldn’t leave. And that’s why they were the way they were. Catatonic, unknowing. They were all boney and lost in their own minds because the Valley had taken them over.”

“Right, so?”

“So, how is it that they’re chasing us right now?” She almost yelled at him as they sped up their pace. “Unless,”

“Unless what Lydia?”

“Unless they didn’t get stuck there, Aiden. Unless they were strategically put there, forced against their will, to create a boundary between soulmates and that arch. They don’t want us going through it, let alone any other soulmates that happen to find each other, so why wouldn’t they create some sort of figurative moat to stop it from happening. They needed it. So, those poor souls chasing us

didn’t stand a chance. They didn’t get lost. They got forced into what they’ve become. They’re prisoners.”

“But I thought the prisoners were kept in the basement and turned into monsters if they left their cages?”

“Well yeah, those too. But those are the evil souls. And they choose to stay in the cages because of their own vanity. So, they don’t become the same monster on the outside that they are on the inside. But these souls, I don’t think they were bad souls at all. I think they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m going to prove it too.”

“And how are you going to do that?”

“I don’t know, Aiden. But I’m going to try.”

The two sprinted until the lost souls became distant and unrecognizable. They decided they had enough time to take a quick break to collect themselves and come up with a plan. Lydia was determined to bust this place wide open, but she wasn’t quite sure what the consequence would be so she wasn’t quite sure whether or not she should risk it. She thought short and hard and decided that in the end, the risk was worth the reward.

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