That's all I was aware of at first. A pitch black darkness that was all-encompassing, omnipresent, inescapable. Like a void, lonely and cold, no sound, no feeling, no future, no past. I wondered if this was what it was like to die. If I would spend the rest of eternity like this, in this stateless world of non-being. Maybe I was in Hell. Maybe I deserved it. It was strange though...I was dead, yet my mind was still overflowing with thought. Still pondering these earthly things which should have been rendered immaterial. My mind was a blank slate. By this I mean I had no anchor, no overarching consciousness to hold everything together. Thoughts and images came and went from the vacuum of darkness at will...thoughts of grief, and loss, and love, and betrayal. Images of people I had never met...or maybe I had met them and I just couldn't remember. Why couldn't I remember? And why did it bother me so much? Did the dead concern themselves with such frivolous matters?
Light...suddenly a sliver of light invaded the darkness. It was as insignificant as a pinprick at first, it hardly even registered with me. But slowly it grew larger. This wasn't right. I was dead. And once you're dead, the light can't reclaim the darkness...yet here it was, washing over the void like the broad strokes of an artist, bringing me inexplicably back to the world of the living. With each passing moment, the void was shrinking back, and the light was pulsating through my mind like an electric current, shocking life back into me.
I hadn't felt pain just a minute ago. When I had thought I was dead, when it seemed my suffering had finally come to an end. I had felt no pain. I had felt nothing. Now pain was a constant, searing presence, tearing at me, burning me. A part of me almost yearned for the emptiness void to return. For this to all be over, to face up to my failure and no longer live with the crushing weight of my guilt. But the greater part of me was now all too aware of the growing sensation of intense pain, and inexplicably, it wanted to live. I wanted to live.
This resolved, I quickly took stock of my situation. Where was I? I could see nothing for the blinding light which spanned my entire field of vision. I could hear nothing save the scattered and muffled sounds of what must have been voices that my ears could not seem to focus on. There was a great pain burning in my body. I would have gazed upon it, but my vision was afixed to the light which blinded me. I would have felt for it, but my arms would not move, as if they were made of lead. I was a manmequin, an empty vessel, a stranger in this body that had once been my own, a spectator of my own demise.
The pain would not subside. With each passing moment it seemed my consciousness would shatter, plunging me back into the darkness. Yet the light was still there, and now I was taking in new sounds...footsteps, a door opening. At length, I became aware of my body being moved. I felt comfort for the first time since...since before this whole thing began. The ground beneath me was soft. Unnaturally soft. It was manmade. Again I wondered, where was I?
The lighting had changed...that or my eyes had adjusted. For now I was able to see shades of color, and those shades were now separated by distinct lines...shapes...I was in a room, and I was laying on what must have been a bed...but this did not answer my most pressing questions. I needed someone to tell me where I was. Who I was. Why I was here.
There was a shadow, someone standing over me. It was a woman...for a moment everythimg seemed to freeze. A memory flashed through my mind. Was it her? No, I quickly concluded. She wore a nurse's uniform, she was a bit older, and her hair was blonde...it wasn't her, the one I had been waiting for. I wasn't sure whether I should feel disappointment or relief. Suddenly the nurse was asking me questions, questions that I didn't know the answers to. What happened, how did it happen, who did this to me...they were all the same questions I had, and I couldn't give her anything better than my honest answer, which was often "I don't know". Then she asked me for my name...
Who am I?
Dean Briars, private investigator based in LA, thirty years old...I've been working the streets all my life it seems, but I've never seen anything like this...and that's when it all came flooding back.
The case, the murder, the suspects, the hunt, the girl...it all came crashing back to me like a tidal wave, like a memory that had been slowly burning in the back of my mind, just waiting for the right time to return, now spreading at lightning speed its uncomfortable truth throughout my exhausted mind. Now it was all starting to fall into place. That's how I ended up here, I realized with a jarring sense of forgotten and reclaimed purpose. I was here for a reason, and now I knew what that reason was. That case had something to do with it...no, it had everything to do with it. Somewhere along the way, tbings had changed, everything had changed, but I had been too naive and blind to see it...and now I was paying the price. The pain...now I recognized the pain I felt. I knew why it was there. I'd been shot. I gasped for breath. The nurse was frantically rushing about, a doctor was tending to my wounds. But I could feel it in my gut, the void was beckoning once more; inviting me to let go, to surrender to the darkness. In the battle for my life, I was losing.
Yet just when it seemed I might succumb to the darkness once more, just when it seemed I couldn't go on, the door opened again. And there she was. There was no mistaking her as she stood silently in the doorway. Luscious mahogany brown curls that fell to her shoulders, warm, yet downcast hazel eyes that met my gaze with a distant reverie, hourglass figure, full lips, stunning red dress. Yes, it was her. My Angel. The woman who was now improbably at the center of the entire case. The one who held the key to solving a murder, who held the key to my heart. If you had told me that this would be how things would go even just a few days ago...I suppose I'd have laughed at you. But she was really here.
Meaning she had come back after all. Just when I thought I might be able to forget the past, she tracked me down and found me. And now here she was, locking eyes with me, her face as unreadable as ever. The only question now: had she come to console me, to help me, or to put me out of my misery? Maybe she would simply stand there and watch me die, and I would die loving her. Maybe that was my fate all along...