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The Zero Light

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Life After Death

Shrouded in darkness, without any sounds or smells. Hell seemed way more peaceful than the church lead me to believe. I still could feel my heart pumping the blood, I felt almost hyper aware. Stale odorless air around me, hard surface under my feet, and the cold. I felt as the heat was evaporating from me, from the veins, through my skin, into the air. I felt as I was dying, blood slowing down, muscles relaxing, and soon enough I felt as if someone had flipped entire world on its head and shook it. Maybe not that violently, but the sudden dizziness was enough for me to loose all balance. My dead body fell backwards as the whole world around me stopped existing in an instant, everything was gone. Everything but my beating heart, as if a single drum in a giant cave it resonated inside and around me, reminding me of that time I was alive, taking all of it as granted.

I started thinking about all the time I wasted on the surface of the Earth. All the hours I spent lying in bed, wondering about my purpose in life, not understanding that it was up to me to create one. All the petty arguments and hurtful words said in the heat of the moment, all of that just a blob. My life, a meaningless collage of sounds and colors, of memories and lies. It took me about thirty seconds to come to the realization that nothing significant ever happened to me, at least not before I met Devon. “Well I’ll actually meet the motherfucker in hell” I laughed to myself reminiscing the words he yelled at me when I first stole something from him. Back then it was a threat. Now it seemed more like a promise.

It couldn’t have been much longer after that as I heard a step. First I thought I was hallucinating, but then another steps resonated in my personal hell. Someone was here, but who? Devon? I felt as my heart started beating faster, was I excited? But another step shattered this hope. This creature must have been smaller, at least a lot lighter from him, like just a skeleton. Death. Death itself arrived to welcome me into it’s realm, reaching out it’s bony claw to me, as a welcome.

– Sir? – I heard a voice as if through water. – Sir, who are you? – Death had a weirdly calm and woman sounding voice, it wasn’t rough and old as I imagined, it was clear and young. – SIR?! – I heard it way louder and soon I felt pain in my right knee, as if someone kicked it, not holding themselves back.

I yelped, opening my eyes – You little – “Bastard” I was going to say but I couldn’t. My throat closed itself in shock when I realized that I wasn’t where I was before. It didn’t seem to look too much like hell, either. It appeared as if I were alive.

"But that can't be possible" I thought, "The bullet went straight through my head!". I frowned, looking blindly at the light creeping through the cracks between planks. "The bullet!" the thought hit me like a... bullet. I quickly lifted my hands up to my face, trying to feel a hole in my skin and skull. But there was nothing. Or rather there was everything as it was supposed to be. I looked at my palms and fingers, shaking, expecting to see blood. But there was a noticeable lack of the red substance that usually accompanies being shot at.

– You are weird. – I heard a voice about one and a half meters ahead of me, and a bit... lower. I looked down to see a little girl, about ten years old. She had beautiful red hair and was dressed in a simple, white and pink dress. She was looking at me as if at some specimen in a local zoo, slightly tilting her head.

– I'm. – I tried to respond but I had no idea what to say.

– I'll go call my mum. – She said, moving a step back.

– Wait, who are you? Where am I? – I finally found the right words.

– I am the one asking questions. – She answered, crossing arms on her chest.

– Well, I have absolutely no idea where am I, and my name is Newt.

– That's a stupid name.

– The only one I have.

The girl squinted at me, making her lips into a straight line. I couldn't read her emotions, but she seemed to be wondering if my answer was honest. – Okay. – She said slowly. – How did you get here?

I once again couldn't answer that question. She didn't seem to like that but seemed to accept it as truth, for now.

– Okay, so where were you before you got here?

– London. – I said. – In a room of one of those cheap hotels. – She shook her head slowly, weighing my answer.

– And where did the cupboard went?

I was dumbfounded. "The cupboard?" I looked around and surprisingly, there was a darker square behind me on the ground, pointing to the fact that sometime in the past there might have been a cupboard there. But now it was just me.

– I have no idea. – I answered truthfully and once again looked at her. But the only thing I saw were closing doors, and a clang of a padlock. Soon there were just slowly fading away footsteps.

"Great. Now I'm locked here". I thought. But where actually is "here". I looked around myself, trying to understand my location but my nearest environment wasn't too helpful. I was obviously in some kind of shed, made with crooked planks and with ground covered with wood shavings and hay. There were also two big cupboards, filled with Jams and other preserves. I sighed, sitting on the ground. Now that everything was again very quiet, my thoughts quickly drifted towards Devon.

I felt the unpleasant feeling of salt in my watery eyes as the image of his bearded face came to my mind. In a matter of seconds I lost a friend. He was shot for having powers, and I wasn't even strong enough to give him my hand. In his last moments he was looking for any compassion in me, but all I was capable of doing was too look at him in disbelief. I sobbed, my tears dropped to the dirty floor, quickly disappearing. They took him from me, both mages and this fucked up church. "It had to be some kind of trick, he couldn't have just spontaneously gotten those devilish skills. Some mages had to curse him" I thought, trying to pin the blame on someone else.

I knew the real reason it happened. But I weren't strong enough to admit it. Another sob shaken my body. But just then I heard some approaching voices. I looked up, and quickly tried to dry my eyes. I were at least somewhat successful, because as the padlock clicked I could once again clearly see the opening door. Slowly another woman peeked to the room. She was holding a gun in her hand.

I looked at it, the empty void of it's barrel pointed straight at me. Just as it was in that house.

– Oi, I'm asking you something. – I heard her voice, it was clear that she wouldn't allow anyone to look down at her. She was a leader type, not taking "no" as an answer. – Who the fuck are you and what the fuck are you doing on my farm? – She lowered her weapon a bit.

Just then I could direct my eyes away from the gun and at the woman. She was quite young, around twenty years old, with short cut brown hair, and intelligent eyes. She didn't seem to wear any make-up, and yet looked absolutely stunning. Her face was displaying compassion, but there was something rough about it. She seemed to be absolutely ready to kill me if I made a single wrong move, but also my state probably made her feel for my situation.

– I'm Newt. – I introduced myself again. – And I have no idea how I got here.

She squinted her eyes, which made her look a lot like the little girl. "She said that she was her mum" I thought. But that was impossible, the girl standing before me was definitely way younger to be a mother of a ten year old child.

– As you might imagine, sir, I have a hard time believing you. – She again pointed the gun at my forehead.

– But I'm telling the truth! – I nearly screamed. I couldn't look at that fucking gun. Some part of me wanted her to just shoot me, so I could Join him.

– Wow man, no need to rise your voice. – She lowered the gun, probably noticing that it wasn't working too well for my stress. – Now stand up I need to have a look at you.

I followed her orders obediently. She scanned me from face to boots and sighed. – So you are telling me that you have no idea how you got here?

– Yes, that's what I was trying to tell you.

– Fine. Follow me.

She walked out of the shed, glaring at me. I got up slowly, still feeling weak in my knees. It took me a bit but I finally got to the door and looked around. We were in the middle of nowhere, on a hill. Up the slope there was a birch forest, and down in the valley flowed lazily a river. It was quite shallow and I could see the colorful rocks at the bottom of it.

They were already halfway to the forest. The older woman seemed to not be too concerned with me. I looked at the water, waging my chance of survival if I were to run away from her. Dissatisfied with possible result of walking around in a forest I know nothing about I sighed, climbing the hill.

We walked for a couple of minutes, she didn't bat an eye at me the entire time, consumed by discussion with the little girl. They were laughing and gesticulating a lot. They were moving fast and with grace, I assumed they knew the forest like the back of their hands. I on the other hand was tripping on the branches and some looser rocks. It only made me more sure that I would be screwed if I tried to go away on my own. And now I at least knew the path. How Badly I would end up if I were to find my own way?. Just as I started imagining various ways I could be killed by the forest itself we went up to a clearing. I looked around, to get any sense of where I am.

The meadow wasn't too big, around one hundred meters across. Hugged tightly with trees and fences from every side. In the middle of the field there were a couple of white brick houses, and a small pen with some animals I didn't really recognize. My new captors led me to the closest house on the right. It seemed to be the oldest, with a rather dirty outside, two small windows and a wooden door. It all looked so much like the witch's houses I were told so much about as a child. "They were kidnapping kids and then eating them" I remembered the words of my mum. "God I'm gonna get eaten" was my next thought, which was really quickly silenced by the realization that I am a little too old for being eaten by an old hag. And that the supposed witches didn't look too old nor did they seem child hungry.

I stood in front of the house for a little while, until the little girl emerged from the inside and invited me inside. Nervously I entered the house and immediately got hit by an amazing smell. It was like nothing I had pleasure to sense ever before. "It's a child stew" my mind screamed. But I ignored it and went inside. As soon as I got a bit away from the door, the little girl shut it close and rushed me to the next room. Without even having time to look around I was seated at the table in front of a steaming hot bowl of soup. I was instructed to eat and then left alone in the kitchen.

With shaking hands I picked up the spoon and slowly submerged it in the mysterious mixture. "Oh god it's poison for sure" I mixed around a bit trying to identify the ingredients. There were some potatoes, carrots, onion and weird leafs, nothing that would indicate any nefarious properties of the soup. "Poison isn't meant to be obvious" I thought, realizing that the amazing smell and obviously not poisonous looks were a perfect lure for any unsuspecting guest. But I were smarter than that. "I won't fall for it" I thought while blowing at the spoon to make it's contents a bit colder. "Dang they are good" I lowered the spoon recognizing the fact that it had to be magical, for me to simply want to eat it, not caring about potential death. On the other hand if it were a poison I would die relatively painlessly - or at least I hoped for that to be the case.

I looked around the room. There was a window I could easily escape through, but then I would be stranded in the forest. "Which as I already established is a terrible idea" said my inner voice. I agreed with it, now looking at the knives considering them as weapons. My main concern was the fact that the witches could be way too powerful to defeat with a simple meat cleaver. I thought about it a little but quickly to my attention came another problem. It was already too late. The fight I was fighting was lost. I felt weird tingling in my mouth as the hot substance made it's way to my stomach. And by gods was it good. I looked at the strange soup and ate another spoon.

Before I really noticed, the soup was gone and I felt full. It was way tastier than anything I had tried before. Or maybe I was just really hungry. Now satisfied and slightly happier I finally had some time to properly look around. The kitchen was decorated in a classic old-woman-with-cats style. Very rustical and cluttered, but still feeling rather tidy, with clean windows letting in a lot of sunlight. Only then it occurred to me that it had to be morning already. I scratched my head in confusion, sure that the events at the hotel happened at late evening. "He died in the dark" I thought, sighing, as my mood once again took a nose dive.

Soon after, the woman entered the kitchen. She had changed her clothes to something more casual than before and it seemed like she brushed her hair.

– Hope you liked it. – She picked up my empty plate.

– Yeah it was very good. – She must have picked up on some sadness in my voice, because she raised her eyebrows. After leaving the plate in the sink, she sat on the chair on the other side of the table and looked straight at me. We stayed like that for a couple of long seconds until I lowered my eyes.

– Okay tell me what really happened.

– I don't know.

– I don't mean how you got here. Just – She waved her hands around. – what happened to you.

I looked up at her. I didn't really want to think about the situation of the last night, let alone talk about it. But her expression was so warm and encouraging. She looked like a teacher, talking to me about problems at home. Finally with a sigh I decided to tell her at least a bit about what had happened.

– I lost someone.

– I understand. – She stood up, looking for something in a cupboard, soon she sat back again, putting in front of me a bottle with a clear liquid and two shot glasses. She raised her eyebrow questioningly. I just shook my head in agreement and she poured us two full glasses. I downed my glass and gasped in surprise. The drink was very strong. It burned my throat and bowels, slowly going to my stomach. I coughed a couple of times, trying to breath again. It didn't took long for my cough to stop, and I finally could look at her, still with a bit watery eyes. She was smiling at me, amused. – Not used to that kid of alcohol, huh?

– Yeah, everything's watered down in London. – I laughed a bit, but stopped after a moment. Realizing that her face became still as a statue as soon as I mentioned that city.

– You came from the city?

– Yeah. Is that a problem? – I asked concerned.

– Not really. – She sat back. – But I heard that no one is allowed to leave.

– That's weird, I don't remember any official announcements about it.

– Right. Official. – She rolled her eyes.

– Right... Besides I didn't leave the city technically. – She looked at me with confused look on her face.

– Then how are you here?

– That's the problem. – I laughed a little. – I have no idea. It's almost as if I got teleported.

She shook her head slowly. – So, could you tell me what happened? You don't have to go into detail.

I sighed. – Well. It started as I met up with my friend. – I felt like crying again, she quickly reacted, pouring me another glass. I quickly drank it. – I met with a friend, he smoked, and then as we were about to leave, the knights invaded our place. Then they took out some weird device, and then... oh god. – I covered my eyes, trying to not scream. I shouldn't have told this random woman anything. It was still a fresh wound and I just poured salt all over it.

– Then it turned out that your friend had powers.

I couldn't answer. How could she have known? Did she also loose someone that way? I looked up at her, begging for answers, but as if she couldn't read my mind, I didn't get any explanation. I balled my hands into fists and shook my head. Confirming her theory.

– And then you got teleported here.

I shook my head once again.

– But by who?

I didn't react.

– It couldn't have been you, right? You have never been to this place before.

– Yeah.

We both stayed silent for a while. She poured me another couple of glasses and soon I felt really dizzy. We talked a bit more and then she led me to some room. It was empty aside of a bed and a small closet. Drunkilly I fell on the bed and soon the whole world went black.
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