Amelia’s hands start to glow, illuminating Meg’s necklace and warming the three of us like a cosy evening book beside the family fire. I clutch one of Meg’s hands and do the only thing, aside from praying, that I know will help her.
I start to sing.
The noise of the Bus dies away and the crackle of flames echoes in my ears. Where does it come from? My eyes are shut or still adjusting to their new surroundings. Maybe it’s an out-of-body experience…? I mean, I know I’m not dead…right? Please say I’m not dead! I can’t die now; I have so much to do in my life! Become famous, marry Aidan, have a loving family…
A cackle comes from nowhere, as I can’t see any of my surroundings- just pitch-black darkness, and the feelings of impending doom. It is feminine and hard and strangely familiar.
“Think again if you want to marry that stupid pure teacher of yours. He’s 20 years older than you-” Says the voice that accompanies it.
“18.220 actually,” I can’t help correcting the voice almost automatically. I don’t know why I counted the years and months between the 33-year-old and myself…Perhaps to be closer to him.
“Haha,” obviously the voice finds that funny for some reason, “You’ll never be closer to him, my dear.”
“Stop reading my mind!” It’s not unnerving, I say to myself, just plain annoying.
If the voice heard that remark, she ignores it, “Oh, but your mind is so easy to read: your emotions, your dreams, wants, FEARS!” She screams the last word, triumphantly and laughs the hyena-laugh again. This time I hear more laughter-high pitch mock giggling, and become more aware of my surroundings.
I’m not in a room, to call it a room would be to specific; in fact it would be difficult to describe what I could perceive in general. The flames I can hear are all around me, casting high shadows like carbon smoke. I can feel the flames tingle on my skin but when I reach out to grasp their burning fingers, I cannot touch them and they seem to be miles away. Time and space do not matter in this existence.
Imp-like creatures dance around my legs. At least where my legs would be if I had a body. I feel ethereal, like an essence of Meggan Amanda Greene, instead of her true body. Some of the creatures poke at me with miniature tridents, vanishing into smoke one moment, to appear the next around another side of me.
“I’m not scared-my friends will come and rescue me. I promise you that.”
“Friends? What friends?” An image appears from the smoke ‘beside’ me; an image of a young woman with jet black hair, walking slowly along a dusty road.
“Raven!” I cry, “Why is she not on The Bus?”
“You’ve always been friendless, girl. It’s part of your destiny.” A figure starts to form out of the smoke and motions for the imps to sing along with her. It is a bittersweet song, but their voices smash and crumble the notes to form such a horrid chant. “When I needed a neighbour, were you there? Were you there?”
The curvy figure of the woman steps out of the shadows, where I can see her too clearly. She throws back her head and laughs, the most evil laugh I have ever heard.
“When I needed a healer, were you there? Were you there? When I needed a healer…” The chant continues on, pounding through my brain…
“Wherever you travel I’ll be there, I’ll be there. Wherever you travel I’ll be there...” A much more harmonic voice brings me back to my senses.
“I’ll be there.” I whisper to the friends that are standing over me.