When I awakened for the second time, the boy was gone. With eyes closed, I groped for him in the dimness. A name fell on my lips but was as gone as quickly as a startled butterfly. I made incoherent noises of fear, eyes snapping open. I searched for the bright shock of copper hair, the blue eyes, anything. A hand fell on my shoulder. I pulled my feet beneath me and swung my leg out in an arc. The person behind me collapsed in a heap. I was shocked to find it was the boy that I had just knocked to the ground. I stood and towered over his prone writhing form.
“You okay, son?”
He opened his eyes and stared up at me like I’d grown two heads.
I decided not to explain my terminology. There was so much to say and so little time.
“Do you know a way out of here?” I asked him, offering him a hand.
He took it. I pulled him to his feet. The boy was about a head taller than me. Before, it would’ve been the other way around.
He released my hand and looked away from me, blinking rapidly.
“I – I can’t even remember my name,”
I decided to lie in order to sympathize with him, “Don’t worry, neither can I. That way looks good,” I jerked my thumb behind me, pivoted, and walked away.
Just to entice him, I swayed my bare hips a little bit. I heard his feet slap against the wet floor behind me. Good boy. Heel.
I smiled to myself. This body had quite a few … uses. I would have to explore them further until I regained my body. Where the hell was it anyway?
Hold up. I paused. The boy collided against me. He stayed there for a few moments, his chest warm against my back. Then he pulled away. No, come back…
How was I to know that this wasn’t my right body? Was it my mind that was wrong? I could remember school and my friends, an old boyfriend with dark hair and green eyes and a gym teacher I hated. But they were shadowy, faint, fake compared to the fresh memories of war and battle – leading my troops to their deaths. I shuddered involuntarily.
“Are you okay?” The boy whispered behind me.
“Call me Demi,” I replied.
Having a male name like ‘Demetrius’ would be too difficult to explain away. Some of the boys back at base had teased me and called me Demi before when we’d gather round the fire and count heads to see who was dead and who was left.
“Okay,” He murmured.
I continued forward, not daring to look back at the boy. I prayed he would follow. The pitter patter of his footsteps told me that he was.
There was little detail to focus on in the infinite hallway before me. The only thing that changed were the faces behind the glass chambers. An old man here, a little girl with pigtails there, a woman that could have been a model. I would have rather become that old man than this…thing.
“Demi,” The boy caught my arm, “Look,”
I twisted around to look at what he was pointing at. There was a gap in the line of chambers. Beyond was a glaring white light. Finally. I wanted to die and go to heaven, not be trapped in this awful purgatory.
“Thank god,” I muttered, my eyes flicking ceilingward for a split second.
I actually believed this was the way out. It wasn’t.
I stepped between the boxes and into a small white room.
Laid out on a metal slab built for a morgue was a body covered in a sheet. I could tell it was body by the shape and the way the feet stuck up beneath the fabric at the end.
The boy’s hand slid into mine, “What are you – ” I pulled away and stepped towards the sheet. I was a soldier. I’d seen death before and I was not afraid. With a defiant laugh, I threw off the sheet.
Beneath it was me.