"A Watcher, huh?" The water laps playfully at my ankles, as we sit at the edge of the dock. My hands brace against the wooden edge and my hair spills off one shoulder hiding my face from this strange man. I watch my feet under the warped water surface.
It's funny, how the human eye interprets thing's. If one actually takes the time, you can see things that you normally wouldn't. Still, it's hard to take in the situation I'm in now. Whatever this is, its too real to be a dream. I play with the possibility that this might actually be happening, that there really are Watchers and God really does exist. What does that mean for me? Does it mean I'm dead?
"Call me Akil," he says, his hand unexpectedly reaching out and brushing my hair behind my ear, so that he can see my face. I stiffen. The gesture was so intimate. I look up at him sharply and pull the hair from behind my ear.
"Why am I here?" I demand, looking into his unnerving eyes, "And where is 'here', anyway?"
Akil sighs, "You're in the spirit world, experts in your world call it a metaphysical world. As to why you're here, I can't answer, you need to learn that for yourself."
"The spirit world?" I ask, testing the taste of those words on my lips. They tasted like vinegar, "Does this mean I'm dead?"
He takes a little while to reply, cocking his head to one side, as if he were listening to someone whispering into his ear, "No, not yet. You're in no-mans-land so to speak. You're not dead, but you're also not alive. You're not in heaven, but your also not in hell, nor are you on earth either. It's like your up on a high wire, and right now you can fall either way, its just up to you to choose."
"Oh," I say, looking down at my feet again. I start kicking my feet back and forth, feeling the water rush between my toes and the sun warm the back of my neck. In a brighter voice, I say, "Well, I could really get used to this place." I smile at Akil.
He looks out above the water, a frown tugging at the corners of his mouth, "Carmen, do you know what being a Watcher entails?"
"Well, you protect me right?"
"That's part of it," he says slowly, "Most of it is just watching, hence the name. When you are born, you are assigned one Watcher for your entire life. When you're a child, its like you're given a grace period to figure out who you are in your life. Do you have faith or don't you? Watchers can protect you only as long as you believe. In the Spirit World, this doesn't apply."
I wait for him to continue but he doesn't and we sit in momentary silence, "What are you trying to tell me?"
"I'm trying to say that I can't protect you here. I'm trying to say that even if this is no-man's-land you're not safe from evil forces. I'm trying to tell you to be careful. God wanted you here for a reason, and whatever that reason is, finding it isn't going to be an easy task."
Suddenly a wind starts to blow and the water begins to roil beneath us. Thick black clouds choke the sky, casting the place into darkness so black I couldn't see my own hand in front of my face. Loud booming noises make a cacophony of sound, but lightening doesn't light up the sky.
My heart jumps into my throat, and my hands begin to shake. I panic, " Akil!" I scream, "Akil!"
Someone's hands close around my mouth and my screaming becomes muffled, as I try to thrash against them.
"Shh, its me," I've never been to happy to hear somebody's voice before, but I don't have enough time to relax before he is speaking again, "I can no longer be apart of your journey, I can no longer protect you. But follow your instincts and have hope."
Something slides into my hands, something long and narrow that has heft. I don't have time to identify it further because Akil is spinning me around in the darkness.
"Good luck, Carmen." His hands leave my skin and for a moment I don't know what to do. The wind rips past my ears, the booming gets louder, beneath me I can hear the water throwing itself against the dock, the wooden planks supporting it groan. Then I think of a safe place. A place sunny and peaceful, with a small lake and a large house with white shutters. Sanctuary.
I begin to run.