Ch. 4 Coming HomeMature

As soon as I had left the party at George’s house, at which he had told me that I had to go back to Earth in order to renew a blessing, my Grandpa had teleported away without saying a word of goodbye. I didn’t blame him.

Following his motion, I decided to teleport to my own house. Just before I did, I heard someone call my name.

“Hey, Jordan!” It was the voice of Amanda Gregory.

I turned around to see her walking in my direction.

“What did George want to talk to you about?” she asked me.

I took a deep breath. “It’s… complicated”.

“Can you shorten the explanation then?”

I nodded. “To put it as simply as I can…”

I was unable to finish my sentence. I wasn’t exactly sure how to tell her about how I was going to be on Earth for one last week.

“You’re going back to Earth” she said, her voice much less audible.

I looked at her in amazement. “How do you-“

“My father was a police officer. I knew from him how to guess what people were doing or thinking”.

“Well… yes… I have to go back. For a week”.

“Why?”

“There’s this blessing… that protects my family. Without it, my family dies off. I have to go back and renew the blessing so that we don’t die”.

She nodded. “Okay… so are we still going to meet tomorrow?”

“George said-

“George instructed you to do this?” she said. “You must mean a lot to him”.

“We’re actually related” I told her.

She opened her mouth in surprise. “You’re related to the most powerful man in this world? What’s the likelihood of that?”

“It is pretty incredible to have someone like him in my family”.

I brought back the topic of seeing her the next day. “Anyways, he said he wants me to go tomorrow, anytime, just not too late”.

“So want to go out in the morning then?”

I shrugged. “Fine by me”.

She smiled. “Great!”

As we stood in the outdoors, a question popped into my head.

“So why are you out walking around?”

She said nothing in response to my question.

“Are you okay?” I asked her. She seemed to have grown completely silent.

“I didn’t want to tell you” she muttered.

“I told you that my guardian here didn’t like me too much” she said. “She only took me in for the sake of not leaving me on my own. Afterwards…” her voice trailed off.

“She treated me horribly. Had all of these strict rules and such… and I’m just not sure why such a person is in this world. I thought no evil could reach us here”.

“So you’re just taking a walk to cool off?”

“Not to cool off… to wear off…” she took a deep breath.

“She shouted at me… louder than she ever has”.

“She shouts at you?” I asked, taken aback by her revelation.

She nodded in response. “I thought she was going to hit me… so I got up and left”.

“Left as in left her place forever?” I asked.

“I won’t live with the likes of her if that’s how she treats me… and especially in a holy place like this”.

I couldn’t believe that such individuals could reach the afterlife. My happiness I had achieved upon forgetting my past life was slowly but surely deteriorating. I went to party and instead I received a mission with dire consequences, most likely lost my grandfather’s trust, and now I know that evil can in fact get into the afterlife. Could Hunter reach the afterlife? At this point it seemed anything was possible.

“Well… where are you gonna go then?” I asked her. She couldn’t just live on the streets.

“I was going to go back to my place” she replied quietly.

“And just be by yourself?”

“Aren’t you by yourself?” she pointed out.

Without my grandfather, I was on my own it would seem. Originally, I thought she could stay at my house, but since there was no other person there it would be pretty… awkward to say the least.

“I want to be with someone though. I hate being alone”.

“Well, where do you think you should go then?”

“I was thinking… I could just spend the night at your house”. I raised a finger to object, but she held up a hand.

“It wouldn’t be for too long. Just until I find someone else to stay with”.

I sighed. “I guess there’s no real problem with it”.

She seemed to have noticed that I wasn’t too thrilled about her idea.

“Are you sure that’s okay?” she asked for clarification.

I shrugged. “It’s fine… just a little awkward. Don’t you think?”

She nodded. “Slightly” she said.

We both stood smiling until we broke out into a random burst of laughter.

“Well, why don’t we get going then? I don’t want to be sitting out in the dark any longer”.

“Sure”.

“Wanna teleport?”

“Let’s just walk it”.

So, I guess that was that then; I had just told my newest friend that she could live with me. Did I still feel pretty weird about it? Very. It was nice having her around though. She was still reminiscent of someone I had met on Earth. Maybe when I went back to Earth, I could see who it was.

It was a long walk through the darkness of the night. We continued to talk about whatever came to our minds. I thought that someone as nice as her should at least get one day back on Earth. People like her deserved such things. There were also people like Hunter that didn’t deserve anything but a slow death.

“So where do you live anyway? At the edge of the Earth or something?” Amanda joked.

“Beyond” I responded, playing off of the pun.

We both laughed. It seemed as though the two of us shared a good sense of humor and the natural ability to play off of a joke successfully without making it sound silly.

Come to think of it, my house did seem to be very far away. I think it was on the edge of the whole afterlife! At least, that’s how it began to feel during the time it took for me to go back there.

I recognized the structure coming up over the horizon; my house, which had the exact same design as my old home’s exterior. The interior had yet to be finished, and I wasn’t sure when I would complete it.

“There are no beds in there yet, so I hope you’re comfortable sleeping on the floor” I said.

Amanda shook her head. “There will be some. It just takes time for the basic furniture to transport”.

“So… some of my furniture comes back then?”

“Only the basics”.

“You’re joking”.

“Sorry, nope”.

I sighed. “Why is everything here… so confusing?” Amanda simply laughed.

I opened up the door, which was a bad sign; even in the afterlife, I should remember to lock it.

“So you won’t be here too long? Pretty soon, I’ll be leaving” I asked for clarification.

She nodded. “Just for the night”.

I led her inside my home. I took a right turn, as I thought the stairs were there, but I instead came across the still picture of my life. I gasped, still somewhat frightened by it. It remained unmoving, much to my enjoyment. I wanted the picture to go away, and as fast as possible.

My audible gasp gained Amanda’s attention though, so she entered the room.

“Is that your still picture?” Amanda asked me.

I nodded. “I don’t wish to talk about it”.

“I understand. I hate mine too”.

I walked out of that room and made a silent promise to myself to never go into it again. I then found the staircase and led Amanda up it. I turned left and into a room that now had a fully made bed with a dresser along with it.

“I guess this is where you’ll be” I said, gesturing to the room. “I don’t remember putting anything in here, though”.

“Stuff takes time to transfer, like I said” she replied.

“Will this be alright for you?”

“Yeah… it’s fine”.

She walked over and laid down on the bed, sighing.

“I think I might just go to sleep now” she said.

“Might be a good idea for me to do so as well” I said.

Amanda sat up, yawned, then fell back and closed her eyes. I walked out and closed the door behind myself. I strolled down the hall and into my room which now had a bed inside of it. Without bothering to put on night clothing, I jumped on the bed and immediately fell asleep. I needed the rest, and badly. Tomorrow, I had to go back to Earth, back to my old life, on a mission to renew a blessing that would save my family from certain destruction.

I wasn’t ready to go back. I was ready to wake up the next day and do nothing at all but hang out around the afterlife.

I drifted to sleep as quickly as I could. As I laid down sleeping, I began to have a dream…

I saw a face, and I knew who it was. I had seen the face before, and I knew that I knew it, but I had no idea what name belonged to the entity. She was familiar, someone I had met before, but I couldn’t tell who.

I saw more faces, and I thought they were my friends on Earth, but I couldn’t place names on them.

Who were these people, and why did I feel like I knew them? If I couldn’t place names on them, then why was my mind bothering bringing their persons back into my life?

I was going back to Earth… maybe my mind was trying to tell me about who else was on Earth.

Wait a minute… if I was going back to Earth… I’d be able to see those people again. I’d be able to be with them as I think I had been before the car had hit me.

The car… Hunter… I was going back to Earth… Hunter was on Earth. If I could clench my hands in my sleep, I would; Hunter was the one who had ended my life. Revenge… what if I could get revenge?

Damnit, I just need to be quiet for once, just so I can get a little bit of sleep. No talking, no thinking. No talking, no thinking. No talking, no thinking… no talking…

My eyes slowly slid open as the morning hours arrived. I had an awful time trying to convince myself to actually go to sleep, but finding my antics futile, I laid in my bed for around an hour and a half before I decided to try and get some rest.

Stretching, I got up from the bed and noted the time on the alarm clock; 7:30 AM. Way too early.

I took off my old clothes and put on some new ones. I presumed I was doing my own laundry from now on, assuming that there was a laundry drier and washer to begin with.

George had told me he wanted me anytime, just not too late. I guess that meant around 3:00 PM before I headed out. That was plenty of time to get my thoughts, and apparently my motives as well, sorted.

All I could think about last night was what I was going to do on Earth excluding my actual mission that I had been assigned. There was that one girl I had to see, the one that reminded me of Amanda. I think now her name was Amanda herself.

There were those friends that I had seen, and I felt like I knew them well. If only I knew their name. I could recall a Jack and a Brant, but that’s all that came to my mind.

Then… there was Hunter. The kid who had killed me most likely on purpose. The kid who had basically opted to ruin my life as soon as I entered middle school. The kid who gave everyone else in the world a bad name. I was going to find Hunter, alright; I had already decided on that. And when I did… I’m not sure. But I know he’ll feel pain as I did.

I strolled down the hallway leading to the stairs. Amanda was still sleeping, and I was incredibly jealous; if only I could have gotten a few good hour’s sleep in. I quietly walked down the stairs and entered the kitchen. By now, there were plenty of appliances in here that I could use. I looked into the refrigerator, got a waffle, and popped it inside the toaster.

A TV must have been transported to my house overnight. It was the old one I used to have in my room on Earth. It had been the best birthday gift ever, to get to watch my own TV at any time. It wasn’t very technologically advanced, but it worked just fine. I grabbed the remote and turned on the television, making sure to turn down the volume for Amanda’s sake.

I stepped back in shock when I saw what I did; it was Earth news. I suspected that there was some sort of afterlife news station around here, but apparently there wasn’t.

I wanted to change the channel, but I was drawn in by the reports. This was what was happening in the realm of my old life; there was some sort of inner desire I had to see what was occurring.

Right now, a reporter was discussing with some analyst about the presidential campaign race that was going on so far. From what I could gather, all of the candidates were neck and neck, each one with some sort of redeeming quality. Even so, I trusted no politician; they can put up a smokescreen and then hide what they want behind it.

“That’s what’s happening in the political world. Back to you, Dan” the reporter said.

The news switched to local news. The man named Dan came on the screen with a solemn expression on his face, and I could tell that this was going to transfer into the reported, depressing deaths section.

“A very tragic event has happened in the community of Jeoman County yesterday” the reporter started off.

Jeoman County… that was where I used to live! I stepped closer to the television screen, wondering what exactly was going on, the simple name of my old home sending off alarms in my head. Is it possible… would they talk about the accident? They ARE obligated to report stuff like that…

“At Jeoman High School, something much unexpected occurred. A young boy by the name of Jordan Abbey was hit by a car piloted by a Hunter Feworth. Jordan was found dead when the ambulance arrived”.

Oh my God… they were talking about the accident. I had instantly become frozen in my place. I wanted to… I probably NEEDED to turn the channel or turn off the TV entirely… but I still wanted to watch for an unknown reason. Closure?

“Hunter was driving with two other individuals. One of them, Carlos Smithens, was confirmed dead earlier today. The other one, Kenny Burns, is in emergency care”.

“Feworth was later discovered to have been under the influence of alcohol when he crashed into Abbey, authorities reported. His friends as well were found to have traces of alcohol in their systems. The school had this to say about the catastrophic incident”.

The camera changed to show a man wearing a very expensive black suit. I recognized him as the school superintendent Charley Dems, or the ‘Invisible Man’ as we called him. We heard his name, but never saw him in person. All we knew was that he got rich off of the school and other businesses, and he didn’t give a damn about the well-being of the school.

“We are quite shaken by the turn of events that took place yesterday. I assure you there will be action taken place” he said. “I wish to speak no more”. That was really all he said.

I shook my head in disgust. What a bastard! He barely said anything. All he cared for was the money that landed in his pocket. He lived life through the saying ‘money talks’.                                                                                                        

A group of students were shown, and I recognized them as my friends and the one girl I kept seeing. I knew that I knew her… but what was her name? Why could I not remember her name? I had forgotten everything… so easily…

“It’s… not fair” one of the kids spoke up. “It’s… just… not right…”

The girl spoke herself. “If action is not taken place… I will make sure that something will”.

The camera went back to the reporter. “Those were Jordan’s friends, who are clearly devastated by the incident. In fact, I believe we all are. Such an event like this is awful, very awful. A trial for Feworth has already been scheduled to take place on Sunday morning, with Hunter charged with the killing of Abbey and drinking underage, and also drinking and driving”.

“I encourage you to please send your condolences to the Abbey family. Every little bit will help. As the school has said, action will take place to hopefully prevent something like this from ever happening again. Back to the weather with-“

I clicked the power button on the television remote, threw it aside, and fell back into the couch. I was rendered completely speechless at what I had just watched. My emotions were confused, and I could only sit with my eyes and mouth wide open. How was I supposed to react to that?

The tears came, and I couldn’t control them. That was closure then: that one news report finally wrapped up my life on Earth. All it took was an announcement of that horrid, unfair accident. The memories I had tried so hard to get dispose of were now coming back, fast and furious.

The girl was Amanda Hundson. She had been my girlfriend. The other boys were Jack, Brant, Sam, Quintin, Harrison and Zach. They had been my friends, and most of us were going to go bowling on the day of my death.

I laid down on the couch and got a grip on myself. Crying was, and never was, a solution to a problem. All it would do is make me feel worse… like I didn’t already. That news report, however, will be forever fresh in my mind from now on. I had no doubt about that.

I heard footsteps coming from upstairs. Amanda was soon standing at the foot of the stairs, yawning and stretching. She looked over and saw me, and obviously knew something wasn’t right.

“Are you okay?” she asked me, walking over to my side.

I shook my head. “The polar opposite” I muttered. “There was just a news report… on the TV”.

“Well… What was it about?”

I sighed. “It was… it was talking about that day”.

“What day?”

I could hardly string my words together. “The accident… on that one day”.

“Accident?”

I finally decided to let it all out. “The one I was in. The one that killed me, ended my life. The one that brought me here” I said, gesturing around me. My face was bright red.

She bowed her head. “I’m sorry…”

I took a deep breath to further calm myself down, trying to not lapse into a rage like I used to. “You don’t have to be… you know what, I’m already over it. I’m done with it and moving on”.

She looked at me funny. “You don’t look like you’re over it”.

“Okay, the truth: I never will get over it. My death was just broadcasted on television on a popular news station. It basically signifies the end of my life on Earth… and now that I think about it, I never wanted my life to end… I should have been more wary of the things I already possessed. But you know what, I wasn’t. And maybe I’m the one at fault. Maybe I’m the reason why I am standing before you today”.

She was silent for a while before speaking up. “I always wanted my life to go on forever, never-ending. But then it ended… and I felt like I lost everything. But I came here and realized that I didn’t lose it all. Even though I can’t see any of my friends… I’m gifted with the opportunity of making new ones in a second life”.

We both smiled at each other. I don’t think she knew just how much better I felt right then. To get such a compliment was a rarity for me. Did I finally find someone who liked and understood me here?

“I didn’t lose everything either” I responded. “More like gained something”.

A knock came on the door just as Amanda and I moved closer to each other. I got up and went to answer the door. I opened it up and saw my grandfather standing there.

“Good morning” he said in an average, every-day voice.

“Hi Grandpa” I replied. I was unsure as to what to say afterwards; he was probably still mad at me for last night.

“I just dropped by to see how you were doing” he said.

“I thought you were still mad at me” I said quietly.

“You should now I don’t keep grudges” he responded much more happily.

I smiled. I guess he wasn’t as mad as I had believed him to be. “Well, I’m doing fine, thanks for asking”.

“Get home okay?”

I laughed. “This is a good neighborhood, there’s no trouble around here”.

He nodded. “Of course. Went brain-dead for a second there”.

Grandpa brought around the subject of going back to Earth. “So when are you planning to go back to Earth?” he asked me.

“In a few hours. George said I could be there any time, just not too late”.

“Hmm… is that so then” he replied.

The two of us stood awkwardly for a while, just in front of my house outside looking everywhere other than our faces.

“Well… I just wanted to drop in. I’ll… see you later?” he said as more of a question than a statement.

“Alright… bye” I said.

He nodded in response and walked away at a brisk pace. Before I knew it, he was already gone, probably heading for the After Café.

I returned to my house and closed the door behind me. Amanda cocked her hide slightly sideways so as to ask who was just at the door.

“Grandfather” I answered.

She nodded in response and got up to go to the kitchen. I walked back over to the couch and turned the television set back on. Thankfully, there was no more news on my untimely death. Unthankfully, there was no news that was actually interesting. I turned the TV back off in under a minute.

Amanda came back and sat next to me and turned on the TV back on, staying on the news channel. I sat there next to her wondering why, but then I realized that they were still broadcasting the depressing deaths stuff.

 “If your death was on the news, I was just wondering… out of some morbid curiosity… that maybe…”

“You want to see if they’re talking about you” I asked in more of a statement form.

She only nodded in response. “I just… I don’t even know why. You got closure… so I guess-“

“You probably won’t even see anything” I told her. “And I don’t think it’s smart that you’re trying”. There was only a small, coincidental chance she would find anything. I still wondered why she would really try, but I didn’t voice it any more. It was all under her control at this point.

The news kept on rolling, then it changed back to the local news. This was it then: would she too be on the news like I had been? We had both arrived at around the same time… I listened closely, waiting for the reveal. Something like this is certainly unheard of: two teenage death reports at the same time about two friends.

“You shouldn’t be looking for it” I told her.

“I… I can’t stop watching, to be honest. I actually want to see it…”

“This is crazy” I said, slightly angry. “You want to see a report about your own death? It probably won’t show up, and you won’t get any closure out of it”.

“You just saw yours. I guess I figure-“

“Down in Foarmen County, something incredibly shocking took place just yesterday” I heard the current reporter say.

I looked over at Amanda. Her skin had turned purely white, her eyes holding back tears. Why exactly did she want to watch any more of this was beyond my imagination.

“Just turn it off” I advised her. I decided to say nothing more.

“A young schoolgirl by the name of Amanda Gregory was found stabbed to death in Portan High School’s courtyard by a teacher at the end of the school day. The murder weapon, a 6-inch switchblade, was found in the possession of Frank Jones”.

“Jones was discovered to be an ex-boyfriend of Gregory, who has been referred to as a great friend and smart student by many people. Jones claimed that Gregory had insulted and threatened him, and he had only acted in self-defense. A heap of evidence has been piled against Jones for the trial coming up on Saturday afternoon”.

“According to authorities-“

Before the report could continue, Amanda turned off of the television and leaned back in the couch, taking deep breaths, almost a near reflection of my reaction but five minutes ago.

I couldn’t believe what I had heard. Someone as nice as Amanda was stabbed to death by some sort of dumbass… are you kidding me? We were both killed by rampaging idiots. But stabbed to death? Was the world really coming to this brutality? And a better question: why exactly did she opt to try and find a report in the first place? The fact that she did actually find one was pretty shocking.

“That’s that then” she said more calmly than I expected.

“I can’t believe… I’m sorry” I said quietly. Our deaths were reported on the same day, only minutes apart, and occurred on the same day. What if we were actually killed… one after the other?

She shook her head. “It’s fine… I anticipated the pain that would come so… not too bad”.

“Anticipating pain” I repeated her words. “If only I was able to do that”.

I didn’t think we would be able to talk after that. Eventually, I felt like I needed to say something.

“You know what: let’s just forget about this. As far as I’m concerned, it never happened”.

“You’re right… I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have tried to…”

I put my arm around her. “Don’t worry about it, okay? I saw mine too even though I didn’t want to, and I saw the whole freaking thing. We can both move on from that. Maybe instead of anticipating pain we can anticipate something good”.

“I think I can live with that” Amanda said, smiling. “But can you anticipate anything good?”

I remarked that question with a hint of sadness. “Not too much good happens in my life, so I’d say no”.

“Maybe you should give your life more credit than you do. You did say you kind of missed it”.

“Not much to give credit to, unfortunately. Just my friends”.

She came closer to me. “You’re going back to Earth, aren’t you? You should go back into your old life. Appreciate what you had. It’ll probably make you feel better”.

“I feel better not being in my past life, though... I like my life here” I replied.

“I can tell from you watching the news you probably want something like… closure. You could always get closure back on Earth. See your friends just for one last time before you have to come back”. She sighed. “It’s something I wish that I could do sometime”.

I sat still for a while. Finally, I nodded.

“You’re probably right… I need to get some sort of ending to my life. Some stupid news report doesn’t count. And not for you either” I said, pointing at her.

She disagreed. “Well… there’s not much else I can get. It’s not like I could send a message or something”.

An idea popped into my head. “I could always ask George for a favor. Maybe he’d be nice enough to enable you to send a message of sorts”.

She shrugged, considering it. “Maybe… you would do that?”

“You can count on me asking” I said confidently.

She smiled. “Thanks, Jordan… for all of this”.

I shook my head. “It’s not much”.

I went on. “It’s only just a nice thing that nice people do. Even mean people sometimes will bend over backwards to do something. There’s a sort of feeling in the world to be nice sometimes, but every day I was on Earth I felt that feeling was evaporating quickly, but I guess seeing people like you and I means that there’s still a few people out there, and-“

Amanda quickly came over to me and kissed me, hugging me and holding me closely. I had almost never had such feelings enacted on me, and I felt as though this world, the afterlife, was much better than I previously thought.

She let go of me and smiled. “Sometimes… nice people talk too much”.

I nodded. “Seems true enough”.

I had only known this girl for maybe a day, and already I felt like she was the best friend I ever had. Some bad people can reach the afterlife, but the majority of the people here are good, the sort of people I need to be around. That reminded me of what Amanda had said earlier; I should go see my friends one more time.

I looked over at the clock and noted the time; 11:30 AM on the dot. I guess I had a few more hours before I had to get taken back to Earth by the leader of the afterlife himself. Somehow, I had to renew a blessing that I could only obtain in a church being harassed by anti-religious activists. That, oh that, should be fun.

I decided maybe I’d ask for a plan.

“Amanda, if you had to somehow get into a church surrounded by anti-religious people, what exactly would you do?”

She laughed. “That’s certainly the most interesting question I’ve heard”.

“What would you do?”

She took a minute to think.

“It depends on how aggressive the people are. If they aren’t so aggressive and they leave eventually, just sneak in. Maybe through the roof?”

“That’s been my general idea” I responded. “I’m unsure how exactly how I’d pull it off though”.

“Do you know what this church looks like?”

“Actually… I have no idea”.

She cocked her hide sideways. “That’s not much to work on you know”.

“I’ve realized that now that I’ve said it out loud” I replied. “I probably should have asked George about the building’s layout”.

So far I seemed to know virtually nothing about this church. My only plan my brain could come up with at this point is just to plain wing it. More than half of the time that doesn’t work out.

Amanda must have known what I was thinking, which wasn’t the first time that happened.

“You’re just going to wing it then?”

I frowned. “I hope that I don’t have to, but it seems like I might have to unless I get some info on that place”.

“Ask George about it when you go meet him” she suggested.

“That’s the most I can do at this time I guess” I said.

We sat down on the couch in silence for quite some time. Amanda turned the television back on and watched one of those reality shows. It didn’t interest me in the slightest. My mind began to shift to my plans on Earth. Last night, I had been making up my own that pertained to everything but my actual objective. How would I approach my friends who thought I had died? And not just thought; they were looking too I bet. Hunter, however, would be an exception; I would approach him in any shape or form. He’s in trouble, and if he somehow isn’t when I arrive, then he will be.

Thinking back to Amanda Hundson, the Amanda on Earth, I began to feel an awful feeling. She had been my girlfriend, and we both liked each other well. Yet, I already kissed another Amanda here in the afterlife. In my defense, I didn’t know I was going back to Earth previously, or thought about it much.

“Do you care much for this show?” Amanda asked me, breaking my train of thought.

I shook my head. “Reality TV has never been my thing. It’s stale”.

She laughed. “Couldn’t have said it better myself”.

I raised an eyebrow. “Then why are you watching it?”

She shrugged. “They’re too bad to resist. My mom and I used to make fun of this particular show all the time… that brings back some memories”.

She raised another question. “I still want to know, how did you forget so easily?”

Over time, I realized something about forgetting. “I never really did forget, truthfully. I thought I hated my life… ignored the good things that I had. But every time I blanked out my mind, the memories came back. They never stopped coming… and now I think I should just stop trying. It’s useless in my mind”.

She bowed her head. “That makes… much more sense”.

I brought her head back up. “It’s important to keep your memories close. Don’t try to forget. If you succeed, you’ll just be without a soul”.

I nodded towards the clock. “I’m hungry, how about you?”

Her face brightened. “I should have eaten last night. I’m extremely hungry. After Café?” she suggested.

I agreed. “Sounds like a good idea”.

Amanda ran upstairs to change her clothes while I waited for her downstairs. I was an easy person to make bored or impatient, so I quickly become so. I looked around for something to do and only saw one option. Breaking my promise, I stepped into the accursed room which contained my still picture. I was surprised to see it moving once again. Instead of the school, it showed my friends at a courtyard somewhere. They were talking, and I wished I could hear them somehow.

I walked farther into the room and over to the picture. I gazed at all of the details; I wanted to see what Earth looked like again. I could only think of how the beautiful afterlife was like.

I had been seemingly enticed by the image. Closer and closer I strode towards it. I reached out my arm, my hand barely breaking through the portrait. Suddenly, I was jolted inside of it! The scenery around my changed into the environment that I had seen my friends were in. Somehow, it seemed as though I had gone inside of the picture! I could now listen to my friend’s talking.

“What do you guys want to do?” Brant asked everyone.

Jack shrugged. “I don’t know”.

“I don’t feel like anything” Quintin said. “I can’t get over Jordan dying”.

“How the hell does stuff like that happen?” Sam said angrily.

Jack bowed his head. “The world’s messed up. I think we can all tell by now”.

“I’m going home” Quintin said, already walking away. “I don’t feel much like anything…”

“Don’t just leave, stay for a bit” Brant said as sort of a question.

“I don’t… can’t…”

And with that, Quintin walked off at a brisk pace. He obviously seemed to be completely knocked off of his feet by my death. I wished he would feel better… maybe I can improve his mood when I go back to Earth today.

The others said little after Quintin’s departure. Slowly but surely, they all started to leave the courtyard. I didn’t want them to get hung back from having a good time just because of me, but I guess if one of them had died instead of me I would’ve felt the same way.

I heard someone calling my name, but I couldn’t see where it was coming from. I rapidly realized that it was coming from the afterlife, my actual life at this time. I stepped backwards and I proceeded out of the picture. I left a mental note in my head that walking backwards will take you out of pictures. I think I might jump into that particular image a second time in the near future.

Amanda walked into the picture room and found me there, still looking into the empty courtyard my friends had been in just a moment ago.

“I thought you hated this room” she said, voicing my opinion of the awful piece of the house.

“I do” I responded. “But I couldn’t resist looking… it was Earth, and since I was going back, I just wanted to know what it looked like again”.

She shrugged. “Well, I’m ready to go when you are”.

I nodded towards the door. “Let’s get moving then”.

I opened up the door of my house and departed, Amanda by my side. Thankfully, the After Café was in the courtyard just a minute or two away. All along the way, I could only think of Earth; what I had to do, what I wanted to do, and how I would do it. My thoughts were all in a jumble, and I couldn’t get them sorted. Maybe all I needed was to eat something to fuel my contemplations.

It didn’t take long to reach the Café. I opened up the door and walked inside, spotting a nice two-seater table by the window as I did. I liked window seats, so I quickly chose to go there.

I looked over at the clock that was positioned on the wall; it was 12:30pm. But… how could it be? Last time I had checked, it had been 11:30… there was no way I had been at my house for another hour before coming here. I thought back to my foray into my still picture. Could it be possible that it disrupted time somehow? I’ll leave those thoughts for later; they were far less important.

“So have you figured out what you’re going to do on Earth?” Amanda asked me. She was obviously trying to be as helpful as she could. I guess it was due to her love of Earth and her desire to go back to it.

“Well… I break into a church, renew a blessing, say hi to my friends, and get reven-“I stopped myself before I revealed my secret plans for dealing with Hunter.

She looked at my curiously. “Reven what? Revenge?”

I should have known Amanda would figure that out with relative ease.

“Hunter… deserves whatever happens to him”.

She shook her head. “Don’t try to sink down to his level then. You’d feel bad after what you do if you do it”.

I shook my head as well in response. “You don’t understand”.

“I’m sure I do” she said. “He killed you, ruined your life… that doesn’t mean you do the same to him! You might not even be allowed back in the afterlife for all you know!”

I didn’t think much about the after effects of messing with Hunter. I tried to consider them, but the general agreement in my mind was to do something severe to him, physically, mentally, or both.

“You just said it; he ruined my life. People like him can’t get away with that”.

“You can’t be seriously considering this. I haven’t known you for too long, but I know you enough to know you wouldn’t do this. And I bet you know deep down that you shouldn’t”.

I sighed. “You don’t know all about Hunter”.

“That doesn’t mean you escalate to murder! You’re no killer!”

Thankfully we have been talking in a moderately low tone so no one could overhear is. Even so, I decided to say no more on the subject for the sake of being overheard and discussing more personal matters with Amanda.

The same waitress that had served me here before, Jane, came over to my table.

“I remember you. You were with your grandfather” she said.

I nodded in response, but said nothing.

“He’s a good man, your grandfather. Very kind”.

She went on with doing her actual job. “So can I get you anything?”

Amanda and I went on to order our meals for the day, and that was the only time we spoke for a while. I assumed that she was angered by my planned courses of action, but she didn’t know the full story behind my pure hatred for Hunter. I knew what he deserved, and I knew that Amanda couldn’t tell me otherwise. Besides, she said she had a great life; she wouldn’t understand how it felt to be bullied all of your life.

The food came along later and Amanda and I continued on in silence. She finally decided to start a conversation of sorts, but it didn’t last for too long.

“You shouldn’t do anything to him”.

“I can’t let him walk off free, even if he does get into prison”.

“You’ll ruin your life in the afterlife, don’t you understand that?”

“Then I’ll see him in hell”.

She sighed, obviously frustrated with me. “Go ahead and deal with it however you like, then. You’ll ruin your life, but just go ahead. And I thought you were smart”.

We finished eating in a very short time. Amanda stood up and walked out the door without waiting for me. I didn’t even think she was going back to my house. Was she just going back on the streets?

I sighed, starting to feel a little angry at Amanda. I thought she understood me, but it would seem as though she didn’t after all. If I explained the whole story to her, maybe she would fully comprehend my motives.

I got up and walked out of the establishment as well. I looked around for Amanda, but I didn’t see her anywhere. I looked up at a clock that was hung in a nearby store window; it was 1:15pm. If I couldn’t find her, I might as well just go back to Earth already. I don’t think she cared all too much for me at this point, or of my situation.

I slowly strolled back to my house, still trying to configure my intentions. I couldn’t get anything sorted… I felt as though I was going insane! All I could think about was how I would go about doing my mission on Earth, and seeing my friends, how I would deal with Hunter… I had an incredibly severe headache… maybe I just needed to lie down, but that risked the chance of me being tardy to meet George. I sat down on the front step of my house and covered my head with my hands. I hated my life, then I started to appreciate it; now I didn’t even know what to do with it, what to call it, etcetera. I wanted someone to just shout at me right now, “This is what to do with your life!” so I could understand it more, the meaning of it, and what I would do with it. I just… didn’t know at this point.

I opened up the front door with great force, causing it to slam against the brick walls of the exterior of the house. I stomped inside and turned into the one room I had used to avoid; the picture had now changed to a different scene, but this one showed Amanda. Amanda Hudson, the girlfriend I had back on Earth.

Without halting to observe the image, I ran inside of it and I was immediately transported to the setting that she was in. She was lying on her bed crying softly. A book was by her side as well as a paper. A knock came on her bedroom door, and her mother entered. She was holding a beautiful white dress with a black jacket to go with it.

“Does this look good?” she asked Amanda.

Amanda only shrugged in response. Her mother sighed, showing obvious concern for her daughter.

“I know you’re upset, but I need you to cooperate with me on this. Do you think this looks good?”

“Fine” Amanda said reluctantly. “It’s fine”.

Her mother left the room without looking back, and silently closed the door behind her. Amanda let out a sob and picked up a piece of paper that had been lying on her lap. I recognized it instantly; it was the picture of the two of us when our families, who were good friends, went on vacation to Florida. We were standing in front of a very attractive garden… and I remember we had kissed there behind some leaves when no one was looking. Seeing these good times, and recalling them, feeling what they were like, brought me on the brink of insanity.

I hypothesized that the clothes her mother had shown her were dress clothes for my funeral. I didn’t even know I was having one, and definitely not this soon. It gave me an idea; I could go to the funeral myself and… no, scratch that. It would be incredibly awkward if I came to see her at my own funeral… wouldn’t it?

“I don’t know how…” Amanda muttered, her crying ceased. “Why would this happen… why…”

I felt as though if I stayed in this scene any longer, I would lose my mind. I quickly walked backwards and out of the image, breathing heavily. Seeing my girlfriend’s despair definitely didn’t make me feel any better… but it did in a way now that I think of it. I’ll be able to see her for a bit and make her feel better. Seeing her made me wonder how the other Amanda was feeling at this time, but then again I didn’t care much for her that much anymore as she didn’t care much for me.

Oh, what am I thinking? I should go apologize to her. I was ready to go look of her when I noticed that the clock said 2:30pm. My mouth dropped open in pure shock. How could time pass by so fast? I was fully convinced that jumping into pictures affected the time in the afterlife somehow.

I sprinted out of the front door, opening it up with too much force once again. In less than a few seconds, I was running through the courtyard and off to George’s residence. I didn’t want to be any bit late, and I had no intention of being so.

As I ran, I noticed a body lying on a bench by the sidewalk. I slowed down and approached it. I recognized who it was instantly.

“Amanda!” I said harshly, trying to waken her. She was fast asleep.

“Amanda!” I repeated myself.

She finally arose and turned to face me. I could tell from her facial expression that she didn’t exactly want to see me.

“What is it” she responded drowsily.

I decided to get straight to the point that I wanted to get to before the curious jump in time.

“Listen, I know I’m possibly one of the last people you want to see right now. I know that you don’t like my motives, and I’m sorry for dismissing you so easily. I… shouldn’t have ever done that”.

“So you’ll leave that one kid along” she said, prying for me to say more.

I was afraid she’d say this. “You… you don’t understand what he’s been doing to me my entire life. He teased and beat me up for a large chunk of it… and I’m not going to let him rest easy in a prison for the rest of his life. I have to do something…”

“Don’t harm him!” she insisted, stepping closer towards me. “I told you what could happen… and I know I haven’t known you for long, but you’re definitely not a killer, or any sort of aggressor!”

“My life was hell because of him! He turned nearly everyone in the school against me… just me! Every day I woke up to new insults and new jokes and new people trying to get me to explode”.

“And I understand that! I know that he destroyed your life… but he’s going to be in jail for a large portion of his teenage and adult years. Isn’t that enough of a punishment? He’s losing years of his life for what he did”.

“Yeah, but at least he’s still breathing Earth air”.

“Come on, Jordan, snap out of it! He’s better off left alone!”

“I told you, he ruined my life! HE KILLED ME!” I replied, my rage building up.

She shook her head, defending her opinion. “Think straight for once, will you? You’ll make your life worse! You won’t be known as the nice teenager I believed you to be, but instead the senseless killer! You DO know you won’t be able to return to the afterlife”.

I sighed, getting frustrated. I was just so damn confused! Even now, nothing to me was clear fact. I thought I had a plan, but it turns out that my mind was still nothing but an impossible puzzle.

 “I… I don’t know what to do! He killed me, don’t you get it? But… but I couldn’t do harm to anybody! I just… I don’t know! I honestly… I honestly just don’t know anything. I’m supposed to go save a church that I know nothing about, with protestors I know nothing about, then I want to see my friends and wrap up other personal problems… Yet I STILL don’t know what I’m doing”.

I sat down on the bench, almost about to cry. “Just a few hours ago I was willing to let my Earthly life become nothing but a bad dream. Now… Now I don’t know what I should do with it”.

Amanda sat next to me. “I don’t want you to think that I don’t understand. I do… but you have to agree… killing another human being is an extreme”.

“What should I do then?” I searched her eyes as though they somehow held an answer.

“Maybe… nothing” she said, matching my glance.

Soon, we had started kissing again. She held me close to her, more passionate than last time. Though this moment was beautiful, and I knew that I certainly had feelings for Amanda… it suddenly felt wrong.

I didn’t understand why. I kept kissing back and holding her, but a nagging thought in the back of my head told me that there was something bad about doing that.

Then I realized it. I pulled away from her and looked down on the sidewalk, feeling like a cheater.

“You okay?”

“I… I like you, Amanda… but I had a girlfriend on Earth, and I’m going back to her… I can’t cheat on her. Especially not in the afterlife”.

“Wait… so you’re telling me this now?”

“Yes… I’m sorry… but I can’t do this with you. Or anybody”.

I figured out quickly that I made a mistake. Amanda was nice and wouldn’t want to be an accomplice to a cheating… but I made her one, even though it was a complicated scenario. I was dead, so I couldn’t go out with Amanda Hundson… right? Shouldn’t it be okay for me to still be with Amanda Gregory too? My mind didn’t find an answer, except for telling the Amanda I could have had a relationship with that she was at a major fault.

“Well thanks. You lead me to believe that you liked me, then out of nowhere you pull out this whole cheating crap… and you’re telling me that I’M the one that made you do it”.

“I’m sorry… I just can’t do this. I need to turn my mind onto Earth, and what I’ll be doing there”.

She got up from the bench and walked off. “I don’t know who the hell I had grown to like then. You say you’re moving on, then you’re not, then you’re moving on, now you’re not. Can you please tell me what you see yourself doing?’

“I see myself doing what’s right”. Another mistake.

She might have been crying. “Well… goodbye, Jordan. I hope you’re better off without me”. After this, she ran off.

Oh, what had I done? Not only did I make her feel like a whore, but I basically hinted at the fact that, to me, she was insignificant.

Just like that, the rage came back to give excuses for how I acted. I no longer felt like trying to apologize to her. She obviously couldn’t see my point of view, and I wouldn’t want to be with someone who had no chance of understanding my life. I had a slight want to turn around and see if she was looking back at me, but I ignored the wanting feeling and continued on my way.

George’s residence was on the horizon, and I wasted no time running off towards it. My mind had begun to erase Amanda Gregory from all of my memories, making her like an invisible man. There was only one other Amanda I wanted to see now.

I had finally reached the golden gates that led into the giant household of George. They opened up at a much quicker pace than I had seen them do so before, making me believe the situation was much direr than I believed. I wasted no time opening up the large double doors that led into the much larger main room of the house.

“Up here, and hurry!” I heard someone call. George was on the second floor of the room, gesturing for me to come up to him, and quickly.

I sprinted up the stairs, taking them two at a time. George had already started off towards a room at the end of the hall, and I picked up my pace to catch up to him.

“I know I don’t need to be late, but why are we in this much of a hurry?” I asked him, trying to keep up with his rapid walking pace.

His skin was pale white. “The protestors have gotten restless… they’ve gotten around to throwing rocks and spray-painting! I can’t let that brand of insanity continue for any longer!”

“I thought this was going to be somewhat easy!” I responded angrily.

“That’s what I believed, but they’ve gotten tired of their antics getting them nowhere. I need you to get going, and now!”

We entered the room, and I was instantly amazed. Assorted on multiple tables were various objects; shiny crystal balls, golden staffs with sparkling jewels on top of them, various bars of rocks and other materials, large stone sculptures depicting numerous objects, and many more matters that I couldn’t possibly hope to describe; there were so many diverse items.

Dominating the room was a large stone arch that had many symbols on it, possibly hieroglyphics. A large hole was in the middle of the arch, large enough to probably hold something in it.

George pulled a silver stone out of his pocket that was radiating a dark purple color and put it in the indent. A blue flash emitted from inside of the arch multiple times, then stopped.

“Okay, we have to get moving, and fast. Very, very fast! If we wait any longer, the church will be in a lot of danger!” George exclaimed, moving around very hurriedly. His face was beginning to get covered with sweat.

I walked towards the arch.

“I’m ready anytime” I replied confidently, still bitter over Amanda’s attitude.

George looked curiously at me as though he could sense that I was partly in an unsatisfactory mood.

“How do I go to Earth exactly?” I asked, which was a very important question at this point.

George walked over to the arch and gestured to it.

“All you have to do is step inside of this arch. The stone that I placed inside of it is and old Egyptian relic that was believed to be the gateway from the afterlife to the real world, except it actually works. It doesn’t stay online and working for a while at one time, so I need you to jump into it immediately”.

I nodded. “All I have to do is go into a church and renew a blessing. That’s it?” I asked for clarification.

“It’s not as easy as I had foreseen. The anti-religious folks have gone over the edge, and if they aren’t settled down soon, the church will be forced to close down due to all of the fuss about it. Something like that cannot happen!”

“Here’s just one thing though: how exactly do I break into this church to renew the blessing?”

“I was thinking going in from the rooftop” George suggested.

I sighed, dismissing his comment. I had realized a while ago that most likely wouldn’t work, and definitely not at this point. The only chance I have right now is to think on my feet once I get to Earth… again.

George gestured once more to the arch, this time with more velocity.

“You need to go, now!” he ushered.

I began to think about what I was planning to do. I had sorted it all out in my mind as I raced to George’s house. I would go see Amanda Hundson, the only Amanda I truly cared for, and hopefully I could spend a lot of time with her. My friends, Jack, Brant, and all of the others, I would visit as well. I planned that one day we could go bowling like we were going to on the day I perished. That left only one other important individual in my life… and I would make sure that certain entity would feel incredible pain… agonizing, terrible pain.

Without wasting any more time, I sprinted inside of the arch and jolted forward to Earth, to my old life, to my closure.

The End

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