Second Life

Prologue

I didn’t want to live, which was probably just as well, because I didn’t. Well, I got to fifteen, and then it all ended quite abruptly.

That was what I thought, anyway, when I was rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night and my parents were crying and somewhere, where I couldn’t see them, there was an injured kid screaming their head off because no one was free to help them. They were all busy trying to save me, instead.

It was sweet, but the kid needed them more. It didn’t do me any good.

I’d been preparing for this for perhaps three years, but we had thought it would be the cancer that killed me and not a speeding teenager in their dad’s car. That was good, I decided. I would have hated to die slowly.

And the good thing about being prepared was that when I had the Moment, when I knew it was the end, I wasn’t scared. Not really. A bit miffed, perhaps, because there was a movie I wanted to see tomorrow. But I was calm, far more than I had expected. This was it. I’d known that for a long time.

However, it didn’t work out quite how I’d expected.

I’d had the whole bleeping heart monitor spiel that I’d seen with so many other kids, and I’d been listening to it through the haze of pain, and just seconds after it started to get seriously irregular, I woke up.

Which was weird, because I didn’t realise I’d been unconscious. And even weirder when I realised I was standing, on my own two feet – two feet! – in the open air.

I promptly dropped to the rough mountain path in terror, because what looked like a lithe dragon made of metal had just flown straight over me. If I hadn’t moved, the mechanical wings would have decapitated me, and I’d died enough times for one day.

Something very odd was happening here: was this supposed to be the afterlife? It didn’t seem much like heaven, and I’d been too ill to get up to anything corrupt enough to land me in hell, yet I was most definitely not dead. I wasn’t even sick – my skin, or what I could see of it, was a healthier colour than it had been in months.

So maybe it’s a dream, I reasoned, and my brain kicked in to say that landing on stones didn’t hurt when it was just a dream, but I had little stones half-embedded in my palms and that was painful. Ha, thinking. That was something I hadn’t done in a while either. Stand up and have a look.

The End

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