I have been kicking the idea for this story around for the last year. It was based on religious views and beliefs, but it is an interesting perspective to the question, "What is the afterlife."
Heavy gusts of wind rushed across the quiet landscape, pulling clouds of ash into the air coating the body of the stranger as he walked on. Bruises and scrapes riddled his frail naked body from head to toe. Each step the stranger made awakened a terrible ache in his bones. A sense of pain finally reached his foggy mind as a strange numbness dissipated. He couldn’t recall how he got to this desert or when his trek began- it felt like years, like he has always been here. The pain finally shook his body to the ground, unable to continue walking. His breath was faint, and interrupted by heavy coughing.
“...hello!?” murmured the broken wanderer lifting his head from the ash, searching to find someone, or something.
But there was nothing, only the gusts of wind that blurred his words into the whistling silence. Dunes and large stones expanded in all directions, escape was his only thought, but his hopes were crushed at the sight of the endless wasteland. His dormant body was nearly covered in ash when his arms pulled him into a slow crawl.
He struggled to drag himself to the top of one of the huge stones which poked through the ashy dunes. Clouds of ash rushed by him muffling the sounds of a voice fighting to beat the heavy winds.
The stranger rubbed his eyes as he could make out a thin silhouette of someone stumbling to their knees. He summoned the last of his strength before he shouted,
The figure in the distance fell flat, unable to respond. The stranger lifted himself to his feet, still trembling in pain, fighting to make his way to the unknown figure. Within minutes he found the limp body of a woman, her hands and feet were stained in red. She was coughing up ash and blood as she spoke.
Her right hand reached up at him, revealing a clear hole through the center of her palm. The stranger bent to one knee over her, searching her broken body for more wounds. A hole bored through her other hand and both of her feet.
Before saying anything further he lifted her bony body from ground, limping with her towards another sharp rock peering through a dune of ash. Within moments they made their way to a small cove in the rock. He lowered her to the ground, placing her back against the rigid walls of rock. Her breaths were short and raspy as she tried to speak to the stranger,
“Who are you?...”