Jase's flesh was burned from his bones with white hot invisible fire. His skin and hair, muscle and sinew drifted off his body in large clumps until his bone was bleached white...an then that too began to disintegrate.

It was not just his body that was in agony, but his mind as well. Flashes of pain and anguish thrust through his mind like a jagged spear, slipping in easy but getting them out would be a mess.

It seemed like every moment of despair in his entire life, from when his father smashed his transformer toy as a child up until when he and Alice had finished. It felt like the combined burden of it was all he had left on his soul. Like a sinner from Dante's Inferno.

A story he'd studied in College, a story about mid life crisis. He supposed briefly that this all could be one terrible dream, but the pain and the hurt was way too much.

This was real.

He was aware of other shapes burning and thriving in agony around him in the cold whiteness of...wherever he was.

Their screams and howls were alot more like background noise to him above his own. They'd been here for some time.

Despite the training he'd been given, despite everything he knew over his past thirty three years of life on the earth. An old rational fear took over and was placed alongside his burdern of woe.

What had he done to deserve this?

"You're carelessness." Spoke a voice through his mind, and he felt a grip around him...though there was actually nothing left of his body now, just a ragged torso barely being held together by burning threads of bone.

He was dragged, gasping and vomiting into a wooden boat that smelt of rot and the dead.

Jase pulled himself up onto his hands, and was amazed he still had them. He patted himself down and was also amazed to find his body was whole and complete. And his burden of woe and dispare was no more, like it had been cast aside like a cloak of lead.

"You are not meant to be here." Said the boatman.
Jase looked up to see an old man in a hooded robe and recognized him immediatly as Charon, the boatman who ferried the dead over the river Styx in Greek Mythology.

He was surprised that his mind accepted this so calmly.

"You are still mortal. What are you doing here?"

Jase shook his head "A mirror..." he stammered as he reagained his feet.

The old man looked at him gravely. "Not one that I know of. An yet stil....a mortal. And what will you pay me for this service?"

Jase remembered that all the dead paid the boatman for his service, and he patted down his pockets for his wallet. It was still there, and had three crumpled notes in it. He held it out to the boatman, with a sheepish grin.

The old man took the notes in his hand and placed them inside his robes.

"Money...is money." said Charon as he pushed off with his staff towards the opposite bank of the river of the dead.

The End

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