"Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust"
So now we're on a quest to save the dead as well as the living. Hell, I didn't even believe in life after death twelve hours ago. Now I'm expected to aid in freeing hundreds or maybe thousands of lost souls. Does Jasmine think that I'm her apprentice wizard or something? The only help I can give is moral support and even that would be hypocritical because I am an atheist who is yet to see proof of life after death. For me, seeing is believing.
People that have had near death experiences have spun a yarn or two about bright lights at the end of a tunnel and being greeted by relatives who have already died, but no one has come back to tell the tale after being pronounced "stone cold dead." To my knowledge, when your brain dies its lights out for good.
"I take it saving the dead is your department? By the way that's a rhetorical question." I say seriously.
"Yes, That's my department so don't get your jocks in a knot. I'll do the jail breaking and you can keep the getaway car running. Being behind the wheel of a getaway car would be right up your alley, wouldn't it?" Jasmine says smugly.
"Getaway car? What getaway car? And who are we breaking out of jail?" I say as I navigate my way through the maze of fence wire scattered around the churned up ground.
"Gee Steve; keep up with currant events would you. While I'm freeing lost souls I'll be oblivious to what's going on in the real world. So I need you to snap me out of my meditative state if there's an emergency. The only way to do that would be to slap me across the face. You'd be o.k. with that aye Steve?" Jasmine asks with a suspicious look on her face.
"I prefer the analogy of the getaway car over the slap on the face to save the day but yeah, I think I can manage that." I reply hoping that I am not going completely red in the face with embarrassment, knowing quite well that she's onto me and my quick thinking action the last time I saved the day.
"That's good, because I'll be counting on you to save the day tough guy." Jasmine says sounding distracted as she concentrates on searching the area where her pink helmet was last seen in one piece.
"Dam it." She says as she props her moped up and bends down to pick up what looks like the remains of it.
"I loved that helmet. It fit like a glove, oh well que sera sera, what ever will be will be, looks like we are both going to have a bad hair day." Jasmine says nonchalantly as she turns and glances at me.
In reaction to her comment I habitually run my hand through my mane of sandy coloured hair that almost extends down to my shoulder, suggesting that I am some what vain about my appearance. I don't like to think or portray that I am that way though. To get around being labeled an egotist I simply say that I am taking pride in my appearance. I look back at Jasmine after I've finished hand combing my hair just as she is turning away from me and giggling to herself. She must have taken more than one glance andcaught me preening myself, how embarrassing.
I guarantee she already thinks that I'm egotistical.Living in the material world with my flash car and trophy wife and now being caught correcting my bad hair day. I should give her an open invitation to read my mind and she'd know that I rebuilt that car from a beaten up rusted shell with my bare hands through many hours ofblood, sweat and tears, that I fell in love with Sarah because she is beautiful on the inside and that I was taking pride in my appearance. But I don't need to justify myself to anyone. Like Jasmine said, I am who I am and I'm at peace with myself. Maybe that's another indicator that we are old souls. Being happy in your own skin and not having to proof yourself to anyone. Dam! I think Jasmine is rubbing off on me. Old souls! What was I thinking more like a loving mum anddad and growing up in a positive environment?
Jasmine picks up the last piece of helmet and casually walks over to a patch of grass that hasn't been shredded by spinning tire tread. With her back to me she kneels down carefully onto the disturbed earth that surrounds the lonely patch and places the pieces down like theywere once alive and precious to her. During these profound moments jasmine's movements are fluent and effortless, it's almost like she's floating. She stays still and knelt down for amoment longer and then suddenly springsstraight up like a jack in the box, her legs out stretched and toes pointing down as she gracefullylifts of the ground. She pauses in mid air fora split second then spins aroundlike a ballerina on a jewelry box with her arms almost fully extended out to her side, her black floral dress moving in unison with her body.She lands weightlessly in front of me with her eyes closed, her face expressionless. Her display reminded me of the way Wonder Woman would change from mild mannered office clerk to costumed superhero in the old television series.I believe that is exactly what she wanted me to think too, after my comment about her acting like Wonder Woman.Again Jasmine leaves mespeechless and looking like a stunned mullet. Her eyes come to life and she proceeds to struttowards me like a catwalk model and unexpectedly extends her arm and scruffs up my hair as she glides past me.
"Let's go Steve, we have people to save, souls to free and a dictator to topple." Jasmine says grinning as she hops onto our real getaway vehicle.
Lost for words, all I can do is smile. I'm quite convinced that Jasmine isn't a psycho anymore but she certainly is a strange one .I'm sure that "Steve" was the hero's name on the Wonder Woman series to. She's screwing with my head again. STOP SCREWWING WITH MY HEAD JASMINE!! She doesn't even blink an eye lid to my minds loud command. Oh well, I guess she's switched off, her reading my thoughts are the least of my worries at the moment anyway. Without another word I straddle our trusty donkey behind her and we head down the road of uncertainty.
A feeling that this is the calm before the storm hits me as the dark and silent country side passes me by. An eerie shroud veils this once proud farming community and it has my nerves on high alert. I try to break through these thoughts and enjoy the peace that the silence offers. I imagine that the cool breeze flowing past my face is whisking my worries away. Within seconds my mind is completely empty and the information my senses are collating are meaningless. My eyes break my minds vigil soon after with an image that can't be ignored. It's the shadowy outline of a familiar row of trees that stand proudly on the edge of our property.
"Jasmine!" I shout to gain her attention urgently.
"Steve!" She replies, turning her head slightly to the side.
"Pull into the next driveway on the left!" I instruct.
She takes her right hand of the handle bars and gives me the thumbs up signal of approval. With all the excitement and with my urgency to explore town I didn't even consider stopping at our home but when I saw those trees my heart filled with hope. Hope that maybe, just maybe Sarah's hiding out here after escaping Yin's evil strangle hold or maybe she's here but under his control? Or the worst case scenario, where her body is completely under his control and has no warm feelings towards me at all that could hold her back from tearing me apart limb by limb. My hope turns to hopelessness in the blink of an eye.
If Sarah's under his control I'd rather not face her at all. I haven't even given it a thought as to how I'd tackle an evil Sarah that's hell bent on ruining my day. I'm torn between my heart and my head. Do I give into the anticipation and excitement that I feel cursing through my veins and risk an emotionally charged encounter that would probably end in disaster?
Or do I suppress my romantic feelings, sail on by the house and temporally lay my hearts desires to rest and keep my focus on bringing Yin to his knees. That way I don't even have to encounter Sarah, saving myself heartache and keeping my head in the game. Besides Yin would have the upper hand in such an encounter because if I was forced to defend myself against a wild creature that looks like Sarah I'd almost certainly let my emotions get the better of me. Any hesitation in a confrontation like that could spell my demise. An untimely reunion like of that nature would be useless at best and of no benefit to anyone.
Come on dude, you have to make a decision, and quickly. The entrance to our house is fast approaching. The very thought of seeing Sarah has my heart beating double time. Dam it! Do I give in to logic or love? The words "don't worry, carry on", Are on the tip of my tongue. Where almost on top of the driveway! No! My heart won't let me deny Sarah. I swallow my words and hope for the best but prepare for the worst. I guess you could say that curiosity got the better of me to and we all know what happened to the cat don't we? Well, it's lucky that I'm not a cat.
I take a deep breath as we pull in. All is about to be revealed and it makes me sick to the stomach with that horrible sensation when you know you have stepped into a situation that you may not be able to back out of. I wish I would simply wake up from this nightmare. The letterbox is still intact which gives me a false sense of hope that all is normal. As we make our way down the gravel drive I notice a bright orange glow radiating through the tightly woven braches of the hedge that obscures the view of the house. Then the smell of burning wood hits me and knocks my heart to the canvas.
As we round the corner of the hedge I'm hit with the first glance of what use to be our home. There before me lies a smoldering heap of ash and charred remains. All my earthly possessions either melted, burnt or completely obliterated. A macabrely twisted and tortured sculpture crafted by Yin's sick mind. Jasmine pulls up just short of where our front porch use to be and steadies her moped as I exit the passengers seat with a heavy heart. I stand in front of the ruins and stare blankly, completely lost in a torrent of mixed emotions.
The orange glow I saw through the hedge belongs to a splattering of meteors nestled amongst the carnage. Their original red faced anger is now just a menacing flicker that spits and sparkles with a volatile mixture of red, white and yellow embers. If not for their destructive background I could easily be seduced by their colourful and enticing disguise. But I'm not because they've decimated my car, our house and everything in it. I feel like pissing on them and turning their sparkly smile upside down.
Sarah! My god, Sarah might be under this smoldering heap. My heart sinks to an all time low as I struggle to hold back from throwing up.
"Jasmine!!" I yell out in desperation.
She turns to look at me and sits up to attention. Before she can speak in continue my desperate plea.
"Sa, Sa, Sarah could be in this mess! I need you to light up the area so I can check." I stutter out loud.
She rushes over with her moped at the ready and it's headlight on full beam. Dam where do I start? Where would I hide in a meteor shower? Got it! Under the solid Rimu dinning table that would sit right about there.
"Concentrate the light right there!" I command Jasmine while pointing to the exact spot. She directs the light without saying a thing and with a blank expression on her face.
I wade through the charred remains to the lit up area and begin swiping aside the debris in search of Sarah's own charred remains.
"She's not here Steve!" Jasmine shouts out without a doubting tone in her voice.
"I have to be sure!!" I scream back like a man possessed as I upturn the remnants of the table. She's not here!
"You're wasting your time!" Jasmine retorts.
I shut her out of my mind and spitefully continue my rubble rampage. Who the hell does she think she is anyway? This is my life, and possibly the love of my life scattered around me. O.k. there's nothing here, onto the next area.
"Light!!" I command.
Without question Jasmine shifts the light over uncovering another twisted mess. I can't stop until I've examined every last inch. Like I said "seeing is believing". I sift mindlessly as my imagination theorizes Sarah's possible fate. The horrific and traumatizing scene repeats itself over and over in my head and it's sending me insane. I can feel an exponential anger welling up inside me as the images gnaw away at my patience.
Sarah screams like a banshee, her fair coloured skin turns to black as it melts and slides off the muscle tissue below. She desperately slaps at the relentless flames but the blackened skin on her hands start to melt too which sends her into an irreversible state of shock. She twists and turns wildly in a last ditched effort to ease the pain and burning but the flames increase in size as they steal her precious oxygen away causing her lungs to draw in fire instead of air. She falters and keels over having finally succumbed to the fiery beast.
I convert the energy produced by my anger and frustration into strength and stamina to finish the task.
After what seems like an eternity I stand up and take a well earned stretch as I look back on the unruly mess I've made. By my hand the somewhat orderly sculpture has now turned into something abstract. In an automatic response to ease the stress my body sends me into a fit of hysterical laughter.
"Sarah's alive! She's alive!" I shout out the top of my lungs while steering up into the heavens like someone up there is listening.
"Hey, man in the moon! Guess what?... Sarah's alive!!"
Seeing the stars trigger a daunting realization. The meteors might have squashed Sarah to a fleshy pulp!
The man possessed shifts into gear again as my lunacy continues. I line up the nearest meteor and shoulder charge it trying to roll it over to check if she's underneath. It doesn't even budge an inch but my shoulder does. The "pop" I heard as I hit the meteor must have been my shoulder dislocating as now I don't seem to have any control over my arm at all. I twist my body from side to side and my right arm sways as it dangles from my shoulder joint like a chicken's broken neck. O.k. well I guess I can't use that shoulder again.
Goal driven and with the determination of a mountain climber I line up the meteor with my left shoulder. As I run full steam ahead the meteor turns to dust right before my eyes. Without having time to stop I follow through with my reckless action and lunge at where the meteor was standing. Unbalanced I lose control of my footing and tumble over onto the brittle wood below that easily gives into the weight of my body. Unable to break the fall with my useless limb I crash into the fire hardened ground, the side of my body and face taking the brunt of the impact. I squirm around in the debris as I try in vain to push myself up with my dead arm.
Once again anger and frustration take hold but this time there is no positive conversion and no escape. I let out an angry cry that could be heard a mile away.
My torrent of emotions turns into a torrent of tears born of anger, frustration and self pity. My pent up emotions have now been purged as I lay in silence and let out a long, deep sigh of relief. The pain and feeling of helplessness set in once again. I really have to quit this bad habit of doing myself a mischief. I want to laugh but I'm in to much pain. I hear someone making their way towards me. They are light footed and very agile.
"Tut, tut, tut, Steve, Steve, Steve, I don't know why you have to be so stubborn. I could have saved you all that pain and anguish. If I didn't know better I'd think that you were under Yin's control with all that anger and bravado. I have a right mind to leave you here all night to suffer and think about your hasty actions so you wont try a stunt like that again, but luckily for you I am a nice person." Jasmine says reassuringly with a hint of smugness.
I just let out a muffled grunt of agreeance.
"O.k. well that's settled then. Now, are you convinced that Sarah isn't amongst the rubble?"
"Hmmmm." I mumble.
"So be it"
With those words comes a flash of bright light.
I open my eyes to find myself sitting behind Jasmine on her moped as we sail on down the dark and eerie country road to town. I start to think about how I ended up here but instead I put it down to a "need to know basis" and I really don't need to know…