"The souls of the departed"
It's the dead of the night and, if I could spare my hand, I swear that I could reach out and touch the moon. It almost covers the entire sky, blocking out all other heavenly bodies from my view. I concentrate on it and my breathing and water treading technique because if I don't, I'll drown.
I'm struggling to stay afloat in a seemingly endless ocean of thick black oil. I call it "the ooze." It smells like poo's.
Ha, ha, ha!
No! I can't laugh. It makes me weak and disrupts my focus.
I regain my composure but my arms and legs are starting to feel like dead weights. A thought enters my mind that I'm not going to make it. It triggers a sense of hopelessness and I start to panic. My steady rhythmic movements turn to desperate flailing. The amount of air I'm sucking in isn't enough to feed my oxygen starved muscles. My heart pumps faster and faster as it fights for my body's survival.
The blood rushing to my head has it pounding like it's going to explode. My muscles have nothing left to give. I sink into the black abyss...
My bodies in complete survival mode now as it sucks in the black ooze hoping that it's oxygen. I'm sucking it in with so much force that my body jerks back and forth. All I can see are little blue and white lights that dance before me in the darkness as the jerking becomes weaker and weaker. My body starts to give up its fight.
A bright light appears from above. It struggles to penetrate the ooze in its gallant attempt to reach out to me.
It illuminates the lifeless scene that consumes my body as a single hand seems too materialize from nowhere.
My mind is hazy but I'm still aware, so I reach up and take hold of the hand, as I do the ooze turns to water and the light bursts into life. The hand starts pulling me towards the surface. My lungs are fully tanked and I have a new lease on life. I can make out a smiling face through the waters slight ripple.
Glistening green eyes and locks of golden blonde hair, it's Sarah! I break through the water's surface and the Sky turns to black. Before me is a familiar face staring down from above. My mind is momentarily blank. As I start to process information again I search my memory banks for her name.
"Welcome back stunt man Steve." The lady says standing over me and smiling.
"Hey..." I reply still searching for her name. Jane, Julie…
"Jasmine!" We both blurt out at the same time.
She smiles sympathetically as I look around to try and get my bearings back. Where's the moon gone? I pat the grass around me wondering why I aren't still in water and where's the ooze gone that was covering my body like a symbiotic skin.
"Sarah, where's Sarah!!" I shout out in desperation.
My emotions engulf me again and I feel lost and alone like I'm still trapped in the ooze. I close my eyes and shake my head to rattle myself back into reality. I reopen my eyes to find Jasmine Still standing above me with the night sky and all its heavenly bodies in proportion, but no Sarah.
"She's not here Steve." Jasmine says softly.
"But I saw her, I touched her hand, I could feel her…It was Sarah, I know it was." I say as my voice tappers and I question what I just witnessed and experienced.
"I'm Sorry Steve, but it was just a vivid dream." She replies while touching me lightly on the shoulder.
"Well the black ooze that stuck to my body like puke to a blanket wasn't a dream, what happened to that?" I say sounding increasingly annoyed.
Jasmine bends down gently beside me and scoops up a palm full of what looks like black snowflakes. She holds the palm of her hand to her mouth and softly blows them into the cool night air. Her breath propels the light substance skyward. I just stare at the moon lit flakes as they tumble and dance like autumn leaves. Watching the show they are putting on has me in a trance. The flakes start to fall too earth along with my mind. That was a nice distraction but what I really want is to revisit my dream; I want to be back with Sarah so bad that it hurts.
"Why did you wake me up anyway?" I say coldly while I eyeball her.
"I didn't intentionally wake you up; I was trying to help you." She replies getting a little touchy herself.
"Help me, HELP ME! Why didn't you help me when I was getting my arse kicked by the monster trucks from hell?" I explode, my anger getting the better of me.
"Because if I'd done that Yin would have realized that I was a formidable foe and either snuffed my life out instantly or made the rest of my life a living hell. If he decided to spare me I would be in the spotlight twenty, four, seven and useless to you, and … everyone else. Besides I did help you, but only after the trucks had vanished." Jasmine says matter-of-factly.
Her logic can't be denied and snaps me out of my angry mode; once again I have to swallow my pride. Isn't it funny how we make so much sense when we are cool, calm and collected and how we spew out non-sense when we let anger get the better of us?
Now that I have calmed myself down a bit I realise that I feel great! The pain that had me fainting is completely vanished. I take a sneaky look at the cuts and bruises on my arm so Jasmine doesn't notice. I don't want to make my astonishment to noticeable and give her a big head. They have completely disappeared too!
I feel brand new and supple like I've been born again! The last time I felt this alive was when I was ten years old and I had just emerged from a deep, clear pool of water that a river ran through. The water flowed down from the mountain top and was so cold that it could freeze the balls off a brass monkey. Whatever Jasmine did puts medical science to shame. Well that settles it, time to give her a big head and swallow my pride, "gulp".
"Yeah, good point, we don't want any undue attention…so how was it that you helped me?" I slip in without sounding to amazed.
"Because I didn't think that all the kings men, and all the kings' horses could've put me together again but now I feel like I could leap a tall building in a single bound." I question hoping that I won't be forced to give an open apology. I believe my change in mood should be thanks enough considering my prides at stake.
"Here, let me help you up Humpty and I'll explain." She retorts mockingly as she gives me a helping hand to my feet.
I knew my reversal of moods wouldn't appease her. She had to get in a cheap shot to put, and keep me in my place. Well, no more mister nice guy!
"Yeah, and while you at it you can explain how you lifted the moped like it was a plastic movie prop?" I add firmly.
"That information is on a need to know basis and… (Jasmine says alone) you don't need to know."We both say at the same time.
"I should've known." I say shaking my head.
"Why are you psychic too?" Jasmine says sarcastically
"No, you are, amongst other things." I say under my breath.
"Pardon." She replies curtly.
"Onto other things." I say trying to disguise my last comment and quickly move on.
"So how did you patch me up and make me feel like superman, wonder woman?"
"Well, you see I entered your brain through your mind and flicked a switch that turns on a super-natural healing process, mending your bones and tissue within minutes." Jasmine says smugly.
"Need to know basis, right?" I say with an unimpressed look all over my face.
"So is there anything you can tell me that isn't a secret?"
"Ah..., that you snort like a pig when you're sleeping." Jasmine says trying to hold back her laughter.
"Anything else?" I say still unimpressed.
"Actually now that you mention it, yes there is. While you were climbing trees and playing with Yin's toys I did something useful and probed the minds of the trucks hoping to find out something of value about our arch enemy and believe it or not they weren't trying to kill you. They actually want you to live; well Yin wants you to live." Jasmine says with a hint of sarcasm.
"Well, that's refreshing." I interrupt.
"Not really, they wanted to torture and torment you, give you hope and then take it away and finally exhaust you and leave you helpless to within an inch of your life, with the expectation that you would recover and fight another day."
"I'm sorry I asked." I say, really sorry that I asked.
"o.k., maybe I should re-phrase my question, anything else of a positive nature?" I say wishing this conversation would end.
"Yeah, they were so excited about your fighting spirit that I believe they will keep you alive till Yins bored with you."
I feel like a court jester who has to impress his king or have his head chopped off.
"So how long do I have?"
"How longs a piece of string? Look, it's to our advantage. You put up a great fight and I'll put you back together again or I could leave you to die if you prefer?" Jasmine says, knowing dam well that I won't give up while Sarah is still alive and kicking.
"No, that's alright I'll play Yin's silly game and take one or more for the team." I say with conviction. I would lay down my life a thousand times over if it meant a chance to save Sarah and other innocent people for that matter.
"I knew that you were a team player, besides I have a tasty titbit to add to our game plan. Yin didn't notice me at all when I read his thoughts and feelings through the trucks. It seems that he is completely preoccupied when in control of his dark creations and in a tormenting frenzy. I still had my protection up though; I won't make that mistake again. He was so engrossed with you that I could've stood in front of him and made stupid faces and he wouldn't have even flinched. So potentially when you're taking another one for the team I could be a fly on the wall in his head gathering Intel that might show up other weaknesses that could spell his demise or at least give us an edge." Jasmine says looking very pleased with her-self.
"I'm quite happy to put my life on the line but are you happy to put your sanity on the line? Taking into consideration the last time you had a close encounter of the first kind with Yin. I mean he almost drove you stark raving mad to the point of no return and this time you will be on his turf, not Sarah's." I say looking concerned.
"Like I already explained, he caught me by surprise when I tried to make contact with your wife. I won't let that happen again and yang came to my rescue anyway." She says looking confident.
"Well that's where you're going to come unstuck because if Yin detects you and your protection fails, he won't be able to do a thing because he doesn't want to Yin to know that he's helping us."
"Don't worry, I'm well aware of the risks but sometimes you need to take a gamble when the stakes are high and the chips are down. I'm certainly not going to go in unprepared, and I certainly don't want to let you or the rest of humanity down but being self centred and holding back to save my own skin isn't in my make-up. If an opportunity arises that can put us ahead of Yin's game I will put my life on the line without hesitation. That's my grand design. That's who I am." Jasmine replies and then kicks the stand on her moped and starts pushing it towards the eerily quiet road. All I can hear is the sound of her shoes swishing through the tall grass. There's no breeze, no crickets chirping, no owls hooting, just complete and utter silence. It's as if all the creatures of the night have vanished or are too scared to let their voices be heard, in fear being found, even in their own domain and under the cloak of darkness.
"Well I can't argue with that." I reply as I catch up after a chill runs down my spine that gives me the hurry up.
That's my grand design? I dread asking what Jasmine means by that and I know that if my curiosity gets the better of me and I do ask that we will be here for another hour as I try and get my head around what she's trying to explain and we just don't have time for that. Hell I might even get the old "it's on a need to know basis" answer and completely waste my breath. I don't really care who or what Jasmine is, only that she is helping pave the way to saving this town and Sarah.
"You know it's not my own life I'm worried about Steve. I'm at peace with myself and the universe." Jasmine adds as I catch up leaving the darkness behind me.
"It's the souls of the departed that plague me. Souls trapped in limbo after suffering a traumatic end to their world at the hands of Yin or one of his many minions. When a soul departs its earthly confines after a horrific death it becomes bogged down with negative feelings that block it from moving on. Physical and emotional pain, helplessness, hopelessness, and the shock of the event act as a ball and chain that keep the soul from ascending home. Left to their own devices these souls could spend an eternity freeing themselves from this heavy burden. In an attempt to change their cruel fate they relive their lives over and over again, only to find themselves retelling the same sad story. All they needed to do was too accept what had happened and they would've been freed. It's as simple as that. Well it's as simple as that for someone who is at peace with themselves but that's rarely the case when a life's true path has been cut short by another's hands. I can save these poor souls from their own spiritual prison. Sorry Steve I know that I'm rambling on about things that don't make sense to you, so to put it bluntly. We are not only on a quest to save the living; we are also on a quest to save the dead."...