The knock at my door

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

A soul awakens in a world which they are not familiar with.

I awoke to the sounds of dripping water. It was rhythmic, seemingly matching pace with the beat of my heart, and splattered tinier dots of moisture onto my ear as they collided with the miniature pool that had begun to form. Where was it coming from? I did not know.

 

My arms struggled to move and felt as though pinned by fallen tree trunks. Despite my brain's numerous attempts to stimulate them, a pathetic wiggle was all I could manage. The cold floor beneath them nibbles away at my warm exposed skin. 

 

Where am I?

 

My eyelids wrestle against the chains of lethargy holding them down, managing to pry themselves open just a crack. A hazy filter of eyelashes obscures my vision. The world beyond them seemed bright, almost blindingly so. I shut my eyes once more, ready to return to whatever slumber I had just woken from, the steady rhythm of dripping water acting as my hypnotization tool, assisting me back to sleep.

 

It was then when the knocks on the door came. Thrice it rang out, each strong and loud enough to shake my body awake. I suppose it was less of a polite knock and more of a barbaric pounding. Dried bits of eye gunk fell from my eyes with a simple swipe of my hand as I lifted my lethargic weighted body off the floor. 

 

My weary eyes took a moment to scan around the room I awoke in. A bed at my feet and a desk where my head had been, atop which sat a fallen cup of water. The room was what you'd expect from any other bedroom. However, what piqued my interest most about it wasn't the fact that it was absurdly tidy, but rather the fact that the entire room was devoid of any colour whatsoever. It reminded me most of those old timey movies I had seen, a world draped in black and white, as well as some drab greys stained in between. 

 

Hang on… Old timey movies? Where did I remember that from?

 

The barbaric poundings against the door rang out once again, it sounded… distant… like it was coming from beyond the door. With the help of a nearby chair, I clambered to my feet and plodded my way shakily towards the door. The hallway beyond shared much similarities with the room I had awoken in, plain, drab, lifeless. I shuffled my way towards the end of the hallway where it opened into a much larger living room, only crashing into the walls about three times as I did so. 

 

A table stood not too far from what I had assumed to be the main entrance into this house. It was small, allowing probably a maximum of 4 people to sit together at a time judging by the amount of empty chairs that accompanied the not so empty table. 

 

There seemed to be naught a soul within this place, I wonder what happened to them? The plate of food set upon the simply constructed wooden table catches my eye. Upon its surface sat 3 plates. Each were intricately decorated surfaces, with food filled right to their edges, none of which seemed to excite my taste buds like it should have. I guess it was mostly owing to the monochromatic black and white that was splashed all over them.

 

Before I could get too lost in thought, the inane pounding at the door returned once again, this time causing me to flinch at its abruptness. As I suspected, it was coming from the nearby door.

 

"Strange…" I found myself muttering aloud as I cast an eye through the peephole into the hallway beyond. Nothing. Not a single soul. My hand rested uneasily on the handle to the door as I contemplated my decision. Finally, with a hard gulp to push the fear that was ready to jump out of my mouth, I pressed down on the handle and swung the heavier than expected door open.

 

Standing there, right in front of the door, was a figure cloaked in a kind of blackish haze. It's form seemed humanoid, yet it was also mostly irregular. The surface of its hazy "body" seemed almost alive, turbulent and chaotic even. It had no mouth or any other facial features to speak of, save for the 2 slanted yellow orbs that levitated amongst the haze at eye level. 

 

I wanted to scream. I wanted to run. I wanted to slam the door and return to the room I had awoken in. This was all a bad dream, I was sure of it.

 

"No no, this is most definitely not a dream." The figure answered, reading my thoughts directly. It's voice was neither distinctly male nor female, but rather a blend of a multitude of voices. Before I could open my mouth to question it, the figure reached out and stuck it's hand directly into my chest. For a moment, I thought for sure that I was dead. Killed by an unknown supernatural being in an unfamiliar world.

 

But as I traced the length of its arm down to my chest, I quickly realised that I was not in fact dead. It was a strange feeling, being able to feel the figure's hand gently caressing my beating heart.

 

"Hmmm… A broken hearted soul I see… Life wasn't at all kind to you now huh?" The figure's eyes seemed to droop a little, as though sympathetic.

 

"Were? Wait, hold on a minute! What do you mean by that?!" I immediately began to question.

 

"Ah… I see… You are not supposed to be here yet. Tell me young one, why have you come here early?" The figure's eyes went from my heart to my own.

 

"Early? What-? What are you talking about? Who are you?! What is this place?!" I continued to questioned the figure as I made an attempt at grasping its arm. However, like grabbing smoke from an extinguished candle, all my hand ever did was temporarily swat away whatever the blackish haze was. To add insult to my futile efforts, the figure's arm simply reverted to normal after I had given up.

 

"Right now, your physical body is balanced between both Life and Death. And your soul has been brought here while we await to see in which favour it tips towards. As for myself, I am without name, and my purpose is to guide you back to the land of the living, or into the light where you may forever rest easy in the realm of the dead." The figure finally retracted it's hand from my chest.

 

"I must repeat myself, young one, why have you come early into this realm? You are not yet due." The figure stretched its body to draw it's face closer to mine, it's yellow eyes stared deep into my own.

 

"I… don't remember how I got here…" My eyes fell away from the bright yellow glow.

 

"Interesting…" The figure's body snapped back to its normal height in an instant like a tightly wound spring.

 

"Well… I know that I'm very much alive, so why don't you send me back to the land of the living?" I almost surprised myself with how quickly I adapted to such an unusual situation.

 

"Unfortunately, I cannot do that. Those wishing to return to the land of the living must first possess a strong desire to live, of which you do not. Without it, it is highly likely that you will return to this realm once more. Though not impossible, it is extremely rare for a Human to be given more than 1 extra chance at life." The figure glided past me and went towards the window.

 

"Would that really be so bad? Doesn't everyone need to die someday?" I hurried after the figure.

 

"Yes, but having souls depart earlier than they are supposed to creates more paperwork for us to do." The figure spun around to meet my gaze once more upon reaching the window.

 

"Even spirits like you have to do paperwork huh?" I flashed a half smile at the shadowy figure.

 

"Of course not, that was what you Humans call a joke." The figure's eyes squeezed themselves shut in what I assumed was it's way of portraying laughter.

 

"That was a very lame joke then." I said flatly.

 

"I apologize. This very existence we are all a part of runs on a balance. The number of souls being passed into the afterlife and being created are part of that balance." The figure's eyes returned to normal.

 

"A small error in either one of them could be catastrophic to this fabric of existence as we know it. And that is not what they would want." The figure's eyes dropped into a worried stare.

 

"They? Who's that?" I landed my bottom on the nearby sofa, which felt soft yet strangely uncomfortable within just moments of planting my behind on it.

 

"Never you mind. For now, let's figure out why exactly you are here, shall we? Now, where exactly did you wake up?" The figure's eyes stared blankly at me.

 

"Over in that room, the one with the open door." I waved my index finger towards the point of interest I had just described.

 

"Very well." The figure flew across the floor effortlessly.

 

"Hey, since you don't have a name, would you mind if I gave you one? Maybe something simple like Shadow?" I questioned the shadowy figure as I shut the door behind us.

 

"If that is what you wish." Shadow replied with zero hesitation in its voices. It's body elongated itself once again, this time stretching to every corner of the room to allow its eyes to closely inspect every nook and cranny. Meanwhile, I found myself sifting through the pile of papers scattered across the desk. What I initially thought were simple blank pieces of paper quickly revealed themselves to be scrawlings of layered text on the other side. The texts looked as though written by one who had long lost their mind. They were also overwritten so much that the paper itself could have been mistaken for being dyed black originally. It was hard to make out, but the text on that particular paper seemed to say

 

Not good enough.

 

There was something about the paper and it's mess of words which seemed to pull me in, separating me from the world around and sucking me into an endless void. The words from the paper echoed endlessly within my head.

 

"Are you quite alright?" Shadow's very many voices managed to snap me back to the room. I tossed aside the insidious piece of paper before drawing my still trembling hand to my chest.

 

"I'm… I'm fine… I think…" My throat croaks out a dry cough. There was a new unpleasant feeling wrapped around my neck.

 

Shadow's elongated body stretched over the desk I was standing by, a new pair of arms grew from its body as it began sifting through the mess. It didn't take long before it found yet another piece of paper similar to the one I had tossed away.

 

I wish I didn't exist.

 

It was not as overwritten as the one before, and was written quite tamely compared to the previous mad scrawlings. Shadow's eyes stared blankly at the paper.

 

"I wonder… Pardon me young one, but would you mind doing something for me?" From Shadow's body grew yet another pair of arms, which picked up a nearby pen and paper before handing them over to me.

 

"What's this about?" I asked, cautiously retrieving the items from its grasp.

 

"A theory, if you will. I assume you understand what I am doing." Shadow's extra limbs retreated back into its irregular body.

 

"I didn't write any of those if that's what you're wondering. But I'll humor you this time." I began scribbling the same words onto the paper.

 

I wish I didn

 

"Is something the matter? Your pen has ceased moving." Shadow's eyes flickered back and forth between my hand and myself.

 

"Ngh… My head… hurts…" The pen falls from my grip. A new and growing pain threatened to split my head in two, forcing my legs to buckle beneath me and my hands to clutch the sides of my head.

 

Shadow, seemingly unconcerned about my current wellbeing, proceeded to retrieve my uncompleted penmanship and compare it with the note from the table.

 

"It is unmistakably a match, as I thought." It set aside both pieces of paper before floating over to my side.

 

"What does… ngh… that mean? And could you… argh… help me with this headache already?" I could hardly even sit up.

 

"I'm afraid I am not able to do anything with regards to the new pains you are experiencing for I am simply a guide." Cold as it may have been, I could tell that it was not lying. Within a matter of seconds afterwards, the pain in my mind began to subside, and with it came fragments of memories of a life before I awoke in this world.

 

"Hey Shadow… What's it like over on the other side?" I couldn't find the strength to pick myself off the ground.

 

"I do not know. What I do know is that you seemed to have come to this realm of your own volition, though it is not your time yet." Shadow stood idly by my tired body.

 

"I came here hoping to get away from living. I thought that this would be an easy escape. But I guess it's not that simple huh?" The uncomfortable feeling around my neck grew stronger, prompting yet another dry cough.

 

"Nothing is ever that simple young one. Come, follow me." Shadow floated right over my slumped body and stood patiently by the door. For some reason, I felt compelled to follow it, despite my desire to stay where I was, weighed down by the memories of my life before.

 

"What are we doing out here Shadow?" I asked drearily as I looked around at the world without colour. There was a sun in the sky, but lacked all the feelings of warmth from its regular counterpart. My eyes eventually fell upon a figure dyed in grey. It looked just like another person, but lacked all kinds of details except for their mouth. Cradled within their arms was a balled up piece of fabric, I couldn't really tell what it was from a distance. The womanly figure was speaking to another Shadow, though the sounds of their conversation was completely lost on me, it seemed as though she was distressed about something.

 

"What are they talking about?" I looked over to my own Shadow.

 

"She's asking if her child could be brought back to the land of the living instead of her." Shadow replied.

 

"Why can't they both return?" I asked, though I felt as though I already knew the answer.

 

"The child's body has completely perished. Hers on the other hand, has not." Of course it was just as I thought.

 

"She seems upset." I noted.

 

"Of course. The death of a child is never easy for a parent, but she has to understand that it was also the child's time to go. They decided upon that the moment the child was created." Shadow sounded sympathetic.

 

"Isn't that a little unfair?" I turned back to Shadow, who was already floating along to its next destination.

 

"Rules are rules. Nobody gets special treatment." Shadow's words felt final and were entwined with just a twinge of defeat.

 

Our next destination saw us heading towards a nearby hospital, whereby a male figure, similar to the female figure before, was speaking with yet another Shadow. He was seated on one of the many empty beds, lacking facial features save for his mouth.

 

"What are they talking about?" I asked Shadow.

 

"He's talking about his fiancée. They've been with each other ever since childhood, and it seems like they were supposed to wed in about a month from today." Shadow replied.

 

"What happened?" My question was met with a slightly longer than usual pause from Shadow.

 

"He wishes he had more time, even if it was just a little while longer. He feels as though he's let his fiancée down by leaving so suddenly." Shadow paused, its eyes refusing to peel away from the male soul.

 

"He must really care for them huh? Can't he be given more time? Even just a little longer?" My gaze jumps between the two of them.

 

"The rules are absolute. Like I said, nobody gets special treatment young one. There is no choice when it comes to one's time to leave their loved ones." Shadow finally peeled it's gaze away from the pair and floated its way out of the ward. The uncomfortable feeling around my throat closed once again, prompting a breathless wheeze and a dry cough.

 

Along the way to our final destination, I began to take further notice of the numerous souls placed within this realm between Life and Death. Most, if not all, seemed distressed. And most, if not all, according to Shadow, were desperately bargaining with their Shadows to return to the land of the living.

 

"Shadow, why did you bring me to see those souls?" I asked, massaging my neck.

 

"I wanted you to see, and understand." Shadow answered vaguely.

 

Our final destination ended at a particularly familiar place, I'd recognized it as soon as I spotted it from the outside.

 

We were back where we started.

 

Home.

 

My home.

 

The unseen force around my neck was growing stronger and stronger, bringing me to my knees as I began struggling for breath.

 

"Come now, we do not have much time left." Shadow floated its way towards the room I awoke in, leaving me behind to awkwardly stumble and clamber my way in.

 

By the time I reached the room, I was practically on all fours, gasping for breath as though I had just ran a 20 kilometer race. Breathing became an ever growing chore as I achingly crawled my way back towards the center of the room I had awoken in. Shadow simply stood there silently.

 

"It seems you have founded your will to live once again. It is now safe for you to return to the land of the living." Shadow peered over my slowly weakening body.

 

"Tell me something… Did I really have no desire to live before?" The words exiting my mouth were weak and barely audible.

 

"I just wanted to make sure that you would not be back here until it was time." Shadow extended an arm out of its haze-like body and rested its hand over my eyes.

 

"We'll meet again…" I could hear its voices faintly call my name at the end.


 

I wake to the sound of dripping water. It's close to me, judging by its sound and the fact that my ear was getting gently splashed with tinier droplets with every drop that falls.

 

My arms tremble a little as I bring them up to my neck. My soft fingers dance across my bruised skin, eventually rubbing against the rough scratchy surface of the rope that looped around my neck. The cool floor beneath me nibbles away at my warm exposed skin. 

 

I am in my room.

 

My eyelids flutter open in an instant, treating my eyes to the sight of a calming baby blue wall. Upon its surface was the sun's yellowish setting rays filtering in through the blinds. The evening birds are chirping away just outside my window, their evening calls, once considered annoying, now seem almost therapeutic to my ears. My eyes close once again for only a moment's respite, only to fly open at the knock on my door.

 

 


Submitted: March 08, 2021

© Copyright 2021 somerandompseudonym. All rights reserved.

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Black Dog

Really creative, I loved shadow and your unique vision of an afterlife. Check for the tense throughout. Really good story.

Mon, March 8th, 2021 9:11pm

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