Will died. An hour after he’d arrived at the hospital apparently. The knife had gone through his heart and one of his lungs (he’d been stabbed twice). The school was given a week off because of it.
The boy that had stabbed Will (Eilarch) had been found on the motorway 25 kilometres away! The police had said he’d had to be running extremely fast for over 5 hours to get there that quickly. He was given a 20-year sentence in jail and he was to get mental help.
Dillim and Carol’s boat left at 6pm, Dillim was having a last look around the town. The man who bought the farm let them have a look around it as long as they didn’t break anything.
“It’s all changed,” Layower noticed. “The hen house has been replaced with an ugly metal one, and they’re using machines to milk the cows! It’s discraceful.”
“All farms nowadays are like that,” Dillim said.
They left after only 10 minutes, and Layower vowed never to go back there. It was starting to get dark, so they went home.
When Dillim left Layower would have 9 and half months of loneliness. Whenever he talked to people at his school they hid stuff in their pockets and ran off. He hoped that someone new would move to Neyunn, but it was in the middle of nowhere. A boy called Francis had moved to Neyunn 3 weeks ago, but by 5 days Layower caught him smoking with his new friends.
It had got dark surprisingly quickly. And there was nobody outside, when usually at least the milkman’s son would be around vandalising the wall under the bridge.
When they went into the house all the lights were off.
“Mum? Dad!” Layower called.
“SSHHH!” someone cried. Layower turned on a light.
“Turn that off!” Dad shouted and slammed his hand against the switch.
“What?” whispered Dillim.
“We have to be quiet,” Aunt Carol, whispered back.
“Layower, remember when I said there was that guy killing people in Australia?” Dad said. Layower nodded.
“Well, he relocated here and has hundreds of aeroplanes and bombs,” Dad continued. The government don’t know how he got them, but they think he going to blitz all the towns and cities he can!”
“Why!” Layower cried, quietly.
“He’s mad,” Dad replied.
“Where’s Aunt Valerie?” Dillim asked.
“She was among the randomly chosen to be an air raid warden,” Dad said.
“That’s just like in the war,” Layower exclaimed.
“I know. This isn’t a war though, just terrorism. Now we need to be quiet!”
Nobody said anything for hours. Layower had never heard his Dad sound more scared. In the silence, Layower had plenty of time to think. He seemed to be cursed. First, when he was in Mexico when he almost drowned and was lost for days, then the rock-climbing and Diana, then he moved to Neyunn. His luck had got even worse there. Van, the plane crash (which although hadn’t involved him, it had happened around him), Uncle Robert, almost dying at the cliffs, Will being stabbed and finally – CRASH!
“What’s that!” Dillim shouted.
“They’re here, they saw light!” Dad cried.
“Mum’s out there!” Layower yelled. BANG. It was closer that time.
“In the towns that were destroyed in Australia, nothing was left!” Dad shouted. BANG. The windows on the East side of their house shattered. BANG! There was crashing from upstairs.
“Shouldn’t we evacuate the house?” Layower shouted.
“The bridge outside it sturdy!” Aunt Carol shouted.
The air raid siren started. It was similar to the Second World War ones Layower had heard, yet different. He knew that if it suddenly stopped, his Mum was dead.
They decided to run towards the bridge. Outside, everything seemed to be on fire. The top of their house had been ripped off, and just as they left a flame-bomb landed on it and the house went up.
Before any time had passed, Layower and Dillim had lost everyone else. All they could see was flames. All they could hear was the high-pitched noises of bombs falling.
They got to the bridge, only to find Sarah (a girl in their class) sitting over the body of her dead brother. She was crying.
“Go away!” she shouted.
“This is the only safe place!” Layower shouted. BANG! The ground shook, and Sarah fell into the river, screaming. Dillim almost fell in, but Layower pulled him to the wall. The light of the flash made Layower realise that Sarah was covered in her brother’s blood.
“Where does the river go?” Dillim asked.
“Into a lake towards the south, but there’s a beech-like area she’ll be able to get off at,” Layower said. “If she hasn’t drowned or been blown up.”
Layower was shaking. He could see Dillim was too.
“Do you think we’ll die?” Dillim asked.
Layower couldn’t answer. He was hoping he wouldn’t, but something inside him made him think he would.
They stayed under the bridge for another 5 minutes, without saying anything. Every now and again the bombs stopped, but then the screaming started again.
“Can’t the army come?” Layower cried.
“They’ve probably broken communications or something,” Dillim said.
Suddenly there was a massive crash and the bride caved in.
“Jump into the river!” Layower shouted, but it was too late. Dillim had been crushed by a rock. Another one fell and hit Layower on the head, and he fell into the river.
“Dillim!” he shouted. “DILLIM!”
He was being washed down the river and crashed against the rocks. He was getting sorer and sorer. He grabbed onto the first rock he could.
Down the river, he could see a body at the bottom, slowly being washed down. It was Sarah! There was going to be no survivors…
Everything started getting darker and darker…Layower lost strength to hold onto the rock; he let go. He was washed down the river more, while being bashed more and more. Then, all his senses stopped, he could barely see or hear. He felt water going over his head. Then he felt nothing.
It was cold. That was all Layower could feel; coldness.
He tried opening his eyes. It made no difference, everything was black.
“Hello?” he said. He could hardly say anything.
Then, he saw a figure in the darkness.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“You are safe,” a familiar female voice said.
“Who are you?” Layower repeated.
“I have been here so long I can hardly remember,” she replied.
“Am…Am I dead?” Layower asked.
“No,” she said.
“Then what am I?” he asked.
She said nothing.
Layower walked up to her, his eyes were adjusting to the darkness. He then realised he was wearing different clothes to the ones he was wearing before. It felt like he was wearing nothing, but it also felt like he was wearing a robe of some sort. It was odd.
The woman came into focus; she had brown hair, and was wearing a robe as well, a green one.
“Hello Layower,” she said. Then Layower recognised her. It was Diane!
“Diane!” he cried. “But you died!”
“I don’t feel dead,” she said, smiling.
“How is this possible?” he said.
“We both died,” she answered. “And we’re here. I think this is an after-world.
Layower looked around. “It’s pretty boring.”
“This is an after-world, but not the after-world,” she said. “I’m not able to get through to the real one.”
“Why not?” Layower asked.
“When I died, when I fell, you thought it was your fault,” she explained.
“It was,” he said sadly.
“No, it wasn’t. My harness broke and I grabbed onto your hand,” she said.
“Please, I don’t want to go through it again,” Layower whined.
“But you didn’t let go!,” she exclaimed. “I let go of you.”
“Why?” he asked.
“I was too heavy, and you were so young,” she said. “Your hand was slipping off the rock, and both of us falling would have broken the harness and we’d both have died. I did it to save you.”
Layower didn’t believe her. He was sure it had been his fault.
“I couldn’t get through to the after-world until I’d told you this,” she said.
“But you’d have been waiting for years!” Layower exclaimed.
“I could watch what my friends and family were doing,” she said. “Would you like to see Neyunn one last time?”
“What, to see who’s dead?” he said.
“Yes,” she said. “When people die they all go to a separate place like this, and most of them go to and after-world.”
“Ok then,” he said. The walls suddenly lit up with what looked like Neyunn. It was like watching a film in 360 degrees cinema, except the floor and walls were lit up.
“We’re like ghosts,” she said. “We’re not actually here, but we think we’re here. When people see ghosts, they’re actually seeing people like us. It’s unlikely that we’ll be seen though.”
There was fire everywhere. Almost all the houses had collapsed, and the ones that hadn’t looked like they would soon. The river was stained with blood; was some of it from his body?
“Terrible,” Layower mumbled.
“I know,” Diane agreed.
They walked (or glided, Layower wasn’t sure) towards the broken bridge. Underneath a rock was Dillim. He was dead as well.
“So how do people get from this world to the afterlife?” Layower asked.
“I don’t know,” Diane replied. “I haven’t gone yet. We’ll have to find out.”
That was one thing Layower had remembered about her; she’d always been optimistic.
“Oh look, there’s Mum!” she cried. Their Mum was looking through the wreckage for bodies. She’d soon discover Dillim.
“I don’t want to see her find him,” Layower said. They glided around a bit more, looking for Dad and Aunt Carol.
After a while they found them putting out the house with fire extinguishers. Or what was left of the house.
“The thing about being in this world is you can look into the past or future for about a week,” Diane said. “We could see your funeral.”
Before Layower could answer, the scenery changed and he was in a church. He didn’t recognise it.
“Layower Autumnfield and Dillim Stangelgo, who died in the fires of…” the minister was saying.
“Oh my gosh, this is weird…” Layower said. “This is really weird.”
“At least you had a funeral,” Diane said.
A second later they were back in the darkness.
“Now what?” Layower asked.
“Um… I’m not sure,” she answered. “Wait, what’s that?”
She was pointing at an orange light.
“It looks like a door,” he said.
“This is it!” she said excitedly.
“Will we see Dillim there?” Layower asked.
“I have no idea!” she said, grinning. “We might not see them again; we might not see each other again. Or we could be reincarnated, I really have no idea.”
Layower gulped. He took one last breath (or he though he did, this world felt so different) and stepped forward.
“Let’s go,” he said. They walked through the door, leaving the world forever.
© Copyright 2016 Mathew Nicolson. All rights reserved.
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