Author: Praxius PM
It was a normal day at the mall. Then the world cracked into millions of pieces and David died. Well, since that's the start of our story, I guess he didn't really die. The identity of the mysterious shadow is revealed! Also, David gets really really mad and destroys stuff. And then there's lots of fire.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy - Chapters: 10 - Words: 21,727 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 10-01-12 - Published: 08-20-12 - id: 3051998
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Chapter Zero: Dead
David closed his eyes and breathed deeply. Air, or whatever he was breathing, entered his nose slowly, filling his lungs with gas until they began to strain against his rib cage. Then he opened his mouth into a small 'O' and blew all of the air inside his lungs out between his lips. Then he breathed in again, letting his mind go blank as he repeated the often reflexive act of breathing. Breathe in, breathe out. Inhale, exhale. David felt the tension leaving his arms as he relaxed and focus solely on his breathing. Eventually, his hands stopped shaking, and his heart rate returned the barely noticed thumping in his chest. "I am calm." He thought to himself. "I am serene. I am at peace." He opened his eyes, slowly, hoping in vain to see something different.
"I am still dead." He realized, trying and failing to maintain his relaxed state.
David looked out into the unending world of moving colors he floated in. The colors pulsed, switching textures and hues, mixing around each other slowly in a confusing mess that reminded David of Tie-dye T-shirts. Only Tie-Dye didn't give him such a headache. To his left, a red suddenly flared into near sun-like brightness, and David flinched away from the light reflexively. Unfortunately, his flinching also altered his floating direction, flipping him slowly over his own right shoulder until his feet were above his head. David flailed, trying in vain to turn himself around back to his original position, but there was nothing to grab on to, so he ended up flailing randomly as he spun haphazardly. David squeezed his eyes closed tighter as he tried to right himself; the random colors were sometimes bright enough to leave flashes in his vision even if they were closed. David struggled almost uselessly against the spinning. That was probably the worst part. Even though there was nothing here in… wherever he was, there was still knowledge of what was up and what was down. But there was no gravity, so nothing was pulling his feet to the ground and thus no way to truly right himself.
Finally, through mostly trial and error, David stopped the major rotations from occurring. Unfortunately, he couldn't stop them all, and was now slowly turning along his length like a hot dog on a spit. David groaned, placing his hand in front of his mouth in a symbolic attempt to suppress his nausea. A darker green burned brightly through his eyelids to his right, and David slapped his hand over his eyes to blot it out.
David let himself drift for a while, calming himself down and letting his mind go blank. "So," he finally said out loud, "This is what death feels like."
Only silence greeted him. There wasn't any type of echo, so he wasn't near anything solid. It was like he was the only thing in this place. "Anybody out there?" David yelled, trying to make his voice boom across the vastest distance he could imagine. "Somebody help me! Where am I? What's going on?"
Nothing happened. The colors didn't change anymore then they normally did, and David's body kept rotating the exact same way.
"This is boring!"
David sighed. "Ok, all that hype religion gives out about the afterlife and heaven is a whole bunch of B.S." he thought sardonically. "If I get reincarnated, I have to at least remember that." Suddenly, he giggled. "That would be awesome! Newsflash: Five year old decries existence of afterlife. Says it's just a bunch of boring floating and pretty colors. Religion dies forever." He could imagine himself standing in front of a podium, his reincarnated self speaking to hundreds of reporters. Of course, just playing the odds, his reincarnation would most likely be a Chinese boy.
David let the smile fade from his face. How the hell had this happened, anyway? It was just a normal day, and he was hanging out with his friends at the mall, and then, with no warning at all, he was dead. Did he miss something, some kind of message hinting at his impending death? David wasn't sure. It had sure seemed pretty average; the day had been chilly, so he had thrown on a sweatshirt after waking. He ate his breakfast and drove out to pick up his friends so they could hang out at the local mall. And then they had simply wandered around. There wasn't any specter of doom or crazy homeless man shouting the end of the world was coming, they just walked around checking out one store after another. Some guys bought things, others didn't. David even bought himself a few DVDs and a present for his mother's upcoming birthday. Then they had sat down in the food court to eat some lunch, and all hell broke loose.
The world began to shake, and everybody stopped midsentence, frozen in fear. Tables rattled, things slipped to the floor, but the people didn't move. It was too shocking; David had never been in an earthquake before, and for the moment his mind had gone completely blank. "What do I do?" his mind rebounded uselessly. He stood there frozen with indecision for maybe five seconds, and that was just enough time for everything to get worse. The world slapped him sideways, throwing him into a table so hard the air was driven from his lungs. Coughing roughly, he rolled to the side on top of the table to see a large chunk of what appeared to be the wall flying towards him. He gasped, trying to scream but not having the needed air to do so, and rolled off the table in an attempt to escape.
David's face slapped the ground first, knocking his brain about in his head and causing his mind to blank. He felt more than saw the table he was previously laying on fly upwards as the impact with the chunk of the wall catapulted it into the air. There was screaming and yelling, all mixing together in a mess David couldn't understand. Groaning, he pushed himself to his knees, trying to look around for his friends. Then the crack occurred. It wasn't just a crack in the earth or a crack in the linoleum of the floor; David had heard those just recently. No, this was a crack so loud and so present that David was convinced that it was everything snapping into millions of tiny bits all at once. The floor, the ceiling, the walls, the table, his clothes, his head, his arms, his legs, and anything else were torn asunder in one impossible sound of the universe finally breaking. David's heart stopped, and he fell.
And now he was here, in this multicolored madness, floating along with nothing around him. The only logical explanation was death. He was dead, and this was the afterlife, a boring swim through eye-burning color madness. "The best part," David thought sarcastically, "was that NOTHING WAS HAPPENING!"
"This is Bullshit!" David finally screamed. "I've been in this floating crap land for God-Damned EVER! Where am I?!"
David was only mildly surprised that nothing happened. He was expecting it after his other tries had failed just as spectacularly, but it didn't make him any less pissed off.
"God damn it! I don't want to be here!" David screamed loudly, flailing wildly with his limbs attempting to get whoever put him here's attention. "Let me out!"
And then he was falling faster. David could feel the wind whipping past him, and it felt like it was going faster than normal. David risked opening his eyes only to see only pure white, still too bright to look cleanly through. "Yes!" David yelled, "Finally, I'm out of that-"
Something slammed into his back so suddenly he bit his tongue nearly in half. Whatever it was gave slightly, and then threw him back up in the air as he tried to return oxygen into his lungs. David stretched his arms behind him, groping behind him for whatever he had slammed into. His left arm found something hard and rough, but his right arm only found air. Subconsciously he realized that the thing had not thrown him straight up, but slightly off to one side, meaning he was falling to the side of the object and could again crash into something. Or worse, smash into the ground. His left arm scraped at the object, his fingernails tearing into the rough skin of it, but he had no real purchase on the object. He turned in mid air, trying to see the object so he could grab it, when his left arm was suddenly grabbed by something long and thin. It jerked his arm painfully, nearly dislocating it, but the jerk arrested his fall enough to wrap his right arm and eventually his legs around the object. David gripped it for dear life, ignoring pain and the uncomfortable twist his left arm was experiencing, knowing subconsciously that if he lost contact with whatever he was griping he would fall to his unavoidable death. For a moment he was slipping, and he dug his hands even further into the object for more purchase, but his left arm held strong and he was able to pull himself from the side of it onto the top. David continued to strain his muscles keeping his body wrapped around the object like a barnacle, not relaxing even a little as he caught his breath. He counted slowly in his head to one hundred, and then sat up slowly and carefully to try not to fall off the object, extracting his left arm mostly by feel.
David looked at the object, and for a moment he couldn't recognize what it was. Whatever it was, it was long and brown, covered with a rough uneven hide with small thin pieces extending off of the main part. David felt himself staring like a moron, trying but failing to connect what this object was. "I know this." David muttered to himself. This is a … tree."
David shook his head. Did he give himself a concussion during his frantic climbing? It was a tree branch. He was sitting on a tree branch. David pushed on it a little, and it gave a shake just like a tree branch should.
"What the fuck is a tree doing…?" And David froze. Beyond the branch he was standing on was only air. Lots of air. Too much air. David looked to left instead of down and gasped. There was a mountain top over to the left at the same level he was at.
David grabbed the tree branch tightly as he dared. He wasn't just in a tree; David was on a branch in a giant tree as tall as a mountain. A giant tree. Next to a mountain. "More fucking afterlife crap." David muttered, closing his eyes to pretend he wasn't several thousand feet in the air supported only by a fragile tree branch.
It didn't work.
David spat out some blood from his lightly bleeding tongue and tried to drag himself backwards on top of the branch. He moved slowly, keeping himself as tightly pressed to the branch as he dared, scraping his arms and legs against the bark rather than release his grip. He kept his eyes closed; only opening them whenever he encountered a branch that impeded his movement. Before he knew it, David had reached the trunk, and had scrambled into a sitting position. "Ok, David," David started, talking to himself. "You need to find out where you are. You need to figure out where to go, and you can't do that with your eyes closed. So, just… open your eyes and look around. Not down, just around."
If David recognized his need to discover his location, his body certainly didn't want to. It was only with extreme reluctance that David was able to get his eyes open, and then for only little spurts of time. Those spurts eventually transferred into longer looks that only brought up more confusion. "So, on the other side of the mountain to my left, there's at least an open plain that looks pretty clear. That would probably be the best place to look for people. Straight ahead is a bigger mountain, and to the right is the ocean." David listed in his head. "The best plan right now is go left over the mountain to the plain, and then look around for civilization." David nodded, and carefully stood up. "All I have to do is climb down this tree."
Suddenly, as he looked down, he realized that all his plans required him to somehow get off of this giant tree, which seemed pretty damn impossible. It was probably a mile to the ground, and David was not a climber by any stretch of the imagination.
"God Damn it!" David screamed as loud as he could. This was going to suck.