This is a story that has been following me in the back of my mind. Dedicated to my niece, who has threatened to beat me with a chicken if I don't put this story up for everyone to read.


It was a normal day when the sun first began to rise over the golden fields of wheat and barley. The farmers were going to work, and the kids were preparing for the last day of school. It was a normal, mundane day.

All of that was turned upside down with the discovery of Michael Keys.

When they found him, he was already in his cook's clothing, reading to open up the Rustic Hand; the local café. Michael Keys, also lovingly known as Rocky, was laying face-down on the floor in a pool of his own blood. The keys to the place were still clutched tightly in his left hand. Above him, one of the lighting fixtures had been carelessly ripped away, leaving open wiring out in the open.

As they turned him over, the wounds of his demise could no longer hide. His throat lay gashed open, and there was a gaping hole where his heart used to beat. Rocky's grand, handsome face was frozen forever in time.

When the farmers were just getting out to greet the day was when Rocky died. It had been a normal day, until someone had ripped the life away from him. When the day ended, it became a night of mourning.

And it is here that the story begins, where one life ends. Here is where the journey begins to bring the person who committed such a crime to justice, by any means necessary. And here is where the life lessons of the world will make men and women out of children, with the dead as their teacher.

Chapter 1: Fallen

He was not a morning person, but today was different. The music of hip-hop played loudly through his headphones as he danced around in happiness. His messy brown hair, grown down to his shoulders, flowed in time with his mismatched dance. Quickly, he threw on fresh clothing while changing the song to something sadder, softer, and more emotional. The clothes he wore were greatly second-hand, right down to his ragged white socks. A t-shirt and jeans were all the other clothing he needed.

Once dressed, he danced down the stairs to a happier, poppy tune. He wasn't particularly attractive, nor was he skinny. But he was who he was, just glad not to be overweight. He ran into a girl's bedroom knocking a few items around as he put on a leather choker.

"Wake up, Meyani! You'll have plenty of time to sleep later! Up, up, up!" His efforts were rewarded with a punch to his arm. Meyani, a tan girl with black hair and perfect eyes, sat up much like Dracula did in those old black-and-white movies. She eyed her intruder up and down for a moment.

"…Mitch, I thought gay guys were supposed to have a good sense of fashion."

He rolled his blue-green eyes. "Har, har. I laugh. I guess I'm an exception to that stereotype." He gave a half smirk. "Would you like to wake up now, or will I have to sing you awake?" He was playfully pushed out.

"I prefer to live, thank you," she replied, closing the door. "So, we're meeting Ayumi, Boss, and Lani after school gets over? At the store, right?"

Mitch nodded, though she couldn't really see him. "And…someone else…"

She poked her head out, makeup smeared from last night. "What the hell does that mean, huh?"

"Calm down. I meant someone else as in Twiggy." There was an immediate change in her facial expression.

"Twiggy? How the hell did you get him down here!?" She began to dress quickly. "You'd better not be lying to me, Mitch!"

"Why would I lie about the Twig? He's just coming down for a little while."

Twiggy was your average Goth, meaning that nothing about him was average. Now, he wasn't ugly at all, He was a very good-looking individual, but skinny as a twig, hence his nickname. Twiggy's true name was Coby Ray, but calling him that was only asking for trouble.

And, he was also the object of Meyani's desire.

"Hell yes! Man, I love that boy!" Mitch rolled his eyes, hearing it all before.

"I know, I know. Keep your skirt on, sheesh." Again, he was rewarded with a punch.

They walked to the small high school, filled mostly with the sons and daughters of farmers and former students. Amongst them, Mitch and Meyani stood out with their own dark colors. By now, no one truly care or noticed.

"Hey retards! Over here!" A tall, skinny, tan boy with short-cut hair died plum stood with a Gameboy in his hand. Alongside him was a petite blonde girl, dressed in a tight t-shirt that proved that the 1980's never really died. These people were Boss and Ayumi, with the looks of freedom and fun etched on their faces. Mitch and Meyani rushed over to them.

"Hey dipstick," Meyani replied. "Well, at least you three are getting outta here. I'm stuck here one more year."

Boss grinned widely, just as he always had since they first met him. "At least you'll be a senior. That means senior prank! Our class was to gay to pu-" He stopped. "Oh, sorry Mitch. Forgot about the whole gay issue…"

Mitch merely shrugged. "S'kay. Our class was too gay to pull that car prank. However, I happen to have the right amount of gay to do it." He smirked.

"You did not!" Ayumi squeaked. "You didn't! I don't believe you."

"Not yet, but wait until last hour. Principal will freak out. That and he'll forever have the scent of tapioca in his car's upholstery."

"Yeah, whatever Mitch." His "sibling" gave him the verbal pass as she usually did. "You're just lying to get attention again."

Ayumi sighed. "Guys, girls, please. No family feuds in the hall. Now, isn't Lani supposed to pick us up to go eat?"

"Lani?" Mitch recalled the shirt, red-haired girl who resembled one of those cutesy people from Japanese cartoons. "Why's Lani picking us up?"

Boss didn't even look up from his beeping video game. "Some little party she's having over at her apartment. Y'know how that'll go. I kick your ass at DDR, you play servant to me for a week."

"Hah, I think not. I'm guessing we're gonna go for burgers or something beforehand?"

Ayumi nodded at his question. Before anyone could say more, the bell to go to their classes rang. With smiles, they parted ways. However, something lingered in the back of Mitch's mind, forcing that small frown to tuck at the sides of his mouth. Something ominous was about to happen. He just didn't know it yet.

'Life is but a grand stage,' someone once said. If so, then the show performed upon it is without a dress rehearsal, and the final curtain remains a mystery to all. Death, in all logical sense, must be the same.

The sheer shock of it all left him a confused traveler among the dead. Like a child, he innocently tried his way through the moaning, groaning spirits. Who he was and where he was drew up blanks in his mind. Feelings of stabbing pain became constant the farther he walked; the farther into the darkness he went.

It was as if his surrounding became a great hallway, unending and crowded with identical doorways. Other spirits entered and exited them, as if it were a highway of sorts. Still, it only left him with more questions.

"W…who am I? He ran both of his hands through his short reddish-brown hair, as if this would trigger his memory to tell him anything that could help. Nothing came to his hazed thoughts.

"Who am I!?" His voice echoed loudly, catching the attention of a few wanderers. A bald man hobbling along on a bent stick pointed at him.

"Check your card," grumbled the elderly voice, slow and mournful. He offered no more advice, opening a door and disappearing. The young man bolted after him, opening the door.

"Wait, I-!" Nothing. Behind the door was only a blank wall. "…the hell?" Furiously, he began to pound on the wall. "Wait! Come back! What the hell's going on!?"

He felt a light tap on his shoulder, startling him. When he turned around, he saw a thickly-built African man with a well-placed smile.

"That door is not meant for you." This man had a rich voice, deep and easy to follow. "You must find another."

He blinked, gulping. "Wh…what?"

The man laughed. "Ah, now I see. You must have just arrived. Did you check your card yet?"

"What fucking card are you talking about!?" Stress was beginning to set in.

"Did you not find the card in your pocket?" He ignored the frenzied man's panic, which almost frightened the red-haired man. Slowly, he pulled out a bit of plastic from his shirt's inside pocket.

"…Michael Keys? Who's that?"

The man gave him another pleasant smile. "That must be you. The memories will come my friend, they will. Michael, is it?"

A shiver of, well; he didn't know exactly how to describe the feeling that ran up his spine. But, something clicked in his brain. "…call me Rocky. I think that's my nickname."

"As I said, the memories will all come back eventually." He took the card from Rocky, looking at the inscriptions with a frown. "Oh my…I'm so sorry, Rocky. Your door cannot be opened."

"Door? What door; where is this? Who are you?"

The dark man looked up. "I am afraid I have no name as of yet. You could call me a…sort of a guide for the spirits that wander here in Limbo."

"Limbo…? You mean….I'm…"

"Deceased, yes. The doors around me hold everyone's destiny; their fate. There is only one door for everyone, if they have nothing in the living realm to hold them back."

Rocky swallowed the lump that had developed in his throat. Okay, so he was dead, and he had his own card and door. But…hold them back?

"And," the dark man continued, "it seems you have some deed that won't allow your door to open," he concluded. "You need to go back."

Rocky still had questions, but he shut most of them in his mind. Maybe the answers would come on their own. He merely nodded, meekly asking: "…how do I do that?"

His guide gave that warm smile yet again. "Follow me." In a blink, they were at what looked like an old graveyard's gates, almost out of place with everything else. "I must explain the rules. First off, you can possess small animals, like a cat or a dog. A person is too complicated, unless you learn how. Secondly, you man only contact a person in their dreams. How much they will respond will depend on their will. If you need advice, watch for humans with pure white eyes. I will be able to speak through them to help you. And lastly…" He handed Rocky his card back. "…when you've completed your task, hold out your card at a bus stop. Your ride will arrive shortly."

"Thanks…" Rocky sighed, opening one gate slightly and looking back. "Well, I'll see you."

"Good luck, Mr. Keys." Rocky smiled back this time, walking into the open gate. Blinding light enveloped him, lights too bright for mortal eyes. He blacked out, still lost among the lost.

Adam really needed a new job. He sighed, arriving to the scene at precisely 8:32 a.m. He grumbled, already having miss seeing his little girl off to school before the call came in. The sirens blared, even though the Rustic Hand was less than a few minutes away. 8:32 a.m. and already crime had rocked their small town.

A few of his fellow officers were already there, taping it up so civilians wouldn't enter. The owner, the infamous Jason Batts, was already complaining about the loss of profit he would suffer because of it. Now, the police and Jason weren't exactly the best of buddies, but at least he was letting them do their work. At least, right now.

Stepping out of his police car, dressed in his chief's outfit, he entered the restaurant. The coroner was examining the body.

"You got an estimated time for his death yet?" He knelt down, knowing Rocky's face immediately. "…unlucky bastard."

"Looks like he's bedd dead for almost three hours, give or take Mr. Edwards."

He sighed. So that placed the death at around 6:30 a.m. Great, now who'd be up at that time? The coroner looked up at Adam, worry in his eyes. "You alright, Mr. Edwards?"

"Fine, I'm fine." He gave a cough, inspecting the rest of the scene. "Can't say the same for ol' Rocky here." Adam looked at the electrical wires, ripped out of the very ceiling. From the looks of it, it used to be some sort of lamp, or even a ceiling fan. But, where was the rest of it?

"I agree…well, whoever did it had a pretty big knife on them." The coroner pointed to the large wounds on Rocky's chest and neck. "Probably got it from the kitchen."

The chief of police grimaced. "Who the hell would want to kill him? About the only crime he's committed is using his paycheck to buy lotto tickets instead of a decent place to live." Adam walked deeper into the Rustic Hand, his eye catching something. A purse.

"Well, well, aren't we outta place?" Making sure his gloves were on, he picked up the red leather purse, inspecting only the outside. "Now how many men do we know own and carry a purse?"

The coroner walked over, inspecting the item as well. "None that I can think of."

Adam gave a smirk. "Exactly. So, who do you belong to?" As he opened it, a driver's license fell to the ground.

"…well…looks like Carmen Bishop has some explaining to do."