Chapter Eleven: Priestess:

A white light hit Ann's eyelids. She drew them open and looked around. The woman found herself sitting in a old time Japanese temple. Only the sound of flowing water killed the silence around her. Ann's eyes jerked around nervously. Even the healthy plants never the altar made her suspicious.

"What is this place?" she murmured.

"Oh good," a woman's voice spoke up. "You're finally up." Ann jerked her head forward. A miko about twenty-five stood before her, leaning in close to her face. The Goth woman backed up as fast as she could.

"Who are you?" she asked. The miko gave her a pleasant smile.

"I'm just a humble miko of this shrine," she replied. Ann's face told her that she didn't believe her. The miko stood up straight.

"Do you still have it?" she asked. Ann blinked at her.

"Have what?" she asked.

"The key!" the miko told her. "Do you still have?" The question sprung Ann into attention.

"Oh!" she said. "I think so. Hang on!" The woman opened her hand and found the small black key in her very palm. The miko's eyes shone brighter than the sun. Ann raised an eyebrow at her.

"Wait," she said. "Why do you want this?" The miko put her hand to her small, full chest.

"It belonged to someone dear to me," she said.

"Someone dear?" Ann asked. The miko nodded.

"He was a samurai," she replied. "And he hid a present for me." Ann tried to piece together what the miko was getting at. This all started to sound familiar.

"Did you ever get his present?" she asked. The miko shook her head.

"I never got around to looking for it," she said. "By the time I got around to it, he was already dead." That was all it took to convince Ann.

"So he was…" she began to say. The miko raised an eyebrow at her.

"What?" she asked. Ann shook her head.

"So, where exactly is this place?" she asked. The miko gave her another calm smile.

"We are just outside of Heaven," she replied. Ann blinked at her, trying to understand.

"Outside of Heaven?" she repeated.

"That's right," the miko said as she fixed her hair tie. "I can't enter through the gates because I am not pure."

"You mean because of your lover?" Ann asked. The miko nodded before sitting before her guest.

"But, I don't blame him," she told her. "He didn't do it out of malice. He loved me and I loved him." Ann could understand the miko a little bit now.

"Why am I here?" she asked. "Am I dead?" The miko shook her head at her.

"Oh no, no," she said. "You're perfectly alive." The Goth woman looked at her, oddly.

"Then, why am I here?" she asked. The miko leaned in close to her ear.

"God wanted you here," she said. Ann's eyes widened nervously.

"What?" she asked.

"Yes," the miko said. She took the key out of Ann's hand.

"Thank you for the key," she whispered. Then, she turned and walked up to the shrine.

"Wait!" Ann cried. "Where are you doing?"

"I'm going to wait for my lover," the miko said.

"But, what about me?" the other woman asked.

"Don't worry," she said. "God wants to talk to you personally."

"But why?" the Goth woman asked. The miko paused and looked over her shoulder at her. She pointed to two big brown ornate doors behind Ann.

"Go through those doors and see," the miko said. Then, she disappeared through the doors to the parts unknown outside of Heaven. Ann put up her hand as if to stop her in vain.

"But…" she said. The woman froze when she heard the doors rumble open behind her. Ann turned and heard a lightly, feathery singing voice fill the air. As if under a trance, she rose to her feet and walked through the doors. Once through to the other side, they drew behind her, shutting out the bright, whiteness.