I had a lot to think about. But first I wanted to get out of there; I couldn't stand the sight of my family, mourning in the living room. Or of the neighbours who were coming over to show their compassion. I had a hunch that was what Jona tried to get away from, and I couldn't blame him. It was quite depressing.
So, where to go. In theory I could go anywhere I'd like. I remembered the vacation of last year. We went to Italy with the entire family. One day, we had gone to the Palio in Sienna. The race on its own was awesome to witness, but I absolutely fell in love with the town. That was where I wanted to be. So, I closed my eyes and thought back. In the fish-district there was this very small bar, where they'd had the best cappuccino. I remembered the hard wooden floor, the scent of cigarette smoke and grinded coffee beans. And I remembered the sounds, the laughing of the bartender, the quick Italian babbling. I remembered the paintings on the wall, and the amazing fresco in the back of the horserace. When I opened my eyes, there I was. The place was packed, and I remembered how it felt when the car drove through me. It surely wasn't comfortable, so to avoid it again. I quickly went outside, before me laid the cobblestone street and the old houses of the narrow streets. I really was in Sienna. I couldn't believe it, it had actually worked!
I started to stroll the streets that were so familiar to me. Eventually I ended up on the campo, the large square where the races were held. It was now relatively empty. I sat down in the middle of it, and put my face up to the sun. I didn't feel its heat. That got me straight back to reality and killed the little excitement I had felt about appearing in my favourite city.
I started to revise the conversations I'd had with Azrael and those two girls in my head. The Blonde girl had mentioned that she, the brunette and I were in fact the same person. Azrael had said that the three of us were created for the same life-slot by a goddess named Mokosh. He had also called me an Outlaw. He had also said that I wasn't really dead. That something that wasn't supposed to be born in the first place couldn't die. Or that he at least thought so. Most importantly though, he had mentioned I could get it back, my life back. That was a lot to think about.
I started with the things I could make sense of: the Outlaw-thing. Azrael said that there weren't any real Gods. That Gods were just believes created by humans, they had gotten their authority by the energy humans put in believing them. Or that's what I came to understand from Azrael's words. But there the amount of lives available is limited and with all these man-made gods, more souls were created then could be born. These souls roam the Spectral Plain, the same place I was in. But I haven't exactly run into a lot of them, and since Azrael kept urging me that I had little time, I had the unnerving suspicion that unneeded souls disappeared, like we were erased or reused or something. But the blonde and brunette have been around for seventeen years in this place. This led me to conclude, that since the three of us were meant for the same life, we were in fact part of one being. And so, as long as I lived, they would stick around here. And I guess that the name they give beings like us is Outlaws, entities that belong to nothing and no one. So far I understood it, mostly. It seemed highly unusual, but it made sense.
What I didn't understand, not by far, is what Azrael meant by saying that I could get it back. How could I possibly return to the land of the living? My body was dead, it was most likely halfway under the ground or maybe examined now by a coroner. Even if I could get back into it, it was too damaged to function. So how could I possibly become a real person again? And exactly what use would speaking with Mokosh do me?
I suddenly remembered what Azrael had told me after we had just met. The way I died was her way of cleaning her mess up, she had caused my dead. She most probably would want to get rid of all three of us. So if I'd go to her, wouldn't that be committing suicide? –For as far as I was able to die – So, taken everything in perspective, I had no desire to find Mokosh. I had to find Azrael, and get him to just tell me everything clearly, without riddles and strange answers.
But I didn't know where to look for him just as I didn't know where to look for Mokosh. So far, he had found me. I had the urge to start yelling at everything and everyone. Unfortunately they couldn't hear me, so it wouldn't be very satisfying.
So I sat there a little while longer, pondering on where to find Azrael –should I look in heaven, or in hell, and which version of it? - While looking at the people passing by. If Azrael was in fact here, he'd yell at me for wasting precious time. In a way, he'd be right. But one puzzle piece that was missing from my theory was the one that explained how the erasing or recycling was going to happen. At least the ground didn't tremble, and the depths of the earth didn't open to swallow me and wipe me of the face of the earth. I didn't think I had much to fear. Famous last words.
It started rather subtle, really. I barely noticed it even. By the time I did notice the black gooey substance, it was halfway up my leg. I swear it looked like tar, only then living. I even felt a heartbeat going through it. I stared at it for a moment, and then realized that it was ruining my shoes. And then screamed at the top of my lungs: that thing was eating me! I tried to get up. But the bloody thing would not let go. I started to feel tingly, as if needles were being stuck into my skin. It was halfway my upper leg now, and still showed no sign of letting go.
Panic was starting to well up in my throat, it just wasn't fair. I was fed up with being chased, hurt and killed because a certain someone else was incapable of doing her job properly. I was fed up with being the blasted victim. God may know how I managed to do it, but I succeeded in creating a knife. I could feel the cold metal in me hand. The blade was as long as my underarm and the metal glistened in the sun.
I lashed at the tar-like thing. And it went through it as if I was cutting butter. For a full second I could see the skin of my leg. But the thing filled the hole faster then I had made it. I kept lashing at it. Now and then cutting myself in the process. But I made no real progress. The only result was that it moved slower up my leg.
It left me exhausted and desperate: I couldn't get it off. The blasted thing was going to eat me, and there was nothing I could do about it. The thing had reached my hip when I felt his hand. I looked up and into a white hood.
'You might want to brace yourself.' He said, before swinging a scythe I hadn't seen yet and cutting of my leg.
The pain was suffocating, overwhelming and drowned my every thought. I honestly can't recall whether or not I screamed. The first memory I have after that is that of movement.