The pain shot through me. I couldn’t scream or move. Time had slowed to the point where I was lost in another dimension, only feeling the sudden impact and seeing the blinding bright headlights come racing out of nowhere. This was the end and I had nothing to do but watch as my body was violently torn apart. Blood spraying everywhere. I felt the pain consume me and then somehow it stopped. The agony that I had felt disappeared and I was whole again. The waves on a beach washed over me and I had to gasp to catch my breath. I was alive. I checked myself for any blood or wounds and I found none. I couldn’t feel anything but the cold of the wind and the water.
I stood and got my bearings. There was a long beach and there was a strong odour surrounding me. Like road kill, or dead fish that had been left to rot away. The day was overcast and I tried to think of where I was so I could go back. But I had never been here before. There was no sun in the sky or clouds but somehow it was still overcast. There were no significant land marks either that I could go to. I looked out at the ocean and saw an endless stretch of calm waves. I didn’t know what to do.
“Is anyone out there?” I called out. No one answered. “Hello?” Still nothing. “Can someone please tell me where I am?” Again Nothing. I started screaming in frustration and fear. I needed help. I was scared that if I didn’t get help I would go insane. I screamed and screamed. “I have a family! This is unfair!” I kept screaming and my throat went raw. “Argh!” I screamed again and collapsed into the sand. Then I cried out of frustration, fear, confusion. I was alone and would die before I ever got to see my family again. I continued to cry for a good hour and my surrounding didn’t change. I felt so much grief and shock. I didn’t know what do. I hunched my shoulders and sighed when there were no more tears for me to cry.
“You look cold,” a soft voice said. I looked up to see a woman. She was dressed in a long white dress and she had golden hair and golden eyes. I was startling. She wrapped a blanket around me and sat next to me on the beach. She looked out at the sea. She looked so calm and content like nothing could ever bother her or anger her. She had some sort of supernatural beauty too, like someone had taken a photo and photo-shopped it a million times, she was exquisite.
“Who are you?” I asked and she looked at me. Her unnaturally golden eyes cutting deep into my soul, carving my core.
“Your people call me many things. So really I should ask you,” she seemed genuine but I had no idea who she was talking about, so I tried a different approach.
“Where are we?”
“We are nowhere, but everywhere. The sand that we are sitting on is not in fact real. It is just what I wanted it to be at this present time,”
“That makes no sense,” The woman looked at me and frowned.
“Sure it does. Maybe not to you but time will open your eyes,”
“Okay this is crazy. I have a steady job. I have a family and-”
“Had,” She paused “You had a family and had a steady job,”
“No! I’m a successful accountant and I have a wife and three kids!” I began to stress and my voice cracked.
“You really don’t know what happened to you do you?” She asked with so much sincerity it hurt. I shook my head. “You died, and now you are here, but that isn’t a problem because your wife was cheating on you with a man at her work and your kids started forgetting what it was like to have a father because you were too busy accounting. You are now dead and you wasted a perfectly good life,” this all hit me like a brick and I was too shocked to speak.
“That’s impossible! Then were am I? Who are you? What is this place? You’re lying!” I yelled at her and she kept her composure which only fuelled my fire. “I can’t be dead and that isn’t true. My family love me! If I was dead then… then, that would mean that you would be God or something and that’s impossible because God doesn’t exist and-”
“So you don’t believe I exist even when I’m in front of you?” She looked me in the eyes and it felt as though she was reaching for something deep inside me, before she could find it though I looked away and said nothing. A few moments passed and it hit me like the sun crashing into the earth. I remembered it. My death. I threw my head forwards as my body was consumed by the pain once more. “Shhh,” she said and the woman touched my arm making all of the pain fade away in an instant. “You wish to go back but there is no body to go back to. In the accident you were ripped apart and because of that you can never go back to your previous body. I cannot help you until you accept that.”
“How can I accept that?!” I yelled at her. “So is this the point where you tell me whether I go to heaven or hell, or am I supposed to sit around here until my soul dies too?” She smiled because I clearly didn’t understand something. It bugged me that she wouldn’t just tell me but at the same time, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to know.
“Life is like a maze,” she looked out to the sea. “When you start that is the beginning of what you remember, which is usually around the age of two, or at least this is how you would typically look at it. The truth is not that. The truth is that there are many different mazes on top of one another that go on forever much like the universe, but there are still flaws to that logic, meaning forever is just a concept you created so you could better understand it. Even though you don’t really. The universal maze folds back on itself at some point, and that is what is a real forever. When you get to the edge of the universe it folds back on itself and you loop back around. Of course this is impossible for someone to see in one lifetime, but that is what you do when you die. Your maze or life ends and another starts somewhere else.”
“I don’t get it.”
“Most people don’t straight away. Think of it as you are everything and you are nothing. When you die you go into another body and you are,” she paused “recycled through time, and through other universes doing the same thing as you are now.”
“So reincarnation?” I asked and she slightly shrugged her shoulders.
“Of sorts but you make up the world, and when you die you sometimes join the atmosphere, so that nothing is ever taken away or added. This is the balance that creates life. You are everyone and everything throughout the entire stretch of time.”
“So what is your part in this?” She paused and seemed to think about my question. Then she stood and gestured for me to join her.
“You called me God before right?” I nodded “Well a God is supposed to be the person who has created the worlds and the universes when really I only guide them. I have been here since the beginning of time which is also the end because time like the universe tur-”
“Turns in on itself like an endless maze that loops back up” I finished.
“So what do you call my previous life?”
“One that ended suddenly, but for a reason.” She answered and I was surprised about how she was so casual about it.
“So now what? Do I go into another body or are you going to get me to calculate people’s life stories?”
“No. Your soul is going to be broken into small pieces and scattered into other mazes to become part of the atmosphere. I said that earlier.”
“Don’t I go into a human body again?”
“Because you abused your previous life, and chose the life of an accountant.”
“What? How? Why is that a bad thing? I wasn’t told that! I’m only human, I-”
“That has never been a valid excuse.”
“But why? I don’t understand,” I began to panic again.
“Your previous life you were given the chance to spend time with your family and you didn’t. As a teenager you pushed away anyone who tried to help you and because of that you failed school. You stole money… you took drugs… you graphited cities… ” She started naming everything that I had done wrong in my life. Even the little things and her words began to overlap and mould into one another. I could see the waves creep up the shore and then they started getting bigger. I had no other option but to run. She didn’t follow me but her words were stuck in my head as loud as ever. I tried to run but the ground gave way and I began to fall. I reached out to grab hold of something but nothing was there so I continued to fall. Down and down I fell into the dark void. A constant and full abyss of nothingness. This continued until the climax became nothing. There was no end to the falling and eventually it began to feel natural. The voices had stopped and there was only the sound of air rushing past me. I calmed myself and tried to call out again but my words were thrown away in the fast moving air. I was falling and the only sounds were my own. I tried to reach out either side of me to touch something but I couldn’t feel anything. I continued to fall for what felt like minutes and then it turned quickly into hours. A sudden urge to sleep came over me and I fell into a deep sleep.
I awoke some while later and I was lying on a large bed in a large room. There were candles lit around the room, filling it with a soft warm light. The room had red walls with expensive looking black lace covering them. There was mahogany furniture around the room and the bed was a deep red colour like the walls. There was also a large book shelf that stretched up the long wall, filled with old looking books. I got up to look at them and realised that my clothes had been taken and replacedwith long red robes, I matched my surroundings perfectly I thought, and even thought that I should be alarmed by this, I wasn’t.
The large book case had many different books in different languages. I didn’t recognise any of them. I pulled out a large book that had a faded dark purple cover. It had a hand on the cover with small symbols at each of the finger points and a pentagram on the palm of the hand. At least I recognised something. I opened it and all of the pages had strange symbols on them and many mathematical equations, at least there was something I could solve and understand. I closed the book and in that instant the door opened. I hadn’t noticed it before, which was strange considering how large and heavy looking it looked. A tall man walked into the room and grinned.
“Where am I?” I asked, and this time I hoped that I had a proper answer.
“Did my sister not tell you?” He asked and he placed an empty tray on the table in the middle of the room.
“Your sister?” That couldn’t be the woman that had claimed to be god.
“The woman you last saw. With the golden hair and eyes?” I guess it was.
“Yes, I met her and she told me that we were nowhere and everywhere which kind of makes no sense!” The large man chuckled.
“She is one for the dramatic side of life isn’t she?” he chuckled again. For some strange reason I seemed to trust this man.
“You could say that,” I mumbled
“So what was it like?” he asked
“Well she was really blunt,” I said
“No, no, no what was living like?”
“Yeah I hear it’s a great thing,” He said as he sat on the bed and leant up against the head rest, “I’ve never lived before and that experience excites me.”
“It’s nice I guess but in a lot of ways it’s not a very nice thing. There are many problems with the world and there is a lot of poverty and famine. To really enjoy life you need money and that doesn’t come easy. Wait,” I suddenly realised something obvious. “How aren’t you alive?”
“Well I’ve lived here but it’s not really living. There is no sun or moon, there are no stars to study or a world to conquer. There is no wilderness that can be watched for hours and you can’t ever sight a river or stream and enjoy it. There is no grass and the temperature never changes. There is no music or laughter and the food is tasteless. We cannot ever age or ever be born, and we cannot change the way we live or what we do. We are unable to love or be loved by a family, child, friend or partner.
There is no money here and you live how you live. It’s really rather ordinary here.” A sadness seemed to creep onto his face making the whole room darken just a little.
“How do you live then?”
“We work and then eat, then work, then eat, then sleep and so on, forever. When we eat we can talk but nothing interesting ever comes up.”
“That’s what you get in this life, I guess. My sister lives in the world between yours and mine. She sees everyone after they have died and then they come here or there.” He said ‘there’ but he didn’t gesture to anything.
“Where is there?” I asked and his face darkened.
“The only place that we are not allowed to talk about. The place where the ruler is known as a god but in the worst sorts of ways, that is where everything is an effort and the pain that you feel is eternally excruciating.” I flinched when he spoke. His words were coated in a strong venom and it sent shivers through me.
“So what do you call his place then?” I asked
“Hell.” He said abruptly, making me jump. He didn’t think anything of it and just said it without any thought as if he knew the answer before I asked the question.
“What?! Then where was I before I died?” he seemed to think about this for a second. He sighed in awe and looked into the distance for a few seconds, before answering me.
By Angelica Wright from Australia