Karma

(early 2000)
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The endless drone of a flatlining heart monitor was all that there was for a short while, as he wondered what was happening. It was a disconcerting sound, piercing the shadow-wrapped darkness like the scream of a tortured angel, and haunted the expanse of time between life and what lay beyond. He tore through his memories desperately, as grey and distant as they were, and tried to remember why he was here, what had happened, but came up with so little... the sound of metal on metal, cries of pain, the sound of empty beer bottles shattering -

That was it! A sudden wave of remorse shuddered through his empty self as the gravity and truth of the situation returned. He had been driving home from a party, weaving about the road as if attempting to braid the two white lines with the middle yellow one. His friends had warned him to stay or to take a taxi, but male pride interfered, the proverbial devil dancing on his shoulder and urging him onward. If that devil were real, it was surely laughing now. He felt the greatest urge to weep, but as that was difficult to do with no body to control, it was left unabated, raging within his exposed soul like a caged beast, rattling the bars of his heartstrings and clawing at his mind.

After what seemed an eternity, the glass-rattling sound of the monitor faded completely, leaving him in utter silence. This should perhaps have been a relief, but no relief was to be had, for the moment the sound left, a shadow darker than the others melted away from the expanse of night, churning as light burned through it like the sun through a magnifying glass. A figure stood before him, shorter than he vaguely remembered himself as being but somehow much more commanding, and spoke.

"You killed me."

A moan trapped within his formless self, he stared, as the body shivered into existence, revealing a young-looking girl. She glared silently at him for a moment, the innocence of her features marred by the mask of hate on her face, then continued.

"I am Natalie. Or, that is, I was. Your idiotic decision cost both of us our lives, but I have been told that I need not be bitter. Don't worry, I am, anyway. However, watching this may help somewhat - surely, if I cannot get better, then your getting worse is the only option."

He shuddered a non-existent shudder and attempted to back away, moving nowhere, with no ability to do anything but stare and silently fear. Unable to look elsewhere, he watched as she was surrounded by a softly-glowing halo of light, shrouded in holy, divine energy like a God's chosen child. She looked upward, a light he could not see reflecting in her eyes - dead and colourless eyes, he noted, sickness at what he had done rocking his discorporate self - and smiled, a gesture that would have been radiant had her teeth not been jagged and pointed like those of a demon. With a sinking heart, he realized that they were broken, not natural, and screamed despite himself, the sound actually rippling through the airless space though it was made of aetherial nothingness. She started and looked back at him, and then, suddenly, was whole.

She glimmered with strength as her eyes deepened in hue, becoming a rich brown as warm as chocolate and as deep as purest wisdom. Her hair billowed over her exposed shoulders, the colour of fresh wheat, a blonde so pale it was almost white. She smiled again, a complete and beautiful gesture this time, and he began to feel that perhaps, though he had robbed her of life, all could be well again.

At that point, the bottom of the world fell away. He tumbled soundlessly through an endless sea of electricity, his very soul burning with the terrible pain. Tears flowed from his non-existent eyes, raining down into the nothingness from nowhere, and his torment echoed through the stillness. She watched silently, then turned away, innocence returned in full as though the horrible memory were blessedly removed from her mind, vanishing into a blaze of holy light. He had but a moment to feel glad that she, at least, would be at peace, before he was swallowed whole by the Void, spirit torn away to leave nothing behind.

And then, it was over. Perhaps a second had passed, perhaps an eternity. Light emerged into the Void again, the infinite emptiness wherein he had lain, tormented and alone, for the time, and spilled over what was left of him, so very little...

Memories were a sheet of billowing silk at the bottom of a vast ocean, barely tangible and all but inaccessible, but he desperately grabbed for them as sounds assailed him from all directions. Suddenly, they no longer mattered: as he tentatively sniffed the grass, his mother lying nearby, his rabbit mind tore through his precious human self like a knife. Just before all that he had been faded, he saw the fox emerging from the rushes, and the first of many feelings of sudden panic to come overtook him, just like they had her that night...