Author of Horror, Thrillers, Dark Fantasy, Science-Fiction, & Young Adult
The dead girl sat irreverently atop a tall tombstone, waiting. All around her, a fresh inch of pristine, white snowfall coated the lonely graveyard; the final remnants of the quiet storm that had brought it were nearly gone. To an outside observer, all appeared hushed and serene and calm. Inside her mind, however, the girl was nearly screaming. Several feet below her was a dead man possibly already doing the same.
The girl’s hair was bedraggled. The blue dress she’d been buried in so long ago was torn and threadbare. The look in her eyes was one of thousand-yard-stares and collected, unknown trauma. Her skin was an ashen rose color like the remnants of a dying campfire. It was also dried to the touch and covered head to foot with a hundred, crimson, spiderwebbed cracks and fissures, along the edges of which a faint yellow glow pulsed with every fake beat of her heart.
Yet the worst of her troubles came from her brain. Every second that passed, it seemed to pulse a limitless, inimitable pain. Her head hung low in concentration at the constant fight to withstand it.
Simply sitting there waiting had been extremely difficult work, in fact, for the longer she sat there the larger the pain seemed to grow. This was untrue, however. It didn’t grow– couldn’t grow, in fact– because the pain, much like the everpresent smell of rot that seemed to permeate from the frozen soil all around her, wasn’t really there. Both were only in her mind, yet her mind insisted it was real and allowed it all to intensify with every passing second.
She had been sitting and waiting, day and night, without pause or respite, for seventeen days. She’d begun to doubt her decision after only three hours. After three days she’d been a wreck but had come to another decision. Despite the pain, she had promised herself she would continue to wait another whole month if it came to that. The stakes, she believed, were too high, and the payoff too invaluable.
She passed the time now much like she had been: distracting herself with dreams of the future and memories of the past.
Today she was overwhelmed with what once was. She was remembering her own first day among the world of the dead. It had been harrowing. Haunting. Horrid.
It was the same experience she hoped the dead man beneath her was suffering right now.
Her very first memory in this world was of opening her eyes to an utter blackness where nothing changed. The darkness, the silence, and the disorientation all remained. Several seconds passed where she did nothing at all. She didn’t move, didn’t breathe, didn’t think. It would prove to be the last moment of true peace she would ever know.
She blinked several times, but the action was so quick and so delicate she wasn’t sure they had moved at all. She felt nothing.
‘Where am I?’ her mind finally articulated. ‘How did I get–’
Her bearings kicked in. She was lying on her back. She felt the pull of gravity through the pressure on her shoulder blades, her buttocks, her tricpes, and her heels. Her confusion morphed slowly into concern and then worry.
‘Something’s wrong,’ she thought. ‘It’s… too dark.’
She blinked again then strained her eyes, trying actively to see a glint of reflected moonlight or a shadowed patch more gray than the rest. But still, there was nothing. She didn’t recall having ever seeing a blackness so unbroken nor hear a silence so complete. Worry switched immediately to fear, and she called out softly.
The effect on her psyche was immediate. The sound of her voice was utterly flat, dying the instant it slipped from her tongue as if the soundwaves had nowhere to go. Fear blossomed into a horrible, panicked notion, and she reached upward with both hands.
Even closer than she had feared, her fingers encountered the unforgiving, hardened surface that was the inner curve of a lidded coffin.
"It's not until we die that we learn the truth about life." Thus speak the dead who struggle to preserve their sanity.
There is no Heaven. There is no Hell. Every human who has ever died is still on Earth instead. They watch the living and fight a myriad of inner demons, trying to stave off what they all fear the most- turning, finally, into a thing they call Hellions.
There are tens of billions who have already failed. More and more, it seems, turn every day. To change any of this, it would take a true miracle.