We plumbed forever’s depths, mined eternity’s fields, tipped our caps to infinity, and came to one startling revelation: Death was the end.
Kara and I closed our eyes together, holding hands as we always did. Sleep soon came. But unlike those times when one awakens to a glimpse of an imagined world that pops out of existence, out of memory, out of reach, this was the beginning and there was no forgetting.
The stars swirled around us, we the centre of our own galaxy. Residual particles sparkled in the vermillion and cobalt light like so many gems in a universal crown, those remnants of the beginning. This place was a tangible, sensual revelation, and we smiled for the first time since the sombre policeman said, “Missing.”
“Do you think?” asked Kara. Her wide eyes implored. Her fingers grasped.
There was no ‘How?’ or ‘We?’ or even a surprised ‘Oh!’, just a complete acceptance of being together here, now, in this place.
I shrugged, for words were never my friends.
We soaked ourselves in splendour, familiarised ourselves with every speckled area of night. Then, once we’d appraised everything, like a compass pointing the way, moved.
We flew. With our hands clasped together and hearts already one, we flung ourselves into heaven. Our search had begun.
To explain what we saw, what we felt, would relive the disappointment of losing it, and we’d already lost our everything, but after all reality’s magnificence, we came to another place. An un-reality, one might’ve termed it, though it felt more real than the blood in our veins.
The cosmos is darkness made magic, but darkness, nevertheless. This place, this domain, however, was only darkness. Light was as foreign here as an ant in the Arctic.
“Where?” she said.
I shook my head.
This absolute darkness folded around us, sucked us into itself as grapes pushed into jelly. There was no pain, nor fear of it, just acceptance. We moved from one plane to the next. We sped through this nothingness with more hope than ever, for it is what you don’t see, not what you do, that offers possibilities. Then we arrived, and she was there.
Little Corrine sat upon her knee like she once did on Kara’s. The child giggled. It broke my heart again.
“No!” screamed Kara at the top of her lungs; the darkness snatched it away.
She saw us then, not Corrine, our sweet girl, but her hostess, her keeper, Death.
I like most had expected the Reaper to tower in dreadful, skeletal manliness. I was wrong. I was so wrong!
Death wore the visage of the afterlife, porcelain and wan. Her tumbling hair glittered a raven waterfall. Her form shamed all other goddesses and queens. The ghost of all ghosts, she appeared in her sable litheness. And then she opened her eyes.
They held everything and nothing at once. All that had passed and all that would come in all its manifested sadness. She bore its brunt. Knew it all. And she did it for us, for everyone, and more so for our darling Corrine.
“It’s not fair,” wept my Kara. “It’s just not fair.”
I pulled her closer.
“At least we know.”
“But we don’t know how?”
“We don’t need to, my love. She’s safe now. That’s all that matters. No one could care for her more.
We awoke together as we had fallen asleep. Our only regret, our one misfortune, that she’d never known us there.
Thank you for reading
Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed
The Eternals Series: The Eternals / Hunter Hunted / Into Eternity
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