Hi!Constructive criticism welcome! This is my first posting on here. While it skirts with some romantic stuff, this is a non-erotic fantasy!Hope you enjoy!
Will had an inkling he was dead.
As he lay there, eyes closed and smelling clean air, his memory was a rush of confused imagery. There was only one prominent image near the end and he was sure it had just happened.
He'd been hit by a speeding car which had no chance to slow down or swerve out of the way. Quite the end to a miserable day. At least it was over now.
He opened his eyes slowly, surprised to see that he lay upon a field of short grass that stretched for as far as he could see. It was unlike any other grass he had ever seen; lovely and dark with tiny translucent lights slowly travelling across the surface from bottom to top, like tiny bugs. He chanced a roll onto his back and stared up in wonderment, eyes wide.
There, above him in the sky, was a massive stream of luminescent matter, different colours ranging from blues to dark greens and streaks of gold, all rotating around a solid black core. He could barely breathe as he took in how vast it was, and how beautiful and terrifying, all at once. The name that came to mind was black hole, though it did not look like any of the depictions he had seen.
Will now believed he was dead. There was no other explanation for his appearance here.
For a while he lay there, unable to move because he was transfixed on the sight of the huge phenomenon in the sky, along with the thought of his death being a thing of the past. He frowned at the idea of that. He'd always believed that once a person was dead, they were dead. There was no afterlife, no god, nothing to comfort them, no place for them to exist in; just an end to consciousness.
Given he was wrong, and his current circumstances, he felt as though he should've been far more disturbed, but curiously, he was simply existing in the moment and letting those thoughts pass by like grains of sand in a flowing river.
The only thing that did not change was the awe-full terror of seeing the sky.
He blinked and sat up slowly, afraid that his body was broken from the impact of the car, but he was surprised to find he was intact. He looked down to see he was naked, but felt no self-consciousness about it. In fact, he couldn't stop staring because his body looked different. It took him peering very closely at his own hands for him to see what it was; much like the grass he sat in, there were tiny faint lights moving under the top layers of his skin. They were moving towards the fingers and vanishing into nothingness at the tips. A look at his upper arms showed him lights flowing down to his hands. His curiosity piqued, he looked at his legs and saw there were lights travelling towards his feet.
He stood up lazily and looked around. There was no one else there. The field stretched into darkness a long way off, and everywhere he looked, the glow from the ground persisted. He looked up at the sky and a twinge of terror bolted through him, so he looked back down again. It was prudent to avoid looking up for now, he decided.
There was nothing to do but walk. He reasoned it didn't matter which way he went; every direction looked the same. So, after turning a few times with his eyes closed, he opened them and set off.
The main feeling where his situation was concerned was curiosity. There were moments of anxiety, but nothing persisted. Aside from his own brief dull flares of emotions, he realised he could not really experience the passage of time. Was there even Time in this place? Nothing changed in the environment; there was no wind, there were no other objects other than the grass itself, and the only thing that moved was the maelstrom in the sky, soundlessly imposing. Even when he kept his eyes away, he could feel its presence hovering like an overzealous parent.
He couldn't have said how long it was when he saw the first spark of something different. There was a flash in the sky, bright enough to jerk his head up, and right there, in the solid black core, were spirals of light pulsing as they rushed towards the centre. The moment they collided, the entire core blinked a blinding white, before a screaming jet of light shot out and rushed to the ground. He tensed and grimaced violently at the screaming, almost blocking his ears before he noted it was fading in volume.
It landed some ways away. All he saw was the light reach the ground and the strange, metallic scream abruptly ended. Upon seeing its impact, he realised he'd been expecting an explosion of some sort, or perhaps another flash of light to mirror the one from the core. Instead, the light simply vanished.
He started walking towards it.
He knew he'd reached the site of the impact when he saw another body laying there in the grass. From the flare of the hips, he guessed it was a woman. She was lying on her side, positioned like she was clasping something close to her chest.
He hesitated on approaching her. For the first time since he had died, his emotions were no longer dull flares, but brilliant flashes. Inside, he was a vibrating ball of trepidation and confusion as he stared at her. He realised she wasn't wearing clothes and suddenly, his own nudity mattered.
Nevertheless, he couldn't just ignore her. He walked over to her reluctantly. The closer he got, he could see her spine had a faint luminescence to it, muffled by the layers of skin. It glowed enough that he saw tiny lights radiating from it, fading quickly. He wondered if it was the same for his body.
He walked in front of her, looked at her and quickly averted his eyes; her nudity felt almost too much to look at.
The environment around them looked much the same as where he had landed.
He took a deep breath and he turned to her again. He bent down carefully and reached out to briefly nudge her arm. Upon contact, his fingertip surged with light, albeit tiny and brief, but it surprised him enough that he jerked his hand back. The sensation that came with it was oddly pleasurable and not unlike an electric feeling.
That touch alone was enough to wake her. She groaned and balled up into a foetal position for a few moments before she stretched out. He watched as she opened her eyes and looked at him. She stared for a while with a squint, as if she wasn't sure she was looking at something real. Then she frowned deeply as she pushed herself up to sit.
Will did nothing. He waited to see what she would do.
The moment she was sitting up, her eyes relaxed and she looked up at the sky. It elicited an expression on her face which disturbed him more than he cared to admit, and he realised it was probably the same expression he had made when he first saw the kaleidoscopic monster above. There was something almost trance-like about her staring, right up until she blinked and looked down at him.
"Am... am I dead now?"
It was a whisper, but in the constant silence he had been walking in, it was startlingly loud. Her voice gave him goosebumps.
"I don't know," said Will carefully. "I think so."
"You think so?"
He asked, "What's the last thing you remember?"
She looked off into the distance and her brow creased slightly. "I was in the hospice. I was laying there. My children and my grandchildren were there."
"Grandchildren?" His voice betrayed his surprise. She didn't look to be more than a young woman in her mid-twenties.
"What?" She asked.
Will shook his head. "Nothing. Uh, keep going."
She gave him a light shrug. "That's all. I was dying. Stage four cancer. I just remember glimpses of them and darkness. And then I... well, I fell asleep." She looked around. "No... I died, didn't I? I must've. How else am I here?" She frowned deeply. "Where is here?"
"I don't know. I woke up here just like you did," said Will, nervously scratching his arm.
"What's that?" Her voice was a snap.
"Your arm. Those lights."
He looked down and saw wherever he scratched, little lights flared and bounced off into different directions before dissipating after a couple of seconds. He stopped, and so did the lights. As an experiment, he drew a line down his forearm with his fingernail and watched with fascination as a brief trail of chaotically ricocheting lights followed.
He looked at the woman and saw she was now sitting cross-legged, looking at her arms and touching them over and over, entranced by the light show under her skin. Will did his best not to look below her waist and again it reminded him of his own nudity. He awkwardly covered his genitalia with his hands, trying to look as nonchalant as he could.
"What's going on?" She asked slowly.
"I think you're right. We died. The last thing I remember was a car rushing at me," explained Will. "I woke up here. I've been walking around until I saw you falling through the air and I started walking towards you. And here I am."
"Falling?" She looked at him, an expression of disbelief. "From where?"
"Uh. From there," Will pointed up towards the black core.
She followed his finger and her eyebrows rose in a shot. "Out of there?"
"Is that where you came from?"
"I don't know," shrugged Will. "I just woke up on the ground."
She stood up and looked at herself with a gasp. "I'm young."
"I'm... I look like I did in my twenties. God, I haven't seen myself look like this for so long. I'd forgotten. I loved my body at this age," said the woman, stretching her arms and legs out, twisting her torso to look at as much of herself as she could manage.
He looked away, a little too fascinated by the way her curves twisted and flowed. She was utterly gorgeous with long black hair, dark brown eyes, wide hips and bottom-heavy curves.
"Don't be a prude. It's just a body," said the woman, amused by his awkwardness. "And you can stop covering yourself up, too. It's nothing I haven't seen before."
Will looked at her, vaguely embarrassed, and chose not to reply to that. He did, however, uncover himself. "I'm Will."
"Hi, Will. I'm Emily." She made no show of being conscious of his nudity and kept her eyes on his.
She smiled and looked up at the sky again. Her smile disappeared in a flash and she shuddered slightly. "That's terrifying. It's beautiful, but it's terrifying."
"Yeah," agreed Will. "I try not to look at it if I can help it."
"Probably a good idea."
Will watched as she slowly turned on the spot, looking in every direction. When she finally turned to him again, she twisted her lips and with a voice drenched in curiosity, asked, "How old were you when you died?"
Startled by the question, he replied, "Uh... Forty-three."
"Hmm, that's a surprise. You look about twenty-five to me right now."
He looked down at his own body. It hadn't occurred to him earlier because he had been so fascinated by the lights in his skin, but he saw she was right. His skin was markedly less lined and looked healthier.
"What about you?" He asked.
"I was eighty-six."
Emily shrugged. "Well... it had to end sooner or later. I had a good, long life. It could've been far worse."
Her tone of acceptance mirrored his own state at that moment. There was something reassuring about having her there, something almost disarmingly calming. He didn't quite know whether it was that her presence was proof he was not alone here, or it was more her demeanour. Probably a mixture of both, he decided.
"I'm sad for my children, though," she noted softly, staring at her hands.
Feeling slightly unsure and awkward, he said nothing.
When she seemed to come back to herself, she scratched her neck, and he was mesmerised by the way the lights in her neck bounced down to her collarbone and lit its edge like a dim neon light.
"I have to admit, this isn't what I expected after death," said Emily. "Well, I didn't expect anything at all, to be honest."
"So... what do we do?" Emily asked.
"I don't know."
"Hmm. There has to be some place we can go."
"We can find out," said Will. "I just picked a direction and started walking until I saw you."
"How long were you walking for?"
He shrugged. "Hard to tell. I just kept walking. I couldn't really feel time passing."
"Fair enough," said Emily, surprising him with the way she so readily accepted his words. "Well then, Will... shall we?"
They started walking together.
He noted he was no longer concerned with his nudity around her. In the face of being dead, it felt a bit stupid. Along with that, there were many things coming to light. For one, he seemed incapable of feeling hunger and thirst. There were no aches or pains in his body, not even those that he could remember from his twenties. He could feel the grass beneath his feet but otherwise there wasn't much else in the way of sensation. The air was dead still and the perfect temperature, entirely matched with his internal heat. It occurred to him that he may not have had an internal temperature anymore, though when he touched himself, he still felt a slight warmth. He suspected that had more to do with the lights than his own biology.
Emily did not say much, but neither did he. He was in a deep state of contemplation and he suspected the same was true for her. Maybe it was the silence around them that inspired it, but whatever it was, it became heavier the longer they walked. He thought about different points of his life; mostly the important, impactful ones, though he noted he felt a little removed from emotion when he examined them. They felt almost the same as moments in life that were stretches of boring nothingness.
"Are you thinking about your life?" Will asked eventually.
"Sometimes. Yes. Are you?"
"What are you thinking?"
"I don't know. Just looking at all these moments in my life," said Will. "Just... looking at them."
"Hmm. Me, too. I'd be worried about that normally, but I'm not right now," said Emily. "I'm not usually this inward and... pensive, I suppose, is the word."
"Neither am I."
"Well, maybe this is just what being dead is," suggested Emily.
Will turned that idea over in his head. "So, everyone was wrong, then."
"Very. What would you have preferred? This or nothingness?"
"With nothingness, there's nothing to prefer. I guess I'd take that. All of this is just confusing, but I don't care enough that it bothers me. That's worrying, too."
Emily sighed. He was expecting her to say something, but the silence stretched on and he found himself lost in his own thoughts again.
It was quite some time before they saw a flash. They both stopped walking. This time, Emily also witnessed the core. As before, there was a white glow, the screaming light, and the insubstantial impact on the ground.
"Is that what you saw before you found me?" Emily asked.
"Yeah. You dropped out just like that. Then I just walked towards you."
"Hmm. What if it's the same place?"
"What do you mean?"
"What if I just fell where you fell, and now whoever that is, they've fallen in the same spot? What if we're not really going anywhere far from that spot?"
"... I hadn't thought of that."
"We're dead. This is a completely new thing. There's no telling what the rules are here, right?"
"You're right," agreed Will. It was as good a theory as any other. "We should go to the new person."
"Yes, we should."
The third person was a man named Luc. They roused him and explained their experiences to him. Like them, he appeared to be a young man, though he was much older when he had died. And like them, he was afflicted by terror whenever he looked at the sky. At first, unlike Will and Emily, the man was anxious and on the verge of panicking, but he soon calmed down when he realised there was no threat around him. He could not remember how he had died and he could not give them any new information. So, they all wandered on.
More people fell from the sky. More of them were gathered up by Will and Emily, until they were a band of around fifty people roving around the never-ending field. From afar, Will imagined they all looked like a spotlight moving ceaselessly about, searching for something that would never be found. They kept going. Will and Emily walked on a little ahead of the others in their own space, silent and comfortable, while the others followed, chattering amongst themselves.
Quite some time later, it appeared in the air.
It was monumentally large, far longer than it was tall or wide, and it loomed out of the strange darkness in the distance. Will had no real idea of how to define its shape because its shape was not solid.
Nearer the back were interconnected wheels spinning in and out of one another on fixed axles. Swathes of golden light emanated from the wheels, dissipating several metres away, so it looked as though the back of the object was aflame in slow motion. The middle and front were more recognisable as rectangular solid forms, but even within those, there were smaller turning wheels, and more golden light streaming out and behind.
Will could not imagine it was anything but a ship. It flew towards them and the closer it got, the more that Will could see there was a sort of pattern to the golden light. It streamed out to the front and slowly angled towards the back, matching the speed of the ship's flight. The light looked like multiple limbs grasping at the space between molecules, and as a result, the ship looked less like it flew, and more like it was simply dragging itself.
The humans stared at it, paralysed with wonder. Will felt Emily's hand slowly grasp his wrist tentatively, but when he looked at her, she was staring up.
The ship stopped near them in mid-air and began to descend softly. Just like that, the streams of light changed direction, so the ship looked as though it was pulling itself down. It made no noise whatsoever, nor did it have any discernible effect on the environment around them.
It stopped several feet above the ground and streams of light gushed from the underside, to the ground. They sprouted little tendrils of light which snaked through the grass like tree roots. A huge portion of the ship's underside detached and floated down to the ground. It was a dark and solid platform, infused with a yellower, dimmer light. On it were several tall forms.
The crowd of humans watched some of those alien forms move towards them. Will had some trouble figuring out what he was seeing.
They were between eight to ten feet, dark bodied with golden or white outlines that glowed faintly. Instead of faces, their heads had intricate patterns of golden lines and complex shapes. The one consistency between all the faces was that they were symmetrical.
When they got nearer, Will could see what he thought were soft outlines of their nervous systems; long spinal cords radiating lines of dim light into every other part of their body. It did not end there. Around the bodies themselves, Will could see auras of different sizes emanating from different points; small ones around the hands, large ones from the upper back, flaring out like wings which distorted the air nearby. There were a few small ones around the feet, and upper legs, as well as several spots along the spine.
Everything about the beings and the ship they came in screamed ethereal and alien. Will was subdued by the sight before him.
Three of the aliens stood in front of the humans and glanced at one another. The lines and shapes on their faces pulsed light with dazzling speed.
The middle of the three looked at the humans.
"We are here to take you."
Its voice was a myriad of different tones layered over one another, and the shapes on its face flashed with each syllable. Startled at hearing a language he recognised, Will opened, and shut his mouth, unable to think of anything to say.