The first thing I noticed was the water seeping into my clothes.
Stunned, I opened my eyes and looked up at the bridge above. There was a giant rip down the middle, as if there was a sudden earthquake. I was positive it wasn't there before I went onto the bridge. Come to think of it, why was I down in the water in the first place?
My eyes widened as large chunks of debris started falling from the destroyed bridge. I dove down into the water as chunks of rock splashed down all around me. I kicked my legs and swam away from the area, and swam to the surface, gasping for breath.
"Oi! Are you going to float there all day, or swim out of the way and let us pass?"
Kicking my legs, I turned and took a look at the giant boat now headed my way. Perched on the bow was a girl about my age, staring intently at me. "Who are you?" I asked. "I don't remember seeing a boat when I was crossing the river
The girl chuckled. "Of course you didn't. You were alive then." I began to laugh, but stopped when I saw her serious expression. "This is not a joke, little girl," she snapped. "Get onboard. We need all the new recruits we can get."
Without warning, some areas of the ship sank in, one on top of the other. They were all rectangular, and led up to the top of the ship. It was like a makeshift ladder, but I had never seen one like it before. I swam a few feet away. "I don't think so," I replied. "I just met you, and you want me to get on your boat? I have to go somewhere, excuse me." With that said, I started to swim towards the shore.
The girl blinked. "Not anymore you don't. Just face it, little girl; you're dead. Now if you don't get onto this ship right now, you might as well put up a sign that says 'Here I am, come destroy me!' No, unless you come with us, you'll only get yourself wounded or worse, since you have no way to protect yourself."
I stopped and stared. And laughed. "Dead!? I'm not dead! I feel perfectly fine! This is exactly where I was a few minutes ago!"
"Feel your heartbeat. Now."
"Fine then." I lifted one of my hands and put it to my breast in an exaggerated fashion.
Surprised and slightly frantic, I unbuttoned the top of my shirt and put my hand to the bare skin of my breast.
A cold feeling dripped down my spine. I stared at my chest, the girl, and my chest again. "What the hell is going on?" I whispered.
"I told you already; you have died. I'll explain everything, don't worry. Come onboard, we'll need you. Face it, there's nowhere else to go."
"It doesn't matter!" I shouted up to the girl. "I'm not about to get aboard a ship that nearly tried to run me down, just because I'm 'dead,' if that's even true! Now leave me alone, I have to go to work!" I swam over to the shore, shook off as much water as I could, and started walking towards the city.
The place was not like I remembered it the previous few times I went. Grass and trees were everywhere, most shooting up out of buildings. Speaking of which
I could see some taller office skyscrapers shooting up out of lower structures.
Wow, it's really quiet, I thought. Wait a minute
where is everybody? I turned slowly in a circle. Usually the city was loud and busy, with people hurrying down the sidewalks and honking their horns in traffic. Now it was so silent that my ears started to hurt. I was standing in the middle of the road, and yet the only cars in sight were the ones parked on the side.
Things were becoming stranger by the minute. I was walking to work from the train station and then
I frowned. I couldn't remember what happened after that. It wasn't the "it's-on-the-tip-of-my-tongue-I-just-know-it" kind of forgetfulness. Instead, my mind was completely blank.
But I didn't exactly have time to think about that when a smashed-up car with a teenager hanging out of the windshield arrived at my feet.
The girl was initially unconscious. As I dragged her out of the car, I noticed lines of blood on her skin, but when I dabbed at them with my shirt, there were no gashes underneath. "That's strange
" I muttered as I set the girl in a sitting position leaning against a tree.
Suddenly the girl's eyes shot open. "Wh-what's going on?" she exclaimed, looking frantically around the area. Then she looked down at her body. "AAAUGH! I'm covered in blood!"
"I can't! I have no idea where I am or what happened to me earlier " she looked about ready to burst into tears.
I sat down next to the girl and ran my fingers through my hair in the way that feels like you'll pull it all out by the roots. She appeared out of nowhere
has she forgotten everything? Or is it the same thing that happened to me? The other girl on the boat said that I was dead
but I certainly don't remember dying! Then again, I can't remember anything that happened in the past few hours
maybe I should just go talk with her, in case she is... correct. It's worth a try, at least.
I stood up. "C'mon. I think I know someone who can explain all this."
I held my hand out to her, but she shrank back. "Leave me alone!" the girl snapped. "I just met you, I'm not going anywhere with you!"
I sighed. "Which is better, getting an explanation, or sulking under a tree next to your decimated car?"
"Move, undetermined soul! I must speak with Elizabeth!"
I slowly turned around to see a man that, looking back, I can't really describe. The only thing I can is how I felt; utterly hopeless and fearful. These feelings were so strong, I could only gape as he pushed me aside.
"Elizabeth Lockhart, age 27, you will make a perfect soldier for me," the man growled. "You have been judged as evil, doing horrible deeds with even worse intentions for the majority of your life. Once you have received my touch, you will do as I command."
I'm certain the feeling was mutual, for she didn't squirm or protest as he placed his palm to her forehead. He held it there for several minutes, muttering something in a language I didn't understand. The entire time, a grey glow surrounded her, until the man finished and took his hand away. "Do you know what you must do now?" he hissed.
I can't explain it, but the girl (Elizabeth?) was changed. Maybe it was her expression or the way she held her body now. In any case, she certainly didn't look as afraid as I was anymore. "Yes, my lord," she said with a horrible smile. "When may I start?"
"Once you are ready." With that, he disappeared.
Automatically, my body relaxed. Bending over, I inhaled deeply, trying to rid myself of the cold hopeless feeling I had just seconds before. "Elizabeth?" I called over to the girl. "Are you
are you okay?"
She stood up and brushed the grass and leaves off her bottom. "Don't ever speak to me like that again," she snapped. "You are not my equal, and until this war is over, you never will be! You filthy undetermined scum." With that, she disappeared, just like the strange man.
Groaning, I collapsed against the tree. I hope I'm not going batshit insane, I thought.
"Excuse me! Are you Gail Parkins?" a voice whispered uncomfortably close to my ear.
Scrambling away on my hands and feet, I looked up and saw a boy a few years younger than me hanging from a lower tree limb. "And who are you?" I called up. "Are you going to perform some ritual over me too?"
The boy jumped to the ground. "No, no, I'm not here for
well, what you saw. I'm a scout, from the ship earlier. I was sent here by Captain Harriet to find you. If we go quickly, it shouldn't be too far down the river
"Will I be safe from
"It's the safest place I know of."
"In that case, I'm definitely coming." I hauled myself off the ground. "Lead the way." Just what the hell am I getting myself into?