! Hello. My name is Erik Shultz. I am a psychiatrist and musician. I am also dead. Do not mourn for me. I do not mourn for myself. Mind you: I do not loathe my former life. I am simply content with the one I lived. I have no need for such tears.
! Whether you know it or not, the world is changing. Heaven and Hell are prepared to remove the veil of secrecy. Tis’ a decision I am rather against. I’ve been a part of this otherworld for over seventy years, and from what I’ve seen, the human race should remain in ignorance. Sadly, it is not my choice to make.
! What you believe is not a fallacy. In every religion or belief, there is much truth. Much of this world has been planned, and much of this world has gone wrong. Fear not, for I do not believe that you are to blame. The angels and devils don’t believe there was ever a choice for the human race. I believe, they’ve always had a choice, but we’re too blind and prideful to admit it.
! Listen to me, spitting nonsense that you have yet to understand. And I’m afraid I cannot fully explain what troubles your world. Not yet. Grieve not: Ignorance is not as tragic as you believe. But if it is knowledge you seek, perhaps I can tell you another tale.
! All great things start small. This is a truth undeniably true for even our current predicament. For your world, the time in which the human race was truly affected by the afterworld was quite recent. We look into the year 2010. A young woman of crimson hair, unaware of her own secrets, will soon learn far more than any human. And her life shall be shaken to its core.
Chapter 1: Blinding Beams
! A lone, china egg stands in the center of a dressing table. Embroidered in gold, it shines in the lamp light. A youthful hand slowly opens the egg. As it opens, a gentle melody pours from the musical jewelry box. A glass, crimson crane spins around from within the music box, dancing to the music. The egg’s owner gently sings to the melody, as she pulls out two earrings.
! Tonight the super trouper’s lights are gonna find me.
Shining like the sun.
Smiling having fun.
Feeling like a number one.
! The young woman slowly closes the egg, staring at the gold engraving from within:
! “When our paths finally cross, I promise I will sing to you.
! She closes the box, sighing at the message given from a soul who will never sing to her. Dotting the ruby earrings to her ear, she glares at the mirror. A pale, young woman, age 23, glares back at her. Her hair, crimson and curled, cradles her face. Her eyes oppose each other. One eye possesses a sharp teal, and the other a bright, sapphire blue. She powders her nose, concealing her few freckles. She starts speeding up, reaching for the eye shadow as she finishes the powder. Her cell phone immediately rings. She snatches it before anyone can hear it. “Hello?”
! “Hey! We’re in front of your house!”
! “What the crap!” Alice notices she shouted far too loud. She begins whispering into the phone. “You told me you’d pick me at seven sharp!”
! Anne sounds apologetic on the other line. “I’m sorry, but I thought Ema was going to take much longer to get ready!”
! “Well, drive around my neighborhood! I don’t want my parents knowing you’re here!” Alice starts rushing through her make-up, trying to speed up the process.
! “Are you at least dressed?”
! “Yes, but I have to work on this hideous face looking at me in the mirror!”
! “Alice, I swear to God! I will punch your face repeatedly until you realize that you aren’t ugly! Cause then, you will be ugly!”
! “I’m coming outside. Give me five minutes.” Alice hangs up the phone. She throws on her boots, and starts marching out her bedroom door. She quietly steps into an adjacent room: a room covered in pink and stuffed animals. She creeps toward the solitary crib in the room. Alice peers inside. Katrina Kidd, age 1, naps quietly inside. Alice smiles at her little sister. “Good night, Katie.” Alice slips back out of the room. She rushes down stairs, trying not to make a sound.
! “Caught you!”
! Alice heart skips a beat, as her mother steps into the room. “Mom! What the hell?”
! “Oh god!” Susan Kidd falls to her knees laughing. “You should have seen the look on your face!”
! “Mom! Are you drunk again?”
! “Yep.” Susan takes another gulp of her glass. “Are you going to a party without telling any of us for any particular reason?”
! Alice cringes. “…Yep.” She releases her cringe and returns in argument. “But Mom! All my friends are going tonight! They want to plan out the Night of the Living Dance party for Halloween!”
! Susan rolls her eyes. “Night of the Living Dance? Can you guys come up with more boring names?”
! “I won’t do anything bad!”
! Susan laughs. “That, I’m not worried about. I know you.”
! “Honey, I was so much worse than you when I was your age. What you’ve done so far, I’m not even worried.”
! “What did you do?”
! “Skinny dip, drink just about everything, pole dance, smoke weed, smoke meth.”
! “You smoked meth!?!”
! “Only five times. And I didn’t like it the first, third or fourth time.”
! “What happened with the second and fi~…?”
! “Listen. I trust you. I’ve watched you grow up. I’m not like your father. I know the things you’re into, and I know that you are too worried to drink or smoke anything, if it means not being able to keep your friends safe. You’re cute for thinking that, but it’s okay.”
! “I don’t drink cause I don’t like the taste.”
! “Again, you’re adorable.” Susan laughs to herself. “But I know you know why your father doesn’t want you out. It’s cause of the Chandlers incident.”
! Recently, news had come out that Lou and Karen Chandlers were found dead in their house. Lou and Karen were well known neighbors five blocks down from the Kidd household. Lou was found dead in his bedroom, his skull apparently crushed by a sledgehammer. His wife, Karen, was found locked in the bathroom, stabbed and had both her legs broken. She bled out before the authorities could make it. Police found Lou and Karen’s teenage daughter, tied up and covered in bruises. She is still in the hospital recovering.
! “That was a week ago! Besides, we’re going straight to the club and then come right back home.”
! “I know, honey. I know. Listen. I’ll let you go.” Susan interrupts Alice before she could cheer. “But you’re letting me meet your friends.”
! Alice’s face turned pale. “Oh god…” Susan opens the front door as Anne drives into the driveway.
! Ema rolls down her window and peeks out. “What’s up, bitch! You fucking ready to get wasted!” Ema’s smile turns into a horrified glare as Susan walks right up to the car. She immediately throws her sunglasses on and rolls her window back up. Anne rolls her window down without fear.
! “Good evening, Mrs. Kidd.”
! Susan whispers under her voice. “Such a kiss ass.” She immediately speaks up. “Hey! Anne! How is your father doing?”
! “Oh, great. He’s on his last week of rehab. He’ll be home real soon.”
! “Good deal!” Susan gives her best poker face to show that she cares. She doesn’t hate Anne, but instead her racist father, who frequently called her and her husband certain racial profanities.
! Alice catches up to her mother. “Hey, Anne…” She shivers in fear, hoping that Ema won’t say anything stupid.
! Anne tries to take control of the situation. “Alice! Good to see you! Let’s hurry up! We don’t want to be la~”
! “And who is this in the backseat calling my lovely daughter a bitch?” Anne’s and Alice’s blood ran cold at that statement. Susan peeks into Ema’s window, and makes a gesture for her to lower her window. Ema doesn’t react, but Anne lowers the window from the front of the car.
! Ema takes a deep breath, and lowers her sunglasses. She squints at Susan, and then at Alice. Her English accent rolls out with her question. “So then, did you marry a white man?”
! “Excuse me?”
! “Cause you’re as black as me, Mrs. Kidd. How could you have a kid as pale as that ginger unless your husband is white?”
! Susan laughs. “My husband actually has a darker skin tone than me.” Before Ema could say another word, she interrupts her. “You can fill in the blanks, I’m sure. Listen, I just wanted to make sure that you guys have a good time.”
! “Of course, mate! We’ll have fucking bla~”
! Susan’s tone shifts to a dark, violent shade. Her thick and furious voice slices through the air. “Understand. If she comes back hurt, I will kill you.” Ema glares back in horror. Susan returns the stare with the terrifying scowl. The scowl immediately changes into a massive grin. “Haha! I’m totally screwing with you!”
! Ema lets a breath escape. “Oh thank god!”
! The two laugh. “Hahaha! Or am I?” Her tone and scowl return. Her scowl turns back into a smile, but she doesn’t take back her comment this time. “Okay, you kids have fun!” Susan starts marching right back to the front door. The three girls breathing in complete relief.
! Alice rushes inside the car, as the car immediately backs up and speeds off. “So, Alice. Do you think your mother killed the Chandlers?”
! Alice laughs. She turns back to Ema from the passenger seat. “No. The sledgehammer thing is too tame for her.”
! “She’s a psycho!”
! “Nah, she just runs hard in terms of trust. You really got to earn it with her.”
! “So then… You’re adopted?”
! Alice shrugs. “Yep. Never really bothered me.”
! “Why are you mentioning this?”
! “Never met your parents until now. Really threw me for a ride.” Ema tilts her head. “Uh, are you supposed to be wearing only one earring?”
! “What?” Alice checks her ears. “Shit! Please don’t tell me it fell off at my house!” She looks toward her feet. The missing earring rests between them. “Oh thank god!” She leans down to get the earring, but her seatbelt yanks her back. “Ow!” She slides back to her seat without the earring.
! Anne looks toward Alice, and then back to the road. “Just take the seatbelt off and get it.”
! Alice hesitates. “No. I’ll get it when we stop the car.” She clings to the seatbelt tightly, remembering her fear.
! “Alice, come on. You’re not going to die from not wearing the thing for a split second.”
! Ema speaks in the conversation. “Yeah. See? I’m not wearing mine!”
! Alice turns her head. “Ema. Please put your seatbelt on.”
! “Ugh! Again? What are you so afraid of?”
! “Just do it.”
! Ema rolls her eyes, as she slides her seatbelt on. “Happy?”
! “Ecstatic.” Alice turns back toward the earring. Anne stops the car at a red light. “Okay. Real fast.” She clicks the seatbelt off and leans forward. Her hand darts right for the earring. “Got it!” She snatches the earring and starts placing it on her ear. Suddenly, a blinding light beams directly behind the car. The girls turn to see what the light is.
! The last thing spoken was Alice screaming in complete fear. “Anne!” Alice reaches for Anne, as the semi-truck behind them slams into their car. Deafening sound silences the screams. The last thing Alice could see was Anne covering her face. With that last sight, Alice flew through the windshield, breaking the glass on impact and hitting the concrete.
! As she passes out, the only things she could hear were Anne and Ema screaming her name.