The inside of my apartment was warm. I could smell something that the tenants above me were cooking, and my stomach rumbled.
I flung my bag and cell phone onto the table, and went into the kitchen to find something to make. I saw some salad stuff, some fruit, and a few cold cuts in the fridge. I pulled the meat out along with some mustard, and grabbed bread to make a sandwich.
I saw the light on the answering machine was blinking, so I pressed the playback button to see who’d called.
I leaned against the cool tile on the counter, and let my head fall back. I craned my neck from side to side, trying to loosen the knots that formed there. I ate my dinner to the sound of my concerned family.
Some messages from my mom and brother played, both of them wanting to check in on me. I sighed, listening to my brother tell me that mom was worried about me. It was pointless for him to tell me that anymore, she was always worried about both of us.
They hadn’t approved of me moving out of the city, but I just couldn’t stay there anymore. Too many times I’d drive down the street and remember all the places I’d gone with my dad. I couldn’t let all those memories be tainted with sorrow.
When he finished talking, I took some of the books from my bag that the library was going to get rid of, and started stacking them in the bookcase. Most of their spines were worn down and dog eared from years of use.
After the books were all stacked, I put something on tv and began to get ready for bed.
I slipped my bare legs into my pajama pants, and tugged a loose tank top over my head. I padded barefoot to the bathroom, and brushed my teeth while The West Wing played in the background.
I spat into the sink when there was a knock on the door.
I stuck my head out of the bathroom doorway, and waited a few seconds, when it came again.
I set my toothbrush on the counter, and walked to the window to see who was knocking. I saw a man holding a package, and glanced back at the clock sitting by my couch.
8:15, it read in glowing red. Not super late, I thought.
I opened the door, and the man smiled.
“Miss.. uh, Rose?” He asked. I nodded, and he thrust the box into my hands. He took a pad out of his back pocket, and asked me to sign at the bottom. I did, and he thanked me, then took off towards his truck. I stepped back inside, shut the door, and tossed the box back and forth between my hands. It was heavy, and I could feel the weight inside the box shift around. I couldn’t tell who the sender was, the writing on the box was smudged.
I didn’t have the energy to open it, so I tossed it onto the couch, turned off the tv, and crawled into bed.
I sat there in the dark, my eyes closed, remembering what happened today. I tried to break it all down in my head, and understand everything that’s been happening to me since that bus crash.
But nothing made sense.
I’ve had a few weird dreams, and in one of them I saw the dead girl.
Just a dream…just a dream
I let myself fall asleep slowly, my head swimming.
I was standing up, in the middle of my room. Out of the corners of my eyes, I saw the walls move. There was a dark green sheen being cast over everything I saw.
I could see the walls drip like wet paint, everything around me sagging, and it felt like I was being pulled into the floor.
Black arms, like tentacles, were coming up out of the floor, and a few big ones were coming in through my bedroom door. I took a step forward, and the floor creaked loudly
Something compelled me to walk towards the door, so I took slow steps towards it, the floor crying out each time my foot came down on it. When I got to the door, I pulled it open, and a gust of cool air hit my face.
I saw more on the tentacles, some coming out of the walls, but the bigger ones coming from around the corner, where the living room and kitchen were. I continued to follow the arms, careful to not let them touch me. They all swayed back and forth rhythmically.
When I rounded the corner, I saw where the biggest arms were coming from.
The box on the couch.
I made my way over to it. When I was able to see it, I saw that it wasn’t the box, but a book. It as open, and the arms were flailing around it, fighting to get out.
I batted the arms away, and one of them smacked my hand. It felt cold and slimy, and I almost gagged as a sticky substance was left on my hand from it. I tried to grab the book, but too many of those things were floating around in front of it.
I came around the side of the couch, and tucked my hand under one side of the book. I pushed as hard as I could to try and close it, but it wouldn’t budge. The arms coming out of it began squirming even more, fighting back and trying to get out. I didn’t want to know what they were attached too, so I pushed even harder. I pushed and pushed, but the thing wouldn’t give.
‘You have to cut them.” I heard. I froze, ad slowly took my hand away from the book. I felt like I remembered the voice. So I turned and looked behind me.
There she was. The girl with the grey eyes.
“You have to cut them.” She said again. Her hair was down, and a messy nest behind her head. It was matted and looked sticky. Her face was so hollow, her eyes almost like black holes in her face. She was in a tattered t-shirt and jeans, her bare feet pressed against the floor, dirty and cut up. Her face and arms were pale, washed of all color. She was staring at me, her head tilted slightly to the side.
“What?” I finally asked. She turned and walked towards my kitchen. She stopped in front of my cutlery drawer, opened it, and pulled out a butcher knife. She held it in her hands, and walked towards me.
I backed away from her slightly, and she stopped when she noticed that. She stared at me for a few seconds.
“You have to cut them.” She said for the third time. And with that, she pulled her arm back, knife in hand, and brought it down hard on one of the arms.
A squealing sound came out of the book, and the remainder of the arm disappeared back into the book. She looked over at me, and smiled, her point proven. She extended her arm out, the handle of the knife facing me.
I reached over and grabbed it, and began cutting away at all of the arms shooting out of the book. After they had all retreated back inside, I closed the book with ease.
When I looked back, the girl was gone. I could’ve sworn I’d seen her standing off to the side, watching me slice away the tentacles.
“Hello?” I called out. There was no answer, the house in an eerie silence. All the arms were gone as well. I called out few more times, and looked in every room, and every dark corner for her.
She was nowhere. Gone.
“Thank you.” I said into the dark, and then I was falling. I was sucked into the floor, and I hit a hard surface with a BANG!
I felt my back hit the floor. Sweaty and confused, I sat up, and looked around. It was light, but cold. I looked over and saw my window was wide open somehow. I stretched my now sore back, and got up to close it.
The floor was silent as I made my way across it. I pulled the two window doors closed, and left the curtain open, taking comfort in the light.
I pressed my forehead against the glass, and let the dream run through my mind a few more times. I saw the girl, the one who has taken over my life over these past few days. I saw her eyes, her hair, the state of her clothes, and her pale lifeless skin.
I saw the tentacles, and the way the knife she gave me glided through them.
I saw the book.
The book on the couch.
I dashed out of my room, around the corner, and into the living room. There on the couch, was the book. The box was shredded, and in pieces on the floor.
I carefully made my way over to the couch. The book was face down, so I put my hand under it, and pulled it back quickly when I felt all the heat coming off of it. It was surprising that the thing wasn’t on fire.
I tried again, bearing the heat for as long as it took to flip it over. When it fell on its back, I noticed how old it looked. It looked like it’s been through fires and floods, the script on the book faded.
I leaned down and tried to make out what it said. I read the title a few times over, trying to understand what was going on. The room span around me, and I backed away. My back hit the cold wall, and I let my body slide down slowly. I brought my knees up to my chest, and put my head between my legs, taking deep calming breaths.
What the hell is going on? I thought, as the title ran through my head a million more times.
The Afterlife: Your Guide To Communicating With The Dead.