Orpheus: The Taste of Ashes - Player Stuff - Teresa - Diary - Prologue: NDEs

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Life After Death

The first thing that struck me -- after the knife, of course -- was that getting stabbed really fucking hurts. Not when the blade goes in: that just felt like getting hit. But when it comes out again? When you feel the sudden hot rush of blood running out of you like a river? When you feel the cold air on bits of you that were never meant to see the light of day? That’s when it hits you just how badly you’ve been messed up. And then it really starts to hurt. They sure as shit don’t tell you that in personal defence training. The second thing to go through my mind -- and looking back on it now it seems seven shades of dumb -- was that Nick was going to do his nut over this screw-up. Of all the things to worry about at a time like that, the good opinion of the boss hardly seems like it should make the top ten. But I guess rationality tends to go out of the window when you’re bleeding out all over the floor.

I’m not too sure what happened next. Things got a little blurry for a while, jagged shards of hot sharp agony driving deep within the meat of my flesh. Roaring in my ears as the red wet pulsing haze faded to a cold-hard, coal-black silence. There was tugging (or pushing) sensation; sharp and quick, almost surgical. And then… The there was no more pain. I felt, well, not much of anything, really. I stood, I think, looking down at… myself. Familiar-strange eyes stared blankly out of a blood loss-pale face. Looking down at… at me; at my body -- I suddenly found myself thinking of an empty house: lights on (barely), but no one home.

I wasn’t scared. I should’ve been, but I wasn’t. That was probably partly due to the shock of it all and partly that, well, this wasn’t the first time. There was a car accident, back before I went to college. Driving back from a party with one of the “nice young men” my mother kept trying to fix me up with. Except “nice” apparently didn’t mean smart. It certainly didn’t mean knowing better than to drive while under the influence. I didn’t know. I mean, I knew he’d had a beer or two, but I didn’t how much more than that it was. I wouldn’t have gotten in the car if I’d known. To be honest, I probably shouldn’t have done anyway, but I let my desire to go home over-rule my better judgement on that one. It was almost the last mistake I made.

We weren’t more than ten minutes down the road before he wrapped us both around a tree (him rather more literally than me, as it turned out). It happened so fast, but it was like every little detail imprinted itself on my mind. I think I was conscious through it all, right up until… Until… Something popped, high up in my neck. I heard it quite distinctly, even over the crunching of glass and the grinding of metal on metal. I’ve never forgotten that sound, and I don’t think I ever will. Something tore deep inside: I thought I was being ripped right in half and I guess, in a way, I was. Body and soul going their separate ways. I was falling -- or flying -- away from the remains of the car (I could see it disappearing into the distance) and then something yanked me back. It took my breath away, or would’ve, if I’d had any, and I came to a dead stop. Pardon the pun. I looked around and could see that I was about ten yards or so from the car. I walked back -- and it really did feel like I was walking on something -- looked inside, and there I was.

I was sure that I’d died. When the lights approached, I thought for sure it was the next life opening its gates for me. Except it struck me that the light at the end of the tunnel was supposed to be bright white, not flashing red and blue. It was an ambulance. Or a fire truck. It was hard to make out the details. I guess someone must have seen the crash, and called 911. People swarmed around, doing stuff. I didn’t pay them much attention -- I wasn’t overly interested, to be honest. I was just absolutely fascinated with by the sight of myself surrounded by that twisted metal cocoon. I just couldn’t look away. Time passed -- I don’t know how much -- and then I felt something dragging me back. I think I fought it -- the memory’s kind of hazy -- but it was too strong. It was like drowning. Or being born. Not that I really know what either is like, but I’ve read descriptions. There was a moment of indescribable pain and then, mercifully, everything went black.

So, when I found myself looking down at myself again, I wasn’t entirely taken aback. I seemed to be, well, somewhat more compos mentis than the last time. There was still a certain amount of detachment, but the sight of my body didn’t hold me in thrall: I was able to actually take notice of my surroundings. Things looked pretty much as they had done before Gerald Wrexler stabbed me, if a little more monochrome. Not the blood, though, that was scarlet and bright and real. It actually felt like I might be able to touch it, but when I tried my fingers just passed straight through the floor. (It didn’t hurt exactly, but the sensation was what I can only describe as “uncomfortable”. I felt a little like I’d stood up too quickly and gotten dizzy, but the feeling passed almost as soon as it happened.) As I was trying to work out what to do next, hospital security guards rushed in and took down Gerald. Part of me was a little miffed that they hadn’t managed to do that before he stabbed me, but I guess they were still hoping I could talk him down. I suppose I can’t really fault them for not wanting to risk the hostage.

Once they got Gerald safely subdued, the paramedics moved in. It was really weird seeing them carry out CPR on my body. I didn’t really see this side of it the last time. It was horribly undignified and I almost wanted to tell them to stop, but I didn’t. Not that they would’ve heard me anyway. Or would they? I don’t know. There isn’t really much more to tell at this point. The paramedics succeeded and I got dragged back into my body again like last time. I came to with a huge, heaving breath and promptly wished for blessed unconsciousness. It still fucking hurt.

It’s a few days after the incident now. I’m currently recovering in hospital. I should be fit for work again within a week or two, even if Nick is trying to talk me into taking some time off beyond that. I think he’s worried about my mental health. Or his paperwork. I feel fine, though. (Apart from the healing stab wound, obviously.) I haven’t told anyone about my “out of body experience” -- or, rather experiences -- yet, and I’m not sure if I’m going to. I wanted to get it down on paper before I started to forget the details, which is why I’m writing this. The thing is… I’d pretty much dismissed the last one as a delusion. What with the pain and the shock and all that, a few hallucinations wouldn’t exactly be improbable. This could be the same, but, well… I checked up on some of the details. Little things like the paramedics’ name badges, like things they said to each other before I “woke up” and so on. And they were all right: every single one of them.

I let the paramedics think that I hadn’t been all the way under when they worked on me -- it seemed easier than telling them that I think my soul left my body for a few minutes. That might even have been true for all I know, but somehow I don’t think so. There were things I just couldn’t have seen from where I was, things I couldn’t possibly have known without being able to move around. And I knew them; I saw them. So what does that mean? Did I really leave my body? And is that what happened before? I’ve heard about out of body experiences -- what doctor, psychiatrist or American hasn’t? -- but I never thought anything like that would happen to me.

So what do I do about it?