I looked, through the tears I could see two young men peering over the counter top. I didn’t recognize either of them, I felt the fear bubbling up within my stomach, had one of them done it?
I look back down at the body laying at my knees, my body, my eyes staring up at the ceiling, my blood spilled across the floor of my kitchen. I looked back at the two young men, were they looking at me or my dead body? I stood, one fluid motion, no effort for the dead. Their eyes followed me.
“Who are you?” I asked.
They glanced at each other, the one on the right had platinum blond hair, wore a white robe, and had silver eyes. He had a kind round face and his full lips curled in a small smile when I met his eyes. The man on the left, wore a flowing black cloak over a black suit, he had the hood of the cloak pulled up over his head. The face beneath the hood was angular and strong, green eyes shown from beneath the hood, in the moonlight the green flashed red as his gaze followed my movement.
“Do you know what happened here?” The man in the dark cloak asked.
“I died,” I snapped, he nodded in agreement.
“Are you ready to pass on to the waystation?” The blond asked.
“The waystation?” I asked.
“It is the next step for you now.” The other said.
“Who killed me?” I demanded, I could feel the fear settling into anger. Like a rock in my stomach, heavy and burning.
The two men looked at each other, the cloaked shrugged. The blond man turned back to me. “I didn’t see who did it. You don’t remember?” He asked.
“Why would you have seen?” I snapped.
“Come sit,” The cloaked man said, waving to my old couch. “We have a great deal to speak of.” He said. He took something shiny from his cloak, an hourglass, ornate the frame was made of a dark wood, carved with what looked like dragons, coiled around the glass wells. He placed it on the counter, the sand slowly began to spill from the top to the bottom well.
“What is that for?” I asked.
“You have twenty-four hours until I leave, and you are stuck here.”
I stared at him, my mouth open. “You mean if I don’t come with you now, I might get stuck here?” He nodded. “I can’t go yet, I need to find out why I died.” I growled, my hands forming fists, I felt my arms shaking as the pit in my stomach began to grow.
“It doesn’t matter, let the athouraties worry about that.” The blond said.
“It won’t matter if you find out what happened, there is nothing you could do about it.” The cloaked said.
“I still need to know.” I snapped, dropping down onto the couch, the cushion didn’t move, no puff of dust, not even the usual squeak of the rusty springs.
The blond sat down beside me, “Claire, you need to move on.” He said.
“You know my name?”
“Of course we do.” The cloaked man said, as he sat in the wicker armchair across from me.
“Who are you?” I asked again.
“My name is Apalis.” The blond said. “I am your Guardian.”
“I was known as Percival in my mortal life, I was assigned to be your Reaper.” The other said, he lowered his hood, revealing a head of dark hair, his eyes still flashed red when the light hit them.
“Reaper, Guardian,” I whispered, “so I’m not dreaming then? I really am dead?”
“Were you doubting it?” Percival asked.
Part of me thought I was just dreaming, it wouldn’t’ve been the first time I had dreamt about two handsome men. “A little.” I admitted.
“Well you are very dead, and if you don’t go with Percy soon you will be stuck here on earth for centuries.” Apalis stated, “What happened here isn’t for you to worry about anymore, you should move on and try to enjoy the beginning of your next journey.”
“How can I, I was murdered.” I snapped, I might be dead but I could still feel the heat of my rage burning up my spin as my fingers gripped the legs of my pants. I felt the tears stinging my eyes as I glared at the coffee table. “I wasn’t some old woman, who got to die peacefully in my sleep, I felt fear, I felt the bullet, I remember his voice.” I growled. I glared across the small living room at the Reaper, he was here to take me, but I was not going.
“There isn’t anything you can do about that now.” Percy said, how could he be so calm? I jumped to my feet and headed towards the door of my apartment. I reached for the handle, my hand passed through the brass knob without making any contact. The tears began to seep from my eyes and down my cheeks as I shook with anger.
“Please Claire, go with Percy.” Apalis begged, I turned to see them both standing a few feet from me. “There is nothing you can do about what happened, there won’t be anything you can do to the man who did this to you. Leave this pain and this life behind.”
“What if he is going to do it again?” I demanded.
“What will you do about it?” Percy growled.
“I don’t know.” I felt my shoulders fall, what could I do, I couldn’t even turn the door knob. “There are stories of ghosts hurting people why can’t I do that?” I asked.
“Those ghosts are decades or centuries old, it takes a long time and a lot of practice for a spirit to just cause a breeze through a room.” Apalis said, his eyes were pleading, and his voice was soft.
“Do you even know who did this?” Percy demanded.
I stared at him for a moment and thought back to the last thing I could remember. I had been doing dish, I think, I could remember the sound of a car alarm. I had gone to the kitchen window to look out into the parking lot. Then footsteps, I had turned around, nothing.
“I think it was a man.” I said.
“Helpful.” Percy breathed.
“I can’t remember.”
“That is normal.” Apalis said patting my hand.
“Anyone who might have wanted you dead?” Percy asked.
“No, not that I’m aware of, I’ve always kept to myself.” I shook my head, tears returning to my eyes. “I didn’t have a boyfriend I’m not sure I even had any friends. I doubt anyone will miss me.”
“I’m sure that’s not true.”
“So, this was just a robbery gone wrong?”
“All robbery is wrong.” Apalis snapped at Percy.
“You know what I meant.”
I closed my eyes as the Reaper and Guardian argued about the moral standing of thieves. I heard the footsteps again, the clicking of my lucky cat and remembered turning around. The click, click of the golden cat, and seeing the barrel of the gun. Click, click of the golden cat, and green eyes.
“I know who it was.”