You are walking a fragile line.
When Lexi woke up her face was pressed into the dirt.
With a soft groan she managed to roll herself onto her back. When she opened her eyes she was staring up at a bright blue sky.
That wasn’t right. It had been night. If she was seeing anything, it should have been stars.
“Oh, that’s right,” she said to herself. “I must be dead.”
Lexi was surprised with how calm she felt. She expected more panic? Or at least a deep sadness? She didn’t feel much of anything.
She looked around — there were no clouds in the sky — but most disconcerting of all was that there wasn’t a sun in the sky either. It was just blue. A blue that stretched for infinity.
“It’s just an illusion,” a small voice said.
Lexi pushed herself into a standing position and turned to see who was there.
It was a young woman. She was shorter than Lexi. Her eyes matched the color of the sky, but were highlighted by specks of gold. She had thick auburn hair that fell down past her shoulders. A light seemed to radiate from her very core.
Lexi took a step toward the woman and when her foot hit the ground the world around her burst into life. There were lush trees, bushes, and the natural sounds of wildlife filled the air. It smelled like it had just rained — but the ground wasn’t wet.
“Where are we?” Lexi asked.
The young woman gave her a soft smile and held out her hand. Lexi took it without hesitation. They began walking down a path that Lexi hadn’t notice before.
“I call it Oblivion,” the young woman said.
Lexi looked down at her feet for a moment, took another step, and when she looked up they were standing in front of the ocean.
“It’s the space between the world you’re familiar with and what comes next,” the woman said.
“What comes next?” Lexi asked.
The young woman squeezed Lexi’s hand and dropped it. Lexi dug her toes into the warm sand.
“I don’t know,” she said.
“Who are you?”
“Why are you here?” Lexi asked.
Claire moved to sit down but there was nothing there. Then there was. A bench. A bench that wasn’t there, suddenly existed.
Lexi wondered if she could make things exist too.
“Not yet,” Claire said.
“What?” Lexi asked.
“You can’t manifest anything yet,” Claire said. “I’ve been here a very long time.”
“You can read my mind?”
“Sort of,” Claire said.
“How long’s a very long time?”
“I don’t know exactly. Time moves differently here.”
Claire patted the open spot next to her. Lexi took a seat.
“Wait. You didn’t answer my question. Why are you here?”
“You glance through the veil. I exist behind it. I can’t go back and I’m unable to move forward. I’m, to put it bluntly, trapped here. When I was alive I could see the future. I had little control over what would happen. But you, you will return.”
“Don’t most people only die once?”
“You’re not most people,” Claire said. “This will happen every time you die.”
“How many times will that be?”
“Too many to count,” Claire said.
“Why am I like this?”
Claire was silent for a moment before she finally replied.
“There’s something in your DNA that makes you different.”
“I was killed by a woman who could heal herself. Is there something in her DNA too?”
“Her name is Tala. You’re just like her,” Claire said.
“I’m nothing like her,” Lexi said. “I’m not a killer.”
“I only meant — “
Claire seemed to get lost in her own thoughts.
“She created Oblivion. She trapped me here. You have a connection to her that allows you to come to this place and allows you to leave.”
She took Lexi’s hand again, this time in both of hers. She flipped Lexi’s hand so her palm was facing the sky and ran a hand along Lexi’s forearm. When she got to Lexi’s wrist her hand lingered.
“The coming days will not be easy. Trust your instincts. Don’t lose yourself and you will survive.”
“I can’t die. What is it that I need to survive?”
“There are some fates far worse than death,” Claire said.
Lexi felt a pain run up her spine and out to her limbs. It lingered in her shoulder and in her head.
“It’s almost time,” Claire said.
Claire moved to stand, took Lexi’s hand, and pulled her up with her. When Lexi stood the world changed.
They were standing in the middle of a city street. Fog rolled beneath their feet. The once bright blue sky had faded to black. The lights flickered. They were alone.
The city felt haunted. It was as though the ghosts of people who should have been still lingered there.
“You have to find —”
Claire tilted her head. Her eyes lost focus. She seemed to be staring through Lexi. Lexi turned around to see what Claire was looking at but it was just an empty street.
“Oh. She’s already found you.”
Lexi back turned around to face Claire.
“The woman who killed me? Tala?”
Claire shook her head, her eyes focused again on Lexi.
“Marceline. She has answers for you. She’ll be able to explain.”
Claire rolled her shoulders. To Lexi, it appeared as though she was fighting back a wave of emotion.
Lexi stayed quiet. Her eyes tracked Claire’s expression. There was a pain behind her eyes, that of which Lexi had never experienced.
“Tala finding you has set off a chain of events that will challenge you in the coming months.”
“Why can’t you tell me more?”
“It could disrupt the balance,” Claire said.
“That sounds like something you just made up,” Lexi said.
“I learned early on I need to be careful with what I say. You’ll just have to trust me. You are walking a fragile line…”
Claire seemed to get distracted. She looked past Lexi again. Lexi didn’t turn to look this time but she thought she could hear footsteps.
“How do I go back?” Lexi asked.
“There’s a door,” Claire said. “You’ll find it.”
Claire grabbed Lexi’s arm and turned her around. As Lexi spun, the world around her changed.
She was standing at the edge of the parking lot of her apartment complex. Directly across from her she could see herself. Her body was frozen in time, inches from the concrete below her balcony.
“This is going to hurt,” she said to herself.
She took a step toward herself and then instinctively looked to her right. A door was there. It looked like the door to her apartment but from the inside looking out. She walked the few feet between her and the door.
Lexi clenched her jaw and forced herself to relax before she reached for the door knob and twisted. It gave way with little effort. The door swung open and Lexi was enveloped by a golden light. She didn’t waste anymore time. Lexi stepped through the door.
She was swallowed by the light and then everything went black.
She felt like she was being hurled through the sky. There was a jolt as she was thrown back into reality.
Her body hit the concrete and she heard a crack. Her nose broke. She could taste blood. But she was alive.
This was the second chapter of Lexi’s saga.
Copyright © 2021 k.c. statler