I woke up.
Felt odd. Skin tingling.
I looked up and found lights shining down on me.
No, that’s not it.
The lights became me.
Beams of light sprang from the top of my hands, my arms, my whole body.
Out in the distance in front of me, I saw more lights. I wondered if they became me, too.
“I’m alive,” I said.
My name was George. I was alive.
A smile spread across my face. I couldn’t help myself, looking at my body.
It was my body. Not the elf’s body, not a pile of bones.
Gods be damned, I was alive.
A whimpering to my left. I turned around and saw Val.
He looked odd: most of his teeth were gone. He cried.
“Val,” I said, my voice wavering.
He raised his hand, put it through me. I couldn’t feel a thing.
He mumbled — my name, perhaps.
I almost asked him what had happened, but then I realized it didn’t matter.
“George,” a voice said, off in the dark distance, where I couldn’t see its origin. Still, it was utterly recognizable — the Angel of Death’s. “You’re not long for this world.”
I looked down on the stage floor. I was on a stage, which seemed odd.
The Angel of Death flew towards me. Great metal wings filled the theater. Her red eye glowed.
“Not long for this world,” I muttered, repeating it, not fully believing it. I’d been here for such a short time. How could I be leaving? There didn’t seem to be much sense to it, which meant I couldn’t drum up much emotion about it.
“You died long ago, in the apocalypse. Do you remember it?” Her left hand dripped blood — not hers, either.
“Apocalypse.” Of course I remembered. The breaking of the Celestial Wall, the holy light pouring over me, burning my flesh, taking my bits and using them to create a whole new universe: a hard thing to forget. “Yes, I remember.”
“Some machine recreated your brain, based off of everything you know. But you’re not long for this world, George.”
Val wailed even more. His shouts were coarse — animalistic. He must’ve gone through a lot since the last time I’d seen him.
“That’s alright,” I said.
Something felt strange. It didn’t matter how long I was for this world. After all, wasn’t I already dead?
I couldn’t remember what it’d been like — death. But then again, maybe I wasn’t George. She said I was just an approximation of the brain.
I had the memories, though. They were terrible. Grotesque. Sad.
My life had been sad. I wondered if the afterlife would be kinder.
Or maybe there wasn’t an afterlife. Maybe we came back again and again, reborn time after time.
The Angel of Death looked sad, but content. I felt the same way. What was there to fear of death, if we didn’t understand it? Wasn’t life more threatening than death? How much more could death possibly throw at me?
Val kept wailing. I felt myself beginning to flicker out of existence.
I was dying, but that was the way it should be.
That was the way of the world.