I wouldn’t call the water cold, cold would be an understatement. Cold doesn’t force the air out of your lungs even as I try desperately not to take another breath. I don’t even want to know what it feels like to breath in such water, but I find out anyways as I fail to reach the surface. It’s like knives piercing me to the core of my being.
Every movement drains me as if it were ten. I hurt as if I’ve been struggling for hours, but it’s only been a few minutes. As I force myself to the surface, I find a barrier in my way. I can’t see it, forcing my eyes open is well beyond me now. I can’t feel it, my skin that had once burned now seemed to simply no longer exist.
I only know I’m beating at something trying and failing to scream because my arms only extend so far. Trying to claw my way through is just as futile, serving no purpose not even to make it more painful. I can feel my end like a piece of string pulled too tight, just about ready to snap.
Just as that string reached its end, when it couldn’t possibly stretch any further, I break through. Like my arm was dipped in molten metal it burns, I try desperately to find purchase and break free. My string finding renewed strength as with agonizing speed I free myself from the frozen water. The air burns, the smooth surface I am on /burns/ as I cough trying to dislodge the knives from my lungs.
“You’re pretty lively for a dead guy.” Someone said. I want to tell them I’m not dead; I’m alive. I want to, but I can’t, my body has given up. Burning so much I wish to scream, but all I do is choke on water as I fade into a less painful darkness.
I woke up… later, for lack of a better word. My internal clock was telling me time had passed, more rather than less but not how much. Waking up also wasn’t a good descriptor, at first there was nothing, then there was light.
None of the usual things that usually accompanied waking up happened. No blinking repeatedly and denying that I was indeed awake. No slight disorientation of wondering how I ended up on the floor, as opposed to my bed.
I did feel tenderized like I had been lovingly worked over with a mallet for hours. Every muscle, every ligament, every bone felt lessened and ached. My head felt like what I imagine it would feel like to get hit with a gold brick wrapped in citrus fruit.
I was also apparently hallucinating the grim reaper.
The reaper was a tall, figure that towered over me. Clad in a black cloak that billowed from a nonexistent wind, black fog seemed to extrude from it before dissipating, the hood was being filled with black fog as well. It’s scythe was half again as tall as it was, and standing upright on its own.
That was my first thought, then I realized that the reaper was only about five feet all and only looked big because I was on my back. My third thought was that the cloak seemed to be a cheap quality and would probably itch. Then I notice something peculiar, “do you not have arms?”
“Real smooth, make fun of the armless avatar of death why don’t you. For a dead guy you have some odd priorities,” she said. At least she sounded female and young.
“I’m not dead, and I’m serious here. How did you get in without arms, or your scythe how do you carry it.” This was important damn it. I tried to get up, but I got stuck on something; it felt sticky like cobwebs. I tried to brush them off ineffectually.
“Keep telling yourself that stiffy, it won’t change your recently deceased status.” She didn’t seem to notice me fighting with the cobwebs, and pointedly ignored my questions about her arms.
“You have a terrible bedside manner, you know that?” I gave up fighting with the cobwebs and looked down at myself. I didn’t see anything, I mean sure I saw myself not in the tanned toned glory I would like, but in the average body I had. I was also shirtless so that embarrassing tattoo I got while drunk was visible. Also, I should probably clean my carpet, I hadn’t done that in a while.
As I got to my feet, the mystery of the cobwebs not solved she replied. “They say we learn it with time.”
“Fuck if I know but we’re almost understaffed as hell, all job training is on the job.”
“How new are you?”
“You are my first dead guy; we should get going.”
“I’m not dead,” I protested again. I know how stupid it looks to say to the avatar of death, even if I was her first, that I’m not dead. I do however have a couple very good reasons for it. “Look I can prove it, see.” As I spoke, I turned towards my bed motioning, then forgot what I was going to say.
I looked surprisingly peaceful laying on my bed not breathing. Probably the most relaxed looking I had been in months, with all the loose muscles and all. I had also shat myself, damn it. Ok, this is going to be gross.
“How does your corpse prove anything?”
“Like this,” and I stepped into my body. Getting into my body wasn’t like getting out, for one thing it was quicker, it also felt a lot less like dying. I still sat up gasping for air and felt like I was fighting my way through a massive spider web to get up. Also squish, that was gross I need a shower.
I looked over to see a rather shocked middle school aged girl wearing a Guns N’ Roses hoodie and carrying a skateboard. “I am so getting banished for this,” she said in wide eyed horror.