Written by Atticus Payne


“My child, my child, I am so sorry.” A voice echoed from a cluster of white and gold mist as it rushed in, somehow still managing to look like it was tripping over itself. Sagging, too, like it’d taken all of its strength just to get here. But that couldn’t be true: people never spent energy getting here. They did, however, burn out by trying to leave.

I looked up, gesturing with my shackled wrists to show the plastic chains. I’d spent countless nights trying to speak, but couldn’t. And that’d only been after I’d known the truth of the Prison.

Still, the mist rolled closer, now darting left and right, looking over me. I let it. I had no idea what it’d see, anyway. The Prison was blinding.

“Oh, my poor child. I am so sorry. For years, I’ve been questing to find a way in. And a way out for you, after that.” Then it froze and gasped upon noticing my arms and neck. I knew it had no idea what to say because no one ever did. Neither did I, really. Arms hadn’t been made to bear that many scars, all in varying stages of healing, most grossly infected.

There was a flash, and the chains were gone. Impossible.

My tongue loosened. “Who are you?”

The mist had a form and a face now, of endless beauty. It was kind, and warm, with quiet, slanted eyes, and a set mouth. It felt safe.

It shook its head. “I am Death, child. I’m sorry I took so long. We must leave; I have come to free you from Life.” It smiled, easily, reaching out a hand.

I gladly took it.

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