Planets rotated again, twirling on their axes at their own creeping pace across the galaxy. And, as the planets spun, she spun too. She had done this time after time. For the first time, she landed, not in a wasteland or in a grassy knoll, but on a bustling beach.
Emilia: Wow, there’s a lot of people here. God, there are so many animals roaming around too. I can blend in better since I won’t stand out. If I keep talking to myself I will stand out…where’s that journal?
She extracted the magical journal, a symbol of restoration and promise to return home someday.
Emilia’s Journal: I found myself lost in a sea of people right by the…sea. I’ve talked to only one mysterious traveler — one person — since this excursion happened. Breathing is easier here though, even amidst troves of people traveling to their destinations. Something led me to follow this little girl holding an injured puppy. Animals still make me nauseous, thinking about their germs and diseases. But they deserve a second chance at life. No creature deserves death, somber and isolated from the ones they love. She took the dog inside a building where an elderly man named Darius bandaged the dog’s leg. He has a weathered face with soulful eyes, posing no threat to the girl. I haven’t gotten a look inside his home. Animals flock here. They say animals can read emotions. Something about this man feels significant.
As the young girl departed, a beautiful stranger walked right up to Darius with bleeding confidence. Her face was unreadable. Her hair, dark as death itself. Ironically, this woman was the avatar of death. But, she was also Laila Starr. Laila had arrived to watch the interplay between life and death. The woman secluded behind Darius’s humble abode had come to watch Laila, so she snuck in Death’s door.
Emilia’s Journal: Laila Starr. A pretty name juxtaposed with who she is. What she is. Some say you can find blessings in death. From Laila and Darius’s conversation, death has cursed both of them for decades. I’ve written before how death follows me everywhere I go in this grand cosmic scheme. Now, death is literally a few feet away from me. I wasn’t surprised to find out Laila’s identity. She carries herself unburdened, seeking answers and knowledge that will satiate her interest in Darius.
Darius and Laila talked as the woman listened. She listened to Darius let loose words stuck in his throat for dozens of years. Darius searched for Laila Starr in places of ruin, losing hope that she was devoid of machinations against him. Darius also searched for his purpose. Folded into that purpose was a search for answers to immortality.
Emilia’s Journal: Wow, these two are polar opposites yet attract one another. The effuse magnetism. Charisma. Death and life are cyclical to them. Grief and loss have slackened their hands on me since I began this journey. Laila, the goddess of Death itself, says she feared obsoleteness if Darius invented immortality. Her role would no longer be needed in the mortal realm. For such a powerful woman, I never expected to hear fearful words come out of her mouth! Darius throws his head back in a chortling laugh. Both Laila and I are stunned, taken aback by disbelief. Then, Darius tells Laila about immortality. He already invented it decades prior! Then…why is Laila here?
Fate intervenes without vacillation. Fate is not a mediator, but a king, ruling over the temporary lives of those who walk the Earth for only a blip in the infinite ruler of time. For Darius and Laila, their fate was set when Darius was born. He found the answer to immortality. Laila could not kill an innocent human. Thus, the knowledge about eradicating
Emilia’s Journal: He’s had the secret sitting in his closet all these years? Instead of doing anything about it, he devoted his life to living. Darius is…dying. Everyone dies, but cancer is a particularly excruciating form of death for all involved. I watched someone I love wither away from the disease and wouldn’t wish this fate on anyone. But Darius, he has outrun fate. He is telling Laila how he was expected to live for only months, but he has already surpassed a year of surviving. My heart feels burdened with grief as he mentions a rift between him and his son. Grief is not meant to overtake life but to sit in our minds as a pocket of memory until we learn to make the most of the life we have been given. Coexisting with grief and helping community children and animals is how Darius has found the will to live. Life is a gift. A miracle.
She stayed for an indeterminable amount of time watching the sun dip in and out of the glittering horizon over the ocean waves. Darius grew weaker each week until he could no longer rise from his bed. Laila, death incarnate, acted as his caretaker. When Darius’s estranged son visited his dying father, the woman sobbed until her tears formed a pool in the sand.
Eventually, Laila left. Another man embraced her by the undulating water as she pondered the undulations of her life. They left together. Laila threw the answers to immortality into the sea, fate nodding its head in understanding.
After the dying sunlight swallowed them in shadows, the woman saw a box appear next to her. The red-painted wood bore similarities to Darius’s castaway box.
Emilia: It can’t be! I just saw Laila get rid of this cursed object!
To her horror, the nebulous light source returned. An enigma indescribable by human words soared toward the woman. She grabbed the box and sprinted. The sand held her feet, granules spilling upward like confetti.
Emilia: You won’t take me! I have too much to live for!
She did indeed have much more life to live. This was not her end, but it was the end of her time in this universe. The light crackled with energy, seeming to laugh. But blackness pummeled her. Or maybe, it was fate.
The enchanting fog embraced them and pulled them apart from the outside world. Aimée brought their mind out of the dreaming and grasped their new home for the next few hours, surprising themselves with humid dirt underneath.
They turned around to discover what the thing they were resting on was. The place darkened even more as the fog choreographically spread away to reveal a grave, positioned before their eyes like an old gothic painting. Aimée looked at the ground with urgency and moved away quickly from a recently dug earth.
Aimée: Fucking shit! I’m about to become one of them if I keep waking up in places like this.
Noise in the distance startled them. Grunts, roars, and cutting. They stood up and walked straight to the sounds, clumsily trying to avoid any tombstones without much success. But as the noises got closer, the fog dissipated and allowed Aimée to distinguish two figures standing in the middle of the cemetery.
Aimée’s journal: There are two girls with…Swords? Fighting against purple-shining-skeleton-dogs! This is a lot cooler than the other worlds I’ve been in. Why can’t I have a sword?!
They’re talking in the middle of the fight, that’s being confident. I heard the blonde one is called Buffy, and the brunette’s Morgan. She’s…from another world? Like me? Probably not the same though, they seem to have a very different objective. They were in the same organization but, something happened to Morgan. They were plotting against her.
The swords continued shinking as they made their way through the skeletal hounds. But the barks and growls filled up more space, and they had to move faster as the seconds passed. Despite the clear expertise of the girls, the scene was becoming alarmingly threatening, even for them. But suddenly, Aimée’s focus redirected when a new sound adhered to the place.
Aimée’s Journal: A bunch of portals appeared out of nowhere! People like the girls are coming out of them to help. They defeated the hounds together! Now that they can relax for a second, their leader’s going on a rage about Morgan. She’s the one who plotted against her, and now they’re chasing them because they don’t want to give Morgan up! They could escape through a portal, fortunately.
Aimée: I’m guessing this is it for now. There’s a clear pattern to who I follow, and they’re gone.
As they retreated into the cemetery looking for a place to sleep, they inadvertently stepped into a black leather coat. Aimée kneeled to examine it, to discover it was another one of those objects, like the knife when they met with Emilia.
Aimée: Could this be…something fucking useful for once?
Amidst putting the coat on, a kind of vibration manipulated the air behind, a slightly recognizable feeling from not so long ago. Another one of the lights just found them. Almost tripping over, Aimée started running, wishing they didn’t splatter against one of the graves for the light to catch up. After struggling to jump over the fence and sprinting through the woods, they reach a dead end. A cliff cut their path with a view of the ocean as the being shined through the dark, crooked trees. They turned their head around a couple more times, hopeful of a sudden miracle that could’ve stopped them from doing what they knew they had to do. Nothing. They looked at the water before a short breath and jumped into the agitated sea.
The journey down may have taken mere seconds, but it felt like an eternity. The ocean covered their whole body and dragged them to the deep. Panic and suffocation dominated them as their lungs filled with water. With the waves violently hitting them, and their little experience swimming, it didn’t take long for their sight to cloud. Everything turned black, and Aimée’s lungs yielded to the merciless nature.