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Time Wraith 2. No Pain No Return 1

Smashing down on the gas pedal and turning the wheel, I drove into the other lane and around the pickup truck. Holding down on the pedal, I listened to the engine roar and felt the pounding from the pistons crawling inside me. Streetlights flickered by like strobes in a dance club. The sixty-seven Fairlane thundered like rock-and-roll and handled like jazz. I dreamed it would last forever.

Spotting a stop sign, I switched my foot to the brake, but it was too late. Intersection empty, I relaxed and drove through it. Only drunks and speeding fools were out on the streets this late at night. The street lamps gave way to a thick canopy of trees, and the road began to climb a winding path. I slowed to the speed limit and promised, no matter what, I would enjoy this day.

Like a waterfall, it fell upon me. That singular thought, that childish promise of immortality, brought the moment back. The same year the space shuttle exploded in the sky, I had been driving on this road in the west hills. Had I run a stop sign then? I tried, but I could not recall the intersection or the name of the road. I remembered the woman. A few nights after the space shuttle had exploded I had clipped a young woman crossing the street. From my neck, chills trickled down my backside, and I gripped the steering wheel feeling like I was driving down a tunnel into Hell.

After watching the woman die, I had promised to live like it was my last day, and let that day live on forever.

Rounding the corner, already seeing it in my head, I spotted the woman in the center of the lane. Smashing the brake and turning the wheel, I pulled the car into a slide and the tail end swung around. Committed to the path, no avoiding the inevitable, I let up on the brake to save my car from spinning out and prepared for collision.

Pulling out, my car leaned in the opposite direction threatening another slide. Cranking on the wheel, working brake and clutch, I found traction and slowed the car down, and realized, no impact.

Engine rumbling at idle, a toe on the brake, I eased the car over to the edge of the road. I felt certain I had hit her, like before, all over again. Twisting around, I looked behind me.

In the backseat, not quite sitting, a dark figure turned his faceless head towards me. Clouds of dark smoke swirled around him like a dress dripping soot melting away on the seat.

He spoke, not with a voice, but an invading thought inside my head sending a shower of painful prickles trickling down my neck.

Kandy, will you bleed for me?

Hell no, not again. Only it was as it is, and perhaps will be, a sense of vertigo sends my head spinning within this near timelessness.

I’m standing on the dance floor of Club Necropolis with ghost-like walls and a stage. Dark shapes appear. Swooning and swaying, the hazy shapes surround me. They appear like smoke; their motions leave wispy trails. They dance in slow motion. Turning around, I find more of them, a mass of smoky forms in every direction. They dance, waving arms building smoky clouds above their heads.

Purple haze lifting, dancers increasing in speed, the smoke trails fade leaving solid forms. Clothing ripples out of the blackness. The ghosts dance, their pale forms turning and moving on a wood floor. Dark columns holding purple rods rise up into a white fog where lights spin splashing red like blood dripping from the mist.

Thunder erupts, pounding into the floor. Another dull boom, and another, the increasing beat becoming alive, sharpening. The dancers stomp to the beat, their movements increasing in speed. A chorus of guitars join in, and music explodes.

The prickly sensation of déjà vu crawls beneath my skin. Stepping back into the silence of the shadows between worlds, I circle around, searching for the wraith as the apparitions continue dancing in slow motion around me. I realize this is a memory playing out as it did, and as it will, a cosmic memory splattered across time. Yet it’s different, a memory of a memory. One question burning into me breaks me free of the crippling déjà vu sensation: is this memory manifesting from the wraith forcing me to remember my death?

Completing another circle, I spot a black fog rising from the ground spiraling into a vortex of violet electrical sparks and churning black smoke.➥

Watching the wraith emerge from the vortex, I pull my blade free and toss the sheath aside. Dressed in a black cloak, his splotchy, cracked skull peeks out from beneath the hood. He gazes at me with his pinpoints of light within eye sockets, violet smoke spilling down over jagged cheek bones. From between his rotten teeth, smoke gathers around his slender fangs and drips like blood onto his cloak. Preparing to strike, I hold my sword overhead.

He speaks, not with a voice in this silent world, but an invading thought inside my head sending a shower of painful prickles down into my neck.➥

Kandy, will you bleed for me?

Hell no.

Attacking, I slash down at his head. He drifts backward evading my blade, and I continue the attack. Cool hands wrap around mine and pull my sword free, and the wraith twirls around.

Hyper-fiction: optional paths in the story are marked by the arrow (➥) within text. Click on the sentence for a different experience.