Chapter 1 - The Waiting Room
"Please... don't leave me..."
These were the last words I heard.
As I lay broken on the asphalt I could feel her slumped over me like a blanket; warming me until I slipped away. The sirens that pierced the night were punctuated only by her panicked cries, and in those last moments I would have given anything to reach out and hold her; to sit up and tell her that I was okay, but I could feel my body beginning to fail me. Within minutes, everything worldly began to fade away as though I were falling into a dream. The pain began to subside, and before long I was met with only darkness and silence.
I was gone. I had left her.
I awoke with confusion, not least because I'd a very vivid memory of dying at the roadside with the woman I loved pleading with me to stay.
Where am I?
I couldn't fathom how I could have survived such an accident. Moreover, this place in which I had awoken was like nowhere I had ever seen. I found myself surrounded by something indescribable. One might call it "light", but this wasn't that simple. I could no more describe this "light" than I could explain the colour blue to a blind man. It defied definition.
"Sarah?" I whispered.
No answer. Not that I really expected one. It was evident almost immediately that I was somewhere else. Somewhere seen only by souls recently lost to the veil. It felt as though I was in limbo, a purgatory of sorts. For all the questions I had, I was certain of one thing. I was dead.
It had happened. She was still alone.
Amidst the confusion, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a way to get back to her somehow. I began to survey my lack of surroundings. If this was heaven, then I was underwhelmed. It seemed too calm to be hell. Perhaps this was some divine waiting room? An empty void where you wait to be given the ticket to your next destination. Wherever I was, she was all I could think about. If I was somewhere, anywhere, then I could surely see her again?
"Where am I?!" I yelled into the silence.
As if to respond, a figure appeared. Not human. Not anything you'd consider earthly, really. Essentially invisible; the only reason I even knew something was there in the first place was because of the way this "light" warped around the space that should have been inhabited by a body.
Suddenly, a voice filled my mind. Sarah's voice.
"You can see her again. Soon."
If my heart had been beating, I’ve no doubt it would have stopped right there.
"Sarah?! What's going on? How are you here?" I asked desperately.
The only thing scaring me more than never seeing her again was the thought that she had somehow wound up there with me.
"She's not here. Not yet. But she will be, before long." the voice responded.
"I don't understand... Sarah... please? What's happening?"
"We are not Sarah. We have chosen to use her voice to comfort you and deliver a message. Listen carefully. You have been dead for precisely 56 seconds. Sarah will be dead in precisely 23 days. We can help you stop it, but the price is a steep one. There is something you must do."
The request that followed terrified me beyond imagination. Fear aside, I accepted their terms. Less than a second later, I felt a sharp jolt of pain in my chest, followed by a crack. And another. And another. My eyes opened suddenly as air filled my empty lungs. The paramedic kneeling beside me drew back in surprise. I was back on the asphalt, and Sarah once again slumped over me.
I was back. I was alive. I was with her again.
I remembered the voice. Her voice. I remembered their request. Lastly, I remembered the terror.
I whispered "I love you" to Sarah and passed out shortly thereafter. As the light faded, the voice spoke once more.
"Don't sleep for too long... you have work to do."