Introduction: The Wedding

Trees lined the small ceremony on the left and right. Guests sat on large logs placed one behind the other. Six in each row with a total of two rows split in the center by satin streamers. The ceremony itself was on a small wooden deck built over a small pond. The groom stood nervously stroking his tie. The pastor of the local church stood center of the wooden deck. He smiled as the bride stepped from the small house behind the trees. She walked slowly her white dress danced as she stepped forward. A quick nudge from the pastor alerted the groom and he saw her. It was like a romantic movie. The bride walked slowly, as if slowed in time. She smiled, light spread from the small edges of her lips. The light radiated outward covering her proud father and a few wedding guest that had yet sit down. Guest turned and saw the bride stepping carefully over the long red ribbon laid on the ground between the rows of seats. The light from such a beautiful smile spread to each and every one of the guest like the spiritual Good Word. By the time the bride reached the wooden platform everyone behind her smiled and glowed. The groom stepped forward and extended a gentle hand which she took and they both joined the pastor as everyone looked over the small pond.

The pastor spoke slowly as each and every moment seemed to take hours. The bride and groom stood hand and hand when the ceremony was near the end. The pastor happily introduced Mr. Kenneth and Mrs. Jean Addison and release them into the world as married.  The reception went off without a hitch. The couple’s marriage continued on as it had begun. It was a fairy tale within a world that barely contained its distaste for so much happiness. The honeymoon stood as an exception to any rule that the couple had established as a norm. The hotel lobby was empty when Mr. and Mrs Addison walked in. So was the front desk.

“Funny,” said Mr. Ken Addison as he bent over the desk in an attempt to see if anyone was around the corner. “I just talked to the hotel ten minutes ago and it sounded super busy.”

“Are you sure you called the right hotel,” Mrs. Jean Addison asked.

“Yes, I’m sure because the person on the phone said there was a bar here named Dionysus and its sitting right there.” Ken pointed right toward a large purple sign above two swinging doors that had Dionysus written out in neon next to a flashing bunch of grapes.

“You think they are on a tea break?” Ken said, only half joking.

Ken and Jean walked toward the bar. Within the bar they saw some movement but it was too dark to tell what is could be.  “Hey, can someone help us at the front desk?” Shouted Ken into the darkness of the bar. Something crashed and broke then two men pushed through the swinging doors. The first man was terrified his eyes were wide and his mouth clamped shut. Behind him a taller, muscular man walked within inches of him. Both of this man’s hands were hidden behind the first man’s back.

“I suggest you come back in the morning…” Growled the taller man then he added, “…you know what just find a room and stay here free tonight. I’m sure Henry here won’t mind.” The taller man turned his head and looked at the man in front. Henry’s eyes got bigger and his nervousness was obvious.

“How about my wife and I just leave, “Ken offered,”Listen, we just got married and this is our first day in London. I just want to survive our first week of marriage.”

The taller man laughed, “Believe me mate, it isn’t worth it. I’ve been married twice before. I think I just changed my mind. I want all your American dollars… Now!”   The man pointed a pistol at Ken and shoved Henry into a wall. “If you move I will kill you,” he warned him.

Jean immediately threw her purse down at the man’s feet. Ken hesitated but then tossed over his wallet.  “Don’t move,” the man shouted as he bent down to gather up the items.  The minute the man looked down, Ken pounced on him.  Jean screamed, lost in disbelief that her husband would attempt something so brash.  The taller man was larger then Ken but was caught by surprise.  He fell backward into the swinging doors and both men disappeared into the bar.  Henry stood from where he had fallen against the wall, ran over to Jean, in an effort to direct her somewhere safe, but fell after a bullet burst through his heart and chest.  A second bullet struck Jean in the neck but didn’t kill her immediately.  She fell upon her knees then her back.  She attempted to slow the bleeding with her hand and wished her new husband was at her side.

Ken wrestled the gun from the taller man’s hands but not before two shots rang from the gun, just missing him.  Once the gun was clear Ken grabbed a broken chair leg and slammed it hard upon the man’s head knocking him unconscious.  He then grabbed the gun and stepped outside the bar.  Jean lay barely conscious upon the tile floor of the hotel lobby.  Blood covered the left side of her neck and shoulder.

“Oh, my God,” Ken leapt toward his wife and fell to his knees.  His knees swam in her blood as he took off his sweater and pressed it against the wound.  He looked around for some help and saw Henry only a foot away with a gunshot in his chest.  To the right, suddenly, the front doors of the hotel burst open and several London police officers stepped in.  A bead of hope blossomed within him till he realized that Jean had passed away.  The need to stop the bleeding was gone but Ken continued as he watched the officers walk toward him.  The next couple seconds turned into long minutes as a gun battle began.  The taller man stepped out from the bar and began to fire from another pistol.  The officers scattered and then returned fire till the room dimmed, as if someone had turned the lights down.  Ken looked up to see the battle still happening but the noise had become muted.  He looked over at the taller man and he was reloading his pistol while hiding behind the front desk.  Ken looked down to see himself, his lifeless body, lying over his wife.  A bullet had entered the back of his head and killed him.

Ken looked up to see the battle still happening but the noise had become muted.  Ken looked over at the taller man and he was reloading his pistol while hiding behind the front desk.  Once the pistol was ready the tall man stepped from behind the desk and began shooting.  It was a suicidal death march.  He stepped over Jean’s body but tripped.  Jean had died while grasping her neck.  The tall man’s large foot became caught underneath her arm.  Instead of going out like a homicidal hero the tall man died like an idiot.  The shots from the officers disappeared through Ken’s body and into the tall man’s chest and arms.  If there was any doubt that Ken was not of that world the bullets confirmed that fact but soon it was over.  The tall man fell over Jean’s body.  Ken watched as a new pool of blood flowed from the man’s chest.  He screamed as it inched closer to mix with Jean’s blood.  He attempted to stop it but it flowed right through his foot and out the other side.

“Get your god-damn blood away from my wife’s blood!” He screamed passionately but this new world listened about as well as the old world.  The blood mingled and eventually left a large mass of crimson death upon the hotel floor.  Frustrated, Ken stepped away but then realized that Jean passed just before him.  She is no longer part of that world.  She should be a part of his new reality.  She should be if that is the way this new world worked, the world between life and death.

Chapter 2: Through the veil

Where do you start looking for someone that passed on to this thin veil of a world? The hotel was full of people. Police and EMTs rushed throughout the rooms before him. Ken followed one officer into the bar passing through the door like Casper the Friendly ghost. The officer flipped a light switch upon the wall to reveal the horror before them. Seven bodies lie motionless within the bar. Most lay face-first upon the tables they sat. Others lay upon the floor. Ken was thankful he didn’t notice when he fought with the tall man. He may have second thought such a deed. The thought that followed was a question. Why would this man take on such a dark, suicidal task and where was his wife? Why didn’t she wait for him like he did for her? The answers would have to wait because someone grabbed him from behind and dragged him from the hotel. The hotel wall disappeared as he slid through it. Outside the noon sun highlighted the vibrate life that still continued. The warmth from the sun was missing though. Suddenly, Ken was thrown to the right. A large trash container and trash bags stood in his way but Ken lay within them. The tall man stood above him, his anger evident in his enclosed fists and heaving chest. The tall man grasps Ken by the front of the shirt and lifted him easily. Ken struggled but the tall man was twice as strong as him. The tall man pulled back a large ham-fisted arm and was ready to strike when Ken put up his hands and pushed forward an energy that was unfamiliar to him. Caught by surprise the tall man released him and fell backward. Ken fell downward the trash container surrounding him. He then pressed his hands forward again and pushed the tall man forward into a crowd of people that didn’t notice.

“God damn, American,” shouted the tall man who stood within the crowd. He then rushed forward but Ken stopped him with another push. The world then dissolved around them leaving only a black room, with a bright light at each end. Ken stopped pushing and they both paused to take in this new scene. The light only lit a column of darkness from which the two men stood. Outside this column was a think darkness.

“What the hell is this?” Ken asked loudly. “How the hell am I suppose to know,” shouted the tall man.

“I didn’t ask you,” snapped Ken. The tall man glared at him then stepped toward him again. Ken stepped back, arms outstretched.

“Pissed would not cover my anger right now, mate,” the tall man said as he approached. “Notice, we are dead! I’m pleasantly surprised that I can still grab you and toss you around but you seem to have an advantage you didn’t have in the real world. I can still tear your limbs off, I bet.”

Ken pushed his hands outward toward the tall man’s feet causing him to stumble but it did not stop him. The tall man leapt forward and grabbed Ken by the collar. Then tossed him to the left and laughed. “At least death isn’t going to be a waste.”

Ken slid upon the black floor disappearing from the light and into the darkness. Fear instantly struck him and he felt the pressure of someone grasping both his ankles. Barely able to move and struck with fear he managed to stand. He pushed his hands downward toward his ankles and leap toward the direction he came from. He stood within the column of light again. The tall man stood within the center of the column. Anger overwhelmed him and Ken pushed as hard as he could. The taller man fell backward and disappeared into the darkness. Ken waited for the tall man to reappear but after several long moments he did not.

Ken walked right into the light that was farthest from him.  The light at the end of the column got brighter as Ken walked toward it.  He squint his eyes till he could barely see.  He attempted to block the light with his hand but that was useless.  As he stepped into the light he again felt warmth.  The warmth began at his toes and radiated a comforting peace upward.  Several steps within the light and the warmth began to dissipate.  Ken continued forward until the darkness began to dilute the light.  Soon the light was almost gone, leaving only a small circular band radiating from mid-height.  Ken walked toward the circular band of light.  As he moved forward broken lines began to appear within the circle.   These lines were slowly filled in by a dark brown color.  “They looked like the roots of a tree,” Ken thought as he stared upward into the hole.  It was a small hole, barely big enough for Ken’s shoulders to fit through.  Above the brown roots he could see a blue sky blurred by the green leaves of a large tree.  The roots stretched from one end of the hole to the other.  Other then the darkness around him, the light above was the only way out.  Ken grasped the root and lifted himself upward.  With nothing to put his feet upon Ken struggled to lift his body high enough to balance himself upon the top of the root.  After several attempts Ken managed to push himself up and over the root.  He pulled up his left knee then his right.  He then climbed from the hole and into a whole new world.

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