“He’s going into shock! Hold him down! We have to move fast…”
“DO SOMETHING!” Rita screamed at the top of her lungs.
“He’s fading! Collins, get me the scahiuihjfhd fgtgvbt tvtrtvtvercr veverferf…”
I couldn’t fight it anymore. As much as I tried to stay conscious, my body wouldn’t let me. I shook and gasped for air for as long as I could, but the pain was too much to bear. Just like before, my eyes got real heavy, and my breathing shortened, and with my last bit of consciousness, I watched as everything around me, the emt’s, the inside of the truck, Rita, became a blurry mess, then slowly disappear as everything faded black until there was nothing. I’d lost consciousness again, and by the way I felt before I did, I didn’t think I’d wake back up.
I’d woken up, I was sure of it. My eyes were open and I was up and about, and I didn’t feel any pain, the only problem, was I didn’t feel like I was in my body. I felt smaller, like pre-puberty still in grade school playing with toy trucks smaller, but it was dark around me and it wasn’t like I could just look into a mirror. As I thought that everything started to light up around me, and when it did, I almost Shtt my pants, I woke up to find myself reliving a moment of my childhood, literally. I somehow had reverted back to when I was four when we went to the beach for the very first time. Being that was a big day for me, I remember everything fondly, and it all looked exactly the same as it was the day we were actually there, down to my tiny toon adventure swimming shorts.
“Randy come on! Let’s go play in the water!” Rita’s equally young self yelled back at me as she charged towards the water, making dad chase after her.
I remembered this moment exactly, it was one of the best days of my life, but why was I here? What meaning did this day have on the rest of my life? Was there something I didn’t know about? I had so many questions, but before I could answer any of them, the scenery around my changed, along with my body, and I was warped to another part of my childhood.
The first day of school. Again I remember it like it was yesterday. Rita and I were so terrified the other kids wouldn’t like us that we almost didn’t go, but we sucked it up and went in proud with our power ranger lunchboxes and had a great first day. Then once again once that memory was complete I was transported to another part of my childhood, mine and Rita’s thirteenth birthday. That day was special because it was right around the time puberty had kicked in for both of us as well as signaling we were becoming young adults, and mom and dad made plenty sure we were gonna enjoy the hell out of it, giving us every single thing we asked for that day, which wasn’t much, but they still did it. I would rank that in my top five for best days ever, behind the beach, and the first day of school, and… before I could even finish that thought I was being transported again, and to my surprise it was right to the thought I was just having, the first time Rita and I made love. There I was lying on the bed with her again after we’d come back from our birthday dinner, just holding her and feeling her soft skin against mine. That was the day I knew I’d found the love of my life, and I would do everything in my power to make her happy. But then, something different happened, not like how I’d been transitioning before. Just as quick as the last memory came, it was gone, faded out into darkness like a horror movie right after someone just died a gruesome death. I started to teleport again, in pitch black this time, and where I ended up was anything but a happy memory for me.
I’d gone back to when we went trick or treating when we were five. It was the first time we’d ever gone, and was almost the last. Mom and dad took us to this haunted house on accident, I say that because it looked normal on the outside, but the set up was you had to go through the house to the back yard to get candy, us being kids we didn’t care we just wanted the candy so in we went, big mistake. Once the door closed the lights went off and all manner of werewolves, ghosts, boogeymen and anything else that could scare a child came out of nowhere, scaring us half to death and making us run out of the house without candy. I was shaking and Rita was crying, and we vowed never to go trick or treating again, until Aunt Lisa changed our minds. That was not a good day.
I transported from that to the day when Rita had to go stay with our grandparents for a month when we were nine, it was the first time we were ever apart, and for such a long period of time we were both seriously upset. I don’t remember why she had to go and why I couldn’t go with her, but it was definitely one of the worst days of our life, I held her as she cried all the way up until it was time for her to go. I left that memory and was taken to another, but this time there was a sharp pain in my chest as I was being transported to it, it didn’t hurt too bad but it was strong enough for me to notice. I arrived at the time we tried horse lessons, it was our first and last time. The horse Rita was on went crazy and threw her head first into a tree, knocking her unconscious and causing me to hate horses forever. She got away with a concussion, but it could’ve been much worse, it was safe to say we weren’t getting on another horse again.
I quick flashed to the day we met Ashley, and by now the pain I was now feeling has doubled. I flashed back to that day many times in my head wondering what I could do differently so that we never met each other. Even on that day she was a complete Bytch, luring Rita away from me with stuff that was “for girls only” according to her, then laugh behind my back and taunt me whenever Rita wasn’t looking. That was the day that started Rita hanging out with girls, and since it was new to her, I wasn’t gonna be an asshole and interfere, as much as I wanted to, but it was important to her, so it was important to me, I just wished it had been another girl instead of Ashley. I didn’t wanna live through any more memories, good or bad, the Ashley one just pissed me off extremely, knowing she was the reason for all of this, but you know how it goes when you want something, the exact opposite always happens, and this time was no different.
It went dark again, but the pain from before was gone, I don’t know why, it was just gone. This time felt different, not because of the pain, but something was just, different. Instead of flashing to another memory like usual, this time I felt like I was floating off the ground, hovering in place almost as if I was levitating, and then the lights came back up. If I already wasn’t unconscious, I’m sure I would’ve been now just from the shock of what I was seeing. I was in my body, but I wasn’t in my body, and I was looking at myself as I lay on the street after being shot. I was reliving my now worst memory, the time I’d gotten shot and ended up paralyzed, ended up in a coma, ended up dead, I don’t know, but I was not hoping for any of them, let alone the last one. Unlike the other flashbacks, this one seemed to be stuck on repeat, from the moment the guy pulled out the gun, to me hitting the ground and Rita screaming, this moment played over and over until I knew exactly what was gonna happen at what time. It’s said that your life flashes before your eyes before you die, and mine did just that, with the good memories and the bad. I didn’t think I’d go this soon, but apparently life had different plans for me, and there was nothing I could do about it. My only regret, is leaving Rita the way I did, with us fighting and not being able to make up, all thanks to Ashley. I knew one day she would be the death of me, I just didn’t think it would be literally. I sat down, realizing there was nothing I could do, and waited, waited for the scene in front of me to stop playing over and over, waiting for everything to go dark around me again, waiting to die.
I wasn’t sitting there long before something started to happen. The scene of me getting shot over and over started to spin around like water does in a toilet, and all the light gathered in one spot. I stood back up, not knowing what I was looking at, but was intrigued all the same. The light started to compact itself into a smaller form, but it was getting so bright I almost couldn’t look at it, so I covered my eyes. It sped up the spinning, and the brightness went down enough for me to look at it, only to see the light forming I the shape of a person. I stood there, in sort of awe, as the light materialized in front of me, coming to a big flash of light, temporarily blinding me, and went I looked back at it, I couldn’t believe my eyes, there looking back at me in the form of light, was myself, right down to the detail.
“W-wh-who are you?” I finally managed to get out.
“I am you, your conscience, I am everything you are,” he said back in my voice with an echo.
“How am I talking to you?”
“Certain circumstances allows for this meeting to be possible, on account of your actions.”
“I can talk to my conscience while I’m unconscious?”
“Sort of, it’s very complex.”
“All those memories, why did you show them to me?”
“Because you needed to see them, the good and the bad, for what they were.”
I was scared to ask the next question. A-am I, dead?”
“Not yet, fortunately for you, but you’re really close, which is why I’m here.”
I took the biggest sigh of relief possible. “Am I able to leave, whatever this is?”
“That isn’t possible, at least not right now. Your mind cannot reenter the real world in the condition it’s presently in, the outcome would be disastrous.”
“The condition it’s presently in? What does that mean?” I asked now getting scared.
“Your ongoing fight with Rita, your hate for Ashley, the strain of trying to fix everything, then on top of all that, getting shot and smashing your head on the ground. There was too much stress and conflict going on, your body couldn’t handle it all, so your mind was sent here.”
“Where am I? Where is here?”
“You’re in limbo.”
“Limbo? What do you mean limbo? Why am I here?”
“I don’t know, why are you here Randy?”
“Because I got shot! You know what I mean, why am I really here?”
“You’re here because life decided to test you to see if you’re capable of going back.”
“Going back? This isn’t gonna be like in the movies where I get a certain amount of questions that I have to get all exactly right is it?”
“Yes and no. it’s more like make your time count. You only have so much of it here.”
“Why is life testing me? Is it testing Rita or anyone else?”
“I can’t speak for anyone else, I’m only your conscience, but as for you, the reason you’re here is because you were in a situation you were never supposed to be in.”
I was utterly confused. “What? What are you talking about?”
“You were never supposed to be at that ice cream shop, that scenario wasn’t supposed to happen, but it did, and now that mistake has altered your path.”
“I’m confused, what do you mean altered my path?”
“I’ll give you an example. Say you’re an angel, and you see a little girl about to be hit by a car, it isn’t fair that she go so young, but it’s her time to go, so it has to happen, only you don’t have the heart to let it happen, so you intervene and save her. You think all is good because you saved her from death, but you’re wrong. That car that was supposed to hit her, since it had no reason to be at that spot because it didn’t hit the girl, kept on driving, right on through a red light, causing a six car pileup, and killing fourteen people, including six kids. The little girl from before was saved, but saving her caused another accident that wasn’t supposed to happen.”
I was at a loss for words for a second, but eventually I got it, I think. “At least my situation wasn’t as bad as that one, I didn’t affect anyone but myself really, I mean damage wise.”
“That would be the only bright side of all of this, maybe.”
“Maybe? What’s maybe?”
“If you were to die here, we don’t know how that would affect everyone you know, they might act out, fall into depression, maybe try to hurt themselves…”
“No! don’t even think that! Don’t even think about anyone else right now, just focus on me! Be straight with me, why am I here and how do I get out of here?”
“You are here to find out of you get a second chance at life. If you want to get out of here, you must successfully encounter and conquer the two obstacles that put you here, as well as the two you need to get yourself out of here.”
“And what happens if I’m unable to do this?”
“Then I hope you have a nice gravestone picked out, you’ll be stuck here, in limbo, forever.”
I got a little scared. “You’re my conscience, you should be able to help me get through this.”
“That’s just it, I’m your conscience, not an angel or a future being, I only know what you know, nothing more. I can’t give you the answers, it doesn’t work like that, but I can guide you as best I can to try and lead you to the answers.”
“That sounds like a bunch of crap. If you wanted to help me you could, but since it doesn’t affect you, you probably could care less about the decisions I make.”
“I’m your conscience, I am a part of you, if you die, then I die along with you. I cannot exist without a body, so it wouldn’t be in my best interest not to help you as best I could.”
“Then help me! Give me something I can use!”
“You’re already on the right path, Confusion is the first obstacle you need to overcome. Before you can fix the problem, you need to understand it, and before you can understand it, you must first be confused by it.”
I don’t know how, but something finally clicked, what he said made perfect sense to me, and he must have sensed it by the nod of approval on his, my glowing face.
“I see something I said finally clicks with you it seems.”
“Took long enough. Basically this is all mental since it’s in my head, which means I need to figure out something for my mind to set itself right, like a meaning of life thing or something.”
“That’s close enough. There’s a message you need to figure out, and to do that, you have to do things you’d never thought you’d do.”
“Can you help me with it?”
“That is something you must figure out for yourself. You’re off to a good start, you’ve just conquered the Confusion part of the obstacle, only three more left. If I were you, I’d make good use of my time, this place has a way of messing with your head the longer you’re here.”
As he finished his sentence his figure started to disappear, spreading light to all corners of the room before he disappeared.
“Wait! Will you come back and help me again?”
“As long as you make progress, I’ll be here…”
The last of his light faded off and I was once again standing in a pitch black room. He said I’d conquered confusion, but he didn’t tell me how to get to the next obstacle, which ironically left me confused. I didn’t know where to pick up, and sitting alone in a dark room didn’t help. I got the feeling o would be there a little longer than I expected.
I don’t know exactly how much time passed, but it felt like days upon days of me trying to figure out my next move. Nothing much had really happened after he left, except my left hand felt warm, not hot, but noticeable, and it didn’t seem to be going away. I had to figure this out, and from what he told me I had to do it quick, my mind was already in trouble enough, I didn’t need my mind getting warped inside my mind, if that makes any sense. I replayed everything in my head over and over again, starting from where the problems stemmed, and it always came back to the same place, Ashley. No matter how I went about it, it always came back to Ashley as the source of this whole mess. Just thinking about her name stirred up anger inside me. Yeah that asshole did shoot me, but it was Ashley’s fault I was there in the first place, I wouldn’t be trapped in my own mind if it wasn’t for her. I hated her. I’d said it before I came to this place and I’m saying it here, I hate her, and I’ve never said that about anyone in my life. The thing that bothers me though is that as much as I hate her, I still protected her, why? I couldn’t make sense of it. I could die at any moment, and knowing that I never made up with Rita, and argued with Ashley then saved her and Rita before getting that chance to make up made me even more angry. I was so mad at Ashley by this point I was hoping to wake up so I could find her and choke, her, slap her, punch her, anything so she could feel some kind of pain and so I could feel a little better about having been here. All of a sudden I felt by body being jerked around like I was moving really fast, then I came to a stop in another room, lit up with the good memories from my childhood. I smiled a little as I relived my young glory days again, making me if only for a second forget where I was. Then as quick as they came, the memories faded out, but not calmly, they left with the illusion of being set on fire, like a metaphor of my life going up in smoke. I was incensed. To be teased with my life like that only to have it ripped away? Why? Why was I being punished? I did nothing to deserve this! I was so mad, and the fact that I had nothing to kick, throw, punch, take my anger out on didn’t help me in the least. I went into a frenzy, grabbing chunks of my hair and ripping it out, stomping on a ground I couldn’t see, punching a wall that wasn’t there, I’d lost it. I threw a tantrum for who knows how long before I just gave up, worn out, and sat down on the floor, full of hate. There was no way out of this, in all that anger I’d realized that, and I threw in the towel. I was trapped in my mind with no way to get out, no possible way at all to get out, and though I was too angry to admit it, I accepted it. My life was now over, there was nothing I could do about it, nothing to do but wait for my clock to expire.
I sat there for what felt like an eternity before that familiar light came back into the room and gathered together again, and once again I was staring at my glowing conscience.
“May I ask what you’re doing?”
“What’s it look like?”
“It looks like you’ve given up.”
“Then you would be correct.”
“Can I ask why?”
“You’re my conscience, you can ask anything you want.”
“This isn’t you Randy, this isn’t the way your life was supposed to end up.”
“What’s it to you? Don’t act like you give a damn, almighty Bleeping conscience! If you care so much, where were you the night of the party? Where were you the night I went to the ice cream parlor? Shtt, where were you when Ashley first came into the picture? Nowhere that’s where! Not so much as a sound. Now you show up out of Bleeping nowhere and you wanna give me life advice? Fork off.”
“This isn’t you Randy, you’re letting your anger get the better of you, don’t.”
“Why not? What else could possibly go wrong?”
“A lot of things could go wrong. You’re being fueled by the second obstacle, Anger, remember you’re supposed to overcome it, not become it.”
“It’s not the worst thing I’ve done, you should know that.”
“People tend to make illogical decisions when they’re fueled by anger, you are no exception.”
“I’m basically dead anyway, there’s no getting out of here, things can’t possibly get any worse.”
“They can get a whole lot worse when you go completely under, trust me, this is nothing.”
I shrugged him off, not wanting to listen to any more speeches. “Yeah whatever.”
“I’ve never known you to be a quitter Randy, you were always a fighter, even from a young age, but now you’re ready to quit on the most important decision of your life?”
“Haven’t you been watching? My life is already over! That Bytch Ashley ruined it the moment she came into our lives. You’d know that if you didn’t have your head up your Buttocks!”