Life Line Full

A cemetery is a boring place if you don't know where to look. I'm lucky enough to live here and know all the hot spots. Considering this has been my home for over 300 years now. Every night, all the residents gather together and tell stories of when we were all alive. Yes. I'm a ghost. We all are. I tragically died saving another life. Good for me, right? I will save that for later, though. A stranger came by yesterday. He didn't say a word. He just walked on in, uninvited. Would you believe it? He had on a long black coat and a scarf wrapped around his face. What was even weirder was that he visited about 30 gravestones and then left. All the residents followed him around, spying on him like nosey neighbours. Some things never die. It made for good gossip, I suppose.

I was sitting on one of the many scattered benches, minding my business. I'm not much of a people's soul anymore. I heard a noise - Coming from the bushes - I looked around but couldn't spot anything. Then the noise again. It was an animal, maybe a rat or a badger, I wasn't sure. Then the noise again, and I pinpointed where it came from up in the tree. He was staring right at me with two big, moonlit black eyes. They looked like two pearls in the night ocean. It was an owl—a tawny owl, to be exact, just hooting away at me. I felt like I had done wrong by it somehow. Staring me down without a blink. Then I realised, how could he even be looking at me? I have never come across an animal that could see the dead. Sense us, yes, but not see. The owl hopped off of the branch and glided effortlessly silently down towards me. It landed on the back of the bench. Staring so intently into my soul. It wanted something. I could feel it in my bones.

"Hello, I'm Marsden. Why on earth are you sitting all alone when there are so many other souls you could be with?" The owl said.

I jumped out of my skin - If I weren't dead already. But the shock would have finished anyone off, dead or alive.

I stuttered at first, trying to get a grip. I mean, what's the worst that could happen? I'm dead.

"He...ello," I managed, "You can see me, and I can hear you. How is that possible?"

"I'm a spirit guide, stupid boy." showing malcontent with me, "How can you be roaming the afterlife for 300 years and not know of spirit guides? You need to get out more."

Fair enough. He has a point. Even though we feel time differently from the living, it has still been a very long while since I arrived here.

"So if you're a guide for spirits, why are you here with me?" I questioned.

"That, my boy, we will both have to find out", Marsden dramatically expressed. " let us walk for a while." He hopped onto my shoulder.

"My name isn't Boy; It's Logan."

We began walking around the graveyard. At first, we were silent. He would make me stop, and he would read some of the gravestones. I could see the sorrow in his eyes, as if he was feeling the loss of the thousands dead. What a weight that is for a single person to carry. We visited so many gravestones that I had lost count until we finally reached one that belonged to 'Eryn Whittle.' Her death was dated a year after mine.

Marsden finally spoke, "This woman continued to help and care for people - strangers at that. After her death, she could have chosen to live a life full of hatred, betrayal, fame and riches. But do you know what she chose to do? She became a nurse and helped people in war. Eryn, with the wit and drive she had, could have done anything she could dream of but chose to help others. Second chances are presented to people all of the time, but most do not even recognise them or, if they do, choose not to act upon them."

For a moment, I was speechless, and then I asked the only thing on my mind. "What do you mean: after her death and second chance?"

"What if I said you could live again? Have a chance to start over. Living. Would you do things differently? Would you give your life again to save another? Like the child that you saved from the horses' stables. She would have been trampled on if you didn't push her out of the way. She lived to see her great-grandchildren. Her bloodline still goes on to this day. Or does it? What if I now told you she died a year after you saved her?"

"Hmm..." I thought, "Is the little girl I saved, Eryn?"

"Yes, she is," He replied.

"How did she die?" I asked.

"She had a terrible fever. The doctors could not help her, albeit she died peacefully in her sleep." Marsden said.

"It doesn't change a thing. I would still have tried my best to save her, even knowing what I know now. She was innocent. I had a chance to save someone. I did save someone. She still managed to live a whole year after. Surely, it's something in good nature to care for and protect." I argued. Feeling frustrated. "Why are you telling me this anyway? Are you trying to turn me to anger and hatred? Because if you are, it won't work. I will never and have never changed who I am."

"Haha. Okay, Logan. That is not my intention. However, I am here to test you." I know he was smirking behind that beak.

"Test me. For what? Also, you haven't answered my question. What did you mean about second chances, and after her death, she chose to be a nurse?" I hounded.

"Relax, young man. I can answer your questions with one answer. A second chance. A Life after Death. This is something I can grant to whomever and whatever I choose. I am not the only one with this burden. But fortunately for you, I have been sent to you. To test you. To see what you might do with a second chance. Many have been given this chance to throw it away again or, worse, harm others. Eryn took this Lifeline, and she achieved her dream of saving lives, all from the seed you planted after giving up your life to save hers. So I ask you again, Logan. What will you choose?" Marsden delineated.

"Well, yes, of course. If it's possible, I want another chance at life. I'm not sure what I would do with it, but I definitely wouldn't hurt anyone." I said.

"It is fine that you are unsure of your path yet. So we shall see." He replied.

"So how does this work? What do I need to do?" I asked.

"We are rooting for you. Good luck, boy. Ha, good luck, Logan." He finished.

There was a flash of light. It felt like it lasted for an hour but could have only been seconds. I opened my eyes now that the flash had disappeared. Marsden was gone, and I was sitting on the bench where I had met him. I looked around and could not see any of the residents roaming about the cemetery, which was odd. I saw some people out on the street carrying bags of groceries. Some were holding their babies. A man walked past, and as usual, I ignored them all. He stopped. Looked straight into my eyes. No way. How was this possible?

"Mar... Marsden?" I asked.

"It gets easier, mate. I was homeless once upon a time," he said.

He held out his hand and was holding a sandwich. Offering it to me. I took it and thanked him as he continued on his way. That's not Marsden. He can see me. Homeless! What a cheek. My tummy rumbled. For the first time in over 300 years, I felt... Hungry. I had forgotten what that felt like. I ate the delicious cheese sandwich. I haven't left the cemetery since I arrived there. Walking towards the entrance, I then grabbed the gate and opened it. My left foot touched down outside the cemetery—next, my right foot. I was now standing in the street. Marsden wasn't lying. I have been given the gift of life again. I felt elated. I could feel my heart pounding again. I was alive.

I went sightseeing. Taking in all the things that have changed since I've been gone. People were using little electric boxes to talk to each other. Some of the cemetery residents have explained this new technology to us, but I have never seen it. It was the same with the carriages. Well, cars, they are called now. I must have been walking for hours and hours. My legs were aching, which was another new feeling from being alive. Something caught my eye. Up in a tree across the street from me. An owl. Identical to my spirit guide. Just staring right at me. Then it flew off - was that Marsden? As I continued my tour of the town, the exact same owl popped up. This tree. That tree. It flew overhead a couple of times. I was being stalked. It had to be him. But what was he doing? What was he trying to show me? The next time I saw him, I decided to follow the bastard. I was exhausted trying to keep up. When finally he stopped. Stopped and gazed at me. Looking into his eyes was like looking into two galaxies. Hypnotising. Then he turned to look at something else. I traced his line of sight to see what he was looking at - What are you trying to show me, Marsden? That's when I caught a glimpse of the figure. It was the man from earlier in the cemetery, the deviant with the scarf. He was just crouched down like a caveman frozen in a block of ice. Not a single movement. Staring into the window of someone's home. I kept my distance, and when he moved, I followed him. Is this what I'm supposed to do, Marsden? Give me a little clue here. The creep arrived at an abandoned building and entered. I stayed outside, contemplating what to do next. Maybe 15 minutes had passed when the man came back outside, this time holding something. I hid behind a bush, knowing he wouldn't see as it was nighttime. As he got closer, I could see what he was holding. It was a shovel. What the hell is happening? I was about to follow him more when suddenly, Marsden swooshed right by me and through a broken window of the abandoned building. So now you choose to guide me. Once I knew the man was out of range, I ran to the building and climbed through the broken window. Cutting my hand in the process. It was dark inside, besides a small lantern on an old wooden desk over in the corner. I approached the desk. I was trembling for the first time in 300 years, and despite it being cold outside, I was dripping with sweat. What I saw, even from all the things I have seen being dead for so long, sent shivers down my spine. I felt sick. People's photos were all over the wall. There must have been at least 15 different individuals up there. Two of them had their faces scribbled out so hard that it had ripped the face from the photo. That's when it came to me. The shovel. The stalking. Visiting the cemetery. This was a serial killer in action. He had already claimed two victims. There was no sign of Marsden. I had to stop him from hurting others. Even now, he could be on his way to find his prey. Before I even had a chance to turn around, I heard the door open. I panicked and ducked under the desk. I could hear the footsteps approaching. Shit, what do I do now. I never even had the chance to start smoking again. He was so close now. He dropped the shovel next to the desk. I heard a thud, and that's when I saw something that made me freeze—time had stopped again. Not like when I was dead. This was different. It was a body wrapped up in sheets. Blood stains near the head, lifeless. Shit. What do I do? He has his next victim already. I need to make a move now as soon as he turns around. I will grab the shovel and smack him upside his head. That should work, right? He turned! Come on logan. Let's do this. 3...2...

"Who's in here?" The freak yelled, picking up the shovel.

He walked over to the window, and a few seconds passed. Then he turned back around and began walking over to the desk. He was right in front of me.

I felt a sudden sharp pain in my head and was yanked out from under the table. I screamed. It didn't sound too manly, but hey, I thought I was going to die again.

"What are you doing here, boy?" He screamed.

Think of something quick. "I was just lost and needed somewhere to stay."

He threw me to the ground. Looking at my bleeding hand, I realised I had left a trail of blood from the window - so that's how you got me, you git. I was now lying next to the bloody body. He raised up his shovel, but just before he swung at me, something made him and me stop. He panicked. I noticed that the dead body next to me wasn't dead at all. Its feet were moving, and the body began to wiggle and struggle, trying to get free. I have to save this stranger - two lives and two strangers. How lucky am I? - I swiftly jumped up and ran at the monster. Jumping onto his back, I wrestled him to the ground. However, he fell on top of me, which hurt like hell and took my breath away. He was a big lad. But he moved quickly. After both of us stood back up, still holding the shovel, he took a big old swing at me. The pain didn't come first. It was a shock. I looked down at my stomach, and the shovel had gone straight through my side. Blood was pouring, creating a huge puddle under my feet. Shit. He pulled the shovel out of me. That's when the pain came. It was like I was hit by lightning after being drowned in gunpowder. I felt like giving up. Then I saw the person on the floor, and I glanced over at the photos on the wall. I couldn't give up. Not now. Marsden would be outraged. I ran at the man again, slipping and sliding on my blood. I grabbed the shovel and his arm and began swinging each other around and around. Somehow, the killer's hands slipped off of the shovel and fell backwards. I noticed my blood had dripped down the handle. There was a loud crunch and crack - the sound of a giant stepping on a tree as if it were a branch someone had stepped on - from where his neck slammed against the desk. He lay there dead. I hopped over and untied the person lying there. A boy. No more than 12 or 13. He looked terrified.

"You're safe now, lad. You need to run. Run home and call the police. This murderer has already killed two people, and they have been buried in the cemetery near the walkway. GO, Run!" I made it sound like the killer would come back to life or something. I knew I wouldn't last long. He ran faster than I have seen any living thing run. I staggered out of the building, holding my side. The pain was still there. But the boy was safe. I sat on the street, and my eyes began to seal shut, and just before they did, I saw Marsden in a tree looking at me. I'm certain he had a tear in the big black abyss he calls eyes. Everything went black. Then, there was a flashing light. My eyes opened slowly. It was a car driving past. I was sitting back on my bench in the cemetery. Well, that lasted long—so much for life after death.

"So back where we began, Logan. You did not even last a day," Marsden said. Appearing on my shoulder.

"Yeah, well, I tried. It didn't work out. At least the pain has stopped," I replied, smirkingly.

"My boy, for some, the pain never ends. But you, my friend, have done a wonderful thing. Again, I might add. You have now given up your life to save another, and this time, this boy will choose to help others. The roots continue to grow," He voiced.

"Say, Marsden. I'm looking for a full-time job. How many second chances or lifelines does one get?" I asked, looking coy.

"That, Logan. We shall see."

The End

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