Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language.
Screaming, Ellen scrambled backwards across the floor towards Ian. She clutched her knees to her chest and began to cry uncontrollably. Ian ran towards the bed and looked under it, also seeing Ellen’s pale and naked body. It was obvious that he didn’t know what to do, or what to think. She was just lying there, dead, whilst she was also crying in the corner of the room.
“What the fuck?!” He swore, his voice cracking.
Ellen was thinking the same thing.
Ian reached out his arm and touched the body. It was freezing cold. He shook her shoulder, as though he could wake her up. Her body just rolled over onto its front, revealing a second body. It was his own, though he was not as pale, because his face was covered in blood.
“Fuck!” He swore again, almost screaming now. “Ellen, what the fuck?!”
“I’m dead, Ian!” She wailed. “We’re dead!”
Neither of them knew what to do, or what to say. Ian couldn’t take his eyes off of his own face. He didn’t dare look at any other part of the bodies - he was too scared to find out why the room smelt so bad. Ellen knew that Ian wasn’t a religious man, but that he did believe in an afterlife. Perhaps this was it. He’d told her of the stories his Grandmother used to tell, about all the good boys who went to heaven, and all the nice things they got to have, in an effort to get him to behave. If only he’d listened, she thought. It would be a lie to say he wasn’t a ‘sinner’ and until now, it was obvious he hadn’t cared. In fact, he’d always been proud of the empire he’d built up. Perhaps this is why Catholics can go to Heaven as long as they say sorry when they die, because you don’t think about how bad you are until you do.
Ellen was thinking about herself, too. She’d missed her own death. In the short, somewhat grey and dismal life she’d lived, she’d always been a drifter. She went with the flow, not caring too much to pay attention to the world around her, and now she’d drifted right past her own demise.
“What happened last night?” Ian finally looked away from his own body and towards Ellen. “What did you do?!”
“I didn’t do anything!” Ellen was still crying, unable to get the image of her own dead corpse out of her head. “You were the angry one! Look what you did to my face just two days ago!” She jabbed her fingers into her face, pointing out the purple and black clusters all over her skin. Ian was crying too now, shaking uncontrollably as he used the bed to push himself up onto his feet.
“I didn’t kill you. I’m fucking dead too, look under that fucking bed and look at my dead fucking face and tell me I killed you last night!”
It was rather telling, for both of them, that in a moment of panic and terror like this, they were still arguing.
“What do we do now?”
Ian slowly made his way back over to Ellen and handed her the T-shirt she’d been wearing. She slipped in back on, and he helped her up.
“I don’t know.” He admitted. “Try the front door?”
A laugh escaped Ellen’s sore lips. It was a valid suggestion, because any suggestion would have been valid. Ellen wasn’t a particularly logical person, and she’d never been dead before, so there wasn’t really much she could come up with to counter Ian’s suggestion. Why wouldn't she check the door? She’d been wanting to escape all morning - all year, really. Now she thought about it, she’d always been wanting escape, though never trying to. But there was just something so morbidly hilarious about finding out that you were dead and your first thought being to open the front door.
Ian had made it to the front door in just a few steps, practically leaping across the flat. It was unlocked, and the key was missing. Ellen moved from out of the bedroom to the hallway and stood staring at him. He yanked the handle down with an angry amount of force and swung the door back, revealing the corridor that the flat lived on. It was the same view Ellen had every single morning when she left for work; the bright red front door of the flat opposite and the out-of-order sign plastered across the lift.
“Go on then!” She urged, growing more impatient and upset by the second. Ian looked back at her for reassurance and then took a step outside.
Except he didn’t move. He couldn’t move.
“What the actual fuck. Ellen, what the actual FUCK is going on?”
The only thing she could do was laugh. It was a nervous laugh, more like a chuckle or a giggle.
“I can’t get outside, I can't physically get out of the door!” Ian was panicking now, throwing himself against the doorframe, but nothing was happening. It wasn’t like there was something blocking his way, it was like he was a video game character trying to access a part of the map that hadn’t yet been unlocked. He was just running and jumping on the spot, screaming at the top of his lungs. She’d never heard him sound so desperate.
“Ian! Stop!” Ellen cried out, lurching forward and grabbing him by the shoulders. “Stop it, we’re dead, stop it!”
“How can we be dead, El? How can we be dead and not remember it? How can we be dead and still be here?”
Ellen didn’t know how to answer his question. She didn’t attempt to leave the flat, viewing it as an early defeat without even trying. It was just another change in her life she just had to go along with.
“Fuck, where’s my phone?!” Ian suddenly shouted in a moment of eureka. He ran to the kitchen, closely followed by a slightly mouse like Ellen who just wanted to go to sleep now. His phone was on the kitchen table, and he unlocked it with a swipe. Fumbling fingers stabbed at the screen in a frenzied attack and finally a number was dialled. Ian held the phone to his ear and prayed under his breath. Ellen rolled her eyes behind his back. Of course he was still the optimist, thinking he could phone someone from the dead. She just knew there was nothing they could do about this, like there’d been nothing she could do to get out of any other situation in her life.
With a crackle, a man’s voice answered with a rather tired sounding “Hello?”
“Thank God!” The relief was clear in Ian’s tone of voice. “Alex, it’s Ian, listen-”
“Hello?” the voice asked again. “Can you hear me?”
“Alex, it’s Ian, something fucking weird has happened and-”
“Hello? Oh, for fucks sake!” There was a click and the call ended.
Ian tried again, calling a different number, but the same thing happened. Over and over and over, his contacts couldn’t hear his voice. Even his own mother hung up after a few seconds. The phone went flying across the room, like the cup barely fifteen minutes ago, and cracked against the corner of the bookshelf.
“I don’t want to be dead, El.”
In an almost motherly tone, Ellen replied “How about I make us both another coffee?”
There was no point in moping around, if this was the new forever. Ian nodded and slipped back into the chair at the table he’d been sat at earlier.
The bodies wouldn’t be discovered for another week. Ian and Ellen stood in the bedroom and watched as a forensic team scoured the room for fibres, blood, prints - anything that would give them a clue as to what had happened. Ellen found herself waving to her body as it was lifted carefully into a bodybag, having solace in the fact that at least a part of her would get to leave the flat. Her life had simply expired like those eggs she’d thrown in the bin. Perhaps the reason she was still in existence in the flat was like the rotten smell of bad eggs hanging around long after the bin men had come - a small reminder as to what had been lost.
Ellen made two cups of coffee in two dirty mugs and set them on the table - there was still enough coffee left, as though it had replenished itself. Then she slowly drifted out into the bathroom and once again found herself staring at her face in the mirror. Somehow, she looked different than she had before, slightly less corpse-like, more alive. Gently, she raised a hand and brushed her fingertips across her cheekbones. Was she going to be different shades of purple forever now? She hoped not. She was beginning to feel pretty again.