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E - Everyone

Banned from Existence

by something


At first, I couldn’t remember anything. I was only aware of falling, twisting and turning for an eternity before arriving here, a vast, blinding white abyss full of nothing. I landed hard on an invisible floor that had no texture, no temperature. Before I could wonder about the unusual circumstances of my perilous situation, I felt my eyes close as I passed out.

Hours, days, or even seconds later, I’m still not sure, I started to wake up, and was aware of the feeling I was being watched. Opening my eyes cautiously in the blinding white light, I sat up and looked around at, well, nothing. I could see nothing for miles except white. I glanced down. Even I was nothing, just a floating thing. Strangely though, I could almost feel my body around me, as if it were still there, just invisible, out of reach, out of sight. Apart from my body, I felt there was something else missing. Memories, I thought. Why can’t I remember? I must have had a life before...before this happened. Whatever ‘this’ is.

A small square of white paper fluttered down from above me, landing face-up where my feet should have been. It had six simple words printed neatly across it in black ink.

YOU HAVE BEEN BANNED FROM EXISTENCE.

I flipped the paper over. There was nothing on the back.

“Right, ha ha, very funny,” I called, thinking it must be someone messing with me. “Joke’s over. You can come out now.” But no one did. A small seed of panic started to grow and rise through my throat, threatening to explode out of me like a gazelle running for its life, hunted by a hungry lion, ravenous for a feast. What could I have done to be banned from existence? It must have been something horrible . . . Stay calm, I told myself. Stop being stupid. This rising feeling of fear inside of me was suddenly diminished as a wave of serenity seemed to wash over me, leaving me calm, but that same seed of panic was still deep within me, leaving some part of me feeling scared, and isolated, and alone. Slowly I came to the realization that I was only a mere thought in this desolate, barren universe.

Standing up (in a way), I started to trudge through the empty, white landscape, the piece of paper clutched in my hand. I felt a strange attachment to it. It was the only thing in existence here, apart from me, and it, like me, was lost and lonely, with nowhere to go. No place to call home.

I tried to take in my surroundings as I walked, but there was literally nothing. No ceiling, no walls, no floor. There was only white for as far as I could see. It was eerily quiet. I could hear nothing except the quickening pulse of my own heart, and my sharp, shallow breaths.

Then, out of the silence, came faint, slow footsteps, getting gradually louder and louder, closer and closer. The wave of calm that had washed over me a few minutes earlier vanished. I tried to find whoever was making the footsteps, but there was no one. I froze in terror. I didn’t know what to do except hope, pray that they didn’t find me.

Without warning, a beautiful girl appeared, dressed in a shimmering black dress embroidered with gold. Her long, platinum blonde hair glittered, cascading waterfall-like over one shoulder. She seemed young, maybe fifteen or sixteen, but her lively, jade green eyes, though bright, looked full of ancient mystery and a terrible sadness that was beyond my comprehension. It was clear that those kind, angelic eyes had cried a thousand tears.

This was a girl, I thought, who had seen fire. A girl who had seen war, and watched entire worlds burn. A girl who had seen life at its fullest, and death at its worst. Now all that was left was dust. Dust, and a very broken girl. I wasn’t far from the truth.

“Hello James,” she announced. “I’d like to introduce myself. I’m Death. And also Life. But you can call me Hope.”

She held out her hand for me to shake, but as if only just realising that I didn't have a body, let alone hands, she withdrew it quickly, saying, “Oh, yeah, sorry about that. I’d completely forgotten.” With a flick of her wrist, golden light flew from her fingertips and began to entwine itself around me, and suddenly I started to grow a head, neck, shoulders and torso. It was a strange sensation, like being an elastic band, stretched outwards by your head, fingers and toes.

“What’s happening…?” I gasped as arms and legs sprouted from their empty sockets, and from them emerged fingers and toes. Abruptly, I stopped expanding, and I was back to being what I supposed to be my normal body, only I couldn’t remember fully. I stared at Hope in amazement.

“How on Earth did you do that?” I cried.

“We’re not on Earth,” Hope grinned.

“What do you mean, not on Earth?”

“You’ll see. Come, sit. We have a lot to talk about.”

With that, in the same way that she had created my body, Hope conjured a small sofa, a side table and two steaming mugs of hot chocolate. Dazed and bewildered by the events that had unfolded since my arrival, I slowly lowered myself onto the leather sofa and picked up a hot chocolate. Hope did the same, taking her mug and jumping backwards onto the sofa, spilling hot chocolate everywhere. “Oops. Don’t worry, I’ll get it,” she exclaimed, conjuring a mop and bucket that immediately began to clean up the mess. Hands shaking, I raised the mug to my lips. I felt the hot, sweet liquid running down my throat and throughout my body, warming me from the inside, calming me a little, and allowing me to gather my thoughts.

“So, um, you said that you were - that you were Death. Does that mean that I’m - that I’m…”

“Dead?” Hope replied. “No, no. You’re not dead. Well, not yet anyway.”

“Not yet?” I spluttered, choking on my drink. “What’s that supposed to mean?” The feeling of calm had vanished yet again. I was getting angry now, blood thundering through my veins. “Where am I? Who am I? What am I even doing here?” I stood up, fists shaking, knuckles white. My half-full mug clattered to the ground and broke. “TELL ME!” I roared, but my screams soon turned to gentle sobs of despair. “Tell me. Please. I’m sorry.”

“James,” Hope breathed gently. She was calmer now too, her jade eyes deadly serious as she took my hand and led me back towards the sofa. “Sit down. I know it’s a lot for you to take in, but just hear me out, okay? Just calm down. I’ll start at the beginning. I’ll tell you everything I know.

“Your name is James Arden . You were born in London seventeen and half years ago to Madeline and Thomas Arden. You are here because you - well - you’re in a coma.” Hope stopped here, allowing this to sink in. She glanced at me nervously to see how I would react, but I said nothing.

“You saved a girl's life. She ran out onto the main road. You ran after her, pushing her out of the way of the car. She made it, but you weren’t so lucky.” A snippet of a memory flickered into my mind, a little girl of around three or four years old, a black car speeding out of nowhere, a burning, aching pain in my side as I felt the full impact of a moving vehicle.

“You’re dying, James. That’s why I’m here. I want to help you. You have to wake up. There are countless others like you, but you’re special. Different. What you did - ” she squeezed my hand - “was incredibly brave. I-I like you, James. I don’t want you to-to - ” she looked away.

“Hey, it’s alright,” I assured her, suddenly feeling sorry for this strange girl. “I’ll wake up soon and everything will be okay.”

“No. No, it won’t,” she sniffed, wiping her eyes on the sleeve of her dress. “You only have a month, James. A month before the Cleaners arrive.”

“Who are the Cleaners? They’re not your mop and bucket are they?” She gave a sad smile.

“No, they work for my father, Death.”

“What do they do?” I asked, a sense of fear beginning to creep through me. Hope's father was Death? I decided to ask about that later.

“They, well, they used to help people like you try to redeem themselves, and remember who they are, but now they are responsible for, you know, getting rid of them for good. Normally the people who end up here in Knowhere have done something so terrible that they cannot simply be allowed to remain on Earth anymore, or have played with time and accidentally written themselves out of existence. That’s why you’re different. You are here because you saved a life, not because you took hundreds, or tried to change history.”

“So who’s keeping me here?” I asked. She gazed deep into my eyes, then looked away quickly, blushing slightly.

“That’s the thing James. You are.” Hope explained. “Your mind is the only thing stopping you from leaving this place. All you have to do is remember your old life, and you’ll be free. And I’ll help you every step of the way.”

And so she did. Every day she would sit there, by my side, for hours on end, trying to help restore my memory. At first, I only had short flashbacks, like clips taken from a film about somebody else’s life; being pushed backwards and forwards on a swing in a park by a smiling woman with electric blue eyes that sparkled and danced like sapphires in a deep ocean, a man with grey-streaked hair raising me up onto his shoulders, both of us cheering, football scarves around our necks, feeling as though we were on top of the world.

Every night, I would have the same recurring dream. The girl in the road. The car. A voice in my head whispering Stay away from my daughter. If you do not, you will both be punished in ways that are too horrific for your human mind to understand. And Why would she want you, anyway, a mere mortal? Then a shadow blacker than night would envelop me, cold hands grabbing my throat, taking me to a place where no one would hear me scream. I’d wake up in a cold sweat, entangled in my sodden bedsheets, and eventually fall back into a fitful sleep.

But slowly, the details about myself, my life, and my family and friends became clearer. About three weeks into my stay in Knowhere, sitting at my kitchen table (Hope had created a little house for me to live in, complete with bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living room), Hope brought me a cup of coffee. I took a sip, and my head nearly exploded from the flood of memories that came rushing back. I gasped at the pain and spilt the hot coffee all over myself, scalding my skin. Hope glanced round. “James,” she gasped. She sounded worried.“Are you alright?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,” I replied. “I just remembered stuff. I think pretty much everything, actually.”

“That’s amazing news!” Hope cried in relief. “That means you can go back . . . home.” Her voice sounded pleased, but it seemed almost disappointed.

She came and sat down next to me, a spare shirt in her hand. “Put this on,” she said. I gratefully pulled the crisp, white cotton over my head, the sticky, burning sensation on my skin from the coffee vanishing instantly.

“Thanks,” I said. I looked at her. She had seemed to age a hundred years in the past couple of weeks; her hair had lost some of its shine, and her eyes, shrouded by black rings, were heavy with weariness and concern. My appreciation for her and everything that she’d done for me overwhelmed me, and for a second I wanted to take her in my arms and kiss her, but I thought of the voice that haunted me in my dreams, and thought better of it.

“Hey, about your parents. Are they okay with you spending so much time with me? Isn’t your dad Death?”

“Yeah, he is,” Hope replied. “And they’re fine with me visiting you. Well, they don’t actually know, or care, probably. They’re too busy fighting each other the whole time.”

“What do you mean?” I asked. After a moment's hesitation, she glanced over her shoulder and began to explain.

“The end is coming,” she gave me another one of those small, sad smiles. “I know you’re probably thinking I should be wearing a sandwich board or something, but I’m serious. I didn’t want to tell you straight away, since it will affect your whole world, your entire life. I didn’t want to worry you. I didn’t want you to stop trying to get back.

“There’s a reason I’m afraid of my own shadow. I can control life, and also death. My mother is Life, and my father is Death, so I have the power to create both. For millennia they have fought, and argued, and competed, to see who was stronger. So far, Mother has been winning, although my Father always got her creations in the end.

Recently, Father has become stronger, and more powerful. He claims that within a few of your Earth years, all life on your planet will vanish-” she spat angrily-“just so that he can prove that he’s the strongest. So that he can gloat to Mother over the billions of souls he will have collected.”

We sat there quietly, not knowing quite what to say next, until I decided to break the silence.

“It’s not your fault.”

“I know it isn’t, but I can’t help feeling sometimes that I’m responsible. Responsible for all the misery that Dad has caused,” Hope mumbled. A single tear slid down her cheek like a tiny stream snaking its way soundlessly through the desert.

Suddenly, the room went dark. We raced to the window to be met with the sight of a huge, black shadow creeping its way over the pristine, white landscape.

“It’s my Father,” Hope whispered, her voice full of fear and contempt. “He knows. He’s found us.”

At that moment, a doorway of bright, golden light appeared behind me, blinding me temporarily.

“That’s your cue,” Hope sniffed, wiping her eyes. “Just in time as well. You’re free.”

“I can’t leave you,” I cried. “Let me help.”

“No. I can’t let you do that.”

“Then come with me!” I insisted. “Come with me, back to Earth. The past month has been one of the best of my life. We can live happily together, if only for a few years. This apocalypse might not even happen. Your father might change his mind. He might-”

“I can’t, James. I’m sorry, I can’t. I would love that more than anything in the multiverse, but I just can’t. I’m needed here, to try and stop Dad. Also, let’s face it. Who would want to be friends with the Daughter of Death?”

“I would,” I said sincerely. Taking her by the hand, I gazed into her tear-stained face. “Please. My world needs a bit of Hope.”

“I can’t go with you. Not yet.” Hope replied. “My father will find us, and punish us forever.” She pulled her hand away. “But when the time comes, I’ll be there, by your side, until the end, and we can spend eternity together, outside of time, out of reach of my Father’s murderous hands. I promise. I hope that you can forgive me. Goodbye, James. I love you.”

With that, she pushed me backwards through the door, her eyes gushing with tears. My last sight of Knowhere was Hope collapsing on the floor, and a dark, shrouded creature unfolding itself from the shadows, stretching its skeletal hand towards her shaking body.

Forty two years, three months and 19 days after I had last seen Hope, the love of my life, Daughter of Death, the barrier between us was broken. I won’t go into details, for right now, details are not important. In short, Death won. The end came. Hope returned to me just as she had promised all those years ago. We were reunited at long last in those final moments, those precious, final moments.

“James,” she whispered. “I tried to prevent this, I really did. I’m so sorry.”

“No. I am.”

“What for? You did nothing wrong.”

“I’m sorry for causing you so much pain, Daughter of Death.”

She smiled the same smile I had seen every night in my dreams for the final time. I kissed her as the world around us burned.

“See you in the next life, my love.”

And between the beats of her heart, I crumbled to ashes, leaving nothing but dust. Dust, and a very broken girl.

Tick, tock.

Tick, tock.

Tick . . .

And time no longer mattered.

THE END


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386 Reviews


Points: 2408
Reviews: 386

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Sun Jan 02, 2022 8:15 pm
Horisun wrote a review...



Hello! I hope you are having a wonderful day or night! Not that time matters anymore, it seems.
This was an incredibly clever short, and I was enthralled from start to end. The concept of "Knowhere" fascinated me, and Hope herself was an incredible subject all on her own. Her introduction was probably my favorite part of the whole story;
"I’m Death. And also Life. But you can call me Hope.”
I read this to be that despite the fact that life is bitter, and we all die in the end, there are still little things we can be happy about. Though I don't know if I'm reading too far into this, I liked how some details are left ambiguous. I took it all to be one massive metaphor, though perhaps someone else saw something different. Honestly, it's been a couple days since I first read this, and this story has continued to stick into my mind,
There were one or two things I felt you could potentially improve upon, however.
Towards the beginning, I felt the story had an almost wacky tone. A guy named James was banned from existing and now he's living in an eternal void. I really liked seeing things from his perspective, and well it had a very light hearted atmosphere, I could still feel you hinting at darker subjects, which kept me at the edge of my seat.
However, I feel like the sudden shift in tone later in the work doesn't have quite the right effect. We learn more about Hope, and the issues she's dealing with, but we never see any of it, which can lead to this segment feeling just a tad rushed. I almost wish we got to see things from her perspective, and to witness the battle between life and death itself.
On that subject, I do also think the latter halves pacing was a little off. We're told how the two characters bond, and how they work to bring his memories back, but as cool as this concept is, we never really get to see it. I'd like to see more time for them to interact, and, in turn, perhaps gain a better understanding of Hopes not-life.
Their romance honestly gave me Little Mermaid vibes, in a way, which makes me wish even more that you gave more time to developing Hope, and, by extension, her Father death. I was left wondering what their relationship was like, and, furthermore, how exactly Life and Death came to conceive a child.
However, despite that, this was an incredible work of fiction. I adored almost every aspect, and my mind is still racing about the implications of Hope. You came up with an amazing concept and really followed through! I can't wait to see what you write next! Keep on writing, and have a wonderful day! :D




something says...


Thanks, that was really helpful!



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83 Reviews


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Reviews: 83

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Sun Jan 02, 2022 4:23 am
AriesBookworm wrote a review...



At first, I couldn’t remember anything. I was only aware of falling, twisting and turning for an eternity before arriving here, a vast, blinding white abyss full of nothing. I landed hard on an invisible floor that had no texture, no temperature. Before I could wonder about the unusual circumstances of my perilous situation, I felt my eyes close as I passed out.


We start off by asking ourselves what this story is going to be about. Especially if you haven't read the description.


A small square of white paper fluttered down from above me, landing face-up where my feet should have been. It had six simple words printed neatly across it in black ink.

YOU HAVE BEEN BANNED FROM EXISTENCE.

I flipped the paper over. There was nothing on the back


We don't know what it means to be banned from existence. And we're eager to read more.


Without warning, a beautiful girl appeared, dressed in a shimmering black dress embroidered with gold. Her long, platinum blonde hair glittered, cascading waterfall-like over one shoulder. She seemed young, maybe fifteen or sixteen, but her lively, jade green eyes, though bright, looked full of ancient mystery and a terrible sadness that was beyond my comprehension. It was clear that those kind, angelic eyes had cried a thousand tears.

This was a girl, I thought, who had seen fire. A girl who had seen war, and watched entire worlds burn. A girl who had seen life at its fullest, and death at its worst. Now all that was left was dust. Dust, and a very broken girl. I wasn’t far from the truth.

“Hello James,” she announced. “I’d like to introduce myself. I’m Death. And also Life. But you can call me Hope.”


We get a lot of answers. First, we know James isn't alone. Second, the girl he sees clearly represents life and death as she said, but hence her name, she also represents hope. Third, we begin to think this may be an afterlife of sorts.


And between the beats of her heart, I crumbled to ashes, leaving nothing but dust. Dust, and a very broken girl.

Tick, tock.

Tick, tock.

Tick . . .

And time no longer mattered.

THE END


It seems we never got a happy ending. Death won the battle and time no longer exists. Nothing does.

Overall: This was a very interesting story. I quite liked it!




something says...


Thanks for the review! :D




"While we may come from different places and speak in different tongues, our hearts beat as one."
— Albus Dumbledore