Already Dead

Opening her eyes, Coby was met by complete darkness. A slight wind passed her and caused her hair to flutter as she realised she was lying on the ground. She sat up, rubbed her eyes, and looked around. Contours of trees along with the sound of leaves moving as the wind blew. She wasn’t cold, but she felt like she should be. Touching the skin on her arms, she realised she was wearing a sleeveless dress. The red dress, yes, the one she bought only a few days ago, to wear at the work gathering. The work gathering, that’s where she had been.

Frightened, she steadied herself against a tree and rose to her feet. Her eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness, and she could see a faint path before her. She bent over, searching for her bag, but there was nothing there. As she eyed the path, the sound of the wind died, and another one took its place. She listened as the trees squeaked, and she felt her heart rate increase.

Taking a breath, she began walking the path in her black pumps. She noticed her mouth tasted of red wine, and her hair smelled like cigarette smoke. How had she ended up here? What had happened?

Trying to stay focused on getting out of the dark woods, she kept her gaze on the path. She couldn’t believe how far into it she must be as nothing changed around her. It seemed she was in the middle of it, and she didn’t even know which forest it was. She felt panic rise within her and she let out a low cry.

“Hello?” she yelled. “Anyone here?”

The woods responded with whispers. Coby looked around, trying to understand where it came from. It was all around her, coming from nowhere, and everywhere. Feeling her heart pump hard in her chest, and shivers run down her spine, she took a breath and tried to listen. The whispers became louder as she closed her eyes. It was clear now, a woman’s voice whispering

‘Time is running out.’

“What?” Coby said as she turned around, only to be met by darkness. “Somebody talk to me! What is going on?”

The wind picked up and seemed to circle around her body, lifting up her dress and moving her hair. Something strange was going on. A dream? Maybe. All she knew was that she had to keep going, hoping she would find a way out, and a way back to the work gathering.

What was the last thing she could remember? She got to the party, everyone from the call centre was there. She got given a glass of red, and she greeted her colleagues. Matthew was there. She remembered seeing him. It was all a blur, though, and she struggled to put the pieces together.

Looking up, she noticed a clearing. Relieved and scared at the same time, Coby ran towards it. The trees grew further apart, and a faint light shone from between them. Just as she thought she would exit the woods, it all went black. Feeling as though she fell from a great height, she couldn’t breathe. She was floating or falling, she couldn’t tell which.

Water surrounded her. As she opened her mouth to scream, it streamed down her throat. Panic set in and she swam upwards. She felt her head emerge from the water and heard music play around her. She opened her mouth to cough up the water, but there was no need to anymore. Confused, Coby looked around. She was in a pool. It was night-time. The music came from a house in front of her. People stood next to the pool, smoking. She recognised her Team Leader, Tom.

“Tom?” she said as she swam to the edge of the pool and pulled herself up. “Tom!”

He didn’t answer. He didn’t even look up. He took a drag of his smoke and listened as someone else spoke.

Coby frowned and rose to her feet. Fear grabbed hold of her as she noticed her dress wasn’t wet. In fact, she wasn’t wet at all. She glanced back down to the pool. It lay still.

Folding her arms across her chest, she walked up to Tom. “Hey! Tom?”

Still no answer. He didn’t notice she was there. He laughed as the guy before him made a joke and dropped his cigarette on the ground. Coby bent over to pick it up, but as she thought she grabbed it, Tom’s hand moved right through hers. Like a shadow, like a ghost. She gasped and placed her hand on her mouth, how did I die?

Pain struck her stomach as she realised, she wasn’t really there. Time is running out, what could it mean?

Piercing through the heavy base of the music inside the house, the woman yet again whispered. ‘Find out who killed you, time is running out.’

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