Prologue: A Story That Begins At The End
I rarely contemplated death, but with the blood dripping mercilessly from my smashed fingers and my insides slowly turning into a burning hell inside myself, with the blade in my hands gradually becoming too delicate to hold, but even so still able to create ever-growing gaps between my skin, it hit me that what I'd been doing for so long resulted in exactly that. Death.
Now I know just as well as anyone that the subject of death and how exactly it happens to each person is a controversial topic of sorts. Maybe I’m taking it a bit far too soon, though, and to pardon my phrasing, maybe I'm jumping the gun a bit here, so if that is wthe case, I’ll go back to the start and introduce myself as formally as I can manage, given formalities aren’t exactly my forte. Let’s see how this turns out;
The name’s Angel Matthews, I’m sixteen and well quite far from the typical as you would presume, but closer to it than what many people could believe. My appearance? well, I had natural brunette hair but it looked too dirty, so I dyed it turquoise. I am ridiculously pale, and I have both my ears and my nose pierced. I wear variations of the same outfit most days - that's because when I found it it was on sale so I bought a few of the same thing in different colours and I like wearing it so I just… do. Many people in the street like to make judgments about people like me. They have some pre-determ ined backstory planned for me, and well, I’ve never really given them anything that contradicts their thoughts, so I guess I spent a long time just subconsciously adhering to their version of society. There’s nothing I can do about it now.
Anyway, as I lay there, on the cold bedroom floor, I heard the door unlock and a few somewhat distressing screams emanated from the entrance. I didn’t bother listening to what was being sobbed, I didn’t want my last memories to be of anything less than what I’d decided. I was too far removed from reality to ever return, even if I wanted to. Which I most certainly did not. Reality held too much pain for me.
I felt myself slipping away, sinking into the bloodstained carpet and into unconsciousness, giving up on the biggest game in the world: life. I was already resigned to the idea by then. I’d watched the game over screen flicker before, always wondering what would happen when I finally clicked ‘exit game’. Would I be able to play again? Would I let myself be overwritten by someone with a better skill set than I? I guess I’ll find out now.
What happened when I woke would change my afterlife forever.
Chapter One: Where The Hell Am I?
I woke up abruptly to find I was on the side of a disused 1890’s street. It was pretty dark out so I guessed I’d better get to a warm shelter before the night came over me. I got up slowly, stretching my muscles and becoming more aware of my surroundings. I soon found that I had been leaning up against an old candlelit lamppost, the paint of which was peeling off, and the once liquorice black was now a rusted copper colour. Not ton mention what was left of the candle inside the glass has almost burnt out.
The lamppost was outside of a shop advertising a non-profit charity that was obviously part of some sort of chain as there were about four of the same name in the same street. Now, this definitely struck me as strange, either this shop sold some really good junk or they were just looking for a lot of money. So, in search of a good bargain (and some new hair dye) I walked straight in.
“Excuse me?” I called “Do you have any hair dye?” I walked up to a small glass counter and waited for someone to answer
“Oh, no, sorry.” said a voice from behind me. “but come with me , please” she said, leading to a lift in the corner of the shop.
I have no idea why, but , I followed her and we stepped int the little lift together and waited that awkward three seconds of silence while the lift doors were opening. The doors slid open to reveal a very different interior to that of the shop.
Everything was a snow-white colour; which made the large room feel almost clinical. Everything was white. If it wasn’t white it was stainless steel and everything had that 70’s not-quite-futuristic aesthetic to it.
“so,” she said, turning around to face me. I noticed how different she was, how out of place she looked. She didn’t fit in down here, her brightly coloured wardrobe of clothes probably wasn’t really supposed to be worn in this sort of environment. “What’s your name, then?”
“Angel” I stated
She smiled “what?” she questioned “Like an Angel of God?”
“Yeah..” I trailed off, I like my name, I’m just not too fond of it’s religious connotations
“okay,” she seemed indifferent to it “Surname, then?”
“Right.” she turned on her heel and said “Follow me, then.”
I followed her once again and ended up in a sort of office room with the same colour scheme and a very small person behind the desk who was currently chewing on her pencil and murmuring to herself quickly.
“Excuse me, Miss, but Angel Matthews just appeared in the shop upstairs a minute ago.” she informed her,before turning to me; “Good luck in the SSPU, Angel.”
The small woman at the desk lifted her head from her hands and said, “Oh, no, Lydia has failed again, what should I do with her?”
“Em…” I murmured, “Hello..?
“Oh, I’m sorry, child,” she said, as if i’d caught her off guard “What’s you’re name, then, Hun’?” The woman said, her tone hinting that she was beyond fed up with her job.
I stared at her in disbelief “You really don’t listen, do you?”
“Listen to what?”
“You just answered your own question.”
“What do you mean?” she looked at me for a moment before deciding that she didn’t care for the answer, “Doesn’t matter now - just say your name.”
“Matthews, Angel Matthews.” I smirked, happy with the Bond-esque tone in my statement
“Fitting, don’t you think?” she murmured, “in your current circumstance?” she waved her arms around for effect
“What do you mean?” I stammered, “What circumstances are you on about?”
“What a shame. You don’t know where you are, do you?” her tone was extremely patronising and I was beginning to get very annoyed by it.
“well, no, actually, I don’t. I woke up here on the side of the street and walked into this shop here because it was getting dark.” I paused, “Is there any chance you have any hair dye available in stock? my hair is fading.” I took a hold of a section of my hair, lifting it to my hair so I could examine it carefully.
“No, actually, we don’t. We don’t have anything in stock, we’re not a shop. Even if we were, you can swear on your afterlife that I would not give such a means as for you to completely ruin your already pitiful hair.”
“Excuse me?!” i was completely taken aback “I’ll have you know that my hair is not awful; It’s my choice. Just because its a bit faded and the roots are showing doesn’t mean that its pitiful… wait… what do you mean ‘swear on my afterlife’?”
I watched her face contort, from the one that conveyed a very high stature, to one of which resembled a schoolgirl getting shouted at by the headteacher.
Her tone became quieter, more vulnerable. You could see her trying to reconstruct her sentences so as to cause the least harm. “Oh, I, I really shouldn’t be the one telling you this, but, I’m so, so, sorry but your life ended as soon as you ‘woke up’, you’re dead.”
She rose quickly from her chair behind her oversized desk to run over and comfort me. Instead of crying, though (which was probably the reaction she expected), I smiled. A very wide, triumphant grin spread across my face as I began to laugh.
The woman stopped running and stood there, dumbfounded, presumably shocked as to why the girl who’d just been told she’s dead was, of all things, smiling?
“What’s wrong?” I questioned
“Well, you’re, you’re not…”
“Not what?” I pushed
“Not sad?” It was merely an observation, but her curiosity phrased it as a question
“Why would I be? It worked. I’m free. No more pain. No more reality. No more life.” I felt as if the weight of the world was lifted from my shoulders in an instant. All because I let it end. I chose when I left and I couldn’t be happier with my decision.
“No regrets?” she asked
“No. … Well, I guess I just wish I would have done this sooner. It would have saved me so much pain.”
“That’s highly unusual.” she mused “ For a suicide death not to regret it.”
“That’s me in a nutshell, really. Unusual.” I joked. Why didn’t she see it like I did? Why did she always think it was wrong? Why should I regret it?
“Alright.” she said, setting her sights on herds again
The woman scurried back to her desk and leant on the back of her chair.
“So.” she paused “Now we’ve got that out of the way, I suppose I should tell you where exactly you are, and what it is exactly we do here.”
“It would help”
“No need for the attitude, young lady!” she scolded me
“Yes, yes, I know, but go on?” I prompted her, albeit rather rudely
“Okay, then. Welcome to the ‘Supernatural Suicide Prevention Unit. Or SSPU for short. We specialise in training angels like yourself to go out into the Beforelife, in order to help the ones that are registered as in danger of their own actions. Put formally, in danger of suicide. They are sent out to look for the people who need a little bit of hope. That’s where you come in. People who have died like you have, serve a valuable place in the Unit. They have the unfortunate advantage of experience. Of course, there are other people in the Unit that have died a fairy normal death, but for those who have not, for people like you, coming here is compulsory. Unlike others who have a choice. People like you can help others realise the errors of theirs and others’ ways; while leading them into a brighter future.”
“well, you’ve ran into a problem, there, already, haven’t you?” I said
“why would that be, Angel?”
“Because, what I did, I did with no choice and look where it got me. Safe. Without pain. The only thing I would say to anyone else in the situation that I was in is to suck it up and go for it. Wherever you end up has tone better than where you are. Anything you face there can’t be any worse than whats going on now, can it?” I finished, raising i’d forgotten to breathe when speaking
The woman pulled out her chair and sat, muttering something about protocol. “You know, we’ve never had someone quite like you before, Angel, but that isn’t to say we weren’t prepared for the eventuality of such a situation.”
She leant over her desk to an intercom system, before speaking again: “Alerting all free Agents; We are now engaging in ‘operation: Angel.” she stood up, letting me know that the intercom was off.
I began to laugh.
“What?” she asked
I looked up and spoke slowly, “Good luck with your operation, angel.”