It was pathetic how little I'd thought things through. I failed to take daylight into account. So eager to escape the clutches of Dark Falls, I'd forgotten our pivotal weakness. Only through sheer luck of having worn a coat was I shielded from the rays. But it wasn't shelter enough.

I wandered into some nearby woods. Shambling while I looked for somewhere to hide and think over my next move. Somewhere shady. Somewhere-

A hiss.

"–?!" I felt a coil wrap itself around my leg. Tight. Fierce.

It was a snake.

"What the hell-" I kicked my leg wildly, sending the snake slamming into a tree trunk. It made a wet smacking sound before recoiling into some brush.

"Wow! Really impressive!" It was the voice of a girl. Above me? I scanned the tree line while also trying to keep my face shielded from the sun.

"Who's there?"

"You'd make a good buddy!"

"Come out!" I demanded. I still couldn't trace the source of the voice. It sounded as if it were on the ground now.

"But- hey. Something's not right with you. Is it?"

"Out!" I barked, growing impatient of these games. My breathing was labored again. It was an odd sensation. This nervousness. I hadn't felt it since I died.

"You're like me." It was directly behind me now. I turned to face the source. It was a young girl. Maybe ten or eleven. Pale complexion. Light blonde hair. Something was off about her, but I couldn't place it.

"What are you talking about?" I scanned our surroundings. Looking for signs of other people. "Why are you- are you alone-"

"Uh-huh. I'm alone," her voice was bubbly and teasing. "So don't worry! I won't tell anyone what you are. Well... Not that I really know either."

"What are you talking about?" I repeated, trying to feign ignorance. But I felt she knew. I don't know how, but she did. Then, it occurred to me.

A mid-October day. It was sunny, but brisk. 40 degrees at most.

But she was wearing shorts and a thin t-shirt. Yet she showed no signs of being cold. In fact, she seemed eerily comfortable. Both in the weather and in her candidness.

"So, how'd ya die?"

She knew. I don't know how, but she knew. I couldn't let that stand. I felt the hot glow in my eyes. Readying the ritual. I still couldn't stand killing with my bare hands. I didn't WANT to make her undead, but if it meant silencing her-

My psychic hands went for her neck... And passed right through.

"What-"

"Hey! I felt that!" She seemed more annoyed than afraid or scared. In a swift, eerie motion, she popped up just in front of me. Inches from my face. So fast I could barely react.

She isn't human.

I felt fear now.

"Get away!" I swatted at her, but my arm disappeared into a mist. A dense, white fog. It sent a chill through me, and she was gone. Or so it seemed for a moment. I heard her voice echoing all around me again.

"I thought you'd make a good buddy to take with me. To the afterlife. But you... You're not right. Although, there's something else about you."

"Something else?" I quietly repeated it, entranced by what she was saying.

"You're not alive... But you're not dead." I was still frantically scanning the surrounding area for her.

"I know. I'm undead." I confessed to her, realizing my secrecy didn't matter to whoever this creature was.

"Uh-uh." She denied from the darkness of the forest. "It's not just "undead". I think you were for a while. But you're changing."

My breathing again. Why couldn't I catch my breath?!

"Face me! Tell me what you know! What are you?!"

"I need a buddy to take with me. To escape this place. I can't go alone. But you won't work. So you can go."

"I'm not leaving. Not until you tell me who you are. What you are. And what you know." The forest sighed. I felt an energy around me. An ocean. I was swimming in this power. Whatever she was, she was far stronger than I.

"Okay." It was booming. Deafening. Threatening to crush me. To destroy this undead coil binding me to this earth. But it was also bored. Almost exasperated. For a fleeting moment, I considered fleeing the forest. Even if it meant diving into the sunlight to die again.

But as quickly as this boundless sinister energy swallowed me, it vanished, and the girl was beside me. Innocently smiling. Completely devoid of ill-intent.

"I'm Della. Della Raver."