My name is Morgan, and I am dead.
I know you want to know how it happened, so let's just get that out of the way.
It wasn't spectacular as far as deaths go. I didn't die in a horrific car crash or in a burning building or anything dramatic like that. I didn't slip on a banana peel and break my neck or suffer some catastrophic allergic reaction to sesame seeds. I just died in my sleep. I know it's rare for a 17-year old year to die in her sleep, but I it was probably my time. I'd run away from home three years ago and had been living on the streets ever since, sleeping in cardboard boxes, scrounging for food, et cetera.
Dying was a lame experience. I didn't see any white light or angels or any of that stuff that I was always told I'd see. I just found myself standing up besides my lifeless body. There was the initial shock of it all. Then there was the few hours when I tried to figure out how to lie down inside of my body and wake up. And then there was the part when I accepted the fact and wondered why I was still sitting around in a smelly alley when I was dead. I left to go find the answer.
For a while I wondered if I was supposed to make peace with my past. I eventually made my way back to the trailer park where I had grown up to check in on my family. There was nothing there. My mother was dead. My stepfather had apparently moved in with a new girlfriend. My little sister had been adopted by a nice couple with two other children. There was nothing to straighten out—nothing to reconcile. I gave up on that idea.
I quickly realized that I couldn't interact with the world any more. I couldn't pick anything up or move things around. I had no reflection in mirrors or glass. When I looked down, I could see myself wearing the same grubby jeans, green sweater, and sneakers that I had been wearing when I died. It was all very confusing, actually. There seemed to be no point to my existence/non-existence. Apparently there was no heaven and no hell, because I didn't go to either one of those places. But then again, where are all the other dead people? Shouldn't the planet be swarming with spirits of the dead? Two years I've been dead, and I haven't seen another ghost the entire time. I still haven't figured that one out.
I could go anywhere with only a thought. Want to go to China? Just think about it and you're there. Really, I could have traveled the world, but I realized quickly that there was no point. I saw the Eiffel Tower. I stood on the top of Mount Everest. I saw Tom Cruise in the shower. So what? There's just no excitement to anything any more. You can't eat. You can't shop. You can't read because you can't turn the pages. Your heart and stomach don't go wild when you ride a roller coaster. You can't talk to anyone.
Well, that last point isn't entirely true. I've discovered that there are a few creatures that can see me or sense me nearby and no, it's not that crazy lady on channel 62. It's babies and animals. Two years ago I slept next to stray dogs; now I speak with them. I'm certainly moving up in the world. And babies—they're okay. They'll smile and coo and laugh at me. But not all babies can see me, and even the ones that do grow out of it relatively quickly. I haven't figured that one out yet.
Anyway, I was starved for some attention, which is why I was standing in the parking lot of a convenience store in downtown Jump City, sharing my "Tom Cruise Shower Experience" story with an eight-month old baby moments before my life—er, my death was turned upside-down.
The mother had run into the convenience store for a pack of cigarettes and, apparently, to flirt with the clerk, leaving the baby strapped into her car seat in the back of her SUV. Really, I don't get parents like that. Do they not watch the news at night? Anyway, said baby was thrilled to have me stop by and regale her with my stories while she chewed on her foot. I had her undivided attention, which was nice because I don't get that any more. And then all hell broke loose.
There was an earth-shattering boom that echoed everywhere, moments before what appeared to be a rock monster came barreling down the street.
Yeah, okay, so Jump City has monsters and villains. At least Jump City wasn't as bad off as Metropolis or Gotham or even Keystone City. And at least Jump City had superheroes.
Moments later, coming at full speed, the Teen Titans appeared.
Really, I don't know what can be said about the Teen Titans. Not a whole lot is known about them—they have to protect their super-identities and all that. But there were some things that were printed in Bop magazine that I had read. So I at least knew the names of all of them and could recognize them all.
The battle had obviously been raging for a few blocks already. A green tyrannosaurus that I assumed was Beast Boy led the pack, charging Mr. Rock Monster and snapping with his giant teeth. The t-rex clamped down on the rock monster's arm, which kept it occupied long enough for Starfire to rain down a volley of green fireballs. Raven murmured some words, and some eerie black magic sprang from her hands, picking up a Ford Focus parked on the side of the road and flinging it into the bad guy. The rock monster stumbled against the barrage, flattening a building across the way before he fell. Robin and Cyborg joined in the attack, both unleashing exploded arsenal at the fallen monster.
I was already impressed. I'd never been this close to a battle before. And what was the harm, really? It's not like I was going to die.
And then the baby cooed.
Oh shit. The baby. I turned toward her, watching as she attempted to devour her fist. She was blissfully ignorant to the danger around. Where was the mother? With merely a thought, I appeared inside the convenience store. The mother was crouched down behind the counter, cowering with the clerk and a couple other patrons of the store. They all looked like frightened little rats.
"Hello?" I shouted. I knew they couldn't hear me, but I had to do something. "Yo! Mama! Your freakin' baby is out in that car! You can't leave her out there with that going on!"
I pointed toward the street, just as Cyborg came crashing through the glass wall like a cannonball. The people in the store screamed, covering their heads from the rain of glass. I glanced at Cyborg, who was shaking his head to recover from the blow. Then I glared back down at the mother, who obviously still didn't feel like she needed to rush out and get her child. Some people just shouldn't be allowed to procreate.
The fight had moved way too close now. The t-rex was now a rhinoceros, and it charged the rock monster and pushed it along the street, causing asphalt to fly as the monster dug in its heels. Cyborg ran out of the store and back into the street, shouting something at his teammates. Raven turned, staring in my direction with her violet eyes as she lifted her hands above her head. Her mouth opened and she began to chant another spell.
And then it occurred to me. She wasn't looking at the store or me. She was looking at the SUV parked in front—seemingly a large vehicle that she could slam into the rock monster like she had done moments before with the car. But she didn't know there was a baby inside.
The black magic leapt from her hands again, streaming toward the vehicle. But I was faster. With another thought, I appeared in front of the SUV, standing between it and the spell. I even had enough time to wonder what the fuck I thought I was going to do.
Light blinded me.
"Look out!" someone shouted.
And then everything went black.