Chapter I…
Chapter I…

I yawned and stretched out. I opened my eyes and looked around.

"I'm alive," I whispered to myself, "but where am I?"

I felt strange. Really strange. The last thing I knew before blacking out was that I was lying on the side of the road with two men standing over me. There they were- a few feet away. They were talking urgently to each other. They spoke quickly as they lifted someone's body and put it on a stretcher. They were whispering, and their voices got lower…and lower…until I heard them no more.

I looked at the body. It was of a young girl. She had dark colored hair that hung limply off the side of the stretcher. She…oh my God…As I looked closer, I saw that she was me!

I stepped back in shock. Horrified and confused, tears sprung to my eyes. I stumbled backwards and rammed into someone. I fell forward, but somebody caught me in his or her arms.

"Hey there now, watch yourself."

I jerked around. He smiled at me. He had a little lopsided, sweet smile. He was dressed in a faded leather jacket, jeans, and scruffy tennis shoes. His physical features were better looking than his clothes. He was tall, and thin. He had short, thick brown hair; soft, brilliant eyes; and a casual swagger. He appeared to be maybe a few years older than myself.

"What…what's happening? Who are you?"

"I'm Mr. Smith. And don't worry, Anya, you're fine."

"What do you mean? What happened to the bus? What happened to that girl? That's me!"

"Calm down. Listen, I'll give you the short rundown. You died in that crash. That's your body being carried away by those men."

I swallowed. Of course, I had to know that. There was no way anyone could have survived such a brilliant crash. But, as I looked at him, I felt my chest rise and fall, I was breathing. I was speaking. I was alive. Wasn't I?

"You are technically dead. But you don't necessarily have to be dead and done. What I am saying is that Judge Othniel might give you the chance to be able to go back and prevent your past self from dying."

"You mean," I said, slowly, not at all understanding, "I can go back in time and what? Save myself?"

Before this stranger, Mr. Smith, could answer me, we were interrupted. A short, burly man dressed in black robes, carrying a bag, stepped out from one of the ambulances.

"Ah, Mr. Smith, I see you have acquainted yourself with Ms. Anya," he said.

"Who are you?" I asked.

Mr. Smith stepped in to introduce us. "This is the honorable Judge Othniel. He's come to decide your fate."

"My fate? Like whether or not I'm going to Heaven or Hell? I thought that gig went to Saint Peter."

Mr. Smith chuckled. "No, like whether or not you're going to get a second chance to fix your life."

My head spun. "Man, this has got to be a dream," I said, mainly to myself.

He smiled faintly. "No, it's real. Believe it. Or not."

The Judge cleared his throat. Mr. Smith stopped talking and stepped back.

"Let's review Ms. Anya," the Judge said. "Tell me why you were on that bus in the first place."

"I was on my way home, sir," I said. I didn't know how to address this Judge Othniel character.

"Why were you going home? You were assigned a camp counselor for a two-week session."

"Judge, is this really necessary? You know all the facts."

"Be quiet Mr. Smith, I want to see what she says."

"I don't know. I was shocked. It was basically my fault that Stephanie died. I don't think anyone wanted me to take care of the rest of the kids."

"So on the whole, it was your negligence that caused Stephanie Anderson to lose her life?" 

I swallowed thickly. "Yes, but I swear, I tried everything I could to save her. I know that I wasn't the most responsible counselor, but I didn't want her to die. I had no idea that something like that would happen. I would do anything to bring her back."

I couldn't help it. I started to cry. Mr. Smith placed his hand on my shoulder.

"Well, there you have it. I hope you mean that Ms. Anya. You will go back, and you will have three days, and three days only, to amend your mistakes, save that girl's life, therefore saving your own. You will go back with all your memories in tact. No one will recognize you. You are a free agent in the universe. Go, with the Blessing of God Almighty and His Court."

And, with that, he took a large grovel and banged it on a nearby boulder.

"What about…" I started to say, but I never got the chance to finish. I was already gone.