Author's Note: As some of you may or may not know, I have always had a serious interest in the supernatural and the occult, so when I saw that this month's contest theme was Death/Mortality, I knew I just had to write something special.
My biggest inspiration for this were Richard Wilson's Two Feet in the Grave and Dan Cruickshank's The Art of Dying both of which confront the fear and realities of death and can be found on GhostWatching's YouTube page. For those who may be interested, that is.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harvest Moon nor its characters.
In one moment, there was a sudden burst of white light, and in the next, there was only darkness. By the time I came back to my senses, I was back again. Back in my pasture and sitting under my tree, same as always. Well, almost the same...
Since I never had the chance to look at myself before. At least not like this.
There I was, sitting face to face with myself... or what I thought was myself. It sure looked like me anyway. After all, it had my face, my hands, and the rest of my body. The only problem was my mind was outside of it, or that was the only way I knew to explain it at the time. Not that I could think about much other than the realization that I was staring at myself.
"What..." That thought alone was enough to make me stop thinking all together because as soon as I said it out loud- or tried to, that is- my voice echoed. Almost as if I was speaking into a microphone on an empty stage in an empty theatre. "What's happening to me?"
I was scared.
Thirty-eight years old and I was scared. Not that men my age weren't scared every now and then, whether we would admit to it or not, but this was different. Even though I wanted to cry out, what scared me all the more was how I couldn't. It was frightening. Terrifying, really. So much so that I couldn't look past it.
That was until I heard a voice other than my own call out to me.
"Hey, Allen, you feelin' alright?" I snapped around, my breath- if I still had any- hitched in what felt to me my throat, and came face to face with my old friend. He looked worried, but that was nothing new when it came to him. The way his thick brows knitted together over the bridge of his crooked nose was more familiar to me than my own face, but when I saw him, I didn't know what to say even if I could. "I told you not to come out here until you were feeling better."
"And I told you I was fine." Once more, my own voice had that same eerie echo, but he didn't even seem to hear it. "Hey, are you listening to me?"
"Did you fall asleep on me again?" I looked to my body, willing it to move, but it stayed where it was. Or where I was... I was having a hard time of understanding just what was what and who was who. "Allen? Can you hear me?"
"Of course I can hear you," I muttered, being all the more frustrated to hear the echo once again. The only problem was he couldn't hear me, and even though I was trying my best, there didn't seem to be any way for me to reach the man. "What am I supposed to do?"
I looked at my body again, hoping for an answer. I looked so peaceful, and really, it wasn't all that surprising that my friend had thought I was sleeping. If I wasn't looking at myself like I was, I never would have given it another thought, but as it was, I had to worry. There was really one thing I could think to do, and even then, I had no guarantee it would work.
Just when I was going to try and return to my body, though, he took a step forward, and before I could stop him- or even try to- he walked right through 'me.' The 'me' that was out of my body and being pushed through his. As soon as it happened, my mind went blank, and there was a sudden warmth. One that ran through my entire... whatever I was now, and there was nothing I could do to move away from him. The only thing I could really do was...
"Get away from me!"
The man staggered back, his dark eyes wider than I had ever seen them before, and when he did, I was suddenly free. What was strange was how much more energized I felt after it had all happened, but it was only when I looked down that I realized what was going on.
Looking down I saw myself again, but it still wasn't fully me. Not as long as my actual body was still sitting beneath the tree. Not that I had much time to figure out just what happening before my friend took notice of this as well.
"Allen?" He sounded lost... as if he couldn't believe what he was seeing. Something I understood all too well by that time. I had never seen him so startled, but as always, he went back to his usual, neutral expression soon enough. "Is that really you?" I just nodded, still unsure if I could speak and be heard, but when I did, he only shook his head. "So did you just come to tell me you're living then?"
"That's... not... it..." The echo was still there as I said it, but it was a relief to know he could finally hear me. The only problem was that when I spoke, my new 'body' began to fade even more than it had already. Still, I felt I had to say something while I could manage it. "Am I... really... dead?"
The last word fell away into an empty echo as my 'body' faded into nothingness once again. The man only waited, standing there in front of the two of me, but before I knew what he was thinking, he walked through me again. The worth came once more, but unlike the last time, my second body didn't reappear.
"Are you still with me?"
"I don't know," I replied. He couldn't hear me, of course, but even though I knew it, I couldn't stop myself from trying again. "I'm sorry. I really don't know what else I can do."
"If you're still there, can you give me a sign?" I sighed, trying in vain to think of some way to reach him, but all I could think of was to find someone else to draw energy from. Someone who had enough to spare since I wasn't sure whether I could be doing any harm to the poor old man. Just when I went to try and leave, though, I felt myself being pulled back. Like I couldn't get away. "Allen, I know you can hear me."
I looked back, finding my friend staring at me dead-on, and though I could not help but find the dark humor in that statement, I was all the more unnerved to have him looking at me in such a way. Like he was looking right though me... which I suppose he was.
"I really am sorry about all this," I began again. "I know it's not exactly what we were thinking of... when we went thorough with this, but... I can't say I regret it." Not after all we had done to make the land workable again. When it came right down to it, we were closer than family. At least more so than we were to our own. "I guess I'll have to leave it all to you now, won't I?"
"Will you be hangin' around then?"
To be honest, I wasn't all too happy to be talking over one another, but I guessed there was no way around it. Not when he couldn't hear me anyway. If I was being honest with myself, though, we were never on the same page most of the time, so this wasn't all that different. Just when I was about to try to speak to him one last time, I felt a hard jerk on my heart. There wasn't much pain, really, but a part of me knew that I didn't have a lot of time left.
And so, for one last time, I took a step forward to come face to face with the man. This time I didn't walk through him. I only held out what felt to be my hand and took his in mine to shake it. Not that I really could, of course, but I hoped he knew my sentiments. Just as I was about to say good-bye, though, I felt myself being lifted up and away.
Only to be surrounded by a bright light... one last time...