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"EACH NEW LIFE, NO MATTER HOW BRIEF, WILL FOREVER CHANGE THE WORLD. ~ ANONYMOUS”

Chapter One

A classic blue sedan sits struggling to idle outside of the hospital emergency room entranceway; doors open. SARAH, a ghostly little girl in a nightshirt, emerges from the car and smiles. Her attention moves to a dark thick trail of blood that winds through the hospital halls, a trail which ends at the operating room doors.

Inside the operating room JESSE ABLE’s small body writhes in pain in the center of a whirlwind of doctors and nurses struggle to save his life. A nurse leads VICTORIA and ROGER ABLE from the room, as more staff enters to help. Victoria and Roger stare helpless at one another outside of the operating room.

Victoria cries, “It’s just like it was with…” Roger embraces her, as she sobs uncontrollably. Additional medical staff rushes past the couple and into operating room. Sarah stands at the far end of the hallway in a devilish silhouette in the morning sunlight, as it passes through a large window.

Jesse’s terror driven words echo through the halls of the hospital, “Get away from me! Mom! Dad!” Doctors attempt to comfort him, “Calm down were trying to help!” Sarah’s demonic smile shows, as she dances and twirls undetected in the chaos.

Time passes; a doctor emerges from the operating room. Roger and Victoria rush to the doctor side with hope in their expression. The doctor makes short work of their moment of hope, “ We did all we could, but…”

Jesse’s now lifeless body lies on top of a medical table, as the doors burst open. Roger and Victoria rush to their son’s body, as their mournful tears and cries echo beyond the room. A sorrow filled blood soaked doctor lowers his head and walks down the long hallway away from his failure.

Harold, the Medical Examiner, fumbles with his lunchbox as he struggles to open the morgue door late as usual for his graveyard shift. He searches his pockets and sighs. “Damn it!” Harold declares. He turns and leaves to retrieve his keys to the door.

Deep inside the hospital morgue, in the body cooler, numerous bodies with fresh autopsy wounds have been sorted and stored. The bodies lay on metal tables or in wall mounted storage racks. Plastic sheets and toe tags move gently as the cooler fans come to life.

Jesse’s eyes flash open and squint against the bright glare from above. He sits up and looks around the cooler. “MOM! DAD!” Jesse steps down and sees his corpse on the tabletop beside him. He desperately rushes at the cooler door and pounds his hands against it repeatedly.

Jesse collapses next to the door. He shakes his head in confusion, as he stares at his body from across the room. He sobs, “Please, someone open the door. I’m in here.” The light inside the cooler comes on. Jesse looks up and slowly stands. He puts his ear to the door, as he hears voices from the other room.

The door opens; Harold enters pushing another table into the room with a fresh cadaver on it. “There you go. Just sit tight,” Harold says aloud. Jesse stands behind Harold frozen in fear.

Harold turns to face Jesse and seems to stare intensely at him. Suddenly Harold thrusts his arm through Jesse’s chest. Jesse gasps and looks down at the arm piercing his chest. “Who keep changing this thing? They’re going to thaw and start to stink,” Harold questions aloud. Harold adjusts the thermostat and exits. Jesse follows close behind him.

Jesse sighs in relief and looks around the sterile hospital morgue. He moves in front of the Medical Examiner and waves his arms to get his attention. Nothing. Then without warning Harold walks through Jesse and enters his office closing the door behind him.

Jesse leans against an empty autopsy table. He thinks aloud, “Why can’t he see me?” A shadow moves through the wall near him and slowly rises taking on the shape of the ghastly little girl Sarah, “Because you’re dead, Duh!” He turns in surprise to see Sarah sitting on top of an empty metal autopsy table. She looks like a filthy old porcelain baby doll.

“You died. You’re kind of slow aren’t you?” Sarah shrugs and seems amused by kicking her feet as they hang off the tabletop. “I’m not slow!” Jesse answers.

Sarah smiles and shrugs at him, “You got sick … it happens.” Jesse shakes his head and stares at Sarah in disbelief. “Who are you?” Jesse demands. “I came to get you out before the phantoms come.” Sarah responds, as she jumps down from the table and wags her finger at Jesse.

Jesse’s face fills with terror, “Who?” Sarah nods and shrugs, “Well, Not just you. They try to eat everyone. They are a real pain in the butt.” Jesse holds a look of confusion, “What?” Jesse looks to Sarah and scratches his head. “We need to go,” Sarah circles him and sizes him up. “Where?” he asks.

Animalistic GRUNTS and ROARS echo through the hallway outside the morgue.

Jesse stares for a long moment at the entrance door to the morgue. He holds a look of fear at what may lay beyond.

Sarah slaps Jesse to get his attention, “Not good, they’re early.” Jesse rubs his cheek and looks at Sarah. Sarah grabs Jesse’s arm and runs to the south wall with him behind her. She fades through the wall. Jesse hits the wall with a THUD and lands hard on the floor.

“Why would it be that easy?” Sarah walks back through the wall and throws her hands up. She shakes her head and stares at him. Jesse rubs his head and looks to her. “Don’t know that one, huh?” she asks. Jesse points to the large air intake vent in the room, “Works in the movies.” Sarah smiles and rubs his head, “Good job, let’s get out of here.” Sarah pulls off the vent cover and they enter. Sarah pulls the vent close behind them.

Sarah and Jesse move with determination through the rust and soot covered hospital air ducts. “We need to put a lot of distance between them or they will sniff us out,” Sarah explains. Jesse nods and follows. The pair comes to a stop, as the vent fills with a warm brilliant golden light from behind them. “What’s that?” Jesse looks confused in the direction of the air vent they entered through.

Sarah shakes her head, “its part of how they hunt.” Sarah grabs his hand and drags him behind her. “I need some answers or I am not going anywhere with you!” Jesse pulls away and sits down crossing his arms in defiance. Sarah’s anger shows briefly, as she rolls her eyes.

“Fine,” Sarah closes her eyes and sniffs loudly. Her eyes snap open and she points, follow, but stay quiet”. Jesse follows close behind hold a look of profound confusion on his face. She sniffs the air and moves like a bloodhound on all fours following a scent. She stops outside of an air vent cover and motions for him to join her.

“You want answers?” Sarah asks shaking her head. “Uh, Yeah.” Jesse nods. Sarah gestures for Jesse to look through the vent in the room beyond. Jesse glances into the room and confusion crosses his face, as he sits back on his heels. Sarah motions for him to continue watching.

Inside the room the children watch as an elderly man rises from his corpse. Oscar Cunningham sits upright on the edge of his hospital bed in his hospital gown and knee high black socks. His head hangs low, as he looks to a picture frame that sits on the nightstand, “together forever.” Smiling lovers rejoice from inside the picture backlit by a colorful city boardwalk.

Jesse looks to Sarah desperate to understand what is going on. Sarah raises a finger shushes him before e can make a single noise. Their attention quickly returns to the room beyond, as a Thunderous Boom announces the arrival of a swirling tunnel of light. Jesse and Oscar both allow the word, “Beautiful…” to slip from their mouths as they stare entranced at the illuminated tunnel.

Terror fills Sarah’s face, as she turns to Jesse. She slaps her hand over his mouth and clenches tightly. Jesse’s expression of shock says it all, as Sarah defiantly shakes her head in disapproval. She gestures at the room and motions for him to remain silent.

For a moment Oscars attention moved to seek the origin of the words from the air vent, but the brilliance of the tunnel regains his full attention. Oscar reaches out longingly towards the tunnel, as he feels the warmth and subconscious recognition of what awaits beyond his Bright Road.

The golden light of the tunnel flickers and turns a sickly green that washes over the room’s contents. The shadows come alive and devour any illumination brave enough to approach. Terror seizes Oscar’s expression, as unearthly black vines surge across the interior walls of the room.

Oscar shuffles away from the walls and stops after bumping into the foot of the hospital bed. He raises his arms defensively before himself, as he notices something stirring in the deep black pools. Oscar’s fear grows, as six ghastly figures enter the room through the dark pools.

Long slender spider like fingers find purchase allowing the figures to slowly pull themselves from the tar like pools. Tall wiry obsidian like figures kneels just before each light-obliterating void facing their very confused prey. The new arrival utter low long guttural growls, as Oscar glance in panic at each.

“What do you want?” Oscar begs, as he retreats to a corner near the head of his bed. Oscar raises his arms defensively, as the ghoulish new arrival circle their prey. Jesse looks to Sarah, “should we?” Sarah shakes her head defiantly and gestures for Jesse to continue watching.

Jesse glances back inside the room and immediately withdraws his attention in disgust. Sarah smiles and points at Jesse a warp and twisted smile upon her face.

“THEY… they …” Jesse begins, as his eye dart about the rusty and trying to find an answer to a question he dare not ask. “Well, that’s that,” Sarah snarky replies “survival of the fittest and all.”

One of the gaunt assailants raises its head and sniff at the air. Its attention moves to the air vent above the room, as it releases a low deep growl. Sarah moves in quickly places a hand over Jesse’s mouth and shushes him. He remains silent and confused.

“See what you did. Now be quiet or I will feed you to them myself!” Sarah threatens. Jesse pulls against her vice like hold of his mouth, but yield to her demand in his loss of in understanding of this world or its rules. Sarah motions for him to continue moving through the air vents, as one of the creatures leap atop the nightstand. Its attention focused on the near inaudible children above.

After worming their way upwards to ground floor Jesse comes to a complete stop tired and irritated with the events of the past few hours. Sarah turns to see Jesse sits legs crossed and shaking his head. She moves to his side, “fine. You want answers right?” Jesse nods in agreement.

“Fine. Here’s the short answer,” Sarah blurts out sarcastically, “I’m Sarah. We’re dead and this isn’t heaven.” Jesse stares his mouth hanging open at the abrupt and curt answer. “Can we go now?” Sarah’s irritation hangs clear on her face.

Jesse’s eye dart about the inside of the air vent in a desperate search for words, squints his eyes, and gestures back in the direction they came from, “What were.” “You’re the only one I have ever come for that didn’t get it by now?” Sarah shakes her head in disbelief of his loss of understanding.

“So, you have done this before then? You should be more understanding,” Jesse pleads. “Why is this so hard for you? You died get over it and move on or become Phantom Chow. It’s just that simple,” Sarah glares at her companion. “There had to be someone better they could send to take people to heaven,” Jesse demands. Sarah chuckles, “Never said heaven.”

Jesse pauses before he swallows hard and lowers his head, “Hell…” Sarah rolls her eyes at Jesse’s ignorance, “You’re such a wimp.” Jesse’s face contorts with growing irritation of his companion and shakes his head, “Well, I don’t feel dead?” Sarah clears her throat, “Have you ever been dead before?” Jesse shakes his head in response. Sarah smirks, leans in close, and playfully ruffles his hair, “then how do you know?”

Sarah turns from him and continues to crawl through the air vents. “I hate you,” Jesse whispers. Sarah stops and smirks, “Welcome to purgatory. You’re going to hate it here.” Jesse sighs loudly and follows his would be rescuer.

(Chapter Two through Twelve Coming Soon)

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