Friday Flash: The Ninety-Seventh Time

Today’s Friday Flash is brought to you straight from my WIP, CROSS//Rebirth. It’s basically the same scenario as my campaign flash piece “The Fortieth Time“, but obviously about 50 lives later. Basically, for context, Danielle is trapped in her hidden memories and is having a flashback to her (literally) previous life. You’ll notice a loooot of paraleles with “The Fortieth Time”, because I wrote that piece based on this one, essentially!



             A different part of her memory was accessed now, a fuzzier kind existing because of her relative living experience next to it. After a thousand years of death and rebirth, the soul inside Danielle’s body was used to purging the no longer relevant memories remaining between Sulim, the “true life”, and whatever current form she was in:  now, Danielle. But even the Process couldn’t remove everything, and like once-thought deleted files on a hard-drive, old information returned in a blunt manner.
            She still couldn’t breathe.
            She tried to breathe. Between trying to remember who she was and what was going on, all Danielle could think of was getting air to her lungs. Danielle – no, no she wasn’t Danielle…Danielle didn’t even exist yet. Who was she? Did it even matter? Whoever she was…that woman was dead now. Same soul, different body. Different life.
            Rilah. Her name was Rilah. She could remember no more, not even the name of the star she lived on and tried to protect from destruction.
            Rilah was dying. She lay, wounded in her side, on a slab of concrete pelted by rain. Her clothes were drenched in rain and blood. She couldn’t breathe because her entire body gasped for blood.
            All she knew was her partner, the body harboring Sonall’s soul and whose name seemed lost to the universe, was already dead. The Points were gathered and set ablaze by the detonator – by an old man who cared not for the sanctity of living beings and the stars they inhabited in the sky. The last forage of the moon, the planet, the piece of rock they lived on was gone. Only a sliver of time remained before nothing existed anymore. Before Rilah’s body ceased to exist.
            So why was she trying to breathe? Why couldn’t she just die? She felt betrayed by her battered body. What was the point in living when nothingness came to claim her and every other soul she failed to protect? It hurt so much. Every second passing was another second with less blood and more tears on her face. And she was dying alone.
            “Rilah!” A voice. A woman cloaked in a black robe ran to Rilah’s body and knelt beside her, hands in hers and fingers tracing Rilah’s tussled blond hair. “No, no Sulim…”
            Rilah knew that name only because Marlow told her what it was. Rilah, like Danielle, had never regressed and thus could not respond so readily to that name, even in death. She coughed for air and felt a body press itself around her. Her ears were assaulted by sobs and the calling of a name Rilah did not associate with.
            “I’m so sorry,” the voice apologized in her ear, and the body pressed Rilah’s face next to its chest. “I’m sorry that I couldn’t protect you like you always protected me.”
            Rilah slipped away even further from life. The ground beneath them both rumbled in its own destruction. The woman looked around and pulled a handheld firearm from its holster on her side. She knew there were two bullets in it.
            “Next time, Sulim.”
            A gun shot, and Rilah was dead, her misery ended by the barrel of a stranger’s gun. The earth cracked and fell away to the stars, its own soul destroyed and its body a mere shell fit for annihilation. Nothing to hang around for. The woman held the barrel of the gun to her head, Rilah’s body still in her arms.
            Another shot and they died together, the woman’s body on top of Rilah. As the planet gave up hope and blinked from cosmic existence, the souls of all who remained on its world rose and ambled their way towards the Void from beyond. Sulim was there, her essence aware of the departing souls around her. She still could not join them.
            With Sonall dead again long before her and already in search of Dunsman’s next target, Sulim was alone in the universe. She would see him again, in many years, on another planet needing saving. Her soul departed as a butterfly through the stars like a meteor fit for wishing upon.
            Another one followed close behind.