"The Cause"- Limbo Break (Purgatory) No.1: "School Daze"
Ash drifted through clear blue soup that took over where air used to be. He discovered quickly he wasn’t breathing, per se, but he didn’t really care. He could look up and see the trapdoor he had fallen through, but no mount of swimming could get him over to it. This is bad, he thought, this is the worst surprise yet. What have you gotten your self into, Ash, my man?
Another figure floated in the soup along side him. He was about a kilometer away, but Ash discovered that he could swim over there, if he wanted to. He swam. When he got within a few meters away, strange music echoed through the blueness. Limbo music.
The man, he could see that now, wore a zoot suit that seemed to be made out of blue sequins. Over his black face, he had a stylish looking fedora with a white and red-striped stick stuffed in the brim.
How ya been?
What have you done?
What have you seen?"
"Ookay then. I’ve got to ask. What are you?"
"Why, l’il ol’ me?
Can’t you see?
Some call me Charon,
Some call me The Thing.
You, I’m told,
Will call me the Limbo King. "
"The Limbo King, eh? Try a non-sugared sweetener, or decaf. Either or. Where am I? And WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?" Ash cried, shaking his fist angrily through the not-air.
"That’s a nasty scratch
on your leg and stomach.
Sit back and think.
‘Hasn’t this all happened before?’"
"That one didn’t even rhyme."
On with tha show!"
Ash’s eyes closed by themselves. He was overcome with a sudden urge to remember…
This had all happened before. The day Aliciana showed up at school. He remembered it like it was yesterday. Involuntarily, he started to talk.
"I think it was 4 or 5 years ago, the day when Aliciana came to school. I was ten, maybe, and she was a little older. She, she looked so scared.
"Phil and I were outside together at lunch, and this frail old lady came up to us, she asked us if we could watch her daughter for her while she talked to the principal. The old lady moved out of the way, and I saw her for the first time. Even then, I was in love. She had those new kind of shorts on, you know, the ones that go down to your knees? She also had a Hello Kitty shirt on, and a large bracelet on her left wrist.
"Hey man, don’t get me wrong, I may have only been ten, but ever since that day, I … I can’t really explain it."
"So anyways, the old lady left us with her, and Phil and I decided to show her around the playground. She didn’t really speak that much English then. Well, now that I remember it, she didn’t talk too much at all…"
"We’d finished the tour over by the swing set on the edge of the school property, and then Russel showed up. God I hated that bastard. He was in our grade for four consecutive years by then, so he thought he was all King Shit of Turd Mountain. He musta been like thirteen by then, and he smoked with the junior highs at lunch. When he’d come back from his smoke break, he’d beat up some little kids like us for fun. So anyways, he came over to us, and he was all like ‘New girl eh? Don’t like ya!’ Then that bastard pushed her over and kicked sand all over her face."
"She started to cry, and it tore me up inside. The same thing happens whenever I hear her sad. It kinda gets inside my head, and says ‘Ash, you moron, help her!’ Usually if I crack a joke she’ll stop crying. I guess that’s why I became such a smartass, ya know?"
"So Aliciana’s on the ground, covered in sand, and she’s bawling her eyes out. Russel’s just standing above her, calling her names. And that’s when it happened. The rage kinda took over, like when I turn into that stupid barbarian thing. I rushed the bastard, kinda tackling him around the legs. We tumbled into the grass, and I ended up on top of him, punching him madly. Then that bastard pulled a knife on me. It wasn’t really a big machete or anything, just a little Swiss Army deal that he musta stole from a store. But it was enough. He cut me along the stomach, not deep, but it hurt nonetheless."
"That’s all I remember being awake for. Phil, and to a lesser extent Aliciana, filled in the blanks for me. After he cut me, Russel ran away. I blacked out, while Phil went off to tell the principal. The next thing I know, I’m alive and well, sitting in the sand beside Aliciana. She didn’t look too hot, though. Her right eye was twitching, bloodshot, and tired-looking. An angry stream of blood also emanated from there. I started to ask what happened to her, when I looked down at my stomach. I was fine. No scratch, nothing. I looked back at her, she smiled her endearing smile at me, and then fainted dead away in my arms."
"Her hands were covered in blood. By the time I realized it was my blood, the principal, the old lady, the school nurse, and Phil are all there, picking us up and brushing us off."
"Russel got expelled, Aliciana woke up eventually, and became a regular at our school. I was forever changed."
"You ever heard that superstition that if you save someone’s life, that life belongs to you? Aliciana saved me that day. I owe her my life, and I’ve pledged to protect her ever since."
Everything changed, and Ash found himself once again in a whole new world.
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