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Atta Fearne Atta Fearne
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Cold Ghost of a Fire


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Under the Double Star - Chapter One

Two lovers separated by the largest gap, the most broken bridge, the deepest and emptiest hole; between life and death. The living left heartbroken over the dead, the dead left lost and confused in an unknown world. And then their worlds meet as they're thrown into a dilemma that leads a tale of joy, excitement, terror and tragedy. A haunting, mysterious and deeply sad story that endlessly twists and turns, leaving your emotions all over the place.


Chapter 1 – Letting the door swing out in front of me


The bed is too wide for my one small, fragile body. My eyes flick left to right across the mattress, the edges seemingly miles away from where I lie. I scratch furiously at my arm, a reflex action I'd had since a child. I was trying to not think about something. Digging my nails into my cold skin a bloom of red appears, and as a sting starts to arise I know I should stop, but still my fingers drag on across my flesh. The more I try to think of anything other than him, the more my thoughts turn back to what happened.


I glance at the raw skin I'd ripped up, blood surfacing, mixing with the tears that fell from my eyes. Grabbing at the duvet I pull it over to hide my face, hoping darkness would suffocate my sadness. My arm burns, radiating heat, and suddenly my whole body is lit with flames. Smoke wrapped itself around my lungs, my eyes blurring the fire into a swirling rage of orange and yellow. Tortured shouts and screams echo within my skull and black silhouettes shake and wither around me. The room is spinning, a now distorted scene of what was the music venue. I search the crumbling figures for Jack, but before I can cry out blackness engulfs me and I am silenced to where I lie, a blaze with flames.


I wrench off the cover, gasping for air. My body is damp with a cold sweat, and I shiver uncontrollably. Clawing at the sheets I try to calm, but panic keeps rising, my breathing becoming ragged and my throat aching and dry.


"Stop it" I wheeze to myself, but the words hang stale around me. Shaking, I ease up off the bed, trembling to the bathroom sink. The freezing floorboards burn my feet as I walk, and I try desperately to release the smoke shrouding my lungs. Falling against the sink, my knuckles white, I cast the cold tap open, plugging the drain so the water creeps up the sides. With one gulp of air I plunge my head under, the freezing water stabbing at my face with tiny little daggers of ice. I let the pain shiver down through my bones, closing my eyes as the fire is put out.


Suddenly from below the surface I hear a click from downstairs. The front door opens and in rushes sounds from the busy street, before being slammed out a few seconds later. I inch my head silently out of the sink so the muffled sounds become clearer, and my ears outline the shuffles of shoes being undone and coats being hung up. I shiver, not from the water drops surfacing goose bumps, but from the terrifyingly loud silence. Then footsteps start to slowly mount the staircase. With a start I jump at a towel, brandishing it on my skin before shoving it back on the rack like I had committed a crime. My heart then stopped dead.


Jack's head appeared from stairs. Jack was dead. My eyes froze on him as he dragged his feet over to the bedroom. I was stuck standing there, the sounds of drawers opening and closing washing over me as I tried to comprehend it all.


Jack had died. I woke in the hospital, scarred and burned, but alive. Jack...Jack was a heap of ashes. I didn't get the chance to say goodbye because his body was too maimed, too changed, too deceased for me to handle. His ashes were scattered, the service short as to not drag out the pain, and then we all set about trying to move on. A week's gone by and I haven't moved from bed. He cannot be alive. It's not possible. Jack is dead. Why must my mind trick me? Be so mean as to make me see him again, see him looking so alive? This is torture. I'm torturing myself, Jack is dead, why can't I accept that?


Steadying myself I take a long, drawn-out sigh. Then slowly, still hearing sounds of him, tread back to my bedroom. I battle to escape the mind-games, but it all appears so real. There's a shuffling of clothes, a hoarse cough, a duvet being lifted. I reach the door and stop in my tracks, an inch away from the handle.


Suddenly I can't hear anything. I squeeze shut my eyes, listening out for the faintest of sounds. Still I hear nothing. But of course I can't. He's not there, remember? Jack's dead.


Feeling a sudden rush of clarification I bravely push on the handle, letting the door swing out in front of me.


Chapter 2 – I knew he could see me



Jack stood at the side of the bed, staring down to the half I slept on. He is so still he looks like a statue. Pain and sadness seemed to bleed from his hooded, shadowed and bleached red eyes, as he stared at the crumpled bed sheets. His clothes were crumpled too, tired looking and dirty, heavy on his stooped shoulders. Grimy skin, half-shaven, and reeking of alcohol, my heart ached to see Jack looking so defeated, so hurt, so pained. Slowly reaching down he smoothed out his pillow, before falling back onto it, face blurring with tears.


Tentatively I tip-toed into the room, crossing our carpet as if it were a mine field. He lay staring absently into the air, into nothing. Why hasn't he looked at me? What the fuck is going on? He is meant to be dead. Am I going insane? Is this a nightmare? I stepped over in front of the bed and drawing my eyes from the floor our gazes locked. I shaped a trembled smile but his face moved not an inch. A frown screwed up my forehead, but I couldn't wrap my head around the situation. It was all too abstract and crazy. I pawed at the raw patch of skin on my arm, letting a single drop of blood wash calmness over me.


"Jack?" I watched shocked as his whispered name seemed to reflect off the air in front of me, and he continued lying still, oblivious. "It's me?"


I was invisible. Or...was he a...a ghost?


The thought struck me. His eyes were haunted, something about him now cold and lifeless. The way he rolled over and pulled up the covers was like a limp, broken toy; rigid and cold but weak and detached with some horrific pain or sadness. I felt the mattress sink beneath me as I sat down, but Jack didn't seem disturbed, he didn't notice at all. I wanted to touch him. I thought I'd never see him again, but here he is, and I still love him. My body propelled to reach for him, like two magnets all thoughts of him being a ghost withered under the strong attraction. I edged closer to him and hovered my hand over his cheek. Surpassing all fear and doubts, longing regained control, and my palm fell to trace his skin.


His eyes leaped open and he sat up with a jump. I flicked my hand away immediately; he had felt me. He pulled at his hair, terror and confusion framing his eyes as they darted across the room, searching for something. "Jack?" I stumbled, tears now brimming on the surface. But the words were again dissolved in the air, leaving him still lost like a terrified child. "Jack!" I whimpered, pain wrenching through me for him to come back to life and be with me, hear me, touch me. His chest rose up and down with his heavy breath, and I placed my hand on it. He froze.


His eyes locked onto mine and my hand stuck to his skin. His face fell open wide and I knew he could see me.


Chapter 3 – Tying around my insides



"Emily?"


Tears now had engulfed my eyes and I smiled, all these emotions hammering at my heart."Yeah, yes. It's me" I placed my other hand on top of the one still sat on his chest, feeling his heartbeat knocking on his ribcage as if it were about to burst. He still couldn't draw his eyes from mine.


"I thought I'd never..." he trailed off, his voice cracking.


"Never see me again?" He smiled back at me with a nod, sniffing away another tear. "I've missed you."


Jack shakily breathed out a long breath, steadying his nerves. His face seemed to twitch with all the things he wanted to say to me. And then this huge grin emerged and the shadows of his face lifted away. For a few seconds we just sat there smiling at each other, I guess he was trying to comprehend seeing me again, like I were him. Then he grabbed both my hands and clasped them tight with his. His fingers were shaking below my palm so I stroked them gently, feeling the warmth of his skin in mine.


"I've missed you so much, Emily...I, I...I haven't been able to get over it all." He swallowed a lump in his throat.


Shaking my head I sighed, "Can we not think about that?...The fire, the...screams,...they haunt me enough." He quickly nodded in response.


"Of course, yeah! Probably a good idea, actually..." My heart melted at the sight of that crooked smile I had missed so dearly.


"How have you-" "How are-" We laughed, gripping tighter our hands.


"You first...What's it like?" Suddenly Jack's face dropped, collapsed and crushed by the question. I wanted to take it back but I couldn't. Death can't be a pleasant thing to talk about.


"Erm..." he scratched at his forehead, eyes cast down at our hands.


"You don't have to answer it. If you, if you don't want to."


"No, no it's fine." He paused before looking up at me with sarcasm, “Well it's not been fun! I've been walking around like a zombie. Honestly, since...since it, I've been a loner." I laughed; he was always good at making light of dark situations. "No seriously! Never been lonelier. You were my everything."


His face turned serious and then, slowly and carefully, we touched lips, pushing down disbelief that we were both together, ghost and human, defying death. I never thought I'd kiss him ever again. We parted and he cupped my face with his hands, concern etched on his face. "You're so cold." He studied me, tracing my scars with his fingers. "Have...have you been Okay?" I wanted to know more about him, about what being a ghost was like, but his eyes were drilling into me. "Please, Emily, it's not terrible, is it?"


"It's not great. Not having you around feels....feels wrong. Still feels like I'm in a nightmare....haven't yet woken up." He kissed me again, a longer kiss, tears seeping between our woven mouths.


"You're family misses you so much. I feel like I should be comforting them but, I need comforting myself."


"I don't think my parents would expect YOU to be comforting them." I joked, they'd probably faint if my ghost boyfriend appeared offering a hug. Jack didn't seem to see the funny side, just smiled sadly.


"Yeah...I suppose. They know how much I loved you. We all need some time alone I think...to console ourselves."


He was right. I was worried I had been ignoring my family, blocking them out because I was so full of grief. But of course they know how much we loved each other, they would understand.


I sighed, Jack always was my rock. "You're right. I'll visit them soon...I've been planning to. It's been too long, I've been so wrapped up in myself."


"You've had every right to be wrapped up in yourself, look what's happened to you!" He presses his forehead on mine, melting together our eyes. "Your mum's easily frightened though, be careful not to startle her like you did me."


My face furrowed, why would I frighten her? Did the effect of being in bed for a week make me scary? Guess it could be true. Jack lit up as he saw my face break out in a smile, he'd obviously missed it. Studying his face the shadows and scars sneered at me, his heavy eyes a reminder that Jack was dead, and he would have to leave me eventually. I smiled up at him, pushing away the knot of hurt tying itself around my insides.


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Next: Secret Minds Ch. 1