Chapter 1:

Heaven?

The Second Route


Tears well up in my eyes, and my vision becomes blurry.Bookmark here


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A voice from a radio, crackles, “Please return to the airpo-” I slam the radio at the dashboard.“Pfft,” I scoff, “such noise.” I pick up the broken radio and yell at it “I’ll do whatever I want from now on!” I throw it again and tilt the flight stick to the side causing the aircraft to tilt. I circle above the seas looking for the perfect way to mark my grave. Why am I doing this? My broken heart couldn’t take it anymore. Recently, I gave my heart and soul to a woman, but she rejected it without giving a thought. All my years were wasted thinking about her since high school. I misunderstood her closeness and mistook it for likeness toward me. But she was cruel, unadmirable. I was patient with her, but I had enough.


“This life has been unfair! I don’t get it! How could it be this bad?” My voice cracks. “If everything went my way, I would have endured!” I slam the flight stick forward and the aircraft goes into a dive. My body feels weightless for a moment, and the deep blue expands into my vision as it draws closer.
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The aircraft warns me of the upcoming disaster, “Terrain, terrain, pull up!” The aircraft seemingly pleads with me not to take it down with me.
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Everything seems to slow down into the navy blue, then fade into black. I close my eyes, accepting the early fate I chose. “I wish…”

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I waited moments to feel some kind of pain, a taste of what death feels like, yet, I feel nothing, no impact, no pain, no nothing, only my thoughts. My thoughts…Bookmark here

“Huh?”


I open my eyes to see the endless black surround me. “It’s quite dark in here,” I say as I take off the aviator glasses that darken my vision, but to my surprise, I don’t find it on my face.

I feel around for my face. “Is this how death is like?”
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I expected hell. I wished for heaven. I wait for the flames burning my every soul but my heart desires for the warm, comforting light. But, what I got, is nothing. A feeling of abandonment. That is the feeling worse than being set on fire.

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I realized I can speak, and that I can think too. “Hello?” was my first word. I don’t receive any response, nor did my voice echo nor did it reverberate as I expected. I look around and feel the sensation that I am floating. Is this space? Or am I in water? I listen for the slight sounds and hear water flowing around me, but I don’t feel moist from it. I look up and see the sun shining through the sea. I see the outline of the plane I was riding in before the sun and the deep blue fade into black.

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I think back on how I should have died or have expected to die. I may be underwater, but somehow, I can breathe, talk, think. Something a dead person cannot do. As I try to make sense of it all, I hear a familiar voice behind me.Bookmark here

A voice crackles through a speakerphone, “Bari, what do you mean by last flight?

“You will hear it in the news,” my impatient voice answers.

The voice sighs, “You haven’t been yourself lately. You have been speaking bizarre things like death and suici-” the voice on the phone gasps and starts to sound desperate, “don’t do it.”

“Takahashi-san, there is nothing else to do,” my voice trembles on the brink of tears.

“What good will this do!?” Takahashi whispers an apology, “I’m telling you; this isn’t the answer.”

“It is. I have tried everything in my power, but no. They treat me like a worthless piece of crap.”

“You’re wrong! People enjoy your company,” Takahashi breathes heavily, “you have a lot of friends don’t you think?”

“It’s all hypocrisy and worthless!” My voice breathes heavily, “sorry, I won’t entertain this any further.”

Takahashi hesitates, “Is this all because of her?”

I go silent.

“Do you think she rejected you?” Takahashi takes a deep breath. “Tell me, is it my fault?”

I yell to the phone, “Yes!” I slam my phone into the ground as I hurriedly walk toward my aircraft.


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I listen to that memory in the darkness. That was the last phone call I have made, and that was my friend, Takahashi, whom I have talked to. I suspect that he is the one whom she rejected me for. And I think of that, and I clench my chest because I feel a sharp pain in my heart. “That bastard.”

Then that darkness shows me memories from my birth until my death, but I don’t react. I feel nothing. This is all now worthless to me. Where is my afterlife? Or is this the end of a human? Those are my questions and wonders, but a bright light interrupts my thoughts. “Ugh.” I reflexively closed my eyes as it hasn’t adjusted to the abrupt change yet. “I wish for my sunglasses,” I mumble.


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I feel chills run up my spine and my bones to the entirety of my body. “It’s cold,” I shiver and notice that I’m lying on a cold, mushy, white ground. I turn my head up and see white particles falling. I take a grasp of this ground and drag it to my face, “Snow?”

I slowly stand up as the wind howls into my ears. I couldn’t see anything but only white but can distinguish the heavily falling snow. It causes me to feel like I’m going to freeze to death. I rub my arms to warm myself. I look down at my body and notice something odd. “I am still wearing my pilot suit.” I am thankful for that for it warms me only by a little. It seems like I’m caught in a blizzard. Wait, no, I’m supposed to be dead. I shouldn’t be feeling all this. I didn’t need clothes.Suddenly, everything becomes silent, and the falling snow stops midair. And I could see clearly. But I wonder why it stopped. I lift my hand to touch the floating snow but gave up because it feels like my arm was weighed down by something heavy. I turn my head around to scan the area but only see endless plains of white. I turn around behind me which took quite an effort to do so and see an orange sphere of fire slowly making its way toward me.


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“What’s this?”


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I trudge slowly toward it but struggle to do so because my body feels sluggish. I reach out my hand to the sphere and touch it. It feels like thin clothing, and I play around with it. Soon, my hand starts to feel warm, and exceedingly hot causing me to pull my hand away. I noticed that this ball has made quite some distance toward me and is about to touch my chest.My instincts tell me to dodge it, but I refuse to listen. But then, the heavy pressure squishing me to the ground becomes unbearable and I decide to move away from the sphere’s path. When I do so, the sphere zips past me and impacts the snowy ground, and explodes causing me to push away from it. No, I jumped away from it. I realize that the before-silent wind is once again howling away, and feel that my body is as light as ever. As soon after I make this realization, the wind becomes silent again, and my body becomes all the more sluggish. I glance to see another fiery spere slowly coming my way. I look behind it and notice a girl with red hair wearing homely clothes too thin to be suited for the winter. Her palms are raised pointing to me. “What is she doing?” I mumble.

“Hey! What are you doing?” I call out to her, but she doesn’t respond. She seems frozen in place. I realize that she hasn’t been moving for too long now, and her eyes unmoving from where I was. “What a weird girl.” I decide to follow what my instincts tell me, to dodge. And once again, the silence is broken by the wind’s howl, and my body is freely movable. But an explosion behind me pushes me face-first to the cold ground. “I think my nose is broken,” I mumble before someone forces me to face up to the sky.

A chilling sensation runs across my neck, and I look down to see what it was and discover it was a broadsword. “Wait, a sword?”

I look up to its wielder and notice that it was the same red-haired girl from before. She goes on top of me asserting dominance and yells to me, “What’s your name!?”

And I, not being in a serious move, her in sarcasm, “I’m Death! I have come to conquer the heavens! Is this heaven?”

The girl blushes and slaps me with her free hand in the cheek and pushes the sword further. A warm liquid trickle down my neck. “I will slice your neck if you don’t answer me properly! What is your name?”

“Bari! Bari Deliruu!” I say in haste breaking off from my sarcasm and exchanging it for panic.

The girl’s eyes widen in shock, but don’t disengage with her interrogation, “Why are you here?”

“I came here looking for heaven,” I say as my eyes unavoidably glance at something beneath her skirt.

“Huh?!” The red girl quickly stands while holding the hem of her skirt, “You absolute pervert! You deserve death!” She makes some kind of a gesture with her hands and clasps them together before facing their palms at me. The same fiery spheres that I have seen twice appear from the palms. The sphere growing bigger every second and before being shot straight at me.“Wait, this is a fireball!?” At that moment, the newly-realized fireball decelerates rapidly along with the falling snow. I see another similar-looking girl running slowly toward the red hair for a tackle. I notice that she is similar in appearance to the red girl, but she had blue hair. I squint my eyes to her and made a deduction. “So, they are twins.” I look up and see the snow slowly drifting downwards. I look to the fireballs again.

“What in the actual hell.” Is this hell, or heaven? Am I dead or alive?

But the words do not reach anyone else but me. I stand up with considerable strength to fight with the heavy pressure on me. cautiously avoiding the fireballs and run to stand beside the shooter. Then the fireball zips past me and the weight imposed on my body gets lifted. Chunks of white go flying in different directions other than where I stand. The red-haired girl looks at me with wide eyes. The blue-haired girl freezes in place.

“Nice to meet you. What’s your name?” I ask a seemingly awkward question.

“What did you do just now?” asks the red hair.

“I avoided the invitation of death.” I point at the craters the three fireballs have made.

“How did you dodge all that?”

I dryly laugh. “I… walked?”

“Huh? That fast?” the red hair crosses her arms in disbelief.

“Yep,” I make a popping sound with my mouth.

The blue hair arrives beside the red-haired girl and speaks up “What’s your name again?”

“Bari,” I answer.

“What’s your second name?”

“You mean my last name?” I make a motion with my hands.

“No, your second name.”

“What is a second name?” I scratch my head.

“Then, your last name?” The blue-haired girl follows up.

I offer a handshake. “Deliruu.”

The red hair turns towards the blue hair and the blue hair shrugs in response. They both turn toward me and the blue hair bows. I quickly retract my hand and bow promptly. It seems that the proper custom of the land is to bow.

The red-hair starts walking away without looking at me.

“My name’s Lina,” the blue hair followed up, “And that’s my twin sister, Rina. We don’t have a second name because we aren’t nobles. I’m sorry for the trouble we have caused, Deliruu-sama.”

Wait, what? ‘Deliruu-sama’? What’s up with the ‘-sama’? You know what, I won’t ask. Too much of a bother.

“Are you traveling by any chance?” Lina asks.

I stand motionless for a time and look around. This is a new place, yes. And the snowstorm has now calmed down, and I could see some snow-covered trees in the distance, and there is an opening between them that seems to be like a path leading to somewhere. I turn to Lina to finally answer, “If you could say so, yes.”

“Do you have a place to stay?”

I shake my head. “I do not.”

Lina motions with her hands towards the opening between the trees. “Would you like to stay with us?”

“That would be kind, thank you,” I bow briefly.

Rina yells from afar, “Why did you invite him!?”

“He seemed lost, and the fact that he appeared from the snowstorm is unusual,” states Lina.

“What?”

“Yes, it was very sudden. You, along with the snowstorm, appeared out of thin air,” clarifies Lina.

I place my chin on my hand, “Huh, interesting.”

Lina places her hand on her, I would say, quite a voluminous chest, “I assume you didn’t know?”

I scratch my head, again, “Yes, because of that I was lost.” That’s a lie, a half-truth. In all honesty, I know what happened. It’s that, I died, but again, frankly, I do not know how I got here. But I won’t tell them any of that. It’s a bother.

Rina starts stomping ahead of us while Lina and I trail behind her side by side.

“Bari-san, what land are you from?” Lina asks

“Tekinyu City,” I respond.

“Where is it?”

“From here, I do not know,” I look up to the sky, “and where is this?”

“We are south of the town of Lunis.”

“Lunis, huh?”


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We walk together in silence while I process my thoughts into order.

A realization hit me. We have been talking in the same language ever since I ‘appeared.’ Well, at least it sounds like the same language I have spoken. What is odd is that I have never seen snow in my hometown, or my country. But here is a snowy land that speaks the same language as I do. I will have to by seeing their written language, I might be able to deduce and verify if their language is the same as mine. And there is this town named Lunis. I have never heard of such a town in my homeland before. If I can get a map, I should be able to find answers. All these questions are served with no answers. Because generating more questions will only frustrate me more, I end it all with a sigh.

“Is there something wrong?” asks Lina with a ton of concern.

“No, not really, but I do need answers. Will you be able to show me around after?”

“Sure, it’s no problem.” Lina warmly smiles.

Homely houses show up on the horizon. They give an impression of being from the Middle Ages of my imaginations. And there are no such structures in my homeland. It is a small town, and, for some reason, I am excited to see the townspeople and this hidden world.
N. D. Skordilis
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