Morning afterlife seemed to be a friend for many in this side of town. I woke up on the couch; my host was gracious enough not to kick me out. I took my time to shake off the weirdness I was feeling, pro-morning sleepiness I guessed. I stood up and stretched. Jamey was in the kitchen making what he called breakfast. He saw me standing up and smiled towards me. “Ashlee left earlier, said she had to go into the city for an errand or something. Making breakfast here, you can try if you want.” I didn’t feel the need to tempt the resistance of my intestines to the absurd and disturbing nature of middle aged boys’ cooking so I politely declined the offer. I didn’t waste time with saying my goodbyes, I needed to go home. I left Jamey’s house and made a quick walk home. I got to my apartment and it looked ever so dull. I took a shower and got into a new change of clothes. It was just after ten in the morning and I decided to do the laundry. I took my dirty heap of clothes and made my way to the basement and shoved them into a washing machine and waited 45 minutes for the wash to complete. I took my laundry back to my apartment and put it into my room. I didn’t have the strength for ironing and so I just left it there. I made my way into the kitchen to fix myself some edible breakfast when my phone rang. The caller ID said it was Henry. I terminated the call about four times as he kept on calling back. I finally answered the call and it was no courtesy call. “Jun, lock the door, now! Lock it now! Someone tipped off the press as to your whereabouts and now everyone knows where you are staying. I need you to lock the door and stay there until I get there. Don’t go anywhere!” Henry cut the phone and in a split moment I dashed for the door and locked all locks and imaginary knobs on it. My heart was beating at lightning speed; I figured Usain Bolt would be child’s play with the way it was going. I had almost forgotten about that dimension to my life, the crazy mob that wanted my head, the thing inside me, and all the craziness that was becoming the order of the day. I was panicking and I knew it wasn’t going to help me but what else could I do. I paced up and down the living room trying to figure out what to do. In that moment Jonah appeared behind me and stood until I turned to face him.
I felt a surge of terror run through me but I didn’t know where to flee too. He smiled and sat down on the couch. I didn’t have the courage to say anything to him and he knew I was now very afraid. “Oh well, Juniper! Life was going well wasn’t it? You thought you had gotten away. Even started on coke, oh my! I knew all this you know. It was part of the plan! Now your friends are about three blocks away. Don’t worry; they aren’t started with you yet! Now your crawling moments begin!” He vanished from the room and I heard a knock on the door! I debated what to do but felt a relief when I heard the person behind the door, “Rose it’s me, Ashlee! Open up!” I dashed for the door, unlocked it, opened it, pulled her in and locked the door again!” I was glad to see a familiar face and I didn’t waste time in crying a river! “Ashlee you’ve got to help me get to a safe place. They are coming to get me! Help me out of here!” Ashlee didn’t seem moved but she came in with saving words! “Ya, come with me. I know a place where I can stash you till it’s clear.” I grabbed shoes and a jersey and locked the apartment. We ran out of the apartment and made our way to the alley way at the back of the apartment. Ashlee was running ahead of me and disappeared around a corner. I ran faster so I could catch up with her but as I came to the corner I was hit by a baseball bat straight on my nose and I fell back first and hit my head on the ground. The pain was excruciating and I didn’t have the strength to lift my head. I heard the baseball bat drop and the person came to me. It was Ashlee! She came next to me and knelt down, “You can’t have Joey; I would rather have you die!” She pulled out handcuffs and cuffed my right hand. She pulled me across the alley and cuffed the other end to a dumpster and knelt again to look at me one last time. Blood was gushing from my nose and I was still dazed. “I am sorry Rose, I liked you but you can’t have Joey, he is mine!” She left me there and ran down the alley and disappeared around another corner. I could hear the mob in the street in front of the apartment now! They wanted me in pieces and on their dinner tables! I didn’t know what to think anymore, Ashlee had just sold me out! I started crying, I really thought I was going to die that day!” I heard the mob come down towards the alley and police sirens where now in hearing range. The first people in the mob came into sight and I figured Ashlee had told them where I was! “There she is, now she is going to pay!”
I didn’t believe in God as much as I should have but in that moment I prayed, “God please help me out of here! Corey. Joe. Please! Anyone!” The people got to where I was and they didn’t waste time in throwing insults. I remember a middle aged woman spitting on me and kicked me in the stomach. Another woman slapped me four times on the face, spat on me and walked away. A boy pushed through the crowd and smashed a baseball bat into my knee. I almost screeched in pain but I was cut short by someone who threw eggs onto my face. I immediately vomited and tried to remove the egg from my face with my left hand when unexpectedly more eggs were thrown all over me. I was running out of breath and I was in so much pain. Something like a gunshot cut above the mob’s racket and everyone dashed for their lives. I didn’t see a policeman or anything but moments later, Corey appeared and ran towards me. He had a key dangling from his hand. “Nice to see you Jun. Let me get you out of here. Keep quiet and don’t worry!” He unlocked the cuffs and pulled me up. He put me on his shoulder and that was the last thing I remember before I passed out. On the way to wherever we were going I fell into the chaos dimension with all the familiar feelings of nothingness surrounding me.
Jonah was standing in front of a TV strangely and he was marvelling at the beating I got which was now replaying over and over again. “Wow, that kid was the icing on the cake! I should send him a big cake for his birthday! Here you are Jun, here you are! Damn that Corey, you shouldn’t be this alive after today!” I looked at Jonah with murder raging through my veins but deep down I knew I couldn’t do anything to him. My rage slowly broke into tears as I was feeling the strain of defeat pouring down on me like a tide of a giant ocean-wave descending on a coastal village. Jonah looked at me, his eyes boring into me and laughed so loud that his laugh cut through my being and began driving me crazy and delusional. My mind was spinning and I felt like I was plummeting into a bottomless oblivion. The tunnel was a spinning tornado of fire and the circular walls had screaming faces of people I have known all my life. The heat was unbelievably scorching; my clothes were literally being burnt onto my skin. The screaming faces in the wall were now screaming so loud my brain was about to explode. I could feel blood tricking out of my ears and my body disintegrating into nothing. I had tried so hard in that pit to fight but I finally began to give in. I was falling head first into what I had now thought to be my death when I was shaken by a shattering noise ahead of me. I opened my eyes to see what it was and saw what looked like a hole in the pit’s wall as I passed it. I tried to look back at it but I was too weak to move. In a split second I felt hands wrapping around me tightly and suddenly I was pulled up and started going up the pit. I was beginning to pass out and I heard a voice in my ear, “You shouldn’t give up so easily.” I opened my eyes and saw I was in Corey’s hands. “Corey, wha, wha, what are you doing here?” I felt my strength coming back and Corey and I came to an immediate stop in the pit. I came to realise he was giving me his energy so that I would not die!
Corey released his grip on me and I stood on nothing just like he did! My feeble mind could not wrap itself around the possibility so I did not pursue it further. “We need to have a talk Jun. You can’t keep on like this!” “What are you doing here Corey? How did you get into my dream?! You always pop up when Jonah is nearby, why?” Corey walked around me a bit as if spotting bodily talent or something. “Firstly, this is not a simple dream, it’s an illusion created in a realm between your conscious state and your dream state and Jonah created it. Secondly, I am here because I know how to manipulate this illusion along with others and get people out of them. Thirdly, you say you do not believe in God! I find it strange that if you say so much against Him then why did you call for His help when you were by the dumpster? I am here because I have been here before. I was once a victim of Sylvanas’ and Jonah’s tricks. I stopped you early for the sake of your health! When I went down this pit I reached the bottom where there is a fire snake. Unlike you I didn’t have anyone to save me so I kept falling. In that moment I was afraid, terrified and horrified. I was eaten by the snake and I was bound in its belly, full of fire pits for five days. I will never forget the pain I felt in that thing. I was constantly burning and deafened by the screaming you were hearing on your way down. The pain became indescribable and that triggered something in my mind. My mind became hyperactive and in processing it all I realized that all that was around me was an illusion. I countered this illusion by creating a torrent of water to fall from the top of this pit towards the snake. It took a few minutes to get to where I was but along the way it tore down every bit of this illusion and that’s how I managed to escape. I always show up when Jonah is near because someone wants you alive and I have orders to keep you alive and I intend to keep them. I am not here to pull you out of this, but I am here to prevent you from dying. The rest is your beefcake. Please, do take a seat!” Corey sat down on nothing but it looked as if he was on a comfortable couch. I looked around and saw nothing and remained standing. Corey sighed, and stood up. “No wonder Jesus said ye of little faith, gees!” He grabbed me by the shoulders and turned me around. He let go, bent down and exhaled a breath of ice. The cold breath adhered to something and soon enough I could see a couch! He went back to his seat and sat down. I sat down as well and thought the seat was quite comfortable. To me this was bigger than the illusion I was first in. I looked at Corey with both enthusiasm and fear because I felt that at any moment I could fall down. “Ok, so you mind explaining what all of this is. Honestly because I am like so lost!” Corey laughed a bit and said, “Take a closer look around you.” I strained my eyes to see what he was talking about and soon enough I did! There were six copies of myself on either side of my couch, exactly like me with the burnt clothes. I almost dashed for cover but I came to my senses quickly. “How did you do that?” Corey clapped his hands with a huge cheer. “Now you are asking the correct questions! Ah, Junipers, please say Hello to the real Juniper!” The copies of me turned to me and said hello the same way I do and then turned to look at Corey. They disappeared soon after and Corey stood up and came closer to me. He knelt down before me and looked into my eyes, “I am not God, and personally I have never seen him! He just has people like me help people like you. What you were in was Jonah’s illusion but now you are in this illusion that I am controlling. He can’t hear or see us because he is not connected to the illusion and he doesn’t know how to manipulate them like I do. As I pointed out to you earlier, the illusions are created in a place between your conscious state and your dream state. Right now I am asleep as well but because of God I was able to come here and keep you from the fate of the previous illusion. My only interest in you is to help you overcome Jonah. My task is to bring an end to this entire craziness and you are high up on the people to pull out as soon as possible. It’s up to you whether or not to believe!” I looked at Corey with a raised eyebrow, “You have got to be joking me dude. You talk about God wanting me but where has He been when all this rubbish has been happening? My answer is no and it will stay no. Where was He when my mom died, when my father committed suicide? Oh yeah, you’re going to say he was there through you when I was almost beaten up but how do I know you weren’t just looking for a way to get at me? Buzz off loser, you and your God!” Corey stood up and smiled, he disappeared from right in front of me and I could feel myself waking up. I came into the real world and became a bit puzzled because I didn’t recognise where I was. I was in a bed and the place looked well looked after and up class. I looked around and became terrified as to where Corey had left me. The door opened and I grabbed a book that was next to the bed hoping to deal a death blow to whoever came through the door. I was shocked when I saw it was Henry with a bowl of soup in a tray.
He had a huge smile on his face as if he had seen an angel. “Don’t come closer you illusion or I will kill you!” Henry stopped and looked around trying to figure out who I was talking to. “Here, when you stop acting weird you can have some soup.” He put it onto my lap and sat next to me. “I was so worried about you Juniper. I got to the apartment and didn’t find you. Then I heard you were beaten in the alley so I drove around looking for you but I didn’t find you. When I came home, here you were but I couldn’t wake you up. It’s been two days now. I came in now because I got a text message from some unknown number saying ‘She is awake now!’ I remember how I checked your body for any injuries but I found not even a scratch. I think you might want to take look for yourself.” He stood up, got a mirror and handed it to me. He brushed his cheek and pointed at the mirror. I picked up the mirror and took a look into it. To my amazement the scar was gone, no trace of it whatsoever! I almost jumped out of the bed, then I thought of the little kid with the bat who smacked my knee. I began to think he had crippled me so I put the soup aside and Henry stood up. I threw aside the duvet and got greeted by my pyjamas. My heart raced but Henry knew what I was thinking. “I didn’t touch you. A friend of yours mysteriously showed up and I remembered her because she was in quite a number of your pictures. She is asleep in the next room. She refused to leave once she saw you so I had no option, really! She bathed you and changed you!” I touched my knees trying to find if there was any pain but they were completely painless. I got out of bed and found I could stand. I looked at Henry with a completely puzzled look on my face only to get the same expression on his face. “Which room is she in?” Henry pointed down the hall, to the first door on the right. I approached the door cautiously and opened it. I went in and treaded lightly towards the bed. I soon caught a glimpse of the person’s face; it was dear old Belana. I felt joy and I jumped onto her. She woke up ready to run into the wall with fear but she soon saw me and screamed my name out. “Are you ok Jun? Oh gosh I thought I had lost you! Thank God you’re ok.” It felt really good to hug a familiar person. We held onto each other for minutes on end without a word being said. Belana let me go and I got off her and sat next to her. She looked up to me with tears lining her eyes. “Thank God, Corey got to you in time! I was having dreams of you trapped in a crazy place but I am glad to see you.” I looked at her with a puzzled face and asked, “Corey, how did you know about him?” She sat up and looked at me, “You’re my friend and I know you do not take God seriously but when I heard what happened with your dad and how I couldn’t find you afterwards I asked him to send someone to help you. I got a name in my dream, Corey, and I remembered meeting him a few times at youth at my church on Fridays which you always declined to attend. That’s all I had to run with so I did and when you came out in the news I tried to get to where you had been said to be but when I got there you were gone again. I got a text message from an unknown number to come to this address because that’s where you were and so I did. So here we are. Oh, I gave you a bath too so yah!” My jaw almost dropped to the floor in shock and complete lack of words. “Corey!” is all I said.