Risk of Life – Short Story (Fantasy)

Veila died of natural causes in a hospital back on Earth. Down there her life had been spent giving astrology readings to people who needed direct answers to indirect questions. Looking at the faces of the dead, languishing in the same forms they died in, except in more wispy forms, she tried to read them even now. The woman behind her had red hair and a devious smile. Likely a Scorpio, often flirty and mischievous. A man in a ball cap had several bullet wounds in his chest, a chest that pressed outward. Clearly a Leo, defiant in attitude and outgoing whenever possible, while the man’s son, also appearing to have died from gunshots, was lost in deep thought. Pisces, always lost in deep reflection. These signs had always guided her and offered her steady income throughout her life. An unequivocal truth that gave her answers. Now that she was surrounded by the dead she wondered if she would even need that knowledge anymore. All destined for another realm in the great and infinite cosmos.

She had loved the life she had, while it lasted. Only 26 years. Barely a few years free from her parents she spread herself across the Earth like warm butter, perhaps too thin before the end. The great forests, the sweeping green landscapes, she just wanted to exist and not be chained down by expectations and self-control. Ignorance is bliss, except for when ignorance is confused for intelligence.

The line started moving. “Finally.” Said the red head. “We’re getting closer to our own little slice of heaven.” Veila saw the portals, the glassy gateways at the end of each standing line. Each distant planet was visible through the churning bubbles. She wondered what her heaven would be. The gatekeepers decided who would go to which realm. Grassy plains swept across her vision but from this distance she wouldn’t make out any fields of green. How could they decide which planet belonged to who if the human mind was so fickle and inconsistent?

The gatekeepers wore blue shirts and directed the afterlife spirits into their designated planet portals. A whoosh of ethereal mist sucked them in, blinded as the spirits were to follow orders as they had in life.

When she neared the front of the line a knot formed in her phantasmal stomach. Along the wall to the right was a door that read, “Risk of Life.” Puzzled she froze. Red-hair made a tisk noise. The world that fizzed through the portal was full of boring buildings and a plain environment. A world that she knew wouldn’t satisfy her need to everlasting wanderlust. She couldn’t even relate it to any astrological sign. It was cold and barren.

“Move up, please. You have been designated for planet Orcus. Step through and accept your predetermined paradise.”

Veila blinked. “What’s through there? Why would life be considered off-limits?”

The man in blue nearly rolled his eyes. “The Paranormal Spirit Agency only permits the unliving to exist in realms where there is no intelligent life. You are dead. They are not. You cannot interfere with the living. The living cannot be allowed to interfere with you. The PSA extinguish life within designated solar systems that allow for an ecosystem of examinate protoplasmic beings.”

Veila recoiled. Life extinguished? The afterlife was said to be a transcendental transformation, an ascension of the spirit into untold jubilance, but this all seemed mechanical and rigid, as cruel as the living world had been. “Life was meant to be what you make it but you people destroy it.”

“We consider it fate. The agency is an enemy of hostile life as all intelligent life evolves to seek control. We must control that life if we are to protect the nonliving.” He turned and pointed to the wavy portal.

Astrology afforded her a set of hard-set protocols to follow, reading the signs were easy, but seeing the circular doorways she saw the planets as forced captivity. She had retrofitted her life to fit into a box and now she would be trapped forever on the precipice of eternal detention. Happiness seemed so far out of reach. “No.” She whispered and ran.

Red-hair gasped while the blue shirt lunged after her. She made it to the restricted door and turned the handle while sirens blared. Three portals lined the gray cement walls. Each portal showcased a different plethora of color. The left had purple foliage. The right had crimson flowers. The middle shown with green tree trunks and bluish boughs. She had only seconds to decide and pushed herself to the most recognizable doorway. The green. Swirling the portal was like a seashell curling inward, a new nature, a new home. Blue shirt shouted but it was too late. She threw herself into the unknown. Into the world that would expose her to a risk of life.

The dancing petals offered their welcome, tickling her vision with blue-green smears. Thick foliage barred her path until she realized her form was corporeal. Green, so green, the azurite jungle took her wispy shape deeper and deeper. She ran with it, trying to inhale the new atmosphere but no odor came. Burly branches and diamond leaves made it impossible to see beyond the muddy, almost gold ground. Passing through them was easy. The forest of wide trunks and branches suddenly stopped. Across a plain of azure grass was a wide valley, snaked by a thin brown river. 

The beauty halted her, completely absent minded of the threat of agency followers. As a living being Veila could’ve never imagined such splendor existed. Cotton furs blew through the gentle air, generating an almost hazy appearance. The sun, orange in hue, sank over the horizon, beaming out a dying light with far reaching rays. She no longer cared that the Agency might be tracking her or that she was dead, not anymore. Besides if they had these planets locked away, they would be afraid to follow anyway. 

Facets of her senses were missing. She became lost in the almost abstract world before her. Flora of many colors was dispersed across the shallow plain, scattered in pockets of chromia. If only she could smell them, take in their fragrance.

Moving delicately through the blue grass Veila allowed herself to stray. This world was supposedly off limits to all spirits which meant she could be free here. A new home. Perhaps one day the Agency will destroy it, if intelligent life did evolve here but for now, she would be at peace. Her own had been cut short by that vile pancreas. So many plans had been lost. She couldn’t understand why the Agency would want to end intelligent life. Perhaps they considered intelligent life too much of a threat. After all intelligent life had created the Agency when that intelligent life had ended. They didn’t want other non-human life to fight over the spirits. Likely from some ancient conflict. Either way she would enjoy what she had until the Agency would take it from her. It was still such a shame that once a threshold was met, they felt that life had to be abandoned and destroyed. Laws were meant to be broken.

As she moved down the hillside a heavenly breeze took her into the air. Veila realized the tales of floating spirits was true and openly moved toward the valley. Down below several patches of vines dotted the landscape. A great dark brown tree stood out from the blue. At its apex the tree was decorated with brilliant red leaves, sharp and pointed. The branches themselves were also needled with painful looking thorns. The greenish vines tried to climb the tree but were halted by the thorns.

At the base of the tree she attempted to land but found a cluster of the vines. They almost glowed in the receding sunlight. Going further in, the vines became all she could see. The vines were so dense that sunlight became swallowed by shadows. On closer inspection each of the arms were painted with tiny flower buds. Narrowing her vision, she came closer and tried to touch the blue buds. One bud seemed to shuffle with her proximity, blooming at her invisible touch. How magical…Surely this wasn’t the intelligent life they considered a risk. Vines strangled the massive trunk of the tree and cut into its bark, dripping sap down over the vines, feeding the flowers with sustenance. They also seemed to tighten with every passing moment, supping off the life of the tree to create new life. If this wasn’t intelligent, she didn’t know what was.

Suddenly the bumpy vines shifted and expanded an open area around her like an alcove. They lashed out and whipped around Veila, trying to feel her but they couldn’t grasp at the astral form. She reached her hands towards the curling plant life but could not grasp them in return. Somehow, they knew she was there. A row of flowers bloomed in the shadows and casted strange glows of multiple colors, dimming and growing, almost as if they were trying to communicate with her. Intelligent life…hidden within the roots of the vines themselves. Of course. This planet must’ve been bombarded by destructive weapons long ago and somehow these plants evolved to hide their evolution in innocuous ways.

“Can you hear me?” She spoke, not sure if they even understood. The flowers lit up in a Christmas tree. They could! More vines reached around her body, roots from far away, coming together, to touch this foreign being who cast these phantom energies. Nature, a new kind of nature, embraced Veila. A flurry of what should be rough, pulsing veins came off as a suffocating feeling but she liked it all the same.

She didn’t try to read their signs, as numerous beings or as a single entity, whichever was true, because it didn’t matter. Life and nature should never be made to exist in such absolutes. Life is not about what it means to be without death. Life is about accepting the dead, so they can live side by side. Even if the galactic ghost agency should come and annihilate everything here then these plants will come as their spirit collective and fight back over such injustice. Until then she would learn to live with the undead and be happy over her own demise, existing somewhere between life and death.

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  1. Amarela · August 11

    Amazing 💙

    Liked by 1 person

  2. thecutecorner · August 19



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