[WP] The dead have come back to life across the world, but they're not here to eat us. They're all fleeing from something terrible in the afterlife.

I woke up that morning and it appeared to be like any other morning. In a half asleep state, I showered and dressed before padding to the kitchen to make coffee. That was the moment that the normal morning I had been dreading, suddenly turned into something altogether different. I recognized them instantly, despite never really knowing them. My parents had been killed in a car accident when I was a baby, so it was understandably disturbing to wake up almost 30 years later and find them both seated at their kitchen table. My grandparents had raised me, and when I turned 18 they had allowed me to move into the house that my parents had shared. It had taken almost a week to clean and air the house out, and another week to get all of the furniture moved back in, or at least the furniture I was interested in. “Good morning, darling.” My father said, noticing me in the hallway. “She doesn’t know what’s happening, she’s probably terrified.” I had always been told that I had my mother’s crystal clear, green eyes, and the pictures had done them no justice. I had my father’s thick hair and his pale skin. Staring at them, I could see myself in both of them. “Probably a little bit scary coming into the kitchen and finding your dead parents.” My mother chimed. “But, it’s wonderful to see how beautiful you’ve become.” “Am I dreaming?” I asked. “No Darling, you’re not.” My father looked sad for a moment. “I’m afraid that something has disturbed the Afterlife, and we’re all back now.” “All back?” I asked, stepping forward. On my front lawn were people I didn’t recognize, dressed in different clothing styles. They were confused but also they seemed afraid. I understood exactly what they were feeling. “Afterlife?” I croaked. “It isn’t exactly clouds and sunshine when you die. You are reunited with family you never knew you had, though. Placed in a state of existence, not alive, but not dead. It’s hard to explain.” “If I’m not dreaming, how did you get here?” I asked. “They chased us through the Afterlife.” “Who chased you?” “We don’t know. When the others said to flee, we ran.” “How did you end up here though?” My curiosity was overriding the panic that I had been feeling. “That seems to be a mystery as well. We ran, and then we were here.” “In my kitchen?” “We thought that perhaps everyone had simply gone back to the place they remembered as their homes. The other’s out front, they are all from around here as well.” “You’ve spoken to them.” “Of course, they are our friends, our neighbors, or ancestral family. We would have invited them in, but we didn’t want to overwhelm you.” My mother said, as my phone began to ring. “Hello?” “Ellie? I don’t know what’s happening. I remembered your number… I don’t know where you are.” “Oh my god.” I sank to the nearest chair. “Ben?” “Yes it’s Ben. I’m scared. There are too many people, they are everywhere.” My boyfriend, Ben had killed himself the year before. He hadn’t left a note explaining why, just a note detailing his love for me. I was still in the middle of my grief, and yet here he was talking to me. “Where are you?” “There is a convenience store…near our spot.” “I’m coming…Ben…go to our spot and don’t move, I’m coming.” This was total insanity, but this was my one chance. My parents stood up, and followed me out the back door. I ran. Ben had been correct, there were people, confused, scared people everywhere, and I tried not to bump into them, but they didn’t seem to recognize my urgency. Our spot wasn’t far from the house, I could run through the fields and be there in five minutes, and I knew that, so I ran. I tripped over people and my own feet. Tears of frustration were clinging to my cheeks, and I brushed them away furiously. My feet finally hit pavement, and I continued running until I finally reached the edge of another field. “Ellie…where?” My father asked. “I don’t know! Ben!” I called. “Ben!” “Bug, I’m here.” he called. My head whipped furiously, and I saw the tall corn moving. I knew it could be anybody, but I ran anyway. My heart thudded in my chest, the stalks scratched my skin, and tore my nylons, but I didn’t care. “Bug!” His nickname for me, was like a call home, and a second later I collided with my bittersweet love. “What is happening?” he asked, holding me tightly. “What do you remember?” My father asked. “Darkness, then screaming, and then I was here.” “How long ago did he die, Ellie?” My mother asked. “About a year.” “He wasn’t through the process yet.” “The process?” “There is a process when you die, they bring you in they explain what happens, where you are and why you can never leave. It’s alarming, it doesn’t always go as planned, but they do everything they can to ensure that it is a smooth transition. It takes a long time. It makes the memories addled sometimes, they probably didn’t even tell him he’s dead yet.” “I’m dead? How can I be dead?” Ben asked. “How did I die?” “We really shouldn’t tell him. It could be a shock to his system.” “Whatever it was, I’m so glad I’m here now, with you, my Ellie.” He kissed my forehead. “I’m still not understanding what’s happening.” “We should get out of this corn field and see what we can find out.” My father suggested. We began to question everyone that we saw, none of them remembered what happened, they just remembered that something was chasing them and they needed to run. We met others who were alive, helping their deceased loved ones find out what had happened, but no one really seemed to know. “What’s that?” Ben asked, pointing to the sky. The bright autumn sun was being slowly eclipsed by something. Clouds rolled across the sky, and the temperature began to drop. Ben took my hand, but it didn’t stop the shaking in my body. I could tell it wasn’t just a weather change. The darkness was blacker than anything I had ever seen, like it was devoid of space and time. “Ellie, run!” My father commanded. Ben and I ran, losing my parents in the crowd. We ran back to the house, and down into the basement, slamming the doors and locking them behind us. “What was that?” Ben asked, as I climbed on to a nearby chair, to see out the window. “I don’t know. I don’t know but it’s…” “Ellie! Open the door!” “Ben, it’s my parents.” Ben was already running up the stairs, the door flew open and my parents rushed into the basement, closing the door behind them. From my vantage point I could see that the darkness was coming, sweeping across the fields, over the houses. “It’s going to take us.” My father said. “It’s taking everyone.” “Ellie, how did I die?” Ben asked. “I can take it, just tell me.” “You committed suicide. You wrote a letter to me, you told me that you loved me, that you had to keep me safe, that this was the only way, then you jumped off of a bridge.” “Did they find my body?” “No. You were just lost.” “I know what they are. They are coming for me.” Ben said, heading for the stairs. “Ben, you can’t go out there. If you go out there, it will take you.” My father grabbed his arm. “It’s going to take me anyway, at least this way I can save her, and maybe you.” “Ben…” “Ellie, it was always you. For me, it’s always been you, and it will always be you. I won’t let them take you. I love you.” he said, breathless. “Stay here!” He kissed me, and then he was out of the basement. I tried to move up the stairs, but my father held on to me, cradling my head against his chest as I sobbed. It had been bad enough losing them once, but losing them twice would unbearable. “What is it that’s after him?” My mother asked, peering out the window. “Will it come for us all?” “I don’t know. What I do know is, I am going to hold my wife and child while I still can.” It sounded like a freight train barreling down on us. Howling and full of pain. We sat opposite the window, and saw the wind swirl, the darkness descending. My father held me tightly, my mother hummed a lullaby, and then just like that it was over. The wind died. The darkness vanished. There was no sound. Yet, I still sat on the floor of the basement, my father’s body curled protectively around me. “Is it done?” My mother asked. “The two of you stay here.” My father stood and took the stairs. My mother and I held hands while we waited for my father to return. “We’ve watched you grow up. We’ve seen every part of your life, every moment. We’ve been there the entire time, cheering for you, rooting for you, loving you.” “Ben’s gone, and so is most everyone else…all of us, I mean.” “Why aren’t we?” My mother asked. “I think…I think he saved us.” My father said, handing me a piece of paper.

Ellie, I don’t have much time, but I don’t want you to be confused about me anymore. The darkness that chased away the dead, and the living it’s my darkness, my monsters. I created them. I don’t know how, or even why, but I’m the only one that can control them. They will always look for me, because I am their guide, their life force. I will never let them get you, I will never let them hurt you. The dead have all been returned to the Afterlife, but I’ve spared your parents. I was never supposed to go to the Afterlife, I must have died before they could find me. I will not make the same mistake again. You are my guide, Ellie. You are my life force, and I will always protect you. I love you, I will never be able to say those words to you again, but please know that I will always feel them. “He controls the darkness?” I looked up at my father. “It explains a few things. He lived in a dark place. He was always full of it, like it weighed on his shoulders. He wasn’t trying to kill himself when he jumped, he was sacrificing himself. When he woke up in the Afterlife, it must have sensed him, and come for him. It took all of us with it.” “He brought you back to me.” I sank to the floor. I had lost Ben forever, but he’d left me the gift of my parents. I would never be able to tell him how much I loved him, but perhaps wherever he was, he already knew.

/r/WritingPrompts Thread