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Justin Rutherford: Monster's Ball

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The more Justin blinked, the darker the world he found himself became. His body, Logan and Annabeth became shadows before completely disappearing. He was moving from the living world to the sinister spirit world exclusively. Unlike his brief time in the spirit world outside the abandoned hospital, this world felt different, gloomier.

Perhaps it was something to do with the Cornerstone of the Dead. Perhaps it allowed him to submerge himself into the world of the dead, a world Justin knew he didn't want to stay in for too long.

Everything was different, even the graveyard. To the right of him, a grand cathedral stood. It was grey, Gothic, much like the Notre-Dame-de-Paris. Gargoyles sat patiently around the entire frame, its eyes yellow and blazing in the black-and-white world. A clock sat in the very centre. Its face was bright and glowing – perhaps the only thing that was bright in this colourless world. Its pointed fingers pointed to XI and XII.

It was eleven o' clock, and Justin had to question how he was losing more time. He had an hour, then, before his death became permanent, and his already half-dead soul would wander this spirit realm forever.

He wasted no more time. He pulled himself away from the familiarity of the Cornerstone and headed in the direction he thought would lead him to the exit. If he was going to fight the Ripper, he couldn't do that on Hallowed Ground. Unless that rule didn't apply here, to a world where anything and everything could wander.

The silence was deafening. There wasn't even a wind to gently rustle the leaves of the hanging trees that accompanied tombstones and memorials. Every sound that was made was from his feet crunching on the grass, as well as his heavy breaths.

A swing went to and fro on a nearby tree, its branches crouching down to the ground like an arch. Upon further inspection, he saw a young girl swinging by her neck. She looked at him, eyes wide. The swinging stopped. Justin walked faster without turning his head away from her. Her eyes never left him.

More and more spirits were appearing. They crept by their respective gravestones, their faces distorted in pain, yet they could not scream out. There were dozens, hundreds, of people. They would not approach Justin either, and stopped just a stone's throw away from him.

He wondered why they looked so hurt still. Was this their Hell? Are they damned to spend eternity writhing in pain? Then he looked above, around the crooked tree tops. The moon, it was red. The Blood Moon. It had risen here, the curse was already beginning, yet in the land of the living, it had not yet surfaced. Justin could feel it was getting close, and because of that, it was tearing these souls in two. They were being resurrected by Florica's curse, yet still trapped in this godforsaken world.

Justin passed more and more graves, and as he got further away from the Cornerstone, the graveyard became more strange to him. He could not tell which way he was supposed to go. Too much of it looked different.

Up ahead, a fog slowly stirred. It wrapped around the air and hovered inches from the ground, reaching Justin. Its dull grey colour brought no light or sound still, and naturally, he allowed it to swallow him.

The graveyard around him disappeared as the fog consumed every inch of his sight. It was like he found himself in some kind of Heaven above the clouds, though without any sense of hope or enlightenment. He continued to walk through regardless, and it died down so that the graveyard could be seen again.

Ahead, the edge of a river appeared. Strange, Justin thought, as there were no rivers in the graveyard on the other side. A figure soon appeared in the water, crouched and covered by some kind of dark robe. As he approached the river, he could see that the figure was standing in a long, wooden boat. A small fire within a lantern at the front of the boat provided the most surreal orange light. It reflected off the black water.

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