Chapter 4- Afterlife

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The apartment block is truly nothing special.

Rows upon rows of story high windows litter the entire area like fire flies... only, they don't glow and they're glued to the ground... like humans with avivophobia.

I try not to get my shoes ruined but my attempts are futile.

One step across the flat plane and I'm trudging through a swamp, thigh deep in grassy mud. I'm practically swimming in the stuff.

I'm a soldier storming through the trenches, admirable... unstoppable. I am not impossible, I do the impossible. I am-

"You know, there's a path out front," A voice startles me from my mission and I almost face plant the floor. Robert just laughs at me with his signature, shit eating grin. "You didn't have to trek along the marshes, dummy,"

I hate the way my eyes prick with involuntary tears.

"S-sorry," I whisper but I receive no response. God, this is embarrassing." I d-don't even know w-what I'm d-doing-,"

"Dude, I was just messing with you. You're okay,"

He wades towards me in his Levi's, unfazed by the poop brown substance swirling around his legs.

"Oh, right,"

"Hey, grab my arm, yeah? I'll get you out,"

"No, Robert. It's not a problem, really-,"

My speech is choked off when large arms literally sweep me off my feet. I gasp and, out of reflex, grip onto his jacket.

"Rob? Wha? P-put me down!"

"You're safe now, sergeant!" He almost screams in a strange tone. I cock an eyebrow and abruptly stop struggling in disbelief. "No man left behind!"

Okay... so he has some sort of intellectual disability. That's okay... I can deal with that.

He carries me all the way around the building and onto the path, where several people in my Grade and the Grade above are hanging out. A girl has a cigarette hanging loosely from her lips, long blonde hair dipping below her slender shoulders.

She's absolutely stunning.

What? I'm allowed to say that, I'm gay.

"You brought him home!" she gaps, erupting from the steps and leaping towards us. "Oh, darling! It's him! It's him, you brought him home!"

She kisses me on the cheek and dances around in circles.

Robert sets me on the ground and wipes a real tear from his cheek.

"I did it, darling. We're a family again,"

What... The... Fuck?

Have I entered the bloody twilight zone? Am I dead? Is this what the afterlife is like?

I must look shell-shocked because the two young boys on the steps burst into a fit of laughter. Robert and the girl start giggling after a while, too. I just stand there, shivering from the breeze and probably looking like a kicked puppy after rolling in the mud.

"Relax, skinny," Robert chortles. "These are my friends. They live here too."

"Hello," I breathe, still mind blown from the previous exchange.

I don't feel like I belong here at all, but they're smiling at me like they've known me all along.

My heart flutters and my breathing slows.

Friends? Could these be my friends one day?

"I'm Scarlett,"

The girl offers me her hand and I shake it tentatively. She has a firm grip and her aura leaks unabashed confidence, much like Robert.

Aside from the alien introduction, she doesn't seem mentally challenged or scary.

Neither do the other two boys, who stand up walk towards me.

"Hey, bro. I'm Chris."

"Me too,"

I blink at them, not at all liking their mind games. The huge grin on the taller guy's face makes me uneasy.

"Guys, c'mon. Tommy, that's Chris Pratt," Robert points at the tall guy. He has light brown hair and pretty green eyes which are illuminated by his boyish smile. "He's a pratt," Rob nudges me, like I missed some kind of huge joke. "That's an insult in Britain, right? Oi, you pratty cunt, yeah?"

I can't stop the surprised chuckle that escapes me. His British accent is utterly horrific but I can't help but be reminded of home.

"Yeah, pretty much."

"Anyways. This is Chris... Evans," he opens out his arms like a giant crocodile mouth and waves his hands exuberantly.

This guy has fluffy blonde hair and startling blue eyes. He's considerably shorter than his older companion, and by the way he attempts to stand on his tiptoes constantly, he isn't too happy about it.

"It's nice to meet you all," I smile as we waltz into the building.

I don't receive a reply but their kind smiles melt me into the floor.

For the first time in my life, I feel something smug and warm crawl its way into my heart.

I'm not sure, but it may be a sense of... belonging.

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