Beyond The End (Prose)

Author’s Note:  The following was originally written as an epilogue to Season One of Diablerie LARP.  The finale game resolved with several characters dying to a demon in a house fire and either making deals with an unknown entity to return to the world of the living, or remaining trapped between worlds as ghosts.

By the time that the firetrucks arrived at Elizabeth’s apartment, the inferno had already reduced the building to little more than a flaming shell. A tragedy, for sure, but a mundane one. Just another house fire that had gone too far.

The ruins would smolder for days, the embers throwing off heat and smoke that made any rescue attempts impossible.

The fire department reminded everyone of the importance of regularly checking their smoke detectors, as if it would have made any difference.

Those who knew about the ill-fated Halloween party counted themselves lucky not to have been there, although even some of those who had missed it would never be the same again.

In the weeks that would follow, a few of the neighbors would swear that they’d heard screams coming from deep within the building the night that it burned, but none of them bothered to hope that anyone would be pulled out of the rubble alive.  With no face to put to the tragedy, Elizabeth’s final screams would soon only be remembered when someone wanted to brag about the grisly things they swore they’d lived through.

Even then, it wouldn’t be much of a story.

Besides, the neighbors much preferred the stories about the ghosts who supposedly haunted the now-vacant lot. From time to time, teenagers out past their curfews swore they saw something lurking in the shadows, but, as is often the case with stories like these, they never seemed to be able to get a clear look at it. They just came home panicked, rambling about something with too many faces that seemed to be able to leap between moments of time itself. Obviously nothing more than a story fabricated to help cover for coming home too late.

Of course, there was also the other ghost – the shadow that people sometimes saw lurking on the street corner on foggy nights, watching the world go by. That one was filled with agony and fear. Though it tried again and again to move on from that place, something bound it there and it found that it never could quite leave. And so it lingered, watching the ages pass, watching children grow and age and die and move on, over and over again, as its own time stretched on endlessly.

When the debris was finally cleared from the vacant lot, the newspaper reported that the workers pulled three bodies from the rubble. None of them were ever identified.

Unknowing friends and family members of the party-goers filed missing persons reports for their lost loved ones – at least for the lucky ones. From time to time some nutjob would call and try to sell the distraught families a crazy story about monsters lurking in the dark. No one ever found any credible leads.

Martin, the missing hospital patient, just went on missing.

And, weeks later, in some forgotten shadowy room, four souls opened their eyes
and discovered
that they could breathe.