Dan Tompkins, dead of supernatural causes at age 22, washes up on Lethe, where souls go to forget life and strive for Elysium. Pining for Gina, the love he left behind, Dan wants out. He teams with rogue soul Marco Sabonis to find a way back to the land of life. The Elysial powers are not amused. There may be Hell to pay.
Also by Arcadia Sparrow: Sonant
He hath awakened from the dream of life. - Shelley (Adonais)
Tangled in seaweed and grief, I bob ten feet under an alien ocean. I am half-corpse, half-ghost, my bones clad in something not quite flesh.
My face tilts up towards the light. The sky taunts me. My hand drifts up, reaching, grasping, but the surface remains beyond the curl of my fingertips.
Days pass like packets of eternity. Somehow, I break loose and rise to the surface, emerging into the open air. Immersed so long, I forget to breathe.
More days pass, drifting. The sky blackens. I ride swells until undercurrents latch and drag me deep. I pitch and yaw beneath the waves.
The storm passes. Again I rise and surface and float face-down, owned by death, no longer yearning.
I pass over a reef. The sea floor rises. My chin scrapes sand. A wave shuttles me up a pebbled incline, wrapped in a sheet of sizzling foam.
I face the sea. The horizon looms close, opaque as burnished nickel. Sheets and shreds peel from rotting cumulonimbi.
I lay paralyzed and numb, conscious but inert. Flotsam so long, I forget how to be human.
Breakers crash and shove me up against a lip of puffy, black sand at the tide line. Limbs splayed, spattered with grit, I drape the sand like a stranded jellyfish. Tiny crabs traverse me. Wavelets nose me about.
Fluid trickles from my nostrils. Droplets grow on my skin until they can bulge no more and then dribble down my torso like shooting stars, etching a trail of pale skin through my algal fur. The wind peels my wet skin dry.
My nerves spark. A shudder erupts. My torso heaves. Arms sally forth without purpose, gouging shallow trenches - sand angels.
I lick salty grit from my teeth. Cracked lips draw back. I spit.
I turn rigid and shake. Tremors dash my head against pebbles. Droplets spray from the tips of my short shorn locks.
The chaos subsides. The convulsions ease to a fine tremble. My lips form words but I can gather no breath to speak. My jaw falls slack. I vomit salty water.
I can feel my hands now. My arms and legs respond to my intentions. I swipe my hand over my hip. Something strange here. I am naked, but this is not my body. Hairless. Swellings over my ribs. I reach for my groin.
"What the f***?" My name is Dan Tompkins, but somehow, I'm a girl now. A dead girl.