Everything was bleary, inside my head as well as my vision. Sounds rang in my ears, but whether voices or music I couldn't discern. I blinked a few times, tried to get my bearings. An uneven path lay before me, the sandy, dry ground crumbling as I staggered forward. Beyond the path, the landscape was a dead heathland: grey heather disintegrating into grey sand; sparse black trees clawing at the grey sky.
I followed the path through the dusty fog, becoming aware of the thin, black line meandering through the landscape ahead. The path didn’t seem to head directly to it, yet it grew larger and wider until the roaring, wailing scream of it overwhelmed my senses, and I stood before it.
A figure stood on the jetty, tall and skeleton thin, wearing dark robes. Dark eyes held mine, and they held out their hand in silence. I looked at the pallid flesh on the palm, and back to the sunken eyes. A deadened, rising panic made me pat my pockets, checking for the coin to pay the ferryman. And when the panic reached my eyes, I looked at the figure again. Their long, strong arms reached forward to grab me, turn me and push me, and understanding flooded me as the water enveloped me, as the river took me down and along and back, memories falling as I tumbled through the currents.
No wonder Earth was so full of souls, if no one remembered to bring a coin for the ferryman.
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