Chapter 1: The End
And so, it was. This was it. The end. Twig couldn’t look at those eyes. Or the arm aiming. It didn’t tremble, that arm. Not even a bit. Neither did Twig. ‘Go on. Do it then. I dare you.’
And the whole world exploded.
Wherever he was, it was dark. Deep dark. The thick, heavy dark that claws at your throat and scratches at your eyes. The kind of dark that picks you up and tosses you around and holds you close and whispers promises and pulls you apart. And just as Twig no longer knew if he even still existed, a neon sign burst into life and stilled him in its light.
WELCOME TO THE AFTERLIFE!
That was the only word he could think of for quite some time.
The sign was broken. It made that fizzing, static sound that a loose connection makes, and the bulbs behind some of the letters flickered, spat and gave up. Without the bulbs, the sign now read WE COME TO LIFE!
Twig shuddered and gave the sign a cautious poke. A whole string of lights blossomed around him, glittering and twinkling along the edges of an old cobblestoned path that stretched and twisted into the darkness. They made Twig think of the time they had all wrapped fairy lights along the graves between the shacks and bought fish and chips and—
And the crows dive in for the chips and ‘Here’s to us! We’re the Beasts of the City Wilds!’ and we all race to the top of the gargoyle tomb so we can look out over everything that’s ours . . .
The memory was like a snatch of dream, refusing to stand still. The more Twig tried to grab hold, the more his thoughts dimmed and fuzzed at the edges. He rubbed at his arms and wished he was in more than just his shorts and T-shirt. It wasn’t the warmth he wanted, but the security of being wrapped tight. He peered into the dark stretching from the path.