I had only a short amount of time to come to grips with my own death. Forty minutes was all it took to drive to the hospice center that was now in charge of my mothers care. As I parked my car I felt depleted, the hurricane of emotions I had felt now all but gone. First I had been angry, of course, then depressed, in denial, angry again…

I wondered where I must be in the stages of grief because all I felt now was regret… It was almost three AM and the whole parking structure was empty. As I exited the car I numbly walked down towards the hospice center just as I had done a million times before.

With each step another memory ran through my mind like an old news reel. I remembered the day she fell into her coma. We were at the Tulip festival and it had just rained. The scent of wet soil, fresh flowers and rain filled my nostrils as we walked through rows upon rows of colorful flowers. I had been so angry that she had brought me, but now I would do anything just to go back…

I remembered sitting outside her hospital room as they explained to my father that they had no idea why she wasn waking up, that all they could do was keep her alive until she did.

I remembered my father taking me every weekend to visit her bedside. I remembered him getting sick and I remembered him dying. I remembered getting the first hospital bill and having no idea how I would pay for it.

I remembered Dimitri finding me then, offering to take me under his wing and pay for my mothers care… so long as I played the good little soldier. He made me lie, cheat and steal my way into thousands of dollars, while giving me only enough to live… Yet for some reason I was grateful… And still he threw me aside…

Before I realized it, I stood outside her window. The hospice center was closed, so normal visitation was out of the question. Climbing up I slid open her window and lowered myself in.

There she was, lying just as still as ever in her dark hospice room with only the glow of her heart monitor and IV fluid machine. I pulled the chair next to me up beside her and sat down, defeated.

”Why couldn you just wake up… ” I mumbled bitterly. ”I needed you, you know? ”

Her long brunette hair was tied loosely over her shoulder. Her sunken eyes and cheeks mirroring the rest of her malnourished body. Her wrinkled fingers were so frail…

I let out another sigh, more disappointed with myself than with her. ”I really **ed it up this time, Mom. But I guess the good news is that it will all be over soon. ” I took her hand in my own and squeezed. ”Dads gone, Ill be gone soon, and then youll be gone. But at least we will all be tog- ”

The words caught in my throat as I felt an ever so slight squeeze against my hand. My eyes shot upward, and I watched as her eyelids began to open. My lips began to creep into a smile, but faded when rather than seeing her pupils, blinding yellow lights erupted from under her eyelids.

”M-mom? ” I sputtered.

Her face snapped to meet mine, and her mouth opened, brilliant yellow light cascading forth, illuminating our shadows across the dark room.

Her lips began to move and an ethereal voice that made my skin crawl spoke.

”My dear boy, Kenny, come to mama. ”

Fear gripped my heart as she reached for me, the chair legs screeched across the floor as I pushed myself away. Another radiant light scrawled into the floor under me, this one blue and circular around my person. My legs froze despite my screaming instructions to move, to run away, to flee.

Strange letters and symbols began to appear around the floor with me at their center. I looked up to find my mom on all fours atop her bed, the first time I had seen her move in over thirteen years. Her face was terrifying with golden light spilling out from her eyes, nose and mouth. She smiled strangely and repeated the phrase from before.

”My dear boy, Kenny, come to mama. ”

”Mom? What the h- ” Was all I managed to say as she lifted her right hand, a beam of light shot forth and into my chest. It was both the most painful, and most comforting sensation I had felt in years…



An eternity of darkness rolled over me like a wave across the beach. Time no longer had meaning as I floated within the turbulence of nothingness. My thoughts began to wander as I cradled my legs within my arms. Where was I? What did it matter? How long had I been here? Was this death? How long does this last before I just…

A voice. Ever so faint in the distance. I trained my ears on the sounds… They seemed foreign to me now. They sounded… Other.

”%@346*^ 7#$% ~) ”

”What? ” I tried to say, but no sounds came forth from my lips.

”5#_*( 8 ”

”I don understand you! Okay?! ” I shouted mutedly and uncurled from my fetal position, searching my surroundings for this strangely distant voice. Nothing, just as it had always been. Seconds turned into minutes as quietude took over once more. I began to protectively curl myself back up when I heard it again.

”48)*&eth @~^e up! ”

I froze still as I realized that this time, the noises almost sounded like words. Could this be it? After an eon of waiting, was I finally going to…

”Wake up! ”


Slowly my eyes peaked open to find a blurry, but brilliant blue sky. Fresh air wafted into my nostrils and the sun tickled and warmed my skin.

”My lady. I believe that he is waking. ” A strange voice said lazily to my right.

”Eeeee! I think you
e right! ” Another answered.

A fog wafted over my thoughts as I turned to inspect the source of these mysterious voices and soft green grass shifted under my hair as I did so. The first figure I saw was a man sitting before a small makeshift campfire that had been reduced to mere embers. Their scorched coals stinging my nose as I peered on.

He wore his grey hair tied up tightly in a ponytail with loose bangs down both sides of his face. A thick, coarsely cut beard clung to his jaw while his radiant hazel eyes pierced through the remaining blurriness of my sight, slicing through the fog and bringing the world into focus around me. It was no longer hard to see, and I noticed foremost that he wore a long blood red robe with a black sash and a strange blemished white fur tied over his left shoulder and breast.

Lastly was the strangest part of his appearance. A single medium sized gourd strapped to his waist with several ornaments of animal feathers, Japanese style sealing paper, and a single samurai hilt out the top.

”What are you staring at, boy? The middle aged man growled.

”Iros! You stop that this instant! ” The other voice, a female, badgered.

I had to crane my neck to see the other figure and as soon as I did the breath left my body. I had to blink several times just to be sure that my eyes were not playing tricks on me, because I knew what I was seeing had to be impossible..

Yet there she sat, comfortably on the other side of the smoldering embers, with a contagious smile that pulled the corners of mine heavenward. She was exactly as I remembered as a boy. Long flowing brunette hair tucked messily behind one ear, big brown eyes that beamed with love and kindness.

”M-mom? ” Was all I managed to say as my chest began to overflow with a multitude of emotions.

”Kyaaaaaa! I knew it! It is you! ” The small petite woman screeched and leapt on top of me, hugging me tightly with the warmest and most uncomfortable hug I had received in a long, long time.

”C-can breath… ” I struggled to say as her large and oblique metal pauldron cut into my neck and sternum painfully.

”Oh my, sorry-sorry. ” she apologized, sitting upright with a swiftness that I did not expect.

”You need to be more careful, Lucy. The seer said that he would have body fatigue for several hours after the ritual was completed. ” The man named Iros explained.

”Sorry! Im just so excited it worked! I got my baby boy back! ” Her voice cracked as she held back not only her tears, but also her visible urge to pounce and hug me some more.

”W-what are you guys talking about? ” I asked hoarsely, attempting -and failing- to sit myself up.

”Welcome to Erobos, my little Ken. ” Her smile was sweet and full of motherly love. I had no idea what had happened, or why, but if this was real… And somehow I knew that it had to be…

My mom was back!

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