As she opened her eyes, the pain was gone. What had begun a searing pain now was no more. She was certain there had been pain, though. Lots of pain. Sharp, searing, mind blowing. That she hadn't expected. In her mind, it was to be over in minutes, or else a numbing sensation certainly would have set in. Instead, she writhed in pain until her body grew so weak that she couldn't – she suffered the pain, limp, her mind foggy and growing and weak, until it was nothing more than a fuzzy television set. Closed eyes were conjuring up images, strangely, she found, not the dark ones she'd been seeing for so long before, but memories that now looked happier. People who loved her, compliments she had never heeded. It was too late, now, though.

Opening her eyes, she felt a queer uncertainty stir within her and she knew, instantly, that something was off.

At the very least, she'd expected sulfur and brimstone. Oceans of flames licking at feet, towering high like monsoons. She doesn't even see the popularized red man, with his horns and spade tail. Not even a trademark trident. Before she did it, she had prepared herself, gone over all of this. That was where she was supposed to be, right? The "Underworld". Hades. Hell. There wasn't even heat. As her eyes adjusted to the dark, she found it was not at all what she had expected.

A podium stood tall before her, towering high and she couldn't read the plaque so high up near the top. The ground she sat upon was smooth, like marble, though the darkness prevented her from seeing the color. Nothing seemed to exist around her. A wide open expanse of nothing as far she could tell. The air was slightly chilly, but nothing that made her tremble and shiver. If only she had something to wear, she thought, before realizing that she sat, naked and bare. Instantly, her body coiled, folding in upon itself and she clamped her arms around her knees, holding them to her chest. Focusing on her arms, she looked for marks, but they didn't exist.

It was as if it had never happened.

This seemed strangest to her, and she wondered, briefly, if she was dreaming. Maybe she hadn't gone over, yet, and her mind was not quite gone. Perhaps this was just a weird dream, and she was to just wait this out, for those last breaths to take, for her mind to finally shut down. There hadn't even been a light! Wasn't there supposed to be the light at the end of the tunnel? A calling? Her life hardly even flashed before her eyes. A feeling that she had been ripped off almost tugged at her.

Instead, she was merely unsettled, the hair on the back of her neck prickling.

She wasn't certain how long she sat her like this, cold and broken, naked on the floor, hugging herself. For all she knew, days could have passed, because she found that no weariness was growing. If this was a dream, surely by now it would be over. By now, she should be gone. Descending upon that flaming hell that she had damned herself to.

Instead, she was here.

Wherever "here" was.

"Georgia Elaine Holliday."

The loud voice echoed throughout the room, alluding to the idea that it was not only empty, but incredibly hollow. Deep and raspy, it was the sort of voice that chilled her insides and made her feel queasy and alarmed, all at once. Her head snapped up from where it had been resting upon her knees and she could faintly make out a figure far at the top of the podium, a sort of hooded figure that she could only assume was looking down upon her.

That was her name.

How did it know her name?


A squeak escaped, loud and shrill and she clung tighter to her legs.

"Tha-That's me." Her reply was meek, nearly inaudible to her own ears.

"Georgie. Age 19. Birth date: July 13. Mode of death: suicide."

Iciness filled within her and she could only continue to gaze up at the cloaked figure, nibbling the inside of her lip. An ominous feeling settled within her and she found herself unable to tear her gaze away. Whoever, or whatever, the cloaked figure was, it gave the empty room an even chiller place and Georgie huddled against herself, searching in vain for a shred of warmth upon her bare skin.

"Do you agree to these allegations?" asked the voice in its menacing tone.

Squeaking again, Georgie nodded her head, feeling a gathering of tears at the brim of her lashes. So it all was true. How she'd been hoping that maybe this was some sort of dream. That she hadn't actually done this to herself. But quick flashbacks to the warm blood illuminated before her eyes and she cried out, closing her eyes in desperate attempt to shut them away, but the memories were still there. Warm tears ran over her cheeks as she clung to herself, wrapping her arms tightly around her legs as she shook and quaked. What a fool she was! And for her parents to find her like that, the mess she left behind. Wasn't there a sort of do-over button that she could press? All she desired in that moment, so strongly, so powerfully it ached in her body and burned in every cell, was to make it all better and take it all back, because it can't really have been worth it.

"I can't deny them," she finally choked, eyes blinded by tears and throat burning with the fires of aching sobs.

"Very well, Miss Holliday. Your punishment is Shadow Guardians. You are to tend to the lives of all who have been left behind. Guilty admittance will bring you to the Soul Snatchers. All questions will be left to your Director. Once you have cleaned yourself up, you will be directed to her. Have you any questions?"

If she wasn't so busy crying, Georgie would have pointed out that the man, the shadow, the dark, haunting figure had told her not to direct any questions to him. At the time, though, no questions dance upon her tongue, only unheard apologies and wishes that would never come true. As he floated away, Georgie was left, crying, as she fell over to the floor, laying naked upon the cold ground to cry herself to sleep. No scar remained but she had certainly done the unthinkable, the taboo, and she found herself paying for it in a way worse than death. She wished, more than anything, to be free of this place. Hell had to be better than this damnation she was condemned to.

Behind closed eyes, dark images flickered. Replays of her last conscious moments, the last thoughts that graced her mind. She saw images from the day before and felt the bubble of faint laughter, so far away that she couldn't lay claim to it or even to the cause. Faces loomed before her and through her sleep; she felt a yearning to reach them, to touch them, to hold them, to console them. They must be so upset, she would later think, they must be so angry. In this angry sleep of hers, remorse plagued her and an illness ate away at her stomach, at her heart. The terrible deed that had taken the place, the awful sin that she had committed was persistently plaguing her, devouring and consuming her.

Horror filled her and she was slow to realize that this was the horror that would continue to haunt her for existence. As she slept a restless sleep, she held her body tightly, to hold in the horrors, because certainly, they could not be released upon this world. Sanity, it seemed, was slow to embrace.