Chapter 1
Flatline

It's a sobering thought, your own death that is.

I never really thought about it in the life I lived before all of this happened. I was just a starving artist, a writer, with dreams of winning a Pulitzer and crafting a poem that would captivate the world and earn me the recognition that I thought I deserved. But when the final few beats of my dying heart echoed in my ears, the roaring sounds of the sirens filling the night air and my last gasp for breath seemingly failed; I knew my story was over.

Or so I thought.

Doctors call it "riding the flatline". It is the complete state of being medically dead for an indefinite amount of time until either you die for real or a miracle happens. In my case, a miracle happened.

"Trayce?" I heard a voice say. Honestly, I thought it was an angel speaking to me. Which would have been a relief because after all of the bad stuff I have done in my life, I was sure I was going to the other place.

"Trayce? Sweetheart, wake up. It's Kara. Wake up baby, please, wake up."

Kara? It took a sec for me to recall the name. She was my girlfriend of three years and the most likely candidate for my wife.

How is she here? I wondered, floating around in the darkness. If Kara was here then I had to try to open my eyes. Even if I was dead, and this was just some angel trying to comfort me, then I could open my eyes and see the angelic face of someone who could help me further along to my next life. Concentrating, I tried to open my eyes, allowing them to flutter open into the world of light. At first, it was really bright. A few seconds later, my eyes adjusted and I was greeted with the sight of Kara.

Unlike most women, Kara didn't wear make-up. She didn't need it. At five foot nine inches, Kara had the natural beauty to rival any runway model and the curves to make a Victoria's Secret girl blush. Her naturally long blonde hair was pulled back into a bun and held in place by a pencil while her Gio's Cupcakery apron clung to her curves over her modest clothing. Flour and sweat plastered her face but even then, the way she smiled as my eyes opened, made her the most beautiful sight for my weary eyes.

"Where am I? Am I dead? I asked, expecting a solid "Yes".

Kara simply smiled and moved closer to me and took hold of my hand. I looked down and noticed I was lying in what looked like a hospital bed. All manners of machines were hooked up to me with a heart monitor connected to me via my index finger on the hand that Kara held. A quick scan of the room confirmed that I was in a hospital room. Where, I didn't know.

"No baby, you're alive. Thank god you're alive." She said as she shot forward, wrapping her arms around my neck in a tight embrace.

Luckily, my hospital bad had been craned slightly forward so I was mostly sitting up and didn't have to exert too much effort in receiving the gargantuan hug. Kara, from working her normal shift at work, throwing around one hundred plus pound bags of flower, was an exceptionally strong woman. So, getting a bear hug from her was the equivalent of getting a bear hug from an actual bear.

"Sweetheart, I can't breathe," I managed to squeak out, gasping for air.

"Oh, sorry," Kara stated, pulling back from the hug but keeping a hold of my hand. "I'm just so happy that you're alive. I got the call when I was at work so I had to leave Gio with a four tier wedding monstrosity and rush over here. The only thing I could think the entire way over here was that I didn't know if I could live with myself if something happened to you. I'm so sorry for the argument baby. I promise I won't bring it up again until you're ready again."

She mockingly held up three fingers on her right hand. "Scout's honor."

I had to chuckle at her display. She was the cutest thing I had ever seen but I had no clue what she was talking about.

"Kara, what are you talking about? What argument?"

Confusion took hold of her face. "Trayce, you don't remember the argument?"

I shook my head. "No. The only thing I remember is going to take you your lunch and it raining so hard I couldn't see in front of me."

She scooted in a little closer. "Yeah, you brought me my lunch, which by the way, thank you and we sat and talked for a bit while I ate."

"Okay. And so where did the argument come from?"

"Well…" she replied slowly. I could sense the hesitation in her voice. She didn't want to continue and I didn't want to make her but I needed to know what happened.

"Sweetheart, please?"

Kara looked at me, her big blue eyes sparkling in the bright fluorescent hospital lights, and sighed. "We got into an argument about our future together. I told you that I wanted to get married and have a baby soon and be a family and you said that your writing had just gotten off the ground and that we are only twenty-four so we are still so young. It was a stupid argument. I shouldn't have brought it up."

As soon as the words left her mouth, the memories flood back. The store, our argument, me acting like a big baby and storming out into the rain and…

"Trayce?" Kara asked, snapping me out of my train of thought.

"Yes?" I said, looking up at her. I must have had the world's stupidest concentration look on my face.

"Is everything okay? You're not mad at me, are you?"

I smiled and leant forward with a groan, kissing her on her forehead. Shooting pain bolted up and down my spine and chest, sending me flat back to the bad, gasping for air.

"Oh my god, what's wrong?" she exclaimed, immediately checking me for some medically maladies. "Is it your chest? Where does it hurt? Oh crap, do I need to get a doctor? Oh god, are you having a heart attack. Nurse, we—"

"—I'm fine sweetheart," I interrupted squeezing her hand to get her attention. "I'm fine. Just a little short of breath. And to answer your question, no, I'm not mad at you."

"Oh thank god," she sighed, "I thought you were thinking about breaking up with me or something."

Her face suddenly became serious. "You weren't were you?"

Again, I laughed. "No. I would never think of doing such a thing. In fact, I think you're right."

"Right about what?"

"How about this? As soon as I get out of here and am healthy enough to be up and at 'em, you and I will start talking about this whole marriage shindig. Life, as I can tell you, is way too short to be cautious. Sound okay?"

At that moment, I could've sworn she was the kool-aide man with how big her smile got. Throwing herself on me, Kara proceeded to shower me with kisses, exclaiming her happiness to the high heavens.

"Omg! Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes!"

"Kara. I appreciate the love babe but I'm still hurt here." I said.

Restraining herself, she sat back and just smiled as she held my hand. "I don't think you realized how happy you've just made me."

I grinned. "No bad for a dude in the hospital."

"Not bad for a guy hit head on by a motorcycle."

I stopped smiling and looked directly at her. Ever since I had woken up then thought hadn't even crossed my mind of what had happened to me that got me killed. There was that…thing but, no, it was far too out there. Kara had my full attention now.

"I got hit by a motorcycle?"

"Yeah. Full on Twisted Metal type stuff. The poor guy that hit you got launched about fifty feet from where the wreck happened. Another car hit him and it was a huge mess. A whole bunch of people got hurt, he died and amazingly, you, taking the full brunt of a charging vehicle, somehow managed to survive by the grace of God. His bike is completely totaled though."

"Jesus Christ. How in the hell…"

"Hey," Kara cut in. "None of that mister man. You should consider yourself a hero, attempting to do what you did."

"Huh? What?"

"Yeah. Some of the witnesses said you ran into traffic after a little kid who was in the street and about to get hit. I guess with it raining so hard the other drivers didn't see him and weren't going to stop. With you being so upset, you left the shop and a little later I got the call. I guess it was the right thing to do but if I wouldn't have made you angry, you wouldn't have left."

"It's fine sweetheart. Really."

I was lying through my teeth. There was something eerily wrong about the entire situation. I just couldn't understand how I could survive being hit by a motorcyclist coming at full speed, in the rain, and causing a massive accident. It just didn't add up. Even if I did run into the street after some kid…wait, kid?

"Kara?"

She looked at me. "Yes?"

"You said the witness said that I ran into the street after some kid that had wandered into traffic?"

"Yeah. Why?"

"Did they have a description of him? Like some facial features? Maybe a hair color or something similar that might identify him?"

She placed her free hand to her chin and thought for a second, stroking the non-existent goatee as she pondered. "I don't believe so."

"Where is the kid now?"

"I honestly don't know. I suppose he ran off somewhere when all of the commotion began to happen. He probably was afraid that you were hurt because of him. He might even be in the hospital too. By the time I got there, they were loading you up onto the gurney and I was trying my hardest not to completely flip shit."

"So, you didn't see anyone?"

"No, why babe? Is something wrong?"

I paused for a second. It had been in the back of my mind since I had awoken from my near death experience but I didn't want to consider what it meant. I had always been a believer in the idea that things happened for a reason or that there were just things in the world that were beyond the comprehension of mankind. However, this took the cake on the weird meter and would, at best, get me sent to a looney bin and have Moulder and Skulley called to investigate the overwhelming weirdness that was everyday inner city Little Italy. Taking a deep breath, I decided I had to tell Kara. If anyone would believe the weirdness that was threatening to come out of my mouth, she would.

"That kid. I don't remember him being at the scene of the accident."

"Wait? You're can remember the accident now?" she asked enthusiastically. Obviously, my mental health was at the top of her priority list right above Say Yes to the Dress, I didn't know I was Preganant and Bridezillas- all of which were her favorite shows.

I nodded my head. "It is coming back to me in bits and pieces. However, some of the things aren't matching up like they should."

"Well, what's not matching up babe?"

"I get hit by a motorcycle going full tilt and here I am in a hospital, more alive than the poor schmuck who hit me all because I tried to save a kid."

"Yeah. Hero status, right?"

A solemn look crossed my face. "I don't think so, Kara."

"Why is that, Trayce?"

I let it out. "Well for starters, that wasn't trying to save him. I was trying to kill him. And that wasn't a kid. That was a monster."