Original prompt: You die. You wake up to see an old man standing above you, “You’re dead, but you’re not safe, none of us are. Take this, be careful which spirits you trust, and never speak to anybody if you can’t see their eyes.” He offers you a knife.
“Wh.. what do you want me to do with a knife?”
“Not much, but it’s still better than nothing. I won’t stay with you anyway, it would be way too dangerous for me. Here, take it, I’m leaving.”
He threw the knife to my feet and, as I flinched, left running towards the forest. Suddenly, everything went quiet. I realized I was standing in the middle of a barren land with only a knife and nobody to help me. Is this some sort of joke? I’ve died once already, why do I still have to go through this? I crouched, took the knife and went for the forest as well. As I sat behind a bush, I stealthily scanned my surroundings. The forest behind me seemed deep, and ahead was a desolate plain with a few dead trees here and there.
Suddenly, I caught sight of a girl walking erratically, far away. She seemed to be limping so I thought I might call out to her. As I went to stand up, I was tackled to the ground by behind. I tried to scream but they forcefully pressed their hand on my mouth. I felt their head move closer to my ear.
“Are you out of your fucking mind?” they whispered. “If you want to die, do it alone!”
As confused as I was, I tried to regain my calm. They saw that I didn’t intend to call the girl anymore, so they relaxed their grasp on me. As I turned around, I saw a young man glaring at me, with a face still red from his anger.
“How have you been able to survive so far, dude?”
“Well, I’m not sure fifteen minutes is particularly impressive…” I answered.
That answer must have caught him off-guard, as he blinked and paused for a few seconds.
“Oh, that’s why, you’ve just died, haven’t you?”
“It’s a bit fuzzy, but I think so, yeah.”
“I saved us both then. Listen, mate, there are only two things you must absolutely keep in mind from now on. First, you’ve gotta find a spirit to help you. Second, you don’t talk to anybody if you —”
“If you can’t see their eyes,” I followed. “I know, the old man who gave me the knife told me as much.”
“An old man…? Whatever, look with me.”
The young man nodded towards the faraway girl, who had actually come a few dozen meters closer to us now. She seemed in pain, she had scars on her arms, and she was limping. But that didn’t matter to me right now. What I couldn’t take my eyes from, was her face. More precisely, the two glaring cavities standing in place of her eyes, which looked as if they could swallow you entirely. I couldn’t stop shivering at their sight.
“Snap out of it!” the young man whispered. “She’s a Fallen. Her consciousness is no more. However, she’s still able to torture your soul for quite a while if you dare speak in her direction, before you become a Fallen as well.”
“What exactly happens? As soon as you talk to her, you’re cursed?”
“I don’t really know. But you bet I don’t want to. I’ve survived thus far thanks to that advice I received long ago. Once, someone I knew called out to me in the mist. What we didn’t know, was that a Fallen was just nearby. I could only hear his pleas for help, his screams of agony, and the Fallen’s demonic shrieks. It was unbearable. I left the place as fast as I could. I don’t even know if he became a Fallen too, but I guess he did.”
As I listened to him speak, I looked back to the Fallen girl. But I failed to see her again. Maybe she had walked far enough to disappear from our sight. Then, the young man put his hand on my shoulder. As I turned my head, I realized it wasn’t the young man. The hideous face of the Fallen was looking at me with a terrifyingly eerie smile and its two black holes peeking into my soul.
“Show me… your eyes,” it said.
Before I could even scream, a knife slit through the Fallen’s throat and a hand grabbed her hair, throwing her on the grass beside me. I was left speechless and frozen. The young man looked at me.
“That was a close one. I lowered my guard, my bad. We need to leave. Good job though. Even I almost shrieked when I saw her that close.”
As we crawled to move deeper into the forest, I sent one last look towards the girl. Her hair was covering her face, but I swear I could still feel the emptiness stare at me from behind it.