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It was a deep drop.
James Albright was sure he was to be able to jump, though he had not expected the experience to be that frightening. ‘Oh but it will all be over in five seconds,’ he had thought to himself. Doubt consumed him. ‘But those five seconds left of life will scar you until you die.’
He shuffled against the ramp of the bridge, contemplating whether or not now was the right time to jump. It was New Year’s Eve, the perfect time of the year to do something like this. Mr Albright was prone to daze into his thoughts for a tad too long, which was probably why he was never successful in job hunting.
For the five years of his life, after he had graduated, James Albright failed to manage money. The landowners had already filled up the tank of his debt to an extent that it was overflowing. Soon enough, he was kicked out of his apartment.
However, that was only merely a few hours ago. Now he was homeless and jobless, with nowhere else to go. He had no potential or purpose, right?
There was a buzzing in his ear, much to his annoyance. He flicked it away, yet it did not go.
“Hey, you!” A distant voice murmured. James continued to look down at the crashing waves. “I was talking to you!”
The buzzing had become more vexing. James wriggled around in front of the ramp indignantly, most likely looking like a madman in front of the streets. And then, everything had slowed down.
James Albright had made a terrible mistake.
His foot hovered in midair as he gasped silently. The world turned upside down as he fell downwards.
“Oh, you foolish man!” the voice screeched. “I told you not to move; were you even listening?”
A bright light blinded James Albright as he began to fall. This was it, we finally did it, even though it was not as he anticipated. Despite the fact that Mr Albright was quite a humble and modest young man, he wished to have the final moments of his life quite dramatic. Yet, he simply slipped while thinking of his memories and had begun falling. But, he soon realized something.
Through his blinded eyes, all his unfortunate memories flashed passed him. He smiled, maybe his life was just filled with terrible luck. The colourful hues of the world had slowly begun to make its way back once again. Instead of a wonderful view of the city scrapers, there was a white dot in the middle of his gaze. But behind the dot, the pitch blackness of the starry sky was blanketed with tiny sparks.
“James Albright,” a voice spoke. The man jolted, intrigued. “You, through your hardships, had been watched over for many years.”
“Excuse me? Who is this?” James scoffed through the wind, rather vexed. “If this is some sort of joke, please stop. As you can see, I’m trying to end my life here.”
There was a silence until the voice spoke again. James raised an eyebrow, amused that it took quite some time for a response.
“You have been chosen to relive your life a second chance.”
Mr Albright’s emerald eyes widened, his brown hair swaying in the ***** wind biting at his skin.
“If you sign this contract then you would officially have agreed to this opportunity for another life.”
“Wait, wait, wait,” James put a hand in front of him as a sign to stop. “I get another chance at living again- like I was reborn, with a better life?”
The white dot shone, revealing a pure silhouette of a thin woman with giant snowy wings. Her blonde hair in a messy bun swayed majestically as she opened her arms as a welcoming gesture quite dramatically, a golden circle hovering above her head.
“Not precisely. Although you will have received another life, you will not wake up again as an infant, but still as your current age. However, the world you wake up in is different from what you call Earth. It is an angel’s world,” she said. “Unfortunately, our world is currently under the dictatorship and corruption of the evil king of the skies. We need a hero who can offer to defeat the king so that the balance in the world is once again restored.”
“Once again, you say?” James used air quotation marks. “What happened before?”
The magical woman pursed her lips, her giant wings curling in weakly, “last time, the hero failed to stop the king due to a distraction. Their main objective, of course, was to stop the evil king, but they fell in love with one of the citizens of the major city they resided in.”
“You can’t fall in love?”
“You can, but for the hero, I guess not,” the angel sighed. “However, If you do decide to agree to the terms and conditions, then we will give a luxurious life after the defeat of the king.”
Mr Albright gasped, “free food insurance, lower house loans and an excellent wife?”
The angel cocked her head, confused.
“Are humans always this greedy?”
“Excuse me?” James Albright placed a hand on his chest, hurt. “I was just about to agree with a job filled with burdens in order to receive another chance at a life I wished I had before. What nonsense are you spewing, you freak?”
“That doesn’t mean you have the right to insult me.”
Mr Albright put his hands in the air in defeat, “alright. I guess you have a point there, angel.”
The woman glanced at an imaginary watch anxiously, looking below her, “We hardly have any time left before you fall. Do you have your decision made?”
“I guess I wouldn’t mind doing it,” James shrugged.
A golden paper popped out of nowhere with a quill floating beside it.
“Please sign here quickly before you hit the water,” the angel pointed to an empty space most likely to be occupied by a signature. James took the quill reluctantly before signing off. Soon enough, the golden paper popped out of existence.
“Well now, it’s time for the countdown until you die,” the angel said. “Any last words?”
“Not really. But I hope I have a great life over there. Promise me you’ll make sure I live the perfect life there and I’ll get rid of you once I defeat this evil king thing.”
The starry sky was filled with colour. Ironically, a slight tinge of happiness and content filled James’ heart. Maybe it was a perfect time- he was given a second chance to relive his life.
“You mark my words,” the angel murmured, a signature which heavily resembled one of James’ glowed where a human’s heart would be before the two had hit the water with a loud splash.
* * *
It didn’t hurt at all. James Albright was quite surprised. But he had woken up with a jolt, an azure hue covering his whole sight.
“Welcome to the second universe,” an angelic voice said. James grinned goofily, imagining whose voice this belonged to. “We hope you enjoy your stay.”
There was a cool wind that blew violently in James’ face as a lid opened. At last, light could be seen. James groaned as he tried to adjust his eyes to the new brightness.
“Thank you, thank you,” he coughed casually as he got out of the coffin like box he was in. He had never expected all this to be true. He thought he was imagining, hallucinating, like one of a madman before falling to his doom. “Where exactly do I go? This place is like a maze!”
And indeed it was. All that could be seen were mirrors, and well, more mirrors. Mr Albright had to be careful not to smash into his own reflection. His brain was prone to be tricked rather easily as his sanity level had lowered every day.
He reached out his hands to help him navigate himself through the maze. From the corner of his eye, he found a bright light.
“That must be the opening to the new world,” James thought excitedly to himself, managing to shuffle his way around different mirrors. At last, he was free.
“That took you long enough, Albright,” the angel said. James’ once bright and cheerful face was scrunched up in dissatisfaction.
“What do you mean?” He asked her coyly.
“You were asleep for at least two hours,” the angel stated monotonously, lifting up a small paper bag. “I was able to take a trip to the local stalls and buy an ice block for the both of us. It’s very humid on the other side.”
“Really?” Mr Albright helped himself and took out a rainbow coloured ice block. He looked back up at the opening and grimaced. “But it’s freezing- look, it’s snowing!”
The angel waved her hand dismissively, “that’s just a facade. As I said to you before, our world is different from Earth. Technically, it’s a barrier. Those who have not been granted access to the world by another angel will be blown to smithereens as soon as they try touching the barrier.”
James grimaced, even more, the ice block he was licking still in his mouth.
The two made their way over into the cold. James had immediately started to shiver. He looked down at his clothes.
“Wait, I was wearing a long shirt and track pants before… why am I now wearing shorts and a t-shirt?!”
“The angels changed your clothes.”
James face flushed a furious red, “wow, really?” His face turned dreamy-like.
“Don’t stereotype angels. They were men.”
James frowned, “are you serious?”
The angel murmured some inaudible things before the facade began to ripple like water. Soon enough, like a waterfall, the facade opened itself to a new path into a bazar-like town. James’ eyes widened in astonishment as he glanced back at the angel.
“We have given you a second chance to redeem yourself of your mistakes you had made in your life before; in exchange, we offer you the job to defeat the king of the skies who has taken dictatorship of the world and has soon made it crumble from corruption. We plead for your help.”
The angel bowed down to James softly as everyone silenced themselves and looked to see what was happening. Mr Albright looked around nervously.
“Angel…” he scratched the back of his head. “We already went through this… but, okay- sure.”
The angel looked back up at James with a sincere smile on her face. She mouthed a thank you.
“Now, let me tour you through the world.”
And so, James Albright, the suicidal and jobless man who attempted to commit suicide, was given another chance to relive his life by an angel- but the problem was that he was to live his life as a hero who was burdened to save the world from an evil dictating king.
The two walked through the barrier and into the town, both holding ice blocks in their hand and laughing gleefully as people cheered in the background.
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