Like a dream, it was hard to pinpoint the exact moment when it began, that is, when she found herself in the void.

As far as Emily Roezell could see, nothingness extended in all directions.

Did I finally croak? she wondered. Emily had sat at death's door for so long that she had come to accept her imminent demise as an inevitability. She had never really thought much of the afterlife and frankly had thought that the existence of such a thing was preposterous. Perhaps she had been wrong.

Now what? Was she to spend eternity in the empty space? Emily would have liked to at least have some scenery to while away her now-pointless existance, like maybe she could at least see what the city in the sky, Elesium, looked like...

Even as she thought these things, a strange sensation of weightlessness overcome her, and around her, the blank void shimmered and gave way to a blue sky broken up by golden spires and golden roads that connected various clouds together. Emily gaped in awe. Was this Elesium? Curious, it looked... more or less exactly as she had expected it too. Considering how varying and wild the tales of its splendor had been, Emily would have thought the city would be much different from her preconceived notions.

Then she realized that nobody was inhabiting the city (if you could call a handful of gold buildings in the sky a city). However, as soon as she thought that, people began to appear, and at first Emily felt a sense of relief... until she noticed to creepy things about the "people". Firstly, they didn't seem to really be doing anything other than wandering around aimlessly, and secondly, she recognized pretty much everyone, most of them vaguely... but that person over there was definitely Sara Collingham.

Curious as to what was going on and what Sara was doing in this place, Emily approached the older woman and asked, "Sara, is that you? Goodness, it's been months since..."

The older woman did not even seem to acknowledge that Emily had spoken to her, instead continuing on some seemingly aimless path. Disconcerted, Emily followed her. "Sara, that is you, isn't it?"

Just as Emily began to despair the state of her mind, the woman turned around and faced Emily, although she didn't say anything. Emily took a deep breath. "Sara, do you hear me?"

The woman nodded; Emily sighed with relief. "How did you get here?" she continued. Sara nodded, and Emily bit her lip. This wasn't the Sara that Emily remembered. Sara had been the kind of person who would talk the ears off of anyone who would listen to her. Now Emily couldn't even get her to speak. "Have you become mute?" Emily blurted. Usually she was more subtle than this, this situation she found herself in was getting to her.

Please say something. Complain about your son, whine about the weather, anything!

At last, Sara uttered something. "Adrian is doing great..." her voice was a mix of her own and Emily's and had a mechanical quality to it. Then the woman continued, "That boy, getting into trouble, like always." The latter statement was said in her exact voice as Emily recalled it. Actually, that entire statement, and the way she had said it, definitely came from a memory.

"Are you even real?" Emily whimpered, noting for the first time that Sara's face was lacking in some wrinkles and facial marks as well as earings or holes for them... until all those things appeared after Emily blinked. Sara nodded to Emily's question, but now Emily wasn't buying it.

Taking a step back, Emily growled, "What are you?! What is this place?!" The thing that looked like Sara stared uncomprehendingly until Emily thought of answers in head that the woman mechanically repeated, "Sara... Elesium..."

Shrieking in frustration, Emily lashed out at pseudo-Sara's face... only for her hand to pass right through it. Emily's heart skipped a beat as the thing in front of her continued to look ahead blankly. Emily trembled as she felt panic rising in her chest. She backed away from the specter in front of her, and once she was a safe distance, she turned and fled as fast as her legs could carry her. To where, she knew not, and soon her legs began to feel like jelly.

She collapsed, barely catching herself before her face hit the golden pavement; she proceeded to retch and sob on her hands and knees for who knew how long as she struggled to come to terms with this new reality. Eventually, she calmed down enough to attempt to get up, only to be struck with a sensation of light-headedness that forced her to lie back down. Now with her back on the pavement, Emily closed her eyes, placed her hands on her abdomen, and controlled her breathing until she felt well enough to sit up. When she opened her eyes and looked around, she still saw the artificial gold buildings, but all of the "people" were now gone. No longer being haunted by the robotic ghosts of people she could barely remember, Emily was now free to... free to spend a wretched eternity in this artificial place and die once again all alone. Despair began to take hold as her face fell into her hands.

Now, what was she supposed to do but wait for the end?

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