It happened then and there, Malin could feel the heat and vapour from the ground she was standing on. Right across, she could see two figures facing each other-one of whom she is much familiar of and another not.

On count of three a hysterical shriek shrunk her heart. Everything around her burned and turned into charcoal-coloured crumples, fast enough it turned into ashes that flew into her eyes and stung her nose, a fume of burning lead. Malin pinched her arm hard, and as it redden, her face turned crimson too. And she found it impossible to believe that she was there. Again came the voice, this time as if the owner of the voice meant to tug the beating flesh out of her throat.


The girl sprawled in shock, shaking way beyond control, sweating.


"Leave me alone!" She screamed to herself and the tiny frame rose and tumbled again and again in desperate attempts.

She threw her foot to the farthest end of her bed, forcing herself up. Falling on her knees, she finally got herself off the bed and sprang to the door at once. The figure she saw in her dream seemed to come out and was then chasing her from behind, somewhere she could not see. But all she knew was that, she needed to run.

Then the shriek vanished and what's left was only her mother calling out to her from down the great mahogany stairs.

"I'm coming!" She choked the words.

"What's with you?!"

The was no answer. Marlia stood an air of total power, as if she was Athena and the little girl in front her was Medusa about to be cursed to the doom of her life. Malin stopped just before her, suffocating and pretending not to be.

"I, I think I had the worst nightmare..Mum,can I.."

Marlia looked down at her. Upon seeing, something stabbed whatever bad impressions she had for the child, dead.

"Oh dear," She heard herself hushed as the child wrung her waist and shed warm tears on her gown. Words failed her and a simultaneous weird feelings took control of her mind. She fought it for hours only to realise that she was fighting with the voice within her. Soon after, the feelings resolved and she found herself sending the child upstairs to bed and kissing her on the forehead.



"I remember you have something to say to me,"

"I do? Did I say so?" The woman looked away to the tiny table beside her and reached for the switch. Click. She intended to forget it.

"Yes you said so,"

"Well now I say I don't. Nothing. I want you to sleep." She smiled. Malin replied with a stare.

"Mum wait-I'm sorry for everything,"

"For what?"

"I had a really bad dream. I'm scared. I must have wronged you, can you forgive me?"

"What did you dream of Malin?"

"I saw...I saw a terrible place. I don't know what it is or how I should describe it but it's really scary. I must have wronged you that I had such a dream," the child begged.

Marlia laid her gaze across the room. She knew at once. And left the child murmuring into wonderland. Or worse, somewhere else where she shouldn't be.

The next day greeted everyone on Earth with a beautiful eye of heaven shimmering high up upon the skies, and everyone buzzed off-office,school and yes of course-school for Malin too. Classes went on with usual teachers stepping in and out the classroom door, the boys sitting behind her jerking and throwing paper planes at one another, a young relief teacher coming in replacing her favourite Maths teacher (which she liked least) and the bell rang at noon.

She marched out of the school gate towards her usual waiting spot-the bus stop, and found herself sitting up straight against the air to lean on. She waited. And waited. First ten minutes passed not embraced, then another five minutes added to the bore. Only then did she realise how different life would turn out to be without her bestest pal around. But why isn't he around anyway? She asked a white kitty by her feet. It's fur wasn't really white the way it's supposed to be. The ashes and all, being on its own laying it's pad on the road everyday for a journey none knows when and just where it would end.

Finally a red BMW stopped in front of her. She was too busy counting the number of blue cars that cruised the road-she thought of beating Alex again on the challenge should he turn up at any second-that her mother had to honk.

Her little steps were quick ones towards the ride. Beautiful, she was. Her mother saw, and whispered a silent wish. Her most important wish. What does the child know,she said to herself in dying words. She regretted treating the child the way she had. But it often occurred that she had this anonymous fighting within her with words as sharp as razors. Even sharper, playing with the fact that should be long forgotten. The sins, unforgiven ones that chased her with every pace she made. Thud.

"Hi mum,"

"Hey,how's school?" She forced a smile.

"We had a pop quiz during Maths period 'cause the teacher's absent,"

"Flu, I guess?"

And they both laughed.

"Well..was it fun?"

"The quiz was, but today's not as always,"


" 'cause usually Alex will be waiting for me after school to play games or ask me riddles but today he's not around too. Just like the teacher. Is it that he caught flu too, mum?"

Marlia fell silent. Then she remembered of something she had been pondering about lately. That struck her with insomnia for nights.

"Who's this Alex?"

Malin seemed not to hear her. She had definitely forgotten the plead she had with the poor friend. She couldn't even notice that she had forgotten, way off she was, too excited to tell her mother about her bore of the day-hoping that her mother would have at least an offer for a treat.

"Mum, can you take me to the park? She dared herself to ask. "I can't remember the last time we went to the park together. We can play around and jump together and-"

For a second Marlia became deaf, or it was the world that was mute. The earth stopped moving for her,the way the tyres of the car were.

"No." Went her stern reply. "How can you forget the day. I can't. Still." She said as she turned to the child beside her who had now returned to reality from a long skip of it.

Hands placed carefully on laps, Malin looked up towards her mother. "Why can't we..?"

"Because that was the last time we went to the park with your father."

But that grin didn't last long.

Suddenly, a thick smoke seemed to come out of the ground just five feet from where the legs of his tiny chair met the ground. He quickly kicked himself off of the stool he was resting on, causing the stool to fall backwards.

When the clatter of the wooden chair subsided, a tall figure had already formed where the smoke had formulated. It was a slim figure with graying hair, wearing a well-tailored black Armani suit with a white shirt and red tie, the suit cut to perfection to the body which was wearing it. Now it was the man in the suit's turn to grin while Alex had put on a face of anger more than terror.

"What do you want?" blasted Alex in a controlled volume while turning away from the grinning gentleman.

"A good evening to you too Mr Henders," said the man in the suit calmly while bowing slightly, almost to mock the person in front of him.

"Whatever you have to say, I don't want to hear it!" said Alex, almost shouting and awaking the neighbouring dogs sleeping near the trash cans surrounding them.

"Well, whether you want to hear it or not, that's not in my control. However, you know that I came here for a reason, and I trust that you also know what that reason is. With all the reminders I've been sending you and all, it should be clear," said the suit-man with a lowered voice either to let the sleeping dogs lie or just for the dramatic effect, he really can't decide.

"Reminders? What reminders??" said Alex now looking into the man's deep-set eyes. They were burning, not literally, but still, they were burning.

The middle-aged man's face suddenly changed into one of mild, deliberate confusion. "Come on, don't tell me you didn't notice the people on the street that have been able to see you? And when you stubbed your toe on a rock near Malin's house. Reminders, Mr Henders," said the man with eyebrows and a finger raised.

"Yeah! I've been meaning to ask you about that. What does it mean? You said I would stay invisible and invincible!" exclaimed Alex to the point of waking the dog nearest to them. It raised it's head, saw nothing and went back to sleep. Alex could still feel the blood in his shoes.

"I told you Mr. Henders, they're reminders. To remind you that your time is almost up," said the man with a straight face.

"What???" now Alex didn't care who or what he was waking now. "I thought these deals last 10 years!!!??"

The man in the suit noticed five dogs awakened by Alex's exclamations and with a sigh, he snapped his fingers. They were poofed to another place. A place that was barren and just all white, except for a black table and two black chairs on opposite sides of the table. They stood behind each chair.

Alex had been there before, not too long ago. And sure enough, there was that thick set of papers on the table, just like before.

"You really must read the fine print Mr Henders. Don't they teach you that in law-school?" said the man with a sigh and motioned Alex to his chair.

Once Alex had reluctantly taken up the offer, the man joined him opposite the table. "Usually, it would be 10 years, but the circumstances that you requested unfortunately decreased your time in the world. First of all, you asked to be in a child. Do you know how hard it is to find a healthy looking seven-year-old in hell? I can assure you that it's no needle in a haystack, Mr Henders, it's much harder. That took 5 years off of you. Then for the invisible to everyone but one person clause took 2 years while the invincible clause took 2 (since so many souls have requested it before). They're all stated here, here and here," said the man pointing to pages 228, 376 and 444 in the document.

Alex immediately regretted the deal he sealed and the hasty decision he made when he signed that paper on page 1.

"But I need more time with my daughter!" said Alex desperately, involuntarily banging at the table. His eyes began to water as he tried to push away the memory of the tragedy that took Alex Henders away from his daughter, Malin.