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Her name is Shelly and her allure is one of melancholy. I only know her name because I’ve overheard it. She reminds me of a gray dove amongst a murder of crows. We’ve never spoken. When we make eye contact she just makes a slight, sad grin that lets me know she’s aware of my struggle. She’s of the Waking World. I wonder how she would like Nod. Maybe she’s already been there.

***

I can’t help but stare at Santa Muerte’s face when I’m in her presence. It’s captivating. She led me into a church in the forest – it was a small, brick church with a quaint graveyard beside it. Once inside she told me that she wanted to show me something and that I would have a choice to make. Then she led me to a tall piece of furniture covered by a cloth that sat in front of the pulpit.

“You must decide if the chase will continue,” she said. My blood raced! Of course I wanted the horrible chase to end. There was no question about it. Then she continued, “You must understand that the chase serves the purpose of strengthening your soul so that when the time comes, you’ll persevere and overcome the push to the City. But if you choose to forego the chase, there is no guarantee that your soul will be ready.”

“Right now, your soul is afire with the chase. Look now into the mirror and see what happens when your soul is not ready.”

With this, she pulled the cloth from the piece of furniture and a tall, ornamented, full-length mirror was revealed. A wave of fear spread through me because I didn’t want to see. Santa Muerte took me by the shoulders and guided me in front of the mirror. I instinctively clenched my eyes shut. Then she gently, with her boney fingers, pried by eyes open and I beheld my face transformed into a gaunt, sad specter of my former self. But it was the eyes that horrified me. They were empty, deep pits that swallowed the world into an abyss of hopelessness. I stared for what seemed an eternity into their depths of depression and tears began to stream down my face. Finally, I wiped the tears and it was enough to break the spell. It was then that I noticed Santa Muerte’s reflection behind my shoulder. Her skeletal face was replaced by a face so hideous that I screamed and tore myself from her grasp as I threw my fists into the mirror. The glass shattered and Santa Muerte threw her head back in laughter at my antics.

Mirror

“Continue the chase,” I managed to say through the panting and the sobs and the blood.

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