The Fragments

📅 Published on June 23, 2022

“The Fragments”

Written by Corpse Child
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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The first time was probably the least tragic, or at least, the least painful.  The least haunting, as well.  It was three years ago; my health had taken a nosedive.  Cancer, stage three.  I’d been a chain smoker since the end of freshman year of high school, plus I worked part-time at a warehouse that primarily manufactured household chemicals.  Asbestos, ain’t that a bitch, right?

Anyway, my health had been bad for almost a year, about ten months, by that point, and, frankly, I was pretty happy when the time finally came, when the pain could be gone for good.

(Death is only a gateway…)

My family, by which I mean my brother, Randy, and my wife, Jasmine, the only two of my family who were even around by that point along with my dog, Fenrir, were at my bedside when it happened. Jasmine, of course, cried.  Randy had a solemn, stoic look on his face, trying to hold himself together. I remember the last thing I would hear being Jasmine’s voice singing, “Cold blows the wind.”

“Cold blows the wind, o’er my true love, cold are the drops of rain…” “Her voice is so beautiful…”

“I do as much for my true love as any young girl may…” “Just like she did on the beach that night…”

The darkness crept from the edges of my eyes, slowly, painlessly.

(There’s no pain in death…)

I couldn’t feel anything anymore.  My body was numb, my brain gone.  I could only hear her voice, softly fading with the rest of me.  This was it.  It was finally time.  It would all end quietly.  Peacefully.

(Death is only a gateway…)

“One kiss, one kiss from your lily-white lips…”

That was as far as I got before I was gone.  I heard nothing anymore.  Felt nothing anymore.  It was quiet, dark, empty.  It was…well…it was nothing anymore, if that makes any kind of sense.

(Through the tunnel…)

It’s hard, of course, to really explain what it was like; dying.  I was, in a way, “conscious,” I guess you could call it.  But I couldn’t feel or see or do anything.

(The other side of the tunnel?)

I was just…there.  I don’t know how long it was like this, either, once I’d passed.  Seconds, minutes, hours (days?  Years?).  Time had no weight anymore, no definition.  There was no more time.

(The light, at the end…)

I was adrift in darkness.

(Where’s the light?)

I wasn’t scared.  I couldn’t feel fear.  I wasn’t even confused.  I couldn’t feel confusion… (Where’s the other side?)

I couldn’t feel!

(WHAT’S on the other side?!)

I was alone.  In the boundless dark, holed up with disembodied thoughts that buzzed erratically. Thoughts that I couldn’t voice.  Thoughts that, like time, had no consequences of what was around me, of what lay ahead of me — nothing.

(Death is not an end…)

I remember something bright in the distance.  I don’t know that I’d say that I “saw” it, per se — I couldn’t see.  Maybe “perceived” is the best way to put it.  It was there, just like how I was, just there, and I knew it was there.  Facing it, sensing it.  That’s it; I sensed it there.

(I have to cross the tunnel, cross the bridge…)

Among seemingly distant recitals of every thought, every idea, every memory even that I once had in life, came the question, “What is that?”

(The Gateway is open…)

I, for lack of any other way of putting it, “wondered” what it was, this bright speck in a sea of eternal black.  “What is it doing here?”

(Step into the light…)

I seemed drawn towards it.  Hypnotized.  Unable to bring myself away from it.  It became brighter and brighter.

(One chapter’s ending becomes another’s beginning…) A series of things began gradually happening to me.  I could feel a sharp, burning feeling pervade all across my consciousness.

I could feel!

Next, I could hear a mixed cacophony of high-pitched screams, like those of frightened or pained women and children at the same time.  This morphed into sounds of laughter, like the laughter of a baby.  Like the laughter of men and women.  I then heard the sounds of angered men and women shouting.

I could hear!

The speck, the aura, burned brighter and brighter.  It began spreading, canvassing the void ahead.  It soon developed to become blinding.

I could see!

(Cross the bridge!)

I was overwhelmed, like I was experiencing all of this – these sensations – all for the first time again. Like I’d never been alive before…


Like I was being born again!

(Death is not an end…)

The light became brighter.  Brighter.  Expanding closer and closer.  I went from seeing nothing but a black void to seeing a cloud of white-hot light.

(I could see the light, the gate…)

The sounds became more defined.  They sounded normal, some now even sounding mundane in nature. I could hear it all; every cry, every gasp, whisper, laugh, moan, and even every shaking breath, all of it. I could hear it all.

(The gateway is open…)

All at once, I took it all in, basking against the heavenly sea of white.  I tried not to really focus much on it.  To just take it all in without trying to hear or distinguish any particular sound.  It didn’t work, though.

Eventually, I heard the cadence of syllables taking form.  I recognized it was a man and a woman.  The man was shouting at the woman, who was groaning in pain.  “Push!” I heard him cry.  “Come on, push!”

(The gateways are open…)

I soon felt something begin twisting in me inside the cocoon of white.  I could feel like I was being compacted!  I felt myself get forced onward towards the sounds and the ever-expanding light.  “Push!” I heard again from ahead.

(The doors are open…)

“Come on, honey; you can do this!” The man’s voice says.  My body further shrunk.  I could feel it devolving, degenerating, until it was the body of an infant again.

(The Gateway is open, something can get in…or out…) My mind fogged, devolving into that of a baby.  I was becoming a baby again.  “Come on, honey, push!” The woman screamed in pain.  I was forced further forward.

(Something else can get out!)

“That’s it, deep breaths…”

I was forced further and further.

(Something’s following me…)

The force pushing me forward became violent.  The woman’s screams were shrill, ear-splitting.  With one last aggressive push, I was sent rocketing from the white abyss forward into an unknown point where the sounds were originating from.

(It’s right behind me…)

As I neared the breaching point, I felt an overwhelming rush of fresh oxygen flood my lungs.  It was painful, and I opened my mouth to cry out.  Bright, fluorescent lighting assaulted my eyes, and I was forced to close them.  “Come on, Edna,” the man’s voice urged excitedly, “you’re almost there, just one more push!”

Deep down, in the farthest region of my mind, which still contained my former consciousness (well, you know, the fragment of it that hadn’t quite faded yet), something struck me as familiar about that name.  It was my mother’s name, Edna.

I was being born again!

(Something else is trying to get through!)

Just as I was to breach the void entirely, I could feel something fly past me.  Whatever it was felt both blisteringly hot and deathly cold at the same time as it seemed to kind of pass through me like a rush of wind.  I didn’t see what it was, blinded by the artificial light ahead.  Instead, I heard the woman, my mother, cry out in more pain than ever before as she forced me forward one last time with one last powerful push.

I was free.  I opened my eyes, only to immediately close them again, overwhelmed by the introduction of both light and fresh air.  My lungs and my chest felt like they were being compressed, and I cried out, wailing just to try and take in fresh air again.

(It got out!)

“It’s a boy!” I heard another voice declare.

(It’s free!)

Cold, frigid air stung all across my skin.  I wailed louder and louder until eventually exhausting myself and falling asleep.  I remember quietly drifting off, feeling the (somewhat?) familiar feeling of my mother’s warm, tender skin as she held me against her chest.

(Where is it?!  Where’d it go?!)

That was how it started; how my life began, when it ended.  I know, I know, that makes absolutely no sense to you, does it?  Trust me, it never really got any easier for me to understand, either. Unfortunately, This is also where things only get harder to explain, too.

(Death is only a gateway…)

I, more or less, lived again.  I grew up again.  Went to school when I turned six, just like before.  I got a part-time job when I was sixteen; drive-thru at Burger King, just like I had before.  At seventeen, I dropped out and got a job at a warehouse full-time, just like last time.

I guess you could say I didn’t really “learn anything  .”Hell, I was even smoking again by that point (at least half a pack a day).  Of course, I didn’t understand really what was happening, either.  I mean, how was this even possible?  How was I living my life again?  Why was I living my life again?

(One chapter ended, another began…)

Despite this lingering, deep down, I, more or less, lived a happy enough life again (just like I did before).  I’d occasionally have moments of what felt like deja vu; occasional moments that felt familiar, moments that I knew I’d lived before.  I couldn’t ever really comprehend why at the time, though — again, only a feeling.

(The fragments never faded away…)

This would be when I first saw it.  It was on the day of my wedding.  I was twenty-two by then, and I had been engaged to Jasmine for at least six months, and I knew, just like I knew before, that she was the one who I wanted to live out my life with.  The pastor was in the middle of wedding the two of us when, out of the corner of my eye, far off in the distance (I’m honestly surprised I was able to see it at all), I saw it.

(Something was left when I passed away…)

It was like a spot, a stain, a tiny black dot that stood miles away from the lake where we were being married.  I could just vaguely see from where I was that it had the shape of a person, yet, I knew it wasn’t.

(Something got out when I passed through the gate…) It was tall, dark, and transparent in a way.  It looked like it could’ve been someone’s shadow, not seeming to have a solid form of its own.  It was something that was just there.  Watching me.

(It got out…)

“What the hell?”

“Philip Horne,” the pastor’s voice jolted my focus again, “Do you take Jasmine Wyatt to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold…”

(It’s watching…)

“In sickness and in health…”

(It’s moving…)

“Till death do you part?”  His voice sounded somewhat distant, losing myself in thought.  I looked back to Jasmine, her beautiful smiling face, still seeing the thing, the shadow in the corner of my right eye.


“I-I do  .”I said, smiling, still eyeing the shadow in the distance.  He then went through the vows with her.  I continued to stare into her eyes as he spoke.  She smiled back at me.

(It’s getting closer!)

With her adorable, dimple-cheeked smile (the sweetest damn thing I’ve ever seen in ALL of my lives), she replied, “I do.”

“You may now kiss the bride.” Slowly, I brought my lips down to meet hers.  She closed her eyes and raised up to me.


Our lips met for a brief instant.  I felt the ecstasy wash through me.  I had done it; I’d married the love of my life — again.  Suddenly, I felt my body go cold.  My skin had broken out completely into goosebumps.  My lungs felt starved, too, and I began coughing and wheezing.

“Phil!” Jasmine cried, “Phil, are you okay?!” I was soon surrounded by the guests.  Randy was trying to give me the Heimlich maneuver, apparently thinking I was choking on something.  I couldn’t respond, only continue wheezing.

I began to panic.  “What’s happening?!  What the hell’s going on?!” (It’s got me!)

“I can’t breathe!”

(It’s got me!)

Soon, dark clouds spread across my eyes as I began going limp.  My wheezing became weaker and weaker until dying off completely.  I couldn’t feel anything again.  Everything was dark again.  Empty. Quiet.

(Not the end…)

Like before, I was alone, drifting in a seemingly endless sea of eternal black.  Adrift in nothingness.

(Only a gateway…)

Alone, save for the thoughts that ran amuck in my once again disembodied consciousness.  I guess, because it was my second time experiencing them like this, now feeling a bit more familiar with what was going on with them, I actually made an effort to try and listen to them this time around.  Of course, “familiar” or not, they were still hard as hell to comprehend (granted, of course, the existence of my consciousness as a whole at that moment was racking my fuckin’ mind anyhow).

They weren’t uniformed or organized in any way.  They were clustered, jumbled, mixing and twisting, like they were all being shouted at me by at least a hundred different people, all at the same time.  What I could make of it, though, was that it was shouting moments of my life to me.  Particularly, moments of life that had been played out multiple times, repeated across both lives so far — which was a lot (as I said before, not much actually changed the second time around).

(They don’t go away…)

Soon, the process from before repeated itself.  I saw the light again, the white void, which was then followed by my morphing again into a baby and being delivered from my mother’s womb.  And, just like before, just before I’d enter the world for a third time, I felt it, them, whatever flow through and past me out from the void as well.

And yes, the third time started out much the same as the other two times.  Again, at times, I’d feel those same senses of “deja vu” whenever I was reliving moments of my life that had been done before in the previous lives (obviously now with double the potency).  This time, I didn’t even make it as far as my wedding before it happened again.

(The chapters get shorter, but the story never ends…) It was just another day at the warehouse.  I should mention (realizing I hadn’t before) that my role there had always been as a loader for the trucks.  This meant I would be operating the forklifts.  Well, this particular day, I was supposed to load at least 1400 pieces onto the truck for shipment.  I had gotten at least half of that order loaded and ready for delivery when I saw it again.  Saw them again.

This time, there were two of them.  They both stood in the distance.  One stood at the far end of the main hallway, while the other stood off in the middle of the loading dock outside, past the trucks.  The both of them just stood there, their two hollow, white eyes boring into me, and I could feel it, even from a distance.  It felt cold, bitter, and even a bit menacing, like they didn’t want me there.

(I crossed the gateway…)

Like I was somehow making them suffer.

(They should’ve faded…)

And it was obvious; they were only there for me.  I found this out when I watched others pass right through them when walking to and from the loading areas where they were, not at all seeming to notice them.  I was the only one that could see them!

(A new chapter starts when one ends…)

“What the hell are they?” I wondered, staring at them, one in the corner of each eye.  “What are they wanting?”

(One’s on the move…)

“What’re they doing?”

(The other one’s moving now…)

My mind was racing with all of these questions when a new thought further sent them into a spiral.  I had a brief vision of the previous life.  It was broken, and I’d have written it (and all of this for that matter) off as a crazed pipe-dream if it weren’t for the way I’ve seen that, this, and later events connect now.

If it wasn’t for how familiar they were to me in that moment.

(They’re getting close again…)

How it was like they were…


Like they were…

(Too close!  They’re getting too close again!)

Like they were a part of me.  Before I knew it, though, more instances of “deja vu” hit me when an all too familiar chill gripped me, sucking the air out of me and causing me to cough and gasp for air again, seizing and convulsing.  Because I was operating the forklift when it happened, I ended up driving it forward into the loading area and smashing into the side of one of the trucks.

Instantly, everything was dark again.  It was a lot more sudden this time, abrupt.  In fact, that I think of it now, that was probably the quickest death I experienced.  The most painless.  All the same, though, I was lost again in a boundless eternal night, surrounded by the frantic voices.

(Surrounded by fragments…)

Again, it’s hard to describe in any accurate or meaningful way the way I ‘felt’(?) while stuck in this limbo (for the third time).  I mean, I couldn’t actually feel, but I guess ‘think’ is a better way of putting it; what I thought while stuck in limbo, surrounded by memories, by thoughts.  Like both times before, they simply buzzed wildly around, screaming at me.

(They never faded…)

Like before, I’d try to listen to what they said.  Try to wonder, I guess you could say (god, why is this so confusing?), as to why they sound so panicked.  So painful.  So…

(They’re trapped…)

So mournful.

(They can’t rest…)

As expected, the process, the cycle, occurred the same as before.  Light, devolution, and ultimately, (Another fragment…)

another rebirth.  This would become another first for me as well.  This time, it was the day of my high school prom when it happened, when I saw them again standing in the corners of the lunchroom.  I remember that in the past (by which, I obviously mean the past two lives), I had asked Nancy Jean to the dance.  I also remember how I’d always turned down Edith Raines’ offer to take her to the dance.

She’d had a crush on me since 7th grade, while I was, of course, making googly eyes (and usually striking out with) Nancy Jean at the time.  Anyway, I say this to say that this was the first time I realized something about these things, these figures, these…


these shadows following me.

This time, when those feelings of “deja vu” I keep mentioning hit me, I thought back to those moments in limbo.  I thought of how all of those screams were of moments of my life.  Moments that’d been repeated.  It was then that I had an idea.  What would happen if things were different?  What if I didn’t ask Nancy Jean to the dance, instead going with Edith?  “What would happen then?  Would they finally go away?”

(The chapter ends, a new one begins…)

So, that’s just what I did.  When Edith Raines asked me, with those painfully shy eyes that, admittedly, I’d always found kind of cute, I said “yes  .”Sure enough, one of them disappeared.  That night, things were different as well.  Before, I ended that night by leaving the dance with Nancy Jean and driving up to the hilltop just a few miles away, where we’d kiss and fall asleep in the car.  This time, though, Edith, being not quite as adventurous or unruly, asked if we could just grab a burger and a milkshake instead from the diner afterwards.

It felt…different.  Not necessarily in a good or bad way, but just that; different.  I still had fun with it, even if wasn’t the whole Hallmark classic “making out under the beautiful starry night sky with the girl of my dreams” ending like before.  But, at the same time, it didn’t feel entirely “right” either, if that makes any sense.

I wasn’t happy.  Sure, I wasn’t sad, but I wasn’t happy.  Not actually happy.  I guess what I’m trying to say was that it didn’t feel natural, you know, like I was forced.

I didn’t hate Edith Raines, but I didn’t want to dance with her.  I had fun grabbing food with her, sure, but it’s not what I actually was supposed to do.  What I actually wanted to do.

I wanted to be with Nancy Jean.  I wanted to dance with my childhood crush and lay under the stars with her again.  But I didn’t.  I didn’t because I had already done that before.  I didn’t because…

(I crossed the gateway…)

Because I wasn’t supposed to.  Because this wasn’t that life anymore.  Because this wasn’t MY life anymore.  This was different; this was new.  I wasn’t living my own life here anymore.  I was being pushed through a constant cycle, constantly starting over, constantly haunted by memories from times now lost.

I, essentially, wasn’t me anymore.  I was a shell.  I was a ghost, a shadow, a lingering consciousness.

(A fragment!)

I existed, and still exist now, only as a forgotten soul.  A whispering memory, crammed in the farthest recesses of the mind, helplessly trying to live a life that ended long ago inside of one that I shouldn’t be a part of.  I wasn’t meant to still exist, not with my consciousness, not with the memories I had before. That’s why I see them, the shadows, who themselves hold my lost memories.  They must act as some sort of counter, some sort of security to whatever force is continuing this cycle to ensure that events can’t repeat by resetting it, even if it appears to hurt them as well.

I am, in this life, twenty-two years old again.  In two days, I’ll be receiving my bachelor’s degree in engineering, where I’ll then be attending a university for my master’s.  That’s right, I never dropped out of high school, never got the job at the factory, never started smoking, and never met Jasmine.  Instead, I graduated, went to community college, and even scored second in my class.

I’m accomplished now, yet, it feels wrong.  It feels so much more like I’m just forcing everything to be different, forcing everything to change so the shadows won’t come back.  So the memories won’t come back.  I can’t live my life anymore, because MY life ended.

(Death wasn’t the end…)

Now…I’m just a shadow, trapped forever in a life I shouldn’t be in.  A fragment of a former life, lost forever to time.

(Death was only a gateway, and I crossed it…)

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Corpse Child
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Corpse Child

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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