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{ written by @Jon }

Limbo idly dangled his feet over the edge of the roof of the laundromat across the street from his old apartment building. He was casing his former home late at night with a set of magic binoculars he stole from his wizard roommate Oliver that could see through walls. From what he could tell, most of the building was empty, which was strange considering there used to be entire families that lived there before he died. It looked like everyone and everything had been completely cleared out.

With a mild sigh, he set down the binoculars and picked up his cell phone. He had no idea what happened to the place he used to call home for years, but he knew one person who might. Kinsley Faris was the neighbor who lived right across the hall from him back when he was alive. If anyone knew anything about what happened to all of his old stuff, it’d be her. He dialed her up to see what he could find out, put the call on speaker phone, and set it down on the ledge beside him.

“Hello?” Kinsley answered.

“Hey, Kins! It’s me, Ethan,” he replied while picking up the binoculars and staring back into the building. “You know, Ethan Holloway? The one who used to live across the hall from you in 4E?”

A moment passed of complete silence. He already knew what she was probably thinking.

Ethan?!” she finally responded. “I thought you died! I went to your funeral and everything!” Ethan listened and nodded to himself as he peered into the room below his looking for more clues. He was right, he knew exactly what she was thinking. There were also unfortunately no visible clues to be found anywhere.

“Oh, someone actually held a service? That was nice of you guys, I’m sorry I missed it,” Ethan joked. He explained to Kinsley the entire story of how he died and came back to life, how he was kidnapped from Crey from the university that resurrected him, and how he was busted out by a bunch of superheroes. He left out the part about becoming one himself.

“So I’m back at the apartment building trying to figure out what happened to all my stuff, and it’s empty. Like, totally empty, I don’t even see a speck of dust in the place. What happened?” Ethan questioned.

“Oh, man, it was insane. Before we even knew you died, Crey Industries bought our building overnight. The morning afterwards we all found out through notes we had taped to our doors,” described Kinsley. “The first thing they did was clear out 4E, your room. The next day we found out we were all getting evicted, and they paid everyone big bucks to be off of the premises in 24 hours. Nobody knew you died for like an entire week!”

“Wait, what? Crey kicked everyone out in a day?” Ethan asked, completely bewildered by the idea of all of those families being uprooted.

“Yeah, dude,” she continued. “Most of us just left all of our old stuff and never looked back. I’m so loaded now from the settlement that I was able to replace everything I owned… and then some! You don’t understand, Ethan; Mama is rolling in cheddar now.”

“...good for you, Kins. So what happened to all of your old stuff? Did Crey auction it off?”

“No, they said they put it all in some storage facility near the docks and that we could come claim anything we left behind during their business hours if we wanted to. Hey, maybe they took your stuff there! I’ve got the address somewhere, if you just give me a second…” Her voice trailed off as she began rummaging through her purse, at least that’s what it sounded like over the phone.

“Found it!” she claimed with excitement. “I’ll just text it to you. I’ve gotta jet but we should go get coffee or something sometime! I can’t believe you’re really alive!”

“You can’t tell anyone, okay?” requested Ethan. “The moment people start figuring out who I am, people will be after me. You have to keep me a secret for now.”

Another momentary silence. Ethan knew it was an unusual request, but he had his fingers crossed and was holding his breath.

“...alright, Ethan. I’ll talk to you soon.”

As Kinsley hung up the phone, Ethan gave a sigh of relief. “Yeah, she’ll be cool. I don’t need to worry,” he reassured himself. Seconds later, his phone chimed as it received a GPS pin for the warehouse that might actually be holding everything he owned in his former life before the accident.

Ethan had a clear mission on his mind. He picked up his phone, stood up on the ledge of the laundromat’s roof, and jumped off towards the street. For a brief moment he enjoyed the feeling of freefall before bouncing off of a series of canopy awnings and landing comfortably on the sidewalk in an impossibly precise maneuver.

“Hm. I guess today’s not the day,” he said to himself before pulling up the map on his phone and making his way down to the docks. If it wasn’t his day to die, then it was going to be his day to get his stuff back. Ethan was determined to see this thing through.

It was well past midnight by the time he made it down to the storage yard were everything was being kept. Hidden in the hedges across the street from the entrance, Ethan monitored the place to see what he was getting himself into. It seemed to be low security, with nothing but two lot guards at the front. Nobody was coming or going, and beyond the gate looked completely deserted. He thought to himself that he might actually stand a chance at breaking in.

From his spot in the shadows at a safe distance, Ethan closed his eyes and tried to sense the souls of the two guards he needed to distract. It was easy to get a lock on them since there was nobody else around nearby to throw him off, and once he had his bearings he fed their souls a burst of pure life energy courtesy of the powers bestowed upon him after his death and rebirth.

The life energy hit the guards slowly at first. They got a little chatty and seemed to be getting super amped up about their graveyard shift.

“Whoo, man! I love this job!” said one of them as he stood up from his seat and stretched. In about a minute, the guard’s excitement evolved into panic.

“Why is my heart beating so fast?!” shrieked the standing guard as he realized something was wrong. The sitting one was already hyperventilating at this point and couldn’t get any words out whatsoever. Eventually, they both got so excited that they lost consciousness and collapsed onto the floor of their guardroom.

“That was easy,” Ethan remarked as he crawled out of his spot in the hedges and crossed the street over to where the two guards collapsed. He went up to one of them, grabbed the security key that was attached to his belt, and pressed a big red button on the guardroom console that he hoped might open the gate. With a low buzz, the gate pulled itself open and Ethan was on his way in.

Inside the compound was a single massive warehouse structure. With the key in hand, Ethan approached the steel door at the front of the warehouse. Suddenly, a light flashes on from behind him.

“Stop where you are! Put your hands up where I can see them!”

Not good. Ethan realized he must have missed a guard that was stationed somewhere on the inside. He raised his hands above his head and slowly turned around to see a young, frightened security guard uniform pointing a gun directly at Ethan's head.

“Hey, man. Are you going to fire or what?” asked Ethan bluntly.

“W-w-what?” stuttered the guard. It seemed to Ethan like it might be his first night on the job. Maybe making jokes wasn’t the productive approach here. Then again…

“The gun,” Ethan spoke as he nodded towards the weapon aimed at his face. “You can’t just tease someone like that and not follow through!”

He just couldn’t help himself. With a confused look on his face, the guard tried to radio the other two guards who were currently incapacitated at the front station.

“Why aren’t they responding? What did you do?!” shouted the guard after receiving radio silence from his co-workers.

“Relax, dude, they’re going to be alright.”

The guard was obviously not going to relax, however, and Ethan knew it. At the very moment the guard pulled the trigger, a portal of darkness swirled into formation behind him and a shadowy wolf creature leapt out of it, mauling the guard to the ground. The bullet whizzed by Ethan’s head, making a small tear in the cloth mask that covered his head right above his left ear. A close call yet again. Ethan didn’t even flinch.

“No! Bad dog!” Ethan shouted at the wolf who was ripping into the guard’s flesh. The wolf climbed off of the guard like it completely understood Ethan’s words. It gave a low growl as if to say ‘Not even a thank you? Dick.’, and then dissipated into thin air.

Ethan stared down at the eviscerated guard in horror. He pulled off his mask and dropped to his knees next to the guard and began trying to apply pressure to his wounds to stop the bleeding.

“No, no, no…” he muttered desperately the white of his costume became stained read with the blood that the guard was losing fast. “Come on, I can fix this.”

He tried to force some life energy into the guard to help him regenerate his wounds, but he was fading too quickly. Ethan stopped his efforts when he saw a strange glow illuminating inside of the guard’s chest as his breathing slowed. With the guard’s final breath, the glowing light moved up into his throat and popped itself out of his mouth. There it was, hovering in the air in front of his face. The guard’s soul. He was gone.

What if the guard didn’t have to be gone, though? In an act of pure instinct, Ethan grabbed the floating soul with his hands and shoved it in his mouth. He thought to himself that it felt remarkably slimy as he swallowed it down in one solid gulp. When it fully dawned on him how disgusting whatever he just did was, he heard a voice speaking in his head.

“...hello? What is this? Where am I?” it asked. It was the guard, as clear as day, a voice inside of Ethan’s head. It wasn’t an ideal situation, but he could work with it. This meant the guard wasn’t a goner yet.

“Hey, buddy,” began Ethan in a cautiously sweet voice. “So, I have some bad news.” He hesitated for a moment, giving a sigh before continuing.

“Now don’t be mad, but… you died. You’re dead.”

“...I remember!” cried the guard. “It was you! You did this to me!”

“No, no! I tried to save you! I literally saved your soul, man!” Ethan reacted out loud with his voice, feeling extra guilty for his role in the whole ordeal. “Look, before you know it, I’ll have you in a brand new body feeling better than new.”

“You damn well better! My wife has a baby on the way, and if my kid grows up without a father…” the guard’s voice trailed off.

Ethan froze momentarily. The stakes were a little bit higher here than he anticipated. He just had to keep his cool and follow through, and everything would work itself out. That’s how things normally went, after all. The guard continued to speak in his mind.

“I can feel you freezing up, you know. Look, don’t lose it yet. I know where to find a body. Go ahead and go inside the warehouse and you’re going to go into the locked room in the very back.”

Ethan pulled himself together a bit and then did exactly as the guard suggested. When he got to the back, he immediately saw what the guard had in mind as his new physical shell replacement.

“Is that--?” Ethan asked, shocked.

“It is. Crey keeps some of their old spare Paragon Protector models in this warehouse, among other things. I can’t think of a better new body than that, can you?”

“Yeah, but how do we open it?” questioned Ethan as he tapped on the cylindrical containment unit that housed a lifeless body in cryogenic stasis.

“Just pull that switch on the side panel and it should pop the whole thing open. Then get me out of here and I can probably do the rest on my own.”

Ethan pulled the switch and with the sound of a mechanical lock unlatching, the case split open and the frozen specimen was laid out in front of him. As if on queue, a sensation not unlike vomiting hit Ethan in the stomach and the guard’s soul came hurling out of his mouth, landing with a splat on the frozen body’s face. The soul slipped in between the body’s lips and down its throat.

That’s when Ethan noticed the shipping containers sitting across from the containment unit he had just opened for the guard. Painted big and in white on the doors of it was ‘4E’, Ethan’s old apartment number. This was it. He was going to get his whole life back.

He looked down at the guard, who was presumably okay but residing in a body that was nowhere near thawed out yet. Ethan asked, “So… we’re good here, right?”

The guard was clearly unable to respond. Ethan shrugged and walked his way over towards the shipping container full of his belongings. With some physical struggling, he was able to pull the container’s doors open and finally get to his things inside.

As he stood there among all the junk of his former life, it hit him that he didn’t even really want to keep most of it. Well, except for one thing. He climbed over some old furniture to grab his most prized possession which he could see stacked up on top of a shelf in the back. With a reach, he got his hands on it and pulled it out of the unit.


“Well, at least today wasn’t a total waste,” he commented as he carried the framed picture underneath his arm out the exit past the still-unconscious guards with a satisfied grin on his face.

Ethan felt good about leaving all of his old things behind. It felt like a fresh start, and after everything that he had been through to become Limbo up until this point, he was for the first time fully able appreciate having this new chance to be someone greater than whoever he used to be before.

For the first time in both his life and his death, Limbo’s future seemed bright for a change. It was nice.