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Justin stared down at the body on the street in shock. The body wasn’t moving. Nor was the car, that just a second was racing down the street. Everyone around him was moving, running towards the body, in panic, but he felt like he was stuck in slow motion, feet rooted to the ground even as the crowd flowed around him. Their shouts seemed to mingle into a low buzzing noise in his ear. He didn’t need to look at the body to know it was his own.

“Hey.” The simple word cut through the buzzing and beeping of the people around him and broke him out of his shock, turning to stare at the person addressing him. He half expected to see a skull staring back at him, cloaked in black, but this girl looked shocking normal. She could walk through any crowd and not stand out, but somehow Justin knew who she was all the same.

“Uh… Hey.” Justin fumbled, finally finding his voice. “Um, this might be a dumb question… But I’m dead, aren’t I?” The girl smiled sadly.

“Yep. Dead as a doornail. I’m sorry.” The words held such finality to them, but he couldn’t help but rebel against them anyway.

“But…” He gestured at the crowd surrounding his body, “What about them? What if one of them is a doctor? Maybe I still have a chance?” The girl looked down at the panicking people herself, taking a few steps towards them. The sounds of the crowd droned in the back of his mind, repetitive like the whine of malfunctioning appliances. She laid a hand on the closest head, though the woman didn’t seem to notice.

“This is Mrs Patterson. She’s a first grade teacher at the school down the street.” She pointed out another person. “That’s Jonathan Dirk. He runs the restaurant behind us.” Lastly, she pointed at the young woman near his head. “And that’s Jillian. She was driving the car too fast because she was late for her first day at an office downtown. Poor girl, she’s going to have nightmares about today for the rest of her life.” The girl looked back up. “None of them are doctors, Justin. By the time the paramedics get here, you’ll have been dead for too long for them to revive you. I’m sorry.”

Justin stared at his would-be rescuers in disbelief, as the sounds of the accident rose louder about him, drowning out his thoughts. There was an incessant beeping drilling into his brain, like the sound of the car’s blinker signal, slowly rising in volume.

“This has to be a mistake.” He said, staring at Jillian’s distraught face. She had such a lovely face, though it was twisted up in distress. He tried to touch her reassuringly, but his hand passed straight through her. “I… NO! This is wrong! I had…” His brain scrambled for a reason, grasping at one last straw. The bracelet! Everyone got one the day they were born. It was plain, but it had a number on it, a countdown for the number of days until you found your soulmate.

“My bracelet! The one that says when you’ll meet your soulmate! It had a number on it still, I know.” He grabbed his wrist, only to find it bare. He looked down at his body, realizing he’d left it at home. But it had such a large number on it, there was no way it had run out yet. The strange girl flicked her wrist, then held it up in one hand.

“You humans always invent the most clever things.” She said, turning it over. “But I wonder how many of you actually understand what you created.” She showed him the small digital display, still reading “1624.”

“You see this dot?” She asked, pointing out the small indicator. Justin nodded. He’d never really considered it much. Never really considered the watch much either, the date was always so far away he’d never given it a second thought. But now it seemed to hold his life in it’s balance. “It means that you’ll meet your soulmate in the afterlife.” Justin stared at her numbly as she picked up his wrist, strapping the bracelet back on. The beeping from the crash seemed to get louder yet as he stared hopelessly at the scene, at the strange girl, and at the lovely Jillian, crying beside her car in her new suit.

“Are you ready to go, Justin?” The girl asked. He shook his head, his brain still desperately trying to make excuses.

“No, this isn’t real… This a dream…” He shook his head, trying to clear it. “This a dream and that’s my alarm and any moment I’ll wake up in my bed and…”

“That isn’t your alarm, Justin.” The girl sadly pointed down at the scene. “That’s Jillian’s bracelet.”