Ghosted Soul - Book cover

Ghosted Soul

Sapir Englard

The Void



Not the everyday darkness of a moonless night, but a thick, inky blackness that seemed to stretch into oblivion.

I saw nothing. Heard nothing. Smelled, tasted, touched absolutely nothing except the darkness.

Panic seized me then, wrapping icy fingers around my—

Body? Did I even have a body?

I tried reaching out, but I couldn’t tell if my hand was near anything.

I wasn’t even entirely sure I had hands.

I tried rubbing them together and felt nothing.

I tried to run, kick, and flail, but with nothing but endless darkness extending as far as I could see, I had no idea if I was actually moving.

I tried heaving in great gobs of air, only to find out that there was no air to breathe.

And I had no lungs.

That’s when my panic turned into full-blown terror.

I screamed, but there was no sound. The silence pressed in on me.

What was going on? Where was I? Who was I?

There were no answers. There was only blackness. The abyss.

The void.


I could feel my soul shrinking, everything that was left of me being bent and twisted and crushed by the darkness.

Soon, I would be nothing.

Claire. A tiny voice, a whisper in my mind.

A scene flashed before my eyes. A little girl with tangled hair being pushed on a swing by her father.

An older girl, smiling and holding a university diploma.

Standing in line at a crowded coffee shop.

A stranger with brilliant green eyes. A flash of orange. A burst of pain.

Claire. That’s my name.

Like a star exploding in my mind, I remembered.

I was Claire Hill. I was twenty-two years old. I was drinking coffee when—

When what?

I tried to put a hand to the spot on my head where I had felt that immense shock of pain, but of course I had no hand to move.

A tremor of revulsion crawled through my mind, but I clamped it down and forced myself to think.

Come on, Claire. You were in the coffee shop.

And now you’re here. In the void.

The void. Even the word sounded empty and dead.


My heart—if I had one—shuddered to a halt.

A pain in my head. Then darkness.

I think—I think I…



I had no idea how long I drifted after realizing where I was and what it meant.

Dead. I was dead.

I was never hungry, never tired. There were no days or nights to keep track of, nowhere to go and nothing to see.

This was death?

Where were the pearly gates and the golden trumpets?

Even dancing devils with red-hot pitchforks would be better than an eternity of this—


If I focused hard, I could picture myself as I might look right now. Floating on a lazy river of night-black emptiness.

Forever alone in a bottomless chasm of death…

I can’t be the only one here. An insistent little voice jolted into my grim thoughts.

An image came to my mind of myself as I had looked when I was alive.

My arms were crossed over my chest, and my hazel eyes were narrowed with anger.

No one gets their own personal void. Try to reach out!

How? I didn’t have any hands.

Stop making excuses. Get your act together and come up with a plan!

Okay. A plan.

Once more, I tried feeling the blackness around me, trying to sense any change that could indicate the presence of another soul.

I pushed out, imagining slim threads slipping through the darkness.

Spreading without direction.

When these mental lines finally did brush up against something, I wanted to scream—but I had no mouth.

“Hello?” I called out to the glimmer of—something—that I felt.


But I could still feel a presence, wavering in the stillness of the void.

“Hello?” I called again.


A distant voice sounded, and I didn’t know if I had heard the word with my ears or my mind.

Either way, excitement coursed through me.

At least I wasn’t alone.

“My name is Claire,” I said to the voice.


I heard it again, like a gentle breath against my thoughts.

Where are we?

The voice was clearer now.

I wondered how long she’d been here—if she did not yet realize she was dead.

“I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but I think this is the afterlife.”

I’m dead?

“I...I think so. You’re the first person I’ve met here so far.”

Oh God. I could hear the panic and fear in her voice.

No—I didn’t—I can’t be—I never meant to—

Her thoughts became a frenzied jumble.

“I’m so sorry, Chloe. Is there anything I can do?”

Even as I said it, I knew it was a stupid question.

Her voice in my head turned cold and scathing. Just leave me alone.

I hesitated, rebuffed by her harsh tone but understanding that she had just been dealt a heavy blow.

“Okay,” I said in my mind. “I’m still here if you need to talk though.”


We sat quietly in the darkness. I wondered if talking had been a terrible idea.

Claire? The voice brushed against my thoughts. ~Is this it? Is this forever?~

“I don’t know,” I said honestly. “Maybe you and I can work together, try to find some others?”

Why bother? We’re completely fucked.

Before I could come up with a response to her pessimistic words, a strange buzzing sensation filled my mind.

Not the buzzing of a beehive, but a low, pulsing thrum, like standing too close to electrical towers.

If I had skin, it would be prickled with goosebumps.

Claire, do you feel that? Chloe’s voice sounded frightened.

“Yes. What is it?” I asked.

Why the hell would I know?

“I don’t know!”

The buzzing grew louder.

A narrow beam of light appeared out of the void. It stretched down in a jagged line, like a tear in the fabric of reality itself.

I shook with terror. What was this thing? Was it dangerous?

What was it searching for?

The rip in the void became a gaping hole, still blazing with that unnatural glowing light.

The beam widened until it encompassed us both.

I threw up arms that didn’t exist as a shield against its bright beam.

The buzzing receded, and now I could hear Chloe’s hysterical screams in my thoughts.

Claire! Help! It’s taking me!

“No!” Without thinking, I reached out again with those mental tendrils and locked them around the incorporeal orb of Chloe’s essence.

Claire! Her screams were shrill.

“Hang on! I’ve got you!” But even as I mentally shouted the words to her, I felt a force begin pulling on Chloe’s soul.

A force with a grip like iron.

I couldn’t be alone again. I couldn’t return to floating in that endless abyss.

Wherever this force was taking us, it had to be better than this.

I gripped my mental tendrils tighter, allowing the iron tug of the light to pull us both up and out of the void.

“Chloe? I’m still here!”

What’s happening, Claire? I’m scared!

“Me too.”

The light swallowed us both. There was a constricting sensation, like I was being pulled through a very long straw.

My vision swam and blurred, and I closed my eyes against the wave of dizziness.


Silence. Again.

I opened my eyes. Blackness surrounded me. My heart clenched in despair.

No. No more. I can’t stay in that place.

Then I realized that there were bright lights twinkling in the darkness above me.


I took a deep, shuddering breath and felt my chest rise and fall.

Air. Lungs.

I heaved in huge, greedy gasps of it, savoring the feeling of oxygen flowing through my veins.

The night was quiet and chilly.

Under the silence, I could hear the chirping of crickets.

On the air came the fragrant perfume of late-blooming flowers. The autumn smells of Texas.

Of home.

I shifted my eyes from the sky above me and saw rows of smooth, gray rock stretching over the moonlit field.

A cemetery.

I was lying in a cemetery.

I jolted, but my limbs felt limp and detached. I opened my mouth to cry out, but it was gritty and dry.

Like it had been filled with dirt.

My heart pounded, and I began to feel dizzy from all the air that had suddenly rushed into my lungs.

My vision swam, and I shut my eyes, trying to block out the sudden rush of thoughts.

Claire? A voice echoed in my mind.

A familiar, female voice. But not my own.

Claire, what’s happened?

Still lying flat on my back, I raised a hand to my forehead, taking a moment to appreciate the fact that I had hands again.

Chloe? Is that you? I called out in my thoughts.

Yes! I’m here but I’m…I think I’m stuck.

What do you mean you’re stuck? I asked.

I mean, I can see and hear and everything…but you’re the one steering the ship.

The ship? You mean…

Yeah. Pretty sure we’re stuck together in one body.

Her thoughts hit me like steady drops of rain.



One body.

Whose body? I asked, trying to maintain my hold on this increasing insanity.

Only one way to find out, genius, Chloe said sarcastically in my mind.

That’s not helpful. I struggled to rise onto my elbows, turning to see a small wooden cross on the edge of the nearest grave.

A wreath of white lilies was draped around it, the blooms drooping in the thick summer air.

Terror rushed through my veins as I read the printed words on the temporary headstone.

Or should I say Chloe’s veins.


She saw it too.

That complicates things a bit.

I had to agree.

A high-pitched yelp sounded in my brain. It was an utterly inhuman sound, like an echo from a nightmare.

My blood turned to ice. What else had we brought out of the void?

Oh my God. Chloe’s voice rose in panic.

What? Are you okay! I shouted back at her.

I tried to rise to my feet, but my legs were longer than I was used to, and I fell back onto the ground gracelessly.

It’s…it’s my wolf.

What do you mean it’s YOUR wolf? I demanded.

My stomach felt sick. I fought against the urge to vomit.

I…I’m a werewolf.

A thick ball of cement dropped into my stomach.

You were a werewolf?

Yes, dammit! But…something is wrong. We shouldn’t be—separated like this.

What does that even mean?

I have no idea, Claire! Do you think any of this has ever happened to me before!

Okay, okay, stop yelling.

Don’t you tell me to stop yelling! My wolf is part of my soul, Claire! How is this even possible!

I don’t know! Just…give me a minute to think.

I struggled to my—or rather, Chloe’s—feet. My head swam, and I nearly collapsed back onto the soft dirt of the cemetery.

I tried to think logically, to figure out exactly what was happening.

I was dead, but it seemed that I was now resurrected.

Except that arrow of light had been focused on Chloe, not on me.

I was in Chloe’s body, not my own.

Along with her soul.

And that of her werewolf.

I realized Chloe had been right from the beginning.

We were totally fucked.

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