THE MANDATORY SIX, Part Six: Alix Twelve 10/12 | 10:02 a.m.

Alix paced around her apartment, a clean space with light colors and minimal clutter. A simple design for calm of mind, she liked to tell her subscribers. Right now, those simple lines were blurred by tears.

She wasn’t sure what to call this feeling. Panic? Adrenaline? Nauseating excitement?

For years she’d thought of David Youngstone. She’d repeated his name in her head, each time forcing herself to focus on the memory of his face. It was all she had left of him, and from day one, she’d been aware that it would fade if she didn’t work at keeping it alive. Every night, before falling asleep, she’d run through the memory again, from the moment he’d walked up beside her after school to the last time she’d ever looked at him. She remembered the loving touch of his hands when he’d shared that vision of her life. He had a magical jewel called a vauxna that allowed him to see such things. She could still see it glimmering in the low light of the diner.

Everything he’d predicted had come true. His visit had been a pivotal experience in her young life, giving her the strength to run away from home, which, despite being an unwise decision on paper, had turned out well for her. She’d shared her story with her audience, but his part had remained a secret. It was more than the worry people wouldn’t believe her. It was like somehow, she’d known this moment was coming.

 

She stared at her laptop on the desk. The video was still open, an orange blur of streetlight against a night sky visible on the paused screen.

She got out her vlogging camera and held it up. “Hey guys,” she said, running her fingers through her auburn hair as she let the camera adjust to the light coming in the sliding-glass door. “So, I was gonna film a video about stress management today, but something really weird just happened.” She stared at the camera. “I have chills all over my body even trying to talk about it.”

She stopped the recording and set the camera down. Maybe she should think twice about this. With over a million subscribers now, deleting a video and hoping no one would notice wasn’t an option. If she put this out there, out there it would be. Normally, that was no big deal. She’d shared every detail of her transition journey, and it didn’t get more personal than that. It was in her nature to share, but this … Something told her this was different.

She fixed herself a strawberry smoothie with Greek yogurt and sat down at the computer, heading straight for Reddit. David Youngstone, she typed into the search bar. A list of subreddits popped up, the top one named after him. It had fifty-seven subscribers. The title of the pinned post read: IF YOU’VE HAD A DAVID YOUNGSTONE EXPERIENCE, PLEASE SHARE HERE.

It opened into a large post full of information and links. There were only two comments, one from a user called golden_dahlia76567 and another from someone called Thisshitreallyhappened111. She quickly learned the latter user was Daniel Hale, the guy from the Crocodile Terrorist movies.

Her phone buzzed with a video call from her boyfriend Jay, who was working a brunch shift at one of the most popular restaurants in Los Angeles. They’d both worked there part-time since moving here a couple of years ago.

Jay appeared in one of the seats on the restaurant’s back patio in all his dirty blonde glory.

“Hey babe.”

“Hey,” she said. “Oh my god. Something like … astronomically crazy just happened. David Youngstone is back.”

Jay narrowed his eyes. “What?”

“I’m not kidding. He came through a portal and appeared to other people. There’s a subreddit about it, and I’m sitting here trying to decide if I should tell my story—”

“What do you mean, a portal?”

“Look up the video. Just search David Youngstone. It’s the top thing.”

“You didn’t say anything about a portal when he came to see you.”

“There wasn’t one. Maybe I didn’t see it. Okay, I think I’m gonna tell my story anonymously on here and see what happens.”

She left Jay to check out the video and began typing out her post, leaving out any identifying details, like the reason she’d been suicidal that day. It was the other part that really mattered. David’s part. The way he’d treated her with such kindness. The way he’d walked with her down the street, butterflies in her stomach every time she glanced over at him. She was becoming a butterfly then too, not fully formed but ready to work on it. All she’d needed was a push.

After finishing the post, she tried to go about her day as normal. She filmed the video and wrote the blog she’d planned, struggling to keep her focus the whole time. At 3:30, she went to meet Jay at the restaurant, where she had avocado toast with eggs and a Bloody Mary. They went and handled some errands, did an aerial yoga class, got some groceries, and headed back home. They were getting set up on the couch with food and a TV show to binge when she checked her reddit account again. The message symbol glowed orange.

“Oh my god,” she said. “People responded.”

The first two messages were public responses from the users who’d already posted their stories. She’d read those in a minute. It was the latest response, a private message from a user called Ghost_Collector, that caught her eye.

Jay read along over her shoulder as her eyes scanned the words.

Hey there,

My name is Robert. I just read your story. I don’t want to post mine in public, but I met David Youngstone too. Like you, he came to me on a day I was thinking about ending my life. For years, I’ve kept that to myself. I figured he was just some kid, not a real time traveler. Now, I’m not so sure. On top of that, I’ve recently gone through something that brought me a great deal of healing from my past. Something that seems could have only occurred thanks to divine intervention of some form. Because of these experiences, I’ve changed my entire worldview, and now I want to reach out and find others who might understand. I guess that’s the point of this message.

Feel free to ignore this if it makes you uncomfortable, but if you want to possibly get together in some way and discuss our experiences, please let me know. I’ve already contacted Daniel from the video and Ella, who also had a David Youngstone experience. We’d all like to meet up if you’re willing.

Hoping to hear from you,

Robert Johnson

Alix pursed her lips and looked at Jay. “What do you think?”

“I think you’ve waited a long time for answers.”

He was right, although “waited” was probably the wrong word. For the longest time, she’d accepted it as a weird experience she’d likely never understand. And maybe that was still true. But at least now, there were others who got just how difficult that lack of understanding was. And maybe, if they were lucky, they’d somehow come together and figure this out.

She took a deep breath and began writing her response to Robert.

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Discover the rest of the story in BEYOND MY DYING MIND, available now on Amazon.

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Beyond My Dying Mind: A Life of Struggle, and the Chance to Make Things Right

Hello world. It’s happening. I’m a legit author with a book on Amazon again. I have no idea how to feel or where to go from here.

I don’t have a marketing plan. I don’t really have much experience. Since the story involves all these triggering subjects like suicide, social anxiety, and the afterlife, I want to discuss it with sensitivity, but I’m not sure how. What’s the correct way to promote a book in which characters travel through time to stop people from killing themselves? How do you send a message of hope and inspiration to help people stay alive in this world when you’ve struggled with the idea so much yourself?

Wanting Off This Rock but Wondering if the Next Rock Might be Worse

 

The book stars Noland Randall and Jasmine North, both in their early thirties before death, both losers in their own eyes. Now, in some in-between realm where souls often end up post-suicide, they can see there would’ve been much happiness had they kept going.

One of the factors that’s kept me breathing during the darkest times in my life is the belief that killing one’s physical body doesn’t end anything. I could never get past the idea that I’d wake up in some twisted realm like Spine Desert, the opening location in the book. Or worse, that my death would force the burden of suffering onto others, both the people left behind, and perhaps a new existence too, reincarnated into a world like this one carrying similar negative patterns and traits.

I’m happy to say I’m doing pretty good these days, but mental health is a delicate thing that can never be taken for granted. That’s a point I tried to make in this book. Even if someone is saved from suicide, they aren’t cured. They could still become suicidal again a week later. Staying healthy and happy is a process with no end point.

Social Anxiety | I Love You, but I’d Rather Jump from a Moving Vehicle than Interact with You

 

Not really. But that’s how intense social anxiety can feel. Terrifying. Crushing. Exhausting.

Since the living Jasmine’s crippling social anxiety plays such a huge role in the story, I thought discussing my own experiences might be a way to introduce this book to the world.

I can be social at times. If I’m in the mood, I can talk with someone for hours, and I enjoy meeting new people, too. But often, I prefer to be in my own world, and sometimes, even after a lot of time healing, I find it difficult to be around people at all.

If you’ve experienced social anxiety, I know you relate to the waves of dread rolling over your body. The thumping heartbeat. The shaking hands and trembling knees. The way it feels to see yourself become a high master in the art of avoiding people, leveling up your game every time you make a successful dodge. For the living Jasmine, this was her everyday life.

What’s helped me the most with social anxiety has been self-acceptance. Most of my anxious feelings and fears are just about wanting to avoid awkwardness, and the only reason for awkwardness is not being able to be yourself or speak the truth.

That’s the point of this blog. To say sorry if I’ve abandoned conversations, ignored messages, or not shown up to things. Sorry if I’ve ever avoided you in person. It’s not about you. I’m probably cool with you, and I might even like you. It doesn’t mean I always want to talk. The more I understand myself, set boundaries, and give myself permission to say no to things, the less reason there is to worry. And in turn, the more energy I have for people when the timing is right.

It’s the same for the living Jasmine, she just can’t see it. She’s spent so long isolated in a prison of her own creation that she’s lost the exit door. Because of her anxiety and PTSD, she thinks there’s no hope of ever having friends or being a healthy person again. Whether Noland can manipulate the course of life on Earth enough to change that in time, the story will tell.

If the Most Amazing Person was Standing in Front of You, Would You Feel Good Enough for Them?

 

This book tells of hungering for someone who feels out of reach. I’ve known that feeling. I’ve asked myself the above question and gotten no in response. It showed me what I still needed to work on. Healing is a process, and there are no quick fixes, but life is bursting with abundant potential, even if we can’t always see it. That’s the overall message I hope comes across in this book.

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Fans of What Dreams May Come, The Butterfly Effect, and 13 Reasons Why might enjoy BEYOND MY DYING MIND, a time travel fantasy available on Amazon.

BMDM_COVER_FINAL VERSION