Fog rose up from the roaring expanse of water below me, chilling me to the bone as it met my exposed arms and legs. Clouds draped around the sun, barricading any sunlight that could've brightened the steep ledge below me. Droplets of rain collided with the floor like angels who had fallen from heaven.
I took a deep breath.
Strong wind battered me from all directions, and I had to firmly root my toes into the hard rock in order to avoid shifting from my delicate position. About 80 feet below me, sharp rocks stuck up like daggers, causing the rushing water to swirl in awkward directions while fighting its way through.
Slowly, I removed my jacket, chucking it with a trembling hand over the cliff and into the havoc below. It made a satisfying "sploosh" noise as it hit the river. My jacket was barely visible through the fog, and I could only just spy it's black hood bobbing up and down as it was dragged through the maze of stormy blue.
I closed my eyes for a second. In my head, I could picture my mother, standing by the window, tears streaming down her frail face, eyes stained red permanently. I could almost feel my father go to comfort her, his own distraught figure shaking with every movement.
A small tear escaped my closed eyes, battling its way down my cheek and rolling off my chin. It was swept up by the extreme wind as soon as it made the jump from chin to neck, and was carried away into the storm without so much as a goodbye.
Picturing a tear-drop distraught by being caught in a storm was a weird thing to picture before dying.
I took a deep breath. The smell of salt beneath me was enough to throw my senses off balance, and I grimaced as my hand loosened its firm grip on the drenched rock to my left.
My phone was dragged out of my short's pocket, and I grabbed it just in time before it could be carried over the edge. The screen was cracked, and a few of the keyboard's buttons were missing. However, the monitor still flashed when I clicked it on, and my eyes met a message in bold writing.
"Don't do this."
A small picture of a girl holding a teddy was attached to the message. She was clutching the bear close to her tiny breast, her eyes wide and frightened. Golden hair hung around her frail face in tufts, barely concealing the large bruises scattered over her miniature frame.
One after the other, tears cascaded down my quivering face. In one quick motion, I drew back my arm as far as I could without causing disruption to my footing, and propelled the battered mobile over the cliff edge.
Outraged that someone would have the nerve to send me that picture, I let out a blood-curdling scream, which seemed to pierce the fog around me and calm the water below.
I barely noticed my bare foot skid off the rock.
It happened too quickly. One minute my arm was safely latched onto the rock to my side, the next it was trailing behind me as I rocketed off the side of the cliff. My t-shirt caught on a branch jabbing out of the cliff-face as I screamed, but was quickly ripped in two.
Wind met me with a chilly grin, grabbing me in violent arms and abandoning me a second later. I frantically reached out, scraping my nails against the flat surface of the cliff-face. Blood poured out of my torn nails as I was sent flying away from the rock by another gust of wind.
Gasping for breath, I struggled to grab something, anything, as I span down to meet a watery end. My hair blocked my view of above, but I still felt as though the fog was somehow mocking me, a partner in crime with the clouds who kept the sun prisoner.
Deciding there was no point in trying to save myself, I closed my eyes and prepared to meet eternal darkness like an old friend. Truthfully, the dark could not have been further than a friend. To me, dark felt like a cage, shielding you from the light and taunting you with nightmares and pain.
Tumbling down into the expanse of blue below me, thoughts raced through my mind like images on a projector, showing me a movie of scenarios that felt close to me and yet far away.
One particular scene seemed to drag on forever. My eldest brother and my younger brother sat playing chess across the table, as my mother flipped through a book with delicate fingers. My father watched my brother's chess game avidly, while I sat writing in a small notepad neatly. That had been the last time I'd seen my family together.
And that was only three hours ago.
Expecting black nothingness to meet my unwilling self at any moment, I let my mind fade out to a monochrome buzz and relaxed myself. My mother had always told me that you must greet death with no fear, or satisfaction will creep over the beast and you will give the impression of losing.
"Death is not a loss," she'd always say. "it's simply fate and something you must learn to cope with."
My father would argue for hours against this, saying: "Now, Paula, let's not forget that there is no life after death. Being afraid of the end is simply natural!"
Thinking back on it, my mother and father argued frequently about life after death. My mother was a devout Christian, while my father was an athiest scientist who's only real goal in life was proving religion wrong. Me and my siblings had never really had the motive to form an opinion on it.
Now I was about to discover the great adventure for myself.
I wished for a second that I could tell my family what really happens after you die. But that's cheating, it's defying the whole purpose of the game. Life only exists so that you can die. At least, that had always been my pessimistic opinion.
When my head finally met the water, it was not death who greeted me.
It was Satan himself.