[No pairings, I promise.] Everyone's favorite parade has a new addition.
I slowly rose from the bed, feeling normal again, as though I had never been hurt at all. I was still very weak, but managed to stumble toward the animal. The horse knelt to the ground for me to mount, and I slowly did. It felt good to be on a horse again. I glanced back at the hospital bed, where it looked like I was still lying there. Not breathing. The horse swiftly rose and began walking with a slight prance, going right through the walls as though they didn't exist. I felt my strength growing with each step he took. Suddenly, the plain white walls darkened and vanished, with the gray skyline of a city taking their place. I was in the middle of a road lined with debris, with a large decorated platform in the distance. The horse automatically started walking toward it. He seemed to know where he was going, while I was curious.
Someone was standing at one end of the platform, hands behind his back. I dismounted the horse and tentatively stepped onto the platform. He stood still, not speaking.
"What is all of this?" I asked quietly. He began laughing like it was all a joke and turned around.
"This is the Black Parade," he said grandly, sweeping an arm at the empty space that was now in front of him.
"No, I mean the city. Where is this?" Again he laughed.
"Nowhere, oblivion, nothing...whatever you choose to call it. I presume you know what has happened to you." I slowly nodded.
"I'm dead, aren't I?"
"It depends on your point of view." He briskly walked to the end of the platform, staring back down the path it had already taken.
"If you believe in their world," he said, motioning toward the empty space, "Then yes, you are dead." He crossed the platform once again.
"But if you believe in our world, then your life has just begun."
A large crowd of people appeared behind the platform, all blank-faced and morose. He smiled contentedly and turned around sharply to face the road ahead, conducting the air with one arm.
A song began with the sounds of a piano. As I listened to the words, I realized that it was a story- his story. Tears began to form in my eyes. It was very sad; I had never known anyone to die of cancer, but it sounded like a horrible death. The horse slowly stepped alongside the platform as it silently slid forward. I stood off to the side, still unsure of what to do. When the song ended, all of the people behind us disappeared into dark smoke. Only five people remained on the platform, all with frozen, sullen appearances. They, too, disappeared, all but the lead singer.
"So, how did you come to join our Black Parade?" I took a deep breath. I hadn't even fully realized my death yet. It seemed too surreal.
"I was hurt in a riding accident. The horse tried to jump, I told him not to, and he flipped over. It didn't end well. I was pretty much crushed under the weight of a 1200-pound animal, and he couldn't even get up because he broke a leg. I didn't think I was going to live. I didn't even think he was going to live." Tears were starting to build up in my eyes again. "I was admitted to the hospital, and they put me on morphine to ease the pain. I only lasted a few days on it. And so this horse came to retrieve me." He nodded.
"So that is how you wanted death to come for you." The statement surprised me, but I agreed nonetheless. He smiled again, gesturing at the space where the parade had been.
"This was how it came for me. The parade arrived at my front door without a leader. That was something I'd always wanted to do. It looks like I finally got my chance."
"...Am I going to be here forever?" I finally asked. He looked at me strangely.
"...I miss my family." It was true. They hadn't been there when I died. I had to know if they missed me as well.
"I can take you to see them, if you like," he said with a smile, offering me one gloved hand.
"Really?" I asked tentatively.
"You'll just have to trust me." I grasped his hand. The scenery around me changed from the desolate, dark city to the hospital room. My parents were there, speaking to one of the doctors. They listened with blank faces, neither happy nor sad. I couldn't hear what they were saying. I reached out one hand and touched cold glass.
"I'm...on the other side of the mirror?" I said quietly.
"Of course. How else would you be able to see without being seen?" he said. I continued to watch the people. My parents still seemed emotionless, not even paying attention to the fact that I was dead. I couldn't take it.
"Take me back. I...I've seen enough."
"As you wish." I turned around to see the dark cityscape staring back at me.
"Do you always do this?" I asked quietly as he took his place at the front of the float. He shook his head.
"Not always. In fact, before today, I had not visited the living world since I left it. It was almost a reunion."
"How did you die?" He did not answer that question quite as quickly. He turned to face me with a distant look. "I was supposed to have cancer, supposed to die within six months, supposed to do this and that. I spent enough time in hospitals to realize that such a death is the worst kind. You're dead before you die." He paused for a slight chuckle. "It is as though it is certain. I didn't like the idea of that. I wanted to determine my own death. So I did." I gasped in spite of myself.
"You killed yourself?"
"Morphine." I almost smirked. 'Isn't that a coincidence?' I looked at the space where the people had been not long ago. Though this world seemed strange to me, I wanted to explore it, to be a part of it. For the first time in a long time, I truly smiled.
"Can...can I join?" He looked at me as though he hadn't heard what I said. I repeated my question with a little more confidence.
"You do, of course, realize that you will not be able to leave." I nodded. At this point, it didn't matter much. I had nowhere else to go.
"Well then, my friend," he said, taking my hand again. The plain white gown I wore changed into fancier black attire that matched what many of the people were wearing. I knew there were dark circles forming under my eyes. I was one of them now.
"Welcome to the Black Parade."