Original art by Molly McCaffrey
Original art by Molly McCaffrey
Molly McCaffrey

Fight or Flight: Chapter 1


This is the first installment of a brand-new column for The SIREN! Our readers have been asking for a choose-your-own-adventure column for some time–and here it is, hosted by staff writer Harrison Ezar!

Read along, and when you reach the end, cast your vote as a comment. We’ll tally them up, and the winner will determine the next direction of this continuing story!

“Welcome to the afterlife.”

The voice snaps me out of whatever daze I was in, but it still takes an unusual amount of effort to open my eyes.

Can’t say I was thinking about the afterlife when I was alive, but this wasn’t what I ever could have imagined. Instead of clouds and golden gates, I’m in a heavy wooden chair in front of a wide desk. The walls are filled with bookcases that I’d say are floor to ceiling, but the ceiling seems to be never-ending.

A beautiful woman is the first thing to catch my eye, the window framing her figure. Her hair is the same color as the wispy blue-white of outside, but her eyes are a darker shade. She’s ominous and wonderful.

“Ariana Grande was right,” I gasp. “God is a woman.”

“I’m not God. God’s got better things to fill her time with.” The woman pulls a folder towards her, flipping it open with unnecessary dramatic flair. “Certainly more important things than the Angel Academy.”

“A huh?”

She doesn’t bother with a response for me. Instead, she’s muttering under her breath as she flicks lighting-quick through the file. There are a few photos that I can catch glimpses of, and they’re all of some girl with wavy blonde hair and a wide nose. A name repeated in bold font jumps out at me from nearly every page.

“Who’s Anderson?” I ask.

“You are, Miss Anderson.”

I dig my fingers into the wooden arms of my chair. Something deep inside of me is fighting, screaming “not Miss, not Miss, you do not go by Miss,” even though it can’t come up with any better term for me.

“I don’t remember dying,” I say instead.

“For traumatic deaths, we don’t leave those memories inside the consciousness.” She smiles, but it’s forced. Probably because she’s had to show sympathy for countless people, but it still doesn’t make me any less angry that she won’t waste any human emotion on me. “But it’s all right here.”

“Yeah? So, how’d I die?”

I lean back, trying to give her a smug look, but I fall back against something that hurts. It’s like a reflex that I’ve never had before when wings spring out from where I guess I had them folded against my back.

Yeah. OK. Cool and totally normal and all other good things.

She answers my question like I said nothing. “Well, there was a power outage the morning you woke up. You tripped while putting on your pants and the flashlight you were holding in you mouth was forced back into your head-”

“Huh. So, that was how I died.”

“No, there’s more.” She flips a page, clears her throat, and picks up where she left off. “Your family was not home, so you ran outside for help, only to be struck by a truck advertising cream cheese in deodorant sticks as a ‘snack on the go.’ Your most recent situationship happened to be the first one to the scene where they revived you. You awoke, and proclaimed in a voice that the paramedics said was much like the beloved cartoon character Sid the Sloth, that you had received “the kiss of life.”

“You promptly died afterward.”

“Dare I say that you didn’t have to be that specific with the details,” I say.

She shrugs, but even the way she shrugs is impossibly formal. “You asked.”

A folded white dress appears on the table at the same moment she waves her hand for the file to disappear. It’s undoubtedly for me to wear, yet I know it’s not something I’d wear. No matter how hard I try, I can’t remember what I wore before I died–other than pants that one time, I guess–but I have a feeling dresses weren’t my go-to.

“The bathroom is out the door to the right.”

I quickly change out of the robe I’m somehow wearing, tying my now light blue hair back with the belt. Some invisible speaker system rings, but I don’t know where to snap my attention to because it sounds like it’s coming from all around me.

“The mandatory meeting for all pupils will commence shortly. Please make your way to the Crystal Banquet Hall.”

You should now:

  1. Sneak off to investigate the Academy
  2. Look for allies at the meeting

Cast your vote in the comments below!

View Comments (4)
About the Contributor
Harrison Ezar is a senior in his first (and last) year in Lincoln Park’s writing and publishing major. He writes for Park’s People on The SIREN. While this is his first time doing journalism, he is passionate about writing novels.

Comments (4)

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  • E

    EllaFeb 8, 2024 at 7:05 pm

    I loved it so much! I get bored easily when reading but I was intrigued with what was going on! I want option two to happen personally!!

  • M

    MaryFeb 8, 2024 at 2:53 pm

    1. Sneak off!

  • R

    RileyFeb 8, 2024 at 2:51 pm

    Definitely sneak off. Yolo

  • A

    AshlyFeb 8, 2024 at 10:26 am

    Definitely sneak off to investigate