On the 24th of July, 1991, two people would wake up in a world that wasn't their own. Neither of them would remember what happened on the day they left their own world. They would have no idea that they'd died.
This was a good thing, because if they remembered the circumstances of their death they would definitely do it again.
Because they were idiots.
On October 31st, 2018, two best friends were trick-or-treating. This was unusual only in the fact that these two friends were twenty three years old and one of their 'treats' was a stolen car.
Their version of trick-or-treating didn't involve sweets or throwing eggs at houses like it had been when they were younger. Trick-or-treating was a competition for who could cause the most chaos before midnight, and it was one of the many reasons they'd been to court. Halloween over the years had led to fines, community service, and probation.
This year they'd upped their game.
Because they were drunk.
Sam didn't know when the police had been called. Probably somewhere between them setting a garden shed on fire and crashing their stolen car into a BMW parked on someone's driveway. Their new car had a cracked windshield, a flat tyre, and nothing to hold onto.
It was that last one that Sam was focused on as Jim took a corner at a speed she would have been leery of even if they weren't drunk and being pursued.
"Stop trying to dictate my life! Shut up or I'll kill us all!" Jim was shouting, nearly rear-ending a Toyota as he whipped through traffic.
The GPS ignored the threat and recalculated for the fourteenth time.
"Turn left!" Sam pointed at the sign up ahead. "That's the way to the beach!"
Jim wrenched the wheel to the side, nearly missing the turn and taking the side mirror off a passing car.
"Oh my God I'm going to throw up." Sam complained. "I knew we shouldn't have done those tequila shots."
"Turn around when possible." The GPS instructed. Jim swerved angrily into the next lane. Sam grabbed the wheel and brought the car back to their own side of the road.
"Turn around when possible."
"Sammy, get rid of her!"
Sam grabbed the GPS and threw it out the window. Jim let out a sigh of relief.
Catching sight of a police car up ahead, Jim directed the car into oncoming traffic, the headlights of the cars blinding them for a second. The car jolted when they went over the curb and then they were speeding through a car park to reach the road on the other side.
Jim slammed his hand on the radio. Rap music blared from the speakers immediately, almost drowning out the sound of the sirens.
Sam ejected the disk and threw it out the window.
Glancing in the rear view mirror, Jim sighed. The police were still following them. "Don't they have anything better to do?" He let go of the steering wheel to search his pockets and Sam reached over to steer. "I've lost my fags!"
"I've got them." Sam reminded him. "Take the wheel."
"I'm not Jesus." Jim said, but he did put his hands back on the steering wheel. Sam put the bottle of vodka between her feet so she could find the cigarettes.
"Here." She said when she finally found the box, handing it over. Jim pulled one from the pack and put his knees on the wheel to steer while he tried to get the lighter to work.
Sam grabbed the vodka and took a swig. "Ack!" She pulled a face, looking around the floor by her feet. "Where's the lemonade?"
"In the back." Jim said, and she handed him the bottle so she could turn around to check the seats, sparing the police cars behind them a glance.
"There's four of them now." She told him as she climbed into the back, kicking him in the shoulder as she went. "Sorry."
"Ow." Was the response.
The bottle of lemonade had fallen on the floor, rolling under the front seat when Jim took another sharp turn. Sam lay down across the back seat to find it. "Hey," she grabbed the book that had been abandoned by the owner of the car under the driver's seat. "Look!"
Jim looked in the mirror when Sam held up the book. "Harry Potter?"
"Yup." She tossed the book into the front, grabbed the slightly battered bottle of lemonade, and climbed back into her seat. "I haven't read them in ages."
"I've only seen the films." Jim said, flicking ash from his cigarette out the window and looking behind them, red and blue still flashing in the mirrors. "I thought they would have given up by now. It's getting late, aren't they bored yet?"
"We're way more interesting than a few kids egging houses." Sam unscrewed the top off the lemonade and poured half of it out the window, then topped it up with the vodka. "We can lose them at the beach."
Jim nodded. "We can swim off into the sea. It's foolproof."
"No. No sea. I'm not going anywhere near the sea."
"I'll drive the car into the sea, Sammy. You have no choice." He made a grabby gesture. "Gimme."
Sam handed him the bottle and flipped through the book. "Do you want me to read you a story?"
"You shouldn't distract the driver, Sammy." Jim said, then took a generous swig from the bottle. "That's dangerous."
Sam snorted and put her feet up. Turning to a random page, she cleared her throat. "Harry dodged the Smeltings stick and went to get the post." She read aloud. Jim, in the middle of taking a drink, choked.
"You made that up!" He accused once he stopped coughing.
Jim let go of the wheel to try and take the book from her and Sam held it out the window to keep it out of his reach. Then they both noticed two very important things at the same time.
"The beach!" Sam said gleefully at the sight of the distant dark water out the window.
"Midnight!" Jim pointed at the digital clock on the dashboard. "I win! Three years in a row! I'm unstoppable -"
Jim turned his gaze back to the road just in time to see their single headlight shine on the sharp corner ahead, the end of the road leading to a long drop to the rocks below.
A second before the car went barrelling over the cliff, Jim said one word that summed up their situation perfectly.
It was a word that had been said many times in their life, and it was a fitting last word for two idiots who had ended their lives by starting a police chase because they were trick-or-treating.
Or, it would have been, had that been the end of their lives.
After all, tonight was the night the veil between the living and the dead was the thinnest.
As the stolen car hit the rocks below, deep in the Department of Mysteries a physical manifestation of a door separating life and death became active for the first time in centuries.
In the archway, ancient and cracked and crumbling, the tattered black curtain fluttered in a whisper of voices.
There were no Unspeakables to witness this, no one aware that their assumption that whatever came through the Veil had to enter it in the first place was wrong. Not one of them knew that a world could exist behind that black curtain, that their studies of space and thought and time around such a powerful artefact could create a doorway, that evidence of their world could slip through the cracks and manifest itself in another.
There was a hole in the fabric of the universe, and that torn piece hung in the Department of Mysteries.
In a world without magic existed a story known by millions. On October 31st, 2018, the story was complete. On July 24th, 1991, the story was just beginning.
And in this place of mystery where questions were asked and none were answered, the door between those two worlds opened.
An impossible set of circumstances - a single moment, the space between one breath and the next, when two lives ended at midnight reading the story of this other world - and the natural course of events was disrupted.
Two displaced souls that had no bodies of their own in this new world went into the only ones they could, ones they knew from a story they never imagined could be real, and two people who belonged to this world ceased to exist to make room for two people who had no place in it.
Voices of the dead protested as the Veil shifted, Death exhaled, and Fate wove a new story.
For two idiots, death wasn't the end, but the next great adventure.