Writing Prompt: “You have died, and then you find yourself standing over your body. You see that the Grim Reaper has come for you, and.. no twist, he’s just doing his job. You’re disappointed in the normality of it all actually.”
“Wake up,” A voice called out to me and I shot up into a sitting position.
My chest seemed to burn and strain as I opened my mouth in order to take in a breath. It was like it was my very first breath after holding my breath for an incredibly long time. My body hurt with a dull pain that radiated all over.
I glanced around taking in what was around me. My eyes felt dried out and I had to blink several times before my surroundings came into view. I was sitting on a hard, cold stone floor and thick fog clung to the ground in all directions I could see. This whole place was unfamiliar to me and it seemed unnatural.
“Am I dreaming?” I asked out loud.
“This is no dream, Alyssa Cook,” The voice repeated and I turned my head.
There standing a few feet away from me was a figure dressed in a long black cloak which covered most of their body and the entirely of their face. All I could see was a pale hand holding a comically large scythe.
Seeing this I quickly scrambled to my feet.
“Who, or what are you?” I asked. “And how do you know my name?”
“Throughout the eons I have been called many things. Grim Reaper. Thanatos. Hel. Anubis. Death. All of these and more,” They said.
“Death? Death death? Like death?”
The shadowy figure nodded.
“Wait but then wait…is… Am I Dead?”
The shadowy figure nodded again.
“I have come for you in your last moments to take your soul to a place of final rest,” Death said.
“Wait. Hold on. I can’t be dead. I’m only 20. I’m a healthy person. I eat plenty of salads and go to the gym twice a week. And I… I… I was going to be the first person in my family to graduate college. I was going to go to medical school..I…I..”
I fell to my knees and began to cry. Heavy tears stained my face before falling into the mist.
“My family. What…what’s going to happen to them?”
“I cannot give you any information about the living,” Death said.
I turned to look at them. Death remained motionless, keeping their distance from me. Their expression was completely concealed behind their cloak but their voice was steady and their tone was serious.
“Why? Why not? I’m dead right. It’s not like I can do anything about it, right?” I asked.
“Restless souls often try to find their way back to the mortal world. The more you know the more restless you may become,” Death said. “It is better not to know.”
“How do you know? How do you know anything? How do you know that I’d be some restless spirit or that I’m even the right person. Maybe you made a mistake.”
“I do not make mistakes. Every single person has their moment when their life comes to an end. Your moment is now,” Death replied.
“Maybe this is your first mistake. Maybe you meant to take my neighbor’s soul and messed up the address. There are a lot of apartments around me, you know.”
“Well maybe you are actually here to recruit me to help you collect restless souls. Those are a problem right? Maybe I can help you capture them and then I get to live again.”
“Well maybe…maybe…I don’t know. Maybe you are just wrong. Maybe I’m not supposed to be dead.”
Death fell silent for a moment.
“Many, many souls have been where you are. All of them claiming that there must be some sort of mistake. That they needed more time. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. All of those and more. But in the end, the souls must accept that I do not make mistakes. Your time has come,” Death said.
“There isn’t anything I can do?” I asked.
“You can pass on peacefully and rest, unburdened by anything you left behind,” Death said.
“That’s going to be very hard,” I admitted.
“I know. Many struggle with rest after a life full of so much restlessness. But everyone must rest eventually.”
“Even you?” I asked.
Death paused again.
“I guess I’m the exception to the rule. I do not rest. I just lead the souls of others to their rest.”
“Can I ask you a question?”
“You may ask your questions, but I cannot tell you of the mortal world.”
“I know. I know. This is about you. Why do you carry around a…a whatever you call that,” I said pointing at the scythe.
“I come to people in a form familiar to them. Many people recognize me as a reaper who carries a scythe. But not all. It differs from soul to soul,” Death explained.
“Were you like me… were you a person before you were death?”
Death took a moment before answering.
“I have been around since the beginning. Maybe even before the beginning. It is hard to know for sure. I have never been a part of the living world. I have always been here. Between the world of the living and the world of the dead.”
“Is it lonely?”
Again Death paused before they spoke.
“I do not feel loneliness or sadness or anger or happiness. I do not feel like you and others humans feel. I just do my job and lead the living on, one after another. Soul after soul.”
“But if you had a chance to be a living person or to move on to the…uh… resting place, would you want that?”
“I do not want. I know this is my destiny just like I know yours and everyone else’s. My place is here,” Death said.
I just nodded and then lowered my head to stare at the swirling mists around my feet.
There was a brief moment of silence before Death spoke.
“Now, Alyssa Cook, are you ready to pass on?” Death asked.
“Is…is it like heaven? Like clouds and pearly gates and angels?” I asked.
“Many people pass with thoughts on what is beyond death and what the afterlife will be like. None are fully correct but many have small pieces of the right answer. It is not what you picture heaven as, but it is rest and it is peace. There is no sorrow, pain, sadness, or evil,” Death explained.
“Well..I guess that is kind of comforting,” I said.
“So are you ready to pass?” Death asked again.
“Yeah I guess I am,” I said with a soft exhale of breath.
“Good,” Death said as they moved closer to me, gliding across the mist without the sound of footsteps.
“One last thing,” Death said as they stood next to me.
“Now that you are ready to pass, I will tell you one thing. Your sister. She steps up and carries the torch you left behind. She goes to college. Graduates. Goes to medical school. She saves many lives in the hospitals she resides in and many, many more with her research. Your death is not in vain.”
I stood there a bit flabbergasted.
“I…I thought…I thought you couldn’t tell me anything,” I said.
Death remained quiet.
“Thank you,” I said wiping a tear from my eyes.
“You’re welcome,” Death replied as the mist began swirling around us and my soul passed on to the afterlife.
Header Photo Credit to Burakulker on DeviantArt