When Death Cheats You

August 21, 2014 at 12:00 AM

The estimated reading time for this post is 27 minutes, 6 seconds

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Everyone knows the term “cheating death”: it’s when you get to escape the ending of your life, or the cruelness of how it will end or just the terror itself it carries. But everyone knows that Death will eventually catch up to you. Some people can evade it for a long period of time while others may not have the best of luck. I cheated Death once, and it hasn’t caught up to me… yet. Before I die; before I’m caught, I want people to know his story. Yes, his story, not mine. This isn’t about me. It’s about the one young man that will live a thousand lifetimes more than me. I will die soon and so will my story. His will just fade away to the point where no one will remember. So to keep his story alive, I will tell you everything he told me. As I said before, I, along with few others, may have cheated Death, but what if Death cheats you? Then what? What happens if Death gets the better of you in the end?

Up in the north of Washington, a young man around the age of 19 named Lyle fell ill to Acute Myeloid Leukemia. A cancer that works at a dangerously fast pace and affects the blood in the body. He did not have long to live. Hearing the constant sorrows of his family, he begged for mercy from God. He pleaded and cried out to at least prolong his life a little longer. He wanted to be able to stay with his family; to relive his life and make every second count. However, that was never to be…

A month or so later, the young man was on the verge of death. Lyle passed in and out of consciousness one night. He tried so hard to stay alive and not breathe his last breath. Losing energy, he fell prey to his killer until a shady man appeared before him in his little hospital room. He wore a black suit, black dress shoes, a dark grey dress shirt with a white neckerchief, and a raven colored fedora that shielded his eyes. He watched the young man as he twirled a fancy cane with a blue jewel on the tip in his hand. An unnerving sneer crept across the man’s face. He walked over swiftly and stood beside the bed.

“What do we have here?” A voice so deep, so raspy and so cold sounded from the man’s thin lips, “It appears your little disease is getting the best of you.”

Lyle opened his eyes slightly to see the figure loomed over him, “Who.. are you?”

“Originally, I came here to kill you–.. pardon me.. What I mean to say is that I am a savior.. of.. sorts. I’ve come here to end the agonizing torment. But after hearing your constant begs and pleas, I couldn’t help but answer to your pathetic prayers,” The mysterious and harsh-toned man explained himself. He had such an uninterested look as if being there was a waste of time. Lyle was confused and bewildered. A nonstop flow of questions circled throughout his mind. Who was this man? What does he want? And how did he get in a room that was locked from the inside?

“I understand that you don’t wish to die, so what if I were to tell you that I could make you live a long time? Eh~ would that suit you? I know you’re dying to see your family again– no pun intended,” He said with a deadpanned face. He didn’t even give a slight chuckle to the dark joke he made. The man leaned down closer to the boy’s ear, “If I gave you a chance to live, would you give me something in return? It’s nothing out of proportion, of course. It’s an eye for an eye per se.”

“You can.. save me? Really!?” Lyle widened his eyes in surprise.

The man could see that Lyle was interested in what he had to say and pursued his target, “I’ll give you your life…if… You give me your soul. Sign your soul away to me and I can grant you this one wish. Make a deal with the devil. Keep in mind, though, you can’t back out of the agreement once you’ve signed.”

With a snap of his fingers, a white scroll with a red ribbon wrapped around it appeared out of blue flames. The man grabbed the scroll and flicked it downward. It unrolled itself and the contract appeared. Next to the paper, a feather of a crow levitated in place. The young male looked over the small cursive writing, but was interrupted.

“You don’t have much time, so I would decide quickly. Your hour glass is down to its last, miserable grain of sand,” The impatient and bored man ushered him to sign. Lyle knew that there was something up with the guy. He was hiding something. However, if he didn’t sign the paper now, he would die. Finally deciding his fate, Lyle took the quill and wrote down half of his signature before the man spoke again.

“Oh, I neglected to mention: by signing your soul away to me, I am granted the right to your physical being. In other words; I own you,” The man smiled slightly as the last of the signature was signed. Flipping up the paper, it disappeared into blue flames.

Before Lyle’s very eyes, the whole room was set ablaze by a vibrant blue. The room shook uncontrollably.

“What’s going on!? What’re you doing?” Fear sunk into the mind of the young adult. He was perplexed, scared, and regretful. A black substance that was too thick to be smoke but too thin to be tar slithered its way up to Lyle and started to burn him. The dark substance encased Lyle’s entire body. He screamed as it dug into his skin with a burning sensation. His screams were muffled as the tar-colored slime slowly poured itself down his throat. It made its way around Lyle’s face and started to seep into his eyes, burning them doing so. Lyle watched the man as he disappeared in blue flames, waving as he left. A paper floated down to his bed and hovered over his face. Still in shock at the sudden turn of events, Lyle was unable to read the paper. The dark substance completely blocked out his vision along with his intake of oxygen. He soon fell unconscious. The flimsy paper floated down to the floor with the words “Rest in Piece” staring straight up at Lyle.

Six months later, Lyle was released from the hospital and went into relapse. As he and his family drove down a busy street and into an intersection, another car sped through a red light. The opposing driver rammed straight into the passenger’s side of the family’s car. The vehicle then spun out of control and smashed into a wall that helped elevate a toll road. Both the driver and the passenger, his mother and father, were killed.

A private funeral was later held in his hometown’s cemetery. At the funeral of his parents, Lyle found a familiar face. He approached the man and took him aside away from the few family members and relatives he had left. When out of earshot of everyone else, the shady man announced he had a job for him to do. Not listening to him, Lyle begged the man for help. Annoyed about the situation, the man explained bluntly that he could do nothing for them since it was necessary for his parents to die. The young adult flared up and lashed out at him. He exclaimed profanity and questioned what there was to gain for killing the innocent.

“You’d be better off without them,” The man said with a firm tone. The cruel words echoed in the grieving boy’s ears.

“W-What… No…” He fell to his feet in perplexity and remorse.

“You should be thanking me,” he snapped his head up toward the cruel, calm person that stood before him, “It will make your next job a whole lot easier. Keep in mind, kid, I’m only trying to help your sorry ass.”

Before he could say much more, the man gave an honest explanation.

“I have a job for you, boy,” The man took on an even more serious demeanor.

“What sort of job? Something you don’t want to get your hands dirty with?”

“Heh! Now you’re catching on. With my old state and how busy I am, I need you to do a few permanent tasks for me. Since your soul belongs to me, there is no way you can back out of this. I am Death. No matter how hard you try you can’t outrun me. You’ll be caught eventually.”

“Is that a challenge?” Lyle raised an eyebrow.

“No, it’s the truth. As for your job, you will be what’s known as the G.-R.-A.-E.: a Ghastly Reaping Archangel of Ethnologies.”

“A.. Grah-eh..?” Lyle tried to pronounce the acronym.

“No, you idiot! It’s pronounced like the word ‘grey’! In other words, you’d be a Grim Reaper. No wait.. I don’t like that term. It’s used too much and it’s lost its terrifying connotation since so many people fantasize about them…

“Anyway, you will collect souls from all those who are about to perish. It won’t matter if they are a stranger or a friend, good or evil, male or female, young or old. Your emotions or ties to people, stranger or known, will be void and meaningless. Each person has a time limit and if you don’t collect the soul within the time frame, they get to cheat death. In other words, they will be granted another day or so until the prefect time is right,” Death clarified as he felt badgered by the young man.

“As morbid as this sounds, why can’t they just die then instead of giving an extension?”

“Coincidence. There needs to be an excuse for their death instead of just an unsolvable case of murder. We can’t just go around collecting souls whenever we want. We’re not like those stupid psychopaths out there killing people with dull knives or those miserable creatures causing disappearances. If we do that, we would be unprofessional and even more chaos would reign. People would believe in a mass murderer on the loose. Again. Which is why Jack the Ripper had to go… Heh, we’re more professional than that. We’re practically a business, ” The man paused for a moment. With a flick of his hand, an antique chain watch appeared dangling from his grasp. As he held it in his hand, a blue flame was lit on both clock hands.

“What, are you gonna pawn it?” Lyle joked without amusement.

“This pocket watch is a person’s lifeline. Once the hand starts moving around the face, it will not stop. You have within the time the hand starts moving to when it makes a full cycle to collect the given person’s soul. If the hour hand makes a full cycle, then the flame will disappear and they’ll get an extension. I do not want that to happen, now. I don’t like to give away free days to live. It’s rather troublesome, so be sure to finish the job within the set time.” Death paused for a moment.

“How am I supposed to know who I need to kill? How the hell would I find them anyway!?”

“Don’t worry about it. You’ll know where to find them, and you’ll know the person before you even lay your eyes on them. Your job begins at nightfall, “Death smirked as if he just heard a stupid joke. He turned and walked away, “I’ll be watching to see how you do. It should be … interesting, heheh~.”

After Death left, Lyle sank to the ground. Overwhelmed by the vast amount of information and the sudden change of plans, he didn’t know what to do. When he gathered his thoughts, he headed home and lied down on the couch. With a long sigh, he threw his arms over his face and drifted off to sleep within a matter of minutes.

The sun was down, and the moon illuminated the night sky with silver light. Tossing and turning on the soft couch, heavy footsteps paraded across the flooring. They headed straight for the couch and stopped in front of the sleeper.

“Wake up, you fool. It’s time.”

Lyle shot straight up and looked where the voice originated, “Who’s there?”

There was nothing there but an empty home, and yet he felt that he was not alone.

Without warning, someone took a hold of Lyle by his messy, dull colored, blonde hair from behind and pulled him back. He grasped the intruder’s arm and tried to break free. It was of no use. Lyle felt something cold and sharp at his throat. A knife, perhaps?

“Stop squirming, stupid brat. You’re making this harder than it needs to be.” Lyle opened his eyes and saw Death standing behind him, pinning his head to the back of the couch.

“You! What the hell are you–”

“Tonight is your first night of reaping. To make sure things run smoothly, I’ve taken it upon myself to see to it that you don’t screw up.”

Within that instant, Death snapped his fingers. Lyle looked around waiting for something to happen. His eyes burned for some strange reason. He wiped his eyes and saw a black slime smeared on his hands. He choked and coughed excessively, letting out clots of dark goop from his lungs.

“What did you do!? This is… This is that stuff from before, isn’t it!?” Lyle muttered his words in panic, but Death yanked his head back and injected his boney fingers into Lyle’s eyes.

“Now, now. Don’t move about. It will only make it worse,” He warned nonchalantly.

The young adult let out a blood curtailing scream as the assaulter dug into the eye sockets deep enough to latch onto the inside of the skull and pulled his head upward. His hand receipted from Lyle’s eyes and he focused on the right eye. Death intricately moved his fingers around to get a firm grasp and yanked the eye out of the socket. Blood and black slime poured profusely out of Lyle’s eyes and mouth, burning his skin as it slithered down his face.

“It’s just a precautionary measure. Stop making such a fuss. You can’t die, you know? I won’t allow it!” Death’s voice sounded uneasy, yet it still had that mellow tone to it. He did not enjoy this horrendous torment, but it was necessary.

Death tossed the right eyeball on the ground and watched Lyle for a moment before going after the other eye. He used his knife to slice two cuts across the left eye. Lyle tried desperately to fight back and get away, but to no avail. There was no possible way he could beat the devil, himself.

Death let go of Lyle and watched him as he fell to the floor and curl up in a ball. The young adult held his face in misery. His scarlet, red blood stained the white carpet and covered every inch of his hands. Just when he thought it was over, Death took his knife and held it against Lyle’s throat. He squeezed his jaw with enough force to open Lyle’s mouth. With the knife in hand, he dug the knife into his mouth and roughly and partially cut off his tongue. Death didn’t remove it entirely, but it was severely damaged and would take a long while for it to heal. Aside from that, he even made several cuts around the mouth including the gums and lips.

Unable to escape, Lyle choked on his own blood along with that black substance that continuously poured from his eyes and mouth. Death stood up and allowed Lyle to roll over onto his stomach. He hacked up even more blood and ooze on the snowy carpet. Death sat down on the couch unimpressed and watched Lyle wither in pain.

Lyle couldn’t stand the torture. His eye sight was nearly gone just like his tongue. His skin and the inside of his throat burned. He couldn’t do anything but lay there and wait for the next round of torment. All he could do was moan and mumble shrieks of distress and horror.

What kind of a precaution was this!? What was the point of this!? Why must he be put under so much torture when promised an actual life? Why did it seem that Death cheated him out of an escape from this torment?

Lyle took his focus away from the questions that circulated through his mind. He then remembered he wasn’t alone. He could feel a cold, unsympathetic gaze on him.

“This isn’t something personal. Be happy that you’ll eventually heal…” Death was silent for a few moments before speaking again, “I had to do this… Now that you cannot see who exactly your target is, you won’t be able to show anyone mercy during your rookie years. It’s logical to spare those you know and love; it’s just human nature. That’s why when I first met you I plagued you with Ruin. You know, the disgusting crap you keep hacking up? It’s just making its way up to your mind to help you make decisions when it’s time to do your job. Maybe when you finally heal, you’ll make the right decisions and not screw up.”

Lyle mumbled and gargled.

“Why did I destroy your eyesight and nearly rip out your tongue, you ask? It’s simple, you have to do the job without thinking of emotions or personal interests. Your mouth and eyes are capable of showing your emotions. I’ve taken away all of your abilities of displaying emotion with the exception of body language since you need your limbs,” Death chuckled slightly at his last statement. Atoning for his crime, he took several bandages and wrapped them around Lyle’s eyes and mouth to stop the bleeding, then turned rather serious, “Now that is over with, finish the job for tonight.”

He left without saying anything else. The young adult laid there on the ground in discomfort and pity. The smell of iron flared up his nostrils and provoked him to vomit all over the floor. He tried to open his left eye and saw red and black. He felt around his face gingerly. It was bound with bandages that were poorly wrapped around his face without much light able to pass through.

Out of nowhere, Lyle had this feeling to stand. Obeying himself, he stood up shakily and raised his hand. He unclenched his fist and found an old, decorative pocket watch with a blue flame on the hands. He couldn’t see it but he knew it was there. As he studied the flames, he got a sense of where he was supposed to find the person he needed to kill. It was as if the watch told him what to do. Although Lyle couldn’t see them, the hands moved slowly so he may have enough time to get to the target. He heard something like fabric shift on the ground next to him. Facing toward it, he picked it up and felt numerous objects. Most of it seemed to be clothes, another felt like a pair of shoes and gloves.

Taking a few minutes to change, Lyle dressed in an attire similar to what Death sported: a long, dark, tattered hooded trench coat, a dark grey dress shirt with a striped vest where his watch is now being held, a vibrant, red tie, dark pants and gloves, and black and white, fancy bowler shoes. He looked as if he were a mafia member with blood stained bangs and bandages. When he was done, he held up the watch again. He didn’t waste too much time getting dressed which was surprising considering he was practically blind and light-headed.

Lyle headed off in the direction of his target. He ran out of his home swiftly, quietly and at an inhumanly fast pace. He did not just run though, he seemed to glide across the ground like wandering ghosts. Along the way, he would take out the watch to check the “time”. Lyle could sense the flame become stronger as he got closer to his destination.

About fifty minutes later, he came across an old apartment complex. He checked the watch again and found that he was close. Instinctively, he jumped into the air toward the second story window and landed on the fire escape. Astonished at his new abilities, he shook his head to regain his focus. He pressed his head up against the window to see if he could hear anyone. Lyle heard the sound of someone cough violently. A middle aged man came around the corner and entered the room. He had a lit cigar propped in his mouth. The man looked up and saw the shadowy, well dressed figure in the window.

“What the hell are you doing? Get your ass out of here before I come out and make you myself, you little fucker!” The man threatened.

Lyle could not retort. His mouth was bound and injured. All he did was lower his head and studied the man’s presence. It was him. It was his soul that needed to be taken.

“Hey! I said get the fuck out of here!” The man shouted as he took heavy steps toward Lyle.

Before the man could do anything, Lyle, without a thought in his mind, rushed inside. He smashed the window to small shards upon impact.

There was a thumping sound coming from the floor, “Hey, keep it down up there! There are people sleeping, asshole!”

Both the man and Lyle ignored the complaint.

“You son of a bitch!” The man ran for the kitchen to get his gun, but Lyle was too quick for him. Lyle reluctantly grabbed the man and turned him the opposite direction. He smashed him into the wall and created a large, gaping hole. Adrenaline flowed through Lyle’s veins, but he had this feeling that he did not want to do this. That it wasn’t right. On the other hand, there was a slight bit of excitement in him. It felt… good… to relieve his anger on this soon-to-be-dead man. The man got up and shook his head.

“Who the hell do you think… You…” The man’s voice faltered when he saw the bloodied, bandaged face staring at him. He never realized how the intruder’s face was so badly injured. Horrified by the site, the man dashed out of his apartment, down to the first floor. Lyle didn’t pursue. Instead, he checked his watch. He had more than enough time to do his job. He didn’t even really want to do it. The man may be a jerk, but it still didn’t seem right…

Lyle walked over to the broken window and saw the man stumble outside, coughing and hacking up a storm. Lyle felt pity for the man. He didn’t wish to do this, but he didn’t have a choice. For some reason a little sting in his mind urged him, gave him the need or want, to do his job. He had a horrible feeling that bringing pain to others would relieve his anger at Death. Maybe it was that Ruin Death was talking about earlier that took an affect on him now. His hands started to tremble and he jumped out the window, landing a few yards in front of the scurrying man.

“What do you want from me!?” The man shouted, alerting a few of his neighbors. He took a few steps back before he decided to take his last moments into his own hands. The man lunged himself at Lyle, but he quickly dodged. The two played a sort of game of chase; the man was “it”. Lyle simply toyed with his target. He was indecisive; he wanted to get the job over with, but then he wanted to give the man more time to live.

Not being able to evade the brute any longer, Lyle received a hard punch to the left side of his face. He stumbled a little before the man swung his left arm around and hit him in the temple on the right side. Lyle lost his footing again and knelt on the ground. The man laughed triumphantly as he thought his opponent was just an freaky, pathetic bastard. This made Lyle clench his fists in even more anger than before. He trembled again, except this time it was both of his arms; from the very tops of his shoulders all the way down to his finger tips. The man’s laugh seemed to falter though as Lyle grew more infuriated by the second. The Ruin took control.

“What.. the hell..!?” The man took a couple steps back as the darkness grew all around him. His opponent remained kneeling on the floor looking downward. As he stared at Lyle, he felt something, or some things, crawl up the side of his leg. He looked down and saw an assortment of cockroaches, centipedes, and beetles scattered around him. Moths flew around him and landed all over his body. Extremely disgusted, he smacked them all off and tried to step on them. But, they just kept coming.

“Hehehe…”

The man heard a small laugh and looked up. Lyle’s shadow grew longer and stretched toward the man. As soon as it touched his feet, the Ruin pooled around him. He stepped out of the shadow, but the slime stuck to his shoes and went along with him like he just stepped in a mixture of chewed gum and mud.

“Hehehah.. hahahaha… Hahahahaha! Ahahahahaha!” Insane, gargled laughter came from the bandaged intruder. Blood seeped through the wrappings. Even more horrified than before, the man realized that his efforts to get away from the bugs, slime and the ever growing darkness were futile. What possessed this guy to start laughing like a maniac choking on blood-he didn’t know. One thing he was certain of was that he needed to get away.

Lyle cupped his hands over his face. He stood up and looked at them. He bled again. His mouth dripped red, staining his clothes as it flowed down his neck. His eyes were no better off either. They never had enough time to heal even a little and they started to bleed in vast amounts. Lyle’s furious demeanor got the best of him. His arms and hands shook even more uncontrollably. He slowly cupped his face again and scratched slightly at his bandages which caused them to slightly come undone.

“What the hell is wrong with you, Freak!?” The man was discombobulated. He was so frightened at Lyle’s actions that he lost all thoughts about the bugs crawling on him.

Immediately, after the man spoke, Lyle ceased his laughter. He slowly brought down his hands to reveal his ruined face. Vibrant teal and black veins ran all over the areas of his body that were visible. The bandages over his left eye moved and a glowing, piercing red showed through. The man turned and ran away in terror. Lyle watched his prey scurry away like a frightened mouse. He was angered beyond belief and he wanted to relieve that fury. He was so furious, his body just shook while he remained set in place until he was finally able to slowly walk toward his target.

As the man continued to run, he looked back and saw his pursuer following at a close distance. But… Lyle only walked the whole time… How could he have caught up so fast?

Darkness shrouded the man’s sight and something grabbed his leg, causing him to trip and fall to the asphalt. He turned over and saw something he would never be able to unsee: a transparent, brightly and faintly colored, teal specter. Its face was distorted and decomposed and had vibrant, red, quarter sized dots for eyes in the sockets. Its boney arms had rotted looking flesh. Its legs weren’t even present. Instead, it had a tattered, cloth-like body. The phantom wheezed and gasped, staring at him. It crawled closer and closer to him. The man looked around and saw multiple other phantoms surround him. Horrified at the grotesque monstrosities, an ear-blasting cry of fear erupted from the man’s vocal chords.

“L-.. Leave.. LEAVE ME ALONE!!!” The man shrieked with tears formed in his eyes.

The poltergeists swarmed around him; bugs crawled all over him. He opened his eyes slowly and saw a figure walk toward him.

“S-Stay back! Stay the fuck back!” He warned.

A slight chuckle came from the figure. Right after, it lunged into the air and came straight down on the middle-aged male. The man jumped up and pushed through the ghosts to get away just in time to escape a large, curved blade with a chain attached land in the spot he was just in.

Lyle was having fun. Too much fun… He summoned the souls to mess around and tease the poor man. He obtained so much pleasure, he didn’t realize how childish and cruel his thoughts were.

Lyle raised his arm straight out to the side and smokey substances enveloped his hand and lower arm. The substances started to form into something long like a staff. The curved blade and chain were dragged back toward Lyle and attached itself to the smokey substance encasing his hand and arm. As the smoke faded away, a solid object that was the same length as its owner was in Lyle’s right hand. Lyle looked at his new weapon, and wondered how he knew that he could do such a thing. He studied it and realized that it was his perfect murder weapon: a scythe, just the thing for a traditional reaping.

He chased the man down on the empty street and cut him off. He was literally inches from his face. The man stared into the red eye that tracked him. The horrendous face haunted him. Lyle took his bloodied hand and touched the jawline and neck of the frightened man. His face started to deteriorate, his muscle mass shrank, his stomach caved in, his eyes sank into the back of his head, his skin rotted, and his bones nearly tore through his thin layer of flesh. He was losing his life and he desperately needed to escape. With the last of his strength, he smacked Lyle’s hand away, and slowly ran from him in exhaustion, yet again. His body returned back to its original state within a few seconds.

Within that moment, two lights lit the both of them up. The darkness and phantoms disappeared and the man was finally able to see that he was back in the middle of the street. There was a sound of an engine headed toward them. A car going at a rather fast speed barreled through the street. Without a warning for the man, the vehicle rammed right into him. The impact was so brutally strong it sent him flying through the air. He landed on the asphalt with tremendous force and skidded across the ground. The impact of the car along with the ground destroyed most of the man’s body. The car sped off as the man groaned in pain and shock. Somehow he was still alive. Probably due to the fact that it was Lyle’s job to finish him…

The lights went on in the apartment complex. Within seconds, people would be flooding the street. This brought Lyle back to his senses. He used this spare moment and stealth of the darkness to finish the job. He walked over to the man who’s body and the area surrounding him was covered in blood, his face was a mutilated mess, his ribs were shattered and one of his legs bent in a way that would be unnatural for a human to do. The pathetic brute was hardly recognizable. Lyle prepared his scythe. He could hear the neighbors, the sirens, and the dying male.

“W-…why…?” The man questioned with his last dying breath.

“It’s just business,” Lyle answered in a voice that was hard to comprehend because of his injuries.

With a sigh, Lyle raised his scythe and struck down fast and swift through the man’s chest, over his heart. He cut straight through him, red crimson spraying in the direction the scythe sliced across the victim. Lyle held his pose for little while longer. His body was trembling, his eyes were wide. He never killed anyone before. It felt… Exhilarating. He hated it. He hated the fact he became a killer. But it’s his job now, and it’s better to accept it then try to fight a fight he will never win in a thousand lifetimes. Yet at the same time… He liked it. He finally had something to take his anger out on. If he could do so, Lyle would be … smiling…

A glow appeared over the man’s chest where his heart would be. A bright, vibrant, teal orb rose from the chest. It was a soul. Lyle took it in his grasp, and clenched it until it was no more.

“What’s going on over there!?”

Lyle turned and found several people started to make their way into the streets. They all headed in his direction. He turned away from the crowd and looked back at the body. The corpse’s large gash in the chest was gone, but the blood was still there. It was as if he only died from the car accident. A perfect cover up.

Lyle ran down the street and into an alley to get away from the crowd. He climbed up the fire escapes to the top of the roof and knelt on the ledge to watch the scene from afar. He could hear the reactions of people as they laid their eyes over the twisted corpse. Screams of disgust and horror could be heard. People frantically called ambulances and police cars to assist the dead man even though a couple police cars were already arriving due to noise complaints. But of course there is nothing they can do for him.

Lyle suddenly heard someone’s footsteps heading towards him from behind.

“Well done,” The figure said whilst clapping slowly, “I expected nothing less of you.”

The figure came into the light and revealed to be none other than Death, himself. He looked over at the site where the crowd gathered.

“Oh lovely… It seems you stirred up quite a bit of trouble. You weren’t really supposed to spark up a scene.” He chided in a scornful manner and turned his cane around in his hands, “Nonetheless, you got your job done. Not bad for your first time. Looks like you had fun, though. … Maybe a little too much fun.”

Lyle flinched at the last sentence. It made him feel cruel and sick. He wanted to say something, but alas his face was not healed enough to speak well.

“I know, you wish to be able to talk right now, but I don’t really want to hear your gargled, irritating voice.” Death paused for a moment to study Lyle, “Heh, I understand you’re angry with me. I was the same way when I had to take over this job. But of course, you aren’t alone. There are several others in the same position as you.”

Death turned and started burning up in flames of blue, “Remember, you aren’t the only person who’s been through this. So long… Grae.”

“It’s Lyle,” Lyle spoke harshly, with his hard-to-understand voice, correcting him with a hint of disgust on each word.

“Not in my book,” The aloof man’s smirk bore into Lyle, “Oh, your next assignment should be up soon. Have fun. Oh, and uh.. Dont’ overdo it.”

Lyle turned back to the crowd and saw the paramedics take the man into the ambulance. He turned away and held his head down. What has he become? What was that sensation he felt before? Was that really pleasure? And where did all those… abilities come from..? They were so strange and disturbing. Lyle grew distraught as he thought about it more and more. Either way, he didn’t like this at all. The new name he was given didn’t help the situation either. But he can’t do anything about it. All he can do is his job: being the Grim Reaper, the G.R.A.E., that steals the souls of lives that are on the brink of death.

….

Hours, days, months, and years passed and Lyle grew more and more engrossed in his job. He took it seriously and an abundance of deaths appeared in either the news headlines or in the newspaper death notices, the obituaries. Each death was claimed to be linked to a sort of brain damage or heart attack if it wasn’t already caused by something else such as a car accident, illness or injury. Each death, however, contained an odd, splattered line of blood over the corpse’s chest where the heart would be. No investigator could link the death to anything in reality. No forensics scientist could understand how the person’s blood could end up on the outside of the body without a single scratch of the skin. No one could identify this as murder, illness, or accident, and possibly, no one ever will. Many believe it’s a serial killer’s doing, while others believe it may be God’s doing. Since no one could identify a motivation to kill, a lot of people came up with the idea that it was the Grim Reaper’s doing.

…Well.. they’re not wrong. In fact, they’re all correct. It is a serial killer’s doing and it is the work of some God-like figure in a sense. It could be the Devil that created the killer. Despite what everyone believes… it is the Grim Reaper harvesting souls. It’s him that’s doing the mass numbers of peculiar deaths. Rumors of meeting the dangerous figure and surviving developed after this notion surfaced to the public. The internet did a good job making sure those rumors spread throughout the world.

Then there was me; the one person who actually did see, meet and escaped the Grim Reaper, himself. Or as he prefers to say, “G.R.A.E.” Unlike everyone else, though, I call him by his given name, Lyle. His name is all he has left. He doesn’t remember his past too well prior to his meeting with Death and he’s starting to forget about that, too. So at least calling him by his real name could bring back his memory a little. Obviously, I feel sorry for him. He never wanted this and never deserved it. But of course, there are thousands who would disagree considering his actions. I don’t care, I sympathize with just about anyone. Of course, that isn’t always a good thing, but no one is perfect.

I’m waiting to meet with him again… I know he will come for me and take my soul. And this time.. I can’t escape him. Haha, it’s funny, I remember everything after cheating him..

For some reason, before he left, he asked me, “You know, I’m curious. If you were about to die by my hand right now, what would your last words be?”

Thinking long and hard since I would never get this opportunity again, I was inquisitive as to who he really was.

“I’m not sure… But… what happened to you, or what did you do, to become this way?”

I stared him in his one good eye. It didn’t seem bored or angry, but sorrowful. Reluctantly, he told me just about everything he knew.

I am pretty much the only person he ever told his story to and will be the only person for a long while. That is why I’m passing the tale to whoever reads this so that they know who the Reaper, Grae, or whatever you want to call him, really is. I know for a fact that he was not always a bad person, or I guess, being. It’s not his choice anymore.

It’s funny. For so long after meeting him, I still remember those, piercing, red eyes, the odd, vibrant, veins all over his body and face, the messy, bloodied hair and his unsightly, pale skin… But the one thing I remember the most is that phrase he said to me before he was about to extinguish my life.

“It’s just business.”

When Death Cheats You

Credit To – Annie Reagan

Rating: 7.9. From 310 votes.
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