Death and all his Friends

Complex and varied are the myriad tales of the creature we call Death. Discover forthwith a collection of such tales - short stories and poems concerning both death and Death.

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4. The Woods are Lovely, Dark and Deep

~~The slate grey sun falls through its icy sky, fleeing in fear to the safety of the horizon. With the impenetrable darkness comes wind, snow, and the swift wings of death.

The woods are nameless, dark and deep,
Their boundless cold makes old gods weep.

Traipsing through the knee deep snow, the wretch is wreathed in rags and war wounds. The trail, the trees, the very air around him is stained scarlet with the blood of a thousand betrayals. How he struggles. How easy it would be for him to simply lie down and accept the warmth of the reaper man's embrace.

The woods are silent, dark and deep,
A perfect bed for eternal sleep.

Once, then twice, he stumbles, falling to all fours in the great white sea. Panting on his knees, his breaths are heavy and laboured; the air falls from his lungs like thick, wet, glittering rubies. Surely it would not be so bad, thinks the creature. The pain is fading now, and as he lies in the hoar frost weeping crimson tears, he begins to feel… warm.

The woods are lonely, dark and deep,
For all the grey man does is reap.

His breathing slows and his eyes flicker closed as he begins his descent into the endless night. There stands the grey rider astride his pale horse, with one gaunt gloved hand outstretched. He feels like an old friend, warm and safe. He promises no more pain, no more suffering, no more fear - only bliss. The wretch reaches out gladly to accept the offer but something freezes him in his tracks. Beside the horse stands a girl. No more than eight, her waist-length hair shines golden in the half light. She turns to face him and her ice-blue eyes wash over him like the first frozen dawn of spring.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep.

A single thought burns itself into his minds eye - No. That savage thought ricochets through his brain, shattering the walls of ice that bind it. His eyes flash open in pain and fear. Shock courses through him, rejuvenating him, giving him a lantern in the dark. Clouds of mist pour from his mouth as he rolls over. Staggering to his feet, he can see only white, yet still he walks onwards. Two words carry him through the nameless, ageless, deathless blizzard - I promised.

Not four feet from where he lay the reaper and the girl stand, untouched by the raging storm, unfettered by epaulettes of ice.
"That was cruel," sighs the reaper man. "It would have been kinder to let him rest."
"Perhaps," replies the girl in a voice spun with silver sorrow. "But he has a long ways to go yet." For a moment she stays, staring sadly on after the fading figure of her father. Finally, with tears in her eyes and her voice trembling, she turns to the grey rider and whispers, "Come on then, my very old friend. Take me home." Wordlessly the reaper lifts her onto his pale, frail horse, and they gallop off into the endless night.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

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A/N this piece was done in the same style as the last, springboarded off of a line of poetry, this time using from Robert Frost's 'Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening'

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