My Shadow, Death

Some people are afraid to die, others embrace it; and then you have Noah who has known the shadowy cloak of Death for all too long. His life has been plagued by it, soaked in it to the point where not only does Noah feel nothing towards the subject; he is willing to become it.

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4. Nightmare: Who Are You?

   Dinner was nice and simple as I recall; green bean casserole and the like, I believe she made it because she knew it was a favorite of my friend. Personally I, well I wasn't a big fan of such concoctions but I ate it. Afterwards we sat and talked a casual conversation that ended with my asking her if Aaron could stay overnight.

   "I'll call his house, but I don't think your mom'll mind much," her smile pained me as I knew she was aware of the situation in that family and, like me, she wanted nothing more than for my friend to be able to live peacefully but, there was nothing she could do for them so, this was her act of kindness.

   "C'mon," I spoke to Aaron as I grabbed onto his hand, "If you're done, let's go back to my room, I'm bored." His face went from somewhat melancholy to that of a simple smile as he got to his feet an allowed me to lead him down the hall and back to the confines of my room. Closing the door behind us I sat him back on the bed and spoke once more, "Well, that was good... now, what shall we do?"

   "Can you finish what you started?" he pointed to the concealed scar underneath the shirt, "It still hurts a little." I lost all expression as I sat on the edge of the bed as he undid his shirt and laid down on his side. "Alright, go ahead," he spoke lowly as he finished getting comfortable. I began to again run my finger lightly up and down the wound, receiving a minor quiver from his body and the silent but still audible whimper of pain.

   "I'm sorry," I unsubconsciously answered, "I can't imagine the pain and torment you've been through." I ceased touching his skin until his hand clasped firmly onto my wrist and replaced it squarely onto his scar.

   "I said finish," he quietly mumbled and I knew that, in terms of friends, I was probably the only one that knew of his full situation and, as a result he felt comfortable in confiding in me. "Please Noah, I want you to finish; I want to feel no more pain from this damn thing." He swore, that was a relatively new thing to both of us, it was almost shocking, much like receiving a cold static shock from a piece of metal to your flesh in the winter. I finally began to recover from the minor shock and began to rub gently this time upon his wound until he let out a sigh of release; his signal that he no longer felt pain and so, I let up and waited to see what he would do next.

   "I hope you feel better now," I put on a small smile of false emotion. He just lay there, motionless, almost lifeless for a minute until he wrapped an arm around me and pulled me bedside and level with his face.

   "I'm so glad you're my friend," he smiled in return, "You're the only one I can seem to trust these days and..." his body was shaking and I could almost swear that he was trying, and, by the looks of it, failing to keep back tears from appearing in the rims of his soft eyes. "I'm sorry, you must think I'm a wuss or something right about now, don't ya?"

   "Never," I hugged him tightly, "Me mum says that showing emotion's not a sign of weakness." He looked at me for a second, pondering what I had just said until, as expected, he cried. Continuing to gently hold onto him I whispered into his ear, "It's a sign that you're human, that's all." By the time he had recomposed himself and redressed, mom had come in with the good news that Aaron's mom said he could spend the night. That bit of news put my friend at ease as he livened up abit and began to laugh lightly as he flopped onto my bed again.

   "I feel so light all of a sudden!" he mused as he rolled around on my bed like a little kid. I couldn't help but be amused by him, despite the fact that he was messing up my nice and neat bed. "Come on then!" he pounced on me and held me on the floor, a wicked smile plastered on his face, "Let's play then; see if you can break out of my grip, stick boy." The nickname 'stick boy' was something he came up with for me one day as a result of a comment someone else made about my apparent slender physical shape; he also knew that it didn't sit well with me and so, we began to play-fight with each other. It was several hours later that we finally dragged out the spare mattress from under my bed and set up the sheets that we actually calmed down abit.

   "You know, for a stick, you don't fight too badly," he chuckled as a pillow sailed into his face, a result of decent aim on my part as I wasn't even looking at him.

   "Alright chuckles," I answered with a quiet sneer, "Shut up and go to sleep now." He laughed and responded with a 'You're no fun' as he blew out the candle in my room, our only source of light as mom had already turned out the electric light to my room. Soon, we began to drift off to sleep and then, it began, my worst part of that day; the nightmare.

********************

   I rolled around in my bed, unable to get comfortable, finally settling on being on my side facing out towards the rest of my room. When I finally began to calm down in body, there was a quiet laughter that echoed, at first in my head but then, it began to come from the blackness of my room. I tried to ignore it but, it began to grow in volume until finally I screamed.

   "Leave me alone!" I yelled out in a mix of fear and fury. The laughter then grew into a singular chuckle as he emerged from the shadows; the shrouded man. "You..." I muttered, "Why are you plaguing me!?"

   "Hold your tongue, boy," he cracked a smile of polished ivory bones, "I'm merely paying a visit."

   "Well don't!" I screamed, flying out of bed, "Everytime I see your damn face, someone died that was important to me!" I suddenly grew cold as his smile turned upside down and he clenched his gloved hand around my face.

    "Shut up!" he remanded, "Boy, you've no idea what trouble your existence will cause, it was my job to take you back into the dark when your grandmother stepped in, do you remember!?" I thought about it for a minute and then in a flash that night came back to me; the fever that almost killed me, the first time I saw this man and... my dear grandmother... 

   "My life was spared, because... she gave hers?" I began to quiver slightly as a gloom overtook me, a gloom that extinguishes all other emotions and hopes; guilt. The man in black again seemed to change in personality as he let go of my face and placed me on gently on the bed. Sitting beside me I felt a strange calm in being in his presence. "So... No one can see you unless they are going to die... that makes you, Death, doesn't it?"

   "Indeed it does, young mortal," he answered, the shadows ebbed and flowed like soft waves on the seashore as we began to converse. 

   "I should be dead, shouldn't I?" I choked out in a hoarse whisper. He looked over at me, his face concealed in the darkness of the shadows as he leaned close and held me.

   "You should never have been born in actuality, your soul is not suited to this time," he answered, attempting to be caring. "Well, you're alive and now, in order to maintain this balance, I must take a soul of someone close to you. That's the gravity your soul carries here."

   "Then kill me," I looked into the blackness of his face, "I don't want others to suffer and die before their time in order that I live... it's... it's not fair." The shrouded man just smiled and answered in a low tone.

   "Not yet, Noah Riley," his voice was soaked in cold, "You've got to be around for those you've got left. Your friend on the floor for example..." Looking down I saw Aaron fast asleep but, he was thrashing about in his dreams.

   "No, please," I started, "Don't take him away from me, not like you did Zach." He smiled and waved a finger affront my face.

   "I'm not going to take him, but, his life will take abit of a turn, that's for sure..." He stood up and faded into the shadows, but not before slipping one last spit of words into my mind, "When that day comes, will you stand by him, or will you run into the darkness?"

   "What do you mean!?" I screamed in vain at the fading shadows. In my worry, I became angry and threw my pillows and sheets at the wall, "What do you mean!? WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO TO HIM!?" At the same time we both suddenly shot awake, simultaneously uttering a scream; mine was of anger, his was of terror. As we clenched onto each other like a pair of frightened school children I thought to myself; "Who are you, man of shrouds? Are you truly Death, or something else... Who are you..?"

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