The television screen showed more deaths and pictures of crying mothers and wives. I did not flinch at the sight of their tear stained faces, nor at the mangled bodies of unrecognisable people.
This was the world we lived in. I wondered to myself why they continued to post all of these stories, at the end of the day, this was old news. Everyone was dying, the exciting part was the fact that people were still alive.
The screen flickered briefly as the reception went, and the sound went fuzzy along with the picture. Bored from seeing children so thin and broken they couldn’t walk, I turned it off, telling myself the reception was annoying, not that it hurt me to see it. I was not weak. I was going to die anyway, so why should I fear death, in others or myself. The smell of urine and decay filled my nostrils as I breathed in deeply the ‘fresh’ air inside my house. I would not flinch away from it, this was life. This was all I could have, this was all I got. Sighing, I thought of how I was the only one in my family still alive, and how I was the only one who would embrace the fact that death would come. Right up until the point where they were looking death in the face, every single one of my family members had begged for death to save them. Not me though. When I see death I will walk calmingly into his open arms and accept that this is the end.
Angrily I kicked my bare foot into the floor. Everyone had begged for mercy. According to the world I was the freak, I was the one who was disturbed with some messed up sense of morale. No, they were the freaks, desperate to live in the world filled with pain and suffering. Bloody war. Actually, could it even be called a war? Surely in a war there is fighting? Well there was no fighting there. No one was fighting back, yet the murder refused to cease. At first it had killed me to see it all, but I stopped any emotions I had felt. The empathy line was cut off, and I had seen enough horrific incidences to stop me from being shocked.
Screams filled the air. Another raid. Shut the shutters. Close the doors. Turn off the lights. Not me. Just kill me already. I was bored of the life that I was living. Bored of each day becoming a cycle, and bored of hearing people telling me to be more considerate of life. What do I have to be considerate of? If people wanted to live so badly, they clearly needed to do what I had done, look for death. It seemed to me that death ran from those who no longer feared it, and that pissed me off. Stop running from me death, kill me already. Children rush indoors, not looking for trouble, terrified of the death that hid round corners. The remnants of streets became flooded with darkness, as the raids began and the lights turned off. The wails of mothers caught in the raid smashed against my eardrums but I did not listen, simply heard. I looked out of my windows thickly coated in dust, at the shapes that crept in the shadows. They got closer to my house and I sat and waited. Would today be my day? Was death amongst them?
Crash. Goodbye door. Smash. Goodbye window. Smack. Blood in my mouth. I raised my eyes to look into the faces of the raiders. I was barely able to see through the tears that had sprung into my eyes from the pain of being slapped across the face. It still stung. I didn’t care. I just needed to know if death was there. Faces distorted from the nuclear explosion stared at me. I had forgotten how deformed they had become. In all fairness it wasn’t their fault that they had revolted against us. We had abused them for their looks, and now we were getting what we deserved. What goes around comes around.
“Name.” One demanded, voice rough as sandpaper. With one hand he grabbed my hair and yanked my head back. With the other hands he held my arms to my side. Yes they most certainly had advantages we could never have dreamed of.
“Roslyn.” Spitting out some blood that had accumulated in my mouth, a small smirk crossed my face. “Where is death? Where is he?”
The raiders looked around at each other, grimly nodding slowly, one with two heads nodding them in unison. Snarls spread across the group like a virus, and the one holding me spat into my face.
“Roslyn aye? You’re that freak of nature aren’t you?” I scoffed at his comment as I recalled that as freaks of nature went, they seemed to be closer than I. But then again so did the rest of the world.
“Is that what they are calling me?”
“Don’t you get cocky you fucking piece of dirt!” He squeezed my hair tighter and I attempted to keep my face from scrupling up in pain. “What should we do with her? She wants to meet death?” He laughed as he said this, as did the rest of them, scorning me for my foolishness. “What a fool, what an idiot!” Then I felt it. The air became cool, and the scorning laughter died down. The sweat that I hadn’t been aware of excreting appeared to freeze upon my skin, and I swallowed hard.
Death had arrived.
I dared not speak, and just watched the space where my door had been earlier. Any moment he would come into my house and without knowing it, he’d save me. I tried to hide my excitement of the prospect of getting out of this hell hole. For all I knew he could read my mind or my feelings. Mouth dried up. Jaw locked. Face numb. He’s here; I can feel he’s here in the room.
The lights turned off and I was plunged into darkness, like I had never experienced before. All happiness I had felt was pulled out of me, as though my soul could hold it no longer. But I did not cry, for I was not sad, just empty. Was I even in a room? Was this what dying was like? I would have liked to have spoken to death first, maybe. Would have been nice to see the face of the one who would ironically save my life. A presence was in front of me, neither alive nor dead. Not human, not anything.
No. They must be human. Their face came closer to mine; I could feel their icy skin practically touching my cheek as their lips came close to my ear. I froze, not in fear, but from the sheer presence of this person, thing. I yearned and dreaded their touch. To touch them I know would be to die, yet also, I was apprehensive of what they would do to me if I touched without permission. The smells of my house were no longer there. The sounds of the raiders deep breaths had disappeared also. Where was I?
“Roslyn.” It was barely a whisper, but given the painfully pressing silence, I was able to hear it clearly.
I swallowed hard. “Yes?”
“I am death, as you know I am sure.” Death’s voice had an eerie echo with it, and the malice that painted the voice as thick as tar alarmed me a little. I had not expected something so purely hateful.
“Yes. I should have guessed that.”
“Now Roslyn, I have a proposal for you. You see, I am bored of taking away the lives of useless humans who mean nothing to me, or the world. Few humans even fight me anymore, and I miss the days where people begged for mercy. Tears would pour down their face as I snatched away their soul in order to prolong my time of being death. But as I said, I am bored. You intrigued me Roslyn, I liked the way you thought.” Death paused and I breathed as gently as I could without sounding as though I was holding onto their every word. A grey light came from nowhere.
I saw Death.
A young man stood inches from me, eyes bright blue and skin as white as snow. He looked at me, piercing my soul and I nearly winced, as I felt him intruding into my thoughts and into my very being. His hair was white as well, as were his lips, and creepily his pupils. In fact what was most alarming was the fact that his actual eyeball was ink black, appearing to swim with hidden secrets and memories. Around his pale shoulders a black coat was hanging, threadbare and thin. It went down to his hips where he wore black leather jeans and a studded belt with most of the studs fallen off.
“As each stud falls off Roslyn, so does a year of my life as Death. Peculiar, is it not, that something so simple as a belt should symbolise something so powerful.” Had he caught my gaze, or read my mind? I felt sick from the questions that stirred in my head. A long finger pushed the sleeve of the jacket, which had begun to slide down the forearm, back up again. “Do you mind if I continue what I was saying? I just knew you were aching to see me, so I thought, seeing as you are the one I have chosen, hand picked if you like.” A black tongue licked his lower lip, and his teeth glinted a brilliant white, standing out against the dark ominous essence of his tongue. “I need to pick a replacement for me, you see. As with you incomprehensible humans with your traditions of having an heir or whatever, we have a similar idea. Each ruler of death must find a human to replace them, if they feel that no other ruler of death is acceptable.” He paused, staring at me as though trying to work out if I had understood what he was saying. My stomach turned as his eyes saw through me, seeming to read the thoughts that untangled themselves like a ball of string inside my mind. "Honestly Roslyn, I'd love to explain fully, but I've got a busy night ahead of me, people to kill, souls to eat..."
"You eat the souls?" I blurted out, my eyes refusing to be taken from his that are so unnatural. With the wave of his hand he ignored my question and instead continued his proposal.
"So here's how it goes, you become the new ruler of death in the next month or so. I'll tell you how it works and then we never have the unpleasant circumstances that cause us to reunite."
"But I... I don't want to be Death." The air dropped several degrees, making me shiver. The silence seemed to strangle me, causing me to breathe raggedly whilst I remained hooked on his gaze. Death's front teeth rested on top of his bottom lip for a moment before finally clamping down, where a trail of ice blue liquid oozed out and down his chin.
"No Roslyn. You are wrong. Everyone wants to have power over death." Slowly he'd moved towards me, a translucent hand reaching towards my face. Something kept me glued to the spot. Whether it was curiosity or flat out horror at how his white skin was stained with blue all around his mouth, something kept me there. It kept me there right up until his freezing hand touched my cheek and I felt the blood in my veins turn to liquid ice.