The room is dark now, but that’s not what’s bothering me. After all, I’ve done some of my best work with the lights out. If you don’t believe, me I’ve got the numbers of several very nice young ladies who’ll confirm it for you.
No, it’s the quiet that I find unnerving.
I must have gotten used to that ridiculous racket that surrounded me for the last… how long had it been? It felt like years, but surely it couldn’t have been that long. Time has been playing tricks on me lately.
The machines are silent, and that’s definitely a good thing. That electronic commotion had been working away on my nerve endings like a starving dog on a bone. But the voices have left me behind too and I’m finding that I dislike the lack of human contact. It’s my own fault, I suppose, but that’s not the point.
I move to the window and study the report in my hands by the light of a full moon. The black words on white paper drag the corners of my lips down to earth. It all feels so… avoidable.
“If I had got here just a little sooner,” I mutter softly, “things might have been all right.”
But it goes back further than that, doesn’t it? If I had never met Lilly I would have left this miserable city in my dust a long, long time ago. And then none of this could have happened.
“If I had rejected the job offer, I’d have been working somewhere else. If I had called in sick, I wouldn’t have strolled right into that damned mess. If…”
I trail off into silence as the sound of footsteps in the hall reach my ears. My eyes go to the doorway of the room and my mouth goes dry. They’re getting louder. Someone is coming.
It is not who I expect.
The figure pauses at the open door and turns to look at me. An insane thought hits me with the force of an oncoming truck and I stumble backwards.
What would happen if I jumped out the window? If I -
“Timothy.” My name echoes strangely, as though the speaker is hollow. My head snaps around, almost against my will. I hadn’t realized that I had turned to face the window.
“Wait,” I say, raising one hand towards him. “What if -”
“We both know,” Death says slowly, “that our meeting was never a matter of if.”
Word count: 413
For all of us, meeting Death is not a matter of if. It's a matter of when.