"This is where you will spend most of your time anymore. That is, until you are settled in your new occupation." Through the darkness flickers light. My body and Deaths are the only things visible, as though we are simply surrounded by nothingness. "It's a bit to get a hang of, but you should know where we are. This is The Void. It is in this location that souls go once they are removed from their body. I will not tell you that you must decide whether they go to Heaven or Hell, as their existence is completely up to you, but when a body dies, they come here. You must bring them here. As in mythology, you are the final escort of man." He pauses for emphasis, and though his hood is up, I feel as though a smile crept across his face.
"How did we get here?" Everything about my is in pain now. Where ever we are, it is making me feel uncomfortable.
"If souls come here in death, and you ARE the new Death, would it not make sense that you come here as well? What you are to be is the controller of life. You say what lives and what dies, and at the same time, you may navigate the planes. It's required if you are to escort souls here." The frayed ends of robed dance as he walks off into the darkness.
"You didn't answer my question. How did we get here?" I trot after him. This death is taller than I am, and his stride is enormous. A quick turn surprises me as he rounds to meet me in my eyes. A small ember glows from the sunken caverns detailing a slight frustration. It's not my fault I don't automatically know what is what.
"If Death desires to travel somewhere, a door will appear before him and he may go to his destination."
"I don't remember a door way." I respond with little respect. If my father taught me anything, it's to not fear bullies. Death did not appreciate this, and as the fire brightens fear and pain rushes into my body. Every terror I've ever imagined and ones I wouldn't fathom in a millennium block my eye sight. Drowning, burning, freezing, torture pierces my every thought. The image of my mother raped, beaten and slaughtered plays before my eyes.
And it stops.
"You will not treat me as anything lower than your master. You are to be my apprentice, and you will fear me if you do not respect me. These things you've just experienced are nothing in comparison to what I could subject you to. Make your choice and understand just what I am giving you. Someday you will know. And no," He turns away from me, allowing me to fall to the floor and vomit nothing, "there was no door. You could not see it because until moments ago, you were still technically alive."
"What?" I almost hurt my neck, snapping it up to look at him. What does he mean that I am not 'technically alive'.
"I just told you that only the dead could be here, and you hadn't connected that you were here? I'd have thought it obvious. When I took this job, I understood this almost immediately." A sadness was included, something more so than was usual for the being. "Well, as you seem to need things detailed for your exactly, you are not wholely alive anymore. You may think you breath, may feel as though your heart races more, may move and act as though you maintain living, but if you were hit by a car you would get back up. Of course, that is after the initial pain of being struck by a vehicle. If you lose a limb, you may reconnect it as you are composed of Deadmatter as I like to call it. If you are shot with a bullet, if it is not fatal, the wound will remain until something more serious is inflicted or you rest. I highly suggest you do not parade these things around. Life might get exceptionally difficult for you if the average person knew who you were."
"Will I be Dressed as you for the rest of my life."
"It's funny how long it takes for you to stop calling your existence 'life', but not for a while. Perhaps it's time to tell you how this is going to go down."
"Please." Death rears his head towards me, the fires threaten me more suffering, but die down as though he rolls his eyes. That's one of the more unique things I've seen.
"Such insubordination will cause me to demonstrate Hell for you. Mayhaps that would be a good thing. Several centuries after my start, I wondered where exactly I was sending my evil clients to. My curiosity found me in my own pit of Hell. Literally. I highly suggest it, despite it's negative connotations. It will make decisions more critical. Anyway, you will continue your 'life' until we are finished with training and other things. When I see fit, I will allow you to do as you please with me and all power will be given to you, but until then, you will only act with me when you are sleeping. Your dream time may be longer or maybe shorter than actual passing time. In effect, you will be completely dead when you sleep, and once you are finished the day's 'reaping' as it's been called, you may return to your body. Do you know of those bells they used to place on coffins?"
"Yes?" I could tell Death was smiling again.
"My idea after they'd found me one too many times 'dead' in the streets."
I laugh, the first time in what feels like the ages.
"Before I return you to the Land of the Living, know this. Your father is not dead, but it was as though you died before plunging the knife into his chest. You will find yourself in a hospital bed, but the people will never let you leave as your condition will be critical for the rest of your existence. Do what you need to do and do not be afraid of killing. You are Death, and there is nothing that can stop you."
My eyes open to a room full of doctors. A monitor is beeping slowly, once every two minutes, and my father is standing with them.
"He's... he's awake?" Father sighs relief and pats one of the doctors on the shoulder. All of the pain I'd just felt from The Void is gone. My face hurts, but it is nothing compared to what was only a moment ago.
Was it real? Could it be? I blink my eyes for an instant, see a doctor injecting me with a syringe, and fall to sleep once more.
"Hello again." I'm in The Void again. That pain returns to engulf my body in imaginary flames. Death is standing there, exactly as I'd left him a moment ago, only this time a touch more relaxed. "You will not wake up so soon this time, I will let you to your own mind, but I'd like to make a final request. No matter what, no matter the choices you make, would you do me a favour and continue going to school?"
"What?" Of all the things Death asks me to do, he wants me to go to school? It doesn't make sense unless... "Am I going to have to kill someone there?"
"As Death it will not matter who you will have to take, and the sooner you realize the futility of life, the easier it will be to escort souls. You may have to take a person or two there, who am I to know what Fait has in store for you," his emphasis on the word 'fate' seemed awkwardly put, something of a name more than a being. "but, please. You create your own importance for things. Do as you wish, but I request you stay in school."
"I... will... try..."
"Good. There will be a code on the other side of the hospital at..." He checks his pocket watch. It's golden sheen illuminates figures of individuals beneath large gnarled trees. "three in the morning. I'd advise you to be prepared for broken limbs."
Beep. The hospital lights were dimmed around me. Men were snoring in the beds adjacent to me, IV's dripping into veins with a soft sucking noise. The myriad of noises echoed in the harsh vacancy of professional persons. It appears my father stuck me with the out patients, probably figured I'd be here for a while and didn't want to rack up any large bill. Didn't explain where all of the Doctors were though... Oh shit! The clock on the wall said three and five, I was running late. Where can I go? Peering my head around to catch a glimpse of the exit doors, I can see that the guards are still here.
There goes my only escape. Unless...
I look at the window. The opening is just small enough that if I tried to squeeze through...
No. That's crazy talk. I am not death, this is not real. To try and take my life like that through the coersion of a fanciful illusion would simply show my father I really was incapable of rational thought.
The doctors were gone and it was about after three...
No, my internal alarm clock just knew what time it was, or I saw the clock before passing out again this last time.
It's all ridiculous. I can't take any of this as truth.
But, my subconciousness couldn't possibly want me to die. It wouldn't steer me wrong.
Three and ten.
I'm dreaming that Death is telling me I am the new ferryman of souls. How could I possibly tell myself my subconscious is a trustworthy guy?
That's it. I will just sit here and get better.
Get better and go back to my father who... He probably knows I was going to kill him. There is no way he'll let me go without killing me himself.
So my choices are as follows. Jump out the window and end my own life slash trust my imaginary friend Death or get better so my father can kill me himself.
i guess having control over this is something I'd like. I mean, I can't decide my parents, decide my job, decide my school, decide how people treat me, but I certainly can decide how I'll go out.
The rush of adrenaline surges through my body, I rip out the IVs from my arm, and hobble to the window. The heart monitor flat lines, a buzzer rings from beneath the nurse's desk, and I know what I've got to do. I've made my choice, decided my fate, it's time to act.
I thrust one foot out the window, a touch of cold tingles the bare of my foot, and I slide the other out. My body follows my legs as I spin to grab onto the edge.
Beneath me is a small of a roof, I am no more than two stories high. I'd probably survive this with only a few broken limbs... 'be prepared for broken limbs.' Deaths words echo in my head. Is there something to this? I hope to god there is, because if there isn't I'm a fucking deadass crazy.
I let go and time feels as though it slows down. The air rushes up, pushing my medical gown up past my head, revealing my bruised and paled flesh. A few moments later, the sound of snapping bones bounds up to my ears.
Pain, still less than that of the Void, streaks to my brain. I gasp in reaction, and roll over to my stomach. A numbness permeates and I drag myself to the edge of the roof. Half a story left, and I can make my way off.
Tires screech, people scream, and metal crunches. Footsteps beat, people cry, and nobody is in front of the hospital. As I thrust my body over this additional edge, attempting to utilize my legs to cushion the second fall, I can see that I am invisible to all. I drag my body off towards the woods and find a hole to sleep.
Just as Death had said, I dream without him. Maybe even worse though.
I dream in black.