The Size Of Death

 “Am I dead?”  The young woman asked, pale eyes widening as she stared, wondering, up to me.  I smiled.  She’d asked later than usual, not until I had taken her gently by the hand, and led her through the door between the realms.  And there we were now, in the doorless-corridor, clinical lights flickering against the startling white walls.  The chair creaked as I shifted.  It needed replacing.  I placed my hands solidly on the table, the spindly fingers caressing the cool, solid wood beneath.

“It’s nothing to worry about,”  I replied.  “We are going to take good care of you.”

“I just thought… I dunno, that you would be… bigger.”

“Who am I?”

“God?”

They always say God is Lord of the Universe – universe, nowadays, not the world.  The world is used to describe the Earth, even Johnson’s dictionary limits it as such.  Oh I pity the mortals.  The size of their worlds are so limited, thinking with only their ego.  They simply cannot escape the confines of their own minds, despite the psychics, Buddhists and witches promoting paths that point them otherwise.  They crave alternative experiences.  A wider perspective, and many choose to ally themselves to a ‘greater force’ in order to achieve it.  The fact of the matter is that we are ruled by what we fear.  For all, that is mortality, the unknown – death.

“I am Death.” 

They fear me, some revere me even, some wish to know me.  They say it is a lonely life, or a sinful life.  Yes, life – because even Death lives.  Or rather, exists.  Exist rather than live, I think, since I am present – eternally present in your lives.  The hidden shadow in the recesses of your heart, an old friend.

You fear me because I am a close friend, close as the hairs on your face of the air you breath.  In fact, I am that air, because if I refuse to exhale for you, you will cease to exist.

Well, not cease to exist, merely, change your existence.

“Death?  Not God?”  I nod, slowly.  Her face crumples, confused.  There is silence as she tries to open her mind to the possibility.  A lightbulb flickers out, and she glares up at the ceiling, which seems to be miles above her.  I see a tear break from her eye, and I cock my head in sympathy.  No rants, no rages, no tantrums or attempted murder, just a tear.  And it shudders into the pit of my body, where my heart used to be, pumping the veins of life with vigour and adoration.  She glances quickly, and sees the attitude I am in. 

“I know you” she says, and I glare down at the paper before me.  When I look up, I am smiling at her, simultaneously folding the paper and sliding it across the desk towards her.

“Yes, you do.”  And her form fades, as usual, as a smile of understanding creeps across her face.

Sometimes it takes hours for them to realise, but when they do, it’s always the same effect, fading away and melting into their next realm, like waking from a dream, or realising a mirage.  That’s the thing: the truth is always preferable to a story. 

When she has gone, I click my fingers, and the corridor changes.  The truth is, I am the Lord of the World, and yet so are you.  Death exists first, and yet is synonymous with life.  For there is no life without Death.

 

“Look, can’t we talk about this?”

“Rules are rules, it’s time to go – look, I have a commission to fulfil.”

“Well this is my life!”

“So?”

“So… you can’t just take it away!”

They stared at the vial on the chess board between them.

“It was rented.”

“Rented?”

“Yes, and now your term is over.  Seventy years we agreed, non-refundable, non-extendable.  That was the contract.”

“Contract?  I signed no contract!”

Death sighed.  It was always the same.  A light bulb exploded and he clicked a spindly finger, replacing it.

“MEDDLEWORTH!”  He roared, and a little creature with enormous ears staggered in.  The mortal yelped.  “Oh shut up you squirming worm – Meddleworth, get the contract.”  The creature stumbled out again.  “We used to call him Frankenstein until that Shelley woman walked in by accident.  The lock on the door in Geneva goes a bit in May.”  The mortal let his lips curl in a mock smile.  “MEDDLEWORTH!  Get in here!”  The creature limped in, carrying a roll of parchment that obscured his face.  He dithered around as he tried to find the table, before plonking it down in front of his master.

            “A ha, here we are: ‘Peter’ – good name that – ‘Peter Frederick Miller… to live for seventy years in peace until’ – oooh, hang about… ‘until collected by Death’s minions to become Death’s First Secretary of Execution’… oh Vesper won’t like that… Oh well.  Grumpleweed – go and find Vesper will you?”  A goblin looked up, and said in a nasally-high-pitched voice Peter had not expected:

“She’s out, sir, collecting a Russian.”

“What?  Why is she collecting?  That’s your job.”

“He was important sir, reincarnation of Azrael or something.”

            “Oh for chrissake Grumpleweed, I’M Azrael!”  Death sighed, and cradled his head in his hands.  Peter was still there.  “Well, what do you want? Get to work.”  Death snapped.

“Well… I”.

“Oh.”

“Yes.”

“You’ve forgotten.”

“Forgotten?!”

“well, surely you’ve been First Secretary of Execution before?”  Peter shook his head.  Slowly.

Fine!  Just follow me, then,

The End

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