There is a gun pointed at me by a woman in shadow right this very moment. Meager light from the street lamps fights it way through the blinds of my dark office as I sit behind my desk shrouded in nothingness.
Caught unaware I was, found with my left cheek upon my desk, asleep in a pool of my own drool alongside a bottle of rum sitting on its side with nary a drop to its name.
From my one eye that is allowed to see, light catches the barrel of the pistol firmly pressed, held by a well manicured stark white delicate hand. The pressure of the metal tube tight against my temple, which I’m sure, is creating a nice circular indentation upon my skin at this very moment.
I hear the rain outside pouring buckets of cats and dogs. I hear the cars cutting through the river that is the road as I sit immobile just two floors above this moving passive world.
I could die here tonight, brains sprayed all across my desk. The cops would have a hell of a time playing connect the dots in trying to figure out my face after the trigger was pulled. No opening of the casket for the wife and kids, or friends. If I had any of those.
She was itching to kill me. This was a woman who meant business.
I could tell she knew her business, knew her business well. She wasn’t breathing heavy, in fact she wasn’t breathing at all!
Well that’s peculiar.
A small, dithering of low laughter filled the darkened room around me. Who was with her? My one eyeball twirled to see.
“Don’t worry about them, they are the last thing you will need to worry about. Indeed the last.” Her voice crackled like burnt paper to my ear. I knew she was smiling eventhough I couldn’t see her.
“What do you want?” I asked, calmer than I felt. Perhaps I was already resigned to my fate.
“Your fate is in my hands is it? That has always been your mistake almost from the moment you drew air into this world. You are like so many I meet in this world.”
She pressed the gun harder against my skull. The metal bit deeper. I could feel the blood starting to flow down over my cheek near my eye.
“For fuck sakes! Stop! What do you mean!?”
“Think, you fucking moron. Why am I here. Right now. In this room. With you. Holding a gun to your head? Think hard before you speak another word.”
Think, think, think. I know if I said the right wrong thing she would pull the trigger.
“You got that right, stop telling yourself to think and actually do it.” Crinkle, crinkle went her papery voice.
She can hear what I’m thinking?
“Yes, for fuck sakes you are just now picking up on that, god I hate my job. Think.” I saw her grip tighten on the trigger.
So I thought. Quietly to myself. I thought. Then I knew.
“I know why you are here. I asked you to come. You are Death aren’t you? Actual Death.” I cringed in my own pool of drool just asking her, it? or what the fuck ever the correct pronoun was appropriate.
Suddenly the gun was removed from my head.
“Congratulations, now sit up, not much time left. Listen carefully. First, you are abysmal at killing yourself. I have presided over your almost corpse six times prior, waiting and waiting and you always seem to pull through. Now this seventh time you knock yet again on Death’s door. Do you know how rude it is to knock on someone’s door and then run away…..well do you!!” She yelled like a Banshee then, causing my overturned bottle of rum to shatter into a thousand pieces.
“Well?” she asked almost too quietly. I heard her tapping a foot on my hard wood floors.
“Oh, um, I’m sorry. I thought that was a rhetorical question….of course it’s rude. I didn’t know I was ah uh knocking in my defense. I never thought death was literal in the sense that you are… I uh mean standing in front of me like your are in the real sense of things….” my words dithered slowly to a mumble as she slowly leaned forward into the dim light over my desk.
I was struck by how beautiful Death was immediately as her/it face came into view.
“Why thank you, and I should be and I’m not an IT, she is the proper pronoun, and I need you to hire you for job” she said, replying immediately to my thoughts.
” A job, me, investigating for you, Death? What could I ever possibly help you with?
“My death, my very own death. You see, someone in precisely seven days, sixteen hours, three minutes and two seconds is going to kill me. I need you to find the killer before he, or she, or them, or it kills me.”
by Philip Wardlow Jan 16th, 2023