It was one of those dark, windy, cold, and rainy nights where curling up and going to sleep seemed the best of all possible options. Kali would have gladly taken the offer up if she hadn't had to drive home. Four hours and the rain had steadily increased the entire way until the windshield wipers could barely keep up. They squealed back and forth, tossing and bailing water in their frenzied motion.
Back to the road, she reminded her eyes. They always wanted to drift away and follow the splashing drops of rain. But she had to pay attention, keep her eyes on the road. It was late, but her house was just a few more miles down the road. The dark, curvy, wet road. In a warm car, the rain as a lullaby. It was easier to just let her eyes slide closed for a moment. Just rest for a minute. No one was on the road at such an ungodly hour in such ungodly weather.
Open. Back on the road. Just keep moving. Almost there.
Those miles seemed to drag by as if plowing through the mud piling on either side of the road. A few houses passed, whirling out of the rain and wind to fly down the road. Every foot of road eaten by the tires was one foot closer to home. To sleep. To a nice warm bed. To a good night's sleep...
Her eyes shot open as gravel crunched beneath the tires. Instinctively, her arms slung the car back onto the road, momentarily forgetting the rain. It was an offense it would not kindly allow her to forget. The tires spun, sliding over the slick and muddy road. The opposite side swelled in the windshield like some torrential wave engulfing her. The front bumper slammed into the trees; the car bucked and twisted at the impact. In hindsight, she would have seen that she had done everything wrong. Falling asleep, driving a bit too fast (she only wanted to get home), no seatbelt, overcorrecting; it was a mess from the first step. But lying in the damp leaves, staring at a cloudy sky scarred with spidery lightning, such things were far from her thoughts. All she knew was her arm hurt, her head was roaring, and she was so tired...
Kali next opened her eyes to find it was still dark, but it had stopped raining. At least, it seemed that way. But when she sat up, the drops parted before her in the air, falling to the ground as she touched them. All the others hung suspended in the darkness, waiting. But what did it matter? She was alive.
There was blood on her, blood on the ground, blood on the shattered glass of the windshield, but she was alive. And there was a man watching her from the crumpled hood of her car.
"Hello?" she asked, surprised at how her voice seemed to echo. And how quiet everything was.
He didn't respond, but simply stood and walked down off the crushed sheet to the moist ground. Kali felt nervousness begin creeping up from the ground as the shadow moved towards her. He was dressed in a black cloak, his face covered by a hood. Soft, nearly silent steps brought him steadily closer. And closer. He was only a step away when he stopped.
"Do-Do you need something?" she asked, stumbling backwards, but never taking her eyes off him.
"Do you know who I am?" he asked, his voice cold and slithery with the sound of a smirk.
Her mouth opened and closed as if waiting for someone to insert the words she was looking for, but no one did and the gaping hollow finally closed itself.
"Gather your thoughts. We have all the time in the world." He sat down in a place Kali swore had been air only a moment before, but surely her eyes were simply playing tricks.
"Could you call an ambulance?" she sighed, closing her eyes for a moment to clear them. "I think I need my head checked."
"You do, but an ambulance won't really make much difference now."
Her eyes were open in an instant, locked on the nonchalant figure seated on a bank of dark and wet air. She began to stumble backwards, her feet moving of their own accord, but nothing seemed to change. He was still there, watching her from the dark recesses of his hood. Perhaps this was a dream. Or a hallucination.
"No, this is perfectly real. Or as real as we shall get tonight. Reality is overrated anyways, darling. You shouldn't be sad to see it go."
"Who are you?" she finally questioned with a quavering voice and teary eyes.
"And here I thought you could figure it out." He rose and pulled back his hood, smiling as she gasped in horror.
Where eyes should have been, two cruel and gnarled scars traced across his face, red and swollen as if recently healed. His skin and lips were coated with the heavy pallor of death that made her heart freeze for a moment. It was like looking at a fresh corpse.
"Long ago, they called me Thanatos. Others referred to me as Dis. Occasionally, I was confused with Shiva, though we were somewhat different. Some prefer Hades or Pluto. More modern beings have taken to calling me Muertos. You know me as Death."
Normally, Kali would have been sure he was crazy and run away. But since running wasn't an option, and his claims appeared to be the total truth, given his appearance, she was inclined to believe him. Then again, the head injury was perhaps the most likely explanation.
"Why are you here?"
His smile twisted into a disappointed grimace as he re-seated himself. "Not too quick on the pick up, are we?" He gestured towards the twisted car, then to Kali. "It should be obvious."
"You mean, I've-"
He nodded and beamed. "Very good. But now, I've an offer for you." He leaned back on the seat she was still sure didn't exist and brushed back his short black hair before continuing. "Why should you live? Understand, of course, that perhaps you aren't meant to die yet. Maybe this is a test, to see whether your appointment should be moved to a sooner date. I may simply be bored and found an incapacitated creature to whittle the time away with. So, how will the world be benefited by your continued existence?"
Once again, her mouth opened and closed, opened and closed.
"I see," he mused, leaning towards her. "That's not exactly convincing."
"I'm too young to die," she suddenly blurted out.
He laughed. It was a strange sound, as if it had bounced and ricocheted about his chest before finally escaping. And it fled quickly into the darkness, unwilling to be caged again. He leveled his sightless gaze towards her with the ultimate sincerity. "I hope there is more than that. Death is a blind and impartial judge to the plight of youth," he stated with an ironic grin. In fact, she was awfully sure he was enjoying this too much.
"Do you do this to everyone?" she asked, her ire rising.
Death shrugged and relaxed in his seat. "Only when I'm bored. But come now, do give me an answer."
"Well, I," she thought, musing over the question and trying to put aside the absurdity of the whole situation, "Maybe I'll discover the cure for cancer."
"No, sorry. That'll be a team of Asian scientists a few years from now."
"I'll write the great American novel."
"Hopefully better than the other foolish 'American Novels' everyone has penned. Are you sure you have the time? It would take years of your life."
'Well, perhaps I'll- Maybe I could- Who decided you got to make the decisions? Why should I justify my life to you?" Kali suddenly felt angry at the robed stranger. Who said death could determine the worth of a life not yet lived? Who knew what good she could accomplish?
"I hold all the cards here," he calmly replied, standing. Somehow he seemed to have grown feet taller while he sat and listened. He towered over her, standing only inches away from her face. A hand colder than anything she could imagine caught her chin and forced her to look into the gashes where eyes used to be. "Don't worry, I'm not a bad guy. In fact, you might even enjoy death." His hand dropped away, and he turned away from her, almost crestfallen. The raindrops began to shimmer in the air, straining against whatever force held them in thrall. They began to quiver and strain to be free as he began to walk away.
"So is it over? Do I die now?"
He turned back around for a moment, smiling, then lifted his hood back over his features. "You'll find out soon enough. And I would hate to ruin the ending. See you sooner or later, darling."
He was gone, his silhouette fading into the night as the raindrops fell and erased the last shadows of his presence. Kali knew she was back on the ground. Her body screamed, the wind wailed, the rain fell, and darkness consumed it all.
So, whatcha think happens? Hmmm? I'm curious, but whatever. Hope you enjoyed this; that's one reason I write. Well, I'd love to hear from you. por favor. Okay, well
Gata de la noche