20: prize

When my eyes open, they're met with a blinding light that makes me wince. It's almost as if, in that light, everything comes rushing back to me. So fast that I feel like my brain is about to burst, like blood is going to be trickling out of my ears from the strain. I whimper and grab my head, feeling a tug on my arm. Looking over, I see that I'm hooked up to an IV machine and I'm reminded of where I spent my last Halloween. I wonder if it'll be a tradition now, for me to lose someone on Halloween and spend the night at the hospital.

But…

There's no one left for me to lose.

I sob, covering my burning, red, puffy eyes with my hands and ignore the throbbing from the slash on my arm. Then, I hear someone humming from beside me and recognize it all the way. But I don't have the energy to do anything. I feel like I've rotted inside, like even though my body is still alive, I feel dead.

Finally, I remove my hands and slowly turn my head to the window, and sure enough, Death is there, sitting on the window sill, staring up at the full moon and humming to himself.

"It's too bad the moon isn't red, tonight would be perfect if it were," he said softly.

"You're…a monster," I whisper, my voice rasp.

A beautiful monster.

It's true. He looks beautiful there, sitting on the window sill with the moon light reflecting off him. But even though the light is on, it looks darker by him for some reason. Nevertheless, he's a beautiful and deadly creature.

He turns to me with a smile and says, "You've won your mother's life, but her soul is still mine. Shall we call it a draw?"

"You said," I choke, my throat unbearably dry, "that if I won, you'd tell me — in the library."

"Oh yes, about the game."

"How long?"

"It started when your sister was born and your mother made the deal. Your mother's the one who started the game, but I was the one who thought it up. First, all I had to do was find the other…players."

"My family."

"Yes. I didn't have everything thought out though. It just came together on its own and became a new game over time. At first, I just wanted to see if I could make a human fall in love with me — and I did."

"You weren't curious about emotions?"

"I've existed much, much longer than you. I'm already quite aware of emotions and how they work. Honestly, they just make humans act like complete morons most times, but they also make you fun to play with when I get bored."

"You're sick!" I try to scream but my voice cracks and I cough.

My hand catches blood.

"Emotions make us stronger, it helps us know and understand each other," I whisper into my blood-stained hand.

He sighs, shrugging his shoulders carelessly. "If that's what you want to believe. To me, you just sound like a blabbering fool. You let your emotions rule over you too much. If you had been more calm through this, you could have saved your mother and sister. Maybe." He then shakes his head thoughtfully. "Not your father though. You were much too young to save him."

"How could I have saved my sister?"

"By asking me to save her life instead of your own, by making a deal of your own, but you didn't. You were too panicked and scared. You only thought about saving yourself. Her soul was taken, yes, but I'm the God of Death. I could have given it back."

I feel a pain in my heart at that.

"Would you have…really given her back?"

I could have had her back?

Kaela…

My sister…who was too young to die… I could have saved her?

"Maybe. It would have depended on the deal you made."

"You didn't give me enough time to think about that…"

"If you didn't have your emotions getting in your way, you would have had plenty of time to use that pretty little brain of yours to think up something."

"But it changed."

"Oh yes, the game changed, after you confessed, I felt…it just wasn't a good enough ending to the game. And then I remembered how your mother was supposed to die."

"You knew I'd be the one to kill her."

"It was very blurry, but I had a hunch."

"An accident…"

"You didn't mean to kill her, did you?"

No…

I just wanted her to stop…

"That's called unintentional, not an accident."

"Yes, but I enjoyed watching you panic and acting overly paranoid."

I don't say anything to that.

"But you won her life, so I'm here to give you a prize."

I grip the sheets.

"Whatever you want, I'll give it to you."

"Give them back," I hiss through clenched teeth.

He doesn't respond.

"My father, my sister, and my mother…give them back."

My family.

My blood.

My kin.

I want them back!

"I can't do that."

"You said anything!" I shout but soon regret it, as more blood oozes out of my mouth — something that doesn't seem to surprise Death at all.

"Why would you even want your mother back? She tried to kill you."

"You wouldn't understand… She's my family, my mom. She gave me my life. She was…she was the first person I saw and loved when I came into this world…I…" I look at him with fierce eyes. "I don't care how you do it, just give them back to me."

"And what would I do? Put their souls in their corpses? Your father is nothing but bones now, your sister as well, and your mother's body will still die, soul or no soul. Having a soul will only make her death slower."

"Like what's happening to me," I choke out.

He smiles. "You got it."

"I just figured it out. My body…it's dying."

"A soul can only do so much. Your body should have died last year. Your soul shouldn't even be in there anymore."

"Can't you…put my family in new bodies?"

"No. Their souls lost their hosts. They would just reject a foreign vessel."

I look away. "Then what could you…possibly do for me? What could you possibly give me?"

He places a hand on my stomach, a feathery light touch.

"Your body is dying, but I can heal it. I can prolong your life."

"How long?"

"A decade or two. You'll only make it to thirty forty though, fifty if you're lucky."

"You call that a prize?"

"Some people wish for merely one more day to live."

But I…I don't want to live at all.

Not anymore.

"I don't…I want…my family…take me now…" I sob.

"You choose to die?"

"Yes!" I'll do anything, to feel them in my hands and arms again. Kaela's innocent smile, father's protecting arms, mother's loving embrace.

I want it all back.

I don't want to live with this loss!

"Besides, even if you could prolong my life, tell me, what kind of life would I have? I'm a murderer now!"

"I could erase the evidence. No one would know."

"I WOULD!" I scream and then cough again. "Please don't…don't ask me to live with the guilt of killing my mother…not when it's your fault she snapped in the first place!"

"And yet you still love me," he smirks and if I had been standing, I would have fallen back.

"Wha-what? What does that have to do with anything?!"

"Nothing, honestly. It's just something about humans that's always confused, amused, and escaped me. The way you love. You can love even the most horrible people, even if you're the one they're horrible to, even if it's obvious that your love isn't returned."

"Now you're trying to rub my face in the fact that you don't love me?"

He turns to look back out the window. "You were a fool to believe I would. After all…you're still alive. I'm the God of Death. I have no feelings for the living."

"You've made that clear," I growl. "Now are you going to give me my prize or not?"

"You're in such a hurry… Fine, but you have a wake up first."

And I do.

When I do open my eyes, the first thing I hear is a beeping sound, steady but slow. I look over to my side and see Death there, staring down at me.

"Are you sure this is what you want?"

I nod, slowly. Suddenly there feels like there's a weight pressing down on me, making it hard to breath or move. I can already feel myself slipping away.

"No regrets?"

"No regrets," I confirm, my voice so low and cracked, I doubt he would've heard me if he was a human.

He leans down, and just before his lips touch mine, I whisper, "I hate you."

He answers, "I know." Then kisses me.

I feel…light, like gravity no longer applies to me as I'm pulled up and out of my body. I can't see, but I can feel Death leading me somewhere, someplace warm and comforting. It's like all of the pain in my body and heart fade away and I know that I'll rest in pure bliss.

When we stop, the first thing I feel is my sister's head being buried against my stomach, my father's strong arms holding us from behind, and mother gently placing a kiss on my forehead.

Dad.

Mom.

Kaela…

"I'm home."

fin


And Death's Deal is over. Thank you to those who read and reviewed! It meant a lot to me! You know, a couple of years after I first finished this story, I had thought that maybe I was inspired somehow by Greek Gods. I wrote this not long after high school, and one of my senior classes was Greek Mythology. I remember how I got the general idea of Gods and how they like to toy with humans when they're bored, and that's kind of what this is. A God of Death toying with Faith and her family because, well, he got bored. (He's a horrible person…creature…thing…) Anyway, even though there are still a lot that needs to be improved, I'm not sure I'll ever put a new revised piece of this up (but who knows?). I hope you enjoyed this story! Thanks again!