Author's Note: The long await, 50,000 word novel has finally arrived! I worked on this piece nearly 24/7 and worked my butt off on it. I'm proud of this work mainly because it's the first novel I've ever finished and I completed it within the allotted time span. I even got a fancy certificate!

That Which Is Death
death (děth)

He couldn't tell what happened. There was a loud crash and he was thrust forward. Without something restraining him, he flew forward over the steering wheel and crashed into the glass. There must have been pain, he could feel the foreign objects piercing his face, his arms, and his chest, but everything happened far too quickly and soon there was darkness.

He lazily blinked his bleary eyes. There was white everywhere – a blinding white light that was completely contrast to the black abyss he had previously been in – and he had to shield his eyes from the brightness that encased him. He slowly sat up, wondering where he was and noticed two giant gates, nothing else except a vast white expanse. The two gates were huge, towering over the rest of the landscape. The gate on his right was made of gold and intricate pictures of two humans, pairs of animals, waves of stormy water, a tall tower that stretched to the sky, and a man hanging on a cross. The gate was barred with thick golden rods and fastened shut with an elegant lock. Through the closed gate, he could see a winding, golden path that cut through green hills lined by a lush canopy of colorful trees and flowers and ending with a bright, white light that shone brightly where the path met the horizon. Opposite this gate was another – a larger gate, wider than the first – that was of the deepest charcoal black. Red, orange and yellow flames licked its threshold and climbed up to the crest of its arch. The gate's doors were flung open as wide as they could go, waiting for one to enter. The boy walked towards the black, flaming gate. He didn't want to enter its threshold, but an unseen force drew him in, whispering sweet nothings in his ear. He walked past the gate, onto a rocky, molten red, jagged terrain and the gates behind him slammed shut, clanging loudly in the desolate land. He looked back towards the gates, wondering what was going on, and stepped towards them, grasping its bars and longing to leave through them. The dark place he was in, it was hot; his skin felt like flames were inches away, threatening to burn him; the air was searing and burned his eye, making them water, and burning his throat and lungs every time he gasped for breath; his tongue burned as if hot coals were constantly in his mouth. Still, the unseen force pulled him farther in where the heat grew and flames licked the barren earth. He followed a coal black, rocky path through cliffs and uneven rocks which looked as if they had been snapped in half, until he came to a small, round plateau wherein a black, caped figure was seated on an even darker throne. The figure was about his own height when sitting (probably a foot or so taller when standing) and was staring straight at him as he approached, although his features could never be discerned as they were covered by an unnatural, infinite shadow. The boy stopped several feet in front of the figure and bowed for reasons he knew not.

"Welcome." The figure spoke. His voice was scratchy and slick, the epitome of disgust and hatred. The figure stood and walked forward, circling the boy with a disproving air. "Stand up, boy."

As he was told, the boy stood up and followed the abysmal figure with his eyes. The figure stopped in front of him and spoke again in that voice the scratched at his ears and made him flinch, "Speak, boy, ask me what you wish to know."

The boy stared, "Where – where am I?"

Even through the black shadows of the figure's face, the boy could see his sinister and wicked smile, "Did I not say before? Well let me welcome you properly then." Somehow the aura around the figure grew heavier and darker and the boy almost regretted asking the question. "You're in Hell."

The boy frowned and became confused. "Hell?" he asked as the figure returned to his large stone throne.

"Indeed. You have died, boy, and God has not permitted you to enter his kingdom," he spoke these words with some disgust, but, nonetheless continued, "and so, you will now stay in hell for the remainder of eternity."

The boy did not argue; he merely nodded his head solemnly. Somehow, the figures words didn't shock him as much now that he was dead, as he assumed he might have where he still alive and in a place other than this fiery land. He had never believed in God – his parents and younger sister were firm believers, but he had rejected their faith and lived the life he wanted—hanging with his friends, drinking, smoking pot, going to parties, and having his fair share of fun with girls. He had believed he didn't need God, but now he knew for certain that he had made the wrong decision. This dim, searing land and the uneasy feeling were uncomfortable, bordering painful – he was not sure he could last another hour in the place let alone all eternity.

"However," the voice spoke up, drawing back the boy's attention and snapping him out of his bleak thoughts, "I am a Death Demon, one who performs the task of killing you filthy humans, and I am in charge of you. From now on you will be one of my slaves and will do my bidding. I will give you two options, however. You may stay here, serving me and waiting on my every need, or you may go back to your world and perform the task of killing those whom I request of you. The choice is yours, make it quick."

The boy struggled within himself. On the one hand, he didn't think he could return to earth and consciously kill people—the guilt would eat him alive – but then again, he couldn't stay here in this horrible place and he wanted to see his family again, one more time. At least once more he wanted to talk and be with his younger sister. They had had a close relationship even though she was a Christian and he was not. She would always make him laugh and help him through the rough times in his life, and he was the protective big brother who kept away bullies and those boyfriends who just wanted her in bed. Even when they were young, they had played together at the park and had been each other's best friends. He thought that maybe, if he was with his sister even if he could only see her, he might be able to swallow his guilt and be free of the place called Hell.

"I'll go." He spoke softly, doubt entangled in his words.

The figure chuckled and a shiver ran up the boy's spine, "Good then; not many choose the path you have. From now on, for forever, you will kill those whom I tell you. You will not be able to avoid killing someone who I have assigned you, but you are free to kill others too, if you would so choose." A scroll formed in front of the boy along with a pen, both floating in mid-air. "Sign the contract, boy, and your destiny will be set for you."

The boy tentatively picked up the pen and scribbled his name. Once finished, the scroll vanished into a black shadow and flew around in the sky. It suddenly changed directions and veered downwards, lunging into the boy's body. A sinister aura washed over him and made him want to scratch at his skin until the feeling went away. A searing pain began to engulf his body from the inside out, eating and burning his flesh. He fell to the ground, scratching as his skin and gasped for breath.

The figure laughed loudly as he watched the boy in his increasing agony. "The moment you wake up you will have the power to kill with the touch of your skin. You will no longer be called by your human name, forevermore your name will be Death." The figure laughed again, his voice echoing off the nothingness around them as the boy writhed in pain. He screamed, unable to bear the burning that ate away at his flesh, and soon there was nothing except black.

death (děth)

1. The act of dying; termination of life.

2. The state of being dead.

3. The cause of dying: Drugs were the death of him.

4. A manner of dying: a heroine's death.

5. Often Death a personification of the destroyer of life, usually represented as a skeleton holding a scythe.

6. Bloodshed; murder.

7. Execution.

8. Law Civil death.

9. The termination or extinction of something: the death of imperialism.

[Middle English deeth, from Old English dēath; see dheu-2 in Indo-European roots.]

"What did the doctors say, mom?"

"The surgery went well and he should be stable, but since his heart stopped on his way to the hospital and they were only just able to revive him when he arrived, they want to keep him a while to monitor him after he wakes up. The doctor doesn't know when he'll wake up though, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week – we'll just have to wait and see."

There was a quiet silence where the only thing heard was the shrill beeping of the heart monitor.

"Mom, do you think – do you think he's going to be okay? I mean, sure the doctor said he would be, but what if he doesn't get better, what if…"

"Sweetheart, I'm sure everything will be fine. Your brother is a tough kid; if no one else, I'm sure he could pull through."

"You bet I could…I am your big brother, after all." He blinked open his eyes to the blinding white, sterile room of the hospital and spoke in a soft, scratchy, painful voice.

"Oh my goodness, Aaron, you're awake? How are you feeling?" A woman with shoulder length brown hair that was beginning to grey in the front spoke as she hurried to his side.

"Aaron, are you alright?" His sister, a short teenager with long blond hair and a caring personality, ran to his other side and held on to the rail of his hospital bed.

"Well, besides feeling like crap, I think I'm doing pretty well." He mumbled. He didn't try to sit up or move in any way, remnants of the searing pain he felt over all his skin still coursed through his body making every movement painful.

"I'll be right back, honey; I'm going to go get your father." Aaron's mother spoke warmly yet hurriedly. She gently patted Aaron's covered leg and left the room in a rush, wanting to tell her husband as soon as possible.

He looked over to his sister who still stood by his bed. He had gotten to come back to life and see her again. He was glad that he had made this decision; he could deal with all the baggage that followed. He heard a sniffle and noticed a tear streaming down his sister's face. He tried to sit up, but couldn't manage through the pain and resigned himself to stay still for a while longer. "Lizzie, don't cry, everything's going to be fine – I'm fine. You have nothing to worry about." He spoke in the most reassuring voice he could muster through his dry, scratchy throat.

She laughed once even as tears continued to stream down her cheeks. "I know, I was just so worried…" She moved a hand from the bed's railing and reached for Aaron's hand.

"The moment you wake up you will have the power to kill with the touch of your skin. You will no longer be called by your mortal name; forevermore your name will be Death." The figure laughed again, his voice echoing off the nothingness around them as the boy writhed in pain.

"No!" Aaron yelled, shrinking back to the opposite side of the bed. The pain had hidden itself in the far reaches of his mind as his worry for his sister's safety became the only thing he could think about. "Don't touch me." He safely tucked both of his hands underneath his blanket.

"A-Aaron, what's wrong?" She asked, frowning and confused.

"Nothing's wrong, I just don't want to be touched – I don't want anybody to touch me – at all." He spoke quickly as he stared at her, daring her to try again.

Still worried, she hesitantly nodded. She pulled a chair away from the wall, moving it next to Aaron's bed, and sat down.