Author's Note: This is the very last chapter, and the most sad and depressing in my opinion. I hope everyone whose read this story has enjoyed it a bunch, cause I sure did when I wrote it and the numerous times I've read it. & happy reading!
That Which Is Death: Chapter 20
After he had left the diner he went straight home. He felt his spirits pull more than ever and a feeling a anger began to emerge from within it. He knew that most likely the Death Demon would want to see him so he had gone home and sat of his bed to wait. Popeye had followed him when he had entered the door, growling slightly, and had continued growling as he followed his master. When Aaron had sat down Popeye began to bark loudly and Aaron felt the semi-familiar pain all over his body that meant he was being summoned to hell's realm. Pain engulfed him and consciousness and sight left him. When he again was aware of where he was, he couldn't breathe and his feet were dangling in the air. A fiery and icy hand was gripped firmly around his neck, constricting his air intake. He grabbed at the figures hand, trying to free himself, but the hand held on tighter.
"Death, you disappoint me. I thought you were better than to let your identity slip." The Death Demon sneered hatefully and threw Aaron to the ground as if he weighed nothing. He slid across the ground after making contact, blackness dancing before his eyes. He rubbed his throbbing neck as he gulped in breaths of air.
"I told you that you were not to let the mortals find out anything about what you are. It stated clearly in the contract that no human was to see nor accused you of murdering someone, or find anything otherwise that would allow them to even think that you were Death."
Aaron pushed himself to his hands and knees slowly.
"Go back and kill everyone that was in that diner when Joby screamed her accusations. It's because humans find out about spirits like you that myths about things like the Grim Reaper appear. All of the people that were in the diner when that girl accused you of killing her brother will be added to you Death book and you are to kill them by tonight, including that loud mouth girl."
A rush of pain consumed him and he soon found himself sprawled across his bed, Popeye licking his face comfortingly.
n. pl. truths (trōōthz, trōōths)
1. Conformity to fact or actuality.
2. A statement proven to be or accepted as true.
3. Sincerity; integrity.
4. Fidelity to an original or standard.
5. Reality; actuality.
6. often Truth That which is considered to be the supreme reality and to have the ultimate meaning and value of existence.
[Middle English trewthe, loyalty, from Old English trēowth; see deru- in Indo-European roots.]
The next day Joby found herself at home watching TV. It was a school day, but she had decided not to go to school. Her mind was too distracted to pay attention to her teacher's boring lectures and take notes on the physiological aspects of diseases like epilepsy and dementia, how to factor complex fractions, and learnt the structure of America's government inside and out. Instead she was wallowing in the wonderfully corny world of soap operas. A knock resounded at the door. She turned the TV on mute and walked to the door, wondering who would be visiting in the middle of the day. When she opened the door she was surprised and slightly shocked to see Aaron standing on her doorstep, looking weary and worse for wear. The side of her that was mad at him didn't care what he wanted and wished he would disappear from the face of the earth, but the more dominant side of her that felt a deep love for the boy in front of her was worried and wanted to hold and comfort him.
"What do you want?" She asked flatly, trying not to convey her mixed emotions.
His eyes were solemn and sorrowful and deep, dark bags hung below those glossy grey eyes. "I…need to…tell you something." His voice was very weak and barely audible.
Joby began to worry for him. He looked as if he had not slept the entire night previously and had gone through a lot. He began to waver and she noticed his body trembling slightly as if it was all he could do to stand in front of her. At this point she knew something was seriously wrong with him.
"Why don't you come in and sit down for a little while…" She mentioned, her concern taking over her anger at him.
He stepped forward but failed to notice the set up to the door frame, and tripped. Joby moved to catch him, but he regained his composure, catching himself on the threshold.
"Why don't you let me help you," She asked moving forward to grab his arm as she spoke.
"No!" He said urgently. Joby froze in mid step as he seemed to buckle slightly underneath the pain. "Stay as far away from me as you possibly can."
She scowled and crossed her arms, thinking he was an unbelievable jerk for coming to her house and telling her that he didn't want to be anywhere near her.
"Not…like that;" he said quickly, noticing her perturbed expression, " I'll explain in a minute, but just, please, don't come near me."He made his way into the living room by using the wall for support and sat down on the couch. Joby took a seat across from him in an armchair. There was a pregnant awkward silence in which Joby stared pointedly at Aaron and Aaron seemed to collect the thoughts inside of his head.
"There are…things…that I have never told anyone. Things that are so secret that I moved away from home because of them to start a new life where I didn't know anyone." He looked Joby in the eye as he spoke and her angry aura disappeared as she realized she was being told something extremely important.
"You…will be the first person I've ever told this too."
She nodded hesitantly, curious, but worried as to what he would try to keep withheld from even those he loved.
"Several months ago, at the beginning of fall, I got into a fatal car accident after I had been partying and had drunken too much. I was rushed to the hospital but my heart had already stopped beating, I had technically been dead for over seven minutes, but I was revived. Supposedly the doctors had restarted my heart, but that's not what happened at all." He was doing a fairly good job of hiding his suffering and not letting it surface and appear in his expression, but inside, inside it felt as if hell itself had been located inside of him and was burning, torturing him slowly.
She stared at him confused.
"During that time when I had died, I was sent to hell.
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 gated 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, 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 where the path met the horizon. Opposite this gate was another – a larger gate, wider than the first – that was the deepest charcoal black. Red, orange and yellow flames licked its threshold and climbed up to the crest of the gate. The gate's doors were flung open as wide as they would 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.
"I'll skip all the details because I really hate that place. I was placed under the servitude of one of the demons, a Death Demon. He is a horrible…thing, and forced me to either serve him endlessly or return to earth where I would kill the people he assigned me. It was a tough decision, but ultimately I decided to return to earth, no matter the repercussions, just to be with my family and friends and escape that evil infested place. I thought I could bear the weight and the guilt of killing people if I was only around those who were close to me. That was probably the worst decision I've ever made in my life, except for the one that got me killed in the first place. Trust me, I don't enjoy taking people lives away from them and causing so much grief, but I signed a contract and am forced to kill everyone written in the book."
"What book?" Joby interrupted. Nothing was making sense, but she was able to somewhat follow where he was going.
Aaron pulled off the backpack from his back (she had not noticed it there when she had met him at the door) and pulled out a red book. He opened it to the first page and handed it to her.
She accepted it. Right when the book touched her skin she felt an evil, deathly feeling run under her skin like a shiver or goose bumps. She read over the first page:
This book now belongs to you, Death. Each night your new charge's name will appear, along with all the information you will need to find said person. All your assignments will be around the area you are living and you should easily be able to find and reach each person. It would be inconvenient for so many people to die without a cause, so when you kill a person, police and doctors, along with every other human, will find evidence that support some other form of death. The soul of each person you kill will automatically be sent to Hell, unless they have accepted God as their Savior, and will become one of my servants. Each servant I acquire grants me more power and raises my rank as a Death Demon.
When you arrive at the stated destination, you will know for sure which person you are to kill as you Death spirit will shriek with exhilaration. Also, if you fail to kill your charge, your Death spirit will imprint a pain upon your body so terrible that you will not be able to even stand up. I would suggest completing your assignment as soon as possible so that nothing else will get in that way and you will not risk being subject to such pain. However, the decision is entirely up to you. Do as you like. If you continually refuse to kill your charge, even through your Death spirit's pain, you will be brought before me, in Hell's realm, and you will be tortured until I deem the punishment sufficient. Understand that I neither like nor dislike you and do not care what may happen to you. Do your job and thing will be much easier on you.
"Your name is Death?"
He nodded, waiting for the other questions he knew she would present him with.
"Is it true that…when you don't kill someone your 'Death spirit' or whatever causes you pain?"
He looked down and nodded.
"Have you ever tried to resist it before?"
"Yes, when I was assigned to kill my sister and one other time."
Joby gasped. It made sense to her now why he didn't want to be around his family and why his sister's death was a sensitive topic.
"What was the other time?"
Aaron looked down and kept his mouth shut.
Joby decided to move on to the other questions she had. "How do you kill people?"
He removed his glove and stared at his hand. "This," he said, holding up his hand.
"By—by touch; you kill people by touching them?!" She asked as she craned her neck forward and widened her eyes.
Aaron nodded as he slipped his glove back on. "At first I told everyone that had had developed haptephobia due to the crash, that's what the doctors said to explain me not wanting to touch anyone. Eventually, even when I wore clothes over by whole body, I actually began to fear contact with other people. I guess I actually did acquire haptephobia; I just can't stand to touch people."
"I—I don't know what to say…" she flipped the pages through the book. After several pages of names and addresses she found her brother's name followed by their address. "So you really did kill him." Tears began to well up in her eyes and she ran her fingers over her brother's name. "Why, why did you decide to be my friend after you killed him? Was it pity?!" She snapped, raising her voice. Her tears flowed down her cheeks and dripped off her chin and onto the Death book.
"No, that's not why at all. I never pitied you. Your brother, Blake, he asked me right before he died, he asked me to take care of you since he wouldn't be around anymore. He asked me to watch over you and to help you live your life without him. That's why the following morning I went searching for you."
She shook her head in denial and yelled at him, "You're lying – I don't believe you! How should I know that this, everything you're telling me, isn't just some made up story to justify your actions?"
Aaron looked into her eyes, his own solemn, weary, and cold. "It's because I love you; I wanted to tell you the truth about me, and about everything that has happened. I think you deserve to know."
He kept his eyes locked on Joby's as tears welled up in his eyes. Tear of physical bodily pain from his wildly spinning spirit. He had killed all of the other people that had been in the diner, including Cecile, but he had waited until Joby was awake so that he could explain everything to her. He had thought that if he was going to be forced to kill her, he at least wanted her to know everything about him. He couldn't resist much longer. He would soon be unable to bear the pain and be unable to control his body.
His tears also flowed forth from the emotional pain he felt from what he was about to do. It hurt, more that his Death spirit's physical pain and it hurt right where his heart was, in the middle of his chest. It hurt to think about life after he would kill Joby. And he knew nothing would ever be the same again.
She doubted his story. It was so crazy and so unconventional, that it was hard to believe. But, the truth was undeniable as he said those words with such conviction, looked at her in that way with his dull, watery eyes, and as real tears began to fall down his face. She immediately felt guilty and sorry that she had said those things about him. She walked over to him and sat down. Aaron's body flew into a new world of pain and he doubled over slightly. He found out, though, as she wrapped her arms around him, that pain could increase and get much worse. He gasped for breath as the unbearable pain smashed into him from the inside out.
"I love you too. I love you so much, ever since the day you talked to me in the park. And, I forgive you. I don't really understand everything, but I realize you had no choice and you really didn't want to take his life."
Aaron struggled to push away from her grasp. He stood up and stumbled back several feet, looking frantic. "You don't understand; that's not why I told you all of this. I didn't tell you the truth just so you could forgive me – I don't deserve to be forgiven! I'm a sinner and I belong in hell! I kill people every night and then go and act like nothing has ever happened around other people!" He motioned frantically with his hands as Joby watched and listened to him, slightly confused. "Joby, I killed my own sister but everyone thinks that she hated her life and killed herself! She doesn't deserve to be remembered that way; Elizabeth is an amazing person and always had a bright outlook on life. A—and—and I killed your brother! Your brother, Joby! People don't deserve to die. There are people that are still alive that need them so, so much and they – they just should be able to stay here with the ones they love, because we'll miss them, a lot." He finally trailed off, running out of words to say.
"I know, people shouldn't have to die, but it's the way of life. People are born into the world and in return, people are taken from the world. You just have to learn how to deal with things and move on without that person. But, I don't think I understand what you're trying to say. If you didn't tell be about all of this so I could forgive you, then why did you tell me."
Aaron's shoulders dropped and he seemed the weakest now than she had ever seen him. "I – I have to kill you Joby. He's making me kill you. It's in the contract; if anyone ever found out my secret I had to kill them. Joby, you figured it out and you said it out loud…I don't want to, but this spirit," he clutched his shirt in the middle of his breast, "it hurts so bad and pretty soon I won't be able to control it. It will take me over just to kill you. Joby, I – I don't want to do this…" He started to break down and squeezed his eyes shut. He didn't know if he could kill the one person he loved, the girl who had wiggled her way into his life.
There was silence than and she slowly walked over to him. The Death spirit stirred horribly inside Aaron's stomach and he fought to keep control. Determination was set in her eyes as she spoke, "Thank you, then, for telling me. I'm really glad that I was able to meet you, no matter what you are, what you have done, or what you will do, I love you – I really love you. You said that you only resisted you Death spirit twice: when you were told to kill you sister and one other time. It's now, isn't it; the second time is now."
"It must hurt, a lot." She looked him over from a new perspective, noticing now that his body was trembling from pain and his breath was coming in short bursts. His eyes were slightly red and irritated while the skin around them seemed very pale and thin. "I just have one last request."
"Anything...anything you want."
She lifted her arms up. He flinched, but otherwise stood in place. She grabbed his mask with both hands, careful not to touch his skin, and pulled it slowly from his face. She stared at him with love filled eyes. She then slid the beanie hat off his head while wrapping her arms around his neck. She studied the pale, flawless skin of his face; the way his beautiful blond hair looked sexy no matter if it was combed or is he had just gotten out of bed; his soft, peach colored lips; his nose that came to a small rounded tip; and the gorgeous high, angled cheek bones that made his whole face look like it belonged to a french male model. "Kiss me."
"I – I can't," He mumbled as he tried to take a step back. He eyes never left Joby's, however, and his voice was lacking conviction.
She held him in place with her arms that rested on his shoulders and hung on to his neck. "Please, kiss me, it's what I want."
He hesitated, and his spirit grew exited. It urged him forward, pushed him to touch her. He waited and pushed away his Death spirit's wants. This kiss, he wanted it to be purely his feelings, without the wanting from his spirit. She closed her eyes in anticipation. Aaron leaned forward and wrapped his arms around her body. They would get only one second to force as much love and passion into their kiss and he was going to make the most of it. He bent down and their lips touched. For a second, all either of them could feel was love. They felt a part of each other as their lips met. They shared their complete obsession with each other for that one, minuscule second. The passion faded though and Joby's body grew limp in Aaron's arms. He closed his eyes as he hugged the body that he had once known as Joby O'Connor. Again, tears slowly spilled from his eyes as he lifted her dead body up bridal style as he had when he had carried her to his home from the beach, and laid her tenderly on the couch. He pulled off his gloves and threw them on the floor. His fingers traced her face as he committed every miniscule detail of her face into his memory. He brushed the hair out her face and stroked her gently. Tears slowly slid from his cheeks and fell onto the couch and her hand which he held in his own. He laid a kiss on the top of her forehead and stood up, backing away slowly with his eyes still on her.
Everything he had loved had disappeared, had died by his hands. First his sister and then the girl he had fallen in love with. It hurt, so much, to lose, to kill the people you loved the most in the world. He knew he would not be able to do it again. One's heart can only break into so many pieces before it is no longer able to function and sustain life. He needed to be free of all these emotions and feelings that humans felt. With his job, none of the human characteristic he had once obtained could be allowed. It was then that he made his decision. He had experienced so much loss; the loss of those he knew nothing about, the loss of the one he had come back to life to be with, and the loss of the girl he had fallen in love with after everything in his life seemed to spiral downwards. He left the house then and walked outside. The frigid wind that bore down on his bare face and hands was piercing and cold. It amplified the energy inside his stomach that the Death spirit radiated. He closed his eyes and let his mind go blank, feeling only the joy that his Death spirit felt from the kill. It was in pure, blissful, ecstasy. Invigorated by the kill and already looking forward to the next victim. At the same time, Aaron felt anguish and despondency. He could think of no other thing besides his own detrimental loss and his spirit's expedient gain. He knew that he never wanted to feel this way again – never wanted to be in the same position where he would kill the only things that mattered to him. He snapped his eyes open and mounted his bike. The engine roared once and he skid the tail end of the bike around in the gravel driveway. He floored the gas and took off down the empty, deserted road, wind whipping at his face and chilling his exposed fingers and nose. His eyes saw nothing except the road laid before him; they were set and resolute. He lost himself to the forlornness and woe he felt inside, making sure he would never forget it and never return back to it. He had decided to no longer wade around in the emotions of the living, to forsake all that is feeling and emotion, and become that which is Death.