By: Ravi Sangha
My story is one not often told. I did not come into this profession by choice, no application was filled, and no interview was carried out. If I had; photos and motion pictures would start to play in the confines of my mind. Whether it was a cruel trick by god, or a gift from forces unseen, my memory is impeccable. I can recall almost every life taken, every tear I've seen fallen down a check, and every scream heard before the moment our hands meet. However, I can't remember things like being young, or having a childhood. No parents to guide me, nor any friends to cheer me up, but there are benefits to what I've been forced to call my life. Due to certain circumstances, I can obtain almost anything that exists; even thing's that I can imagine. But I refuse to have a mirror, in all the years that I remember; I've never seen my reflection and I plan to keep it that way. I like to think that I can pretend I'm ugly when I feel more depressed, and think I may look great for the rare moments of some form of happiness.
I still doubt that happiness exists; the idea of it seems strange. But when I visit, when my body takes on the life of a time traveller, or an astronaut, my mind freezes. As my excuse of a body that reconciles the poor cliché of those before, made of rags and dark masks of death, my body becomes a celestial star racing through galaxies, to take the ideas and values humans hold so precious. Occasionally, I will take part on a trip to visit on those who seem to expect me. Those who have no fear in their eyes when they look upon mine, though to me, they are blind, embrace me. I can travel to times not to seen by everyone, taste the air some do not have the privilege to even comprehend the differences. Though I can obtain anything that my heart desires, the mouth that I inhale and release substances I am too afraid to see is air is left breathless. The morals, the happiness, and the sadness humans bring to one another are things no one begins to imagine, though my job implies me to do just that.
Where I live, there is no mornings, no beautiful sunsets, or awakening sunrises, just a dark room and a street lamp, and even that was something I had to obtain. A street lamp, a bed, which I find myself circling more than resting in, and a night stand for my list. There is also the door, made out of old wood, and can take me to anywhere, and anytime I can possibly imagine. To the times before man and to futures that no ordinary person can even begin to believe. My list is what keeps me bound to my sanity, and ironically, it is why I exist. On this list, names will appear, with no edge of a striking pencil, they will get engraved on the paper, a type that cannot be torn, burned and soaked. Names will appear, all in English, all in the same hand writing they have been appearing for the past 2 centuries. Sometimes I think maybe it's another person at the end of this piece of paper, playing sick joke which can never end.
Through all of this, through the ability to obtain anything I desire, and to go places unseen by anyone, there is one aspect that will never make sense to me, my dots. They are not a rash on the skin, but on the inside of my conscious. When I close my eyes, I see my soul. As black as the room I lay in, or the darkness that I am certain I possess, it is definitely my soul, made out of tiny fragments. Maybe taken from another life, it would not surprise me. My soul also seems to hate me, for it does not always stay whole. For, when I fail to take the soul of an unfortunate person on my list, fragments will start to disappear. My breath will become shallow and harsh. It hurts to move, even think. I can still recall where I had enough of this, and stopped collecting souls entirely, but I was down to my last fragments, but as close as I was, I couldn't do it. I couldn't end my own life knowing that it wasn't by another's hands; it wasn't an accident, but my own fault. It's something I think I can live up. Instincts kicked in and I took the life of a small girl. No remorse, all I did was think of her, and walked through my door and as I lifted my arms, aching with pain, without hesitation, graced her cheek. In the human world, she was frozen in time, in mid collision by a truck as her intoxicated father is speeding. As I took her, from friends and family that will probably miss her so dear, my pain left. I try not to let it get that far, because I've realized something. The less I kill, the less I take, the less I destroy, the less I become human. But is that what being a human is about? To be a monster?
As for my name, again that is something I don't remember. When I awoke to this life, no name tag was given to me but I guess it doesn't matter, it's not like they're is anyone else to call me by any name. But humans, those who cannot see me, just whisper it in hush voices of fear and caution, the Grim Reaper.
The circles around my bed grow ever more tedious as I try to keep my soul from falling apart. Names come and go, and I've learned not to take any personal interest into anyone, I am killing them after all. As I lay on the rough blankets of my bed, and name becomes etched onto my paper. Gavin Trouce. He lives in America during the year of 2002. I've also come to the realization that boredom is a very cruel motivator, and I now usually cross off the names of my paper as soon as they come, waiting for another one to appear. I step towards the door, and etch the name Gavin Trouce onto my conscious. I step into the door, and I take off. It feels extraordinary, leaping the bounds of reality, and stepping through the passages of what can't be defined by science anymore. I awake my eyes to a room, frozen in time. There, in the middle stood a man, with a noose around his neck. His legs are in free fall, not on the chair, yet not completely off. His hair is light brown almost a shade of orange, and his facial hair showing the tell tale affairs of age. As I start a walk towards him, I ready myself to do what I came here to do.
My footsteps grow with impatience as I can feel my heart tear, my thoughts bursting with pain. As I lean in, a photo takes my attention. A man and a woman, one definitely a happy Gavin, with a woman wrapped around his arms. At that moment, the cog wheels in my head began to turn, and sometimes I swear I can hear the need for grease to be imported into my head. Chelsea Meldin. I had taken her life a few years ago in a violent mugging on a street a few years ago, back in 1996. When I took her, time was frozen, and the knife was only a few inches from her stomach. In those moments you could see true terror in her eyes, as she gazed upon her murderer right in the eye. They say in these moments, you can look past the person and look into the soul. I wonder what she saw. Did she just look upon a man's simple dark brown eyes or does she see me? Maybe she saw his heart. Cold, black, and full of sadness.
I snap back towards Gavin, and think for a moment. Did I do this? Is this what It has come to. I am no better than the dark brown eyed man at this point. I am no longer the harvester of souls, but simply a murder. Hours pass by in my reality as time in frozen. The tears on his face do not fall, but stand in place, empathizing all that needs to be done; to end this. He is wearing cloth no different than the one in his picture, meaning it was an average day maybe. Maybe this wasn't his intention, to end his life this morning. I know I couldn't stand there forever, so I did what I do best, I take. I put my hand out and touched his chest, and reached inside. All I have to do is grasp his soul. When I extend my arm to crush what humans call the most important in life, I feel no remorse and as I clutch a fist. It is warm, and soft. But I did what I did, after I took his soul, and I stepped through the door and I'm to where I am. My dark room. The name disappears as softly as it was written, going to places I avoid thinking of. Places unimaginably sad. I close my eyes, and see me soul is whole; pain is but a memory being buried in all the others in my head.
At this point, my reward becomes reality, and all I had to do is close my eyes, and when my reopen, there is will be. To a never ending gold mine, to an ant, I can have it. To most I suppose, this seems to be a dream come to. But I have no one to share it, no one real anyways. I have wished for a friend here with me. When I did, when my eyes, full of excitement and hesitation finally released the grip of one another, there stood a human being. A boy, looking to be in his mid 20's stood there, smiling. I stared at him, not moving a muscle, in sheer terror. As I watched his lips move for the first time, greeting himself, I ran towards my list, and without any moments of doubt, took the soul of someone, and coming back, opening my eyes, he was gone. Truthfully, I have never been more scared. I know he couldn't hurt me, but that was the first time someone had said anything to me, and in that fraction of a second, I wished my soul could have just shattered. I never tried to wish for anything like that again. I try convincing myself it's better like this, being alone. It's meant to be like this. But when I stared at him, this man, looking no different from those whose soul I take, has eyes that could pierce into the heart. He looked happy, but his eyes screamed at me.
Over the next years, curiosity takes a hold on me, and my rewards are not objects some can only obtain in day dreams, but those who are overlooked by common eye.
Jason Halton. His name becomes etched on to my list, and thoughts and memories flutter my mind, and reminders of unwanted pain get me off my bed, and moving my legs towards my door as if they belong to Jason. I stand firm in front of my door. At this point, doing my job is like breathing, but I'm too scared to see if I can even accomplish something as easy as that. The door knob, still as polished as the day I first turned it, turns without a sound, no rust to stop me from doing this. Sometimes I wish it would break. Maybe then I'd have an excuse that even I would believe to stop myself from what I do, but I know that would never happen. I've tried to get rid of the door before, many times in fact. But rules of unsoundly god's superstitions keep it there. After taking a soul, I came back to my life here in my dark room, and turned once more towards the door. Closed my eyes, and thought, "I want the door not to exist anymore." Nothing. Not even a whimper from the door, no loud bangs of someone, or something trying to fulfill what I thought I deserve, but then it hit me. Maybe the door doesn't exist. But what is to be said about me? If I don't exist, I want to know why. Why does something hurt so much, and not even have the decency, or the privilege to exist.
As I travel, my breath is taken, and there I am. Somewhere I don't know, in a time that isn't moving. It's not a new picture, its dark, and in front of me, a masked man has his hands grasped about neck of a woman, as he tries to his other hand to release the clutch of the woman's hand on her purse. As i walk towards the couple, the sweat on both of their foreheads becomes more clear, and the terror from all the other eyes I've had the disappointing honour is no different from this woman's pupils. I notice she holding a cup of a hot drink, the steam is still in mid as it escapes the cup, as if it's aware of happening, running towards the sky. I can smell it. Its smells sweet, uplifting. As my hands list from my side and make their way towards this woman's chest, about to take her out of this misery, I realize something. I'm here for a Jason, a man. I turn towards the masked man. I'm not sure what is about happen, I wish I could stick around and see, but that isn't my purpose here. I can feel as if it's about to rain, and its damp. I gracefully dig through this man's chest, without hesitation, knowing he is going to die before he has the pleasure of completing what he set out to do.
I turn towards the point of where I entered, and as I leave soul in hand I do something I have never done before, and see something I have never seen in humans. I see hope in the death of this man. Jason. And as I leave, I do something I've only seen other people do, never trying it myself, never seeing the point, but I step in the door, smiling. When I return, there is no doubt in my mind of what I want. Without thinking, I stretch my hand, close my eyes and think. Instantly, my hand become warmer, and when I awaken, there it is. I take a sips and it feels amazing. Drinking it, I read what was written on the side; Coffee.
The taste of hope lingers in my mouth, its sweet, moments like these make me grateful for a memory like mine. Moments after, another name becomes engraved on my list. Usually, I wait until I take another soul, but idea's of maybe I take the soul of someone that might deserve to die; someone that people may not miss as much. Caroline Ironia. I turn steadfast; anticipation is something I never felt before, but it giving me life. I grab the door handle, close my eyes, and as quickly I came back, I'm off.
I open my eyes expecting me to 'save' another life, but I'm greeted by bright white lights. There is 3 people in the room. 2 of which look normal, and another in white, wearing a mask. The floor is tiled with light blue tiles, the walls a light green. I'm in a hospital. I step towards the 3, expecting a deathbed, but that would have made this so much simpler. Caroline Ironia is giving birth to a new born child, and it looks like she's almost done. She, as well as the man grasping her hand have the most angelic smile. The man in white wiping of the sweat from his face, not knowing she is about to die. The anticipation turns into anger, and the hope dies within me. I stand there for what seemed like an eternity, wishing maybe I can just leave, leave this family to stay in this moment of happiness. Time passes by, and I feel the pain take upon me. I know I can't just leave, being stuck in a moment of joy, not knowing what is to come is the same as becoming stuck in time in the middle of a fight, or car crash. I step closer to Caroline, trading glances between her smile, and her now new born baby.
I close my eyes; I see my soul, shrinking. I don't have a lot of time to do what I plan to do. I lift my arms, bearing through the pain, and reach towards Caroline. I feel her soul, is soft, and warm, just like a mother's soul would be. I slowly take it out, but I don't leave. I take my other arm, and reach in to myself. I can feel my soul; it's cold. As I take her out, I take mine out as well. I don't know what will happen to me, neither do I know what will happen to Caroline, but something will happen. My life begins to feel like it's burning inside, and I can barely stand the pain. I take my soul, as bitter and cold as it is, it's a soul, and I place it in Caroline's warm chest. I barely had enough time to take my hands outs before I legs collapsed. My breathing stopped. My mind, for the time went blank, and it felt amazing. There I laid, on the floor, starring at the same bright white light that Caroline was starring at, as if I were at the door, closed my eyes and waited.
I'm not sure what happened to Caroline, all I have his hope at this point. I awoke in my bed and the list on my chest. Moments passed of doubting what had just happened, and then I glanced at the list. Caroline's name was replaced by another. A name I don't remember seeing and the door; nowhere to be found.