Jerry made it home somehow. His mother greeted him at the door, pulled him inside, and took the milk.
"Thank God you have milk! Your father is having an emergency!"
There was an unpleasant gargling sound coming from the living room. Jerry shook his head.
"I'm very tired. I'd better go to bed."
His mother stared and was about to say something when a loud crashing sound erupted from the living room. Her face turned white and she immediately ran towards the noise. Jerry took the opportunity to slip upstairs. He was too tired to put the doll away or find out what else was clumped up in his pocket. He slept with the pants on.
THUMP. THUMP. It was the middle of the night, and there was something on the roof. THUMP THUMP. Jerry awoke in a sticky sweat. THUMP THUMP. The sound was moving towards the edge of the roof. Jerry started to pull his covers up. THUMP. TAP. TAP TAP TAP. There was something tapping at Jerry's window. Jerry pulled the covers up and ignored the sound. In the hot darkness he fell back asleep.
The covers were gone and the window was open when Jerry awoke. He quietly shut the window and pulled out the doll. Now that there was light he could see it more clearly: it was really quite pretty, except for the missing arm and the depressing frown on its face. Jerry wondered why someone would design a doll that way. He began digging into his pocket, trying to find the slimy object, but there was nothing there.
Jerry slowly walked downstairs, trying to remember which steps creaked and which didn't.
"Shit!" Jerry mumbled. His mother suddenly appeared at the bottom of the steps.
"Oh good morning Jerry— do you know what day it is?" She was carrying two pots, one in each hand. Jerry could tell that once he told her the answer she would bang the pots together in some kind of celebration. Jerry shook his head.
"Don't play dumb- why don't we ask your sister?"
Jerry's sister had come from her room. Jerry's mother asked her what day it was and received an answer she wanted. She began to bang the pots together, with the resulting noise being so loud that a tear crept from Jerry's left eye.
Everyone gathered in the living room. There was a pile of presents around the bonsai tree and Jerry's mother brought out a big blue cake (Jerry almost took a slice of it before he realized that it was blue from mold). Jerry sat and watched his mother and sister eat the cake, and then watched his mother force-feed his father. Jerry grew bored, so he looked out the window towards Lake Tepidia. There was an honest-to-god tentacle sticking out of the lake. Jerry turned to inform his mother but she had happened to go in the kitchen.
Then it was presents time. Everyone took turns opening one present. Jerry's father opened a present and got an extra slice of cake. Jerry's sister opened a present. Jerry opened a present and got a rain coat. Jerry's mother opened a present and got a corn cob- a gift from Jerry's father ("It's the thought that counts" Jerry's mother loudly whispered to Jerry). Jerry's father opened a present and got some breath mints. Jerry's sister opened another present. Jerry opened a present and got the red card he had dropped somewhere in the snow yesterday. It was from his sister.
"JERRY!? IS THAT YOURS?!" Jerry's mother thundered.
Jerry's sister asked if Jerry thought no one would find the card.
"How is that possible?" Jerry mumbled. Jerry's mother stood up: she was going to slap Jerry across the face.
"I am going to break your face, young man." Jerry's mother announced. She approached menacingly, but before she could draw her hand back, Jerry had stood up and started to walk backwards.
"No! I am done! You are not going to slap me!" Jerry reached deeply into his pocket, finding the doll. He dug it out and threw it with all of his might at his mother. The doll bounced off of her face and she screamed. Jerry ran.
Jerry slammed the front door open and ran down the sidewalk, away from his house. It had finally stopped snowing and everything was aglitter with the chilly beauty of the season. Jerry slipped a few times on the icy sidewalk, but he recovered quickly every time. Eventually he was too tired to run anymore, so he stopped and gasped for air.
It was then that a woman floated down out of the sky. She had a bright white dress and a dark black umbrella. She landed lightly on the ground and the CLACK that her high heels made as they pierced through the snow and bumped the pavement underneath snapped Jerry out of his gasping and made him look at the lovely image before him.
"Hello!" She said. She sounded exceedingly excited.
Jerry arched an eyebrow, but then started to cough. His lungs felt terrible.
"You're Jerry Simones, aren't you? Where were you going?" The woman twirled her umbrella.
"Who are you?" Jerry managed to make out before he started coughing again. The woman rolled her eyes and hit him with her umbrella. "Ow! What the- oh." Jerry's cough was gone. "Uh…thanks."
"You're welcome! I am the Angel of Death- and I am here to grant you your death." The Angel of Death did a little pirouette. Jerry stared at her blankly.
Jerry had wanted to die, hadn't he? He had been depressed for so long, writing all those stories about death…and now he…was going to be granted his death?
"What do you mean you're here to grant my death?" Jerry crossed his arms. The earth shook just as the Angel of Death was about to answer, and Jerry fell over. He was on a bit of a hill so he could see Lake Tepidia from where he was: a second tentacle had now slammed out of the depths of the lake, crushing an entire house. Jerry squinted. "Is that my house?"
"Tee hee, oh my, I think a lot of people are going to die today." The Angel of Death fluttered around a bit, almost as if she had invisible wings. "Oh right, when I say 'grant your death', I mean that you get to choose how you're going to die!" She stuck her arms out above her head as she said this. Some confetti burst out from in-between the air.
"What if I don't want to die?" Jerry asked. The Angel of Death laughed.
"Of course you want to die! That's what you've wanted your whole life, right?" She laughed again. She could hardly keep it in.
A warning klaxon sounded from the denser part of the town. A large, massive outpouring of smoke was coming from the Tower. The smoke was spreading quickly over Tepidia, dripping thick black globs of liquid.
"What the hell…?" Jerry asked no one in particular as a police car sped past, heading for the Tower. Another tentacle hit the earth, this one shaking the earth at a magnitude much greater than the others, causing the police car to flip and crash. Jerry merely fell over again.
"That probably should have injured you quite badly, but I'm not going to let you die until you make your decision. You are the lucky winner after all." The Angel of Death inspected her finger nails.
"Wait- what do you mean, lucky winner?" Jerry got up for the second time.
"Hey!" A cruel voice barked. "Jerry! My rampage has begun, and you're just who I wanted to see!" Joe, from school, had suddenly appeared. He was walking down the street from inner Tepidia with two pockets full and a belt stocked with grenades.
Jerry decided to sit back down. This was too much.
"Hey pretty boy, don't even try to blow up Jerry here. I've got an injury shield around him so he's protected from death…" The Angel of Death waved her wand around. "Well, unless he wants to get blown up by a grenade— Hey, Jerry, you wanna get blown up by a grenade?"
"No!" Jerry almost shouted. He wasn't even sure he wanted to die anymore- he had had such a strange day, but it had been so nice not having to worry about the red card.
"Jerry, who's your hot friend floating here? I feel like I know her." Joe put the grenade he was holding back in a pocket and extended his hand to the Angel of Death. "I'm Joe."
"Hello. I am the Angel of Death." She shook his hand but grimaced when her perfect white skin came back dirty with soot. Jerry couldn't help but wonder why Joe wasn't acting like a completely horrible person (other than trying to murder him).
"Angel of Death? Wow, that's pretty impressive." Joe grinned.
Shut up you tool. Jerry thought tiredly. Sitting on the ground, confused, he suddenly felt like a child again.
"So you grant death wishes, huh?" Joe noticed the police man crawling out of the wreckage of the police car flipped by the tentacle-quake earlier. He tossed a grenade at him and the entire vehicle exploded. Joe looked back to the Angel of Death. "I do that kind of stuff, too."
"This doesn't really matter to me," replied the Angel of Death. "I'm here to award Jerry his choice of death. C'mon Jerry, how do you want to die? This whole town is going down in about eight different ways."
"What if I don't want to die?" Jerry stood up, legs shaking. The Angel of Death pretended to be shocked, but then laughed.
"We don't have much time for games, Jerry. When I say this whole town is going down, this whole town is going down. So pick. You have to die- how would you like it be?"
"Hey, Jerry, why don't you be my first-no, second victim? I bet it'd be the best moment of your life." Joe picked a grenade out of his belt and started to toss it in the air like a rock.
Jerry glared. "No. This is certain. I am not dying. I changed my mind: I don't want to die anymore"
The Angel of Death shrugged.
"Someone has to die. I can't die. I mean, I'm an Angel (tee hee). Joe, do you want to die?"
"Not yet. I haven't finished my business." Joe began to juggle grenades.
"And Jerry, you won the contest, so I'm afraid," the Angel of Death pointed the umbrella at Jerry "it'll have to be you".
This was crap. Jerry finally wanted to live, and now he had to decide on his death?
"I gotta take a leak. Don't kill him without me- I want to see this." Joe disappeared behind the side of a building. Jerry thought quickly and made a dangerous (as any decision at this point would be) choice.
"Summon my teacher here, and fill him with whatever absolute rage is necessary to get a person to kill." Jerry crossed his arms.
"Wow, that's specific. Well, I guess you're teacher wouldn't kill you in normal circumstances, would he?" The Angel of Death laughed again, the sound beginning to chip away at Jerry's eardrums. "Well, what's his name?"
"Name?" Jerry paused. What was his teacher's name? Jerry thought back and remembered the name on the teacher's cup. "It's Mr. Seyton. But…you need to wait for Joe. He wanted to watch."
"No problem. I'm right here. I couldn't piss from all the excitement." Joe was back. Jerry furrowed his brow; all of this was helping him to not feel bad.
"Oh goody! Here we go then!" The Angel of Death spun around twice and pointed her wand at the ground. Joe grinned in excitement and rubbed his hands.
"Say, what was your choice, anyway?"
Mr. Seyton appeared, tears were running down his eyes and the right side of his head was bloody.
"Please sir! I'm sorry! The students weren't ready yet— the pentagram…" Mr. Seyton paused. First he looked up at the Angel of Death, and then he looked at Jerry and then Joe. Bitter, deep hate filled his eyes.
"Wait a second…!" Joe said, but Mr. Seyton had leapt on him already. Without thinking Joe frantically pulled the pin out of a grenade. "SHIT-"
The Angel of Death had removed Jerry's injury shield in preparation for his death so when the grenade exploded Jerry was knocked off of his feet and blown four feet away. The snow helped soften the impact of the landing but the hard concrete under the snow still treated Jerry to a long, nasty scratch on his back.
The Angel of Death flittered around angrily.
"Good going Jerry! TWO people just died for the price of one!" She began to whack the ground with her umbrella. "He was supposed to go for you! Why would he go for your friend?"
"He wasn't my friend— aw, damn." There was blood oozing out from under the back of Jerry's shirt. The scrape stung horribly; it was even a little difficult to walk.
"You know what Jerry? It really doesn't matter. As I said, this whole town is going down. Goodbye." The Angel of Death blipped out of existence.
Jerry got up slowly, thinking about what to do next. After a quick moment, he started to walk back to his house. Maybe his mom had left the keys in the car's ignition again.
As Jerry passed a house he could hear the people inside complaining about the water tasting funny. Then there were screams.
As Jerry passed another house he could hear a radio: a meteorite was heading straight for Tepidia. Jerry took a quick look into the sky: there was too much snow and black smoke to see anything.
As Jerry passed a third house he heard nothing.
He was about to pass a fourth house when the car he had been looking for drove up alongside him. An apologetic voice came from inside telling him to get in. He obliged quickly, and they headed for the way out of town as fast as that little car could take them.