I stare out of the window, watching the black coated world fly by. In the window, I could see my reflection. My bright hazel eyes, freckled nose and cheeks, short, wavy black hair, high cheek bones, and well-defined facial features all had a ghostly appearance in the reflection.
"So," my brother Daniel starts from the driver's seat, "How was the party, Eliza?"
I shrug. "Okay, I guess."
"Did you do anything crazy?"
"Define crazy for me and my friends."
Daniel is quiet for a second. "Fair enough. . . Were there any cute guys there?"
"I have to ask. It's the brother's job."
"Dan, you're unbearable," I comment, rolling my eyes.
Dan laughs. "So are you!"
I turn towards him. We look almost similar, only he has brown hair and no freckles. "You're worse!"
"Of course I'm worse," Dan replies. He turns his head to look at me. "I've had more practice."
I shake my head at him. Dan just smiles at me.
I turn back to the window and rest my head back on the head rest. The music of the radio fills the car.
"Oh! I almost forgot," Dan says, "Coach extended tomorrows practice by two hours. If you don't want to wait another two hours, you'll have to take the bus."
"I'll wait. It will give me more time to do work."
"Okay. Just wanted you to know."
I smirk, having a sudden though. "Besides, if I finish fast enough, I can help the coach hassle you."
"I might be bad, but you are evil," Dan remarks.
I look at him and smile. "I know."
The car suddenly jerks right and off the road as the car on our left slams into us. Dan jerks the wheel left, trying to straighten the car, while slamming on the breaks.
I'm thrown right again as the car flips. My head hits the window, and everything goes black.
I stare at the rows of colored circles below me. Emma is next to me, and Riley has somehow managed to tangle herself amongst the two of us. I support Riley's legs while Riley supports Emma's back.
"Will you just call the color already?" Emma practically begs.
I can't see Daniel, but I know he's on the sofa behind me with his girlfriend Felicity, who was also Emma's older sister.
"Hm," Dan ponders. "I'm not sure. That looks like its on the line. I'll have to spin again."
"That's clearly right hand blue," Felicity states.
"No. Its mostly out of the circle."
"I don't care what you do. Just call something!" Riley exclaims. "I can't hold this much longer, and if I fall, we all fall."
"Just call right hand blue," Felicity tells Dan.
"Nah. I'm gonna spin it."
"You should have just called right hand blue, cuz that's definitely not anything."
Riley lets out a frustrated noise, collapses, and, as promised, takes Emma and me with her.
"If we play again, my sister is calling," Emma states.
"Agreed. Now please get off me," Riley says.
Laughing I sit up and look at my friends. Riley's wild red hair has escaped her usually signature bun, and now frames her soft, yet defined face. Her blue eyes have their usual mischievous glint. Emma's dirty blond hair is shorter in the back, than it is in the front. A style only someone with her personality could love. Her facial features could be defined as sharp if they didn't round off. She got her punk-rockish style from her sister, but she would never call herself a punk-rocker. Her sister, Felicity, had gone through a puck-rock stage, and had never really left it or its style behind. Felicity's blond hair always had a colored streak, or two. They often moved and changed color. She loved her bracelets and black band tees. The darker the color the more likely she would be drawn to it.
Felicity and Daniel had met one day when Emma and I were hanging out. It wasn't long before they were dating. Taking in Dan's light colors and sporty attitude, they were the perfect example of 'opposites attract.'
"I hope you guys are almost done in there!" Mom yells from the kitchen. "Dinner is ready!"
Riley doesn't miss a beat. "Yes!" She crows, jumping to her feet.
Dan and Felicity are the next two up, followed by Emma and me.
"Did I hear right?" Dad asks, coming in from his study. "Is dinner ready?"
"Yes. Now come sit," Mom commands.
I move to follow my friends to the dinning room, but I hear a bark from the back door.
"Just a sec mom! Max wants in," I call out, turning to the back door.
"Alright! Be quick though," she calls back.
I reach the back door and open it. "Come on Max."
A German Shepherd brushes past my legs and runs off into the house. Puzzled, I turn and watch it run off.
"What's wrong El?" I hear my dad ask from behind me. I spin back to the door. My dad is walking towards it, the sun shining brightly around him. "You look like you've never seen Charcoal before."
Charcoal. My mind goes blank then jump starts. "Nothing. My heads in a bit of a fog is all."
Dad walks through the door and closes it. "Alright kiddo. Try some water or sleep, both of those are supposed to be good for you."
I roll my eyes. "You sound like Marc."
Dad raises an eyebrow. "Whose Marc?" he asks.
"Marc is. . ." My mind goes blank again. Instead of jump starting, a pulse of pain racks my brain.
I close my eyes for a second. I open them to the backdoor wide open, the stars in the sky above. What was I doing? Max! He wanted in.
"Max?" I call. Max doesn't come running or bark. Weird.
A pulse of pain goes through my mind. "Max?" This time I call a little louder.
"Don't waste your breath. Max won't come," a voice muses from behind me.
I spin around. A tall man in a black suit lounges on the sofa. His black hair isn't buzz cut, but it isn't shaggy
"Who are you?" I demand. "How did you get in here?"
"Ah," the man leans forward and rests his elbows on his knees. "The real question is 'where is here?'"
"This is my house. I know where here is. That question is completely irrelevant."
"Is it? Tell me, where is Max?"
"Will you stop asking questions and answer mine?"
"I'll tell you where Max is. Not here. Here technically doesn't exist. So tell me, where is here?"
"For some reason, Max is the one big detail your mind can't draw up. You can't seem to settle on one thing. If you think hard enough, this will all make sense."
"You need to leave."
"How? The door is gone."
I spin back around. Sure, enough the back door is gone. It's just a plain wall, the same color as the rest. "What did you do?"
"Me? Nothing. That is purely your mind's doing. It's becoming aware that something is wrong. I'm trying to help you. I can't stay here much longer though."
A pulse of pain goes through my mind. I grimace in pain. "You need to leave," I repeat.
The man sighs, shaking his head. "I was hoping I wouldn't have to do this." He looks at me, locking in on my eyes. "You are dying. Currently, your physical body is laying on a cot in a hospital room. You were in a car crash. You are currently in a coma. This reality was something your mind cooked up to hid from the reality. Unfortunately, you can't seem to decide on one story line, and you keep trying to mix everything together, but your mind is to focused on your timeline to allow that. This is causing this reality to crumble. Hence, you are dying."
"That makes absolutely no sense."
The man now looks annoyed. He stands up and begins walking towards me.
"Stay back," I tell him.
He doesn't listen, I go to grab something, but he's faster. I gasp as his ice-cold hand grasps my arm.
There's a flash of light, and suddenly I'm standing in a hospital room. My mom and stepdad are in the room. He sits in a chair next to my mom, gently comforting her. My mom is sitting in the chair right next to the bed. she holds the hand of the person on the bad.
"Mom?" I call out.
"They can't hear you," the man says from my side, "Or see you. So don't bother."
"What is this?"
"You don't believe me and you're running out of time. Soon you will be dead."
He motions to the bed. "Go on."
I look at him, but he's just watching the scene in front of us. Sighing, I begin to slowly approach the bed.
Mom holds one of my hands in hers, gently stroking it with her thumb. "Daniel's alright Eliza. The doctors officially released him. He'll want to see you. . . . Please, baby. Wake up."
I stop at the end of the bed and stare at my lifeless body on the bed. If my freckles didn't stand out before, they were now the most noticeable feature of my face. Pinpricks of brown on a pale face. My black hair was fanned out on the pillow. If my freckles were gone, I could pass for Snow White.
"The doctors are giving you five more days before they call it, but you actually only have. . . three hours," the man states.
I turn in time to catch him putting an old-fashioned pocket watch in his pocket. "What makes you so sure?"
"I'm what you humans often refer to as a 'reaper.' That general term though, accurate, better refers to my workers."
"You're workers?. . . Reapers work for you?"
The man sighs in annoyance. "Must I spell it out for you?"
"Are you claiming to be a reaper?"
"Not just any, and I'm hardly claiming. I'm stating. Dear word, I'm already beginning to regret this decision. Perhaps I shall just let you die and come speak with you then."
"I'm sorry. Some random guy just burst into my dream-"
"Created reality," he interrupts.
"Whatever- and tells me that I'm dying and to prove his point, takes me on a spirit walk of my hospital room and tells me that regardless of what the doctors say, I'm dying very soon. And on top of that, he claims to be reapers' boss."
"Yes. You humans almost got everything right with the whole Grim Reaper and Death thing, but in reality, those two entities are one in the same."
"And that's you, I'm guessing."
"Most people just call me Mr. Mors, however."
"So, you're here to collect my soul?"
He makes a considering face than speaks. "Not quite. I'm here to offer you a deal of sorts."
"Wouldn't that qualify as making a deal with the devil?" I ask, the question popping out before I can stop it.
If he wasn't annoyed before he was now. He pulls out the pocket watch and opens it, watching it for a few silent seconds before finally looking at me again. "My dear, I have all the time in the world. You, not so much. . . . Now, shall I continue?"
A retort along the lines of the old phrase 'you can sleep when you're dead' came to mind, but I bit my tongue and nodded.
"Good," he states, snapping the pocket watch shut. "Now, as we have already established, you are currently dying. Should you choose to reject my offer, you will die, and then it won't really matter. Or, should you take my offer, you will have the chance to spend a few more years with your family, possibly more, depending on how things go."
"What am I agreeing to do now that I would still be doing if I died."
"As I have already told you, I am the Grim Reaper, Death if you will, and, unfortunately, you are to be my apprentice."
"Yes, my apprentice. The next Grim Reaper, if you will."
The rooms falls deathly silent. "That didn't sound optional."
"Because it wasn't. That's the point of this deal."
"It isn't much of a deal."
"Take it or leave it."
"So I either become you're apprentice before or after I die."
"That is correct."
"This doesn't qualify as a deal."
"One way or another, tonight you will become my apprentice. You can either choose to have a few more years with your family or never see your family again. The choice is yours."
I turn to look at my mom and Marc. I think of Daniel. I think of Emma and Riley. I can feel my heart tearing. If I say no, I die, and they have to live with the pain. Daniel would feel the worse. He was driving when it happened. If I say yes, I can't tell them. They would think I was crazy. Either way, I would hurt them.
My head drops. So much for a normal life. I look up at the man. He seems to be studying me.
"So, do I sign an agreement or something?"
For the first time, he smiles. "No. It's much more simple than that." He holds out his hand. "I will warn you though. It will hurt a bit."
I take one more rueful glance at my body. Bye-bye normal Elizabeth Kissinger.
Before I can change my mind, I spin and take his hand.
Electricity courses through my body, and I'm glued in place. I always thought electricity would burn, but this burn was far from hot. It was freezing cold. The connection breaks, and I fall to my knees, legs tingling and numb.
"I did warn you," he states. "When it's time to begin your training, you'll know how to find me. Goodbye for now Miss Kissinger."
I look up at him, the question of how on my tongue, but my vision goes blurry. And I can't make him out. I blink to clear my vision. Blinding light is all I can see. I shut my eyes again, grimacing at the light behind my eye lids.
"Elizabeth?" I hear a voice ask.
I turn my head towards it, blinking as my eyes slowly adjust to the bright light. I can hear another voice somewhere else calling for a doctor.
"Elizabeth?" the voice asks again.
I recognize it this time. "Can you turn the lights off mom?" my voice sounds awful, as gravely as my throat felt.
"Oh, baby," she cries, jumping up and throwing her best attempt of a hug at me. I try to hug her back, but I can barely get my arms off the bed.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed the first chapter of The Next Death!
If you're interested, you should also check out my stories: Dead Ringers, Something Darker, and Mindless. You can also check out my collection of short stories: A Dime a Dozen. If you like poetry, I also have a collection of my poems: Writing Poetry if for Losers.
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