Her heart beat vividly --irregularly-- as she bounded down the crooked hill into town. She had heard the twisted screams of deep agony, so deep they pierced her interminable sleep. As she converged on the town a dank smell furnished her clogged nostrils and along with it a silent fear began to crawl its way up her spine and settled low in the back of her head. Had she been deceived? For what she was about to witness was beyond anything unequivocal. Everyone she had known so well --all she had loved-- lay, phlegmatic, and strewn about the town. Arms here, legs there, some were wholesome, others were so dubiously distorted, she couldn’t help but stare and try to distinguish the languid figure that once was a human. --now torn to pieces-- She sat to make an attempt at interpreting the loathsome events that had taken place just minutes before.
Just then she realized her mother and puerile sister had come to town not long before. All the pain and awe seemed to leave her at once, as she began to erratically scuttle about, in dire search for her family members. She came at once to the site she wished most not to see. --a most terrible sight at that-- Her mother lay, hand raised, facing her in what seemed to be a natatorium of her own blood.
In a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions, the girl --awestruck-- ran benevolently to her mothers side. The ambiguity of the situation slowly pieced itself together when she careened herself down, closer to her mother, and made an attempt at making out what she was trying to say. Just before her mother took her last breath and convulsed, she could make out but one word... “Him.”
She could hear the faint lamentation of what seemed to be a girl. She rushed towards the source of the sound only to find a hooded figure sitting cross-legged on top of a large well.
“Come here.”, the figure ordered.
From the sound of the voice she promptly identified the figure as a male. “No...”, She said. A grim smell lingered, more potent than when she came to town earlier. She couldn’t help but wonder in ironic amazement who this man could be. “Who are you?”, she asked.
“I am the one you people fear as death. The ever-living and undying emotion all things feel, that is what I am.”, It replied.
“But how can you be... there?”, She asked.
“Where?”, It questioned.
“Right there! How can you say you are an emotion, a feeling, if you are portrayed as a person before my very eyes?”
“You will understand in due time, girl, for you have been chosen indirectly. I shall return for you”, It said.
Just like that an unyielding wind tore through the town and the remnants of the harrowing massacre were swept away. There she sat, bewildered, her mind seemingly turned to mush. Not only was the content of the unconventional conversation that just took place primitive in her mind, but the images of what had happened. Her mother, so bloody and defunct. All the people she knew so well, cast into the abyss of death and here she was, breathing, vivaciously confused and still... alive.
She could no longer sit and ponder the incredible envisage in her mind, she must do something. For she knew the inevitable and she was about to change that. Whatever that thing was, it was coming back for her and she had to do something about it. First, she rose to her feet and back down to her knees. As she prayed it was as if her very soul screamed out for something, someone to help her. She was to defeat Death, but how? How is it possible to defeat Death if the only thing defeat can lead to is just that? She rose to her feet again with a neoteric confidence. She began to walk towards the woods on the contour of town, but before she could reach the nebulous thicket, an immaculate light intruded through the sky and from where the girl could see, landed deep in the forest. She scorched the ground with her feet as she nimbly dashed through the woods, dodging trees and brush with each step. As she converged on the great light she could see a peculiar object protruding from the ground. She bent low to retrieve it and realized it was a book. “Time has taken it’s toll on you, friend.” She whispered. Just as she began to back away from the light it blinked away faster than it had come and she was engulfed in darkness, the sweet scent of pine and dew calmed her. A twig snapped and her heart began to race again, for the first time she became aware of the book she was clutching so tightly to her chest. She wiped the dust from it’s cover and read, “Vitam Aeternam,” she read, and the book produced an eerie scintillate. From what the girl learned as she read, if Death was after her, she must replace her own death with the life of another member of the family. She cried as the thought of her mother, so bloody and bowdlerized, for she knew the whole town had been slain. She wept so softly it hurt and began to permeate the images of the past day. Her mind was pierced when she remembered first entering town, and the first thing that came to her mind... her sister.
If she could find her sister she could elude Death. Back through town she went, tears rushed from her eyes as she retraced her steps up the crooked hill. If her sister was still alive, she knew all of her hiding places. The girl barged through the door and went unswervingly to the wardrobe her mother kept her nicest clothes in. She danced about the house in a most queer manner, almost hysterical, as she ravaged her house for her younger sibling. Just before the animosity of the situation took over her she heard a low whisper coming from the cupboard beneath the sink.
“Emma... is that you?” it whimpered.
“Caroline... have you been hiding all this time?
“Yes... why are you clothes torn, sister?
“Do not ask questions now.” Emma said soothingly. “You must come with me.”
“Well... ok, are you alright sister? You look quite pale...”
“Enough questions Caroline, come with me now.”
Emma grew impatient at the sight of her sister, so innocent and pure. Survival was imminent and Emma knew what she must do.
“Ow, Emma! Stop it you’re hurting me!” Caroline cried.
Back out the door Emma dragged Caroline by her hair towards to cliff across the field from her home. Their home. It began to rain, the crisp smell of moisture rose swiftly and the fresh scent of poppy and pine grasped the air. Emma dropped her sister on her knees and, gripping her tightly, began to cry. She cried harder and hugged her sister.
“Why are you doing this Emma!?”cried Caroline.
“I must, sister, I am sorry...”
Emma hugged her harder now and continued to cry.
“Please sister, was it something I did?” If it was for taking your brush this morning I’m sorry.” Caroline protested.
“Please sister don’t apologize, you did nothing wrong. Close your eyes Caroline, take a deep breath. Do you feel him?”
“Do you hear a girl crying sister?” Caroline asked innocently.
And with that Emma jolted her hand outward viciously and gasped as she watched her sister fall silently to the rocks below. She sat back on her knees and looked up towards the sky. She took a deep breath then and rose to her feet. A newfound confidence slowly rose in her chest as she turned on her heels and strode back towards her house.
Years passed and the girl continued on with her life, branded by the memories of that day so long ago.
“Girls, Michael, I made breakfast.” Emma said.
Her two daughters came running, smiles radiating their faces. Her husband strode quickly at their heels.
“I have to go hun, I’m late for work already.” He bent and kissed her lightly.
The door closed slowly and a brief gust of wind stalled the door momentarily as it closed with a quiet thud.
“Have a good day at school girls!” yelled Emma.
She walked back into the house and set to cleaning up breakfast. From where she sat she could see the corner of a book sticking out from the oak bookcase. She walked quietly across the room, a sense of tranquility gripped her then and she set the book back in it’s place and continued on with her task. As she hung her apron up and set in her rocking chair, she heard the faint lamentation of what seemed to be a girl. Her heart raced as she ran to towards the source of the noise. There it sat, calmly cross-legged on top of her mothers blanket chest.
“So we meet again, Emma.” it hissed.
“What do you want from me?”
“Oh nothing, just your life...” it answered impassively.
Emma ran from her house, through the field towards the cliff. She stopped abruptly as Death appeared in front of her.
“You cannot escape the inevitable, Emma.”
“Please, the book said my life would be spared at the sacrifice of my own blood.” cried Emma.
“What you did those years ago did nothing to save you, it simply... added time to your clock, so to speak.”
Emma flung herself from the cliff then and stared up towards the sky as she fell, silently, without so much as a scream.
“I’m sorry Caroline...” she whispered before she hit the rocks below.
Nothing can deny the inescapable truth, for in the end, Death comes for us all.