“The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?”
---- Edgar Allan Poe
February 10, 2000 H.Y. ( Human Years )
One chilly day in early February, a young couple sat restlessly on a park bench in a remote little town on the edge of Maine’s coastline.
The woman, who had glossed over doe eyes, scratched her arms with agitation and anxiousness eating away at her skin.
She had on a dirtily torn, pink sweatshirt accompanied with a pair of overused jeans that were far too small for her long, lanky legs. She also had dry, irritated skin that had started to crack against the cold, unforgiving wind of February and Maine combined. Several bandages were sickeningly scattered across her battered body; appearing as though they hadn’t been removed for several weeks and desperately needed attending to. There were bumps that had overrun her face entirely, her blue fingernail polish was grinding against her chipped nails, and her figure looked as though she would surely be blown away by the wind if she were to stand up. But perhaps the only redeemable quality about the poor-stated woman’s whole appearance was her unnaturally gorgeous, red, fiery hair.
Sitting across from her was an equally, if not more so ragged man whom from the look of it, declares that the world had not done him any favors.
He had on a gray toboggan which was littered with holes that perfectly captivated the word “ancient”. The man had on a thin, blue jacket with matching sweatpants that was undeniably, a disturbing view. Like the woman, his eyes were glossed over with scratch marks running up, and down his neck that looked to be quite painful. However, much unlike the woman sitting beside him, he was trembling all over with his bulging eyes never once ceasing from darting too, and fro from any little sound, or movement that he might have falsely sensed.
“Jake please, at least say something to me, baby.” Strained the woman with a pleading cry.
But even though hearing her cries, the man just sat there, completely unaffected by her words.
“Why should I say one goddamned word to you, Willow?”
“Because I’m desperate! My roommate threw me out last night after she found out about my pregnancy, and now I don’t have anywhere to go.”
“How is that, in any way, my problem?” Exclaimed Jake with hatred and spite as he now finally turned to face Willow.
“Jake please, I’m beggin’ ya, this child was made by the both of us, not just me. So don’t even try to say that you’re not partly responsible for the wellbeing of-.”
“Bullshit.” Interrupted Jake, “The only reason why you’re telling me that is because you want me to start paying you for that hideous mistake... And we both know that money won’t be used for the kid.”
When hearing his harsh words, Willow immediately started biting her nails deep into the quick; for she knew that Jake’s assessment had hit dead on the nail.
“Fine,” She mumbled, “if ya won’t help the kid, then could ya at least give me a little to tide me over through the week?”
“FUCK NO! If you honestly think I’m going to give you any more of my hard-earned dope, then you’re an even crazier bitch then I thought!”
With panic starting to rise up into her mouth from Jake’s blatant refusal, Willow started biting her nails even more excessively.
“Oh come on, don’t be such a little pussy. I need something to take the edge off of these damn hormones! And besides, I promise I’ll make it worth your while...”
As desperation overtook her mind and body, Willow didn’t even think twice before seductively laying her paper-thin hand along his leg.
A groan of pleasure left his chapped lips as Jake, who had tried so hard to put up a fight, succumbed to Willow’s request; showing no objection whatsoever as she started rubbing up, and down his leg.
“See, baby? I know exactly what my man wants.”
“Damnit,” he said, out of breath, “this is the last time I will ever be this generous to you again. Understand?”
After what Jake had just said, her hazy eyes widened even bigger than before in excitement to finally have another hit.
Willow had absolutely no regard or acknowledgment for anything else other than the sweet, blissful high that crazed all of her senses with an unimaginable want, a need that possessed her every waking hour of every day… And quite sadly, that included her unborn child as well.
So with grabbing her forearm tightly, Jake diligently led her to his beat up, rusty pickup on the other side of the street and quickly sped away to a more private location.
October 31, 2000 H.Y. ( Human Years )
It was one of the worst storms that had ever been recorded in all of Maine’s history.
The sea’s waves crashed back, and forth so powerfully, that most of the residents had to be evacuated. Lightning bolts lit up the sky in a dazzling display of electricity, the earth shook from the mighty winds raging across the whole east coast, and thunder boomed throughout the town as if angels were going to war.
But in the midst of all of this horrid chaos and overwhelming destruction, there was also a sliver of life.
In an old, decrepit hospital, there laid Willow in a ratty, but comfortable operating room about to give the miracle of birth.
She gripped the bed as if her life depended on it, sweat puddled on her forehead and trickled down onto her blistered face, and her breaths quickened with every unbearable contraction.
All around her doctors and nurses rushed around the room in a hurried frenzy trying to check up on the conditions of both baby and mother.
However, unbeknownst to any of them, a mysterious figure watched the scene from a secret location with great intent.
There was something very peculiar about the figure that many humans would consider “unnatural”. He was a stout man that had heavy muscles caked around his entire body that undoubtedly, made him look very dangerous to anyone who would have had the unfortunate displeasure of meeting him in person. His face was gruff and burly with a long, fawn colored beard that draped down to the top of his neck; thus furthering to distinguish his manly figure. He had a Viking-like haircut which was also the color of a deep, brown that complemented his beard and body physique quite nicely.
You see, the man was not entirely in the human world, nor was he residing in his own. You could probably say that he was in-between worlds watching, and observing so he could fully accomplish his mission… As an Angel of Death. And this one particular Angel’s only mission was to scout humans who were at the end of their mortal life and help pass them over into their afterlife.
With then realizing that there was nothing more he could do, the unbelievable man patiently waited until he was certain that Willow was in fact, at the end of her life; just as his King’s own personal Soul Ark had foretold.
Of course, after then witnessing several nurses and doctors become a fluster of white coats and scrubs all surrounding Willow’s bed, and sensing that her life-force had begun to depart her body, he knew, without a doubt, that the thread of life living within her was starting to unravel.
Wasting not a second longer, the man clasped his hands together which instantly invoked blood; far more powerful and durable than any regular man’s, to stream down and trace the rugged lines etched into his palms.
Yet, nevertheless of this action, not a single drop managed to make contact with the floor of the Paradox, and instead, defied the basic laws of all known physics by simply swirling around him as if it were flowing water.
The Angel, though, seemed to mind very little about this highly unnatural phenomenon. To him, this was merely child’s play; controlling the thick liquid to become a summoning sigil, having to flawlessly inscribe the patterns in just the right way--It was a ritual repeated for numberless years, and he had the sickening knowledge that this cruel, pointless assignment, which was unwantedly commanded upon him, would last many more to come.
With such toned muscle memory, the image of the finished sigil burned behind his peridot eyes, and before he knew it, he had finished drawing the final mark; a dark, curved blade ( created from the darkest blots of Angel blood, ) entwined with jagged edges and hopeless dreams.
There was only one thing left in order to complete his mission, and no matter how wrong he thought his King’s wishes were, the Angel looked off into the void with a pained face and took in a steady gasp.
“O fallen spirits of what was once flesh, bone, and blood, converge thyselves to awaken the blackened snow bud - For into the winter’s midnight I bestow, bring forth the Lord of Death, the Taker of all Souls!”
Not a second later, there then became a shadowy luminescence, seemingly imbued with the eternal chill of winter and the deathly destruction of all living things, however possible that may be, that engulfed the magickal room.
Trying to breathe within the new, intruding air was like inhaling scraps of unforgiving metal; piercing and clawing away at the lining of your very throat. The bitter cold that followed, moreover, would have forced all of the nerves in your back to believe a snake was slithering down your spine.
Knowing what would happen next, and trying to ignore the always-so-crippling atmosphere, he kneeled low to the ground similar to a chivalrous knight.
And emerging from the dire undertone was truly, a sight to end all other sights.
There, standing in the dead center of the Paradox, was an even more peculiar looking figure: dressed head-to-toe in a deep, mesmerizing black.
The rugged Angel, still kneeling low, slowly darted his eyes up to the figure that now towered over him. ( Although normally, it would have been the other way around. )
“My King, your Soul Ark has predicted the most corrupted human closest to death. I have been closely observing her essence for some time now, and from what I’ve gathered, the title is rightfully earned.” He said with a respectful, but fearful declaration.
The dark figure then solemnly looked out from the Paradox room and into the human world.
As a bolt of lightning streaked across the sky, the figure’s demeanor warped into a cruel smile as he took but a glance at the woman behind the distorted walls.
“What a wonderfully disgraceful life this woman has lived. She didn’t deserve it to begin with, and now because of her atrocious actions and choices, she has forsaken her own child to nothing but heartache, suffering, and misery. So yes, I’d say that my dear Soulslayer,” He tsked, correcting the Angel from Soul Ark, “has yet again, outdone itself.”
Sneering to himself, the figure slowly turned towards his companion.
“Now, of course, that only gives me all the more reason to go down, and personally see to it that our new-found friend gets the proper send-off she so deserves. Wouldn’t you say, Gero?
With barely being able to contain his Paradox any longer, and as a result of the mere presence his King was radiating, Gero knew that this human was going to suffer greatly.
He then, while having no other option, reluctantly nodded his head.
The King gazed back into the human world and took a step through the room; imitating the action of shattering liquid glass as it contorted itself to aid his exit.
But as he entered the human world, he sensed almost immediately ( not that he hadn’t already before, ), how horribly revolting Willow’s state of being was.
Her body was the result of an untreated addiction that had gone on far too long. And when noticing that aspect, it had made something resonate within the King.
For some reason, he became repulsed beyond words to witness this woman, this mother, care so little about the small life living inside of her that depended on her, and her alone, for it’s protection against the evils of the world, for its nourishment and guidance along the course of its life, and the undying love that the child would yearn and crave so desperately for throughout the rest of their years...
He wanted this human to suffer, and he wanted her to suffer badly.
Finally emerging from the shadows blanketing the grim situation, everything in the small hospital transformed into a bleak, dulling color of black.
The plants that were mounted on the nightstand and windowsill started to decay within the span of a millisecond, the lights flickered more drastically every time he took but just a step, and it felt as if the room itself was somehow placed in the dead center of a blizzard. But with the doctors and nurses being so caught up with their work, nobody really noticed anything unnatural.
That is, except for Willow.
She was the only person to notice these drastic changes, and she was also the only one to notice the terrifying figure slowly approaching her bed.
With eyes now wild with crippling fear, Willow started to feel her chest constrict with trepidation, the muscles and contractions that were once infecting her body to turn scarily numb, and to become engrossed in layers upon layers of panic.
“AHH!! ST- STAY AWAY FROM ME!” Willow screeched as she pointed a trembling finger directly at the King.
“Miss Bellemore, please, if we stay away from you, then we can’t help you, or your baby!” Pleaded an ignorant nurse.
“It’s no use. None of these worthless mortals can save you,”
“Can ya not see him!? DOES NOBODY SEE THIS-THIS DEMON?!? PLEASE, SOMEONE, ANYONE, HELP ME!”
Now right beside her, the King leaned over the bed and finally removed his cloak’s hood so he could make perfect eye contact. And as he did so, Willow let out a blood-curdling scream that rattled her bones and sent vibrations throughout her teeth.
As for the King? Why it was as if he were hearing the sweetest mixture of symphonies blissfully orchestrating together in harmony with Willow’s world-shattering screams and hysterical bursts of anguish. It was magnificent music to his ears. But for Willow, she was completely and utterly convinced that this man was the devil himself.
The monster’s features were like eternal nightmares that depraved anyone from sleep. His facials consisted of abnormally high cheekbones, deathly pale skin that would make anyone flinch at just one glance, and a maliciously sinister smile that could drive grown men to unbearable madness. His hair was also an alarming shade; as it was pure, ghostly white and was styled in an unexpected way that was both somehow messy, yet well kept as it shaggily fell down upon his forehead, close to his eyes. And along with his eerily sophisticated and gothically designed outfit, it could only be assumed by any sentient life, and perhaps, even inanimate objects as well, that this being was not a force to be reckoned with.
But Willow had not paid any attention to the little details.
The only thing she saw of the being that sent her into a state of indescribable paralysis was his narrowed, macabre eyes. They held a color of a deep, blood red that she had never witnessed before in her life and try as she may, Willow was completely unable to tear away her gaze.
She then tried to thrash away from the unholy monster, but was wrestled down by nurses who unknowingly, sealed her fate.
“NO! I-I HAVE TO GET AWAY!”
This made the King let out another sadistic chuckle as he listened to Willow’s pleading cries; for there was no escaping the clutches of death.
“What sort of sick monster are you?!”
And as Willow uttered her very last words, the King leaned into her ear and whispered in a heart-stopping manner.
“I, am Death. And you, my dear, are my prey.”
With that, the King, who was still leaning into her ear, grazed Willow’s forearm with just one finger and not a second later, she released her final breath of life as her wild eyes rolled into the back of her head.
How entertaining, he then darkly thought.
There was nothing more fulfilling.
But when the heart monitor made the final “beep” that indicated that Willow had met her untimely demise from the Death’s touch, there was also another startling noise that echoed in the room.
While he was busy with Willow, the doctors had been able to extract the baby just before she met her doom.
He was one second away from returning to the Paradox that still held a very opposed Gero, but was stopped dead in his tracks by the unforeseen cry of the newborn baby.
“Oh thank God! It looks like the baby might pull through after all!” Said one of the delivery nurses.
Death had almost forgotten about the baby. As far as he was concerned, taking the life and Soul of an innocent child was simply no fun. Yet, in spite of this, because his Angels lacked the will and mental strength to rip young children away from their lives, he was the sole candidate for that job as well.
The King hadn’t received any information on the woman’s offspring... It was not time. Well, not yet at least.
However, with not being able to help himself, he ever so slightly glanced back to where the noisy cries were originating.
It was only a small glimpse, but the King managed to locate a helpless baby girl, who was no less than a minute old and being held ever so gently by the delivery nurse.
Inexplicably driven by his curiosity, the King then self-consciously whisked himself closer to the baby.
The child looked as though she weighed five pounds which was a worrisome sign of what drug addiction had possessed her mother. She had a thin face with round, rosy cheeks that made her look as though she were a fragile, porcelain doll. But the thing that struck the King was her hair. She was not even a minute old, and yet, she already had at least an inch of fiery, red hair that laid beautifully on her head.
Death also noticed that the frail little girl had yet to open her eyes.
The small baby whined and fussed at how the nurse was holding her, making him unintentionally smile.
While observing all this from the Paradox room, Gero could not for the unlife of him believe what he was witnessing.
Here was the most terrifying man to have ever been perceived by humans; the Grim Reaper himself that every man, woman, and child feared throughout their entire lives, and throughout all of history, who was leaning down, and smiling of all things, at one of the frailest babies that Gero had ever laid eyes on.
Scratching his head that was now riddled with confusion, the Angel sighed heavily.
As the nurse was about to lay the baby girl on a soft nursery bed, the baby suddenly wiggled hard and practically sprung herself up into mid-air before clumsily landing back onto the nurse’s shoulder.
Gasping with surprise, she quickly tightened her grip on the child.
“Hm, already a little troublemaker I see.” Exclaimed the King in a lighthearted tone.
By the time that sentence left his mouth and the sound of his accented, melancholic voice sang through the air, her eyes suddenly popped open for the very first time.
So the very first sight that the baby girl would ever experience, was a ghastly man dressed in nothing but black with winter white hair, and eyes as red as blood.
Instead of breaking out into a hysterical cry that so many other humans had done at the sight of him, the little girl blinked hard at the being before her… And smiled as if she were just kissed by the warm rays of the radiant sun.
What was, perhaps, even more baffling was that after smiling with newfound happiness, the child actually reached out for him. And in that one, fleeting instant, Death entirely forgot who he was. Because to him, the only thing that he remotely cared about was the indescribable feeling that this baby made his dark, sadistic heart overfill with.
He couldn’t conceive such insanity; how could those human emotions and feelings, the very same ones that had all perished along with his living Soul, force their way back?
The King, who was now utterly shocked by the newborn’s reaction and with himself, quickly drew a step back to evade the baby girl’s reach. As the result, the newborn saw that her target was even farther away than before, and had started to cry with heart-shattering despair.
“What’s wrong with her Helen? She was just fine a second ago.” Said another nurse who was also trying to clean up the baby girl.
“I-I don’t know. She’s just reaching out for air…”
“Here, let me see her before you actually drop her.”
“H- hey! I wasn’t expecting her to have such a powerful kick!” Muttered Helen in self-defense.
“She’s just probably getting used to her new surroundings. Oh wow, just take a look at those eyes!”
Helen, who had not even realized the baby girl’s eyes had opened, carefully held up the child so she could get a better view of her face.
“Oh, Christy! Her eyes are as blue as sapphires! Why I have never seen a more beautiful baby!”
However, as Christy agreed enthusiastically with Helen, she had just then caught sight of the baby’s now lifeless mother laying on the operating table.
Feeling dreadfully sick to her stomach, Christy had just then realized the severity and uncertainty of what now laid in store for the small newborn.
“Hey Helen, Do we have the father or any other relatives on record by chance?”
“No, Miss Bellemore came in alone and she had not listed the father’s name, any other contact, or family member on her sign-in sheet.”
Now also realizing what Christy was getting at, Helen’s face had almost but immediately drained of all color.
“Then doesn’t that mean that she will be turned over to the adoption agency?” Cried Helen with a defeated look.
“Yes. Oh, this child is less than 5 minutes old and she doesn’t even have a family to love, and cherish her!”
“Well, the only things we can do are to help clean this baby girl up, make sure she has the best care that can be provided, and we could even name her since she doesn’t have any other family that we know of.” Exclaimed Helen trying to lift Christy’s spirits.
“You’re absolutely right. And hopefully, she will be taken into a loving home soon enough anyway. I mean, just look at how handsome she is!”
“Now, what name would best suit this little girl?”
“Oh, I have just the perfect name for this little sweetheart!”
“Well, spit it out, Helen.”
Glancing at Christy with frustration, Helen promptly held the little newborn up close so she could have a better envision of the best name.
“I like the name, Sorrell.”
“Sorrell? Isn’t that French..?” Questioned Christy.
“Yes, I distinctly remember hearing that name in my French class.”
“I like it. Actually, I like it a lot.”
With enthusiasm now soaring through the nurse’s hearts, they both simultaneously gazed at the little girl who was still desperately reaching out for the King of all people.
“She’s still doing it, Christy. What is she trying to grab at anyways?”
“Come on Helen, let’s just get little Sorrell to the nursery. I’m sure that she’s absolutely exhausted.”
So with nodding her head in agreement, Helen thought that Christy was probably right. And with wasting no time at all, the two kind-hearted nurses then scurried out of the dark, gloomy room and into the nursery.
Yet, by that time, all of the other doctors and nurses had already cleaned out the room and almost everyone had dispersed.
All except for the King.
He just stood there, in the middle of the room with his head drooped low, and his shoulders sagging. His black cloak, reaching down to the very bottom of the floor, was also spread out covering every inch of his body except for his face.
After watching what had just happened to the King and the little girl, Gero’s mouth had been left agape by the unbelievable events that had just occurred.
Suddenly, the King, now half in shock and half in denial, swept up his deathly cloak and was swallowed back into the Paradox.
“My King,” But before Gero could say another word, the King had glanced at him dead in the eye with enough intimidation and fury to snuff out an entire army. Not only that, but Gero also noticed that his blood red eyes were starting to glow an extremely menacing red as well… Which was an immediate red flag that he knew all too well.
After seeing his terrorizing gaze, Gero wisely chose to not push him any farther.
The King, at once, recognized this as his Angel’s way of surrender; a terrifically effective option, as it lead to his total disappearance from the Paradox without any dire repercussions that, if provoked the right way, would’ve been catastrophic.
And once he was convinced that his King was nowhere near, Gero let out a ragged breath that he was unintentionally holding in.
“This is neither the time nor the place to question his maddening behavior; I have much more important things to oversee,” Rationalized Gero, wearily to himself.
So with that in mind, the Angel began to deconstruct the last of his draining magick and without looking back, left the operating room in the small, Maine town.
Much later that night, when all but the graveyard shift had been accomplished by the hospital staff, there became a sudden, otherworldly chill that swept through the nursery.
Then, just when the hair-raising coldness seemed to climax, a hazy silhouette, starting with snowy white and ending with despairing black, materialized as if living in a broken nightmare.
Everything went dead quiet as the earth held its breath in fearful anticipation. He wasn’t supposed to be here; there was no soul to be reaped, no life to disintegrate, no pain or grief to inflict. It was hugely uncomforting to the world that Death was there, standing upon its own soil, without the intent of taking a life...
And he couldn’t have cared less.
When he had previously left the hospital, it took everything in him to not stay, and dote over the newborn.
He had also realized that he may have been too cutthroat with Gero earlier, but at that point, the King couldn’t have helped it even if he’d wanted since he was far too caught off guard by the rush of emotions.
Coming back to the matter at hand, and with scaring away any more questions or thoughts, it didn’t take him long to locate what he was looking for.
And as if sensing the looming presence that now hovered over her crib, the baby suddenly opened her wide, blue eyes to find blood red eyes staring back just as intently.
Now believing that he was the definition of horrifying to the newborn, Death scoffed to himself for even having the preposterous thought that this delicate, little girl would be delighted to see him again. What was he even thinking, anyway? That the newborn would have cried and wailed all throughout the night because of his abrupt absence? That she might have been scared all alone without someone to comfort her? Or that she might’ve even missed him?
Raking a hand through his messy hair and rasping a bitter half-laugh, the King, who was just about to sweep his black cloak away and disappear from the nursery in a reclusive huff, was then stopped dead in his tracks, yet again, at the unexpected sound that was now coming from the little girl.
Laying in her compact crib so innocently, the newborn had begun to coo and goo with overwhelming happiness.
And astonishingly, when the baby reached out for him so desperately this time, the King couldn’t help himself from letting the small infant clutch onto one of his deathly pale fingers.
What in the world was he doing? If he had any sense whatsoever, he would immediately tear his hand away from the baby, leave the rundown nursery and never look back.
Yet, no matter how hard he tried to convince himself otherwise, the King just simply couldn’t allow himself to feel any animosity towards the child.
After staying like that for quite a while, he began to notice that the little girl was having more and more trouble warding away the enticing lullaby of sleep.
With one last smirk crinkling across his face, Death leaned closer to the newborn and spoke in a very unnaturally affectionate way.
“Goodnight, Little Ruby; may the cruel, curse of life never bring you down.”
Just when the King whispered to the baby girl, his icy breath became visible in the humid, little nursery and covered the newborn in a blanket of cold. The sudden chill made her giggle with pure elation as the frosty air tickled her rosy pink skin and wisped through her thick, red hair.
But when she had finally unfurled her eyes expecting to see the person that had literally tickled her pink with pure delight, he was nowhere to be seen.