Heather was not exactly a fan of her job, but being a pale skinned, short black haired, blue eyed bartender in a college town payed out, and it payed a lot. Afternoons became her mornings, and mornings became bedtime. However, she adapted and the schedule worked out. What was not working for her were her neighbors. Heather lived in a basic apartment building with thin walls. Usually three times a week she had to endure shouting matches between her neighbors, Beth and Chad.
Yes, the police were called and they were called a lot. They knew the entire hallway by first name and one officer started dating a resident by the stairwell. Heather had only lived beside the couple six months but apparently, they had been the world’s worst couple some time before that. But also during that time Heather befriended Beth. Beth had spent many tearful nights sobbing in Heather’s arms until they would both fall asleep.
So, one evening as Heather was readying for a Friday night shift, a certain sound hit Heather’s ears, the sound of a hand to a face. Heather was all too familiar with the noise from witnessing plenty of bar fights so it resounded in her ears before she dropped everything and five foot, three inch Heather with her black tank top, jeans, and boots stormed into the hallway where she started banging on the door of her neighbors.
“Fuck off!” Chad’s voice shouted from within.
But Heather would not. She took a step back and kicked the door in. The small apartments opened with a few yards of hallway followed by a kitchenette connected to the living room. The inhabitants of the room jumped at Heather’s abrupt entry. Heather saw Beth standing in the corner of the living room with a thin trickle of blood flowing down her lip. Chad was in the middle of the room, preventing any kind of escape. Heather took but one moment to recognize the fear in Beth’s eyes before turning her attention and rage toward Chad.
“You crossed the line,” Heather said, finger pointed at Chad.
Chad pointed right back. “This is none of your business.”
“It became my business when you hit her.”
Chad moved to the kitchenette and grabbed a steak knife. “I’m warning you. Get out now.”
“Chad, don’t…” Beth mumbled from behind.
“Shut up!” Chad shouted to her.
Heather stepped to the side. “Beth, come with me. I’ll take care of you.”
Beth started to move around the room but Chad turned the knife toward her. “Don’t you move,” he said to her.
“Don’t point that at her!” Heather advanced toward Chad but got a little too close. The maniac brought the knife down into the middle of Heather’s chest. Beth gasped, Chad released the knife and stepped away. Heather froze and looked down at the knife. Blood started to trickle from around the blade and soaked her top.
“I warned you,” Chad stammered. “I told you to get out.”
Heather looked back up at Chad and glared. With a grunt, she ripped the knife from her chest and slid it across Chad’s throat in one clean motion. He clutched his neck with both hands and stumbled backwards, tripping over the coffee table and landing on his back.
Pain aside, Heather started to feel cold and weak. She knew she shouldn’t have taken the blade out. There could have been a chance to save her. But now the warmest sensation Heather could feel was the blood all down her front. She dropped to her knees and then fell onto her side. Through half open eyes Heather watched Beth search high and low for her cell phone before calling paramedics. Heather willed herself to hear Chad’s gurgling noises cease before allowing herself to grin and let her head rest.
And then the strangest thing happened: Beth froze. Her mouth was open and ready to say the next words yet none came. There was an uncomfortable silence as well.
A pillar of black smoke suddenly arose in the corner and materialized into a large doorway. The two symmetrical, heavy wooden doors had nothing but death carved into them; skulls, corpses, and weapons throughout time covered almost every inch of it.
The doors creaked open. There was nothing but darkness within. A barely visible silhouette appeared, and then stepped out of the darkness. It was a skeleton in black robes and a hood, baring a large, grotesque scythe. It crossed the threshold and approached Chad. When its hand went to his throat and pulled up, it was not his body that rose, but a spectral, transparent copy. Chad’s soul, with the icy hand of death around its throat, kicked and screamed in horror. The reaper ignored the pleas of mercy and dragged Chad to the dark doorway and simply let him fall in. Heather could not tell what happened to him after that, though she did briefly hear the sound of a crackling fire.
And then it faced Heather. Heather wanted to get up and run, but she found herself immobile. Slow and menacingly, the reaper walked over and put its hand to her throat.
I don’t want to go!
The reaper pulled, but Heather’s soul did not rise. The reaper seemed as taken aback as a faceless skeleton could, but tried again, to no avail. After its third attempt, it stepped back and reached into its robes. It pulled out a cell phone and started texting. After the message sent it waited patiently, occasionally looking back through the doorway. The phone beeped, and the reaper started typing again.
Whatever the reaper had called for arrived. Heavy footsteps sounded from the darkness, and then a ghostly pale woman in magnificent black medieval armor emerged. She had long flowing silver hair and glowing green irises.
“What is it?” she asked the reaper. Her voice was smooth and melodic yet could capture the attention of British Parliament without a microphone. The reaper pointed at Heather without averting its eyes from his screen. The armored woman walked straight to Heather and lifted her soul up and out of her body with one hand, and set Heather on her feet. She then took a few moments to stare into Heather’s eyes with her own brilliant pair of greens.
“I see,” she said after a few seconds of gazing. “That was a good death.” She began poking and prodding Heather all over. “Hmm. Fit. Intelligent. A warrior at heart. And clearly not ready to die.”
“Not yet,” Heather was able to say.
“Feel better?” the woman asked.
Heather noticed that her pain was gone. She felt completely normal again. “Yeah. What’s going on?” Heather poked her injury. No pain.
“You are welcome, and you are dead. But, you are strong indeed to have fought back the way you did.”
Heather pointed to the gateway. “I’m not going in there.”
“That is not up to you.” The woman walked around Heather, still examining. “That is up to me.”
“Who are you?” Heather asked, knowing the answer.
“I am Death. I am finality. Nothing escapes from me. Yet, here you are. You resisted destiny itself. I can use you.” Black smoke swirled around Death, then gathered in her hand where it materialized into a scythe. This was much larger and more fearsome than the reaper’s. She swung the mighty weapon.
Heather, caught completely by surprise, was sliced across the throat. She expected this to be the end, end. However, her head remained on her shoulders. The scythe exploded into smoke, which surrounded Heather. The last things she could see were Death’s glowing eyes. And then, darkness.