Death. We all have to face it at some point. Everyone knows it’s the inevitable end. Death is the one thing that strings us all together; It’s the one thing all living creatures have in common. Yet somehow, no one wishes to speak of it. The topic remains unspoken. For Viera, that was exactly how it was. Even after her grandfather passed, she wouldn’t speak of it. She just moved on like everyone else.
It was darker tonight than any other night, she though to herself in mild frustration. The road she normally drove on was blocked off because a pipe burst, the whole road was covered in strangely tinted water. Viera’s boss had called her in to take the night shift, it was the night before Valentines Day and he knew the shop would be packed with husbands and boyfriends who just simply forgot.
The chocolate shop she worked at was on the corner of Brown Street in Waterbury Connecticut. It was a small shop, and she was one of three teenagers who worked there; a boy named Jack, her boss, and herself. Jack was tall for his age of sixteen, he had shaggy brown hair and somewhat dull green eyes. Covering his eyes were thick rimmed glasses. Every once and a while he would bend over and clean them on his shirt. This action usually succeeded in making them even foggier. Saying she had a crush on him was a huge understatement. Viera brushed some of her longer blond hair back behind her ear as she drove. The road was long and much darker than usual for 6 o’clock at night on a Friday. She was going to go out with her friends, but her boss had other plans.
There was an older Taylor Swift song on the radio as she drove. The road was somewhat unfamiliar to her since she had only traveled on it once with her parents a long time ago. Viera’s brighter blue eyes were focused on the road as she gripped the steering wheel tighter. The pop star’s voice faded out into static. She frowned and tapped the radio with her finger a few times before groaning. “Stupid old machine...” The older Volvo was now filled with uncomfortable silence. She didn’t like when the radio died, music was her passion and she loved to sing.
She drove past a flickering street lamp. Then another, and another. Her mind started to wander. “This must be one of the roads the town forgot about. They really need new street lights.”
There was a pause of silence. It was deafening. Then, it all happened so quickly, there was a boy standing in the middle of the road. Viera swerved out of the way, trying her best not to hit him. Her green Volvo rolled down a ditch and collided straight into a nearby pine tree. The pain was unbearable; it felt like her chest was on fire, and she knew for sure that her legs were broken and bent in unnatural ways. One of the last things she felt was the warm blood dripping from her broken nose.
It was cold. All Viera could think about was warmth. It felt like she was drowning in ice water, her lungs were frozen. She sat up from her position in the car and looked around. She was in the same spot only it was darker. The sky was gray, fog surrounded the black two-lane asphalt that seemed to stretch for miles. Had it gotten darker? She asked as she willed herself to get up. The strangest thing was that all the earth shattering pain seemed to vanish. She Viera looked down at her stomach, then her blue eyes widened. All the blood, the red liquid that she would’ve assumed to be dry, was gone. All that was left was the remnants of her tattered blue shirt and black jacket. Down her abdomen was a gaping whole. She gasped in surprise and finally got out of the car.
Viera looked around everywhere for her cellphone, but it was no where to be found. She sighed and started to walk down the narrow road. She looked up at the dark trees that seemed to blanket the surrounding forest, and the shadow that the night cast. In a way, it was terrifyingly beautiful. There was s silhouette in the distance and the harder she looked, the more it started to look like a person.
“Hey! Um, excuse me?” She called out, waving her hand in the air. “My car crashed, can you call 911?”
There was a deep voice behind her, it seemed just above a whisper. “Your car crashed?”
Viera jumped at the sound of the voice. She quickly whipped around and came face to face with bright green eyes. She looked back and saw the silhouette was gone. “Yeah... Do you have a phone I can borrow?”
She tilted her head to the side in mild confusion. “Okay... Would it be too much trouble if you could drive me to the nearest phone?”
The boy shook his head. “I don’t have a car.”
“Then how did you get here?”
His pale lips turned upward in a small grin. “Same way you did.”
“But I got here by car? What’s your name anyway? Who are you with? Is this some kind of sick joke?” At this point, she was getting angry and wanted answers. Viera narrowed her eyes and scowled.
He laughed. “No. This isn’t a joke. I’m dead and so are you.”
Viera’s eyes widened as she gazed at every feature on his face. He seemed to be around 17 and his hair was a chocolate brown, it was messy and framed his face. He had a strong jawline and dimples when he smirked. The boy’s laugh flowed out of his mouth like running water. She looked him up and down and noticed the worn out sneakers, jeans, and red plaid shirt. Right on his left cheek was a light bruise and his overall skin tone was quite pale. It was more of a gray than a fleshy orange. “What?” She stuttered.
He shrugged and turned away. “I guess you’ll have to follow me.” He started walking the other direction. She paused for a moment, thinking for a brief moment on if it was safe to follow him or not. She decided to follow him because the boy was the only person around for what seemed like miles. He grinned in secret as Viera followed him. They walked for what seemed to her - hours. Then, suddenly he stopped. “Here’s your proof. You’re dead, I’m dead, welcome to the party.” He said sarcastically.
She wrinkled her nose up in confusion. “What do you mean? It’s just a road.”
He rolled his emerald eyes at her and sighed. “Alright, walk forward then.”
Scoffing, Viera walked forward. “Look, just the road, see?” As she walked, she looked back at him to see the same grin on his image. It was confusing, and she didn’t understand why. That was, until she fell flat on her bottom. “What the?” Viera stared at the road and the invisible barrier.
“Ghosts can’t leave where they died, Blondie.” He said in a cocky voice. She glared at the boy, he acted like he knew everything. “That’s a barrier and as far as you can go. It’s basically a dome that circles this whole wasteland.”
She opened her mouth to ask another question but was interrupted. Apparently, he wasn’t done talking. “And no. There’s no way around it, trust me. I’ve tried.”
She scowled. “Don’t call me that.”
“Fine I won’t call you that, Blondie.”
Immediately, Viera didn’t take a liking to the stranger. He was too arrogant and seemed like a trouble making know-it-all. “What’s you’re name?” She finally asked after a while.
He paused, as if he didn’t wish to tell her. “Jonathan. My name is Jonathan.”
“My name’s Viera.” She said awkwardly.
“So, you died in a car crash? Nice. I wish I went that way.” Jonathan sighed, looking off in the distance past the unseen barrier. It was obvious that he missed something. Viera didn’t want to pry.
“How old are you? I’m 16.” She asked. The way he died was obviously a sensitive subject for him.
“I was 17. But that was before I died. I’ve been here a while.” The distant look that had once graced his features was now gone. His signature smirk was left in its place.
Viera raised a brow. “Really? How long?”
Jonathan shrugged. “I’ve lost count. Thirty maybe? Forty? Who knows.” He paused. “But anyway, you’re going to be here a while so get comfy.”
“How come you can’t leave?”
“You sure ask a ton of questions Blondie.” He laughed, his white teeth showing. It was a strange emotion, Viera suddenly felt more comfortable around him. Jonathan was still a slightly eerie person in nature, but she didn’t mind. She also was starting to grip the feeling that she was, in fact dead.
“Just one more. So the afterlife isn’t real then?”
Jonathan answered with yet another shrug of his large shoulders. He was a decent amount taller than Viera who was only five foot four inches. “I think so. I haven’t seen heaven or hell for that matter, but I have seen these awful creatures. They’re black and look like goop with some kind of holes were their mouths used to be. They have these piercing red eyes.” As he described the monster, Viera felt a shiver roll down her spine. “This is going to really shock you...”
“They’re called reapers.” He said simply. “Nasty S.O.Bs. They look like the grim reaper’s pets. I’m not sure what they are, all I know is I’ve only seen them once.”
"Reapers? That can’t be right.”
“Believe me, it is. They want to take your soul. I’m not sure what they want with it, I haven’t figured that out yet. All I know is I’m going to avoid them.” He explained.
Viera nodded slowly, still in the illusion of shock. “They don’t sound too friendly.”
“No. They’re not.”
Her thoughts ran wild as she pictured the reapers. She had always thought that they were people, angelic beings even, who peacefully guided you into heaven. It was strange and eye opening. She asked herself, if reapers were real, then what else was?