Fear the Reapers
“I want a second opinion,” I said. “Obviously someone has made a mistake.”
The man, who had introduced himself as Chuck, pointed at the body on the slab between us. “Pretty sure they’ll tell you the same thing.”
He walked away, seemingly unconcerned with the earth shattering news he had given me.
“But I can’t be dead! It’s not fair,” I whined.
He stopped walking and turned to face me, looking exasperated. “Well, by all means.” He waved a hand at the body. My body. “Jump back in then.”
He crossed his arms over his hideous flower power shirt. Where did he shop for clothes? 1970?
I turned back to my body, my perfectly toned body that I spent hours in the gym sculpting into shape. I looked so pale, my blonde hair was flat and as lifeless as the rest of me. Whatever, I can tan once I get out of here.
Not knowing what way to do it, I took a few steps back then attempted to throw myself into my body. Instead, I passed straight through it, and the slab, landing on my face on the floor. It didn’t hurt, not like it was supposed to, but the damage to my ego would last a lot longer than any bruise.
“Oh wait, now that I think about it. You can’t spontaneously come back to life,” Chuck said. “Sorry.”
I raised my arm and flipped him off, before pushing myself up off the floor. “You asshole.”
He looked bored now. “You can call me whatever you want. It doesn’t change the facts. You are dead. I was sent to collect you, so can you hurry it up? I have better things to be doing.”
I followed behind him, trying to plead my case. There had to be a way out of this. Something I could do to get my life back. I didn’t have a lot of money, I worked as an executive assistant, but my father had money. He could pay someone. Or bribe them.
“What if I like do community service or something? I’m sure we can work this out.”
Chuck stopped walking so abruptly, I nearly walked into him. Or through him. I wasn’t sure how this whole ghost thing worked. He spun to face me.
“You really aren’t getting this, are you? You fell down a flight of stairs while drunk and broke your neck. You are dead. There is no going back, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Get it?”
My lower lip trembled and I fought the urge to cry. I hated people yelling at me. I didn’t remember falling, but I did remember getting drunk at the office party. Then I came home. I went upstairs, then I remembered my phone was in my purse. As I turned to go back downstairs, there was a flash of black fur, probably my cat, Sasha, and then…nothing.
Killed by my cat. Hardly a glamorous end.
“Well who are you? Why can you see me?”
“I’m here to collect you. I am a reaper.”
“What’s a reaper?”
He let out a frustrated cry. “I collect dead people and take them to where they are supposed to go.”
Right. He did say that when he arrived. “Where am I going?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. I just get a name and a location. I’m here for the journey, not the destination.”
Now he sounded like a crappy motivational post on Instagram. Who was he anyway? I was just trusting this total stranger when really, he could be anyone. A few people passed us on the street and I waved at a few of them, trying to get their attention.
I reached out and attempted to grab a man by the arm, but my hand passed straight through him.
“Hurry up,” Chuck said.
I jogged to catch up to him, wondering where we would end up. I’ve never given much thought to what comes after. I mean sure, my grandma dragged me to church when I was little, but was I really heading for pearly gates and fluffy white clouds. Then I realized, I could be heading the other way.
Oh God. What if I do go to hell?
I wasn’t like a mass murderer or anything, but had I really done anything good? I didn’t feed the homeless or donate to charity. The most charitable thing I had done in the last year was to help my friend, Trish, move house. Even then, I complained the whole time and finally convinced her to pay for movers that she couldn’t afford.
“Am I going to hell?” I asked.
Chuck laughed. “Couldn’t tell you. I just deliver.”
“So, it’s possible?”
He shrugged. “Depends on what kind of person you were.”
I’m a good person. I am. I just never had a chance to prove it. That’s all.
If I had more time, I could have gone on to do great things. I could’ve cured cancer. Well, okay, maybe not that. But I could have done something worthwhile.
Chuck was leading me toward the pier. Why there? I needed to figure this out. Maybe when I got wherever I was going, I could bargain with the guy in charge.
As we approached the pier, I felt my fear grow. I really didn’t want to go through with this.
Chuck stood on the edge of the pier, staring down at the water. I looked around, wondering what he was waiting for.
“Come here. It’s time,” he said.
I stepped up beside him, looking down at the water. It was now a swirling vortex, leading who knows where.
“What is that?”
“The portal to where you are meant to be.”
I stepped away from the edge. “No. I’m not ready. Can’t I take a few days to think about this?”
“What is there to think about? Ghosts are not allowed to remain on earth, it is against the rules.”
“Why? What happens if the one stays?”
“You don’t want to find out. Step into the vortex. It’s for the best.”
“But I don’t want to!” I said, stomping my foot. It used to work on my father when I was growing up, but I could see that Chuck wasn’t amused.
“You are so difficult! No wonder no other reaper wanted the job. Get in the vortex.”
“No,” I said, crossing my arms.
He took a step toward me then stopped. “You have to go.”
“You can’t make me.”
He threw up his arms and started muttering to himself. It was true, he couldn’t make me. I had to step in willingly. Well there was zero chance of that happening.
“Last chance, Lacy. Go now or we’ll both be in trouble. Trust me, rogue ghosts don’t last long.”
“So other ghosts have refused? I’ll take my chances.”
The vortex grew smaller and started to close. “No, you need to jump now!” Chuck cried.
I backed away. “Not happening.”
What was he going to do? Kill me?
The vortex closed. Chuck faced me, his face red with anger. “Now you’ve done it.”
I squared my shoulders. “Really? And what are you going to do?”
He let out a whistle which echoed all around us. People began to materialize on the pier beside him. All of them, fixated on me.
“Meet my fellow reapers. You had your chance, Lacy. You could have gone to the afterlife you were meant to go to. But now, well when we catch you, you’ll go to purgatory to await your sentence.”
Purgatory didn’t sound good.
“I suggest you run,” Chuck said.
So I did.
About the Author:
S. K. Gregory is an author, editor and blogger. She currently resides in Northern Ireland.
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”