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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Contently Deranged Travelers
An eerie tale of one who has been chosen, and must now accept her inability to change it.

Submitted: January 29, 2017

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Submitted: January 29, 2017





  Thorn bushes swiped at her shins, stinging as they clawed into her flesh.  Low hanging tree limbs reached out to her, grabbing at her hair and tearing at her clothes in an attempt to slow her pace.  Still, she ran, her lungs burning and her bare feet sinking into the softened, ivy covered ground.

  Her sore and shaky legs could not take her through the forest with any more speed than they already were, and yet, her pursuers still gained on her.  She could hear them grunting and growling and tromping through the brush around her.  They seemed to be everywhere, even in front of her.

  The darkness, the fog and the mist, concealed their identity well enough so that she could not discern their exact nature.  She only caught faint silhouettes and black shadows as they weaved through the trees in hunt of their prey.  She had no destination, no escape route.  She only ran in one direction, terrified and quickly losing hope that she would eventually end up somewhere and then the shadows would retreat. 

  Something was at her heals and she did not have the courage to look over her shoulder.  Just as she sensed that she was about to be pounced on, there appeared to be an iridescent light shining in the distance ahead.  Her racing mind took the light to be a sign of safety and somehow, from somewhere, her body picked up speed.

  "Help!  Help me!"  She tried to scream through dry, constricted lungs and a rough throat.

  A dead, rotted log hooked her ankle and sent her plunging forward, her fall broken by her face.  She tried to get back up, but she couldn't.  Her calves were cramped and the rest of her being refused to cooperate, paralyzed with fear.  She attempted to scream again, but failed.  She managed to roll to her side, and then to her back.

  The animals surrounding her were large, menacing, and covered in black, matted fur of various length.  Their ears were pointed, their jaws massive.  They had front teeth like ivory sabers and long tongues dangling from their mouths, salivating at the thought of the upcoming feast, and they carried a loud, putrid stench about them.  The glowing green of their eyes pierced the night.

  One of the creatures, slimy snot oozing from his nostrils, moved toward her with heavy steps.  She lifted her feet from the ground and clenched her fists and her eyes in preparation of a final, desperate battle for her life.  The animal rose to stand erect on its powerful hind legs and then crouched low, ready to lunge at its prey.  Suddenly, a loud pop echoed through the woods, followed by a loud yelp, and the pack crashed off through the trees and vanished from sight.

  She lay still, her mind struggling with the realization that this may not be the end for her and trying to comprehend what just happened.  The forest was now silent, save for some light footsteps crunching in her direction.  After gaining her breath back, she opened her eyes to find a towering human form looming over her.  Once her vision became better focused, she saw that the figure was indeed a man.  He was heavily bearded, clad in a robe of pelts and held a shotgun in his hands.  His smile was yellow and crooked.

  The man placed his weapon on the ground and with a sinister grin, he began to remove his robe.  The look of excitement and arousal on his grimy face convinced her of his intentions.  She believed herself to have become nourishment for a different type of hunger all together.  As he leaned over her and slowly started to lower himself to her level, her consciousness finally submitted and everything went gray.



  She awoke to the comfort of a large canopy bed with soft sheets of silk and over sized pillows aplenty.  A loaded candelabra flickering from a small table beside her provided just enough light for her to see without giving view of the entire chamber.  She felt the room to be quite expansive.  There was a draft.

  She sat up and discovered that she was now clothed in an elegant evening dress of sapphire, complete with matching shoes.  She felt light earrings dangling against the sides of her neck and she could taste a layer of makeup on her lips.  She had no recollection of donning such accessories.

  There came a gentle tap and then the heavy, arched door slowly opened with a loud creak.  A tiny, hunchbacked and elderly woman appeared.  Her head was covered in a veil and she wore long rags over her body.  She carried a small lantern in one hand and propped herself with a wooden walking stick in the other.  Her voice was soft and kind.

  "Oh good, you're awake.  Did you have a nice nap, dear?"

  She did not answer the question and the old woman hobbled her way over to the bed, sitting on the edge and admiring her beauty.  The woman reached out a bony hand and retrieved a golden brush from the bedside table.  Smiling pleasantly, she began to run the teeth through the hair of her ward.

  Suddenly annoyed, she pushed the brush away from her head.  "Will you stop that, please!  Where the hell am I?"

  Clearly disappointed, the woman returned the brush to the table.  "It will all be clear soon enough, my dear.  You look beautiful, you may follow me now."

  Without much of an option and being without enough information to argue, she rose and followed the old woman out of the room.  Her guide waddled ahead of her as they walked through a maze of concrete catacombs, torches strategically placed along th hallways revealed bright paintings of Christian art, the Ark of Noah, the gift bearing wise men, Jesus of Nazareth, the raising of the dead, the betrayal by Judas Iscariot, the crucifixion.

  The two eventually arrived at a large dining area.  The table was decorated in red felt and neatly set with tall candles, crystal glasses and an uncorked bottle of dark wine.  On the wall behind the head of the table hung an enormous, bronze framed depiction of the last supper.  From somewhere, jazz instrumentals quietly played.

  "You may have a seat, my dear.  The Taker will be to see you shortly."  Her guide retreated and left her alone.

  She sat and listened to the music and pondered her predicament until a male voice politely interruped.  "Hello, Delilah."

  The man was tall and slender, pale and flawless.  He wore a suit of black with a tie of the same.  His dark, short cropped hair was perfectly placed and a touch of rouge graced his cheeks, accenting doll like features.  He was breathtaking.

  "How do you know my name?"  She demanded, confused.

  Her mysterious host approached and filled half of each glass with purple wine.  "I've always known your name, Delilah.  Please, drink."

  Realizing that she was indeed parched, she fulfilled his request with a long sip of the smooth, deliciously fruity liquid.  He joined her with a drink of his own.

  "You have an interesting home."  She complimented, trying to mask her attraction to this man.

  He glanced about without revealing any sign of impression.  "It is lovely.  But I assure you that it is not my home.  I came here for you.  You have been chosen."

  "You chose me?"  She looked around as if in search of some other female in the room.  "Why?"

  "It was a client of mine who chose you.  That is why I have come."  At these cryptic words, an expression of fear crossed her face.

  "Do not fret, Delilah.  I mean you no pain."

  "What about the animals outside?"

  "Those?  They are nothing, mindless minions at best.  They kill at random.  They have no taste in victims."

  "And the hunter?"

  "A comrade of mine.  He has moved the beasts along.  He is just that, a hunter.  He found you so that I could come."

  She raised the glass to her lips, emptied it and began to relax a bit.  "Who is your client?"

  "I have many.  The Great Ones."  He poured her another half.

  She admired his appearance once again as she attempted to sort through her confusion.  Then her eyes came to rest upon the painting on the wall.  "The Great One?  You mean God?"  She asked doubtfully.

  "I said 'Great Ones.'  There are several and one has chosen you, Delilah."

  His riddles, although spoken pleasantly, were now beginning to annoy her.  "Where the hell did you come from?"

  He appeared to be rather amused by her minor outburst.  "I am everywhere.  I have always been.  Many have met me and not enjoyed the opportunity to speak of me.  You see, Delilah, when I come, I come for keeps."

  She sat in silence, enjoyed another drink, and pondered the weight of his words.  Then she asked plainly, "Who are you?"

  "I believe you already know.  Think outside of your usual realm of understanding.  What is your heart telling you, Delilah?"

  In amazement, she considered the unimaginable and came to the stunning realization that it all fit into place.  She hesitated without answering and she questioned her sanity for entertaining such thoughts.  Across the table, the man seemed to peer directly into her mental conflict.

  "You do know, don't you?"

  "I believe I do."  She confirmed.

  "You can say what you are thinking, Delilah."

  After another moment, she blurted it out.  "Reaper."

  "Ouch," he said.  He appeared to be genuinely hurt by her accusation.

  "If not, then what else?"  She asked.

  "My friends call me the Taker," he offered.  "You may as well."

  "So, you are evil."She insisted

  "I am not at all, Delilah.  I assure you that I am absolutely neutral in the question of good or evil.  I am a contractor by trade.  I do not pass judgment.  I do not choose.  I simply fulfill a task requested of me, and I do so without prejudice."

  "It is a heartless task," said Delilah.

  "Perhaps," he agreed.  "But it is a living, nonetheless.  It is even better than that.  It is life everlasting."

  Now realizing what her acquaintance with this handsome man foretold, a lonesome tear tricked down her cheek.  "But why have they chosen me?  I have done nothing wrong?"  She pleaded.

  "I know you haven't done anything wrong.  You have lived a good life, Delilah.  One that has touched the lives of many along the way.  Those who know and love you will forever remain fond of your memory.  I have not come as punishment to you.  I do not have power to prioritize the order.  Some are chosen for a reason and some are chosen at random.  The method has always been the same.  There are those who must move on to make room for others and the cycle is never ending.  I did not invent the cycle, I am but a part of it.  A small part, I promise."

  He left his seat and walked around to her side of the table.  He stood next to her and she could feel his warmth.  She did not object when he reached down and delicately took her hand into his own.  She looked up at his angelic face and into his peaceful, blue eyes.  She looked deep into them and she found no malice there.  She saw only purity, only honesty, care, and the will to protect.  There was only love.  She loved this man.

  "You wish to go with me now, isn't that right, Delilah?"

  "I do."  She answered, suppressing a sob.

  As he bent and moved his face into hers, she allowed her eyes to lightly close.  Another tear emerged and fell from one's corner.  His lips made easy contact with hers.  It was a magical meeting.



  Back in her own house, in her own room and asleep in her own bed, an aged Delilah's heart fluttered, contracted, and ceased to beat.  Her breathing slowed, stalled, and then came to a halt.  She would awake no more.




Copyrighted 2017 Jason Crager

All Rights Reserved

© Copyright 2018 Jason Crager. All rights reserved.

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