Call Me Wendy

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Death claims a soul.

Submitted: May 30, 2007

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Submitted: May 30, 2007

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[Author's Note: This was written as part of a challenge. A picture was posted, and we were challenged to come up with a story that went along with it. I have included the picture here so you know what inspired me.] 

I sit on the breakwater alone, my skirt pooled around me like a puddle of midnight, the bare skin of my back and arms pale as a freshly cleaned skull. He has eluded me for the second time. I don’t like losing. My grey thoughts are like the misty light around me, hazy, incomplete, and treacherous. Few have ever escaped their destiny by evading me three times. I have to find him.

He has been here at the waters edge recently; I can feel his presence like day old bread, stale and thick and unpleasant. He no longer belongs to this world. His presence leaves a taint, a taste in the air, a scent on the breeze, the caress of untouched flesh teasing my lips. The newly dead are such a treat for those of us from beyond. Soon others will come for him; his soul will call them. They cannot resist.

It is my job to ferry him to the afterworld. Some call me Death, but that is not entirely accurate. I am not the embodiment of death, I am merely the one who guides souls to the afterworld. I have had many names through the centuries: the Grim Reaper, Charon, the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse, Azrael, El Muerte, He Who Rides the Pale Horse, Azrael, Osiris, Yamaraj, Thanatos, Hades, and La Calaca, to name a few. The names mean nothing to me. You can call me Wendy.

I’m sorry; did you expect me to appear as a skeletal figure in a hooded cloak carrying a scythe? Disappointing, I’m sure. But why would I submit to such a cliché when I can take any form I choose? I guarantee you; this form has surprised many a soul indeed. Many times my job has been made easier just by being in the right form. It keeps the resistance to a minimum.

Almost everyone resists at first, but eventually reality claims every soul. The only exceptions are the few who escape me thrice and are damned to walk the mortal realm for all eternity, or at least as long as they can escape the others. They rarely last long against the others. There are fates worse than death.

There are things from places darker than the blackest night, things that can destroy a soul in such slow and torturous ways even I cannot image their infernal limits. There are things that delight in the corruption and pollution of purity and goodness, things that taste the slow death of innocence like a fine wine, things that smell the fright of the wholesome like fresh baked bread, things that feel the slippery wetness of chastity lost like a lovers’ first kiss. There are fates worse than my touch, worse than the destination to which I guide souls.

I must find him, before the others locate him. This could be a long night.

But suddenly, there he is, at the waters’ edge, balancing on a railing of poured concrete, his arms pinwheeling needlessly at his sides; he won’t fall. He looks the same, but I look different, and I know he cannot resist the pale skin, the black dress, the gothic makeup and hairstyle.

I stare, I let him feel my gaze upon him, let him sense my presence like all humans can when eyes burn into them. He looks up, his body jerks from front to back as he attempts to maintain his balance. I smile and then look away.

He grins at me; he is carefree, playful. He has nothing to lose. He has escaped death. I know his thoughts like those of every other man who has sought to avoid his ultimate destination. I glance sideways at him, avoiding eye contact for more than a brief second. Flirting with disaster, he tries to catch my attention. If only he knew how fully he has it.

He moves across the walkway, up the stairs, closer to where I sit. I look away. I know what he’s thinking, one last kiss, one last touch, one last fuck before death catches up with him. I might even indulge part of his fantasy.

He is beside me; I can feel him, taste his stale non-existence like coffee gone cold, bitter and wrong.

“Hey.” His voice is like the grating of rusty hinges, older than it should be with an edge only I can hear.

I turn and offer him a smile, black lips twist upward and dark eyes glint at him from a face like colorless moonlight. He should sense the wrong within me, but he has no clue how to use the abilities he has gained since death descended upon him.

“You look familiar,” he grins. It’s a bad line, and a worse grin, but he’s cute in his own, undead way. If he knew why I appear familiar, he would run.

“Do I?” I give him a moment, bait him. I cannot afford to let him escape again.

“I’m sure I know you from somewhere.” He looks down at his shoes, then back at my face, “where did you go to school?”

“I doubt that’s it,” I turn my head away. “I was schooled abroad.”

“You must know a friend of mine. I must have seen you at a party.” He stuffs his hands in his pants pockets and stares out at the water. “I bet you know Jeff.”

I shake my head.

“Bob?”

Another shake.

“Tom?” Shake. “Cindy! That’s it!” Shake. “Tonya?” Shake.

He stops. He must be running out of friends. “Are you a waitress?”

I look up at him and shake my head again. This time I give him a seductive smile, a hint of possibility, an enticement.

He pauses, his mind racing, memory banks searched at breakneck speed. Finally his eyes open wide, his mouth forms a silent “o” and he asks, “Are you a strip... er, a dancer?”

I laugh. “Do you want me to be?” I run a finger down my neck, around the curve of my breast, down my stomach.

“You are a stripper.” He’s convinced, though I have admitted nothing. “Which club?”

I stand slowly, smoothing my skirt. He catches a glimpse of leg, fair skin so white it’s almost ashen.

He wants me, and it’s a good thing, because I can feel the others in the ocean beyond the pier coming for his soul. Underwater servitude, eternal drowning, bloated blue death may be one of the worst fates I have seen for a human soul. Your mermaid tales only scratch the tip of the iceberg.

I stare up at him, my eyes wider than the sky, deeper than the sea, my lips parting ever so slightly, begging to be kissed, begging for his touch.

He moves close, his lips touch mine, he is cold as I knew he would be, but I am colder, frozen, the icy grip of death on his mouth like sticking his tongue to a frozen flagpole. He wants to pull away, but he cannot. I can taste his innocence like a perfectly rare steak. His humanity is like warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream on top, his lust like a heady red wine, ripe with age. His life is a meal I enjoy more than many others. The kiss lasts a fraction of a second; to me it is a delicious snack, but to him it is a lifetime.

He sees his entire life flashing past like a movie played on fast forward, feels the arctic kiss of death rattling through his lungs like a wracking cough, feels his body seize up like an unused, corroded machine, and then nothing.

Death has claimed him.

I have claimed him.

He is gone.

His body, dead these past few hours, was never truly here. His soul is on its way, his journey into the next realm just beginning. No trace of his existence remains on the breakwater.

I sit, pooling my skirt about me like folded shadows, the bare skin of my back and arms pallid in the moonlight like a black and white photograph. My thoughts are dreary like the colorless light around me, melancholy, indistinct, and dangerous. Few escape their destiny by evading me three times.


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