The last Chapter before I have to write more
The Moribund gets a little deep, how can she explain what she is if not one of the Gods or an Angel? And why would anyone summon Death?
So, this is the final chapter I have pre-written – and I’m posting it this week because it’s my birthday this weekend and I have tons to do before then. So it’s a little bit of a time cheat. Anyway, I hope you’ve been enjoying the story so far and if you want more let me know 🙂
Moribund Part 4
I leant against the cold wall of the hospital room in the children’s ward. I liked finding the cold places on the walls whilst I waited for the last moments. It wasn’t as predictable as some would like to have you believe. There was no hour glass counting down the seconds. No specific time marked in the Akashic records when you would expire from this life and go on to the next. No, time was a human parameter of measurement.
At eight years old this frail, sickly, girl had battled her illness for far longer than the doctors gave her. She fought with all her will and belief so that she had outlasted many others with the same disease. She was a trooper, so they said. A little angel. One pre-mourning relative had even said she was being taken back into God’s arms because she had learnt what she had come here to learn and no longer needed to suffer on this earthly plane. She hadn’t. She could have, but she hadn’t. Some stupid decision on the part of an adult had resulted in her contracting the disease that would kill her before her time. But, whatever made it easier for them I guess.
There were some prayers said, I barely listened, they had no meaning for me. They were just words one human said to comfort others based on what they had chosen to believe about how the world came to be. From a book mistranslated and mistranscribed so many times the stories were little more than fairy tales. But still, humans were a young species, they needed their stories to help them sleep at night.
Her mother bathed her fevered brow, the gentle ringlets cascading thinly around her skull like face. The mouth overly red, the eyes overly blue, the skin too white. She was a tragic picture worthy of a painting. But the best they could manage where a few final photographs with family cuddled up like it was a normal day. Nothing in this child’s life had been normal since the day she turned three.
Perhaps you are wondering how I can come to a child’s sick bed and prepare to make my offer. Perhaps you think it disturbing and insincere. Perhaps you should remember that in a matter of moments this child you care for so much will be nothing more than an empty shell her family will cling to and hold, cry on, stroke, rock, and fret over. She will see none of that. She will see me and have a conversation that lets her know she will have another life, a better life, and then she will meet Death who will guide her to the other side to rest after her ordeal.
Her last breaths are weak and sound like someone sucking air through a blade of thin grass. I move in through the throng of people getting too close, using up her possible air.
‘Hello.’ I smile kindly.
Her eyes widen in surprise and I know she thinks I’m some kind of strange angel. So many do and I rarely tell them otherwise, how would that help them decide? Time slows as it always does. Because in these moments you are quite indiscriminately outside of human parameters of measurement.
‘Hi.’ She whispers shyly. ‘Are you here to take me to Heaven?’
‘No, Death will do that, he will be here momentarily.’ I tell her, still smiling. ‘He’s sort of like an angel, but he doesn’t have wings. You shouldn’t mention that; he gets a little cross about it.’
She giggles sweetly at our new secret.
‘I’m here to make you an offer.’ I say brightly, like I’m about to take her to the ice cream shop and let her choose whatever flavour combination she wants. ‘I can give you the chance to live the life you dreamed of in your next life, if you only tell me what that is.’
‘I want to be a Doctor, so I can help children like me get better.’ She says without thinking too much, children are rarely suspicious about what you get out of it as long as they get what they want.
‘Any particular country?’ I ask, because children always have huge plans for their future, usually fairly accurate plans, that are swiftly stomped on by life. Life is a total bitch.
‘Africa perhaps? Or Amsterdam?’
‘Amsterdam?’ I ask. ‘Why Amsterdam?’
‘Because there are mice with clogs on, and I would like to see that.’ She smiles wistfully.
‘Well, I can do Amsterdam, put you in a family that will encourage you to become a doctor, in a time when diseases like yours can be solved by the kind of doctor you could be. But I’m not sure I can do mice in clogs.’ I smile sadly at the last part. ‘Although it does sound kinda cool.’
‘Well, maybe if you can make me live my next life in Amsterdam I will find the mice with clogs and you can come see them for yourself.’ She said, beaming.
‘Sounds like a plan.’ I said standing up and clapping my hands. Then holding one out to her I ask, ‘Do we have a deal?’
‘Yes.’ She says and slaps her own tiny little ethereal hand in mine.
I sense Death on the edge of the room and know she nears her final breath.
‘Death will be here soon, so I must go and make those changes, remember: don’t mention the wings.’ I tap my nose and move into the corridor outside the room. I have no need to witness the last gasp. Death will not make a deal with this child.
‘I see you.’ The nurse said from behind me.
‘Shit.’ I mutter and turn to her. ‘Yes, you see me, so does everyone else.’
‘What?’ she says glaring at me.
‘Look around you, everyone can see me. If they couldn’t they would wonder why you are talking to a wall.’ I gesture behind me.
‘I saw you in the room, I saw you lean over the girl. You made a deal with her.’
‘In her next life she wants to be a doctor who can cure the disease she couldn’t be cured of.’ I snap. Not because I’m angry, I’m not. I just want this irritating woman to go away. Perhaps it’s time to consider moving cities. Besides a little anger, a little fake rage, can make humans feel shame and guilt over what they were thinking. I go to move away.
‘Why her?’ she asks quietly.
‘What?’ I turn back, frowning.
‘Why did you make a deal with her?’
‘Because I could.’ I shake my head. There are more things outside of the human experience than can be explained sufficiently simply to them. How can I explain that I am older than their Gods, how can they understand that? Their angels that they look on for miracles came into existence a long time after I did. What I did before humans came along, with their Gods, I cannot explain to you. You have no frame of reference. No way of conceiving my age, or what I was, or what I am, or why. I simply found a way of existing alongside you when your species grew sentient. I watched you grow, become what you are, and I saw how I could fit in.
‘Why won’t you make a deal with my husband?’ she asks.
‘I didn’t say I wouldn’t make a deal with him.’ I tell her, getting close, making eye contact. ‘I said I wouldn’t make the deal you want me to make, because I am not Death, I cannot exchange one life for another.’
‘Could you speak to Death on my behalf? No matter what I try I cannot summon him, or see him.’ She almost whines.
‘Summon him. You tried to summon Death?’
‘Yes. But he never showed.’ She leant against the wall, saddened by this.
I grew curious, there is only one-way Death can be summoned by a mortal.
‘You killed someone?’ I asked, eyebrow raised in expectation of her answer.
She glared at me from under heavy lids. This one would try whatever it took to keep her husband on this plane with her. I wondered why. I wondered if she had found her anchor and was scared of letting him go. Those who were not meant to be often felt adrift and lost, they often clung on to a human that was full of life. As if they could share their purpose.
‘That’s not how it happened.’ She hissed, glancing around. ‘I found a ritual, a spell. In an old book.’
‘Why do you suppose anyone would want to summon death when they weren’t actually dying?’ I asked. ‘Why would anyone think he would have the time to turn up to a perfectly alive human being with no intention of popping their clogs?’
‘I had to try.’ She said.
‘I have things to do.’ I said. ‘That have to be done now. When I am done I will come back and you will take me to your husband. I want to know what great thing he will do if he lives and why you cling on to him so hard.’
‘When will that be?’ she asked the empty air beside her.
I meant it, I had things to do, a bargain struck must be completed. And I was hungry.
What do you think of The Moribund and her relationship with Death?
I’m interested to hear your thoughts, should I continue the story? Should I give it up and move on? Let me know in the comments or on twitter 🙂
And if you’ve arrived at this story too late here are the previous parts:
Or if you want to read more from the author you could try Skin Side Out
Horror and Fantasy Author – Also writing as K.T. McQueen. Love Western Horror, cowboy boots, my cactus Collin, & my Demon Cat.
Moths – I hate moths, the way they flutter at your face!