This next round for the Music Be The Food flash fiction event is inspired by a band that is very near and dear to my heart. You might know them from their incredible catalog of music, or you may know them from my novel, The Dark Seduction; the band is Die So Fluid and the song, “Bittersweet”, is off their upcoming album, “One Bullet From Paradise”.
Listen to this powerful song and read the first piece of fiction by Andrew Skaggs.
Grant stood dumbfounded. Literally seconds ago he was sitting on a cross-country bus running away from something he had the audacity to think he could actually run away from.
Staring him down now was a demon of a different sort.
This one seemed real.
“Holy shit. Did that bitch in the diner dose me?” Grant rubbed the back of his neck in a futile effort to get the hairs to stand down.
It was almost working. Then the demon spoke.
Well, laughed. Which was worse.
“Fool. You are in my world. No drug that exists in yours would ever allow you to experience something as horrifically beautiful as this.”
She smiled at Grant and at once he felt a warmth wash over him. It felt like warm, wet velvet caressing him.
“Where…where am I?” the words barely made their way out of his mouth before another rush of warmth forced him silent.
“Shhh, my pet.” There was an edge to the voice. He could hear the edge and knew that it was dangerous, deadly even.
It didn’t matter.
The demon stood before him. Fishnet stockings crept out of polished leather boots and gave way to a frilled garter belt. Further up her sinful figure, the blood red of her crimson corset did its best to fulfill its mission of containment.
Grant couldn’t help but notice that it was failing.
As he was failing.
None of this made any sense to him. How the fuck did he go from falling asleep in a moving litter box to this? Whatever this hell was.
He struggled to find words. The voice in his head that was screaming at him to run, run anywhere but here was being drowned out quite convincingly by the feelings happening much lower.
It wasn’t until she stopped smiling that he saw what perched over her shoulders.
Light from some unknown source caused a quick glint on the blade of the scythe. The wooden handle that she gripped loosely was stained a deep mahogany hue, no doubt from millennia of use.
She smiled again as she saw recognition creeping in.
And then he recognized her. Fully.
His mouth dropped in horror.
“That’s right, Grant.”
“A minor setback. You see dearest, when you dumped me I was distraught. Silly now, to think that my life was worth less than yours, but I wasn’t in my right mind at the time. And you did nothing to help the grieving process, you prig.”
Grant opened his mouth speak, but the demon put her finger up to her lips and made a ‘shhh’ sound and he suddenly found himself silent, unable to speak.
“I’m still speaking, dear. So, yes. As the pharmaceuticals were living up to their warnings and the mortal coil was shuffling off, I made a dying wish. Turns out those are really a thing. Who knew?”
She paused for effect. Wanting to make certain that her words were burrowing in to all the right corners of Grant’s mind.
Continuing, she said, “My dying wish was simple. I wanted you to suffer in the most horrific way possible, for all eternity.”
“Turns out the powers that be in this realm are quite a bit more spiteful than the earthly legends let on. My wish was granted. I had some duties to perform first. Time is a bit funny here, so I’m not sure how long I’ve held this mantle, but no matter.”
She lifted the scythe from her shoulder. Closing the distance between them, she held the mantle of Death just under his nose.
The scent of death filled first his nostrils, It perched there, almost inquisitively at first, then consumed Grant entirely.
“Breathe deep Grant Irving. For when your lungs are filled fully with the stench of death, the position will be yours.”
His eyes widened in horror as the darkness consumed him.
“Almost there. Before you are given over completely, I need to tell you the rest of the wish.”
Eyes that had started rolling back in his head snapped to sharp focus with the woman standing before him.
That was her name. It was meant to be casual. But he could see now that it wasn’t for her. He thought she had finally taken the hint when he stopped getting her texts.
Apparently he was wrong.
“Grant Irving, my dying wish was this. That when you died it would be a horrible, fiery death. So bad so that your family and friends would have no recourse but to have a closed casket ceremony.”
An image appeared behind her head of a fire. A terrible fire on an interstate. A tanker truck and a bus, his bus, were twisted in a fiery embrace. There was no chance that there were any survivors.
As death consumed his being, she continued.
“There are more than just one Death, you know. It’s like a company of sorts. There are various forms of death. Reapers specialize.”
Grant could feel the truth in her words starting to take root in his soul. No. Not his soul. Something else.
“As the remainder of my dying wish, Grant, you are doomed to serve as a reaper. You, however, will have one of the hardest assignment of any of the Deaths.”
She pushed the scythe closer to him.
“You will watch people experiencing the happiest moments of their lives. You will feel every saccharine ounce of bliss that their miserable souls eek out. You will LIVE that bliss, Grant. And then, as Death, you will be the one that takes their bliss from them. You will be the Unexpected Death. The heartache you cause by taking that life, you will also bear. You will straddle this bittersweet line for eternity. You will simultaneously feel more joy and pain than you have ever felt in your entire pathetic life. This is my dying wish for you.”
With the last, she fully thrust the scythe in to Grant’s hand.
Only he wasn’t Grant. And it wasn’t a hand, so to speak.
He still had all the memories of Grant Irving, but the skeletal that gripped the scythe as it though it were an extension of him clearly belong to Death.
Her words hung in the back of his mind as she faded in to mist.
He found himself in the living room of a small apartment. A banner that said “Welcome Home Daddy!” was taped to the wall in the modest living room. A young child was excited to see his daddy again. Death felt the love in that little room. And then he saw the TV.
The news report cut in. A tanker truck had jack-knifed on the interstate unexpectedly, the driver dead of a heart attack. The only other casualties were on a passenger bus that didn’t have time to react.
His bus. Also the bus of a soldier on leave. He remembered the soldier getting on a few cities after he did. He didn’t speak much, mostly stared out the window at the passing countryside.
That soldier was this boy’s father.
A soldier that, like him, would not be coming home.
He hoped that the soldier at least had a chance to make a dying wish.
Read more from Todd at toddskaggswrites.com.