Time’s clock is forever ticking above death’s throne. The clock’s glass face absorbes the colours of the landscape where death resides. The greyish-green of the stone mass, a floating island, and the pinky-red fire of the sky above and below, reflects on the clock’s face.
The figure of death sits soberly in his throne. The stone carved form a perfect fit for his lanky tall body. Beneath death’s left and right hands, the leering skulls of his first two victims sit. They are from our first two ancestors, people who lived exceptionally long compared to the humans living in modern times. Adam and Eve had tried to evade death, even though they knew he was coming for them. They had been ignorant and had no idea what death actually meant until they breathed their last.
Their souls he’d had to let fly in heaven, gold birds with giant wings exploring their freedom and return to painlessness. He had kept their skulls, though one day he knew he would have to return them. For now, Adam and Eve’s skulls peered eerily out onto whichever soul was before death seated on his throne. Together with the dying person, death watched their last seconds of life tick away. He towered over them in his realm and let their soul sour to heaven or to hell, there was no inbetween except him.
Some souls who stood before him were not afraid. This always amazed death. He was an imposing figure, giant and fearsome, his red hair as consuming flames, and his eyes burning coals. Some humans gazed up at him with what frightened death as wisdom, something they had gained, which few knew, not even him. Their souls flew away and he knew he would never see them again. Other people crumbled before him and he took time to torment them whether they went below or above. He was death after all, a fearsome being.
Yet, he had no control where a soul went. Death had no power to choose or to do as he wanted. He had a job, a task. He was death, he killed; but he was not merely an end. He was also the beginning. What he valued most of all, freeing those souls trapped in decaying bodies or in bodies injured profusely. Death was a contradiction of terms, both good and evil. Souls of faith went above and souls of disbelief went down to hades. Even death was afraid of what lay far beneath him in the abyss.
When I removed the contents from my tote-bag, I was perturbed to see a tattered book inside.“I could see the corner of folded yellow parchment stickingout of the torn lining of the battered book.”
“What’s this?” I whispered. Instantly, I heard chanting. In my mind I pictured two woman murmering magic with candles in a circle around them. It was as if the image had been placed in my mind.
Suddenly, the parchment opened in front of me. Oddly, the symbols on the parchment made sense to me. The parchment was a spell for immortality. I had no time to think, the words of the incantation flew from my lips:
Live forever, consequences well known,
Speak the words, let your time now cease flow,
Your string never snipped, fate overlooked you,
Alone, you will wander, the cost is many souls.
When I stopped chanting, the parchment and the book had disappeared. My boyfriend stomped in the front door. Before I gave him a hello kiss, he said: ” Something about you is different.” Then I kissed him hungrily and he disintegrated in my hands. I burst into tears and I learned the price of eternal life — my kiss was the kiss of death.
Thanks to Roger Shipp for hosting this Flash Fiction challenge.