The Reaper Knocks

Writing Prompt: The Reaper Knocks

There’s a thunderous knock at the door. You open it to find an improbably tall, black-robed figure towering over you with a scythe in one bony hand. The figure peers at you for a long moment, then looks down at a clipboard in its other hand. Then back at you. Then back at the paper. It has no apparent face, but you sense that it is puzzled.

Post your response in 500 words or fewer in the comments below.

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88 thoughts on “The Reaper Knocks

  1. moonlighting

    There was something appealing about the dark of night. it was a calm darkness, cool and steady and deep. It reminded him of when he was little, and his mum would take him to the aquarium about an hour away from the city. The open ocean exhibit, the one where you could walk under the water, had the same effect. Dark, but never empty. Calm, but not still. As a child he would put his hands up against the thick cool glass and point at the Manta rays swimming in the distance.
    The last time he went was a long time ago. Why would he, when he could just sit by the window at night and feel the same thing? The only difference was, the sky had never seen a Manta ray.
    The antique clock in the hall chimed three times. It was almost time now. He could feel it under his skin, deep in his bones. Just a few minutes more, he was sure of it. He wasn’t sure how he knew, but that did not matter to him. In a few moments he would finally get his answer. And if not, maybe he could hitch a ride.
    At precisely seven minutes past three in the morning, there was a heavy knock on the door. With a sigh, the man rose from his place by the window, the floor creaking as he went to open the door.
    “You’re late.” He grumbled when he saw the hooded figure on his doorstep.
    “I do apologise, I…”
    The dark apparition produced a clipboard from its heavy black robes, and the menacingly sharp scythe he had been holding vanished into thin air. After peering at him for a long moment, the figure looked down at the clipboard, then back up again. Although its face was indiscernible, it appeared to be confused.
    “I am very sorry, but you are not supposed to die today. I cannot take you with me.”
    The man rushes forward, grasping at the ghastly figure to stop it from leaving.
    “I know that! I know. I just needed to ask you one thing.” The man looked down to his bare feet, and the robed figure waits patiently. The man sighs and finally looks up, tears forming in his eyes.
    “Is she doing alright, you know, wherever she is?” it was almost a plea, a desperate whisper. The tense aura around the figure simmered down a bit, and it pointed a bony hand past the man.
    “Why don’t you make us a cup of tea, and we will talk inside.”
    The man woke up in the morning, two empty cups were standing on the coffee table, next to a picture of a young woman and a little boy, enthusiastically pointing at a manta ray in the distance.

  2. Diamondrose34

    The Reaper Knocks (Writing prompt response)

    The limbs of the trees reached like long fingers towards the sky. Fall had stripped them bare. The leaves once lovely artists were now little more than eyesores on lawns. Glancing out my bedroom window, I watched a hint of red creep into the sky. Even the slight tinge had a powerful impact. The sight inspired a sense of awe. I got lost in thought for a second before closing the blinds. The white walls making up my room looked noticeably bleaker. Between my attempts to brainstorm different writing ideas, my eyes kept wandering back to them. Fall continued to make its presence known despite the physical barriers. This was perhaps the most distracting. I’ve always had a tendency to be a little restless. I retract that statement. I guess everyone can be a little restless but I’ve always felt it a little bit differently. Fall managed to take that feeling and exacerbate every single part of it. The blank sheet before me only had tiny dots here and there from the tapping of my pencil. The sounds of bugs outside pierced through the walls. The allure of the season almost had me completely pulled in.
    Then, a loud thunderous knock at the door caused my heartbeat to soar. Checking my phone, my eyes flinched slightly at the small bright screen. The numbers 8:18pm appeared on the screen in Arial font. The warm space under my blankets started to feel a little colder. The room was towards the back of the house but the house was only a modest one story. The first clear distinguishable idea that occurred to me was to say nothing. Keeping inconspicuous was already accidentally a part of my strategy. Most of the lights in the house were already off. My legs felt heavy. The sensation of them being nearly pinned down to the bed was more than simply a lack of willpower. The idea of being heard by the outsider from all the way in here was ridiculous. Still, I lay feeling frozen in time for several more minutes. Maybe, it was Fall. Maybe, it was self curiosity. A sense of urgency hit me to open that door. The feeling was similar to being compelled.
    The best way to encapsulate the feeling was more of an obligation. Taking a deep breath, I made my way down the hall and into the kitchen space. The knocking had gotten quieter but each knock still carried a sense of something unknown. knock! knock! A moist sensation on my pajama pants caught me off guard. My hands were sweating more than I had realized. The obligation to meet this unexpected guest drove me to turn the knob. A conviction that I was meant to meet whoever it was had crept into my consciousness. Its deeply lodged roots penetrated every part of my brain. An improbably tall, black robed figure towered over me with a scythe in one bony hand. The figure peered at me for a long moment before looking down at a clipboard in its other hand. Then, the robed figure looked back at me. Then, back at the paper. It had no apparent face, but I could sense that it was puzzled. The Windchill from outside made me shiver.
    I looked the robed figure up and down, “Do you want to come in? I don’t know if you can feel cold but I’m sure that being inside is more comfortable.” The figure nodded slightly. Stepping back, I found myself just as puzzled as it seemed to be. I allowed enough space for the tall figure to fully enter the kitchen. The black space where a face should be made a motion which suggested it was looking around. Did death get to see the inside of many homes? I wondered exactly what death could see.
    I see everything you can see, as well as the potential of things to be.
    You can hear my thoughts?
    The figure looked directly at me with its bony hand gripping onto the scythe. I wasn’t expecting your reaction. Most people…..Well, need I say more. Leaning against the counter, Goosebumps began to rise along my arms. They crept from my wrist and worked their way up to my shoulder. Fear wasn’t my prominent feeling, though,
    “Do you drink tea or any other kind of beverage?”
    I cannot taste much but for the sake for formality, yes. The house or at least the kitchen didn’t feel any colder. Many stories about death seemed to describe that kind of phenomena. Edgar Allen Poe’s Masque of the Red Death particularly came to mind. Death’s arrival at the party had been such a riveting moment. Death glanced at his clipboard again and back at me. The black space where a face should be penetrated beyond that superficiality most people put up. My inner consciousness’s effort to fight was futile. I had never hated a feeling so much.
    Carefully making sure not to spill any, I handed Death the cup of tea, “How do you do that? I mean, what do you see when you look at people’s souls?”
    I see all of the stains from the different memories that make up their lives. By the way, I like that story too. One of the more accurate. Death’s comment caught me off guard. Having someone else in your head took some getting used to. His black robe glided along the kitchen floor past me into the living room. Its robe was made of what looked like material but a thin black smoke emanated from it. I couldn’t stop watching as Death moved around. There was something magnetizing about the whole thing.
    I just can’t piece it together. You should be the right person but you’re not.
    How do you know when it’s the right person? The black space under the robe turned to face me. It’s hard to explain. The short answer is that the soul tells me everything I need to know. The thin black smoke coming from the robe left a trial which hovered low to the ground. Suddenly, death paused.
    I’m sorry for the intrusion. I don’t do this often but I would like to leave you with a gift for taking up your time. His bony hand extended towards me. A sweat broke out on my forehead. My breathing began to feel a little irregular. It felt like barely a minute passed and I didn’t even remember closing my eyes. When I opened my eyes, all I had in my hand was the empty cup of tea. I stayed up all night typing furiously on my laptop. Afterwards, I had the best sleep of my life.
    The next day was when I got the news. My twin brother had died.

  3. Wayne

    I could hardly believe my eyes. Everything in the world is based on logic or rationale, I had always believed, yet here was living proof (so to speak) that the world is bigger than my beliefs. Supernatural, even!

    A clipboard? What a pedestrian canvas on which to ledger such a ghastly telling! A blank face? Nothing is as it was supposed to be. Perhaps it’s because Death is perceived as Life is lived: subjective, open to discussion.

    As these musings swallowed my disbelief, Death turned His curious clipboard to me. I discovered the revelations of those whom He had visited before. Thoughts and feelings that were not wholly unique from my own. Death, even as the living do, wants answers, to know the unknowable, to intuit the reason why.

    And that reason is… because. Life (and Death) happen simply because. I understand that now as firmly as I realized that I didn’t understand then. Wordlessly, I gave myself over to The Reaper…what could be said? What did Life’s Language mean now?

    He pulled me into his Presence with His compassionate scythe. I gazed upon His barren visage, sure that my journey of and into the unknown was only beginning.

    We are all more alike than you think. I’ll see you soon.

  4. AB199315

    She plopped down on the couch with her glass of wine in hand and breathed a sigh of relief. Wrapping herself in her blanket she sought comfort in the moment she had waited for all day. She tried to clear burdens of her day as she took a long gulp from the glass.
    She grabbed the remote and started to mindlessly flip through the channels when she heard a knock. She paused to listen thinking her cats were just getting into something the shouldn’t upstairs. But there it was again…knock…knock…knock.
    Who the hell is knocking on the door this late? She wondered. She shut off the TV and lights hoping that whoever it was would get the hint and go away. She took another sip of wine and waited to see if she could hear someone.
    Knock…knock…knock.
    Oh my god, whoever this is better have a good reason to be bothering me, she thought. Irritated she set down her wine and walked over to the door.
    Knock…knock…knock.
    “I get it, I’m coming” she said as she ripped open the door. “Oh!” She gasped. She froze in terror as her mind tried to comprehend what she was seeing. The first thing she noticed was the long bony fingers wrapped around a scythe, glistening in the night. She gulped as she slowly she tilted her head up to its head. A large hood engulfed its face and she couldn’t see anything but black. Everything in her being told her to run but she couldn’t get her body to move.
    She just stood there are stared, petrified to move, for minutes, hours, she couldn’t tell. The figure stood hovering above her. It glanced down at a clipboard clutched in between the boney fingers of its hand and cocked its head as it stared down at her.
    “Wh-…what do you want?” She was finally able to utter.
    “Uh, Kelly Noble?” A voice croaked.
    “Y-yes” she shakily responded.
    “You’re not old.” It stated.
    “Umm 27” she glanced back at her empty wine glass on the table. How much did she drink? She had to be imagining this.
    “What year is this?” It asked with a hint of irritation in its voice.
    “It uh, it’s 2018”
    “Shit” It uttered.
    She just stared.
    “Uh, well this is embarrassing.” It said as it scratched the back of its head with it’s scythe. “My notes say you were supposed to be reaped in 2018 of old age. And 27 doesn’t seem old to me. Do you feel old?”
    “Well…no. I feel crazy at the moment but not old”
    It let out a bone chilling laugh. “What a mix up. We got some new help on board and I guess they just got the year switched around. I’ll be back in say about 63 years or so.”
    “O-okay.” She peeped.
    And just like that he was gone. Leaving her to stare into the open night wondering what just happened.

  5. AmySL

    There’s a thunderous knock at the door. You open it to find an improbably tall, black-robed figure towering over you with a scythe in one bony hand. The figure peers at you for a long moment, then looks down at a clipboard in its other hand. Then back at you. Then back at the paper. It has no apparent face, but you sense that it is puzzled.

    “No speekie da Englissie,” I try, pushing the door shut.
    “Dude!” the figure says, stopping the door with one long, pointed black-clad boot. “Bro, that’s SO not cool.”
    “Wait –– Death is a surfer?”
    “Yuh, I know.” The shoulders rise and fall under his robe. “Like, whoa. Who knew?”
    We stand there on opposite sides of the threshold for a long minute.
    “Cheeky toke?” I suggest.
    “Nah! Sweet though. Can’t really––” He shrugs again. “They drug-test us.”
    “What?”
    There’s a creaky, wheezing sound. Death is chuckling. “Gotcha, brah. There’s no drug-testing. I just don’t partake. You should see your face.”
    I can hear the traffic buzzing past on the highway. Some crazy bird is singing its heart out in the bare trees next door. “So,” I say.
    “So,” he says.
    Then he looks back at his clipboard. “Yeah, so, like, according to this? You were ––um–– supposed to be like dead already.”
    I give him a look.
    “Okay, like, we’re on a schedule, and it looks like someone forgot to pick you up.”
    “So what happens now?”
    “I pick you up.”
    “You use that?” I point at the wickedly sharp scythe. “Is it going to hurt?”
    “Just for a second.”
    “It’s been a hell of a ride,” I said, squaring my shoulders. “Okay. I’m not ready, but okay.”
    Death winds up for the big swing, but then stops. “Brah, you put me off my game. The worst thing is, you were supposed to be dead like 27 years ago.”
    I do the math: 27 years ago, I would have been sporting sun-bleached dreads, wearing as little as possible, surfing every spare minute. “Bad wave?” I wonder aloud.
    He checks his clipboard, squints and starts wheezing again. “Akaw! Dude–– brah––it was a bad burrito.”
    “I haven’t eaten one of those for years. So how do I go this time?”
    Death considers me for a long time. Then, after taking one last gander at his clipboard and scratching the hood of his robe with a bony finger, he says, “Back into the line-up.” He throws me a Shaka, the white bones of thumb and pinkie looking strangely cheerful waving against the black robe.
    “Peace out!” I say as he strides off.

  6. ChromaticK

    Death’s Retirement

    I am awakened by a thunderous knock at my door. Glancing down at my watch I realize that it’s 1:26 in the afternoon. I groggily rise from my desk and walk in the direction of the front door. I was not expecting any packages, any company, and I lived alone. Once I reach the door I open it to reveal an improbably tall, black-robed figure towering over me. They stare at me for a while before glancing down at a clipboard and then back at me. Even though they have no apparent face, I can tell they’re perplexed. They then turn the clipboard towards me and points at it. Upon closer inspection, it was a picture of me when I was in grade school. This picture is about six years old.

    In the picture, I was wearing my school uniform at the time and my hair was braided away from my face. I was probably about 15 when the picture was originally taken, but now I’m in my twenty-second year of life and much time has gone by. I look back up at the cloaked figure and they begin to speak.

    “Is this you?” their cold voice rings out.
    I nod
    They then stretch their arm up into the air and a scythe fabricates into their grip.
    This amazing act leaves me awe stuck. Then they grasp my hand, transferring the weapon from them to me. I stare at it for a while before looking back up at them.
    “This is yours now.” They say, sensing my confusion. I’m caught off guard by a bright light emitting from it. I shut my eyes tightly. When I open them, I am met with yet another surprise. A black cloak with white markings was draped over my shoulders and the scythe shrunk in size, accommodating itself to fit my height. The color of the blade also changed, going from a dull silver to a striking white and the handle a dark wood.

    The figure nods in satisfaction, their “task” had been transferred to me and their work was done. I, too, knew this to be true. I smiled at them as they handed me the clipboard, which was currently blank, and bowed their head slightly as they bid me farewell. I watched them disappear, seemingly without a trace. I felt a small buzz and I looked down at the clipboard. I name written in gold ink.

    ‘Well’ I thought to myself ‘Let’s get to work.’

    I pulled the hood of my cloak over my head, hiding my face in darkness, and with a wave of my hand I was off, taking on my first “assignment”.

  7. Stelsa Moss

    There was a single knock at the door, awakening Nick from his snooze on the couch. His beer was warm, still in his hand and the television was on; he’d fallen asleep and missed the end of the movie. Again.
    ‘Abbie?’ he called for his wife, ‘was that you?’ His eyes flickered down to his watch. He hazily remembered her kissing him on his cheek as she headed to bed and reminding him to not fall asleep on the couch again.
    There was another knock at the front door – this time louder. Nick jumped. He hesitated, and then nervously made his way to the door. He twisted the key unlocking the door, cursing himself for not purchasing a peep hole like Abbie had asked him to, and pulled the door open.
    There stood an unearthly creature, a figure over 6ft tall in black cloths, a scythe gripped between white bones. Nick’s eyes widened, horrified. He opened his mouth, but no sound came out. The Grim Reaper.
    ‘What… You’re not real, you’re not real,’ Nick thought, ‘this isn’t real.’
    The Grim Reaper looked down at the clipboard in the other hand of bones, and back to Nick. Nick took a step back and fell to the ground.
    ‘Nick! What are you doing?’
    He whipped around and saw Abbie in the hall. Her blue eyes went as big as saucers as she processed what she was seeing. Before she had time to scream the Grim Reaper quickly drifted to her side and pulled her by her hand.
    ‘No! No, don’t you touch her!’ Nick shouted, scrambling to his feet.
    ‘Nick! Please! Help me!’ Abbie screamed. ‘Help me! Please!’
    ‘There’s nothing that can be done,’ the Reaper said, in a sharp whisper, ‘it’s just your time.’
    Nick started to cry, as Abbie and the Reaper started to fade away. ‘No, no, no,’ he sobbed, as Abbie’s body slumped to the floor, all light and life draining away with the Reaper.
    He held her in his arms, sobbing, shouting for help.
    ‘Nick? What’s going on?’
    Nick turned around to see one of his neighbours, Markus, stood in the doorway, watching in horror.
    ‘Abbie’s dead… He said… It was her time,’ Nick said through tears.
    Markus put a hand to his mouth, ‘you stay right there! The police are on their way.’
    ‘Police? We need an ambulance!’ Nick yelled. ‘We need an –‘
    He was interrupted by Markus landing a punch to his face.

    When Nick resurfaced, the police were in his apartment, raising him to his feet.
    ‘What’s going on?’ he mumbled.
    ‘I could her hear screaming,’ Markus was saying to the police, ‘screaming for help. He was stabbing her, repeating it’s your time, it’s your time. Wearing that, thing,’ he said, pointing at the black hooded cloths by Nick’s feet.
    ‘He’s lying,’ Nick said, ‘he’s lying! I didn’t do it!’ He looked down at his blood stained hands, the bloody kitchen knife on the floor next to his wife’s bloody body. ‘I didn’t… I couldn’t…’ he whispered, in the sharp whisper of the Reapers.

  8. imjustbored

    THE REAPER KNOCKS

    I stared back at the black abyss under the hood, knowing that I should feel some sort of fear, but instead felt rather amused at the poor creature. I could tell however, that the same could not be said for the thing on the other side of my door. The lack of face did not prevent me from seeing that it was blatantly puzzled.

    I opened my door wider, everything in me screaming not to, and with one of my cheeky grins asked the inhumane thing if it would like to come inside. An invitation from a mare mortal must’ve confused, what I assumed to be a Reaper, to no end.

    It stood there for quite a long time before I heard a shallow raspy voice in my head say, “I’m the Reaper” in a matter of fact tone, with some possible confusion and apprehension present.

    The reality of what was happening suddenly caught up with me and I remained still for a while but my many years of being a Theatre Kid allowed me to push the panic and confusion down and put on an act.

    “The Reaper? Aren’t there more than one?” I raised a single perfectly groomed eyebrow.

    The voice reappeared again in my head, with a certain edge to it, “There is only me”

    “That doesn’t make any sense,”-I raised my right eyebrow again- “How can only one Reaper go knocking on everyone’s door if over a hundred people die every minute”

    “I don’t usually spend so much time at one house, and for good reason to, humans are insufferable.”

    “So then why are you still here?” I snapped, slightly offended because I knew it meant I was the insufferable one.

    “You’re supposed to be dead.” It stated.

    Despite knowing that that could be the only possible reason The Reaper came knocking at my door I still felt alarmed.

    My act dropped and my dread resurfaced. I never thought I would be caught. After so many years of escaping death this was incomprehensible..it was life changing. An absolute nightmare.

    My mind was working double time. The voice of the Reaper was pushed back. I had to think, to come up with a way to get out of this.

    I was smart and experienced in getting out of bad situations so I did what any nimble and resourceful person would do – I killed the Reaper.

    I snatched the scythe right out of its bony hands and swung it-successfully chopping of its head-before it could even process what was happening.

    The faceless creature dissolved into nothing and the area around the scythe glowed brightly, the light matching the heat emitting from it.

    “Hm, guess there’s a new Reaper in town.”

    I walked out into the street and teleported to where my first job would be.

    (this is the first time I’ve written a short story in a long time so I’d appreciate some constructive criticism)

  9. Supersloth88

    “Mistress?” The hooded figure asks.
    “What are you doing here?” She asks in response. “Don’t you have a job to do?”
    “I don’t want this job anymore,” he responds, He lifts the scythe in his bony hand and pushes it towards the girl, an unassuming teen girl. She raises an eyebrow at the figure and shrugs.
    “You’ve had this job, what?” She asks. “Two thousand years?
    He nods, solemnly. “Almost two thousand.”
    “The last guy only lasted two thousand years,” she says. “You know there is no returning to your previous life, right Reaper? I’m not even sure anybody would even consider you a Saint anymore anyways. Do you know what they call you these days?”
    The Reaper shakes his head, “no, Mistress. I have tried to stay focused, I am so very, very busy.”
    “Santa Clause,” she says. “A fairy that travels from house to house for Christmas, a holiday. The legend of old St. Nicholas, the man who brings candy, toys, and joy to little boys and girls across the world.”
    She laughs. It is not a pleasant laugh, it is an evil, maniacal thing.
    Reaper’s hand grips the scythe tighter, knuckles turning even more white. Her laugh continues, and his anger builds.
    “I changed my mind,” he says.
    She stops laughing and dabs at tears in her eyes, “that’s good, are we done here? I am watching Greys Anatomy reruns.”
    Reaper’s scythe flashes through the air in a blur of motion, the terrible grin on the young girls face turns to one of shock. Her eyes roll and she falls backwards. As her lifeless body hits the floor, Reaper turns and walks back out the door. He lifts the clipboard in his hand and crosses a name off the list.
    “Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus…” he sings as he walks into the night.

  10. Insertpseudohere

    Open Casket

    “I’m sorry Mrs.Clark, but the cancer has already reached its terminal phase. There is nothing we can do.”
    “Really?” Petunia thought of good old Paul (gone too soon, the bastard) waiting for her on the other side (probably with a cigar and a large glass of brandy, knowing her taste).
    “There has to be some hope left,” dear Marjorie had said in a strangled voice, almost crushing her dying mother’s hand.
    “I’m sorry, but-”
    Marjorie burst into tears, burying her face in Petunia’s lap while she awkwardly tried to shush her by petting her hair, just like old times. She had always been that way, really -a show-stealer, even as a little girl. Couldn’t an old woman die in peace?
    She was back home the next day. When her family came banging on the door (she had broken the doorbell) to offer their obnoxious help, she played dead (it truly wasn’t difficult). She gave her cat to sweet little Mickey next door, and watched his parents make a face (good, she had never liked them anyway). She told the postman to call 911 on the day she wouldn’t open her door.
    Then she sat down in her favorite armchair, poured herself a brandy, and waited.
    Finally, on one fateful night, a loud knock on the door woke her up.
    “Took His goddamn time,” Petunia grumbled.
    She looked at her luggage (carefully packed the day she knew she had cancer; she liked to plan things early), then at her half-empty glass of brandy. Then at the luggage. She finished the brandy.
    There was a second knock. Louder. More insistent.
    “Coming, coming -bloody hell.” (that one was for the armchair- was it really that low?)
    Her left hand took her trusty cane, the right one her luggage. She had to let go of the luggage to answer the door (“Idiot,” she mumbled under her breath). She turned the handle.
    “You’re late,” she said sharply to the black-hooded figure that was probably Death. It was holding a scythe.
    And that’s how she thought she would go -with a last witty, dry quip.
    Only Death looked down at his clipboard. Then at Petunia. Then at his clipboard.
    Then at Petunia’s door.
    “Woops,” said a sepulchral voice. “Sorry. Wrong number.”
    “What do you mean ‘wrong number’ -look, I’ve been dying for weeks now. So let’s get the hell outta here!”
    “I’m really sorry Mrs Clark, but er-it seems your time hasn’t come yet. My sincere apologies for your loss.”
    And just like that, he was gone.

    At 9:00 a.m, Petunia woke up in her armchair with an incredible hungover.
    At 11:30 a.m, the postman informed her that Missy the cat had passed away. Mickey was inconsolable.
    “Fucking interns”, she told Paul’s photo conspiratorially, while pouring herself another glass of brandy. “Never getting anything right.”
    She looked down at the beverage for a few seconds, and then added a couple of colourful pills.
    “Gotta serve yourself, as the saying goes -isn’t that right, my dear?”

  11. qcarpediemq

    For how long, I could not tell you, I stood in silence, staring at the hooded shadow, whereupon any other house caller, a face would show, before I began to suspect the Reaper had arrived at some impasse; and though the figure unable to proceed hence ward, was most reluctant to abandon its cause. It turned the clipboard towards me and I poured over the names until my eyes cast upon my own and I read no more.

    The figure positioned its hood unnaturally close to my face, and upon closer examination I beheld nothing. Upon my nose I felt gentle warmth so that I thought it may be expressing a sigh, and at last, I felt pity for this creature, for I was sure I had become conscious of its dilemma.

    “Go forth, dear Reaper, go forth, for you will not take my hand and court me tonight. Do not be disturbed, for you are right to come for me at my youthful age, as you did come for my Mother and my Grandmother and Great Grandmother. Do not be disturbed, for my good Doctors have performed a most unnatural service and have schemed you your conquest this evening. Do not despair, for you shall yet again knock on my door – take care not to return in 50 years or more! And with a full heart, I bid you farewell. Farewell Reaper! Farewell!

    1. Diamondrose34

      The style of writing you used here was what caught my attention. The older, almost theatrical tone is used well and makes this story really interesting. The story still holds onto somewhat of a modern feel despite this creative, older style writing.
      Two sections particularly stood out to me. The lines “Though the figure unable to proceed hence ward, was most reluctant to abandon its cause. It turned the clipboard towards me and I poured over the names until my eyes cast upon my own and I read no more.” I didn’t understand what the first line meant until the end but when I did, I liked the foreshadowing you built into this paragraph.

      The speaker’s manner in addressing Death was also interesting. I like how the speaker describes Death’s rejection as not “taking [their] hand and courting them tonight.” What I liked even more was that the speaker comforts death; even going so far as to reassure Death they can come back again someday. Overall, this artistic take on the idea gave the story such an intriquing quality.

  12. Seaside Susan

    The Reaper Knocked

    Patrick saw the motion light go on a few second before there was a pounding at the door. He was almost to the door when the pounding came again. He flung it open expecting to see some drunk. Instead, he saw a tall willowy figure in the best Grim Reaper costume ever made.

    “Dude, Halloween’s not for two weeks and you’re a little old to be Trick or Treating.” Patrick was amused.

    The figure looked up. Patrick noticed the hood was empty and sort of floating. The Reaper held a scythe and a strange clipboard. It looked like the words were moving around, almost like it was trying to reset. The Reaper stepped forward as though to come into the house.

    Patrick blocked the door. “Dude, who are you? I just moved in here and it seems the last resident did a runner. If you’re legit, shouldn’t you know these things?”

    Patrick was getting nervous. Was The Reaper here for him? Patrick stepped outside and closed the door. Suddenly he got a strange sensation. It was like The Reaper was trying to communicate with him. This was the weirdest day ever. A name popped in his head, Abigail Kensington.

    “I don’t know anyone named Abigail. I moved in two days ago. If she lived here before, she’s gone.”

    He stopped and listened to see what else popped in his head. It might not be smart to mind meld with The Grim Reaper, but it might get rid of him. Words swirled and then came into focus.

    “Are you saying so many people have wished her dead that you’re acting on it? And all of their energy is focused on this house because she lived here? And she’s still here?”

    The Reaper nodded.

    Patrick stood there in awe, now what? He thought about the Craigslist ad he’d answered. He’d been surprised to find affordable housing so quickly. And then he remembered the locked garage and basement. Was Abigail still here and using him as a shield? “You know she’s still here, don’t you?”

    Again the Reaper nodded.

    “If I let you in, am I going to have a dead body on my hands when you leave?”

    The Reaper shook his head no. Patrick again listened. “You want to scare her to within an inch of her life?”

    It was as if the faceless Reaper smiled.

    Patrick opened the door and let The Reaper in. They moved toward the locked garage door and The Reaper did something to make it open. As the door slid closed, Patrick heard a heart-stopping scream and then silence.

    A few minutes later he heard the garage door go up, an engine start, and a car peal out of the driveway. He looked in the garage and there was The Reaper. He nodded to Patrick and then vanished into thin air.

    Patrick got one last sensation. “Look for me again in about sixty years.”

  13. Nicole Coffey

    Resounding screams of the red-faced girl on his hip had Nathan running through the apartment, looking for the lost tiger. With one hand he held tight to Ariella’s waist, and the other felt under the couch. Over the wailing, Nathan heard knocks at the door. He sighed, pushed wild curls out of his face, and ran to answer.
    “Hello?”
    “Hello, Nathan Moore? I’m Death. I’d say nice to meet you but it isn’t.”
    In front of Nate was someone early for Halloween. They were tall, wearing a black cloak, and a mask so dark Nate couldn’t see the shape of a face. Death looked between Nathan and Ariella.
    “Rajaaa!” she screamed, tossing her head back.
    Nathan grimaced. He pulled Death inside and slammed the apartment door. The last thing he needed was another noise complaint from the grumpy old lady across the hall. “Make yourself useful, put down your stick, and hold her while I look for her stuffy.”
    Death took Ariella hesitantly and placed her on his hip as Nathan had.
    “This really isn’t my job.” he grumbled. “In fact this is opposite my job.”
    “What’s your job then?” Nathan asked.
    His voice was distant as he moved to the kitchen. One time his sister handed her baby to a stranger while she dug for her wallet. Nathan said he’d never do that. Holly laughed and said wait until he was stretched thin enough. It seemed he’d come to that point, but unlike Holly, he could watch this guy and make sure he didn’t run off with Ariella. Although, at this moment Nate would kill for some quiet.
    “I escort the dead.”
    Nathan got up of the floor, looking the man over with a scoff. “You’re an escort? Who hired an escort to wear a reaper costume?”
    Death sighed. He bounced Ari who still cried, and eventually pulled a pacifier from his pocket. “She’s too old for these, isn’t she?” he said, then pulled out a sucker.
    “You just carry that stuff around?” Nathan asked.
    Finally, shoved behind the milk he found the tiger. Apparently, Ari was strong enough to open the fridge. He gave the tiger to Ariella who already settled for the candy, and took her back.
    “No one’s ever been able to make her settle for anything.” Nate mused. “You must be good with kids.”
    Death chuckled. “Not really.”
    “Well, I didn’t hire an escort,” Nathan said with a smirk. “And seeing as I have a kid to make breakfast for unless you want to join you’d better get going.”
    Death picked up his scythe which to give him credit looks pretty realistic. He shook his head and left Nathan’s apartment.
    “God, that smells like death.” Nathan said taking the sucker. “Don’t take candy from strangers. They might try to poison you.”
    Nathan put the sucker in his mouth despite the smell and warning he gave Ari, it was oddly compelling.

  14. cedrick001

    500 words is a hard word limit to meet :/ but here goes

    A knock came from the door and Time moved ahead of the others to intercept the visitor.

    “Death, please come in,” he moved away from the door and motioned his hands in an inviting manner.

    “You’re late,” Life teased.

    Death moved unevenly towards the couch and seated himself.

    “So, how have you been?” Life asked, almost uncaringly.

    “The nature of my position precludes me from partaking in such frivolous emotions,” he reminded her.

    “I am sooo glad I was born first,” she guffawed unapologetically.

    “Father won’t be coming,” Cosmos chided. The implication was clear: she, as the eldest, held the most authority of those present.

    “I guess you can stop cowering,” Life poked at Death a bit too aggressively.

    “You mock me at every chance.”

    “I love you brother, you know that.”

    “This hallowed, celestial house that we inhabit is no less transitory than the very lives that you would ask me to end. You would ask me to perpetually perpetrate the same oblivion that we ourselves fear on those that are guilty merely of being born to a lesser station than our own.”

    “It is for the sake of our own lives that theirs must be cut short, brother,” Life swooned.

    His expression remained stoic, unchanged.

    “Father must be supplicated,” she pleaded uncharacteristically. A single tear escape her eye as she turned away in shame.

    An unexpected silent gloom overtook the room. No one dared to speak. Some took in the silence aromatically. Seconds passed. None stirred.

    The pregnant breadth of the silent seconds that passed could have filled a lifetime of mortal introspection.

    Common sense and dignity alone informed Death that he was, ultimately, in the wrong. It was he whom first stirred beneath the oppressive, crushing silence.

    “Fine,” he murmured.

    He got up to leave.

    “I love you,” she pleaded, her eyes fixed on his rapidly disappearing form.

    He turned to look at her. His gaze was fixed with curiosity and hatred. He wanted to know why he (and he alone) had been burdened with this unenviable task. He took in the figures around him with growing contempt.

    There was nothing else to be done. He had stated his case and ultimately been proven wrong. Self preservation had won out in the end. It had probably been predetermined this way, long before he had been born. Of course, in the end, he would choose self preservation over morality every time. He wished to continue to exist, as all things that existed wished to continue.

    As he exited, resigned to his fate, he remembers hoping, in passing, that the same cosmic force that would ultimately be responsible for terminating his own undoubtedly limited existence would, if nothing else, afford him the same respect and familiarity so as to at least plead a hopeless case on his behalf before unceremoniously snuffing out his own existence as he was resigned to ending so many others.

    He hefted his scythe in his tired, practiced manner and began the act of reaping.

  15. BRL

    Death’s Visit

    Three loud, thunderous knocks woke me from a dead sleep. Rolling over in bed, I turned on the lamp on the nightstand and looked at the alarm clock. Five minutes to midnight. Who would be knocking on my door at this time?

    I hoped the person would leave so I could go back to bed, but when the knocks repeated, I knew that was not going to happen. Sighing, I pushed back my blankets, threw on my robe, and then slipped on my pink, fuzzy, bunny slippers. My slippers shuffled along the hallway floor as I made my way to the front door. Two hours of sleep was not enough, the worries from my doctor’s appointment still lingered strongly in my mind. What if the test showed I had cancer?

    I flipped the switch to turn on the outside light, unlocked the door, and then pulled it open, prepared to tell the person to leave me alone. However, a gasp escaped me when I saw who—or what—waited on the other side. Any sleepiness immediately vanished.

    An immensely tall, faceless figure stood before me. From head to foot, the figure was clad in a tattered black robe. The rips and holes scattered throughout the material showed glimpses of bare bone. Despite the fact that the figure had no face, I could feel it peer at me from under the dark hood. Its right, bony hand tightly grasped a scythe, while in its left hand it held a clipboard.

    Death was on my doorstep.

    My body trembled as I stood frozen in my steps, unable to pry my gaze away from the figure. For what felt like hours, though it had to have been only seconds, it continued to stare at me. Don’t ask me how a faceless figure is capable of staring, but it was, and its stare was intense. Eventually it looked down at the clipboard, studied it for a moment, and then returned its gaze to me. It repeated this action quite a few times, seeming puzzled by something.

    Its gaze turned back to me once more and said, “Daniel Burke.” Its voice shrieked over the calm wind.

    “H-he doesn’t live here,” I stammered. “He lives down the s-street.”

    The figure took a step backward, preparing to leave, but then looked back at me. “You are next. Cancer will give you to me.”

    Within an instant, the figure disappeared, leaving the full moon that was hidden by its body seconds before to now shine brightly over the street. Slowly, I stepped out onto the doorstep and looked down the street. On Mr. Burke’s doorstep, Death stood.

    And I was next.

    Six years later, I was the mother to two wonderful sons and married to the man of my dreams. I had been diagnosed with cancer shortly after Death’s visit, and though the battle was long, I beat it. Death didn’t return.

  16. RafTriesToWrite

    A loud pounding on the door woke Linda from her deep sleep on the couch, with the TV blaring at an almost maxed volume, grumbling incoherent words as she struggle to feel for her feathery slippers. She was surprised she heard someone knocking at the door when the doorbell works just as fine.

    The pounding got louder as she slowly stood up, her startled cats have started running about her tiny old apartment.

    “I’m comin’, hold your horses.” She almost shouts. “What? Who is it?” She nags as she opens the door.

    Death, in skeleton form covered in a black hood like he just went to a cult meeting ten minutes ago, held firmly at his scythe, his clip board and read the name out loud.

    “Linda?” Death spoke.

    “Who’s asking?” She almost screamed. Death looked at her in the eyes. She was blind as a blind person could be. He thought that it be best for her if she didn’t knew why he was there.

    “I’m here to fix the faucet.” He lied, obviously.

    “Oh goodie, the fixer up-er. Come in, come in!” She stood aside to let the very meaning of the end of life into her humble old smelling apartment. “The faucet’s been a nuisance these past few days. It keeps spraying me with water every time I open it. I’ve called Brian a dozen times ever since that darn faucet broke but no one showed up. At least it’ll be fixed, now that you’re here. Right? Uhm..”

    “Garret.” Death lied again. The cats hurriedly scattered away from the Death as he entered the apartment.

    “Garret. Yes.” She closed the door and slowly straddled to her beat up couch. “There’s cookies at the counter. Just help yourself. If you need me I’ll be on the couch.”

    If Linda only knew that lying down a little bit longer would stop her heart, she wouldn’t have done so and Death would’ve been in more trouble with HR than he already is now for delaying her death just by knocking at her door a little too early.

    This was the only time he was too efficient at his job and yet he’s already in trouble for it.

    Not even one minute later, he looked at his clip board, there was five seconds left shown for Linda’s life span. As he got closer to the old lady, Death wondered how would a blind old woman with cats watch TV?

    As soon as Death was about to do his job, Linda coughed.

    “L-linda?” Death was startled as he looked at his clipboard one more time.

    “Yes?”

    “Linda Watts?”

    “No, Andrews. Watts is on the next floor.”

    And right on cue, a loud thud coming from upstairs echoed through the old walls of Linda Andrews’ apartment.

    “Not again.” Death spoke to himself.

    This will be his second strike with the HR for late delivery.

    1. Nicole Coffey

      Raf,
      This made me laugh! I love the idea death makes mistakes, and the fact he’s worried about being late for ‘delivery’ is great. Also, did I sense some remorse when he was wondering ‘if only she knew’?

  17. Jennifer Park

    27. The Demon

    [This follows “26. The Visitor”, under “Lost Dog.” You can see a listing of the Darth Barbara saga chapters—all of which are posted under WD prompts—by clicking on my name above.]

    [Unlike most other chapters, I’m afraid this one only makes sense if you’ve been following the story.]

    Mumemma was not pleased with the impatience of the community monitors. It fully sufficed to ring the bell once. Or twice if his knees were particularly inflamed, and he was slow to open the doors. Banging on the doors after ringing the bell five times? Philistines, these government thugs. “Emme!” [Coming!] he shouted.

    He was definitely not pleased by the figure standing outside the door. Not a monitor, but a misguided youth. Tall as the tallest Memam-ball players. Skinny as a maamue calf being starved in preparation for slaughter. Deep-set hollowness where eyestalks should be on the mask. Enrobed in dark cloth from top to bottom.

    Carrying a long metal stick with metal sticks sticking out from the top like uemaa antennae.

    It wasn’t even a Ammemuum Festival day, and this dork was walking around looking like the castrating demon of the orbs?

    Have they lost all sense of decency, these pranksters?

    And here they are wearing dark clothing before the Em-Ema-Umaum day. Where will this cultural collapse lead? Will they start playing Um carols before Aem-a-Muem? Open stores for holiday shopping on Aem-a-Muem day itself?

    The figure looked at Mumemma.

    It looked at a glass plate on its paw.

    It looked again at Mumemma.

    It looked baffled. Mumemma thought maybe he should try to be helpful. “Amuemaum umu?” [May I help you?]

    After an awkwardly long pause, the figure shook the glass plate rudely, and let out a horrible screech.

    Mumemma shuddered. That was a convincing demon sound, best he had ever heard, but it sure hurt his receptors. “Mamummue, e?” [What the f^&*, man?]

    To his surprise, the little glass plate spoke to him, in a slurred, oddly inflected accent, “Ammum, ammemum, amuum. Mummu-meammumume amummu-memmumaum.” [Apology, pardon, peace. Mistakenly chosen house-address.] And the figure rudely walked away.

    Mumemma resisted the temptation to slam the door behind the idiot. He did mutter to himself, “Mumaamaa!” [Kids these days!]

    1. Insertpseudohere

      I haven’t read all the chapters of your story -but this one is super funny and really had me grinning! Love the game with the fake foreign language, it’s really a delight to read!

  18. Kerry Charlton

    CHAUNCEY GARDENER

    On a slight rise overlooking the Lampasas River in the hill country of central Texas, a small nineteenth century ranch house with its wrapped porch, faced due west, and had become a busy landmark. Two years earlier, Chauncey had grown tired of Washington where he visited with the president, the congress and the Supreme Court and answered philosophical questions, the world had seemed to ignore.

    With a heavy heart he had donated the Biltmore Estate along with its three hundred room to the state of North Carolina and the city of Asheville for he sought the peace that rarely comes to a man of his age. The public followed him anyway and were greeted like old friends as long as no publicity was involved. His heartache upon losing his wife to cancer, was difficult to handle. His incredible visions of life had helped there. His faith in God had eased his pain gently and he worked his garden and the rich Texas soil to create beauty that rivaled the hill country’s charm.

    Late one evening, after he retired for the night, he heard a tremendous knocking noise emitting through his oak door and he opened it. His porch light had burned out but he made out an extremely gaunt shadow, with a long robe covering his body and hiding his look inside the fold of his garment. He knew exactly who it was but asked a question of the figure who carried a sharp, menacing scythe resting in the crook of his arm.

    “Are you looking for work,” he asked.

    The figure moved impatiently and shook his head. He lifted the scythe high as if he were prepared to use it on Chauncey. But it was ignored as the gardener walked up to the figure and placed his hand gently on the cloth of his chest and felt nothing.

    “I do not fear you, nor am I repulsed by you, for you have no heart and no soul and answer to the devil. I can change that if you wish.”

    The look of death let out an ungodly shriek and violently shook the cloth where his head should have been.

    “I am going to take the scythe from you for you have no need of it. Do not fear me death, for you are already dead. Let me have your blade quickly.”

    The figure dropped the blade as if it were red hot and stepped back from Chauncey as he fell to his knees and moaned slightly. Chauncey grabbed the blade with both hands and threw it toward the darkness.

    “Do not look for it Reaper, for it shall reject your weakness and destroy you if it can. “

    The creature lay on the ground now and the moaning continued. Chauncey’s heart and mind forgave the aberration and the moaning stopped instantly. The devil’s work struggled to rise from the soil on which it lay but a ring of fire surrounded it and the burning started until nothing was left but smoke. Chauncey felt and saw the ring of fire burst in flame again, this time surrounding him but he bravely walked through the fire and was not harmed. Smoke and ashes left the scene and the scorched earth was made anew. He walked toward his home without a scratch on him.

    Chauncey walked inside, knelt at the side of his bed, said a prayer and looked toward the portrait of his wife which sat upon the night stand

    “Not yet darling for I still have things to do. I miss you terribly and long for your touch. Don’t worry about me for God is on my side/”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank.you Jennifer. The first paragraph.was carefully thought out and then.my fingers took off and wrote the rest. It does happen now and then, I call it automatic writing where I want to read what I type
        It is the weirdest feeling to write that way.

  19. Kerry Charlton

    CHAUNCEY GARDENER

    On a slight rise overlooking the Lampasas River in the hill country of central Texas, a small nineteenth century ranch house with its wrapped porch, faced due west, and had become a busy landmark. Two years earlier, Chauncey had grown tired of Washington where he visited with the president, the congress and the Supreme Court and answered philosophical questions, the world had seemed to forget.

    With a heavy heart he had donated the Biltmore Estate along with its three hundred room to the state of North Carolina and the city of Asheville for he sought the peace that rarely comes to a man of his age. The public followed him anyway and were greeted like old friends as long as no publicity was involved. His heartache upon losing his wife to cancer, was difficult to handle. His incredible visions of life had helped there. His faith in God had eased his pain gently and he worked his garden and the rich Texas soil to create beauty that rivaled the hill country’s charm.

    Late one evening, after he retired for the night, he heard a tremendous knocking noise emitting through his oak door and he opened it. His porch light had burned out but he made out an extremely gaunt shadow, with a long robe covering his body and hiding his look inside the fold of his garment. He knew exactly who it was but asked a question of the figure who carried a sharp, menacing scythe resting in the crook of his arm.

    “Are you looking for work,” he asked.

    The figure moved impatiently and shook his head. He lifted the scythe high as if he were prepared to use it on Chauncey. But it was ignored as the gardener walked up to the figure and placed his hand gently on the cloth of his chest and felt nothing.

    “I do not fear you, nor am I repulsed by you, for you have no heart and no soul and answer to the devil. I can change that if you wish.”

    The look of death let out an ungodly shriek and violently shook the cloth where his head should have been.

    “I am going to take the scythe from you for you have no need of it. Do not fear me death, for you are already dead. Let me have your blade quickly.”

    The figure dropped the blade as if it were red hot and stepped back from Chauncey as he fell to his knees and moaned slightly. Chauncey grabbed the blade with both hands and threw it toward the darkness.

    “Do not look for it Reaper, for it shall reject your weakness and destroy you if it can. “

    The creature lay on the ground now and the moaning continued. Chauncey’s heart and mind forgave the aberration and the moaning stopped instantly. The devil’s work struggled to rise from the soil on which it lay but a ring of fire surrounded it and the burning started until nothing was left but smoke. Chauncey felt and saw the ring of fire burst in flame again, this time surrounding him but he bravely walked through the fire and was not harmed. Smoke and ashes left the scene and the scorched earth was made anew. He walked toward his home without a scratch on him.

    Chauncey walked inside, knelt at the side of his bed, said a prayer and looked toward the portrait of his wife which sat upon the night stand

    “Not yet darling for I still have things to do. I miss you terribly and long for your touch. Don’t worry about me for God is on my side/”

  20. MattH

    Stick It, Death

    Last Halloween I donned a fake beard and dressed in a Nineteenth century suit.
    “Guess who?” I had asked my friends at my Halloween Party.
    “Charles Dickens.”
    “No, Melvil Dewey.”
    Everyone blinked and stared.
    “Wasn’t he that dude who ran against Harry Truman and lost?”
    “That was Thomas E. Dewey and he didn’t have a beard.” I threw up my hands, “Melvil Dewey invented the Dewey Decimal system used in libraries. Don’t you people read?” Did I mention that I have a first edition book on my bookshelf: How to Win Friends and Influence People?
    This year was going to be different. The theme of my Halloween Party is to dress up as your favorite lexicographer – living or dead. I spent all day decorating the house in orange and black streamers, programming a sound track of a tombstone creaking open, ominous footsteps, and I programmed the doorbell to eerily scream. I had strung up pumpkin lights outside my house and placed a bale of hay in the front lawn. I had prepared punch and added ice cubes that resembled eyeballs staring up.
    Half past seven and no guests. Could everyone be late? I plopped on my couch, grabbed a handful of candy corn, redolent of my childhood, still hopeful that someone would show up, maybe dressed as Noah Webster.
    A thunderous knock rattled the door, nearly taking it off its hinges.
    “Ring the door bell!” I yelled. I wanted to hear the screams.
    When I opened the door, I saw a tall figure dressed in black holding a scythe and a clipboard. He barreled into my house, almost knocking me over. I stood on tiptoe and glanced at his clipboard, trying to see if I could spot my name. The writing was atrocious. People’s names were scratched out and other names written above. Most of the places were hospitals, emergency rooms, and highways along with the time of death, which was also scratched out and rewritten.
    I took his scythe and offered him a seat. I wheeled out my dry erase board with markers and multi-color Post-Its. “Seriously, you need to be more organized.” I reached out for his clipboard. “May I?” I used three colors to legibly print the person’s name, place, and time of death and stuck them on the dry erase board. With the markers I drew a street map and labeled the streets. You Are Here, I boldly wrote. Then I noticed he had a second page on his clipboard.
    “Now you try.” I returned his clipboard with a stack of Post-Its. He grabbed them with his boney fingers, meticulously writing out each name. While he was doing that, a book mysteriously fell off my shelf: A Dictionary of Superstitions. When I slid the book back, I glanced over at the dry erase board and saw my name on a Post It. He was about to write down the time.

  21. mayboy

    Matilda

    Loud knocks, three times, echoed among the walls all over the luxurious mansion one summer night. Nick jumped off the sofa from where he watched the favorite evening show and shattered the peanuts on old Persian carpet after the cup had slipped off his hand for the sound of the trembling door.

    Step by step he approached the door. First, he hesitated then grabbed the hook, wondering who the late guest might be. A tall, black-robed figure, towering over him, stretched the hand with a scythe in one bony hand. The figure peered at him, for a long moment he felt that the blank look sucked him into the darkness, then it looked down at a clipboard in its other hand without saying a word. Then he raised the look back at him. To his surprise, it has no visible face, but he knew, it was Matilda, the missing wife in her favorite Halloween costume.

    It happened twelve years ago when their marriage reached the boiling point. To ease the tension between the two of them, Nick invited the wife on a weekend trip, and Matilda accepted it with delight under one condition. She chose the destination on the beautiful beach resort. After having dinner with new friends they met there, they enjoyed in their company, having a good time, dancing. His wife sobbed after the last dance, the drops of sweat popped up on the forehead. Matilda apologized that she needed some fresh breeze, coming from the seashore and went for a short walk. She never came back.

    Nick alerted the authorities, The search for missing person has begun. After the police interrogated Nick, friends and other guests, they eliminated them as a suspect for a rock-solid alibi. They didn’t have a person of interest at that time. The police force and volunteers were working around the clock. They checked every square meter and turned every stone miles around the complex, from the beach to the cliffs. Despite the rocky terrain, they did their job meticulously. But there was no sign of Matilda until a tourist found a veil stuck among the stones on the beach. Investigators concluded, that she probably drowned while swimming and the strong currents drifted the body to the open sea.

    All the search days and months after the disappearance brought no result. Years passed, and Nick pronounced the wife’s death. He remarried; soon after the second wife left him for the peculiar behavior which destroyed every new relation he had.

    Nick stood at the doorstep like a statue; his face turned from red to pale. Matilda put the foot among the doors before he could slam it. The long-lost wife hissed in his ear, “I came to collect my life insurance.”

  22. jhowe

    From the middle of a great dream, my roommate woke me. I slipped off the couch and knocked my knee on the coffee table.

    “What?” I said.

    “Someone’s at the door.”

    “Who gives a shit.” I shook my incredulous head. “Get rid of him.”

    “I ain’t going back in there.”

    I picked up the pipe from the floor and fumbled for my Zippo. I lit it and inhaled deeply. As I blew out the smoke, my roommate was still standing there.

    “He asked for you,” he said.

    “I told you, I don’t give a flying shit.”

    There was a commotion at the front of the house. Some of my fraternity brothers ran past me to the back door. My roommate stood beside me as Death walked in the room. I passed him the pipe and he took it. He shook his head inside his hood and tapped the ashes from the bowl. I refilled it and held the lighter for him. After taking an incredible hit, Death turned and walked away.

    “Whoa, dude,” my roommate said. “I think you just cheated Death.”

    It hit me that, yes, indeed I had cheated Death. I took one last hit and went in the bathroom to brush my teeth and gargle with Listerine. I had a 2:30 appointment. I wondered if I’d be able to fool my probation officer as well.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      A gritty story is always fun to read. I never stayed at my fraternity house because I lived close to campus, but the conversation you wrote was so accurate, it put me back there. The two most important things to a Sigmas Chi were the two B’S Beer and Broads.

  23. hillsworth

    Ken Kimmels house sits at the apex of his housing plan. From his dining room table he can see nearly all of the neighborhood houses. It is from this vantage point, on a crisp Halloween morning, that he watches a black, battered Toyota Corolla pull into Gary Pattons driveway, the last house on the left before Main St.

    The drivers door opens and a puff of black soot escapes into the air. A skeletal foot swings out and plants itself on the pavement. The end of a long, curved stick appears, and as it reveals itself, Ken realizes that he is looking at a scythe.

    Moving from his cushioned chair to the edge of the bow-window to get an even clearer view, he pulls aside the curtain and watches what is almost an impossible feat. As the rest of the driver unfolds himself out of the small car, Ken hears himself mumble, “Incredible! ! That’s gotta be at least seven, maybe eight feet tall.” He leans his forehead against the cold glass, leaving a nose smudge and two expanding circles of fog, and gazes at the Reaper down the street.

    Grimm leans his scythe against the car and reaches two bony hands around to the small of his back and stretches, rolling his head from side to side as he does so. He leans back into the cramped car and pulls out, of all things, a clipboard.

    The garage door goes up and Ken sees Gary start to back out, but has to stop to avoid hitting the Reapers POS. Gary jumps out of his Corvette and approaches Old Tall, Dark and Stiffy. Words are exchanged and the Reaper checks his clipboard, looks at Gary, checks the board again, points at it and shows it to Gary and then something bad happens. Kens heart stutters as Gary points in his direction and the Reaper turns to follow his finger.

    Instinctively, Ken steps away from the window, letting the curtain fall back into place. “Oh shit!” He says to no one but himself. He sneaks another look and to his amazement, Old Grimmy is shaking Garys hand, thanking him. He watches the Reaper squeeze himself back into the little death-trap of a car, back out of Garys drive and head toward his own house.

    Gary finally gets his ‘Vette out onto the street. As the Reaper is pulling his scythe back out of the Corolla in Kens driveway, squealing tires and black smoke billow out from under Garys car. When he clears the end of the cul-de-sac and disappears down Main Street, Kens doorbell chimes. Feeling like he’s In a horror film and unable to stop himself, his heavy feet make their way to the livingroom. The door makes an eerie squeak as he opens it.

    In a voice, not much different than a croaking bullfrog, the Reaper asks, “Gary Patton?”

    For the second time in as many minutes, Ken Kimmels heart stutters again, only this time a smile lights up his face. Chuckling, he says, “Sorry about your luck, Grimmy, but you’ve just been stymied.”

    The Reaper turns around to see the last remnants of the burnt tires dissipate into thin air.

  24. ellevee

    *** any feedback would be most welcome ***

    The sweatpants my legs swam in had become sticky. It was November and hot as hell outside. I wasn’t going to give in though, dammit. It was supposed to be cold, so I dressed accordingly.

    Two weeks ago I was fired, which explained the sweatpants and rebellion against weather itself. It was a losing battle, sitting here with the air conditioner off, especially for my brand new and now sweat-stained leather couch. I’d like to think my firing also explained the deadened apathy curdling in my chest but I knew it didn’t. That had started way more than two weeks ago.

    My mind would tease phrases like, “what now”, and “you can do it” but the only thing I could truly muster with a gusto was the drive to Taco Bell for the high after that first sloppy bite.

    When my next adventure would be, I had no idea. So, I did what I’d done since day one of now fourteen: eat ice cream bon-bons, splay out on my back, grab the tv remote, and –

    BANG.

    The front door rattled. Slits of light fluttered around it and into my curtain-drawn living room as if a strobe light had been momentarily turned on. I swallowed the bon-bon I’d been chewing and set the remote down. Maybe the rowdy kids next door had kicked the soccer ball against it again.

    BANG.

    Another, and more fluttering light and, unless the kid had just gone through a growth spurt, probably not from a kicked ball. I popped another bon-bon in my mouth, my tenth, and made minced meat of it quickly. At this point, they didn’t even taste good. If the bang happened again I’d get up.

    BANG.

    It appeared I had a visitor. Peeling myself up, I shuffled to the door and opened it.

    Before me stood a tall person, all bones, wearing a black hooded robe, with a metal scythe in one hand and a clipboard in the other.

    I knew who this was…

    “You Dave?” It said hopefully. Two voices spoke simultaneously from under its hood.

    “No, he lives next door but he’s out of town.”

    “Oh, dear.” It looked between me and the clipboard several times before clutching it to its chest. “I can’t go back empty handed. I’m already on probation.”

    It longingly gazed across Dave’s lawn at his house.

    “Where would you’ve taken him?” I asked

    It gently pointed to the sky.

    “Does it get cold there?”

    “Varies.”

    A warm breeze tangled itself in my greasy hair and reminded how thirsty the ice cream had made me.

    “Do you take substitutions?”

    “Yea. You interested?”

    I looked back at my coffee table strewn with fast food wrappings and the dirty laundry piling up next to it. Nothing I needed was here.

    “Sure, what the hell.”

    I guess my next adventure would be now.

  25. Viv Insanis

    The woman walked down the street in a long hooded cloak. She’d had a long day at work, but after this final task, her shift would be over. She marched her way down the block glancing back and forth between the clipboard and the addresses on the houses. ‘I really wish they’d upgrade this system. It would make everyone’s life easier.’ She sighed in relief when she finally found the right house.
    Let’s get this over with. She stalked up to the door and hit the doorbell. There was no noise from the other side. ‘Dead then, I guess.’ With a chuckle at her thoughts, she began to knock. When no one answered after a few minutes, she rolled her eyes before pulling the scythe from behind her back and using it to bang on the door lazily. “C’mon, it’s not every day Death comes knocking. Open up.”
    Just when she was beginning to debate beating the door down, it swung open seemingly on its own. Looking down she saw a small girl around 12 years old with tangled blonde hair in blue pajamas with small unicorns printed on them. She looked about as happy as Death felt, and she spoke without an ounce of fear in her voice, “What do you want?”
    Death barely registered the words as she stared down at her. Her eyes slid back to the clipboard in her hand. ‘Jesse Evans’ was written in bold handwriting. It was the only name on the list that wasn’t crossed out.
    Death watched the young girl, “Are you Jesse Evans?”
    “No, that’s my Aunt’s name. She’s been living in Florida for three years, and you are at the wrong house. Have a good night. I’m going to bed.” With that, the girl slammed the door in Death’s face.
    “Florida?” Death looked back at the paper that was supposed to tell her where her final job for the night was. “Florida!” With a growl, she spun away from the house to head back to work. ‘Someone’s getting fired, and that system will be updated if it kills me!’

  26. brookesmith

    I opened my front door to see a towering hooded figure, holding a scythe. I snorted. This guys seemed a little old to be dressing up. Even I was too old, and I was only a freshman in high school.

    I rolled my eyes in annoyance. I had just been watching the halloween episode of Dancing With the Stars. Literally the worst time ever to interrupt me. “Sorry sir, it’s not Halloween yet.”

    The hooded figure looked at his black clipboard, seemingly more annoyed than I was. I noticed with a smirk that it had a little mermaid sticker on it, the only thing breaking up the intense darkness of the clipboard. “Um…is your name Hailey Hartfield? Age 15?” He said, voice surprisingly high pitched.

    “Yes…?” I said, suspicion clouding my eyes. “Why? If this is a sale technique, it’s not working.”

    The figure stared at me, deadpan. “Quite the opposite. You are supposed to be…well, dead right about now.”

    I laughed, sarcastically and loudly. “Funny. Now go away.” I tried slamming the door, but the guy stuck his scythe out to block it from closing.

    “Why aren’t you dead?” He asked me as if I knew the answer.

    “I’m too cool to die.” I answered mockingly.

    He frowned visibly. “No, you’re too annoying. Maybe you can die another time, I guess.” He shrugged and walked away.

    I stood in the doorway and stared as he walked away. I shrugged as well and went inside to finish my episode. “Pranks these days really are getting boring.”

    The God of Death walked away from the Hartfield household, quietly cursing. He had failed for the first time ever, all because of a stupid teenager telling him no.

    He sighed as he ripped off the mermaid sticker he had forgotten to take off before he left the Underworld. “Glen was right, I shouldn’t have gone with the sticker.”

  27. Not-Only But-Also Riley

    Beginning to Live

    “I’m sorry. I’m new to this,” the hooded figure says, as she begins flipping through some of the papers on her clipboard. I just stare, bewildered by what can only be an elaborate prank.

    “Um. That’s alright,” I mutter, more out of instinct than actual politeness. The hooded figure sighs.

    “Do you mind if I take this hood off? My supervisor says we’re not supposed to, but it is so hot out here,” she pulls the hood back, and there is suddenly a head where there used to be only impenetrable void.

    She’s pale, with short black hair. What I thought was some horrifying hell sound is proved to be only the smacking of her gum, which she chews far too loudly.

    “You seem kind of young for this,” I try and make conversation as she continues flipping through papers, but my attempt sounds stupid after it leaves my mouth. Too young for what? I don’t even know what’s going on.

    “Yeah. Some die young, y’know?” she suddenly stops on a page and begins running her finger down it. I peer at it and see what appears to be a spreadsheet containing a list of names, times, and addresses. Some of the address lines contain instead only vague locations. One says ‘in a tree’. Another just ‘Sahara desert’.

    Her finger rests on a name finally.

    “Are you Winston Frey?” she asks, looking back up at me.

    “No,” I say slowly, mostly due to confusion.

    “Shit,” she whispers under her breath. Then, when she sees the look of surprise on my face, “It’s alright. No one cares about swearing after you’re dead. Do you know Winston?”

    “No.”

    She sighs heavily, and rolls her eyes.

    “Alright. Sorry to bother you sir. I’ll be on my way,” she mumbles. It seems as though this line is something she had been told to memorize. She begins walking away, and tosses the hood back up like hair.

    “Wait!” I call out. She doesn’t turn, but I don’t stop talking, “What are you? What just happened here?”

    She stops and stamps angrily back up to the door. Although I’ve seen her face, the void still seems endless and hungry. Her speed, despite her height and the robe, is equally terrifying.

    “I’m Death. Well, one Death. When you die, you can apply for different jobs in the afterlife, like, to keep you busy, and one of them is collecting souls.”

    “You applied? It doesn’t seem like you’re very interested.”

    “My parents made me.”

    “Oh.”

    We stand for a minute in silence. She juts her hip out on one side and puts her hand on the other. I’m sure this stance with this robe should be hilarious, but something about the thing’s presence makes it hard to laugh.

    “Any other questions?” she growls.

    “What’s the deal with Winston?” I ask.

    “I’m really not supposed to tell you that,” she says, but if there is anything I can say for sure about this thing, it is that she doesn’t care, “but it seems pretty obvious. Winston is supposed to be dead. I’m here to collect his soul.”

    “Oh,” I mutter, thinking to myself, “Good luck then.”

    I can feel the eye roll, even through the void, as she begins walking away again. Shutting the door quietly, I turn to my body, which is laying at the bottom of the stairs it just fell down.

    “Winston!” my wife shouts, “Are you coming to bed?”

    1. brookesmith

      this was super funny lol i like how different your character of death is compared to the stereotypical version. nice job, cant wait to see another promt soon!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I was beginning to think he might ask her for a date, then found out he was married. The sly devil, it’s not easy to fool death. Loved the premise.

  28. ReathaThomasOakley

    The Knock at the Door

    “Arlee,” Marge said as she took off her jacket and opened the coat closet door, “it’s happened.”

    “Oh, no,” her husband of nearly fifty years closed the latest AARP magazine, “I thought Carol was doing great, would go home tomorrow.”

    “Carol?”

    “Isn’t that where you’ve been? At the hospital, visiting Carol?”

    “Carol’s fine,” Marge sat in her wingback chair next to Arlee’s recliner with a sigh. “I realized driving home what I’ve been trying to ignore.”

    “Uh, Marge, dear, did you maybe forget where we live?” That AARP list had made him nervous.

    “What?” Marge stared at him. “Forget where we live? Don’t be silly.”

    “Then, dear, what…..”

    “It’s like a rap at the door, a light tap at first, easy to ignore, then a thunderous knock. So you open the door to find an improbably tall, black-robed figure towering over you with a scythe in one bony hand. The figure peers at you for a long moment, then looks down at a clipboard in its other hand. Then back at you. Then back at the paper. It has no apparent face, but you sense that it is puzzled.”

    “Marge, sweetheart, have you been streaming American Horror Stories, again? You know they gave you nightmares.”

    “No, no, no. I’m trying to explain. At the hospital…”

    “Where you went to visit Carol, yes?”

    “Yes, but I didn’t know what room she’d been moved to, so I asked the nice volunteer at the desk. After my visit I just had to stop back by and ask another question. Oh, Arlee, in the car….”

    “Marge, please, dear….”

    “In the car I realized when I asked Karen, that’s the volunteer’s name, it was on her tag,” Arlee crumpled the magazine without knowing it, “when I asked her what lipstick she was wearing, I’d let in the creature at the door,”Marge wailed. “I had become my mother!”

    “Your mother?”

    “Yes, remember how she’d ask anyone, even strangers, the most personal questions?”

    “Marge, asking about lipstick doesn’t sound that awful. I’m sure Karen, didn’t you say that’s her name, didn’t mind.”

    “No, she didn’t, she told me it was a coral shade by Revlon and Walgreens carries it, so next time we pick up prescriptions, I’ll look for it.”

    “Yes, dear,” Arlee muttered as he smoothed out his magazine.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I love these two characters of yours. My wife and I are hard of hearing now and both of us wear hearing aids. Sometimes we are so far off key, neither one makes sense. Maybe it’s better that way. Good one Reatha..

  29. rlk67

    This was quite strange, fitting for the night. His head nearly hit the top of the doorpost! And coughing from the waist? It looked like his top half was about to topple over. His arms were wildly waving as if trying to balance. Then he stared at me. His bottom half passed up a clipboard. I tried not to laugh.

    “WOOOO HOOOO….ARRRE YOUUUUU BAAAAARNES?”

    I snorted. “You mean the millionaire? Nah, his mansion is across the street.”

    I tossed a Mars Bar into his bag. “Nice costume, kids.”

    “Thanks, cheapie,” replied the waist.

    *************************
    Ok, ok, this wasn’t the intent of the prompt. But hasn’t this happened to yoooooouuuuu?

  30. GrahamLewis

    Death Be Not Proud

    George Van Horn was in his basement workshop when he heard a distant pounding on his front door. Not unusual that someone would pound, since the doorbell had been out of order for years, but annoying nonetheless. George had kept few friends after his wife died, and none of those would show up unannounced in the middle of the day. Probably a salesman, a salesman who would be mighty sorry once George opened the door, since George didn’t take kindly to needless interruption.

    George tore the front door open and began his rant before even looking at the caller. Once he did, he stopped cold. The person — or thing — at the door loomed over him, a seemingly empty hood on massive shoulders, clad in black so deep it hurt the eyes. A silver scythe lay across one shoulder. Even more shocking, because it seemed so out of place, one set of bright white bony fingers held an everyday clipboard, while one bony finger of the other hand moved slowly down a list of names. Impossible to tell, but the invisible lips seemed to be mumbling as the hood moved slowly from side to side.

    George felt his heart begin to race, and began fumbling for the bottle of nitroglycerin he’d kept in his shirt pocket since his heart attack a dozen years earlier. With trembling hands he struggled to open the bottle,but froze as the hooded figure raised its undecipherable face. “George?” The voice boomed with a deep penetrating resonance, so startling that George dropped his bottle of pills and they scattered across the sidewalk.

    “Y-y-y-yess?” His voice trembled and he felt the familiar tightness in his chest, reminding him of his near-death experience. Things began to fade into blurry whiteness as his mind flashed the terrifying truth — this was the big one. This was the end.

    “George Hornsby?”

    George momentarily surfaced from the deepening void. “N-n-n-no, ‘Van Horn.’”

    The figure looked again at the clipboard. “Damnation,” it rumbled, then it looked up at George. “Sorry, some sort of paperwork snafu. Go back to your business.”

    George stared a moment, trying to gather himself, but the tightness grew until cold permeated everything, and he fell, dead before he hit the ground.

    “Damnation,” the figure boomed again. It reached into the depths of its cloak and pulled out a cell-phone. Bony fingers pushed buttons and lifted it to where the face should be. “Tell dispatch they screwed up again,” it rumbled, “and make space for one George Van Horn.” It listened a moment. “Yeah, I know, but whaddya gonna do? Decent help is hard to find.”

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Oh, my. Technology isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. That being said, several of your images were so well done, such as, black so deep it hurt the eyes and the invisible lips mumbling. Great writing.

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