My Angel of Death


A soft ssssnick woke me from my slumber and my eyes opened. There was silence and then the scraping of metal against metal. Gears moved, shifting, and turning like pieces of a puzzle coming to rest in place.

Slowly, I moved from the comfort of my covering and watched the door with apprehension. With a whoosh of air, it opened and swung back against the cream wall. With a kick of her foot, my angel pushed the wood back and appeared in the doorway.

She was back-lit by the lamp post outside, my angel was. Her head glowed like an effervescent halo, or maybe it was the way the light shot through the fluffy curls that hung around her head in strings. As she moved they were twisting in on themselves like medusa’s pets, coils pulled up in a high bun, some dripping down onto her shoulders. 

My angel was wider than I remembered. I’d only watched her since I moved to this new apartment and I’ve never seen her quite so…lumpy? No matter, I’ll take her however she comes. I watch, awestruck, as she struggles across the threshold. I want to help her, to reach out and take her in all of my arms and tell her how much I missed her. I want to remind her of all the times I kept her company, watching as she moved about. Day to night, back and forth, going along her daily routine.

I wanted to kiss her on her forehead, and wipe away any trace of the fear she might have upon seeing me in her apartment uninvited. For I am uninvited. But, I think, after all I’ve done for her, for them (my mind sours at the thought of the other two, as it’s only my angel I care about but I digress) I have just as much right to darken this door as they do. 

No, not lumpy. She’s just as plump as before. However, once she cleared the door she shed her skin like a snake. One after the other, skin became bags that became visible in the dim light and dropped to her feet. Reaching up, stretching her soft body until it could go no further, she tugged on the tiny metal string hanging from the fan. It clicks and light floods the room. I don’t need to block my eyes, as I’m watching through filtered lenses, but I close them anyway. 

When I open them again she’s gone. He’s there. He sheds his skin bags as well, though they are more hefty and heavier than hers, and then puts the tiny one down. The tiny replica of them sleeps in her plastic cage that keeps her safe and I feel jealousy stir in me. My angel dotes on her, always carrying and rocking and singing her sweet songs. I’d think there’s no way my angel could love me the way she loves her replica.

As I watch them come back and forth dropping their many skins before me, I keep an eye on the tiny one. It is my duty to keep her safe, though my angel would never know my esteemed position. The replica mews and reminds me of my angel again. Her tiny eyes flutter beneath their lids and my green eye fades away. She, like my angel, is beautiful. I see remnants in her. The purse of her lips, the slant to her sleeping eyes, the puffiness of her cheeks. I will not harm this one, I think. Had I been closer I could touch that tiny replica, hug her close with downy arms. But I am not, and she is sleeping and so I wait, patiently, until my angel returns. 

And there she is again, sweat moistening her brow as she lifts more skin through the door. Again, I want to help in any way I can, but I know I must stay out of sight. I’ve no fear of him, papa bear – the clear glass named him, for I heard he’d never harm me. What, with his soft heart and inability to kill. It’’s my angel I truly fear because this connection between us is not yet strong enough. 

She’s talked to me on several occasions unbeknownst to my presence, muttering softly beneath her breath, staring off into space, daydreaming about a blessed life. I would give it to her, if I could, but I cannot. I am the thing of nightmares, the cause of fear and pain and destruction. I wear this like a badge of honor, only except when it comes to my angel. 

I listen and wait, watching through several lenses as the door is shut, with a finality, and all three seem to sigh with relief. The comfort of home, security of being in control, untouchable by the dangers of the world on the other side of the doors. 

She laughs, a melodic sound. As she walks about the apartment tears sprinkle like liquid diamonds falling from her eyes. She motions here and there and there and says something unintelligible to him, and he nods, smiling in return. Then she’s waving her hands through the air again, pointedly, like dance moves to inaudible music.

As she gets closer to my hiding spot I shrink in on myself, afraid her radiance might blind me, or that I might be seen. She’s waving her hands again and I realize it’s not a dance. She’s determined, her mouth set, her eyes darting back and forth,  and back and forth, looking and searching, perhaps for me. 

“You know what they say,” she says, her voice clear as she gets closer. “Wherever there are cobwebs, there is a…SPIDER!” she yells out the last word as my hiding place is discovered. I am betrayed by my angel. I burst free from my confines. Desperation fills me as she slaps, slaps, slaps, left and right and then left again with her dainty hands. Angel’s hands. 

I race away, my surplus of legs no match for her size and agility. She smacks down right on my head and I’m immobile. I feel a shuttering in me, a fluttering like the replica’s eyes. One of my legs has detached and lies twitching an inch away. The other seven remain but are of no use to me. As the hand comes down again I hear him say “did you get it?” and I can do nothing but surrender. 

I have lived a good life. Found solace in the blessed angel no one believed existed. I have watched her day in and day out. I’ve stood sentry from my corner. I have been privy to her thoughts and I am grateful. Ever am I grateful to give my life so that she may live fearless and in peace.

Short Fiction: Ferrywoman of Souls

The Ferrywoman of Souls

 

Mid-afternoon, with a soft breeze and a light blue sky, is the perfect time to die. The soul seeps from the pores in a melodic lilt and rises toward the heavens and hovers just above its host. The body, having lost its connection with the physical world, loses its luster. Skin darkening, temperature falling, limbs grow hard over the passage of time. And the world goes on. The trees continue to breathe, branches swaying and leaves rustling. It’s a glorious moment, one you’d love to stay in forever, if you could.

Then I come and fuck things up. Fifteen feet away I stand on the edge of the curb, the balls of my feet balancing on the cement, my heels in the air. I look down and hesitate. The grass is bright green, well taken care of. I know what I’ll see the second I move and I close my eyes. I take a deep breath in and blow it out slowly. I step forward and an audible crunch comes from beneath my feet. I look down at the grass. It’s black, shriveled and hardened into the shape of my foot.

Almost all plants die when I touch them. It’s my thing. It’s the courtesy of being death’s best friend, employee, in my case, bringing the stink of the underworld with you. It trailing behind you like a poor sick puppy. It sounds so dramatic and, I guess, in a way it is. Bringer of death. Ferrywoman of souls. The strength of thousands of flesh eating demons. Alright, that last part is too much. For the most part, it’s probably just me. I’m a Reaper; a Grimm Reaper. And that is why I fill my apartment with succulents. Those fuckers are hard to kill. Cactus, Fantactus.

I step again and death to the ground spreads beneath me. Taking another deep breath, I lift my head and continue forward. The house is bright and happy. Eggshell white, pastel pink on the shutters, a pastel yellow front door with a large ruby red knocker, window flower beds with a dozen flowers and small perfectly trimmed hedges that surround the property. I almost feel bad for what I need to do but I don’t. It’s decreed. It’s for the best. It’s destiny and you just can’t change destiny. You can’t change your appointment.

When it’s your appointment time I feel a burn in my skin. It hums and vibrates until I pay heed. To make matters worse, I’ll be in the middle of showering, to get the stink of decay from beneath the epidermis, and then a gold glow will rise from my flesh. I’ll roll my eyes, because death never comes at the right time, then I swipe a hand down my forearm, where a built in map lays. It’s not like your normal map. It doesn’t show streets or lines or hills or lakes. It looks like a tree and shows energy, spirits, souls due to fade. It shows that nearby someone’s appointment is any day now. Another life passing by, going from here to the next place, never to be lived again. Then here I come, from Wherever, ready to take your hand in mine. Ready to reap.

I follow the hedges around to the back of the house, leaving a trail of dead grass behind me. Luckily, if I leave the area quick enough the grass will return to its former glory in no time. The body of an older woman, late fifties and grey hair, lay in the midst of a beautiful garden. I stood there for a moment to breathe in the beauty before I destroyed it. Tall, manicured, rose bushes lined the walk, don’t get too close to either side or you’ll get pricked. Grey stones lined the path with stubborn grass snaking between like puzzle lines.

A stone white love seat is mirrored on the first path. A vine overtakes one, not in the unkempt way, but intentionally. Curling up, up, up and over the seat and onto the arms and disappearing over the back to the hedges behind. The green looks soft, like spongy moss and I ache to sit on it. I don’t because I know it’ll crunch beneath my weight and I’d leave my deathly shadow behind. On the second path, a crowd of sunflowers gather beside stalks of tulips, making a painting of vertical and horizontal colors with green stretching between. Above the trees wave and I can’t tell if they are planted or natural, the garden was planted around them. It’s loud with nature and I take a deep breath in to immerse myself in the scent of life and listen. Bees buzzed and everything did what everything does.

I stepped gracefully onto the gravel path, narrowly missing a small collection of poinsettias, and tiptoed to the body. She looked almost peaceful. Her eyes gazing up at the clouds, mouth smiling on the left and slightly drooping on the right. One hand was twisted in a knarl of swollen knuckles. Beneath a frilly gardener’s smock she wore a pair of dark wash jeans, to guard from grassy stains, and a billowy yellow top. It flutters in the wind, movement against still.

Flipping my wrist to remove the long heavy cloak, I reached out with virgin hands. My fingers tingle from the tips to my inner wrist. The golden tree map begins to fade into my skin with my proximity to the awaiting soul. I lightly touched a palm to her ankle and close my eyes. Drinking in the left over power from her life source, I drew her soul to me before her last breaths left her lips. A glow follows the trail of my hand, taking the rest of the warmth with it. Her skin pales against the vibrant grass. For it’s the soul that holds all life and not the body.

Sometimes my job is easy, the souls rise to the surface on their own. Other times they linger, or get stuck, and I have to do the dirty work. She resisted, a positive, hopeful energy flowed through her bones, clinging onto the last shred of life. I gathered more power into my body and making a lasso in my mind, I gently tugged on the soul. The last hooks release and it withdrew from the body. There she was, standing before me, facing the garden she’s spent so long cultivating. It’s a beautiful backdrop for her ghostly figure.

“So that’s how I go?” she asked. Her body shimmered as the wind picked up. “A heart attack?” I rise and cover myself, virgin skin still pure. She was already dead, I could do no more damage, but I was so used to protecting others from my curse that it was second nature.

“I’m afraid so,” I say. I step toward her and look around. “Your garden is beautiful.”

“Yes,” she replies confidently. “You’re killing it.” She motioned down to my feet where not only was I trampling flowers but they were turning black and shriveling in rapid succession. It was an ode to the life I once led, to the life she once led, and I took the message as it came and stepped back quickly. My heels hover in the air as I tiptoe on to the small stone triangles of the walk.

“I’m sorry, it’s the…”

“The Reaper thing?” she finished for me. “Everything becomes so clear when you’re dead. I knew you would be there, you know. I could feel you calling me. I actually think I saw you last week when I was at the market. I was buying tomatoes and in my peripheral I could see this darkness. It hung around until I closed my eyes but when I opened them again it was still there.” She paused and looked at me. “At first, I thought it was just my eyesight going bad. That happens when you’re old. Things begin to fade away, things you once took for granted. Then I knew it was you. I knew you would come for me.”

I nod and she sighs. She did see me last week. I’m often drawn to those who are so close to death. My tree hummed but it didn’t glow, when I was near her, and it didn’t pulse with her location and date. Not her appointment yet. Sometimes they don’t always die, near death experiences do actually happen. That’s destiny as well. They still feel me though, see me. In her case, no such luck.

“I told my daughter about you, you know. She said you were just a figment of my imagination.” I don’t speak, this is common. They want to chat before they go. They want to know why; how, where, and what can they tell their family they’ve left behind. I placate them, there’s nothing I can say or do to make any of this better and I don’t try. I just listen.

We stand in silence and take in the garden. I wait for her to speak but she is waiting for me and so still we stand. A bird swoops down to the feeder and peck, peck, pecks until it’s found the prize and then off it goes, back into the sky and freedom.

“What did you say back?” I finally speak and reach out to her from beneath my cloak, with my gloved hand. She knows what to do. She puts her hand in mine, lets a finger brush over the thick leather, and lets me pull her toward the gravel path. I can feel her soul brushing against mine, know that this is how it goes. I take a piece of them and every time they take a piece of me.

“I told her I loved her. That I would always be with her. She cried. She asked me for his name. Her name. Whoever the doctor is that gave me the bad news. But there was no doctor, no paper to say this was coming, no tests with positive results. Just my intuition and a dark shadow on the corner of my mind at the market. The market. I loved that place, the comings and goings. The different cultures with their different spices. I only got into trying new things a year ago. Isn’t that funny?” she pauses and sighs and I think she’s going to make us still again so I don’t reply.

“Wait, you were at the market! Can other people see you?” She stops and I know what she’s doing. She’s stalling, I don’t mind. I’m also already dead, I have all the time in the world.

“Yes, but not when I’m doing this. When I’m doing this I’m virtually invisible to the living world. Can’t have others seeing the souls being ferried. They’d freak. Humans are not so…”

“Humans? Are you not human? You look human to me. Do you do this often?” her voice rose as she continued. I squeezed her hand, comforting.

“Listen, Anne. Can I call you Anne? I know you want to stay. You have your daughter and your garden and your market and so much to live for but I’m sorry. It’s come to an end. Your husband is waiting for you, should you want to go to him, some people don’t and hey, that’s neither here nor there, you know what I mean.” I rambled as I tugged on her hand again and led her to the curb where I’d appeared when I was pulled to the place.

“I know. I’m sorry. You’re right. My Gus is waiting for me, should he want to see me, of course.” I nod and chuckle along with her and with my mind’s eye – open the portal.

There’s no floating up to heaven when they actually go. No movie moment where the soul is a Casper-ish ghost that floats up, up, and up and touches the clouds and there’s a bright light that abducts them like aliens. And beautiful music fills the air and a choir of cherubs sings home going hymns. We open a portal to the afterlife and in they go. To the Inbetween, the place where they wait until their afterlife fate is decided. I think. I was there once but that is a story for another time.

The place they go on the other side of the portal is different than the Darkness. It feels lighter, more like a relaxing waiting room, and not a scary place where all things are dead and unferried souls walk around with their heads drooped. We’d reap those souls, if we could figure out how to keep our bodies alive in there. Nothing breathes, in the Darkness. Nothing grows. Nothing, and I mean nothing, emits light. The souls brush past you like cobwebs, and should you have enough energy to snag a soul and pull them through to the real world, you’re more likely to come out in a place you don’t want to. Like a jail cell, the middle of the ocean, or on the wrong end of a knife.

Only the Yanaris are bold enough to Reap souls from the Darkness. The Yanaris are reapers like me and unlike me. They have been doing this so long they’ve lost all sense of their souls. Their humanity. They reap without question and live without life. For them, there is no down time between appointments. They don’t need it, they reap unconsciously and are empty. So many reaped souls chipping away that there was nothing left of themselves to give. I hope I never become one of the Yanaris although I knew each of them had, one time or another, said the same thing. It is our destiny. Though that is also another story for another time.

“I’ll see you, Anne. May your soul rest in peace.” She smirks at my quip and I smirk back.

She turns to me and sighs again. I love her sighs. They are deep and final. They punctuate her life and I can tell she had been a thinking woman. She steps backward through the portal. I don’t try to look into it, seeing what I could see. In the beginning, when I was new to this, I’d crowd in behind them, trying to get a glimpse of hope and peace. Now I know it doesn’t belong to me and I stay in my place. She fades.

As it closes, I watch her eyes tear and brighten. That could be an indicator that maybe Gus is there with open arms. Anne will walk into them and they will stand there, souls reunited, hearts touching. She will lay her head on his shoulder as she always did way back when and he will close his arms around the soft curves of her back. They will sway back and forth, back and forth, like the eddies of time and nothing else will come between them. Not that I know. Once they go to the other side, they don’t come back and I don’t join them there. I never will. I’ve done my job and now I must move on.

Book Review: Invisible by James Patterson and David Ellis

Hello,

I know that I need to begin uploading more reviews. I actually have a few that I need to write. I just had exams coming up for school and I really wanted to focus on that. Obviously, as I am about to write one for you now, that didn’t deter me completely. So here goes.

I have to admit, I am already in love with James Patterson as a writer. I just have never read any of his stories made for the more adult audience. I read (and actually have) the entire Angel serious novels with Max, Fang and the gang and I have loved it ever since I discovered it before highschool (I think it was before). Anyway, so I didn’t think that I WOULDN’T like the novel, I just didnt’ know what to expect.

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Invisible by both Patterson and David Ellis is, hands down, one of the best novels I’ve ever read in all of my life. The relationship between the characters. The description of the U.S. and the laughter in the killer’s “voice” as he mocked his ‘subjects’. It all meshed together so beautifully that I didn’t mind that the novel, in all it’s parts, was in first person. The twists and turns, the parts that I laughed at that no sane human would dare, the bloody details that would make anyone cringe; it was all very note worthy and well played. The crazy thing is that I fell in love with the killer’s character. The killers straight forwardness in the story, the want to express himself to his peasants, the nonchalant way the killings were addressed. It resonated with me and I couldn’t help but notice how beautifully worked the character’s personality and intricacies are.

If you were to ask anyone who’d been around me while reading the novel they’d definitely agree that I enjoyed it. I couldn’t contain my respect for the author’s ingenuousness. It seemed that every time I cracked the book open I didn’t want to put it down. Honestly, I almost didn’t want to finish it because I was afraid that I might not like the ending…I wanted to stay in this little bubble of when the book was amazing. AND I’M GLAD I DID! The ending was definitely a vital part of my respect for Patterson and Ellis. That little twist that did me in! I hope that my coworker never wants to read the novel because I was so excited I had to tell someone! I ruined everything and told her the plot twists, how the story turned out and everything. (I just had to backspace because I realized I’d given away a part of the book and I definitely don’t want to spoil it for you).

I definitely recommend this book to anyone. It doesn’t matter the genre you usually read. This would fit on anyone’s shelf, hey! I read romance and it blew me away. If you have read this novel or decide to read it comment below. Let me know what you are thinking or how you felt about the novel? Did you just LOVE Emmy as much as I did? Does Books seem like a story time hunk to you?

Anyway, bye for now! I’m definitely going to look further into James Patterson, the adult side. You never know, you might find a bunch of book reviews from him after this…I also want to check out David Ellis. I had never heard of him before this but if he had anything to do with this novel I definitely want to learn more.

Jade

P.S. I just realized that “definitely” is probably my favorite word when writing book reviews.