What is death?
I have heard it said that death is merely the next step … a new beginning, not an end. But what if it’s something else? What if it’s only a step in some kind of evolution? You can’t tell … you can’t know, because no one ever comes back to tell of what they found there.
I have reason to wonder about this because, you see, I…have died…
…but I’m not dead.
How does one defeat the Grim Reaper, you ask? Let me tell you how I did it; perhaps then you can pity me. You see, I walk, I talk, I even breathe, but the only reason I do that is because it facilitates speech. My heart does not beat, my body is not warm, I feel hot and cold temperatures, but neither one affects me; I do not shiver from the cold or sweat in the heat. You might think that these things are trivial; perhaps they are, but these things take so much with them when they are gone. With life goes emotions, love, hate, fear, joy, wonder. I know them, I remember them, but I don’t feel them anymore, and I cannot even miss them.
You see, I have always been a fighter. I fought to survive when I was born, because my mother had died. I fought to survive on the streets as a boy after my father was killed by a horse. I fought in the king’s army until he was defeated – he was a rather small king in the grand scheme of things. After his army was scattered, I became a mercenary. After a lifetime of fighting, it wasn’t all that surprising that I earned the moniker of ‘the Grim Reaper’ though not to my face. I suppose it was understandable that those who hired my sword started paying for single kills – making me an assassin. What can I say? Killing was my life. I was good at it.
All this makes me look like a cold, evil man, but I don’t think I was that at all. I was just very good with a blade – most any blade, in fact. I loved good food and good drink. I didn’t care what it was as long as it was good. I’d try most anything at least once. I also loved the ladies. It didn’t matter if they were tall or short, thin or fat, light or dark; they were all fascinating and a joy to watch, touch, or even just talk to. I love women, which is probably why I never settled for just one.
Therein lies my weakness, and therein was my downfall.
She had shiny dark curls that waved and coiled down below her waist. She had luscious full curves for all her five-foot height and she had glittering dark eyes that hid such a dark secret. I couldn’t keep my hands off her, and her voice was honey and spice, like her mouth.
I discovered that at the same time I discovered a knife sticking out of my chest and my life’s blood pouring down my front. That brought about my next fight – my fight with the Grim Reaper himself – a fight I won, much to my dismay.
She wasn’t there when I opened my eyes again, but she wasn’t very far away, and she was already working on her next mark. My walking into the room saved the poor man’s life. She took one look at me and screamed the most demented and terrified scream, I hope never to hear again. Of course, I could understand why she screamed. Her knife was still protruding from my chest and its location was unmistakable.
I cornered the woman, which wasn’t all that hard since she was backing away from me, suddenly utterly devoid of the customary grace women always have. I pulled the knife from my chest and used it to silence her screams. That was my first kill in my new…existence.
The man had fled with her first manic syllable, though I’m sure my blood-soaked appearance helped motivate him. I left the inn after I retrieved my sword from my room. After that, my existence has been just that – an existence.
At first, I fended off ‘rumors’ of my death or of my injury. No one questioned me because I was still walking and talking. They paid for my services and then they left my proximity as quickly as possible.