“He will see you now,” the creature growled pointing towards an old oak door.
I got up from my seat and made my way in front of it. This was it. It was finally time to make my case. I briefly ran through all my arguments in my mind. I knew I only had one shot at this. I took a deep breath and pushed open the door. The loud creaking from the wood rattled my nervous bones.
The walls were lined with skulls, one on top of another. I couldn’t count how many candles lit the room. It was as if everywhere I looked one was burning. The smell of smoke and ash enveloped my senses. In the middle of the room, there he was. He sat behind a large desk carved out of black stone. I couldn’t see behind it but I assumed that his cloak went down to the floor.
“Case number 23109413, soul moniker: Lux Brumalis. Do you verify that this information is correct?” his voice boomed even as he spoke about something as mundane as account verification.
“Yes sir that is correct,” I replied sternly attempting to mask my anxiety.
“You shall make your request and if I grant it? I shall provide you with my terms. If I refuse your request, however, it cannot be appealed. Do you understand?” he asked opening up a case folder.
I told him I understood. He began rifling through the pages and I noticed that there was nowhere for me to sit. Suddenly he slammed the folder shut and placed his folded fleshless hands on it. “Proceed,” he demanded. I brought my hand to my chest and cleared my throat. This is it, my one chance.
“Ever since I was a child, I’ve felt like I’ve had a personal rain cloud over my head. Anytime anything good would come my way, it would always twist and crack into a new fresh personal torture. I remained kind when my surroundings weren’t. I remained compassionate when people around me weren’t. I appreciate that the gift of life was bestowed on me however after all these years of having it, I must politely decline it.” I paused waiting to see if I could read anything from him but he remained stoic in his posture. I fell to my knees. “I am here today to ask you, Sir Shadows, Lord of Death, Grim Reaper to take my soul from the mortal plane. I cannot stand a minute longer in corporeal agony. Please take me away from existence," I pleaded tearfully.
The figure stood up from behind the desk. As he made his way towards me, his long black robes glided along the cracked stone floor. He was suddenly right in front of me. I could always feel another person’s energy but with them, there was nothing, a boundless void. “Rise,” he ordered and I immediately obliged, wiping tears from my eyes. “Before I make my final decision, I request…a dance,” he declared his voice vibrating in my chest. He extended his skeletal hand. Without a moment's hesitation, I took it.
He placed his hand on the small of my back as he guided me around the room. Even inches away from his hooded face or at least where a face should be. There was nothing but nothingness. I felt I could get lost forever if I peered into it.
Suddenly, out of thin air, a chorus of violins filled the room crafting the most magnificent tune. As we spun around the room, I felt everything around me melt away. There was nothing but motion and music. I had never danced before and yet I still knew every step. Death twirled me without a care. My body felt so at ease and for the first time, my mind went quiet.
When the song ended, I felt as light as a feather. He took my face by the chin and brought up my gaze. ‘Request... Denied,” he spoke with a phlegmatic temperament. My soul shattered. I was about to beg him but he put up a single boney finger. “The intensity to which you feel has brought you to the darkness yet it would be unfair to remove you from the mortal coil without knowing its delights. I shall grant you respite from life for a short time but then you must return to complete your life cycle. Do you understand?” he asked apathetically.
I don’t remember my time in the afterlife or how long I stayed there. It felt like a second in time. Upon my return though, my perception had changed. Where I once only noticed the flaws, I could now see the full picture with all its gradients.
Now in the winter of my life, warm in my bed, I am thankful for the one dance I had with Death.