Darkness, nothing but endless darkness.
I slowly realize that I was looking at the inside of my eyelids, so I crack one open a tiny bit.
Intense light penetrated my iris, and I snap it shut again.
I rely on my other senses. I seem to be laying on the ground. It’s hard, cold and uncomfortable but smooth to the touch.
There is no sound, no blowing of the wind, rush of leaves or talking. It’s not the absence of sound itself because when I move my legs, I can hear them.
“Are you done?”
A deep grating voice like the scratching of a steel drum plagues my ears.
I open my eyes again, tentatively. The light is bright at first but slowly my eyes adjust.
I sit up and better take in my surrounds and the speaker of the irritating voice.
“I said, are you done?”
It’s like finger nails down a chalk board.
“Yeah, Yeah, I’m good.”
Annoyance is starting to build inside of me.
“Where am I, and who are you?”
I get a good look at the speaker, and the latter question is answered.
The figure is easily seven feet tall, his body, robed in black, except for his skeletal hands and skull face. Deep sockets where eyes should be, only I know for sure that death is looking straight at me.
His scythe bent over at the top with a wickedly sharp metal blade.
“So Daniel, your time has come; I have but one question before I send you on your way.”
The reality of the situation hits me, just like the last thing I remember. The car screaming at me on the crossing. Tires throwing smoke, black marks trailed to the point I lost my earthly connection.
“Ah, this sucks. Ok, what’s the question?”
“Have you led a good life?”
I think back to the life I lived. I was a good person, mostly. I never stole, intentionally hurt anyone and lived by society’s rules.
“Yeah, I think so.”
“Then you will find that judgment is good.” Death said this with some finality and raised his scythe.
“Wait.” I cried.
I’m not ready to die. The thought of my beautiful wife crying when she gets the news pulls at me. I think of our song. The devil came down to Georgia. I know it’s a funny song for a couple to have, but it was the song playing when we first met.
Thinking fast, I challenge death the way Johnny challenged the devil.
“I challenge you for my life if I win I get to go back.”
“And if I win?” Death slowly lowers the blade, I know skulls can’t move but I get the impression that he’s curious.
“What could death want?”
The frown on my face is deep, what the hell would a timeless being want that a mortal – or was mortal – could give him?
I see his shoulders slump, And again get the impression of a sincerity.
“O.K….so if I win, I get to go back, and if you win.”
“I get to take your place for a month.”
I’m kinda thinking he like this idea way too much.
The weight of the deal is heavy, but I’m not ready to give up life just yet. So we shake hands.
“How do you want to settle this? cards? playing the fiddle? shooting a basket?”
I’m secretly hoping death doesn’t want the fiddle as I don’t actually play.
“I choose a dance-off.”
Death claps his hands and a band of the dead spring into existence.
Zombie drummer twirls his sticks. Zombie guitarist picks his pluck from out of the top fret while singer zombie – which looks remarkably like
David Bowie – struts to the front, swinging a microphone.
The drummer clicks his sticks. “One, two, and a one, two, three, four.”
I haven’t needed to throw shapes like this since my days as a bachelor. Although I think that dancing for my life is a lot more serious than getting the girl.
I’ve never been an excellent dancer, and I think that shows as I twist and turn before the band. I throw a few Saturday night fever moves in for good measure and give a good old Michael Jackson kick when I think it’s needed.
“Please, who do you think gave MJ the routine for thriller?”
Death moves like a winning audition on Americas got talent, his body popping skill are savage. I know I’m beat for sure.
I can feel the sweat on my forehead, and my breathing is heavy, there’s nothing for it, I prepare to bring out the only thing left that I think might save me.
The only problem, the last time I did it, I was a youthful 20 something.
I jump up and dive to the ground. My rotund stomach hits the floor and instead of rocking up to my chin, I just stop dead.
“Alright,” I said.
I think I’ve hurt something too.
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