Back in 2009 when I first started to get serious about writing, my wife was putting together a lovely little writing group. It was a group of good friends that wanted to write various things. A couple of us were doing fiction, others a children’s book, and my wife was working on creating a book that would help others do what she does.
We met at the little Flagstaff airport on the second floor, sitting on comfortable couches, watching the planes take off and land. It was a safe space to incubate as a writer and really helped me get moving. I distinctly remember reading this story up there out loud to the group. No one else was upstairs and the group was quiet as I read. When the story was over there were a few shivers and some laughs.
This is not a Halloween story per-say, but a creepy take on the grim reaper, envisioning him as a gentleman in this sci-fi/paranormal story about a man who will do anything to avoid the inevitable.
So turn the lights off and read this by the erry glow of your computer screen. Below is the intro, follow the link the read the full story.
“I was just next door taking care of another pilgrim and thought I would pop by. It wasn’t clear if you would be traveling today. I thought we could get to know each other.” His manner was oddly formal and incongruent with his appearance.
We talked for a time. It was very uncomfortable for me, but Mister Grim seemed oblivious to my reaction to him. He was interested in my past, my childhood particularly. He wanted to know if I had ever seen ghosts, or fairies, or other “spiritual” beings. I answered his queries using as few words as I could, like a child trying to get away from the interrogation of a parent.
He eventually left, or I fell asleep, and the next thing I knew I awoke with a tube down my throat surrounded by my family. I dismissed it as a dream until I came across that card underneath me in the bed. When I touched it, a shiver ran down my spine, and I thought I could hear that rasping voice echoing down the hallway.
After I got home from the hospital I had a dream, well more of a memory, about my father — he died of a massive heart attack at the age of 37, two years younger than I was at the time. My mother and I stayed by his bedside in the hospital for days on end. One night when she was out, he woke up briefly, with eyes wide, and grunted something unintelligible — in my dream it sounded like “gggrrrriiiimmmmm.” That was the last sound he uttered, he died less than an hour later.
I woke up in a cold sweat, crying and incoherent; my wife thought I was having another heart attack. After that I was driven, haunted even, by my Dad’s last word and the image of Mister Grim standing over me. I taped Mister Grim’s card to my treadmill and got busy getting healthy: I gave up smoking, lost 40 pounds, starting eating better, and paid more attention to my wife and kids. I even told my wife the whole story. At first she thought I was crazy, but when she saw the changes I was making she became my most enthusiastic supporter.
This story and others are a part of Life After: Stories of Life, Death, and the Places In Between