“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…” the priest stood in the rain holding his umbrella over his head, as he read from the well-worn bible with the other.
Andrew was my best friend, my lover… my husband. And now he was gone. His whole family was taken by what was known as a myth in my family: The Reaper’s Thunderhead. A thunderstorm where a Reaper visits you while the power’s out for a moment and takes your soul from you… it’s freaking scary as all shit when you’ve been told two different stories about it – one where it’s true, and other where it’s crap.
Exactly who do you believe when this has happened to your inlaws and the person you’ve devoted the last twenty years to?
I had attended every service of Andrew’s family and watched their numbers dwindle as he did. Each time, a year had passed and each time there had been a storm on the night of their passing… just as there had been on the night of Andrew’s passing.
And he wasn’t old either.
My dear sweet Andrew – Andy – Swinston was only thirty-three years old when he was in Vegas on a business meeting with some clients at the Desert Rose Hotel. He decided to skip going to the casino (he wasn’t much of a gambler) and head straight for his room. Besides, a storm was brewing and he didn’t want to get caught between the casino and his room. In between the power failing and the generator kicking in – which was only about twenty seconds – my wonderful love of my life lost his life.
He was in his room by the time the lights went out.
He had locked the door and windows – as the rain was coming in.
So, how the Reaper had come in was a huge mystery to everyone.
But the M.E. said the same thing about how he died that was on the other medical reports: heart attack.
This was bullshit. My husband worked out, ate healthy, hated junk food and wouldn’t even tolerate it in the house. So, I wanted to know what the hell happened to him!
I went in search of people who dealt with Reapers professionally.
Now, call me nutsie-Malone, but when I looked around between the cracks of what we called ‘society’, I found people who dealt with the underground of what we called ‘normal humanity’… and they had been watching Andrew’s family closely for over a decade.
I sat down on the end of the bed in the no-star hotel as the two guys watched me carefully, “What do you mean, you’ve watched his family?”
“Well,” the fatherly one referred to his hand-written notes, “Andrew and his whole family were cursed to die – even his offspring – to be handed over to a certain Reaper.” He glanced over his reading glasses as he went on, “And it was a deal Andrew’s Great-Great-Great Grandfather made with a demon that has you in this crap.”
“I’m not in any crap.” I said, “My husband died, and he’s the youngest of his family.”
The young man sitting near me sighed, “Not quite. You’re pregnant, aren’t you?”
I protectively folded an arm across my stomach, “No… yes.”
“The Reaper will want your young one… and he will destroy you to get at him or her.” The older one said removing his glasses and watching me, “Now, you either terminate your pregnancy, which would piss off the Reaper and he’ll kill you simply on principle. Or you ride out the next storm – which will come in a few days.”
“And he’ll kill me just for my baby.” I whispered rubbing my stomach, “Okay, there is a way out of this… I came to you two to fix this.”
“Right… there is a solution, but it’s not going to be nice.” The young guy said.
“If it ends the curse, I’m happy… because I’m not going to freak out every time there’s a storm just in case my child is killed by something my family doesn’t believe in.”
I found out their names. The older one was Roger, the younger guy Benny; they were father and son and had lived what they called ‘The Life’ since Benny’s mother was killed by a Crossroads Demon who screwed them over about fifteen years ago. Seeing Benny was only around twenty years old, he doesn’t know any other life… but he has street-smarts and this is good.
They inspected my home which Andrew inherited and spotted a few things around the place which were marks of The Reaper which gave us absolutely no protection.
“Your husband’s family had tried to protect you, but The Reaper easily destroyed the marks to get to you once you and Andrew had a child.” Roger shook his head, “And …” he looked down at the garden where he spotted a patch of dirt which wouldn’t grow, “Have you been able to grow anything here?”
“No. I’ve been trying, but…”
Both Benny and Roger exchanged a worried look and Benny sprinkled some water over the area and it sizzled as though it was hot, sending up steam, “Crap. It’s been here … as recent as last night or early this morning. Just watching you.”
My gut cooled, “When is the storm due?”
Roger looked over at the horizon as the wind picked up, temperature suddenly dropped a few degrees and we heard a grumble of thunder, “Ten minutes.”
I looked at them both: “Let’s do this.”
The lights went out as the skies darkened quickly.
I felt a horrible cold presence behind me as I stood at the window, and I knew it was almost time to either die or fight for my life.
I knew Roger was at the door, and Benny couldn’t be far behind him as I heard their steps stop.
Looking up, I smelled the dreadful…
…scent… of death…
A white hand swiped at me in the gloom as lightning flashed outside… it was then I saw the skeletal face of Death standing in front of me.
Fear stilled me…
…Courage made me break the bastard’s curse by using his scythe against him!
The power came back on and there was a black smouldering robe on the floor and I held a sizzling white hot scythe in my hands.