[I’m sitting on my couch, my laptop comfortably in my lap, candles flickering on the altar before me. A few feet away, Death stands inside a salt circle, his hands folded on top of a hand-carved walking stick. He wears a long, dark robe with his hood pulled up to cover his face. The smell of decay hangs in the air. I start the interview.]
Good evening, Death. How are you doing?
[Death stands silently. I assume he’s staring at the altar but I cannot see his eyes.]
Okay, let’s try again. Have you reaped many souls today?
[Death is motionless, except for the beetle that falls out of his right sleeve and scuttles across the floor. I try not to shudder.]
I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that you’re not very happy that you’re here.
Your guessing skills are impeccable, Miss Holland. After all, you are the one who trapped me here.
Well I’m sorry, okay? I have to interview one of my characters this week and all the others are either too traumatized to talk or dead. But you knew that already.
I can’t let you go until you cooperate, Mr. Death. Do you prefer Mr. Death? Good. So, Mr. Death, why don’t you start talking. How did you begin reaping souls?
[Death sighs.] If you insist. Let’s keep this short. I have a deadline to meet. I have reaped souls since the beginning of time.
You didn’t choose your profession?
As long as I have existed, I have escorted souls to their final resting place.
What did your parents think of your job? Were they the ones who handed you your first scythe?
It’s a walking stick. I’m very old.
I take it you don’t have any parents then.
I was not born. I simply did not exist one moment, then the next, I was on this world.
So why the bugs? And the robe? Do you secretly enjoy scaring children?
Death is not comforting for most. I care not for the fears or dreams of infants. It’s a long, cold trip to the other side. The bugs keep me company.
Let’s get to the most important questions. What’s on the other side? How do you get there? What’s it like?
[Death remains silent.]
Really? Not even a little hint?
Only the dead may know.
Fine. Moving on. People are dying all the time. How do you get to all the souls at the right time? Surely some people die at exactly the same instant, but you can’t be in two places at once. Or can you?
Time passes differently for you than it does for me.
Obviously, you’re not human. So what are you?
[Death’s fingers tap rhythmically on the head of his walking stick. He says nothing.]
I’m going to take that as a you-don’t-actually-know. Let’s talk about the last time we had contact. Marilyn’s son. Do you often make deals with humans?
When I deem it necessary.
What do you mean by that?
To put it in human terms, she made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.
Ah. She trapped you. Just like I have now.
[Death says nothing, but I can feel his scowl.]
I should be worried, shouldn’t I?
Marilyn failed to complete her end of the deal.
Okay, now I’m worried, even though we haven’t made a deal. Are you trying to tell me something?
[While there is no moving air in my apartment, Death’s robes rustle in a non-existent breeze.]
I think it’s time to end the interview now. Have a nice day, Mr. Death. [I blow out the candles on my altar and disturb the circle of salt.]
I’ll be seeing you soon, Miss Holland. [Death disappears.]
I’m never doing that again. Let’s hope that Death’s definition of “soon” is very different than mine.