My Only Human

Everybody has a death. When a person is born, one of us is born, too, and we stay close to them their whole lives, making sure they stay on the path to meet us in the end. It’s a little like having a guardian angel, I suppose. I like to look at it more as a love story. I am very anxious to meet my human.

It will be soon.

I watched her grow from the tiniest baby, to the most adorable toddler, to the sharpest little girl, to an ambitious teenager, then a driven young woman. She’s very successful in her career, although lately she seems lonely and has been trying to find love. She wants a little girl of her own. I can understand. I try to steer her away from those choices, though. I know how hard it is for humans when they have to leave loved ones. She will be with me soon—sooner than I think she’d like—and I wish her to spare the worry of someone missing her.

I’ve heard from other deaths what it’s like, watching their humans. None of us knows what happen when we finally meet our humans. It’s scary, but exciting, knowing that they are coming, and though we have been separated from them their whole lives, it is a comfort knowing we will one day be united with them. Many deaths pity their humans because they only know of it as the end. They do not know that it’s the beginning of something else.

I long for that day. In a way I am lucky that my human will be with me soon. Many deaths have to wait a hundred years for theirs. For some of us, the longing is too much. Some of us try to force humans to meet us sooner. No death really knows what happens to those humans—or those deaths—but most of us believe it means they never end up together.

So I can be patient.

She just got back from the doctor today, where she learned about the illness that will eventually lead her to me.

She’s so sad. I wish I could comfort her.

Maybe this would have been a good time for her to have had another human in her life. I regret that my urgings kept her apart from other humans. She is lonely. I contemplate showing myself to her, to let her know she’s not alone. But there have been stories of deaths showing themselves to their humans and it ending badly.

Humans fear us.

So I keep my distance and let her grieve.

But she scares me the next day. She tries to meet another death in her despair, and suddenly it occurs to me that having her as my human is a blessing not a promise. I should take better care of her.

And so in the weeks that follow, I stay close, making my presence known. I know it causes her pain, but I am too afraid of losing her to another death to keep a comfortable distance.

My human becomes desperate and enrolls in an experimental drug trial. I already know it won’t work—human drugs aren’t able to keep deaths away from their humans for long.

But as months pass and her health declines, she becomes more desperate. She’s fighting me, no matter how soothing I try to be—trying to let her know I am here for her. She clings so hard to life. I don’t want to take it away from her, but all humans must eventually meet a death, and I desperately want her to meet me.

I do not know what happens to deaths who do not meet their humans. I have heard stories. Those deaths that stalk the living, stealing humans from their rightful deaths. I have no protection against that, and so I cling even more tightly to my human.

She is close now. So close that I can almost feel her becoming tangible. It’s been a lovely dream, my dearest human, but it’s time to come home to me.

She is so close that I ignore the whispers of warning from other deaths.

I dismiss the research she has been doing.

I am distracted by her becoming more and more real to me as she heads down a dark alley at night.

I realize too late where we are, what she is looking for.

Those old monsters that have been awoken by a mixture of belief and science.

“No, no, my dearest, what are you doing?” I cry as she pays her fee. Blood.

I lean in. I could take her now. She’s close enough that I think—I am at least fairly certain—that she’d still be mine. But before I can, immortality pushes me away.

“I will keep your death at bay,” the monster tells my human, and he sneers at me. “And you will never be alone again.”

“Yes,” she whispers, nearer to me than she has ever been because of blood loss. But no, she is not mine anymore. The monster offers up his bloodied wrist, and she takes it in her mouth.

“No!” I say as I lunge at them. “You cannot have her!”

“Begone, death. Nobody here wants you. Go find another human to hound.”

My human screams as the monster’s blood courses through her, healing her illness, but ravaging her soul.

She is beyond my reach, now. Possibly beyond any death’s reach.

I am denied. And I am alone. A death without a human. Doomed to haunt the earth for the rest of eternity, for I do not have it in me to find another human.

I loved her. Only her. And now she is gone.

Sara is a Kansas-grown author of the fantasy and horror persuasions. She is convinced that fantastical things are waiting for her just around the corner, and until she finds the right corner, she writes about those things instead.

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