Written for ysabetwordsmith's prompt on 'Richard convincing an old soldier's soul to go to the afterlife'.
Richard stepped quietly into the room, knowing that his presence might scare the soul of the old soldier. He hated Fireworks Night but understood at the same time why it was important that the living remembered the past. It was seeing souls like the one he knew was hiding under the bed that made him angry. People didn't seem to care that there were those who had once been in situations that were filled with the same smells and noises because it was a war zone. Trying to rein in his anger he knelt down by the soldier's bed.
“Sir,” Richard said, as quietly as possible so that the soul didn't just run.
“What are you doing in my bedroom?”
“I've come to guide you to the afterlife.”
“Yes, sir, I'm afraid you are.” Richard sighed. “It was the fireworks.”
“I don't feel dead.”
“The newly dead often don't feel as though they've died, but I assure you that you are.”
“If you would just get out from under the bed...”
“Don't be silly, boy. There's a war going on out there. If I get out from under this bed someone might shoot me.”
“Okay, sir, if I can't convince you to get out from under the bed, how can I prove to you that you're dead?”
“Do something that only the dead can do.”
Richard couldn't help smiling. “Like what, sir?”
“Put your hand through the floor.”
“While I'm on Earth I can't put my hand through anything.” Richard bit his lip as he tried to work out how to explain it to the old soldier. “You see, I'm Death, and I visit the Earth to guide some spirits to the afterlife. When I'm on Earth I'm a physical being although I am dead, so I can't do anything that I could do when I'm in the afterlife.”
“I'm not going anywhere with you then. You could be anyone.”
“Have you ever seen Death before?”
There was a long silence. “I believe I have, but at the point in my life it could have been a hallcination. There were a lot of things that happened back then that might or might not be real.”
“What did Death look like to you?”
“She was a beautiful girl.” Another silence. “If the Death I saw was a girl, then why are you here? Surely there's not two of you.”
“Charis was my predecessor. She passed the job on to me because it was time for her to move on. It happens to everyone.”
“Then you know what she looked like.”
“Yes, I do, which was why I was asking you for a description.”
“I suppose, maybe, you might be trustworthy if you knew that beautiful girl. She was so kind to my friends. It didn't matter how many times she had to explain the same thing.” It sounded as though the old soldier had started crying. “At times I thought I was dead then too, but somehow I survived, if you can call this survival.”
© K A Jones 2011
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.