Short story: “Death Plays A Game”

This was my response to this post on Reddit.

“A game, really?”

“Yes. Any game. You win, you go back…you lose…well…”

How does one respond to that? Better yet, how does one respond to Death? Not death, as in the end of life. Death as in the (un)living embodiment of the hereafter. This sure isn’t the way my day was planned when I woke up.

“So, what will it be?”

“Well, that depends. What are the rules? I’m sure this isn’t entirely fair.”

“Oh, to be sure, it is fair. 100%. No gimmicks, no gotchas. You call the game, we play. You win, I send you back.”

I study the…man? woman?…thing in front of me. It’s DEFINITELY not what you expect. Death, contrary to popular opinion, is not a skeleton in a black robe carrying a sickle. It’s hard to nail down, because the face is constantly shifting between masculine and feminine aspects. But the eyes…the eyes never change. Bright white, dark gray, and as deep as every ocean on every planet and moon in the universe.

“We’re wasting time here. You have to make a decision…we don’t have eternity here.”

“Ok. Seeing as I have nothing to lose, I choose Russian roulette.” A cocky choice maybe, but I’m dead already, I can’t die again here in Purgatory…can I?

“Interesting choice. I don’t think we’ve ever had anyone choose that before. Do you have a choice of weapon?”

I could have sworn I saw a look of concern cross Death’s ever-changing face.

“Well, my dad had a Colt Army when I was young. I would play with it when no one was around…until I shot a hole in my parents’ bedroom wall, and my dad started locking it up. That should do nicely.”

Before I could blink, the gun appeared on the table between us, a single bullet standing on end next to it. It was exactly as I remembered, as if it was my dad’s gun.

“It is his gun,” Death said, reading my mind. “Shall I load, or would you prefer to do it yourself?”

“I’ll do it thanks.” This is what I was hoping. I know this gun, know how the cylinder spins. I know exactly which chamber to put the bullet in. “Since you’re my host, I defer the first turn to you. It’s only proper.”

Death is taken aback. It’s as if he’s scared to pick up the gun from where I laid it on the table.

“Perhaps there’s another game…”

“Nope. You said it was my choice. This is my choice…pick up the gun, cock the hammer, and pull the trigger.”

Slowly, Death picks up the gun, studying it, trying to figure out a way around putting the muzzle to it’s temple.

“Don’t forget, you have to spin the cylinder.”

“Of course.”

Death spins the cylinder, and snaps it into position. I try hard to stifle the grin that’s creeping across my face.

“Whenever you’re ready…what was it you said, we don’t have eternity?” The grin is more than obvious on my face now.

“Fine.” Death places the muzzle against it’s temple, closes it’s eyes, and pulls the trigger.

I sit bolt upright in bed. I grab my phone, and look at the date. Son of a bitch…Death wasn’t lying. Next to my phone is a note, written in the neatest script I have ever seen…

“See you soon. -D”