Episodic stories of fantasy and science fiction.

Category: The Elysian

The Elysian story

The Elysian: Second Dream

I scream as Death had snuck up behind me. Again.

“I apologize for the surprise, but you seemed puzzled.”

My heart is racing in my chest. How often do I gotta deal with this?

“Of course I’m confused! I knocked on the door, but my daughter couldn’t see me!

Death merely smiles that oddly comforting smile of his.

“Of course she couldn’t. You’re a ghost.”

“I’m a ghost?”

He snaps his fingers, returning us to the room we were in before. The floral walls feel a lot less uplifting now.

“You don’t have a body, but you still have your emotions. And emotions are power. The possibility of reuniting with your family pushed them to a boiling point, temporarily enabling you to knock on the door.”

“So I get emotional and I can touch stuff?”

Death gives a less comforting smile, and begins pacing around the room.

“Mr. Rodriguez, you cannot be reunited with your family. Your life is over. What I just showed you is what you can look forward to if you refuse to move on. An eternity of being unable to hold your daughter. Never kissing your wife again. You would barely be there.”

I shake my head.

“What if that’s fine with me? What if I want to be with them no matter what?”

“Have you ever wondered how a haunted house is made? Over time, you’d lose your mind. You’d become pure anger and madness. The good news is you’d likely be able to touch your family again. The bad news is you’d likely kill them.”

It was said as a threat. I know he didn’t mean to, and was just explaining what would happen, but it came out as a threat. I would hurt them.

“Why do you care? I thought it wasn’t your job to worry about them.” I cross my arms. I consider going back to the chair, but I’m unsure if that’s wise. If I have to defend myself, I should be standing.

“My job is to reap spirits. If you start killing in your insanity, my job becomes more difficult. Besides, I know you don’t want to hurt anyone.”

I can’t deal with this. How are you supposed to deal with being dead? I need a plan. I need to figure out how to get back to my family.

I need to buy time.

“Fine. But only if you’ll grant me a favor.”

Death cocks his head at me. I think he expected me to be a harder sell.

“That depends on the favor.” He stands up and walks in front of me.

“Tell me my family’s future. Let me know they’re okay. If I get that, I am willing to pass on without any trouble.”

His face loses the bright luster he’s had since we met.

“I’m afraid I cannot. Fate is rather picky, and doesn’t like anyone seeing his work.”

“Bullshit! I’m dead. I can’t know? It’s not like I can do anything about it.”

He sighs and turns away from me, facing the door.

“I am sorry. With all my power, this is the one thing I cannot grant, even if I were willing.”

Is there anything I can do? My request was only half a stall. I think I might be okay if I know what happens to my family.

I look around the room wondering what else I can do, when a glint off the door catches my eye. The knob has a keyhole.

The door was locked earlier when I tried to open it, but there must be a key if it has a lock right?

“Mr. Rodriguez, I need you to choose, and I need you to choose correctly. You cannot remain.”

He’s still talking. Still not looking. I reach for the nearby vase.

This is the dumbest idea I’ve had since college.

I smash the vase on his head and he collapses on the ground.

I just knocked Death unconscious…

That was awesome!

I kneel down and start rifling through his pockets. I feel his coat and find what I’m looking for: an odd shaped lump. I reach in his inside jacket pocket and find a ring of keys. There’s a lot of them too. House key, locker key, car key. Death apparently owns a Cadillac. One was even twisted in on itself in an impossible shape, but I still intrinsically know it’s a key. Weird.

I start trying them all on the lock on the door. As I sift through key after key, I notice a weird sensation. The keys feel alive in my hand. It’s not like they’re moving, but they feel wrong to hold. I can’t really explain.

“Ugh…” Death groans behind me.

Shit! He’s finally coming around. I have to hurry. I keep trying key after key until a little gold key unlocks the door. I open it and quickly go through, closing it shut on the other side. I pop the key in and lock it again.

My head thunks against the door, hoping there’s no way to follow me. I mean, he did teleport me home what’s to stop him from following me here? And what if he catches me?

“What am I worried about? What’s the worst that can happen? I’m already dead right?”

…Something feels wrong behind me. Oh god, he’s right behind me isn’t he? He used his death powers to just pop right behind me. Dammit.

I turn and look to find nothing.

Not just ‘Death isn’t here’, but nothing. There is nothing in this room. It’s not darkness, it’s not empty. It’s just nothing.

“Okay. What now?”

The Elysian: First Dream

I could swear I feel him slink into the room. He’s quick. If I weren’t so focused on this little space I’ve been trapped in for what feels like a day and a half, I might have missed it. This room has been so confining. So, well, bright actually. A nice shade of baby blue, with a floral design accenting the corners and a fancy vase on a shelf on the wall. Lighting is really uplifting. It’s the not first place I’d imagine someone would kidnap me to.

But back to the elephant in the room.

He was fast. I didn’t even see the door open, and he was already sitting in a chair across from me. It’s possible he didn’t even use it, considering the door was locked. He is dressed in a tuxedo. Very fancy, probably cost more than a year of my salary. His head is bald and his eyes were dark and piercing. The goatee is a little off putting and…

Wait. Never mind. He doesn’t have a goatee. I don’t know why I thought he did.

His demeanor is relaxed. The air around us exudes some calm that I couldn’t place my finger on. It reminded me of an absolute stillness. His eyes seem to look through me with a kind gentleness. Definitely not what I expect from a kidnapper.

He has one leg crossed over the other. His left hand on the arm rest of the fancy chair. His right hand curled up next to his face like he was playing with a coin or something.

I finally can’t take it anymore and decide to find out what the hell was going on. He beat me to it.

“Mr. Rodriguez. I’m sure you’re curious as to what is going on.”

“You could say that.”

“Now, before you start on some anger driven rant, let me ask you: What do you remember before waking up here?”

The question throws me a little. Of course I knew I…

Wait… I was- I was in bed. Wasn’t I? No. I was at work. Done with work. Driving home? As I kept trying to remember, more parts of my past flowed into my memory.

“Don’t strain your brain on it, Mr. Rodriguez. The moments before are bound to be a little fuzzy,” he cautioned.

“…Moments before what?”

He chuckles. It’s actually kind of comforting, if you can say that about a laugh from a psycho.

“Why, don’t you understand who I am?”

My confused look must have given away my answer. He stands up, straightens his jacket and looks me right in the eye. He extends his hand to me and says,

“Mr. Rodriguez, I am Death. How nice to make your acquaintance.”

I squint one eye, trying to figure out if this guy is crazy or playing a joke.

“You’re death? Like in a metaphorical way?”

He chuckles and I start to get creeped out. Well, I suppose I’ve been weirded out by all of this.

“If we could skip the incredulous denial? I am on a tight schedule. You’re dead. I’m here to escort you to your after life.”

He disappears in an instant from in front of me.

What the hell? I look around the room but he’s nowhere to be seen. Gone from right in front of me.

“No, I can’t be dead. He can’t be Death. This is some sick joke.”

“This is not a sick joke,” he says right into my ear.

“AHHH! Geez! Don’t do that!” I jump forward turning to face him. How did he get behind me like that?

“Showing people aspects of my inhuman abilities tends to help convince them of their current predicament.”

I stay silent as I try to piece this together. He smiles and takes a few steps around the room. Am I dead? Am I in a room with…

I’m in a room with Death. Death is here. With me. I’m… I’m dead.

“Keep focusing, Mr. Rodriguez. You’ll remember what happened.”

His voice is so calming. Is that why he-

No. Focus.

I died. How? I-Where was I? I remember my wife’s delicious breakfast that morning. I remember driving to work, drawing up a new building design, the terrible joke Johnson made.

But then I drove home.

…I didn’t make it home. Oh god…

“Yes. Keep thinking. It will be painful, but also helpful.”

I was sitting at a red light. Thinking about that annoying PTA meeting I had to attend this weekend. The light changed… I started forward and then…

“A semi sideswiped you. You were dead nearly instantly.”

“Stop reading my goddamn mind!” I grab my head as I keep trying to remember it happening, but I can’t move it forward. My memory ends there.

“I’m sure you’re upset-“

“UPSET?! I’m dead! I have to go back!”

He smiles. I am really hating that.

“You fail to understand the situation. You are dead. You can’t change that. You need to accept it and move on.”

Excuse me?

“Like hell I do. Don’t I get some chance to win my soul back or something? Like a chess game? Something like that?”

He sighs and slides his arm through the air. A table appears where there wasn’t one before.

“If you would like, I can summon a variety of games to play. They’re good for passing the time, but none can undo what has happened to you. Your spirit or soul or mind, whatever you wish to call it, is completely separated from your body. There is no way to return to it.”

I shake my head.

“It can’t be all that difficult to-”

“Not to mention your body was mangled beyond recognition in the accident.”

…Okay, not the answer I was hoping for.

“But what about my family? My wife? My daughters?”

“They are still alive.”

“I mean, what are they going to do for money? How are they going to deal with my death?”

“That is none of my concern.”

“But it’s my concern!”

He sighs and snaps his fingers. I find myself at home, the lights are on. I can’t believe it. Was it that easy? It can’t be. Has to be some kind of ‘Ghost of Christmas’ deal.

I walk up to the front door and knock. My hand hits the wood and lets out a resounding thud. I hear someone walking up the entrance hall. What’s going on? Why can I touch things? Am I alive again?

The door opens and standing there is my little girl, Alex. Her long brown hair pulled back in a ponytail. She had just started middle school and I was taken away from her.

She looks confused.

“Alex? Baby?”

She looks around the entrance, but not at me. Then, she closes the door and walks away. I can hear her yell something, but it’s too mumbled to make out. What in the hell just happened?

“You’re dead.”

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