The Night I Saw The Reaper – Part 3

Note: I did publish this before, but the ending kinda sucked. So I’ve issued the first part as Part 3, and Part 4 will follow when the ending is better

In the silence that followed my question, a squall of wind drove a sheet of rain against the pub window. A few seconds later a rumble of thunder sounded.
Bill didn’t answer right away. Just as I was about to prompt him again, he took a breath and started speaking.
“I’ll never forget the day I saw him. It was dark, and I was walking by myself with the glow of my latest despicable deed warming me from within. The first thing I noticed was that sound had started to fade, as though invisible hands were forcing small pieces of cotton wool into my ears. The pace of my walking slowed, and I started to look round. The evening light then began to grow weaker, as though the stars and moon themselves were being turned down like a light on a dimmer switch. I stopped, and although it wasn’t cold I realized I could see my breath forming in clouds before me.
Then he appeared. It was as though he came out of nowhere, one second it was a mess of shadow and shapes and the next he stood before me. Tall. I’m no small man, but he stood at least two feet taller than me. Dressed in the long, dark grey cloak and cowl of legend, it was death himself.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Was this man insane? Death? The cartoon character with the long black cloak and scythe? Please. Bill continued,

“There was a smell about him, dry and musty like the back of a cupboard that has not been opened for years. As I stared at him, trembling, it was as though he was the most real thing in the world – everything else around him was faded, like a dream. Then he spoke. Oh, sweet Jesus, he spoke to me. He told me why he was stood before me, and told me of his promise to revisit me again, tonight. His voice was like the sound of a stone coffin lid being dragged across an open crypt.”

Bill paused, and I could see in his eyes he was reliving that moment. I had my doubts about how real it actually was, but whether real or imagined, he was there again in his memory.

“I don’t know what happened, but the next thing I was aware of was walking along, everything seemingly normal. The strange thing was that whenever I started to think that I had imagined it, or it was a dream, the reality of that night would hit me all over again. It was like he didn’t want me to ever forget the night that we’ve now arrived at.”

Nature being what it is, another rumble of thunder shook the pub window at that moment, which caused me to jump a little. The storm outside had worsened, and I was glad to be in front of this fire. I wasn’t sure what to make of his story. He was so convinced of the reality of it, but it just sounded wrong. Surely this was all just a stupid malfunction in his brain that had caused him to imagine this situation? The sad thing was, he really was scared, and if he had lived the last few years of his life approaching this night with fear and trepidation… that must have been horrible.

Bill started to rise out of his chair. I looked up at him, and could see a look of resignation had calmed his face.
“It’s time lad. Thank you for listening to this old man’s rambling. It feels good to have a last bit of human contact.”

I didn’t know what to say to him – he really was convinced that he was about to go out and meet his doom!
I noticed he didn’t have a coat with him as he walked toward the pub door. If nothing else, he could catch his death out in that weather.
“Wait!” I cried, “do you want me to drop you somewhere? I’ve only had one drink and it’s horrible out there.”
As his hand touched the door handle, he turned to me with a faint smile, gently shook his head, then opened the door.
A barrage or rain flew into the pub, as though queued up outside and just waiting for the door to open. He hunched into himself, and walked outside, pulling the door closed after him. I just sat there for a second, looking at the pub door. I had no idea what to make of this strange man, but my guilt would not let me stay seated and it pulled me out of my chair to try again to get him to let me give him a lift home. I left my overnight bag next to my chair and went to the coat hook to retrieve my coat. I shrugged myself into it and fastened it to the neck. I opened the door, and pulling it closed behind me went out into the storm.

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