Between Death and I: Death's Corruption

Cover of Between Death and I: Death's Corruption

Table Of Contents

Chapter One

I couldn't remember much after the piercing sound of shattering glass as a pair of teenager's eyes stared at me in shock. The terror and heartbreak of watching my dad instantly die and slide onto the hood of his car, past the shattered windshield, resonated deeply within me. A distant memory of red and blue lights flashing and the teenager mouthing “I'm sorry” still remained, but the memory of rescue or even death didn't have a place in my mind for after that I slipped into unconsciousness.

The icy ground chilled me as an overwhelming feeling of helplessness and confusion struck my paralyzed body. It was impossible to lift my hands nor my legs as they felt like a force was pinning them to the ground. I craned my neck to view my new surroundings but to my dismay, dim lighting revealed nothing but an endless void which faded to darkness the further it stretched. Panic filled me as my heart raced uncontrollably and a sense of grave danger loomed over me. I felt disorientated and short of breath from the anxiety of the unknown.

My thoughts were disorganized and fuzzy. Disorientation led me to conclude the possibility of hours slowly trudging along or perhaps only mere minutes ticking by. The aches and pain I should have felt from the accident didn't affect me but instead, I felt nothing but the cold. I couldn't even form tears let alone truly comprehend the situation at hand. I came to the conclusion that I was neither conscious nor unconscious. I existed in some sort of hellish in-between where I could think but had no free will or true understanding of my surroundings.

A mist began seeping towards me from the distance, clinging to the ground. As the moist air began to tingle against my skin, the mist rose and a dark, cloaked outline advanced towards me. The figure glided across the black ice with its cloak dragging along behind. As he drew closer, the clinking of chains filled my ears and alarm began to rise inside me. The rusted scythe came into view as the figure held the shaft across its body. The need to flee grew stronger. I pleaded with myself to let this be a trick in mind until the figure spoke in a low register, revealing himself to be a man.

“Cora Zander, do you choose continuity of life or to perish?” The man loomed over me as he spoke. His hood concealed his face but the dreadful, crimson eyes pierced me. His cloak was embroidered with faded blue stitching along the hemlines. Rusted chains crossed his waist under the slightly agape oversize cloak. Numerous pairs of handcuffs dangled from the chains. His skin was hidden and he only resembled a human being in shape and voice.

“Is he dead? Is my dad dead?” I knew the answer deep within, but a shred of hope still remained.

“Do you choose continuity of life or to perish?” His voice showed no mercy or patience.

“Please, tell me. I'll do anything to have him back.” I begged. The man's presence came with a sense of authority and power as if he could change the inevitable.

He repeated himself once more before raising his scythe. “By faltering, you have been determined to perish.”

A scream welled up in my throat. “I choose life!” Disparity filled me.

His arms did not falter as he raised the scythe and began a downward swing. I shrieked and my instincts kicked in. Breaking the paralyzing feeling, I lurched my hand into the air. Spirals of pain shot down my wrist as my hand collided against his. I used my strength to prevent him from bringing the scythe lower. A flash of pale skin came from his cloak sleeves as he used his other hand to pry me off of him. I grasped onto him but his strength overpowered me. My hand slid down the wooden staff and splinters lodged into my fingers. I kept tension in my arm to keep the weapon away from me. The blade hovered a foot above my head.

My chest throbbed with my exhale of relief. He hadn't pushed against my resistance to kill me. Recoiling from me, he took a step back and then stooped beside me. Despite the previous site of flesh, his now skeletal hand grasped my wrist and pinned it to the icy ground. His cloak draped across my legs as he leaned over me. The quick pace of my heart thundered in my ears.

“Don't hurt me,” I pleaded. His head lowered closer to mine.

“You've cursed me beyond my damnation.” His voice boomed with power and animosity. He leaned close to my ear and the fabric of the hood brushed against my forehead. “May the reapers give you the same torture you have now brought to me.”

Harshly, he pressed down against my forehead until my eyes fluttered closed.