Death: An Interlude

No idea where this came from, but welcome to the inside of my head.
As always, any suggestions/criticisms/comments are welcome.

Death raised his hand imperiously.
The crowd of faces instantly hushed. His long bony fingers dipped languorously within his ebony robe and emerged, clutching a flaccid pink object. He raised it to his lips, hidden deep within his cowl and blew.
The faces were all focused on him in rapt attention.
He tucked into his robe again, withdrawing another object, back into his cowl for another blow, again and again, faster and faster. He took the elongated objects and tied, twisted, knotted them to each other.
Again and again, over and over. His movements were a blur.
Mortal eyes strained to keep up with his movements, but were no match for his supernatural speed.
More and more, and yet more after that, Death performed his ritual. The humans leaned in closer, mouths widening in awe at what they were witnessing, even at what they failed to see as Death moved beyond the limits of what human vision could capture.
One last piece, one last blow, a final twist, an agonizing moment of silence and then –

Bellowing “BEHOLD!”, Death held out the life-size balloon Sponge Bob to the rapturously cheering children, and handed it to the birthday boy.
The boy looked at the creation, then up at Death. “That was awesome, Mister!” he said.

Unseen in the depths of his cowl, Death smiled.
He patted the boy’s head, wished him a happy birthday, and headed down the road, humming to himself as he returned to his rounds.

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Matticus Kingdom Prompt: A Big Fish Story

Every so often, DJ Matticus, proprietor and Chief Scribbler of The Matticus Kingdom, writes the opening of a story and Prompts us to finish it.
I was trying to develop a sense of inexorability with this story. Did it work? And any criticisms are welcome.

This won't have a happy ending. Obviously.
This won’t have a happy ending.
Obviously.

DJ’s prompt:
Light filters through the cascading waves of shadows running down the high canyon walls. Shining fingers reaching down from the heavens to highlight the beauty of the world, you notice the warm spots of rock and water where the light touches and you smile. The constant hum and crash of the river at your feet adds the symphony accompaniment to the play being acted out for your enjoyment. Time slows and races with the rise and fall of the orchestra, and your heart follows along.

Stepping to the edge, you set your balance and brace your feet, then let the fly taste the air as you whip it once, twice, three times over your head. The line pulls against your finger as you release it and for a moment your world is reduced to the flight of the fly and the whine of the reel. As it splashes down, and you are pleased with its placement, the roar of the river rises back up to a near deafening volume, and you begin to coax the fish out of hiding with a delicate dance of pressure and movement.

A flash of silver deep within the rolling blue and white, as a trout breaks cover beneath the rocky bottom, and there is a small tug on the taut line…

My response:
It’s a slight tug, and you savor the tension in the line as you rest your beer on a rock near the riverbank. You wait a moment. The tug gets stronger, then stronger still, becoming more insistent. The voice of the river and dappling of the sun combine with the pull of the rod to create a feeling of magic in the lush wilderness. “Guys?” you call out, wanting your friends to witness this one perfect moment. “Guys!”, but they are too far away to hear. Another yank draws you deeper into the water. You fight against the pull on the line, but the rubber of your hip waders slides against the slick stones of the river.
It never occurs to you to let go of your rod and lose the beautiful fly, or the prize it’s snagged. As you are pulled along, you start to worry about being dragged to the center of the river, where you know it’s both deep and fast running. You reposition your hands on the rod for a better grip. You can’t imagine how big the trout must be – you’ve never had to struggle like this before!
Finally, your heel braces against a rock and you gather your strength. You know the fight is almost done.
With a tremendous heave, you snap the rod back, the supple wood arcing dangerously before it straightens, bringing your catch into view.
And you learn the last things you’ll ever know –
Magic can be dangerous.

The Loch Ness monster isn’t a myth.

And it doesn’t just stay in the loch.

Light and Shade – The Past Doesn’t Stay In The Past

This story was written for the Light and Shade Challenge – 500 words, inspired by the phrase
“Some ghosts are so quiet you would hardly know they were there.”
― Bernie Mcgill, The Butterfly Cabinet

This one rolls in at 462 words. Good? Bad? Suggestions or criticisms? Let me know in the comments, and thanks.
Ghost
There would be paperwork…reports…interviews. It was always the same drill – every time a weapon was discharged in the line of duty, the dog and pony show commenced.
Ralph Emerson knew he had nothing to worry about. It was a clean shoot. And no one would shed any tears for the body he’d left in the small apartment, its blood and guts oozing into the filth that surrounded it.
Ralph sat down on the stoop, exhausted as he recreated the scene in his head for his report…

“Jack Wilson, open up” he bellowed, banging on the door. “This is the police. We know you’re in there.”
Ralph and his partner stood on either side of the door – along the wall – waiting for an answer. There was a loud click, and Jack replied with three shotgun blasts through the center of the door. Ralph and his partner dropped flat on the floor.
“Son of a…” Ralph rolled to one knee in front of the door, and returned two shots. Still moving, he sprang to his feet, erupting through the shattered remains of the door.
Jack was inside, shotgun in one hand, a plastic garbage bag in the other.
“FREEZE” shouted Ralph.
Everything seemed to slow down…Jack turned to Ralph…Ralph crouched, gun aimed at Jack’s center of mass…Jack bringing up the shotgun, steadying it with the garbage bag holding hand…Ralph saying “Don’t do it!”…Jack still moving…Ralph gently squeezing the trigger…and…BANG!
Time resumed as Jack stared at the spreading bloom of red on his chest, followed by a look at Ralph as Jack crumpled to the floor, the bag spilling from his hand.

The voices in Ralph’s head got louder and louder, clamoring to be heard as he neared the bag. He upended it as the voices reached a crescendo, then, silence.
The pile of teddy bears spilled out. Some stared blankly into space. Others fell out hugging each other. And a few landed staring right at Ralph, their button eyes and perpetual smiles penetrating right to his brain.
“What the hell?” asked his partner in a horrified tone.

Ralph didn’t answer. He was watching something, staring at a sight no one else could see. Wisps, ethereal clouds, all vaguely shaped like children of assorted ages, walked through the room clutching at the pile of bears, drawing the…spirit? of one, then moving on and dissolving again into transparency as if they’d never been.
The last clutched his teddy bear in his four year old arms, and turned to smile a wide innocent grin at Ralph before he too disappeared.

Ralph didn’t even realize a tear was rolling down his cheek as he rolled his shoulders and felt the exhaustion he’d been fighting for weeks settle on him. At least tonight, his ghosts would let him sleep.