What does the Grim Reaper fear?
|SCREAMS!!! WINNER!!! 12/5/19
Prompt: The Grim Reaper
The Grim Reaper sat down in the hospital waiting room, slid back his hood, and rubbed a circular pattern on the top of his bleached, white skull with a skeletal hand. Such was his habit when upset or disturbed, and Reaper was clearly both on this day.
“These doctors will be the death of me,” he said, to everyone and no one.
The waiting room was crowded, every other seat taken. No one heard him. No one saw him. Reaper’s life was a lonely one, a consequence of his employment.
Reaper had lived for millennia and beyond. He had cheerfully performed his task for ages, offering neither comment nor complaint. He knew his purpose and had always been happy to perform it. Then the last two centuries had arrived, and his vexation had grown.
In times of old, there had been witches and medicine men. They and their kin had tried to interfere but always had failed. Reaper had watched their vain efforts with gaiety as he merrily strolled in and, with a scythe’s swift swing, set free the souls in their care.
Now, however, there were hospitals, doctors, and machines. These could hinder his work, and they did! The people seemed to love them for it. Over this last pair of centuries, the people had begun to revile him and truly obstruct his designs.
What Reaper couldn’t understand was the hatred, the determined struggle against his plan. His role was one of mercy. He ended pain. He ended suffering. He allowed them to go on to their next destination. He was the usher, lighting the path to their next performance. Reaper understood that humans feared him, but he knew that it was simply the fear of the unknown. They ought not be afraid of him. He was closing one chapter of life and opening another, someone to be welcomed, not shunned.
Oh, sometimes the truly religious were comfortable enough in their future to welcome his coming, but they were increasingly rare, supplanted by the fearful, by those who were afraid of him.
“You know who’s truly scary?” he said again, to no one.
“Doctors. That’s who.”
“They put people on machines, holding them prisoner in decaying bodies. They create treatments that turn people into hairless, catatonic zombies. They create drugs that turn people into pill-seeking maniacs. They cut their fellows open and remove or even exchange their parts. They even cut people--mostly ladies for unknowable reasons--open for fun, putting bags of silicon and other assorted trinkets inside of them. I’ve watched them leave this rubbish inside as they sew them back up!”
“Just when you think these doctors can’t be any more reprehensible, you’re surprised again. Why? Because these monsters called doctors charge people exorbitant sums for all of these horrors! They steal the fruits of a lifetime of hard work in exchange for the perpetration of their atrocities!”
“As I said, these people are sinister. And I believe now that they’re after me!”
“When I came for Martha Sue, not two days past, I overheard them prattling. They said something about how it was shameful that she had to die, when the cure for her death was so close. The cure for death! As if I’m the villain of this tale! They milled about, casually holding discourse regarding my murder. It was chilling!”
A shudder ran the length of Reaper’s bony spine.
But Reaper had a job to do, and he would bravely do it, despite the threat these doctors posed. He flipped up his hood and grabbed his scythe.
The solid squeal of a heartrate monitor on flatline caught his attention, and he moved in that direction. Before he could get to his client, however, a team of white lab coats jogged into the room. They slammed needles into flesh, shoved tubes into orifices, then placed electrocution devices onto the poor man’s chest. They fired electricity into the torso, causing the body to wake and the mind to die. What cruel torture to bind a soul to that horrible prison, dark, dank, and senseless. These doctors buried the poor soul in a rotting corpse, preventing me from setting him free.
Bastards! They’d gotten another one, snatched from directly under Reaper’s hoodwinked nose! Condemned the soul to torture for who knows how long. Reaper could have saved him, but these vile doctors, these raging fiends, were managing to thwart him at every turn.
Reaper walked dispirited out of his client’s room, unable to perform his charge. He wandered down the hospital’s painfully white halls to another of the myriad waiting areas. These doctors seemed to enjoy long passages of time, delaying Reaper’s inevitable appearance.
A newspaper sat on the coffee table in the center. Reaper’s bony face turned toward it.
“Senate to Vote on Mandatory Life Support Bill Today”
“Oh my Lord!” Reaper cried. These people were trying to create the most massive soul imprisonment yet! Mass concentration camps of dying flesh to hold the wards that should be rightfully his! He had to stop this. It couldn’t be allowed!
He read through the article:
Washington (AP) – The Senate is expected to vote today on a measure already approved by the House on Monday. The Senate majority and minority leaders took time for photos today, showing them raising hands together in a rare show of bipartisan support. Given the radical cost reductions in life-saving technology, it has become economically feasible to make life support mandatory in recent months. Both Republicans and Democrats have been quick to jump on the massive bandwagon of grassroots support for the legislation. The president has said he would sign the bill within moments of the Senate’s passage…
He had witnessed many atrocities by doctors, but leave it to those of political persuasion to make things a thousandfold worse. Reaper slammed his scythe down on the paper, but it had no effect, passing vaporously through.
A nurse burst into the room and cried, “It passed! It passed! And the president just signed it! No more death!”
Reaper could hear a cheer erupt throughout the hospital, and he watched the screen of the television in the waiting room corner showing the eruption of confetti on the senate floor for the first time in history.
“God help us all!” Reaper screamed, his hollow eye sockets seeming to grow wider. What did it mean? How could it be? Could people really be so cheerfully witless?
Reaper watched in horror as his scythe rose of its own accord. It floated in midair as his bare white jaw trembled and gulped.
The scythe swung with furious speed, severing his neck cleanly. His hard, white skull bounced on the floor, rolling to a stop under the coffee table, under the paper. The rest of his bones dropped in place, followed by a flap of sound from the cloak’s fabric landing on top.
The Grim Reaper was dead, departed from a world to be bestrewn with inanimate zombies not long hence. Poor, decaying shells they would be, gleeful in gruesome unlife.