When I get home from Sunday Service, I strip my pressed white shirt in the living room. I step out of my slacks. Peel off the tight black socks. I fumble naked for my dive skin, the black and blue... [+]
“Nooooo!” Treena screamed, turned and ran. Her grandfather had always told her “have courage young one, face your fears.” All well and good, but this was terrifying. Heart pounding so fast she thought it would stop beating; she could feel the pulse in her temples and found it hard to breathe.
Treena’s eyes flew open. Phew! A dream to end all dreams but it was just a nightmare. She blinked and pinched her arm to make sure she was awake – “ouch; not that hard”, she said to herself. Yes, it had been a nightmare. But then she saw it – the pewter figurine of a horse on her bedside table. It was real. Oh no! “This can’t be happening to me” she thought. “I am too young to die!” Perhaps a cup of tea would help her jangled nerves and help her to sort things out in her head. There were no lights on so she took a small votive candle that she saw on the dresser and felt her way along the walls of the hallway to the kitchen.
How did it begin? Yes, she was in this house with 11 other people; one of whom was Death. Each had been given a small pewter figurine. At the appointed hour, Death would have the image of the person he chose etched on his stomach. That one would take the place of Death, and he theirs. Only the one chosen would be able to hear him speak. One of the 12 was an old man who protested loudly because he didn’t have that much longer to live and didn’t want to go before his time. No one knew when the hour was; which added to the suspense. All was quiet as she crept to the kitchen. “Breathe, Treena, breathe” she kept repeating over and over to herself. She looked at the clock above the oven range as she sipped a soothing cup of Joko tea - 11:59 P.M. Softly she said to herself “Won’t be long now – one way or the other”. The words of her grandfather kept echoing in her head “have courage, face your fears child.” “Yeah, right; easy for you to say Grandfather, I am scared.”
A girl of about 20, Treena guessed, came into the kitchen and sat down next to her. “We’re both still here, so I think we’re safe” she said. Treena wasn’t so sure. The girl held her figurine in her hand – it was a Meerkat. Slender and timid – seems like each figurine reflected the personality of the bearer; that was interesting but why was she a horse? Time would tell, she hoped.
“My name’s Meghan” she said as she held her hand out.
“Treena; nice to meet you Meghan; just wish it was under better circumstances.”
“Likewise. We are all tense from this evening’s events. I’ll tell you, what always helps me relax is reading. I saw books in a library earlier, but I bet they are locked up.” Treena reached in her pocket and felt a key. She gasped. “I have a key. I think we are meant to go there. I’ll go with you and turn on the lights in the room so you can choose.
They were almost to the library when they spotted an older lady who lunged for them screaming and baring her jagged teeth. Treena knew it was the Lady of Shallot (just as Tennyson portrayed her) – although how she knew was beyond her. The Lady of Shallot was the one who was supposed to die but thought if she could touch another, then that person would take her place and she’d be free and now these two girls had appeared. Both Treena and Meghan screamed and ran to the library. Treena quickly locked the door behind them and breathed a sigh of relief. Short lived that turned out to be – Death was in the library stacks. She felt her skin crawl. Goosebumps showed on her arms in spite of it being a warm night. She heard a voice – “You can run, but you can’t hide. When you close your eyes, you will not open them again. I call you DEATH!”
“Enough”. Treena was tired of running from her fears and turned around to face the being. In her hand she held a mirror. “What you send me, I send back to you” she said bravely. In that instant a vortex opened in the floor and the figure was engulfed. She heard one word start out strong and grow fainter and fainter - “Noooo!” A stronger Treena felt in her pocket – the horse had gained a rider, a girl with a large shield which would serve as a reminder to her of the courage she had developed. She would not forget this day as long as she lived. Meghan gave her a hug and thanked her before heading back to her room.
“I did it Grandpa” Treena whispered as she crept peacefully to her room and pulled the covers over her – unafraid.