Soul Search

Image of Short Story

The clicking footsteps echo in the narrow hallways. Flickering lights cast an eerie glow, reflecting off the cheap linoleum tiles. Rusty wheels squeak under heavy gurneys carrying dead and injured. But in the room, silence. Latex gloves powering off the cardiac monitor, the long continuous blip ceased like the body next to it. Cold gusts of wind flow in from the cracked window, pushing the beige blinds in and out.

Left alone with the cold body is the flowy figure over it. Bony fingers reach out from the long black sleeves, lightly touching the chest. A stream of white light goes into the translucent figure, and when it has absorbed all the light, it floats out of the door and travels to the next room.

And so goes the life of a reaper. Collecting souls from the dead, bringing them to peace, laying them to rest. It’s not scary to be taken, but rather relieving. I’ve been taken by the reaper, and this is my story.

Blood trickles down my face from deep cuts. Glass shards stuck in my arms and neck. I gasp for breath, but nothing fills my lungs. Scrubs and labcoats push me down the dreary hallway, two of them trying push a tube down my throat.

Worried voices swarm around, “BP 80/50 and dropping!” “50 mg of diazepam stat!”

A cold needle goes into my arm, and the world starts fading to black, their voices going quieter and quieter until they’re gone. Sweet oxygen fills me up once again, hissing in and out of the large mask on my battered and bruised face. I stay in my own head for a while, replaying my happiest memories. Seeing people I never thought that I would see again, I was talking to.

“Is she waking up?” I hear a deep voice separate from the old conversations in my head.
“She’s still out cold, Coopers,” a worried female voice responds.

The memories grow more vivid, almost real life, but interrupted by the voices outside. I want to wake up now, I want to see my family again. Mother with the long, brown hair, her soothing voice reassuring me. Father, with his cheap-looking combover, whining about the stock market.

Seemingly forever goes past, but the scenery doesn’t change. Rambling voices of distress leak in, a slowing beep from cardiac monitor. Everything erupts into chaos as the seconds tick by. Another second my parents are left without their daughter. Then, as if in a blink of an eye, silence. Utter silence. A faint haze washes over my memories, clouding them out. They slowly fade away into a translucent figure. A cold touch on my chest brings me out of my head, and back into reality. I take a sigh of relief. The room same as I last saw it, budget blinds rattling on the windows, linoleum floors squeaky clean. One thing is out of order, however. I can see my own body.

An out of body experience, some call it. Others call it death. Once again, a cold touch grabs my attention.
“Who’s there?” I speak out, eyes darting around the room.
A faint wind sweeps over me, and a figure in a dark robe appears before me.

“Hello, Amelia,” it greets me with monotone.
“Where am I? What’s happening?”
It laughs, “Haven’t you figured it out already? You’re dead,” dead.

The word echoes around me. Dead. I can’t be dead. I’m so young. But I start to wonder as I watch lab coats and scrubs cover my body with a thin drape.

“Time of death. 12:42,” a lab coat announces.

I focus back on the figure.

“What are you exactly?” I ask hastily.

“Why, I am you reaper, child,” it croaks out.

The paranormal hasn’t been in my beliefs since I was a child, and now I was supposed to believe that reapers were real.

“So, I really am dead then.”

“You are merely a soul, Amelia. It’s my job to bring you to peace.”

It starts to float closer to the door, seemingly growing impatient with my questions.

“Will you take me to peace, then?” I question.

It nods and takes my hand. A blinding light encases us as we travel through the halls of the hospital. We pass the elderly on their deathbeds, infants being held for the first time, and little kids getting broken bones cast. The light dims as we reach a stopping point. I stand alone in a man’s room. A young girl holds his hand, tears streaming down her rosy cheeks. In the cob-webbed corner stand a lab coat and an older woman, talking quietly.

“We’ve done everything we can, ma’am. We’re very truly sorry,” I’m sure the same thing was said to my parents who I never got to see again.

The woman nods and takes the little girl out of the room. Clicking footsteps in the hallway. An eerie glow from the broken LED lights reflect off the waxed tiles. The figure appears over the man, sucking in a bright energy. The cardiac monitor fades into one, long beep and the man’s soul disappears in a flash of light with the reaper. Sobs fill the lusterless hallway. Young, old, female, male, all join in from different rooms, different reasons.

I flash into another room in the blink of an eye, floors away from that man’s room. Now, a little boy lay on the chopping block of fate, preparing to die right before my eyes. His room is unlike the others, filled with color and innocence. Toy cars splayed all across one side of the room, left by their owner. A man and woman stand at the foot of the bed in embrace in silence, not sobbing like the others.

A chill fills the entire room, seemingly dropping the temperature by 10 degrees. A cloud is visible with my exhale. The electricity buzzes and crackles, and the reaper appears beside the little boy.

He’s just a little boy. I think. He has so much life left to live. I feel tears well up in my eyes, my throat grow tight, my face grows feverishly warm. There’s nothing I can do to stop the reaper. It hovers over his fragile, little body and begins to harvest his soul. A red light is absorbed into the heavy linen cloaks worn by the reaper, as opposed to the pure white light taken from the older man.

“Where’s the soul?” It hisses.

The reaper howls out in pain and disappears. The boy remains alive, his little heart still beating. He was safe from fate, for now. He didn’t have a soul to be collected.

I hear the familiar whisper of it in my ear as I wander the narrow halls.

“I have to find the soul.”

I glance around me, the reaper not to be seen. I hear the voice again, complaining about having to find that little boy’s soul. It was on a search for it, and I had a feeling that it wasn’t going to move on without it.