She found him playing pinball in the shabby arcade inside what used to be a bustling mall. It was half-closed down now, stores boarded up and bankrupt, and rumor had it the Mall was on its last legs.
It figures, she thought.
There was still something of a food court – a McDonald’s and two sandwich places next to a few chipped tables and graffiti-spattered chairs. She could see people talking over milkshakes and Happy Meals from her vantage point near the change machine. Oblivious. The world was oblivious.
She, however, was not.
She approached him casually, sidling up next to him as if she were watching his game. He glanced at her briefly, then his gaze returned with interest. Ten years ago, she would have mistaken that for something sexual, but now there was little chance of that. Not the way she looked. She was wan, her skin tone grey-ish, and she was somewhat emaciated. Her head was wrapped in a bandana that made the bones of her face stand out in sharp relief.
“Hello,” he said, returning his eyes to the game. His voice was a bit wary.
“I’ve been looking for you.”
“Oh?” She had his full attention now. “You have, have you?”
She felt his eyes boring into her, but she didn’t flinch.
“I know who you are. And I’m ready.”
He gave her a sideways glance. “No one’s ready. Not like they think they are.”
“And you think you know who I am?
“Yes,” she said, simply. “You’re Death.”
He motioned her out into the food court, gesturing her to keep her voice down.
“How did you find me?”
“I’ve seen you before,” she explained, “You’re…’dark’ is the best word, I guess. I saw you first at a movie theater. Then again down by the hospital as I was driving home. It’s like you’re dimmer than everyone around you.”
“And you knew I was Death from that?” He looked skeptical.
“I had a great aunt who described you to me once. I was very young and everyone thought she was delirious, but I believed her.”
“Hmmph,” said Death. “You want some fries? No? Well, I’m starving. Buy me some fries and a Dr. Pepper, and we’ll talk.”
Want to read more? You can! This is an excerpt from my short story, “Cashing In” and it’s available free on Smashwords. Enjoy!