Jill stared at her injuries. A six-inch piece of intestine bulged out through the laceration in her gut like a gray sausage dripping with marinara sauce.
She looked up. Her bicycle had been virtually welded to the underside of the sedan that had run the red light and used her for a speed bump. She squinted to see through the car’s windshield, but could not see if the driver was still behind the wheel.
She tried to sit up, but firm hands forced her back. “Don’t move dear.”
She looked up. Three people stood over her. Two were paramedics. The third was a hansom-looking police officer.
“What’s your name sweetie?” the officer asked.
“Jill,” she answered.
The paramedics worked quickly. Within moments, the sterile environment of an ambulance replaced the scene where bike and sedan had merged. The doors slammed shut. The siren began to scream. The ambulance took off.
One of the paramedics sat with her in the back checking her vitals. “Jill, you are a very lucky girl.”
The other paramedic’s voice called over the intercom. The voice sounded faint through the old speaker, yet the message was clear. Assistance was needed up in the cab.
“You’re going to be just fine,” he said with a pat on the shoulder as he left her in the back of the ambulance all alone.
Laying upon the stretcher, she looked down at her lacerated gut. She guessed that such an injury should hurt, yet she felt no pain.
“It doesn’t hurt because you’re in shock, in case you were wondering.”
Startled, Jill looked up from her injuries and found that she was not as alone as she had previously thought. Beside her sat another. He wore black denim jeans and a black sweatshirt with the hood up in such a manner so as to hide his identity.
“Who are you?”
“Do you really have to ask?” the man said as he pulled the hood back.
She gasped. The face she saw left no doubt in her mind concerning his identity. Although, here in the back of the ambulance, he lacked the sickle and cloak that is so often present in artist renditions.
Jill felt a sudden chill run the length of her spine. She wanted to flee, but where could she run? In the back of that ambulance, she had precious few options.
“I suppose you know why I’m here,” he said with a cruel grin.
Tears formed in the corners of her eyes. “No, this is a mistake,” she said with little more than a squeak.
The Reaper smirked. “If I had a dead man’s dollar for every time I heard that one.”
She struggled to find her voice. “Honestly, I’m not dying. This is all just an act.”
The Reaper leaned back, lit a cigarette, and motioned her with his bony hand to continue.
“My boyfriend’s a cop…”
“Jill,” he interrupted with a scoff. “That fact might help you out of speeding tickets, but it doesn’t allow you to cheat death.”
“He asked me to participate in this drill…”
“A drill huh?” he interrupted again and then chuckled a cold chuckle. “Okay. Tell me why I am mistaken Jill. Tell me why you are not dying.”
She felt her heart quicken as she formed her defense. “The city organized this mock car accident as a training exercise. They wanted to see how all the departments and agencies worked together in such a situation. They hoped to find ways to improve response time, increase lines of communication, that sort of thing.”
“I’m afraid you’re delusional Jill,” he said as he put the cigarette out on the palm of his hand. “It’s my job to present you before God for judgment. I’m never sent by mistake, and I never come early.”
“Well, there’s a first time for everything,” she said faintly.
The Reaper said nothing.
“Let me prove it to you,” she said almost more as a plea than a statement.
“Okay, go ahead.” His voice sounded skeptical.
She reached down to her abdominal injury. She grabbed. She yanked.
The Reaper watched. His smile disappeared.
“You see? It’s just latex and catsup,” she said as she dangled the rubbery appendage before his eyes.
He stared. His mouth opened slightly, but he said nothing.
“How’s that for proof?”
He took the prop from her and examined it closely. After a moment, he shrugged and handed it back.
Now that Jill felt she had the upper hand, her courage rallied. “Go away, and don’t come back until I am really dying, preferably in about a hundred years.”
The Reaper stood. “I am never sent by mistake.” After a few seconds, he replaced the hood over his ghoulish face, and took a step right through the ambulance wall. But just as he made his exit, the combined screech of tires on asphalt, metal grinding against metal, and screams of terror bombarded the scene.
As the ambulance overturned again and again, rolling down what must have been a very high hill the reality hit Jill that this was not a part of the training simulation. Quick as lightning, a pale hand reached back through the ambulance wall and grabbed her securely.
“It’s time to go Jill my girl. The judge is waiting.”
Author Bio: I currently have two traditionally published novels to my name. My first book, THE SPACE BETWEEN, was published through Martin Sisters Publishing (MSP) in 2013. In 2015 (MSP) released the sequel entitled THE DEVIL’S REVENGE, which is book 2 in THE SPACE BETWEEN series. In addition, I have numerous short stories in multiple publications. To learn more about me, my writing, and how to purchase my books, please go to www.shawnbrinkauthor.wordpress.com.
Image by Steve Weatherford