Wow. That is all I can muster on this one. Wow. This is fantastic! I love your voice, love the story, love how your voice pulls me into the story. You've really got something great here, and I'd love to read the rest. I have minor edits. Take them with a grain of salt because this is fantastic!
I watched the ventilator force a calculated mixture of oxygen and inert gases into the blue eyed, sandy haired, eight-year-old little boy. His pale features created a postmortem effect complete with dark shadows underneath his scrawny deep hollowed eyes. Days like that day made me hate the job.
The trickle of various types of medication pumped through his veins as the competing monitors echoed beeping noises through the room. Mismatched salmon and green furniture engaged in open combat over institutional style tiled floors. The faded printed frames and beige color curtains made me want to vomit in my mouth. As if the smell of the hospital wasn’t revolting enough.
His body was skinny, fragile and omitting a dead garbage smell. He was alone.
I entered the room when his dad left to smoke, shunning the overpopulated family area for the solitude of the parking garage awning. The father was annoyingly clingy to the child, which made my job a pain. I didn’t blame him, though. Sorry S.O.B., the boy was the only family he had left. I was almost relieved that he felt the need for a break. This would be hard enough without having to watch as his son took the last breaths of his human life.
The little boy, Evan Whitaker, he felt my presence in the shadows and rotated his body towards me as if he’d been expecting me, which isn’t normal by the way. My stomach rumbled with disgust. Only the humans who were most content with dying acted this way, almost seeking out death as if knowing it were completely impossible to escape.
The number one rule of reaping: never talk to the human. It would only cause confusion and uncertainty. But staring at this child who was welcoming death made me do something I had never done, something that I had never felt compelled to do.
I slowly walked towards his bed. His body lye limp on top of the blue sheets and his arms grasped the metal arm rails. He saw me before I had the chance to say a word.
“I’m ready,” he said, tears escaping down the corners of his eyes and dripping down his face, littering the front of his white hospital robe with wetness.
This was my moment, the time to cross the line. It was the moment to break the rules only because it felt as if I needed to. Because I hoped saying something to this child would comfort him or reassure me, which might make it easier to believe that what I was wasn’t evil.
And, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t say those few short words or take those few small steps that would make me or break me as a reaper. I was a coward, a coward living in a shadow. I shook the sadness from my head, though my heart was still heavy
I walked closer towards his bed. His breathing became more
rapid as he became more
aware of my presence. His little chest rose up and down, fighting against
the ventilator. Alarms from three different monitors went wild.
I did what I had come to do; being sure to follow the process
in out of
deviation from the plan could get me in trouble. I draped my hand over his heart, waiting to feel the first pull of his soul linger on my fingertips,
smiled at me and tears started to form around the corner of his eyes. Oh shit, I don’t think I can do this. Breathe, breathe.
I shook my head in desperation. Make up your mind, Derek, what are you going to do? Let this kid suffer or take his soul? Make a decision now!
Desperately clinging to my decision, I reformed my hand over his heart. His eyes began to move under his lids,
like a gripped fist clinging to a rail,and the pain dissipated as Evan released his grip on life. Light omitted from my hand, and I looked down into Evan Whitaker’s vacant
Vacant, no longer occupied with pain.
I nervously glanced around and took a sudden step back into the shadows, watching as his dad came into the room.
A slip of relief poured over his face before emotion seized him. The echoing cries became stifling, almost unbearable. I forced myself to close my eyes and breathe. It felt as if my lungs were about to collapse and my heart beat lingered in my eardrums. Deep breaths.
I wasn’t always like this.
human once. I had a
I should have chosen death, but I didn’t. I scooped up the chance of immortality, not understanding all the rules surrounding this crazy magical world. If magic is what you’d call it. (You may want to use a word other than magic. Death and reaping don't really fall into the category of magic, so nope, that's not what I'd call it)
This is my twenty second year of reaping. I have successfully reaped and ferried 8,672,427 souls. No matter how many times I
have done do
it, it never gets easier. I thought immortality would be the life to live, what a mistake.
There are over one hundred deaths per minute, and my night had just begun.
My Life before Reaping (B.R.)
“T-bird, catch!” I yelled, from across the massive bonfire as I sent a perfectly elevated pig skin, spiraling through the air. It was caught by my best friend Travis Dean Bird,
hence the name T-Bird for short
. He was hammered, He could barely stand, yet with hardly any effort at all, he still
caught the football and tucked it underneath his arm like a natural, as if he were born to play football while being shit-faced drunk.
“Touchdown! Tallahassee wins their fourth consecutive state championship, beating out the perfect Miami City Purples! Haaaaaaaa, haaaaaaa. And the crowds go wild as Derek the D-Man Weber makes another touchdown pass to the crazy, unforgettable, most magnificent best friend ever, Travis the Tackling T-bird
Travis Dean Bird
!” Travis ran around the huge fire, between the wild Raiders fans, red solo cup in hand, reliving the last three hours of our football success. “Untouchable, unforgettable, number one ranked team in the nation. No one can beat us, and no team can defeat us!” His massive receiving hands tore off the raider flag attached to the tailgate of his truck and he waved that flag passionately through the air wrapping it around him like Caesar.
I laughed as I watched my best friend chug the remnants of his cup and continue
running around the student body screaming football quotes as if he were a broadcaster during a football game.
Across the bonfire, I could see Leslie McKeown eyeing me. She was Tallahassee East’s football homecoming queen, cheerleading captain, and blonde—you know the type. She slithered towards me as I nursed my own cup, praying that she would find a distraction.
I was swarmed by followers yet somehow she managed to worm her way through the crowd, “Good game, D-man,” Leslie said, grazing her right hand across my letterman jacket.
“Get your hands off of me, Leslie. We’re over,” I shrugged away from her touch.
Did I mention that she was my ex-girlfriend? It was a bad breakup and for whatever reason I had always been a sucker for the codependent types. (Yep we know she's an ex. You did a great job at setting up his feelings towards her and the character told us the relationship was over. No need tell the reader again. Do we need to know why he was a sucker for stereotypes? If not I'd nix that sentence. I think most readers can fill in the blanks and don't even think about why people fall for the stereotypes.)
My followers busied themselves in other conversations, not wanting to disturb mine…yeah; they would find themselves busy especially when I needed a reprieve.
“C’mon, Derek. It’s your night. We should celebrate.”
I took her hand--girls like these only want one thing. I slung her hand away as hard as I could (Try to reword this one, right now it sounds a bit awkward and you slipped in telling mode again. Maybe something like "I slung her hand off my chest as hard as I could. She had that look in her eye, that alluring look I had followed into the depths of the sheets." Somethign along those lines.),
“That’s right. It is my night. So pack your raggedy ass on before you piss me off.”
“You don’t have coaches and teachers here to fight your battles for you, Derek. I’d like to see you try,” hand on hip she slung her bleach blonde hair off her shoulder and looked down at me with disappointment.
“Why don’t you do us both a favor and just go screw somebody?”
“You’d like that wouldn’t you?”
“More than anything,” Even I could lie with a straight face.
She huffed and stomped off, hair bobbing through the air. I can’t wait to get out of this damn town and start living my life as a pro football player. Away from my fake ass friends and fake ass parents that were too normal, as if one small kink in their plans would ruin their universe; My dad…the respectable mayor and my mother the social butterfly of our small circle of close friends. And oh, how they were so proud of their football star son. My life was perfect and yet so insignificant.
I stared into the fire hypnotized by the warmth showered upon me. It felt so good to feel numb and not give a care about anyone or anything. I did it. I had taken my team to the championship and won, now my coaches could get off my back about scouts and my parents could get off of my back about college.
I downed my drink and then staggered to the large blue igloo cooler with a spout that hung off the back of my truck; I refilled my cup and instantly downed it. I knew I shouldn’t do it, because I knew I had to drive home. But I didn’t care. I looked around at all the people. The crowd was diminishing. The loud music had lowered to a soft hum. The single people chattered around the fire and the couples were no doubt getting busy in the woods or the back seats of their cars. I didn’t care that I was alone. I liked to be alone.
I had the sudden urge to pee, liquor does it to me. My feet were heavy and clumsy as I awkwardly walked to the edge of the open field and entered through a wooded area that was overpopulated with weeds and tall trees. I reached a far enough spot into the area that I wouldn’t have gotten snuck up on. I zipped down the front of my pants and I started pissing. God it felt so good.
“Oh, God, oh! Right there, right there,” I heard a girl’s voice, just a few feet away.
Seriously? It was just my luck to stumble on a couple screwing. In the darkness, I couldn’t see anyone and I didn’t want to. The last thing I wanted is pervey accusations flying around at school; I could barely make out shadows so I quietly zipped up the front of my pants and took a snap backwards.
Snap! My foot crunched on a rotted log.
Two heads popped up from the dark ground. I saw the blue and gold letterman jacket before I saw who was wearing it. Leslie’s bleach blonde hair glistened through the moonlight; she was wearing number fifty-seven’s coat and no doubt, naked underneath the jacket. The person she was straddling had laid his head back down and started going back at it.
My stomach churned and I turned around not wanting to see anymore, I had got what I wished for. And then I suddenly, stopped. My feet couldn’t move. Number fifty-seven, that was T-Bird’s number. I spun around on my heel and unthinkingly walked back towards the scene. Now, I knew what it meant to be run by my hormones.
With one hand, I slung Leslie off top of T-Bird. My heart racing and my fist and knuckles popping, I pulled my arm back and punched my best friend in the face. “What happened to bros before ho’s, brother?” Smash, crunch, punch. The adrenaline in my blood went whooshing to my ears making it difficult to decipher what T-Bird was saying.
“I’m sorry man, I…” Before he could get out another word my fist connected with his jaw, over and over effortlessly I pounded his face.
“Get off of him!” Leslie screamed as she slammed her hands against my back. It was like a fly annoying a giant, I shoved her backwards and her tanned naked breast overflowed out the letterman jacket.
“I thought we were friends, and now you’re screwing my ex-girlfriend?”
“You’re going to kill him,” Leslie screamed.
I was so fast that T-Bird couldn’t fight back. I beat him down until I realized that he wasn’t moving anymore. His still naked body lay sprawled out upon the flannel blanket in the weeds. In the darkness I could hear Leslie whimpering and out of the corner of my eye I saw her curled up into a ball on the ground.
I looked down at my hands. They were covered in blood and dirt. What had I done?
I stumbled backwards through the woods. The first thing I saw as I walked into the clearing was the campfire. Hardly anyone was left sitting around the flames. A few nerds roasting marshmallows and some morons doing keg stands. I ignored them all and walked towards my truck and opened the driver side door. I fished out the key from my pocket and turned on the engine. The rumbling noise calmed my heart rate, and I placed the truck in drive. I heard a crashing sound, and in my rearview mirror, I saw the cooler falling off the bed of my pickup and the fruity vodka contents splattered to the ground.
My foot stayed on the gas as I ripped through the country curves. The headlights blared as the fog seeped up onto the road, making visibility almost nonexistent. This road was familiar to me; I’d traveled on it after every football game since my freshmen year.
The yellow lines seemed to slither along the pavement as I swerved back and forth across the road. My eyes were blurring, and I shook my head to clear the drowsiness that was threatening to take over my body.
I flipped on the radio and turned the volume up full blast as eighties rock blared through the speakers. My focus was on the dials of my radio as a set of bright headlights beamed through my windshield and I realized my truck had swerved into the opposite lane. On instinct, I slammed on my breaks. Their screeching quickly drowned out by the sound of metal crashing against metal. I felt myself being jerked forward and my head slammed against the windshield. After a brief burst of pain, my sight was no longer blurry. It was black.