Death Claims His Prize

fiction by Glynis Scrivens

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Illustration: Inkshark

There were four Deaths at the party.

Well, what had Fiona expected? It was Halloween, after all.

The one with the ginger hair was obviously David. Surely he could’ve worn a wig tonight? Or a black beanie. Such a dead giveaway, she chuckled. He wouldn’t even make the short list in their competition.

And who said Death was male? The blonde Death in the high heels would be Cindy. Her long flowing black gown and white makeup looked quite creepy, and she’d painted her fingernails a brilliant blue.

Who was the dark-haired one in the corner? Maybe a friend of a friend? The invitation had been open.

She knew the short one was Willow. Not content with the usual black cloak and ghostly features, Willow had opted for blood-splattered shoes and what looked like her grandmother’s walking stick. Incongruous, but it actually worked. She was the most adventurous Death, as well as the youngest and shortest.

It’d be hard to pick a winner.

She walked over to the newcomer. What did he look like under that black outfit? He was probably the tallest person in the room. A true alpha male. She had a weakness for those. Especially if they had an air of mystery about them, as this one did.

“Welcome to the party, Death,” she said breezily, holding out her hand in greeting.

There was a flicker of surprise in his dark eyes. He didn’t take her proffered hand.

As she withdrew it, she couldn’t help feeling relieved. She’d belatedly noticed that he had pale, almost bluish skin, so fine you could almost see his bones. The makeup was terrific. It must’ve taken hours to achieve that effect.

Handing him a beer, she moved on.

The young lads from over the road were doing a great job playing guitar and singing the list she’d provided. “Highway to Hell,” “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” “Creep,” “Deal with the Devil.” They’d dressed as zombies for the occasion, in swaths of blood-splattered bandages. They’d perform lighter pieces once the fun part of the evening began, when prizes would be awarded for the best costumes.

She looked down at her own outfit. Could she beat Death? The skeleton suit had been sitting at the back of a charity shop, dusty and forgotten. How could she pass it by? And being shabby and dusty only added to its authenticity. It’d cost her less than a cup of coffee.

She recognized some of the costumes here from browsing through shops yesterday. That vampire outfit Karen was wearing cost $60 to rent. Hopefully Karen would take one of the prizes, to make it worth her while.

Mind you, Death had cast his eye in Karen’s direction more than once tonight. She probably already felt she’d got her money’s worth, Fiona thought. He seemed such a tall impressive man and quiet. Easy to be with. So long as you could overlook that pale skin. Maybe Karen would like to help him wash the makeup off later?

She’d have lots of competition. Death was a party animal. Every time she looked he was somewhere else.

There was a tap on her shoulder. A giggle. “Your skull is back to front,” Willow said, laughing. “Here, I’ll help you readjust it.”

Fiona felt ridiculous. How had she not noticed? Skeletons were meant to know where their bones belonged. No wonder Death had wandered away after she’d introduced herself.

Where was he now?

A loud cry came from the far corner where Karen was gathered with some friends. Fiona saw someone lifting the front of her vampire sleeve to check her pulse. A zombie shrieked and pointed to blood coming out of Karen’s eyes. She was motionless.

“This is a wind-up,” Fiona said to Willow. “She told me she was desperate to win. I had no idea she’d go this far.”

But Willow had begun to shake. “I think she’s dead.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Fiona said. “I’ll bet she’s just bought some of that red ink that actors use when they’ve been shot.”

As she rushed over to see what was going on, Death smiled at her. His eyes were bright, but there was an iciness in his features.

Fiona decided she wasn’t interested in him.

And he wasn’t a party animal after all, she thought, as he turned to leave. It was only nine o’clock.

Karen lay on the floor. Fiona realized something was seriously wrong. Her friend had no pulse. Her hands were icy and her eyes looked like the eyes of fish she’d seen in the supermarket, staring blankly back at her. Except these left thin trails of blood down her cheek. She noticed a red splatter on her hand and recoiled. This wasn’t ink; it was real blood.

She looked across the room.

Death was leaving through the door. Her stomach lurched. The door was closed.

Rushing outside she saw him disappearing among the trees, a translucent blonde vampire by his side.

Glynis Scrivens writes short stories and has been published in Australia, UK, Ireland, South Africa, U.S., India, and Scandinavia. Her book Edit is a Four-Letter Word includes what she has learned in the process (see www.glynisscrivens.com).

This article originally appeared in the October 19, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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