The Reaper’s Shadow, by Audiowriter
The huge two story red brick building spanned several city blocks and was constructed back in the 1940’s. Yea, it’s old and real damn creepy. Trent has worked here for almost forty seven years on the swing shift, from four in the afternoon until midnight. He puts the handles on the coffins. That’s all he has ever done here is put those damn handles on every casket that comes down the assembly line. At first he was somewhat freaked out about working for a company that made these items for the dead, but he eventually got used to it and eventually it became a normal, everyday job.
Trent didn’t have a car, so he walked everywhere. It’s a small town and everything he needs is well within walking distance. His small house is only a few blocks away from the factory, so the daily commute to and from work is also of the pedestrian style. The streets are not well lit at night but he usually takes the even darker alleys to shorten the distance home. The alley passages are narrow blacktopped lanes running between the rear entrances of the numerous shops and stores along his route. But lately, the walk home has begun to get somewhat eerie.
At first it was odd noises that echoed in the cool night air. Then strange smells started to accompany the noises with repulsive odors of rotting meat or some sort of decomposition. He walked the route in the daylight hours on his way to work, but nothing ever happened then, only in the dark hours of the night on his return trip home. He even began leaving for work an hour early to inspect the nooks and cranny’s along his route to search for dead rats or raccoons that might be the cause of the deathly odors, but to no avail.
Then, one very foggy night, Trent was almost half way home when the hissing started. It sounded like a huge snake coming straight toward him. He stopped cold in his tracks and listened intently, quickly realizing it wasn’t a snake hissing at all. It was actually a low, endless gasping sound. It didn’t stop to take a breath, it just remained steady. He thought it must be some sort of leaking steam pipe, but he had never noticed any pipes before. He began slowly backing up, but the gasp seemed to follow. Then, he quickly turned around and took off running back toward the casket factory as fast as he could.
He certainly wasn’t gong to tell any of his co-workers that he was afraid of a hissing steam pipe, so he sat alone in a janitor’s closet waiting for dawn to break before resuming his walk home. When he left to go home the second time, the fog had not quite lifted yet and he decided not to take the alley, but decided to instead make his way home along the wide street in front of the stores and shops. It was a few minutes after six in the morning and the streets were still barren of people or cars. He walked rather fast through the misty, lingering fog and eventually made it home without incident.
For the next several days, he took the longer route home from work by way of the well lit street. On the third night, the street route proved to be just as dangerous as the narrow, dark alley.
It was a crystal clear evening and the sporadically placed street lights were somewhat of a comfort, but the calm stillness was suddenly broken. As he casually walked along, the bulbs on the street lamps nearest him began flickering and quickly went out. The air once again filed with that eerie hissing. Trent froze in place. He was almost exactly half way home. It was the same distance to safety in either direction. He looked in the direction of his house but there was nothing there, then glanced back toward the factory, but again, he could see nothing. The hissing became louder and closer. He made his decision. He darted down the street in a mad dash toward the next brightly glaring street light in the direction of his house. Just as he entered the illuminating ring of light on the sidewalk, the bulb exploded with a thousand shards of glittering glass tumbling down through the air. He kept running as his face and arms became bombarded with tiny spears, tinkling as they landed on the hard concrete all around. He kept barreling down the darkened sidewalk toward the next street light, but it exploded with another loud pop, then the next and the next. The entire street was suddenly thrown into complete darkness with glass tinkling all around. The hissing was now growing louder and closer. He ran harder and harder, faster and faster but whatever it was, had caught up to him. The hissing was now louder than a locomotive horn blaring in his ears but Trent kept running, feet clomping, charging through the blackness.
Then he saw it. A tall dark figure standing straight ahead, cloaked in black robes with a large hood shadowing its face in total darkness with two glowing, burning red orbs in place of eyes. The hissing and stench was coming from within the hood. The breath of death rushed out like a jet engine, blowing into Trent’s face with the stink of a thousand corpses. His nostrils filled with the disgusting odor of rotted death. Eyes watering, ears ringing, nose burning, Trent stopped running, frozen in place, stunned by the vision before him. Then the apparition was moving, floating across the ground, directly toward him with a scythe raised high in the air, ready to slice at his tender neck. He could do nothing but raise his arms to protect his head.
Then a car rounded the corner, headlights splaying across the store fronts, right toward Trent and the apparition. A shadow was suddenly cast upon the wall. It was the elongated form of Trent, and then a second shadow was cast by the creature, but not in the shape of robes and a hood, no, this shadow was a glimpse into the pits of hell. Only flashing for a few seconds, Trent saw the silhouette of bare, decomposing skulls screaming for release with a hundred rotting arms reaching out with a thousand bony fingers scraping for purchase in the world of the living, trying to escape the damnation of hell. Then it vanished. The shadow was gone. The creature was gone, as if neither had ever been there at all. But the street lights were still dark and broken. Glass still glittered in the street from the car’s glaring headlights. It had been real. Something had been here, seeking to kill Trent, wanting to take him to hell.
From that day forth, Trent feared the night. He carried three flashlights with him every day to and from work. He slept with the lights on. He never entered a room or went anywhere dark or without a light. He knew that thing was out there, lurking, watching, patiently waiting to take him to hell, and he knew it was the Reaper.
Audiowriter is an entrepreneur of many endeavors and a seasoned musician, located in southern Indiana.
He has an obsessive compulsion to spend every available moment creating written text and audio recordings of melodic musical notes. He currently has several completed novels on the shelf awaiting publication, varying from graphic horror to commercial fiction. Also in his literary arsenal is an abundance of short stories, drabbles and lyrics. Many of his original songs and music are directly inspired by the intriguing tales flowing from his wildly descriptive imagination.
Should you dare to enter the realm of Audiowriter, go to – www.customaudioproductions.com/Audiowriter