By Nom D. Plume
Death never looked the same.
The carriage was identical, of course, a sleek, black, almost formless shape that sped through the skies like a dark comet, landing without a sound on the grass, pulled by two spectral horses whose hooves never touched the ground.
The horses had no names, but I gave them some. One was Lux and one was Nox, although they looked almost identical; but Nox would always get impatient first, shaking his head and snorting non-existent air from his muzzle.
The driver was a covered, hooded figure who would not respond no matter what I did, simply continuing to hold the loose reins to Lux and Nox and look ever forward. The driver did wave to me one time and one time only, a silent goodbye; and, as a skeletal hand waved in front of the moon, the entire sky seemed to shiver.
The footman only looked back, like there was something she could find there if she only looked hard enough. She always had something to say, but it mostly had to do with “what ifs” and “if onlys.” She wore deep black with white ruffles at her sleeves and pants; her black boots had silver buckles on them, but the buckles were always tarnished. If I looked too long into her ice-blue eyes, I often felt I would drown. If I looked at her dark skin long enough, I could swear it was made of blood.
But these were Death’s servants: Lux and Nox, who I named, the hooded figure that even Death would not name, and the footman who introduced herself as “Wish.”
Death was far stranger.
The first time I saw Death was as a tall, thin man with a rope around his neck and sunken skin; the second time, as an old woman calmly spinning thread. The third as a small child with old, torn clothes. The fourth and fifth I suspect Death had felt more comfortable, wearing flashier clothes, a duke, and even a queen.
But even though I might ask, Death never had the same form twice. But his eyes never changed; they stayed a deep black, even darker than Wish’s, and tonight was no different.
After I had petted Lux and Nox’s muzzles, waved at the driver who gave me a curt nod, and Wish had told me how wonderful the world would be without the internet, I stepped inside.
Death was an old man today, with deep ebony skin and a long white beard. Death’s black eyes curled up in a smile when I stepped through the door which Wish always opened for me. Death had two stacks of yellowed paper and old books and two dice on the small table in the middle of the carriage.
We always played a game: cards or guessing or anything in between, and Death would bring books to talk of. Death smiled as I sat on the opposite side and gestured to the game board before us.
“Good to see you again, Âme. Shall we begin?”