I was fifteen when my father died. Luckily, it was cancer. Now, I know what you are thinking. How can it be lucky? In a contorted way, it was lucky because it gave us time to prepare. We shared some wonderful moments and he imparted his wisdom on me.
Two years have passed since then and I take his words as gospels.
- Never break someone’s trust.
- Always be kind, even if you can’t be nice to someone.
- Never wear a crumpled shirt.
- Always follow the rules on your first day at work.
…and so on. I know the last one might be hilarious for you but in his view, one should always follow a rule until one understands why it exists. Once you understand a rule, you can decide whether you should break it or not.
Yesterday, I was almost forced to break one of his rules but I can proudly say that I didn’t. I hope he’s proud of me.
I started a part-time job in a hospital. My badge said night-attendant but in truth, I was a glorified guard outside the ICU – the Intensive Care Unit – where all the critically ill and terminal patients were kept. I was to ensure that only the family members of the patients are allowed to come inside their respective rooms. Apparently, it was usual for other patients to come in these rooms due to better facilities and sometimes, stronger drugs and I was there to stop that from happening.
I didn’t believe it for fifteen minutes of starting to work. Then, the first guy tried to enter the ICU. He was around 50 years old and while he seemed on his deathbed himself, I realized soon that it was an act. Ten minutes later, a woman, in her 20s tried to enter the ICU. I had to stop at least 10 people in a span of a few hours from entering the ICU.
No wonder that I couldn’t recognize the tall hooded creature when he tried to enter the ICU. He wore a brown-black robe which covered all of his head and his thin and bony fingers were barely visible from the arms of the robe.
“Sorry, sir. You can’t enter. Family members only,” I said to the hood and he promptly ignored me and continued towards the door.
“Excuse me, hooded man. I’m talking to you. You can’t enter,” I said and placed my hand in front of him. He turned to me and whispered in a shocked voice.
“You can see me?”
Anger surged through my body at the idiotic question but I pushed it down.
“Yes, sir. I can see you and I don’t think you are one of the family members of these patients. This means you can’t go inside.”
The man lowered his hood and a tall man with a smirk was looking at me.
“But can’t the rules be bent a little,” he said with a grin on his face. “For special, ah… guests.”
“It’s not up to me to decide that sir.”
“Of course. Perhaps this would help me persuade you to break the rules today.” The man said an fished his hand in his pocket for what I presumed was a few green ones. Not the first person to try this.
“With all due respect, money won’t work.”
“No… No… No… Not money. This,” he said and brought out a six inches rod. He gave it one jiggle and it turned into a large scythe. At the same time, his face started to turn white. No! Scratch that. The skin on his face started to dry out and the white skeleton started to show.
“Oh.” I said.
“Can I enter now? I have an important appointment with one of the patients. It’s a matter of death and death.”
I took a deep break, closed my eyes and opened them again to find the figure standing tall in front of me. My heartbeat was increasing by the second and panic was taking over every fiber of my body until the image of my father dawned over me.
“I’m sorry sir, Mr. Death. I can’t let you in. It’s the hospital’s rule and I can’t break it. Not today.” I didn’t know why Death was entertaining me. I was sure that it could take me out with a single swipe. I could see in Death’s face that it was also considering that option. But I couldn’t care less. The initial panic and fear was nowhere to be found now. It was replaced by anger and hatred. Death must have come for my father as well. It was because of Death that I became fatherless at the age of 15. It wasn’t cancer but the creature standing in front of me who caused my father’s death.
I won’t let him have another one today.
“I can see your mind. You’re angry.”
“Mr. Death. Please leave, family only.” I reiterated controlling my fury.
The man smiled.
“Ahh… Yes. I remember you. Two years ago. You were crying, holding your father’s hand. I’m sorry I had to do that.”
I felt my eyes welling up.
“Family members only,” I said mustering as much force as I could in my words. They were still feeble. I could see the nurse looking at me weirdly. She was probably seeing a man standing alone fighting back his tears, whispering and mumbling some words to an imaginary friend.
The man smiled once again but there was a strain in his smile.
“It’s very interesting that I can go through any wall but I can’t kill someone whose time isn’t up. Neither can I cross someone who can see me. I don’t know how the rules work but for me to complete my work, you have to move,” he said with a menacing rumble. I realized a moment later that I had indeed shifted a bit just by the strength of his words.
“NO!” I said once more. “Family members only.”
Death looked at me, deeply and then passed through me. I felt a shock run through my whole body.
He had a grin on his face.
“I thought you couldn’t pass me.”
“I can’t pass you to the ICY but I can pass through you, find out what you want so that I can change your mind,” Death said.
“Definitely not today. Your father’s gospel run strong in you. But maybe tomorrow?”
“Now… Now… Don’t be hasty. Let me make you a deal. If I keep my end of the bargain, will you break your promise tomorrow?”
I didn’t say anything but he continued talking. After a while, he left. That was yesterday. Today, I’m waiting for him.
My father said never to break a rule on the first day of the job. I kept my promise. I hope he is proud of me when he sees me today.
This story was from a Reddit Prompt and can also be read here – http://bit.ly/2UTw4GY