The Stranger

It was just another night – or so I thought. Like everyone else, I liked to unwind at my favorite bar after a long day of work. I was minding my own business, reading tweets on my phone while taking sips of beer in between puffs of my cigarettes. “Heh,” I chuckled to myself after reading a joke about abortions. These people sure know how to make something cruel seem funny. It was a quarter to midnight, almost time for me to get home. I had work the next days after all.

The bar was almost empty save for a young couple seated at the other end of the room and the bartender standing behind the counter. 80s music was playing through the speakers at a low volume, while the TV was showing some football match I didn’t care about. Football was never that interesting to me, I found basketball to be a more entertaining sport. The faster pace and higher score line seemed much more exciting.

The door bell chimed and a man stepped in. A stranger to this part of town, I immediately thought. After drinking at this bar for the past ten years, I recognized everybody who visited. Everybody who frequented the place knew me as well. Apparently, so did this guy.

“Jimmy!” he turned to my direction and greeted me as soon as he entered.

I stared at him, puzzled. He was unfamiliar to me. He was pale skinned, dressed in black and had a bald head. He reminded me of a knock-off Lord Voldemort minus the fucked up nose, though he did have a creepy smile. The man walked towards me briskly and sat down opposite me.

“One bottle of Carlsberg!” he called out to the bartender.

The bartender nodded and headed to the fridge to get him his order.

“Do I know you?” I asked the stranger.

“Sure you do! It’s been a while though, and circumstances were very different. But I’m sure you don’t remember me, so I guess you don’t know me…” he trailed off.

I was confused. I was expected to know who he was, yet I didn’t. But somehow I felt that he was someone I should know. It was a curious feeling – like trying to explain a dream to your friend when you can’t remember every single detail even though it was so vivid moments ago. Or like trying to Google a song when all you have are the wrong lyrics and a tune you can’t sing for shit.

“Could you tell me who you are?”

“If I did, I’d have to kill you,” he replied, his expression suddenly serious. Then he broke into a smile, “jokes, jokes!”

I laughed nervously. Who was this guy? It was bothering me. I repeated myself.

“Who are you?”

“I’m death.”

“Death?”

“Did I stutter? Death.”

“What kind of name is that?”

The bartender brought the man’s drink over to our table and walked away.

“Well, it’s not really a name per se. It’s just what I am.” Death lifted the bottle of beer to his lips and took a gulp. “Ahhh.”

A chill ran down my spine. Somehow this creepy man in front of me started to feel familiar – but I still couldn’t remember why.

“Are you here to kill me?”

“Yes,” he laughed. “Oh dear. You really don’t remember?”

“No, I don’t. What should I be remembering?”

“How do I tell you this? You made a decision to be part of this world. You wanted to experience what it was like to live among mortals before you died. The devil granted you your wish and gave you some time to live on earth, exactly ten years ago. Also, we had to wipe your memory, for obvious reasons.”

“I only asked for ten years?”

“Well, the devil wants to take over heaven and can’t do that while you’re still alive, so he agreed to give you a maximum of ten years to live.”

“Huh. If I was god, then why was I going to die? Shouldn’t I be immortal?”

“Well, no. You’re impervious to death by ‘regular’ means, but the devil isn’t a regular person. Cosmic beings can kill each other. The devil managed to trick you and had you in his grasp.”

“This is all so strange,” I pondered. If I was a god, how could I be tricked? In fact, couldn’t I just have willed the devil out of existence? If I wanted to live on earth, I could have created a being that I could possess and control. It was strange that I’d give up my own life for something so trivial. It didn’t make any sense to me. Then again, for the past ten years I didn’t even know that I was a god. Come to think of it, I didn’t have memories of the time before I found myself living in this town.

“This is either a dream, or I’m tripping,” I said, breaking the silence.

“You are one funny fuck!” said Death. “Anyway, finish up your cigarette and your beer, it’s almost time.”

I sighed to myself. All the time spent on this planet had come to an end. I didn’t even get to go out of the country. I should have asked for more time. I finished my beer and put out my cigarette stub.

“Is it going to hurt?” I asked.

“Not really. The last bottle of beer you had was laced with poison. In a short while, you’re going to lose consciousness and you’ll cease to be alive.”

“Oh, that’s good to know.” Death was right. I began to feel drowsy and everything around me started to blur.

“Any last words you want attributed to you?”

I half-laughed as I slumped back into my seat. Like a drunk person who had too much to drink before passing out, I managed to mutter: “In the end everything must die, even gods.”


Writing Prompt from Reddit: Write a story with the last sentence being “In the end everything must die, even gods.”

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