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Close Call

What happens when you're knocking on Death's door?

By SaraPublished about a year ago 8 min read
Close Call
Photo by davide ragusa on Unsplash

Content warning: Graphic details of gore

Has anyone ever been as close to death as I? I may not be very highly educated, but I know that I'm not the only one. Plenty of stories of my fellow beings, being pronounced dead, but miraculously resuscitated. I may be the odd one out amongst those closest to me, but relative to the rest of time, my coming back to life is not all too outlandish.

But has anyone had the experience I'd had when considered medically dead? Well, if anyone has, I hope for their sake that Death has already taken them.

One can imagine the stories people have told, about seeing their deceased loved ones, the 'light at the end of the tunnel' so to speak, perhaps even arrived at the pearly gates.

But amongst those I have asked, I've never, not once, heard a story like mine.

The day was typical. I did nothing different in my usual routine. Risen in the wee hours of the morning, ate my breakfast, went to work, came home, and went to bed. The only thing I did different was that I stayed up just a bit later than I normally did.

It was just a few strokes before 3 am that I fell asleep, comfortably warm in the bitter chill of the night.

At some point, I must have started dreaming. It started off well enough, nonsense coupled with what vaguely resembled a plot. From what I can remember, I was running through the streets outside my home, being chased by children that I recognized as my childhood friends. I was also a child. We may have been playing a game, but I'm not sure. I bumped into what I thought was a streetlamp, but when I looked up, I saw him.

He was tall, abnormally so. It took what felt like years just for my eyes to reach his face. His skin was as pale as the moonlight passing through the empty streets. What I thought was a bustling town in the warmth of daylight, people meandering about in their lives, was now barren. Dark, isolated, and so very, very cold. Everyone vanished, including my friends. I was left alone with this man, and even in my dream, I trembled.

Something was not right with this man. Even without the pale skin, his eyes practically shone, despite what remained of the light not reaching his face. They were a deep blood red, pupils slanted and glaring down at me. I could tell my bumping into him infuriated him.

He was cloaked in total darkness. I could barely make out any clothes he wore, all of which were black. He wore a top hat that covered inky black hair that blended into the emptiness we now stood in, no sign of any sort of life anywhere around us. The only source of light was the moon, shrouded by thin clouds, and a lone streetlamp behind him. Nothing else was around us, and somehow I knew that the void stretched on around us endlessly.

In an instant, I saw his expression change from fury to composure, like a switch flicked within his being. He stretched out his hand, his bony fingers finding its way to the top of my head, like he was merely amused by my childish antics. In the split second that I could see his hand, I could tell his fingernails were long, sharp, and hideously blackened, like they were completely rotten.

He chuckled lowly, and any remaining calmness I felt quickly evaporated, replaced by sheer terror.

I closed my eyes, wanting this all to go away, to go back to my friends, my home, that sense of peace I'd once had. But the moment he touched my head, I knew that I would never find it again.

His hand moved down my head. Those emaciated fingers took ahold of my throat, the sharp claws piercing the skin to the point that I felt blood running down my neck. His grip grew tighter and tighter, and I struggled to breathe. I tried to get his hand off, but no amount of scratching or tugging would move him even an inch. My tiny hands were no match, not even close.

But it wasn't just the sensation of being choked that I was feeling. It was as if Death himself took a hold of my very soul, urging me to submit, to allow myself to be pulled into the emptiness, that endless void that surrounded us, demanding I accept that it was truly the end.

And what I saw before me rivaled even the most horrific of stories.

People surrounded me. But they were not what one would think of as people. They were the dead. Corpses. Both old and new, emerging from wherever they came from within the dark. Ranging from pure skeletons to freshly deceased. Body parts were falling from their walking forms. Bits and pieces of flesh taken from them as if ravaged by wild animals. Injuries, ranging from heads that appeared to be blown off to gashes in their torsos, internal organs falling out. Legs barely hanging onto what remained of their muscles, arms that were cleanly ripped off. Holes in their cheeks, eyes, skulls. Missing eyes. Bloated bodies. Marks around the neck. Marks of disease. Exposed bones. You name a way someone could die, there was a corpse for it. There must have been hundreds of them, at least. If not thousands.

I was terrified, to say the least. In fact, the word was not strong enough to describe what I felt.

And the blood. So much blood. It pooled around my feet, splashing around and splattering against the exposed parts of my legs as I struggled in this monster's grip. Most of it was still warm.

I watched them move closer and closer to my petrified self, the clenched fist of the monster that held me preventing me from escaping. They made no noise as they wandered towards me, but I could smell the rot and bile. I couldn't even gag, I had no air to do so. Tears formed in my eyes and slipped down my cheeks as I desperately wriggled around, doing whatever I had the power to do to free myself from this horrid nightmare. But the man was as immovable as a giant stone statue, and even with all my thrashing about, I never once saw him move even a single millimeter.

The dead were beginning to pile on top of me, reaching out and grabbing at my body as I started making less and less effort to loose the man's grasp around my neck. I didn't want to give up, I didn't want those things to take me. Surely they would drag me back to the grave with them. But as my head buzzed from the lack of oxygen, I was steadily losing my will to fight. It occurred to me just how easy it would be to give in and let them take me.

The darkness closed in. Even in my dream, death crept ever closer, steadily turning everything around me into nothing. The last thing I saw was that man's expression, eyes glowing even brighter and a sadistic grin stretched across his face. His teeth were sharp, each one grinded to a fine point, igniting new fear before everything finally faded away.

I sat up, my head spinning at the sudden movement. The building I was in was unfamiliar, but given the dress of the people around me, I realized I was in a hospital. I felt hands on my arm, and I unintentionally jerked it away, turning my head to see who it was.

It was a nurse, visibly extremely concerned, arms stretched out like my moving startled her.

"I... didn't know you were awake," she murmured, her hand moving to check the temperature on my forehead.

"I just woke up," I responded. "What happened?"

"You seized in your sleep, sir. We believe a neighbor of yours heard you choking on your own vomit, and came to us to get help. We were certain you'd died, and we were about to get the coroner, but you got the vomit out of your throat, somehow."

I never seized before, nor was I aware of any family history of seizures. I wanted to say it didn't frighten me, but that would be a lie.

They gave me some medicine to treat my seizures and sent me on my way.

I firmly believed I saw the true depths of Hell. Part of me wished I'd just died that night, instead I'd be plagued with constant visions of that nightmarish scene. Every time I closed my eyes, I see them. Both the corpses, and the tall, evil man. If I concentrated hard enough, I could still smell rotten meat lingering in the air. It very well could have all just been a figment of my imagination, but it was unlikely, considering I'd never seen anything like that before or since.

What I saw that night will follow me forever.

And if any have shared a similar experience with me, well, I would hope for their sake that the Devil caught up with them.


About the Creator


I am an avid reader and nonprofessional writer. My dream is to one day get published. I write fiction in various genres, and am currently writing my first novel. Any interaction helps, & contributions are greatly appreciated.

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