You may be well aware that death lurks in every corner of every room, of every building, of every closed and open space. What you may not be aware of is that death himself does not actually cause individuals to die. People cause it themselves and it spreads like an infectious disease.
Death is not the man you envision, he does not wear a cloak that shields his bony remains, he is as real and as human as you or I. He is a distinguished gentleman who adorns a silk black pinstriped top hat and suit, embellished with rich purple velour, fit for royalty. Because he is royalty, you see. Maybe not to you or I, but to the gods and the underworld, he is a king. Kings demand respect and when respect is denied one must be punished. In this case the punishment is death. I know this to be the case as I sit in the dark, mildewy receiving room of death's office.
Except death did not specifically come for me, you know this to be true because people cause their own demise while death simply looks on. My death was one caused by a Mr. Thompkins. Not immediately nor anything directly by his doing. But Mr. Thompkins had set a reaction one fateful day in 2014 when he was filled with rage while traveling the 101. He unsuspectingly angered death with blatant disrespect by maneuvering in close proximity to deaths classic 1965 Lincoln Continental. No scratch was left, just fury as death called out for Mr. Thompkins to be careful to which Mr. Thompkins responded in kind with, "Lick my balls" and an extended middle finger.
At the time of the incident, I was 16 years old and had no knowledge of Mr. Thompkins. However, five years later his mistake had caused my demise, one week shy of my 22nd birthday. To be truthful, my mistake three years prior had caused my death but it was in direct correlation to Mr. Thompkins original flounder.
You see, three years ago I did something unforgivable. I hurt someone. Someone who was undeserving of my behavior. I was 18 when I met Luke. At first Luke wasn't mine, he was Tiffany's and they had been dating for well over two months before she introduced him to her friends.
This day was expected to be magical for Tiffany, to bring her lover - the man that had awakened her deepest desires and fed her soul, to her family she had delicately assembled over years and years of disconnect and dishonor from her birth right. And it was magical!
Our close-knit group, consisting of four female friends who had found each other despite being wallflowers throughout our whole lives, had gathered in a small flat on the west side, preparing fine delicacies and sipping Pinot Noir while awaiting Tiffany and her beau's entrance. I truly was happy for her when at first they arrived, the love in their eyes as they gazed upon each other.
I was happy for her for quite some time, then a few short months later the dynamic shifted. As Luke became a more prominent fixture in our friend group my feelings for him grew to unthinkable capacity.
I had dreams and desires for him, while never telling a soul, but I knew Luke had the same for me. I could sense it. Little by little his attention shifted to me, a side glanced eye and a secret half smile while Tiffany was telling the group a story. A quick graze as we passed each other in the hallway, followed by a hearty chuckle. Our friends didn't see it unfolding but both Luke and I knew how we felt about each other.
What I didn't know was on that fateful day that Mr. Thompkins had disrespected death on the 101, death had bestowed upon him six degrees. Within the six degrees Mr. Thompkins and five other individuals who wavered from a high moral compass, whether by adultery (such as myself), theft, egotistical behavior caused by misinformation or just plain hatred would meet their demise, maker, and deaths receiving room.
So, as I sit and wait for my fate, holding a ticket number 6907, I have no choice but to reminisce about the yearlong affair and the two following years that lead to my death. I know my funeral will be scarcely attended, as I have burned all the bridges I had in the name of love, but I know Luke will be there. And I know Luke will live on as I was the 6th degree.
The 1st degree was Mr. Thompkins. Who had met his death four years prior, a year after his fate was sealed. He had been traveling to Connecticut via train when his belongings were stolen, leaving him stranded with no cash, no phone, and no way to get home. This led to him walking aimlessly about, festering on his predicament and the soul who had created it. These feelings of anger grew to a deep dark void. They grew so innate and powerful they leapt from the threads of Mr. Thompkins' soul to the individual who currently had possession of the stolen goods, an Avery Larsen.
Once the transfer was complete Mr. Thompkins had the surprise of an unknown vehicle colliding with his vessel on a foggy crosswalk. The vehicle quickly fled the scene leaving Mr. Thompkins sprawled across the road, bleeding out, and his soul to return home.
Avery Larsen, who at the time of Mr. Thompkins' death was simply in a pinch (resulting in the theft) had managed to transform her life by getting a job as a housekeeper at the local motel with reduced rent on a room. She worked and lived there for close to five months when a man had broken into her room while she was in the shower and proceeded to defile her despite her pleas and cries. Once the man was sexually satisfied he returned home to his wife.
With his soul seen but his face covered, Avery sat on the cold tile and wept until the despair grew to that same black void that leapt from one thread to the next. Avery, being the 2nd degree, stood and slipped on the bodily fluid that was on the floor, catching her temple on the corner of the counter and forever forgotten.
Since Avery had no connections and had been a runaway for nearly a decade, Jim, the man who had watched her from afar until he gathered the courage to violate her, had never been questioned. The police had deemed it an accident and never collected the semen that was at the scene, leaving Jim to carry on with his life until the black void had been delivered to another soul.
He carried this moment with him until the 3rd degree was spent. The death of Avery did not affect him, but he carried his pride of the moment of having the most beautiful women he had ever seen as his for a mere minute for another seven months.
Within those seven months Jim's mother, who had retired in Arizona, had developed a terminal illness. To any rational individual her death was considered to be of natural causes not foul play. But Jim was not rational, you can plainly see from his previous actions, and he placed the blame upon his stepfather Marc.
Shortly after his mother was buried in a cemetery outside of Scottsdale, Jim approached Marc and bestowed upon him a right hook resulting in Marc's nose and eye socket to be broken. Immediately upon contact the black void was released from Jim and beared by Marc.
The police were involved in this incident and Jim was sentenced to six months on good behavior. Jim never was released nor saw his wife again as he had divulged his greatest achievement of Avery to his cellmate and his cellmate not too keen on rapists took justice into his own hands and held a pillow over Jim while he slept.
Marc, being the 4th degree, is where I become connected. Marc and Jim's mother had lived in a retirement community of upscale mobile homes. Their garden was coveted by the neighbors but was a result of Pedro. Pedro had the most spectacular green thumb and his roses were the spectacle of any onlooker.
Which is to say until the day Marc had released him from his duty. It was quite simply an accident due to Marc, but the anger Marc felt toward Pedro, an ungrateful immigrant, and his now wilted roses lead Marc’s thread to be cut by racism and a lodged hot dog and Pedro to carry the black void.
After Marc's hatred of the Mexican race and his unfortunate death, Pedro relocated to Oregon to help seasonally with the local crops. Since Pedro was a gentle man and rarely was angered, the 5th degree of death was paused for the next three years, while I began my life with Luke.
The first year of mine and Luke's affair was well hidden, a quickie in the bathroom while Tiffany slept, a hidden message thread on both of our phones. Multiple weekends we met up in neighboring cities, claiming either work or familial duties. We met Pedro at a small-town bar on one of those weekends.
He assumed we were married and we let him believe so but I always felt a certain energy emitting from him. Looking back I always knew that he was attracted to me and was envious of Luke.
The envy inside Pedro grew over the next couple of years but wasn't enough to allow the 5th degree to be spent, as Pedro was never angered by myself or Luke during our visits. Pedro was unaware of Tiffany or the damage Luke and I had caused back home.
After that first year I had become pregnant with Luke's child. Being since I was not knowingly seeing anyone, our friend group became suspicious and caught us in the thralls of passion in my room while Tiffany was scheduled to be at work. The scene that followed would forever break our bonds.
The only option was for Luke and I to move dwellings, and cities to avoid the gossip that followed. So we decided on the town we had met Pedro in. We found jobs, a quiet 2-bedroom apartment, and six months later our Lucy was born.
Our life together was even more perfect than I had dreamt it to be. We may have lost our friends back home and hurt Tiffany but it was easy to forget the pain and turmoil we had caused with our little, perfect family and the few friends we had made since, including Pedro.
That is until Lucy was a little over a year old. She was at childcare while both me and Luke were at work.
Luke had gotten work with Pedro for the summer and I was waitressing at a local diner, where Luke and Pedro would frequent for lunch. As in any other given day they had taken the back booth during their break and I was serving them their orders when a familiar voice was heard shortly after the bell on the door chimed.
Tiffany had unknowingly entered the establishment I worked in and after I had placed Luke's plate in front of him and kissed him with such sweet passion her voice broke the diner, exposing out adultery. Pedro's face turning a crimson red, flung his plate to the adjacent wall and angrily left, igniting the void that had been dormant within him for years.
Thus transferring to the 6th degree, me, and subsequently he passed the most innocent way one could, a simple bee sting.
We went to Pedro's funeral, all three of us, Lucy was highly unruly and we had to depart sooner than we wanted to. Tiffany never reemerged. Life carried on minus the presence of Pedro and myself having to acquire another job, due to the wrath I received from the customers following Tiffany's outburst. But overall it was as close to normal as possible.
All the while I harbored a hidden entity designed by fate. It clung to my threads that were connected to other's threads, but I now know I was its last destination. It waited a very short time and was dispersed and forever fulfilled a month later.
As far as I had known, Tiffany was long gone, but it came to attention that during her short visit her and Luke had met up to speak their truths. Nothing damaging but to me the betrayal was there.
You see, Luke and Tiffany had simply come to a truce. Luke apologized for his unfaithfulness and wished her a bright future and Tiffany forgiving him and myself and moving on with her life. But paranoia took a hold of me, and anger, resentment, and distrust welled up and burst forth.
I was so angry and fueled with hate, I only saw red. All during that last, fateful argument. All through my departure and my walk along the riverbank. I only saw red until I slipped and the current consumed me, at which point fear had replaced my rage.
Little good it did me though as I was dragged to the river floor, pronounced missing, and found weeks later, waterlogged and floating face down along the bank. I have been in the receiving office during the entire duration of my search party and now that my bodily vessel has been recovered and services are in place, my number will finally be called to decide my fate after death.