Constance sat in the driver’s seat of her boyfriends ’71 Mustang. She’d pulled off on the shoulder of the interstate, under an overpass as cold grey rain fell, baptismal tears as the stars had given up all hope.
Her boyfriend was asleep in the back seat, curled up in his dad’s old military issue sleeping bag. As Constance smokes, she looks back at him in the rearview mirror, already pale and clammy, his hair crusted with dried sweat and still stuck to his head in chaotic swirls. The fever had burned out, like a star burning out into a white dwarf.
Art Bell was on the radio, talking to someone who’d been abducted by aliens, but whom Constance was running from was no alien. He was someone who’s kingdom was sewn into the very fabric of this plane of existence. In loss and time and corruption, he was everywhere.
The one she ran from was death, and their was no more running now.
Out in the drowning darkness she saw a shape. Man sized, but dark, like someone had cut through the shell of the world, revealing the encompassing abyss behind it. It got closer, distorted and wavering, shifting like the stars to just waking eyes. Then he was there, just beyond the edge of the bridge, in a black and worn hoodie and jeans, and black sneakers that were tattered from endless walking. His hands were shoved in the front pockets of his hoodie, and his head was cast down, hiding his pallid face.
Constance reached over and pushed down the lock on the passenger door, but it did no good. Death opened the door and sat down beside her.
The man on the radio who had been abducted by aliens talked now of nowhere being safe, nowhere their eyes weren’t upon us. And Constance knew more than aliens watched. Everything from between the air invaded us. Demons, Angels and Spirits. The Fey and monsters and incorpreal parasites. And over all of them was Lord Death.
Only desperation had made Constance run. Pure blind fear and panic had made her push her sick and almost incoherent boyfriend into his Mustang and head west. Americans always headed west in their desperate bids to escape. She’d casted spells to keep the Mustang going without gasoline. In the fogged window, stopped at a red light in Casper, she’d drawn a sigil of protection, to try and hide them from spiritual eyes.
But here in Colorado, in the abusive rain, in the dead of night, the spells and magic and hope were stopped, the running ended.
“Did you think you could run forever?” Death asked. He was resigned, not angry, he’d been through this so many times.
‘I didn’t think. I just ran.”
“I’ve taken so much from you, but it was never personal. It was just what He said had to be done, and I had to obey”
“Why did He decide I had to lose so much?”
“How the fuck should I know?”
The rain fell and fell, and now a woman from Connecticut said the governments of the world sold all their peoples out to The Greys because The Greys promised them the secrets of immortality.
Constance pulled a cigarette from her pack and handed it and the lighter to Death. Death lit the cigarette, inhaled deeply and greedily of it’s smoke.
“I have to take him now, Constance.” Death said.
Constance tightly gripped the wheel, looked out into that accursed rain. She stone faced and quiet, but hot, angry tears poured down her face.
“He was the only person I felt safe around. He was the only person I didn’t feel like a goddamn freak around. After all that had happened, he made me whole again. I don’t want to be alone again.”
Death took another drag off the cigarette, sighed. The woman from Connecticut said the powerful were as scared as all of us.
“Take comfort, Constance, that you ever found shelter in a true heart, that someone’s love ever put you back together again. Take comfort in all you shared. Most people don’t get even that.”
Constance wiped the tears from her eyes, tears blurring with rain with the grey. Death reached over and placed one of his cold hands tenderly on her shoulder.
“He’ll still come to you in your dreams.” He said.
Then Death was outside the car, cradling her boyfriend’s spirit in his outstretched arms. Her and Death lock eyes, and he gives her a ghost of a smile. Then he turns and walks away, carrying her love’s spirit out into the night.
The Mustang’s engine starts up again, but Constance still decides to head west, to the ocean, to the endless blue and eternal horizon that could swallow her up. In the infinite, nothing hurts.