Did he have to wake up?
Wait. When did he go to sleep? Scott snapped to, quickly taking in his surroundings. Why was he in his car? What…
The memories gradually filled in. Driving back to his apartment from work. Dusk. Light rain. Gloomy. And then…
Huh. No clue. Something had obviously happened, though, because he was now off to the side of the road, and his car was…
Who was that?
“Come on, Scott. Let’s get you out of there.”
He must have still been a bit out of it because he didn’t really remember climbing out (or maybe being pulled out) of his vehicle. Scott finally got a look at the smashed exterior of his Ford Focus.
“I was in an accident?”
“Looks that way, Scott.”
Scott finally turned his attention to the source of the voice, a mostly bald elderly man with kind eyes, wearing suspenders and a massive brown bowtie. Something about the man was very familiar, but Scott couldn’t place him.
“Time to go,” the man said.
Scott looked around. A short distance away, a tractor-trailer was off the road and jammed against a bent and twisted guard rail. Its driver had gotten out and was surveying the smoke seeping out of his cab. “Shouldn’t we wait for the police?” Scott asked. “I should also get that guy’s insurance info…if he ever bothers to come check on me. And I should probably let an EMT look me over. I mean I feel fine, but... Where’s my phone?”
He turned back to the remains of his car and made it about a step before he noticed that the driver’s seat was still occupied…by him.
“It’s okay, Scott. You’re still fine,” the man said.
“Fine?” Scott exclaimed. “Look at me! I’m all bloody, and how am I even looking at me? This doesn’t…“
He trailed off.
“Oh, God. I’m dead, aren’t I?” Scott said, rushing over to his companion.
“Yes, you are. My condolences and all that.”
“So you’re…Death? Death is an old guy?”
“What do you mean ‘for me’? Is this a Ghostbusters thing? Somehow I selected the form of Gozer the Gozerian and instead of Mr. Stay-Puft I picked you?”
“And you wondered why you were still single, Scott.”
“I was married!”
“What? Did you read my file? Is there a file?”
“Scott Lowry. 36. Born September 8, 1978. Divorced at 32. No kids. Parents are…”
“Ok! I don’t need to hear my whole life. I was there. But I still don’t get you. Who are you supposed to be?”
“I am Death. When I come for you, I take the form of the first death that meant something to you. The death that made you understand that life was finite.”
“So if my grandma died when I was a kid, you’d be Nana?”
“That sounds weird.”
“It helps ease the transition. I take the form of a lot of grandparents. And dogs. So many dogs.”
“But for me, you’re… I’m sorry. I don’t recognize…”
Something in Scott’s brain finally clicked.
“MISTER HOOPER! Oh my God! Mister Hooper! From Sesame Street! Oh God. I cried so much when you died. I couldn’t watch the show anymore after that. But…you’re okay? Being Death is good?”
“Scott, I’m not him. I am Death in his form. But, yes, he’s fine. You’ll be with him soon, if you want.”
“I’m going to Heaven with Mister Hooper?” Scott asked.
“No? NO! Mister Hooper IS NOT in Hell!”
“There’s no such place.”
“But there’s an afterlife?”
“You’re dead over there, and we’re having this conversation.”
“Right. Sorry. So…what is happening to me?”
“Due to quantum entanglement, the particles that make up you and everyone else are also enmeshed in the matrix of the cosmos. Now that you are freed from your physical limitations, you can experience all of reality.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You’re becoming one with the universe.”
“Oh. That sounds nice. Very Zen.”
“I’m told it’s wonderful. Ready?”
“Yeah. Sure. Why not?”
“Good. I'm on a schedule.” Mr. Hooper was suddenly directly in front of Scott. “It’s been a pleasure handling your death," Mr. Hooper said without any hint of pleasure at all. "I release you to the next phase of your existence.”
And then Scott Lowry was gone. But he was also everywhere.
Mr, Hooper pulled a small spiral notebook out of his pocket. “And next we have…another damn Yoda? Come on! I hate these 80s kids. All right. Get into character. Are dead, you. No. Dead, you are. There we go. Dead, you are.”
With that, Death was off to his next client.
- Alan Decker
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