My heart was thudding in my throat as I pressed myself against the brick wall, making sure no part of me was visible outside of the shadow of the building. The air was thick with the stench of urine and the moulding rubbish that littered the alley.
I was so fucking stupid.
There was no way I’d make it across the street unnoticed. My door was visible from where I stood and yet it was too far away.
Filling my lungs with the putrid air, I prepared to run. Every muscle in my body tensed before I leapt. My feet hit the asphalt—one step, two.
The chilling chuckle echoed in my ears. My shadow shifted mid-step. One second it was copying my motions, the next its arms reached for me.
The ghostly fingers grabbed my shoulders, one hand moved up to curl around my throat. The chuckle bled into a manic laugh as black dots invaded my field of vision. My lungs burned, my pulse thundered. No amount of clawing at the hand choking me made it corporeal. My nails scraped the skin on my throat.
I kicked. I hit. I scratched. But there was nothing there—nothing except laughter.
My body went limp and the world black.
“Zella. Time to wake up.”
A cold hand lightly slapped my cheek, and I sucked in a breath.
“Stop it.” The croak was a surprise, though considering I’d been strangled it shouldn’t have been.
“Oh, it talks.”
I squinted at Gary, noticing we were in my flat. “I was just checking your reflexes.”
He snorted. “Do I need to remind you—“
“Shut up, Scary Gary.”
“—that you can’t go outside after dark.”
“I think I was the one who informed you of that fact.” I started to get up. My entire body ached, but I refused to let it show.
“And yet you end up dead more often than not.”
I rolled my eyes. “Last I checked I can’t die…for long.”
“Last I checked there are fates worse than death.”
Too true. “Yeah, but I don’t have to worry about that because you’re my knight in a black cloak.”
The silence stretched for too long. “One day I might not be there.”
“Sorry to break it to you, Scary Gary, but when someone dies you come, and I die. I wake up again, but I die.”
Unease pooled in my gut. He was too quiet tonight, too serious.
“You think I’m the only one? Have you any idea how many people die every day? You’re in my district, that’s why I come. Should you die somewhere else, someone else would show up.”
Not Scary Gary? I’d thought he was the grim reaper.
“And not everyone would waste their time fighting your shadow to get to you.”
Ice poured into my veins. “Will you…erm…stay for a while? I can get you something to drink.” I staggered towards my kitchen, still a little off-kilter.
“I will stay until I’m called elsewhere, but you need to be more careful.” His skin shone white in the dark, the scythe rested against the backrest of my sofa, and the hood of the cloak was pushed off his head to reveal short black hair and chiselled features.
I needed to come up with a way to prevent people from dying so I could keep him around.
I was scrolling through writing prompts at Pinterest, and this one by Gold Miss caught my attention, so while I was waiting for the youngest to fall asleep yesterday, I wrote a little flash based on it.