Authors Note: this story was actually inspired by some BuzzFeed article I read ages ago! Here’s the inspiration pic:
They had been driving for about 20 minutes, and it was around one in the morning. The roads were empty; any lights in buildings passed by were off. Most of the world was asleep, but all of this small area definitely was.
Yes, it was time. Time to start the conversation. She was about to see her lover – and she had already been too careful. The timing was right about seven minutes ago. Now it was perfect.
From the back of the cab, she called out, “Have you ever been in love?” to her driver.
There was silence for a few moments – well, there was the sound of the car riding smoothly down the long road, the low volume of some obscure music on the radio, but the driver was quiet. Then he asked her to repeat herself – she did.
“I was married once,” the driver began. She never saw his face, only the back of his cap and the long grey hair falling out of it. His denim jacket was worn and patchy; it looked treasured and well used through years of owning it. That was her first guess anyway. For all she knew, he could have found it in some bin somewhere last week. She preferred the first option. “I didn’t love my wife. I thought I did, but then I met this young woman. College student. Studied film, and was a mighty good director. We went with each other for a while and I knew I couldn’t feel the way I did for her for anyone else. Not even my wife.”
She was nodding along as he spoke. When silence hung in the air once more, she asked, “So what happened?”
“Well I told my wife. Lisa, the girl, always knew I was married, had kids, but I know she felt the same way I did about her.” He glanced at her through his rear view mirror; the orange glow of the streetlights discoloured his skin and eyes, but she could tell that the irises were a light blue anyway. He continued, “She still does. We’re livin’ together – have been these past five years.”
Clasping her hands together and fiddling her thumbs, she pressed on: “You left your kids for this woman?”
He nodded quickly, awkwardly – there was guilt there – and said, “Well, yeah, it was hard for a while. I felt like I couldn’t face them after ripping their lives up. The oldest reached out to me a while later and we arranged a day at this nice big park. I see my three boys every other week now.”
She was getting closer to having what she needed. She reclined back into the corner of the car; her head resting on the cool glass of the window. Damn, it was stuffy in here. The windows were locked from the back – she’d have to ask the driver to open them for her. No changing the subject – not now.
“What would you have done if your boys told you they never wanted to see you again, after you left?” It was a hard question to ask but it had to be done.
He did this sort of uncomfortable chuckle but answered anyway. “They did say that, actually.”
She could tell that he didn’t want any more questions, but fuck it, she needed the answers. “What if they had really meant it? And you never saw them again?”
Silence hung in the air. He turned up the volume on his old radio. The static sound was louder than the music, but the music wasn’t that good anyway.
That was it. He didn’t want any more questions, but damn it he was getting them.
“I have a lover,” she announced, a little loudly as to be heard over the crackling radio. “We’re sort of…long distance. I have to do a lot to see him.”
The drivers answer was short – evidently, he was done with this conversation. “That’s rough.”
“It is rough,” she started to explain, leaning forward in her seat once more, as to engage with the back of his head. “But I love him. I have for a long time. You know? You’d give up your kids for Lisa, so you get it, right?”
He just nodded his head.
She sighed a sigh of relief. “I knew you would.”
He sighed too, but it was an odd sigh filled with the odd mixture of reluctance and curiosity. “This boyfriend of yours…He want you to move far away? Leave your family?”
She leaned even closer – “no, no! That’s the thing. He’ll come to me whenever I want. It’s just the getting him here that’s hard.”
From the rear view mirror, she saw confusion in his eyes. “I’m baffled,” he said. “What’s his problem? Maybe he’s just a crappy boyfriend.”
Crappy boyfriend! She was taken aback – this man didn’t even know her lover! How dare he. “No, no, no! He’s the best. And the way you feel for Lisa – you never knew what love was until you met her? Well, that’s how I feel with my lover.”
“Alright, what’s the point of all this?” Confusion was turning into anger. “Why are you asking me these questions, telling me these stories?”
“I just need to know I’m not crazy!” She snapped, brushing her hands through her hair.
The driver cocked his head and made that tut sound. “Why would you be crazy?”
“Because I swear, I’d do anything for my lover,” she said.
“No,” he said, firm and final. “That does not make you crazy.”
She looked outside her window, to the urban area they had entered. How long had they been driving here? She knew the destination she had given him was still very far away. Family houses dotted the streets – bare trees were abundant and their dead leaves laid below them. Virtually no lights were on.
“So you’d do anything for your lover?” She said, trying not to let her desperation reveal itself.
“Yeah,” he said, still firm, still final. Eager to return to silence, to end this conversation.
“I still feel crazy,” she offered. “Say it for me.”
He was quiet for a few moments, but they felt like hours as she stared at the side of her drivers’ face, not bothering to shift her gaze to the rear view mirror, where she could see his eyes.
Finally, he gave in.
“I’d do anything for my love,” he told her.
That was it. “Thank God. Me too. I need to do something for my lover, then.”
“Oh yeah?” He asked, but she could tell he didn’t need or want the answer.
“Yeah,” she almost squealed, now desperate to disguise her glee. “Pull over here,” she commanded.
The driver didn’t even question it; he pulled over to the side of the road without a second to spare. She could tell he just needed her out of his car. “Right then! That’s going to be £24.30.”
She sent her hand into her bag – not for her purse. Instead, she pulled out her knife.
In a swift movement, she threw her hands over him from behind his seat and with minimal resistance, his throat was open. The windshield was red. The job was done.
The knife was discarded on the floor of the cab – she got out and leaned against the door. The air around her was cool and a light breeze got hair in her face. She moved it away and waited.
This was a nice park. Lots of tall trees waited for the spring, for their leaves to grow back. A dirt trail in the grass marked the nature walk, and led into the forest. To her right, metres away from the forest, was a very small play park – two swings, a slide covered in graffiti and a climbing frame were placed in the small fenced off area.
In the light of the summer sun, when everything was green and alive, she imagined that this would be a very nice place to relax – to hear the laughter of children, the barking of dogs, the chatter of friends.
But this was January. This was nearly 2am. This was a dark night with clouds covering any stars in the sky. This was waiting in the ever so slightly chilled air, next to frost tipped grass, with a dead body lying in the car she leaned on. This was being unphased by murdering someone.
Finally, out of nowhere, he began to walk towards her.
Hood up, as always – the long cloak covered the face, the whole body, and dragged along the ground he walked on. He was slow as always, but sure.
“Cat,” he said as a greeting. “You’ve done it again, haven’t you?”
Death stood before her, a good foot taller than her. She craned her neck to grin up at him. “I had to, Grim,” she said. It was a nickname only she used, that he had learned to come to terms with. “It’s been weeks. I’ve missed you too much.”
When silence hung in the air this time, it was real. There was no static radio, there was no sound of tires rolling down a road. The earth was completely still – it was just the two of them.
He finally, after what felt like an eternity, welcomed her into his arms. “Oh Cat,” he sighed. His voice was booming, in the softest way. The thing with Death…it was terrifying and calming all at once. In his presence, she was exhilarated and that’s all that mattered. She held him as he said, “I missed you too. I’m sorry you had to kill again.”
As always, he answer was the same and immediate. “Anyone for you, love.”
For a while they just held each other. She breathed him in, taking in the smell of the old dusty cloak, and its softness under her hands. Then he had to get to work.
She watched him pull the car door open. He placed a hand over the drivers’ eyes and another over his chest. He just stood there for a few seconds, but she knew what he was doing. He was collecting the drivers’ soul.
They sat on the hood of the car together for a while after, catching up. He preferred to listen to her stories, of life, of the living. His stories were always the same – he only bothered to tell her those of the souls of celebrities he had taken, or any odd situations he had walked in on.
She told him of work, friends, and her family, of being alive – going out at night and waking up with a sore head in the morning. Walking through the streets and feeling the brisk air on her skin. She had been working hard, because she had heard that she was in line for a promotion at the office; comforting her friend who had just experienced a break up; coming home to the warmth of her small flat and the embrace of her dog. He listened so intently for hours, and every time she asked him to tell a story, he insisted that she continued with her own.
Cat always had stories. She found a story to tell in every mundane situation. A conversation with her could never end, unless you let it.
But it was now five in the morning, the sun would be rising soon, and Cat had another murder to escape from.
Death cleaned the scene of any evidence of Cat’s being there, and as it was still dark and the streets and roads were still empty, he accompanied her to the nearest bus station that would take her home.
She held his arm and snuggled close to him as they walked, still talking. He could never stop listening. As much as he hated letting her kill, letting her carry the weight of taking a life on her shoulders, he still loved seeing and being with her. The curly wisps of dark red hair; the tanned skin; the hip glasses; the blue hoodie she always wore – one could say it gave him life. He would not.
As they walked over a hill, they saw the lights of the bus station. He had to go, they both knew it.
Their goodbyes were always long, seemingly never-ending, in the best way. Their embrace was tight and said all the words they hadn’t already. She didn’t have to tell him that she’d see him again soon – he knew that she would take another life when the time came.
Lights in houses started flickering on. Streets away, someone would find a cab with a red windshield. The police would be called. An investigation would come to be. Answers would never be found. It was time to really say goodbye.
“Go to your bus, Cat.” It was a command, not a request.
“I’ll miss you so much,” she reminded him. “I love you.”
“And I love you,” he replied. He meant it. For all the souls he was carrying with him, he was bound to be her soulmate one way or another. But that crap didn’t matter. He didn’t need a soul to love her, he just did.
She began taking her backwards steps, reaching out a long slender arm to him as a goodbye. He reached out his own cloaked arm, bidding her goodbye.
Eventually she turned and was on her way.
As more lights flickered on and the street lights faded off, he knew it was time to leave.
She was out of sight anyway.
He walked into nothingness, and stepped into the house of the next dead person.