Callas vs. Darkness

She surged forward from the mob of her fellow soldiers, their hands shrinking back at the cry of feral rage tearing from her throat. And she ran alone toward the moving wall of abysmal black.

The formation behind her stood transfixed in awe at the sight of it, and as she neared the boundaries of the darkness, she raised her sword, and it blazed to life like a comet in her hand. At the first sweeping arch of it, the darkness shrank back, quivering from the flame’s touch like some wretched fog-beast. As Callas advanced into the opening her blade had made, the army behind her caught a glimpse of the armored force concealed within.

Death

I met Death on the way home from work last night. And why not? He was standing on the corner in the same place he always was. I walked right up and asked for a light. Same as always.

I puffed on my cig for a second then asked, “So how’s work been going, man?”

He shrugged almost imperceptibly. “Same old. I’ve been gettin’ around.” He exhaled a spiral of smoke in my direction and leaned on the light post. “Lots of people dying lately.” There was no black hood or scythe, but in the dim glow of the streetlight, you’d almost expect him to look up at you with piercing red eyes. He wasn’t called Death for nothing.

He pulled his handgun out of its holster and fiddled with it a little. I don’t know a thing about weapons; just the sight of them makes me uneasy. I knew I wouldn’t see it coming — the day he got the word to use the damned thing. I flinched as it flashed in the light.

I kind of half-laughed. “Big Man keeping you on your toes, huh? How’s about we go grab a drink? Take a load off?”

That shrug again, and he finished off his cigarette, flicking the butt into the gutter. “The Boss…he knows what you’re doing…He always knows…” I eyed him nervously. It was just a matter of time until the Big Man pulled my number from his rolodex o’ destiny.

He paused to stare at the gun for a second, then quickly tucked it back into the holster. “So how’ve the days been for you? Usin’ ’em wisely, I hope. Well…other than the obvious.” I nodded, shaken. But same as always, he straightened up and started walking. “So, how ’bout that drink?”