The French Reaper

The French Reaper

A Story by SinisterPotatoe (Jack)
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A story I wrote for a creative writing project for college. I hope you guys enjoy it!

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                                                                                                                                                                                 4156 Words

 

 I see it every time I close my eyes. The summer sky was cold blue, and I was sweating. The day was gold like the sun in the sky, and I couldn’t stop the nervous smile on my face. The energy in the air, the bleak unforgiving aura suffocating me from the inside soothed me, like a lullaby. The black cloak surrounded me, long yet thin, the colour of death, the result of war, cold to the touch, covering over the body like a blanket. I stood on air, weightless above the dark scene. An oversized farming tool in one hand, and a picture in the other. 

 

Earlier that day I sat outside my grey bricked suburban sanctuary, on the rotted out wood front porch, breathing in the humid air. I live in Revenant, a small community in Quebec. The region? Côte-Nord. The people here have high spirits, and the community has been around for a little over 300 hundred years. We’ve seen war, defeat, conquest, peace, famine, the beginning of a new country, death, and things that just shouldn’t be possible. I grew up in Ontario, that’s where my dad lives. Right then I was with my mom. I don’t think there’s a ghost of a chance of them getting back together. But what can a man do? Even the strongest of mountains turn to pebbles after the right amount of time passes. What goes up must come down. And everything that works eventually breaks.

“What are you sulking for young one. Look alive!” There was a rasp in the voice. That was Miss Belamor. She was a very old woman. Had suffered from pneumonia. She died around two hundred years ago.

“You know if I were you, I’d be happy I’d learned how to read, never mind whether I can view the nether regions of others through windows to parallel dimensions,”

“Internet,” I replied

“You know, the dead can be almost omnipotent. There are many things I wish I could unsee. Thank the heavens your mother has the sense to take the computer away at night.”

You may be wondering, among other things, what horrible monster would be talking with a dead person, and how?

Well, that horrible monster would be me, Valentino Martin. I’ve had the ability to see the unseen since birth. My mom is a sorcière, basically a French witch with all the magic and mumbo jumbo that comes with it. I inherited those genes. Demon’s, mythical beings and races, and ghosts, I have the ability to interact with them all. And trust me when I say there’s a lot of them. Human beings are small fish in the abyss of magic, supernatural, and myth. Try not to get swallowed up in the dream world called reality. Just saying so before I spirit you away on the day everything went wrong. If anything, Revenant is a ghost town.

“I’m heading out, watch over mom for me ok?” I said, changing the subject, my cheeks red.

I turned up some music on my iPhone to drown out the white noise of the morning town as I walked through the partially empty streets, listening to some Billy Talent. I was on my way to my favourite spot, where my Quebecois friends were waiting for me. There’s a section of town that seems permanently gray and bland where the homeless live and I generally talk with them and spare a buck whenever I can, I thought I’d say hi there first.

Old streets, the smell of marijuana, alcohol, and lost dreams are stronger in this part of the neighbourhood. Cracked pavement that no one bothered to repair crumbled under my feet. It was the kind of place that wasn’t dangerous, but no one was around, the air stale bread, the colours drained out, the sky silent, leaving everything different shades of grey. I didn’t like it, it wasn’t fair, I want everyone to be accepted because I never was. Not at school, not at home, not by my dad. You see, I look after people here because only crazy people like me can help those who’ve lost their mind. I’ll try to help them find it.

Old Billy was hovering around one of the trash cans in the cramped old alley with the blue fist graffitied on the wall, paint peeling off to reveal faded concrete bricks, and an iron chain-link fence around the other side, rusted. He was smoking a dart, his back to the wall. Old Billy wore faded blue jeans, and a dirty white wife beater, he was like his surroundings. He had dull blue eyes and a light gray beard. Wrinkles were everywhere, as well as smile lines. He looked like he was defying a slow defeat, but didn’t have the grace or manners to accept it. I was on my way to see him, more than anyone.

But in the corner of my eyes, I saw her. Sitting by herself, unaccepted, a girl my age. What was she doing here? Long black hair and a dark goth shirt for a band I didn’t know, with black and white striped leggings. She had what looked like black eyeliner, cold blue eyes, pure white skin, a ring through her black painted lips. And in one hand she held, what? A bible? She looked pleased. My heart started to thump in my chest, and my face turned red. She saw me looking and smiled. I found myself walking over, enthralled by the idea that someone like her would want to see me.

“You’re running out of time,” she said.

I was confused, “What?” What was this girl talking about? Were we both out of our minds?

The smile on her face looked sad.

 “I’m sorry I have to say this, but everyone reaps their reward eventually. There is nothing you can do. Understand that, and move on. People leave forever. Happiness doesn’t last. You can run from the dark, but the night will always catch you. You cannot escape the dawn of another day.”

“Who are you?” I asked, heart beating fast for a different reason now.

“My name? I forgot it a long time ago. Nice to finally meet you, Valentino. Although, we will meet again. Soon.”

She got up and left me standing there, stunned, scared. Fading into the background, into the grey, she was gone, like she was never there at all.

“So, what are you doing standing around all alone over there like that Val?” I flinched, as I heard Billy’s gruff voice, and felt a familiar rough pat on the back.

“Do you know that girl Billy? That girl that was just there right now, I was talking to her, is she from around here?”

“A girl? I don’t remember there being no girl here, this isn’t a place most girls would want to be. You chasing skirts or something? What’s gotten into you boy, I thought you preferred my company.” The man grinned like a goof, to show teeth greyed by tobacco.

“Nevermind Bill, just had a bit of a weird experience.”

“Well, it’s a weird place Val, you never know what you're going to get next. The reaper’s always watchin’,”

I decided to think nothing more of it. It was just another goth girl in a ghost town.

I pulled out what I had been keeping in my over-stuffed pockets. A few dollars, sandwiches and some cigarettes.

“A gift,” I said, giving them to him.

“You outdo yourself, Val, we’ll be sure to make this last, I’ll go show the others.”

I embraced Old Billy for a moment, before heading out, already calm again.

Walking from where the strange situation occurred, and down a few blocks to the old church, hoping to interact with my younger friends.

The church didn’t exist as a building anymore, it was a really parallel dimension, unlike the internet. Some places have become hubs for the memories of spirits that have passed. Enough feelings connected to a place, good or bad, becomes a place for those spirits to call home. Most spirits want to feel safe in a place that meant something to them, leading to a parallel world opening up to fill that need. Ever heard of haunted houses? You know, the old places that people think they see ghosts, hear voices, or things move? Those are generally places that hold a portal into a sister location, usually looking like the memories of the ones who haunt it. Reality becomes warped around these portals, leading to even those who are still alive knowing something isn’t quite the same. The portals are a bit of a gift, a way of giving back something that died long ago, to the ones that stay there. Although in worse cases, some spirits can never leave, forced to stalk through the halls of a place they once thought safe forever.

I saw the shimmer in the hot air, if most people could see this, they might think it was just heat. Funny thing is, the church burned down, killing several. But normal people can’t see the shimmer or even interact with it. It is a bridge to another plane of existence. For them, it’s like it isn’t there at all, simply a place that feels strangely melancholy, nothing more. I walked towards the portal in space-time, stamping on the rotten wooden remains of the past, and entered.

The temperature dropped. It was winter year round in the church, it never got to see the spring after.

Jack and Perrier were there waiting for me.

“Bonjour Valen!” Jack yelled as he floated towards me. A bit taller than me, he was non-corporeal as ever, his face horribly burned, he wore charred overalls that were faded blue, and the tattered remains of a white shirt.

Perrier was huddling next to the fireplace that led to the church's demise. An otherworldly green fire burned on endlessly. As always, Perrier was shaking, wearing his warm wool sweater with a deer fur coat, and his fuzzy brown cotton pants. His slightly larger than usual belly didn’t seem to stop the shivering.

“Hello Valentino,” Perrier said “Achoo!” Transparent snot shooting from his mouth, teeth chattering.

“How’s life?”

“Warm,” I stated

Jack laughed

“Maybe I shouldn’t have asked,” Perrier whispered, as he sniffled to avoid snot running from his nose

“Anyways, how are you two? Jack, I know you look like you’re on fire today!”

“Back in my day we didn’t have sunscreen,” Jack replied, “You kids are going to have to do better if you think puns like that are going to heat me up.”

“What’s this about being heated up?” Perrier asked.

“It’s a joke Perry,” I felt the need to explain.

“Oh,” sniff, “Ok, you guys always say the darnest things.”

“Sorry for giving you the cold shoulder,” I just couldn’t help myself.

“Maybe I’ll just leave you two be then, sorry Valentino,” Perrier hunched over the fire

“Am I being too cold with you, you froze for a second there?

“I’m breaking the ice now. Snow way in hell now that I know you guys.”

It was a joke, I didn’t mean to cause a fight, it was just a joke.

“Don’t be like that Perry, it was a joke.” Could he not tell I was joking?

“I’ll give you the cold shoulder if melt Perrier’s heart like that again you maudire abruti Ontarien Valen!”

I still didn’t know what was too far. The people at school told far bolder jokes that I had to laugh at, that I lived with, why weren’t they laughing? Why were they looking at me like that? If they had said that to me I would have had to laugh.

Jack threw a punch at my face, and it passed right through me.

“Do you know why us unwanted spirits stay here Valen? It’s because we died before we could find peace. We came to this church to avoid hurt, and find happiness. We never have. Value what you have. It could be gone any moment. Maybe you should just go, Valen. Partir.” Jack stated.

And he just stared. He stared into my f*****g soul. And it wasn’t my fault that dad and mom weren’t together anymore. It wasn’t my fault people think I’m crazy. It wasn’t my fault the kids at school called me a freak. Can’t he f*****g see that? I saw him looking at me like it was my fault. You know what, f**k him. I don’t need him.

And just like that, I left. We were on bad terms now, and I knew that.  And I didn’t know it then, but it was my fault. It was all my fault. The first thing I saw before leaving was the Goth, and a large slim man wearing a black robe, his hood up, and a bible in his hand. He wore long sleeves, and breath came from where I’d suppose his mouth was like some sort of mist. The mist was cold, dead and rotten. He exuded a dark, chilly feeling. Almost like the shade on a fall day. A Shadow.

 

“Hello again. Valentino. I am here for you. Time has run out.” She said. The sad smile was still there as if it had been painted on, so she could never frown.

Something was wrong here, her eyes looked serious, unnaturally calm. Merciless and unyielding, as if she were an athlete, ready to put everything into winning a gold medal. She wasn’t a normal person.

Hello, miss, I’m just on my way home.

“Jacques Vilanova, Perrier Jouet, your friends. Are they inside the Sanctuaire de l'âme Church?”

“The church hasn’t been a standing structure in years.”

“We sense life. We are not afraid to take life.”

“So you know a little about spirits?” I retorted, “If you know so much more than me, then who’s talking?”

I needed an answer for this. These people spelled trouble. Maybe other sorcières?

“We are soldiers of the Grim Reaper Corps. We extinguish life,” She replied simply. Calm, uncaring.

It was time to drop the act. She knew what was up.

“What would you want with the souls of the dead?” I questioned.

“Spirits are not dead, they are simply souls without a body. To truly be dead is to be nothing. Gone. Human beings pass twice. Once, with their bodies, second, with their souls.”

“What do you want with Jack and Perry?”

“To erase them from existence, creating room for new life. I am sorry. I would have liked to spare your friends, but the Reaper Corps is not so merciful. If not me, it will be someone else who does it. We have also come for you, Valentino. Your mother has cheated Death for hundreds of years. She should no longer exist. And you should never have been born. Moissonneur, take care of those three.”

 

“Yes, Mistress.” The towering figure replied as the Goth walked away.

“Wait!” I tried to run after her only to be grabbed by a skeletal hand and thrown like a baseball back into the church’s portal."

I felt myself rolling across the hardwood floor of the church and crashed into a pew. Everything hurt, and it felt like my head was sitting in a hot bath. Everything was foggy. How did I get here again? Then the situation hit me. Hard.

“Jack! Perrier! There’s a monster after your souls! Get the f**k out of here!”

 

“I’ve had enough of your sick jokes Valen,” I heard Jack say, and then, “Merde, are you alright!”

Things started to get even foggier. Like the mist before, it was a vapour that smelled like fresh corpses.

 

The bible sucked in the mist, obstructing it from view, pulsing with something I had seen many times before. Magic. Suddenly the mist was gone, the Bible now a long scythe. Inside the darkness under the hood, two glowing red eyes appeared, watching intently.

“Your souls are ripe for harvest, I am a soldier of carnage, my scythe will erase your name, your emptiness will leave no pain. You need to understand, you were never part of God's plan.” The Shadow rasped.

Perrier’s eyes widened, mouth gasping wide open, watching.

His scythe cut through the pews like butter moving faster than I could see, and he took slow, sure steps towards us.

Jack pushed us behind him.

“Move Perrier, move! Hide in the back! I will take care of this connard!” Jack yelled. Perrier and I scrambled into the priest's room, latching the door shut, darkness surrounded us. Silence buzzed in my ear.

I heard a sound that made me flinch, like a watermelon being sliced up, ready to be served after a day of soccer.

“Perrier, what are we going to do?” I whispered.

But whispering was pointless. Why try not to be heard when you’ll never be heard again?

Footsteps, bones rattling, we were pigs for slaughter. The door creaked open.

Perrier looked me dead in the eyes.

“I saw him. Valentino, I think I saw him before I--”

The blade of the scythe went through his head. The once black scythe blade glowed white, and Perrier was gone. Now I was alone with this monster.

“Pathetic. She said you were special, I suppose she was wrong, I see no Rage in you.” the Shadow said.

I had always thought I would have something cool to recite on my death bed, but now, being there, I had nothing I could say. All I could think was ‘maybe if I had been more magically gifted, things could have been different. And maybe I was right. I watched, frozen in place, as he sliced me in half.

Everything inside came out, the feelings, emotions, and my life. The only thing that didn’t come was acceptance for dying so soon.

The Shadow left me for dead. The church was empty. It was so cold, and I was alone.

I woke up in the church. I couldn’t find peace. I had been hurt, and I was not happy. Anger clouded everything, and fresh tears rolled off my cheeks and onto the incandescent wood floor below. Something needed to be done, for them. It was time to give chase.

I was empty, weightless, but full of burden, no longer able to realize that even while I was alive, while I may have had it rough. I was lucky. I was loved. And I was alive.

Leaving the church, I made my way home, fazing through objects, buildings, anything to get there fast enough to somehow save mom. Flying like the wind. On the way there, I saw no ghosts. I could sense something, a feeling, a premonition. The Shadow was nearby, and so was Old Billy. He was in danger.

 

The Shadow was there with Old Billy, he was huddled with his back against the graffiti wall sitting on the pavement, still. His head flopped on his right shoulder. His eyes had rolled into the back of his head.

Billy’s light cigarette smouldered and went out in the cold, sour tasting mist. He had the most peaceful smile on his face. It was too late for him, but this could not be allowed.

I grabbed onto the scythe without thinking. In truth, I did not think this Shadow was beatable, and the Goth it took orders from could only be stronger, but I had to try.

The shadow ripped my hands from the weapon and threw me, floating towards me faster than I was thrown, and skewered me seemingly without effort. I felt myself fading away. The Shadow looked at me. I got the strange feeling he was disappointed, as I slowly faded away.

Worthless, useless, empty and cold. Ashamed of myself. That’s how it felt. But more than anything I felt a burning, mindnumbing, unyielding rage as I sat alone in darkness and silence, only feeling my emotions.

“Do you really wish to be defeated?” A voice asked me. “I thought you were worth more than this at least. Don’t you think so?”

I was quiet, for the first time in a long time, I felt I had nothing to say.

“My, this one is weak, isn’t he?” The voice was laughing at me.

An item appeared beside me, glistening silver incandescent like it was a spirit itself. An oversized farming sickle.

“So are you going to fight and lose your humanity? Or will you surrender and die honourably?

Shall I tell you my name? I am Death.

You don’t have any friends left, what do you have to lose?”

I grabbed the gardening tool without hesitation, and everything became clear. Wrath and rage took over my body.

The sickle knew me and spoke to me. It told me what I was. And what I would do.

I would bring bloodshed.

Time continued, and I was reenergized by new power and the will to fight. My sickle met with The Shadow’s metal scythe blade, creating sparks. The force sent me backwards, rolling along the ground just like at the church, but I was without a scratch. The Shadow was off balance, and I threw myself at him again, faster than I’d ever been before.

 

I slashed at him with my sickle, and met the scythe below the metal blade, cutting through his weapons weak point, the rotten gray wood of the handle. I grabbed the blade of the large scythe and shoved it through the Shadow’s hooded head. The hood fell away to reveal a skull with glowing red eyes, the scythe blade now through his forehead and out the back of his skull. The Shadow took one hand off the now broken scythe handle, grabbing my hand still holding the blade in his head, trying to push it away. Mist covered his head, as if defending it. The scythe handle was shrouded in mist again, and I could smell rotten flesh, more than ever before. He looked at me with his red eyes, but he wasn’t going to mock me, it was different. Almost as if he was content. Dropping my hand from the blade in fear I felt something horrible. I was too late.

I made my way home, where I found everything silent. The sky was dark, as if night had come far sooner than I expected. On the porch, my mother had collapsed.

The Goth was there, standing beside her. A bow and quiver on her back. The shame and anger burned into an intent to kill. Something inhumane, but so very human. I wanted blood. Yes, she would die for what she did to them, to me. They would all die. Everyone would. I yelled and ran at her, brandishing my weapon with strength I didn’t know I had. Suddenly she and the sickle was gone. I felt a light tap on my right shoulder and turned around.

“You asked my name, right? You may call me Conquest,” She said, holding my weapon out for me to take, “You are War, and you’ve been tested by Famine. We are all members of the Four Horsemen, a squad of the Reaper Corps, who control the biggest conundrum in the world. Who lives, and who dies. Our squad is known for carrying out Safe Passage. Don’t worry, your friends will eventually be reincarnated. Everything that starts has an ending. And every ending is a new beginning. Welcome to The Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse.” She smiled, this time, it looked like pure happiness.

My heart started to beat a little faster.

My mom got up off the floor to my bewilderment, brushed herself off, and smiled.

“And I’m Death, my dear Valentino. You’re new Commander. Come give your mother a hug, I'm very proud of you!”

Famine bubbled up from the ground in a toxic mist. His hood up, scythe intact and in hand as if undamaged.

“You passed our test,” He rasped, “Welcome to the Grim Reaper Corps, War, the elite squad known far and wide as The Four Horsemen, and together, we will change the world.”

“Do you think he’s ready for his Horse?” Conquest asked Death.

“In a year, he still has to turn 16 to get a motorcycle license. But he has time. Of course, I think he’ll need to transfer to Soul Sanctuary Secondary School before he can truly be considered a Reaper. Take care of my son ok? He’s a very shy boy, please help him care out his training properly, yes?”

The Goth grinned at me. “Training starts tomorrow. We need to prepare you for your transfer to my school. We’ll reap souls together ok?”

I took out my family picture, from when mom and dad were still together, before stuffing it in my pocket and looking at the people with me now. It wasn’t too different. I smiled nervously. Even if things would never be the same, I was finally part of a family again.


© 2017 SinisterPotatoe (Jack)



Author's Note

SinisterPotatoe (Jack)
First real short story in a long time. I really, really, want to know what people think. I put way more effort into this than even my longest poems, and it was a blast writing this.

I very seldom reply to reviews, but I promise I read EVERY single one. I look forward to my next review, because it helps me learn. Even if it's just one word, I promise, I will be ecstatic to have the chance to hear what you have to say. Whenever you write something about my poems, or the themes of my poems, or criticize me it is not in vain. I will listen, learn and be thankful.

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Reviews

this is a great story my friend,very interesting write
would be a great book maybe

Posted 9 Months Ago


Critique: (“A girl? I don’t remember there being no girl here) being any girl -- Your sentence includes a double negative with the inclusion of both "don’t" and "no".
(Perrier’s eyes widened, mouth gasping wide open) gaping -- gasping doesn’t fit this context.
(I got the strange feeling he was disappointed) got a stranger -- the phrase "strange feeling" does not contain the correct article usage
(before stuffing it in my pocket) it into my -- the preposition "in" is incorrect or unnecessary in this context

Review: I found the title odd enough that it made me want t read your story. Which I found engaging and entertaining which doesn't happen that often. I enjoyed reading it and think everyone who reads this will enjoy it as well. Nicely done my friend Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap!



Posted 9 Months Ago


“Spirits are not dead, they are simply souls without a body. To truly be dead is to be nothing. "
That was my favorite line, applying to both the story and real life. Great job!

Posted 9 Months Ago


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Added on December 9, 2017
Last Updated on December 9, 2017
Tags: The, French, Reaper

Author

SinisterPotatoe (Jack)
SinisterPotatoe (Jack)

Burlington, Halton, Canada



About
For those who wonder why I have a silly username, I've been using this name because I find it funny. Potatoes are never really that sinister. The e on the end of potato is because I'm a potato with to.. more..

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