death comes calling

death comes calling

A Story by Barry Simiana

supposedly when we die we all see Death (the personification) but what does he/she/it really look like? something from our dreams or nightmares, our fantasies or realities?



          Death came to Edmund McDonald as a thirteen year old girl. Naked. Perfect. Her skin alabaster white, glowing in the half light. Her hair jet black, long, down to the middle of her back. To Edmunds rheumy eyes she appeared to materialize out of the shadows, her eyes downcast, supplicant as all good children should be, her hands behind her back. She stepped slowly, carefully closer until she was next to the bed. Edmund bade her – as well as he could – to look up at him and his fragile heart raced as her eyes met his. Dark pools of mystery, with a hidden fire behind. And her lips - painted deep ruby red -accentuating the paleness of her skin.

          Edmund felt a stirring, despite the cocktail of drugs in his system. The policemans boot had done major damage down there as it impacted the three times during Edmunds arrest. By rights Edmund shouldn’t have felt anything, but this young waif before him awakened the old feelings again. He looked at her through the euphoria the drugs created in him and he was amazed. The beeping of his heart monitor quickened, the rasping of his breathing through the throat tube grew more harsh. A gift for him in his hour of need.

          The girl smiled slightly, a mix of coy and something else. Edmund knew what else. He’d seen it before in others. She knew. He knew she did and he was pleased. Some whimpered, some cried. Some said no, or yelled it. These he did not like, but he took them anyway. Once on a business trip to Patpong he had one who screamed, screamed and screamed until he choked her silent, then had his way and left. The man in charge abused him, calling for payment for the loss of the girl. He wanted one hundred dollars. Perfection came cheap in some places.

          The silent ones intrigued him. At such a young age, how much did they know? When he was a boy girls were seen basically from the neck up and were rarely heard from - although there were the exceptions his mother called the bad girls. Todays children were different. Self confidant, more world-aware, maturing much earlier. They knew more and that was good.

          Edmund reached out a hand and touched the girl on the arm. Her skin was cold, though Edmund felt a little warm himself. She placed her hand in his and a chill raced up his arm. Her nails were long, painted black. He sighed again. Perfection. Her smile widened. She seemed to know what Edmund was thinking, or maybe he told her. Edmund couldn’t tell. The drugs of course. But she seemed to know. The girl climbed up on the bed and straddled him, wriggling herself down onto his waist until she was comfortable. With one hand she pulled back the sheets covering Edmunds chest, then ran her fingers through the grey hair. Her fingers were pinpoints of cold against his burning skin. She seemed to know, and smiled again.

          Edmund loved his cherries, as he called them. Even the ones who cried and bitched and sometimes fought back. Gone cherry pickin’ was how his dear wife explained his frequent business trips. Dear Alma. She had her own pleasures which rarely included Edmund. It was a marriage of convenience that had been extrememly convenient for both of them. A perfect cover for their activities. Old Mr McDonald a child molester? Come on now. Wouldn’t his wife have noticed?  Mrs MacDonald down at the Hare and Hound with a young man? I doubt that. Mr MacDonald would have a fit!

          Yes Edmund loved his cherries, his girls. Loved them more than man could. He always kept something of theirs as a memento. Underwear, a lock of hair, a photograph. Something. That was what had slipped him up. Someone had seen. Another has surmised. His computer had been compromised. Big Brother was out there watching and Edmund had been seen. And caught. Breaking his own fathers rule of never shitting where you eat, Edmund had been enjoying a tender young thing when the police had come knocking, and kicking and punching. Edmund’s goose was cooked, as they say.

          The girl on top of him moved slightly. Edmunds eyes cleared and he was able to take in her beauty more fully. His eyes traced her form from the top of her coal haired head to where the sheet covered her just below her navel. He wanted to talk to her, to tell her how perfect she was, to thank her for coming, but the tube in his throat choked him. But she knew. She knew. She raised herself up and pushed the sheet between her thighs, over his erection until they were skin on skin. Edmunds euphoria lifted higher. The girl leaned forward and kissed his chest, up to his neck, his stubbled chin, his lips. His skin burned owth cold fire wherever those lips touched.

          He wanted her, and she knew. She knew. She raised herself up, her hands on Edmunds chest. Edmund felt no pressure, rather that cold fire again. He looked down and saw that the girls hands seemed to be sinking into his very skin. No doubt the drugs. But now he felt pain. Icy pain in his chest. Cold attacked his lungs. Her arms were up to the wrists now. Edmund felt fingers, cold as ice touch his heart, the grip it like talons. He tried to scream, for now the pain was monstrous. His chest heaved but the throat tube kept him all but silent. The pressure on his heart increased. His whole body exploded in pain, more pain than he’d ever been exposed to in his life. Where were the drugs?

          Edmund tried to scream. The girl laughed, her black eyes now like a sharks, soulless, empty pits. Edmund looked deep into them and saw stars, galaxies, a universe unfolding. He managed a strangled cry and his body stiffened. The wrenching around his heart tightened until it could beat no more and that good old cherry picker Edmund MacDonald died alone in hospital of complications due to age and injuries received whilst resisting arrest.

          The girl climbed off Edmunds cooling body. She turned and walked toward the shadows, indifferent to the body she left behind. As the shadows closed around her she seemed to change. Her long black hair became a cloak. He white skin bare bones. A draft came from the shadows as she was swallowed up, ruffling the pages of the observation notes and she was gone. A moment later the alarms began to scream.




Candlelight flickered in a room filled with candles, the walls covered in a chorusline of dancing shadows. Many of the candles had burned themselves to death but there would be no maid today to change them.  She had quit the day before, citing the employer as a whining heartless b***h. So hard to find good help today.

          Madelaine Carter sat in her bed, propped up by pillows. She knew someone would come soon. Her agent, perhaps with news of a new role, or perhaps one of her co-stars come to visit. Years ago, when television had been young and a live show more interesting, Madelaine had been known as Maddie Fox. She’d been a chorus girl, a stage dancer, a waitress until she’d been discovered and taken to the heights dancing with the best. Astaire and Kelly. The gods of the dance floor. She’d even held the lead in a few forgetteable flickers of her own, remembered by a few hardcore, though slightly strange fans who met through sites on the internet. They were not interested in her now, only on what she had been. No one was interested in Maddie Fox ,aka Madelaine Carter now.

Madelaine lived in her memories. The days of dancing into Fred’s arms on a white glass staircase or tiptoeing with Gene in a series of puddles were long gone except in her mind. The days when Groucho made her giggle and blush like a schoolgirl nearly forgotten.

          A breeze – cold to her skin – sprang up. The help had left the window open when she’d left in a huff, but Madelaine didn’t have the strength to get up and close it. The pneumonia had weakened her to the point that staying awake was an effort. The blowing of the curtain across her face annoyed her, but there was little she could do. It would end soon, she hoped. In more ways than one.

Someone stepped out of the shadows. Small and dark and oddly familiar. Could it be, she thought. I though he’d dies years ago but no. It is. Michael. Michael Albar. Her heart swooped. My god, she thought, it’s been years but he still looks the same. At least three inches shorter that Madelaine but with more machismo and sex appeal than mosty other men, Michael had been her last love, toward the end of her run in the movies. He had been her last partner, dancing up a storm in movies with little story other than a way to segue into the next routine. She remembered their last film together, Spanish Horses, full of stamping feet, and roses and beautiful dresses and she in Micheals arms being lifted toward a painted sky. And three weeks in Cabo san Liuca, just the two of them, until Michael was called back to Cuba for  a new film with a new leading lady.

But now he was back. Madelaine stared at him. So handsome, she thought, and for a time mine. She looked at his face, the dark hooded eyes that smouldered, the chiseled jaw, the scar on his chin he’d told her was from a bulls horn when he’d been a boy. She looked at his wide shoulders, his arms, so powerful back then. He looked wonderful.

Michael came up to the bed and held out a hand toward her. Madelaine wanted to explain how tired she felt, how she couldn’t dance anymore, but the impatient look on his face silenced her. Instead she took his hand and allowed herself to be lifted to the floor. At once she felt different, alive. Music wafted in from the open window. A steamy salsa. Michael took the lead, pulling her around the bed. A moment later and madelaine was caught up, her feet catching and pounding the rhythms in time to Michaels.

          Hey whirled around the bed and the music got  louder. A rhumba, a tango. They danced for themselves as though it were fifty years ago. Michael swept her up into his arms and spun her around on her toes, then pulled her back and lifted her to the sky. Madelaine stretched as she’d never strectched before reaching out, before dropping back down to the floor and being hel;d close to Michaels chest. Their feet stamped the floor, casting up rose petals in their wake. Michael spun her away and back again. He picked her up and flung her bodily around his waist the put her on the floor. The music peaked in a crescendo

That had them both dancing like demons with the curtains swirling around them in the wind. Horns blared the final notes, drums thudded and txhey stopped, leaning away from each other, toe to toe with arms outstretched over their heads. Just like the last time.

          Breathing heavily, Madealine looked at Micheal. He had barely raised a sweat, was barely breathing hard. She smiled. Michael gave her his painted half a grin that made her heart stop. Carefully he lowered her down to the bed, helping her back into position. She wanted to thank him, for the dance, for remembering. For coming. He silenced her with a finger on her lips.      

          “ We’ll dance again.” He said quietly. “ Rest now.”

          He lay her down and knelt next to the bed. Carefully he leant over and kissed her brow, his lips cold against her skin. Madelaine smile and closed her eyes. A small trickle of blood ran onto the pillow from her ear. Maddie Fox, deasd at age eight nine, a victime of a brain hemmorage at home.

          Micheal stood and looke d at Madelaine, impassive and silent. He turned away and walked to the shadowns, his body dissolving as the shadows wrapped around him, the particles pushed away by the curtain blowing in the wind.



          How much belief does it take for an idea or a concept to become a reality? It thought about it a lot these days, if a concept could think. A thousand gods had been born on the strength of the beliefs of their followers. Some still lived, some grew stronger and thrived. Some passed into obscurity, worshipped by a few die-hard disciples. Some just faded away, stories to amuse adults or frighten small children. All on the strength of belief.

          There was only one death. Little ‘d’. The act, not the artists rendition or the movie-makers personification. Small variations on the theme to be sure, along with a few crazy ideas, but essentially one death. You lived, you died. Everyone knew that, and believed it, and belief creates reality. So death became Death, the entity. Valkyrie  to the Norse, the Black Rabbit to the hares of the plains, the old man in the black cowl with a scythe to fans of Bergman films. A strangely neurotic individual with a bad habit of butting into the affairs of mortals on the Discworld. Reaper of souls, brother to Charon. He Who Walks Between the Rows.

          A personification of Death stood atop the cliffs, the wind passing through it’s non-corporeal form without ruffling the shadows that formed the cape and cowl. It stared impassively out to sea at the storm raging out past the horizon. Sheet lightning danced along the clouds in the distance, lighting up the sea for a moment in brilliant pinks and reds. Tossed about on the winds, seabirds dived to the sea surface, then dragged themselves up to the clouds again. The personification of Death reached out an arm and pointed, and a birds controlled dive turned into a death plunge into the surging sea, the body disappearing beneath the waves. Another bird stopped at the zenith of it’s arc, then dropped like a stone.

          Animals believed in death to a point, usually the way a human regards it’s meal. An animals death usually meant it became the lunch of another larger, hungrier animal. Some understood the concept to a point, usually domesticated animals that had lived in close community with humans. But only humans truly knew death. It was part of the human condition that they feared death, sought to beat or cheat it, prolong the ride to it and find out what was on the other side of it. Humans believed, some worshipped. They created.

          The personification of Death had inherited some of those same curiosities from it’s creators. It did it’s job – overseeing the natural order of life – with remorseless singlemindedness. It cared little for the Harvest, the souls it took to another plane. Were this a conversation in an office near the photocopier it would shrug it’s shoulders, frown maybe.

          “ Ah, it’s a job.”

          But occasionally things that resembled thoughts intruded into it’s being. Human thoughts, emotional thoughts. What is Life? Is this all there is? What is My purpose? Most times these were pushed away gone before they could be realized, but occasionally they stayed and were pondered, if pondering were something the embodiment of a concept could do. And it at times worried.

          The storm grew closer, piling over the horizon toward the land. The clouds grew ever darker and the lightning became jagged forks of energy leaping between the clouds. The wind grew stronger, plucking at the fabric of thoughts and beliefs that created the cloth of the personification of Death. Somewhere in Indonesia a cyclone was killing  a thousand people and the belief in Death grew stronger, making the personification a little more tangible. In South America a mudslide envelopes a small village, unknown  numbers dead. But Death knew. Two hundred and six. In the Middle East, a suicide bomber kills twenty three instantly and another forty die within days. In America a schoolboy kills four of his schoolmates with his fathers .45 before turning the weapon upon himself, all because he was the last picked for the football games. In Africa, a village is slowly wiped out by the AIDS virus.

          Gods come and go, depending on the whim and the whimsy of their followers. In a sense, even the Gods believe in Death. And the personification of a concept became a little more concrete.

          Lightning strikes the ground near the shadow that is Death. Insects are burnt to a crisp instantly. Plants die. A lightning bolt blows a saltbush to shards of burning wood, destroying  a nest with three chicks and a mother bird. The wind plucks at the cape of the personification of Death and it allows itself to blow away across the clifftops, as though it had never truly been there at all.




          The lion lurched away, it’s face burning with pain. The thorn that had buried itself into its jaw had done well, infection setting in and filling the great cats head with a million stinging bees of pain. The lions eyesight suffered, and with that so did it’s ability to kill efficiently and it slowly began to starve. So it turned from it’s traditonal prey to something easier, more dangerous perhaps, but easier to kill. Humans. It took a child from a village after not having eaten for six days. The child was out of it’s mothers sight for less than a few minutes and made only the slightest of whimpers when the lion ripped it’s throat out. More humans had come later after the child had been missed, the remnants of the body found with hyena and birds working on the leavings.

          Men started to hunt the cat, but though in pain it was still wiley. It moved to another village, two days walk away and took an old woman by a river. The village reacted a little faster and gave chase before the cat could eat it’s fill but it slipped away through the grass and made it’s way to another village, five days walk away. Along the way it managed to kill a small gazelle, more but good luck that good management but food is food. In the next village it took a man working in a field, and for the first time the cat came up against a true hunter. Now it bore a scar across it’s hindquarters where a bullet had cut through the flesh. Flies had laid eggs in the wound and now maggots wriggled through the rotting flesh. The lions pain increased tenfold with this new wound added to the rot setting into it’s jaw. But despite the pain, it had to eat, so it moved off in search of prey.

          It came to another village, but something was different.  A scent, a smell that set off danger signals in its brain, strong enough to make the cat think twice and move away from the village insearch of a victim. Four days later and the lions hindquarter was starting to fade. It came across the carcass of a deer left by another predator, rotting in the sun. A few of the birds tearing strips of meat away flapped to the nearest tree, but most sensed they were safe and stayed, still keeping a wary eye on their uninvited guest.

          Five days later and the lion was ravenous. The hunter had agin been near when it tried to take a child near a water hole. It escaped with another bullet burn across it’s back. Barely able to walk now, the festering in it’s mouth and hindquarters blinding the cat with pain, the lion came to a boab tree, standing solitary on a plain. How the elephants had missed it was a question the lion would never ask. It was grateful for the shade. A chance to rest and hide from the sun. It sat beneath the shade, it’s body burning with pain and hunger. Again it tried to lick the wound on it’s hindquarters, but the pain and the sour taste made it stop. Instead, exhausted, it slept.

          A noise woke it hours later. The sun was setting behind distant hills. The lion sniffed the air. That smell again. The hunter. It tried to get up, but it’s strength was fading. The grass parted and the hunter was there. The lion forced itself up and leapt at the man with all it’s remaining strength as the hunter raised his weapon. Amazingly the leap was true but the lion seemed to pass through the hunters form, as though the man were smoke rather than flesh and bone. The lions leg buckled when it hit the ground but it turned and snarled. Flecks of foam spat from it lips as it struggled to rise. The hunter turned and raised his weapon again.

          The lion roared. It forced itself to it’s feet and made ready to leap again. It saw the hunter tense and make ready to fire. Another roar, cut short by a short spear that came sailing from the grass, burying itself into the lions throat. Other spears followed, impaling the lions body, driving it to the ground. Mortally wounded, it’s blood soaking into the ground, the lion watched as men came from the grass, some walking through the body of the hunter, who began to disaapate like smoke. A boy on his first hunt came up from behind with a knife and cut the dying lions throat as the last vestiges of the hunter faded away.

© 2008 Barry Simiana

Author's Note

Barry Simiana
go hard

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You've got a lot of minor errors in the second story and beyond, spelling and capitalization. By far, the first and third stories were my favorite, for different reasons. The first because it is truly chilling. Disturbing subject, imagery is perfect. The third because the topic intrigues me, but that's no surprise, religion and spirituality is my favorite subject.

I will say that the last story feels a little off, the first two being about people, and the third about Death. With that said, it does kinda fit, because animals are in there too. So take that with a grain of salt.

This is my favorite piece written by you, btw.

Posted 14 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


You've got a lot of minor errors in the second story and beyond, spelling and capitalization. By far, the first and third stories were my favorite, for different reasons. The first because it is truly chilling. Disturbing subject, imagery is perfect. The third because the topic intrigues me, but that's no surprise, religion and spirituality is my favorite subject.

I will say that the last story feels a little off, the first two being about people, and the third about Death. With that said, it does kinda fit, because animals are in there too. So take that with a grain of salt.

This is my favorite piece written by you, btw.

Posted 14 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

You've got a lot of minor errors in the second story and beyond, spelling and capitalization. By far, the first and third stories were my favorite, for different reasons. The first because it is truly chilling. Disturbing subject, imagery is perfect. The third because the topic intrigues me, but that's no surprise, religion and spirituality is my favorite subject.

I will say that the last story feels a little off, the first two being about people, and the third about Death. With that said, it does kinda fit, because animals are in there too. So take that with a grain of salt.

This is my favorite piece written by you, btw.

Posted 14 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

intresting, I like it.

Posted 14 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I loved your story! It was creative and very vivid! I liked how you see death. I thought it was original! Very good!

Posted 15 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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4 Reviews
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Added on March 14, 2008


Barry Simiana
Barry Simiana

South Grafton NSW AUSTRALIA, Non US or Canadian State/Province, Australia

Writer, creator. First published in Next Stop Hollywood: Short Stories Bound for the Screen, 2007 with the short story "Gone to Mum's." Still chasing that one around to get a movie made. 2011 saw the .. more..

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A Story by Barry Simiana