Scuffle With Death

As they left the schoolhouse hand in hand, Vadiim did not follow behind. Instead, he drifted through the village, lost in his thoughts. He did not see that Keinah walked her friend back to his shop. The shopkeeper kept her longer than she intended, and after receiving a bag of expensive fabrics and spices, she went alone.
Over time, a high rate in crime-plagued the village. Vandals and robbers were always on the prowl at night. Keinah took a longer route to her home to stay off the main road. Unfortunately, she put herself in even more danger by taking a back alley. She was approached by a swarm of thugs who attacked her for her goods.
As Vadiim left the village, he saw a crowd of villagers frantically headed towards the alley’s direction. He paid no mind to it until he heard a woman scream Keinah’s name. He ascended over the crowd to see Keinah’s body beaten to a pulp. As her neighbors shrieked in horror, she lay half-naked in a pool of blood. The women wailed louder as the men carried her body off to the infirmary.

Vadiim remained in the infirmary room as he observed a doctor and three nurses clamor to save Keinah. They shouted over each other and brought in dozens of tools to aid her. Suddenly, Keinah gasped for air as she abruptly sat up on the cot that she had been placed on. She watched as the medical staff and other guests somberly left the room. She plunged herself off the cot and went over to the window. It was pitch black outside, and she could not see a thing. She was startled when she turned around to see Vadiim standing in front of her.
“I did not mean to frighten you, my dear.” He said in a calm voice.
“Vadiim, is that really you? Where have you been all this time?” she asked in a frenzy.
“My dear Keinah, I know that I have been gone a long while. It was unintended that I had to stay away. I came to see you as soon as I could.” He said with great remorse.
Keinah smiled and hugged him tightly. She buried her face in his chest, just as she had always done before. He breathed in her aroma, which was 10 times stronger than it had been in the past.
She looked up into his eyes and said with a quiver, “You hadn’t been at the ocean shore for a spell. I waited there for you all along. It made me quite sad, so I found a doctor who fixed me. I haven’t been back since.”
Vadiim pulled her closer to him and trembled. “It could not be helped. I will not leave your side again!” He declared.
Keinah looked at him with a puzzled glare and asked, “Are you going to stay here in the village with me?”
“Quite the contrary. I am taking you away with me.” He chuckled while cuffing her face with his hands.
“Why can’t we stay here, or are we going back to the beach?” She asked in confusion.
He directed her sight towards the cot and somberly stated, “My dear Keinah, your time has finally come. You cannot remain here any more, nor do I believe the beach will suffice.”
There she could see her dead body wrapped in bandages from head to toe. Keinah doubled over into his arms with shock as she remembered her final encounter with the thugs in the alley.
Keinah wept, “What does this mean; am I dead?”
Vadiim kneeled on the floor to embrace her. Suddenly, a fluorescent light encompassed the room. Draped in a long, thick burlap black robe that covered his entire face and holding a sharp silver scythe, The Reaper appeared before them and was stunned to see Vadiim holding the girl.
“Just what do you think you are doing here?” he asked in a fit of rage and confusion.
Vadiim did not respond, but continued to console Keinah.
The Reaper took great offense at being ignored, so he banged his large scythe on the floor and asked again. “What are you doing here?”
Vadiim took an indignant tone. “I have come for Keinah.”
The Reaper cackled, “Nonsense! You have no jurisdiction here!”
Keinah clinched Vadiim’s arm tighter as The Reaper reached his boney skeletal hand out to her. “Come with me, my child. We mustn’t be too long,” he said in a creepy voice that echoed throughout the room.
Keinah cried, “Vadiim, please don’t let him take me!”
Every aspect of the entire scenario infuriated Vadiim. He stood and briskly pulled her out of the Reaper’s grasp. “Can you not see the girl is frightened?” he huffed.
The Reaper’s outrage boiled over. “Damn you! Release her this instant—this is no business of yours!”
Keinah lodged herself between the two entities and said, “I beg you, Sir, please let me go back to my body. I don’t want to die!”
The Reaper grinned with twisted satisfaction to hear her plea.”That is not possible, child;Come with me now,” he replied.
Keinah knelt at his feet. There was no tremble in her voice this time. “Then please let me go back to the beach with Vadiim. Let him take me there.”
The Reaper contemplated her request, then looked at Vadiim. “That is not possible, either. That was merely a holding place, or what you humans call purgatory. It is time for you to cross all the way over to the other side,” he hissed.
This revelation caused Keinah’s grief to peak, and she cried out even more. “Please, I’ll do whatever you want. I am not ready to die yet.”
 Her tearful plea moved Vadiim and reminded him of the time she cried when she was a young child. He could never bear to see her in such agony. His anguish turned to wrath as he lunged toward The Reaper to strike him. He repeated several blows, and the entities wrestled about the room before the sound of trumpets could be heard in the distance. Vadiim knew he had run out of time, and the Celestial Triad guards had come for him. Scores of emerald clouds ascended into the room and took on human forms.

The Farside of Hereafter, Ch. 7


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