Before I was assigned a special case, I had to get used to being in the afterlife. Transporting to places and learning how everything works.
I had to learn it quickly since Death was a very impatient man. I got yelled at whenever I did a trick or a strategy wrong.
I learned everything in two days that would have taken a month for a person with my job. I was a bit fearful of what he might do to me if I continued to mess up.
After those two days, Death approached me, "Okay, you're ready for your first case," said Death.
"Finally," I sighed.
"Your first case will be finding a elderly man in London who has locked himself away from the world. His name is Keith Jones. You will not use your your name.
Instead, you will use the name that I have given you for this case," said Death.
"Heather Davies? Why?" I asked.
"Your identity must remain a secret to in order to protect yourself. If you reveal your identity, then people will try to summon you. You were well known in your job before you died.
You have to always be careful," explained Death.
"I understand," I said. I agreed to this job. I have to do this.
"Good. Now go finish this case or else. I have already prepared a way in for you," said Death.
"Yes sir," I said.
Death snapped his fingers and immediately I was in London. Not the lively London I used to see or know. This part of London I was in, was a neighborhood.
All the kids were playing outside and was having a good time. The sun was shining down on them. Except that one house that is the farthest down the street. It looked old, rusty, and depressing.
I didn't know that house was Keith's. I walked towards that house. It became a sudden transformation from a friendly neighborhood to a dark, cold and abandoned neighborhood.
Just like that house. It was snowing too. I was very confused. I didn't know what to expect in my first case. Death said he already prepared a way in for me. Now what did that mean?
I heard gun noises and I felt a sharp pain in my leg and chest. I screamed in pain. Also in my head, I was cursing at Death. This was a horrible way in.
But I had to make the best of this situation, "Help!" I screamed a few times to try to get Keith come out of his house. I saw the door open by an inch.
I knew Keith was looking at me, "Sir, please help me. I've been shot. Please don't leave me out in the cold. Please," I begged.
"I can't let you in. Death will get me the moment I walk out of this house," said Keith.
"Please sir. They already left me out in the cold. It's going to take hours for them to try to find me," I lied. That somehow convinced the old man to step out of his house to help me.
He helped me get up to my feet and walked me inside. He laid me down on a bed in his living room. It was super dark. I could only see the light from the windows shining down in this room.
Keith grabbed his first aid kit and he fixed my injuries in a couple of hours. For some reason I blacked out from the pain.
I woke up a few hours later and found myself still in bed. I sat up against the wall. Keith walked into the living room with a drink.
It looked like tea, "Here, I made some tea to help keep you warm," said Keith.
"Thank you," I said. I hold the cup as Keith sat in his wooden rocking chair. Keith looked like an elderly man who dressed in a blue turtleneck sweater and brown pants.
He had his black loafers on and was holding a cane. If I were to guess his age, he would have to be in mid seventies. He was staring at the ceiling window.
The same one with the light shining down in between us.
"Excuse me sir, I never got to ask you your name," I said.
"My name is Keith. What is your name?" asked Keith.
"My name is Heather," I said.
"Nice to meet you Heather. I'm glad to see that you're doing okay," said Keith.
"Thank you. It looks like you did a good job on this. Were you a doctor?" I asked.
Keith chuckled, "I was. I retired fifty years ago," said Keith.
"Fifty years ago? How old are you now?" I asked.
"I'm almost ninety and still moving," said Keith.
"That's amazing that you lived this long," I said.
"I guess," said Keith.
"I'm only saying that because not lots of people usually live this long. I don't know anyone who has lived this long. Well only one and that was my grandmother," I said.
My grandmother lived to be a hundred years old. She outlived all of her children and her friends.
It was sad to watch because outliving her own children isn't something that my grandmother wanted. Or anybody.
"People die every day, but others are lucky enough to live this long. Are you done with your tea?" asked Keith.
"Yes," I said. I handed the cup to him and he walked to the kitchen. Then he walked upstairs. I wasn't so sure what he was going to do until I heard snoring. It sounded like he was taking a nap.
I saw pictures on the wall. I decided to get out of bed and walked closer to it. There were three pictures on the wall.
A wedding photo, a photo of a boy, and a photo of other people possibly in their mid twenties or early thirties.
The wedding photo had a brown haired, green eyed beautiful young woman in a white wedding dress standing next to a slightly taller, black haired,
brown eyed man dressed in his wedding suit who looked so happy to be next to her. I could tell that there was pure happiness captured in that wedding photo.
In the photo of a boy, he had to be eight years old. I could recognize some of Keith's features in this young boy. The nose, the jawline, and the hair.
The boy must have inherited the eyes from the young woman. He must be Keith's son if he looked similar to Keith.
The last photo, as I looked more closely at it, was a group photo. A bunch of young men in their mid twenties at a party or some sort of social event.
The same man from the wedding photo was in this group photo. He was sitting at the table with them, playing a card game. They looked like they were having lots of fun.
Looking at those three photos made me kind of jealous. I had a childhood, graduated from college, married the man of my dreams and had my dream job.
But I wanted to have children and grow old with Klaus. But now I will never have that opportunity. Only Klaus can.
"Looking at my photos?" I heard Keith's voice. I turned around to face Keith, "Yeah, I was curious about them," I said.
"They are good photos," said Keith.
"What happened to them?" I asked.
"To them? It's a long story," said Keith.
"I have time. It's going to be a long night. Or day," I said as I looked at that ceiling window. In his house, I couldn't really tell if it was daytime or nighttime.
I limped over to my bed and sat against the wall. Keith walked to his wooden rocking chair. He sat in it as he told me his story, "I was twenty four when I married the woman of my dreams.
Kiara was her name. She was my college sweetheart and we got married before I went off to war in the forties. We wrote to each other every chance we got.
She was always on my mind and my motivation to survive through this war.
After the war ended, I came home on the day she graduated from college and surprised her," chuckled Keith, "You should have seen how happy she was. That group picture was a celebration party.
Two months later, we bought our dream house, got our jobs, and she was pregnant with a baby boy. That picture of a boy you saw is my son Scott. He was our everything.
I cried when I saw him for the first time," said Keith. I could see tears in his eyes. He took a deep breath, "I remember how happy I was to have Scott.
Everything was so great until he got sick. He was diagnosed with polio. He couldn't walk or breathe. Despite everything we did to try to help, it wasn't enough.
He died at twelve years old in my arms. Kiara never recovered from his death. She never spoke about him. She became cold and distant from her family, friends and me. She died of a drug overdose.
I came home one night and found her body on the couch. It was on the day of our anniversary," said Keith.
"Keith, I'm so sorry," I said.
"It's okay. It was a long time ago. I left that life a long time ago since everyone I knew is gone," said Keith.
"How long have you been living in this house?" I asked.
"Almost fifty years," said Keith.
"And you never went outside or talked to anyone?" I asked.
"No. It's always been like this for as long as I can remember. However, I miss the sunlight. I miss being outside and watching other kids play.
In this house, there's nothing except my sadness and misery. The only light I get is from that window. But better than dying," said Keith.
"Keith, what makes you afraid of dying?" I asked.
"The pain. The nightmares. It takes people too quick. I watched so many people die around me. That's why I hide, so I don't have to be one of them. I know when Death is coming for me.
I escaped him many times and he hasn't came to me since last time I went out," said Keith.
"But don't you think that if you went, you would be able to see everyone again? That you would be able to see the sunlight again? You lived two thirds of your life in darkness," I said.
"But there's nothing at the other side. What's there at the other side? We don't know," said Keith. Keith reminded me so much of my parents. They were just as afraid of Keith.
But they didn't hide in darkness.
"You're right. But..." I looked at the clock. It was time to get some sleep, "Just try to keep an open mind. I appreciate that you opened up to me Keith.
That must have been a lot for you," I said.
"Thank you. I'm going to get some sleep. You need to rest," said Keith.
"Thank you," I said.
Even thought I was jealous that he had a son and lived a longer life--I don't think anyone should live most of their life in darkness.
Even though death is inevitable, it reminds us to live our lives to the fullest in the best way. I lived the best I could with my life before I gave up mine to protect a child from being shot.
I know I would do it again.