He had a strange voice - poly-tonal, with a high, whiny note and a rumbling wheeze simultaneously. His cloak threw up dust in the moonbeams, and a smell of sour milk.
"You're near to the end," he said. "So I am here to resolve your remaining questions."
I swallowed hard but failed to clear my throat and instead coughed up some semi-clotted blood before I could respond. Finally I forced something out. "I thought....
I thought you would come and surprise me and...drag me to the beyond. You answer questions?"
I looked at my niece who was folding clothes and praying but she was oblivious to his presence.
"Can you tell me, what happens to my family after I'm gone?"
"You already know."
"Can you tell me if it is good to be dead."
"I was never alive so I have nothing to compare it to."
"Am I dying according to plan?"
"Is that good?"
"Everything is good, eventually. Just like everything is bad, eventually."
"When your mother died, this was 'bad' but the small inheritance you received helped you pay for the first few months' rent on your new business.
But working with you in the business, your brother hurt his neck and is in a lot of pain, yet since he was forced to be less active, he's now making money as a short story writer.
When you married, you were so happy but you had to live with her parents for some time and the pipe smoke of her father gave you this cancer.
But you also got to know your niece by living here and she is looking after you so well. Her 'bad' experience of looking after you will lead her into a nursing career.
Everything is good, eventually and everything is bad, eventually."
"Can I say goodbye to my niece?"
"Do what you want in the remaining 112 seconds that you have."
And so I told my niece that I loved her and that she must always remember that everything is good, eventually and everything is bad, eventually.
And I said she should move out so she did not risk the cancer I had endured.
I thought I would have cried then but I didn't and, instead, I looked up at him and affirmed: "Done."