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Coming to Collect
by C.R.M. Nilsson

It was such a beautiful forest. It bathed in a golden-toned light and the trees still had their leaves. They were all young and slender. Their leaves had a bluish hint that seemed surreal and unnatural. Or would have seemed that way, if it hadnít been so peaceful and beautiful in this place.

It was an odd place he had chosen to die in.

The leaves rustled underneath his feet as the man with the badly burnt face walked on. His face was, taking some freedom with Phantom of the Opera, hardly a face at all. His eyelids had burnt away and he lacked lips. The burn scars had turned almost purple and they were so violently coloured, that people always wondered if they still hurt.

They still did. They pained and tortured him. But there was little that didnít hurt nowadays. Every breath was a struggle: it felt like he was inhaling cold bursts of ice into his lungs. Exhaling felt like he was breathing death on everybody that dared to come close (and those brave souls were few). It reminded him that he was still alive, breathing, thinking, when she lie dead in her family grave.

Breathing equalled dying a little bit more, while heart and brain physically remained strong.

If he had been a little more attentiveÖ if he had stopped working for once and not chased after the success that was eluding him (because he clearly was not the genius he fancied himself to be)Ö he could have spared her the suffering of a husband that didnít love her enough. Her beauty would not have faded because of the fact that she seldom left home, because loneliness would not have torn her soul into shreds.

He would not have come home to find her lying on the table with her arms lifelessly hanging down from its sides. He would not have seen the blood dripping slowly to the floor, making the grim sight even more ominous. He would not have heard that she carried a son in her belly, a son that could not be his.

<Ś>What little brilliance he then possessed had quickly deserted him in the wake of his wifeís death. Beautiful, fragile Leonoraís death drove his business into shambles. But he didnít care. The bottle was all too tempting. So was the occult that he became obsessed with. So obsessed that he decided to dig up Leonoraís grave and rob her body from its resting place.

If he closed his eyes, he could see all those black candles surrounding her beautiful corpse. She had yet to start to rot and her body still held the beauty he had been too blind to see. He murmured his archaic, devilish spells as he tried to pull her soul back into the body. And he was successful, too, as the warmth of life started to return to her body. She was even murmuring, as if in sleep, and her eyelids started to flutter. But then she screamed. It was a scream that tore through every part of his being and he startled. One of the candles fell to the ground and set the curtains on fire. He didnít notice it, because he was too busy with the sudden disappearance of her body. A violent wind had swept through their apartment and extinguished all of the candles, but had only fed the growing fire.

His face had been burnt beyond recognition and the doctors didnít think he would survive. But he did and when he finally could, he went to see her grave. It was undisturbed.

But since then, he had been waiting for his death. He could see it sneaking up on him from the corner of his eyes. It was dressed in all black robes and a hood covered its stern face. The scythe had been polished and sharpened. He could almost see how easily it would kill him.

The forest was such a beautiful place to die in. It was more than he deserved. What he deserved was for his body not to ever be found and eaten by the wild animals. He deserved to die alone and violently for driving his fragile wife into deathís awaiting arms.

The golden-toned light reflected beautiful in the scytheís blade. The blood slowly soaked into the leaves beneath the fallen body.

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Copyright C.R.M. Nilsson 2010

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