Did you know that without my wife, life may get boring? Maybe not, but you would go on for a long time…Forever in fact. Life with a beginning, but no end sounds appealing…It could be if you where immortal, but what about those who still age? You would get weaker… Maybe eternally ill until a cure could be found. Maybe the depressed would go on a suicide tear for a while… Stuck in a rut are we?
Baba Yaga… The Death Angel… The Grim Reaper. No matter what you call me I exist without existing… I am cursed with Life-In-Death, and am Death’s companion just like in The Albatross. We sail the seas looking for the condemned, the damned, the just born Angels, whatever you have. Playing dice for the deceased souls… Those cursed into suicide… The unfortunate who still think they are alive.
Like the condemned sailors onboard the vessel plagued by misfortune after the ancient mariner shoots the albatross, we like to decide with chance. A game of dice would decide their fate. Enslaved or freed to live again? Would they like to try at life where they left off, or would they like to crew the ship of fools? Some say the Fates roll the dice their way, others say we load them to our liking.
Like a purgatorial existence you are not yet dead, and your fate is in the balance. If I win, they will become sailors for a time and will have to yet again earn the right to move on. If Death herself wins, well it’s game over… There is no second chance.
Clotho may have built in your demise, but perhaps he can be persuaded to re-spin your yarn. If you were dirty… Atropos surly got ya with his quick cutting ways, but still maybe some quick hitting dirty work and Lachesis would see you off on a new path. Life after death is one thing… Living through death is another all together.
The thing is I live without dying… A Devil in my ways… Hades… Lucifer… Osiris. Want to be like me? Kindred spirits floating in the breeze? Join my crew for eternity if you like… Come help us rule the Underworld. Careful… Cerberus bites if you get too near, only I get to pet him as you board Charon’s ferry to get carried to the other side. Never hunger…. Never thirst… Hell, don’t even breath.
As we tootled along at a snail’s space, due to a tattered sail from many a battle, our grey-hulled, war-torn vessel’s lookout spotted an ocean liner up ahead. The heartbeat-like drum, pacing the skeleton crews’ oars, was loud in the night and marked our passage raising fear in the minds of every sailor adrift. Spash… Splash… Splash marked the dipping of the oars with every stroke put to time with the slow-crawling cadence of our cruise.
“Look ahead my mate… The ship’s dead in the water!”, I said.
“Really? You want to play a game? I bet they all died of food poisoning… You know… Red Tide.” She responded already knowing the outcome as if she had a book to read.
“Sure… I sense ten lives at stake. I could use more crew. You know Blackbeard can always cram them in… I have no fear of scurvy… Just the bone-gnawing rats.” I joked as I swept back my cloak to reveal a black tanned leather pouch tied to my belt.
“Dead or dying?”
“What’s the difference? They all go one way or the other.”
“Well… They must be suicide victims or still not dead if they have life. You know not everyone is willing to suffer… Some like the easy way out, not knowing of the real peril.” She said taking pity on the condemned ship’s complement.
“Fine… My bluff was called… Ten commit suicide.”
“Sure… Maybe I can redeem them from your grasp… I do like to make a difference you know.”
I drew the string loose and pulled the purse open, pouring out the contents into my hand revealing a pair of dice remembering our deal. If I should role snake-eyes, I must give up the crew I have and freely return them to life where, in Death’s mind, they belonged anyway.
“You first, darling.” I said hoping for the best… Remembering I could always use a bigger crew.
“Sure.” She said grabbing the dice from my hand.
She rubbed them in her flesh-less palms like at a craps table and blew dryly upon them. I thought it wasn’t bad for a chick with no lungs as she launched them from her hand to the deck below. One hit a hole and bounced oddly… I still think that was an ill omen for myself. The other rolled freely across the deck and finally came to rest.
“Six and Five… That makes Eleven!” She said in Triumph as she bellowed out laughter into the fog less night, where not a breaker could be found to mar the glass-topped surface of the still ocean.
“Damn you woman… Those ten will die, I’m sure… I’ll never get a full complement this way.” I said as I waved my hand and recalled the die to my fleshy palm.
Forgoing the same ritual as herself I lazily cast them out already knowing the sailors’ fate… Snake-eyes! Drat, what a night… I guess Bligh’s old second in command was to lose his crew this night.
Cackling with delight, my wife clapped slowly, like you would in a Golf tournament for a completed Birde, “So… Are you gonna tell the good news, or shall I?”
“You might as well darling… I was sure they where mine!” I stared at the ocean liner, dead and still, wondering if they all would like to wake up in warm beds on a cool summer’s eve, where crickets could be heard chirping in the breeze?
“Crew…You down below in the Galley, stop rowing for a moment, my husband would like to tell you something.”
“Yes… Your fates are sealed. I’m afraid the worst has happened… I’ve hit double digits… Snake-eyes… You’re all free to go back and resume your lives, debts paid in full.” I snapped my fingers and wondered how many thought they were dreaming when they awoke the next morning?