Wednesday, April 13, 2011

YAFF Muse: The Reaper

YAFF Muse is a weekly blog series featuring some YA Fiction Fanatics members. In this series, we'll post original short stories created from an image meant to inspire our Muse. Hope you enjoy! And don't forget to check out the other YAFFers participating in this series (links below). 

This week the Muse is inspired by the song "Don't Fear the Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult. I didn't use that version, instead I listened non-stop to the Alana Davis cover. Now, I just want to preface this video with the fact that while it's the right audio clip, it's COMPLETELY weird video of Disney Princesses spliced into other Disney video of Hades. So pay no attention to the video, only listen to the clip of the wonderful Alana's version of this sorta creepy song.

The wheat stalks scratch at my legs as I trudge through the field toward him. Toward Sam. With the sun sinking behind him, he leans against a weathered fence post. His black hoodie obscures the piercing gaze I know lays beneath.

One foot in front of the next, I pick up the pace. The tip of my ponytail tickles the base of my neck as it sweeps side to side. My eyes narrow as he raises his head, meeting my stare.

“Go away, Sam. It’s not time yet.” I cringe at the rough scratch to my voice.

“Stop,” he says.

“You know I won’t.” I pause at the now familiar frigid air that despite the sweltering heat hangs like a halo around him. It won’t last.

He pushes from the post and stands tall, like a stretched shadow on a wall. “It’s time Frances. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t.”

The scent of funeral lilies cuts he air between us. The saccharine smell stings my eyes and burns my throat. I wince at the pain in my palm where my nails have left crescents in the soft skin. With my jaw clenched, I move forward.

“Please, stop,” he says, so quiet I think it could be the rustle of wheat at my knees.

“Sam.” As I grow closer, the coldness shakes from my skin and the stench of flowers evaporates. I knew it would. Death rages around him, but like the center of a storm he is the quiet center. “You’ve taken everyone I love. Everyone. You can’t have Evie too.”

He hangs his head, the black hood casts dark shadows across his face. “I have to. I’d give anything not to do this to you.” He takes a step back, fists balled.

I’m too close to him. The stale cold caresses my back and shoulders. But it doesn’t stop me as I take another step in his direction, into the warmth again. “How can the Fates take her too?”

“It’s their will, I’m sorry.”

“Why did you come here? You could have crept into the night and taken her without me knowing. Just like you did Mom and Dad. You came to give me a choice, I now you did.”

“I had… I had to see you.”

“So I have a choice?” My heart thuds in my ears. I’d die for Evie.

“No.” His eyes meet mine, anger blurring out their usual blue hue. “I came here when I took Ben, Theda and Morris. You did not have a choice then.”

My pulse quickens. “But she’s the last of my family. That’s why I have a choice now. Sam, please. Take me instead.”

“Never.” His jaw tightens.

“It’s what you want, isn’t it? I’ll stay with you if you leave her.”

“Even if I wanted—” He turns and his fist connects with the fence post, sending it flying across the field.

Startled, I step back, the cold embraces me once more.

He whips around, eyes blazing. “I can’t make that choice. It’s her time. Souls can’t be traded.”

Moving forward, into the circle of his warmth, I say, “I’ve asked to save every soul you’ve taken since we met. You’ve always told me that you’ve got to take a soul. Why not mine?”

In two swift steps Sam is so close his hoodie string brushes my upper arm. He leans down, smelling of musk, not death, his breath cool against my cheek. “I’ve broken every rule to speak to you. The Fates have a plan and I’ve been warned not to interfere.” His breathing is measured but his lips move quickly touching the skin near my ear. “They would tear me apart if I took your soul. I would not be safe, neither would you.”

Without thinking, my fingers close around his hand and I squeeze. “I’m ready to embrace it.” The Fates have never been shy with alluding to my destiny. “I’m not afraid.”

“You should be. A death more permanent than me awaits us both if we’re caught.”

“Will it save my sister?” The wind picks up, mingling the scent of wheatgrass and spice.

He lifts his other hand, brushing a stray hair from my face. “For now. The war here will go on for another year in human time. I can’t make a promise she’ll survive it.”

His face has softened, and I know he’ll give in to me. I shift my gaze to the wheat. The thought of Evie having a chance to run in these fields, to live, even if it would only be for one more day, makes it worth it. “Good enough.”

Sam’s fingers lace through my and his grip tightens. “This will hurt.” His eyes turn black and his lips crease into a thin line.

The panic slides through my veins and the urge to wiggle from his grip is overwhelming. A ball of fire sits in my chest and begins spread until every inch of me is white hot. I shift my focus to my feet, and concentrate on staying still until I darkness claims me.

The distant sound of crickets wake me and as I open my eyes, it is from beneath a black velvet hood. Like Sam, I, am a Reaper.
(c) 2011, MB
Don't forget to check out my fellow YAFFer's stories based on the same song (well sort of):
Vanessa Barger