It was a cloudy afternoon like any other; the afternoon that man hailed for my cab. I pulled over next to him as he stood on that harsh city sidewalk. He then slipped silently into the back of my taxi cab and I stole a glance of the man in my mirror. He was a dark man; not necessarily by any racial decent, but rather a grayish rust complexion. He was wearing a simple black bowler hat as well as a white button up shirt and a long dark coat. He kept the bowler across his eyes that seemed to be directed down to his feet in what I thought looked a bit awkward, but I had seen stranger men in my cab.
"Where to, sir?" I asked the man as I stared up at him in my mirror.
"West 34th street if you don't mind," the man said in a raspy voice that spoke falsely of his appearance of about 30 years or so. "There's someone that I have to meet there."
With that said, I started off onto the road to get to where he wanted me to take him. "Business or pleasure?" I asked dryly as I drove.
"Business," the man said. "Strictly business." He said this in a deeper voice than before, and I couldn't help but for my interest to be perked.
"What sort of business?" I asked him as I turned a corner on the road. I honked at man who almost drove right out in front of me as I went. "Drivers these days..."
For a while the man was silent. He breathed heavily for a minute or two, and so I could tell that he was hesitant on giving this information to me.
"It's fine," I murmured, lifting my hand up. "Ain't my place to ask."
"It's all right," he gave in quick response. "I do not really enjoy my job, but someone has to do it."
"Do you mind me asking what it is you do?" I asked, this time being far more careful about not budding too much into his business. "Not trying to pry of course."
Again, he was silent for a moment. This time I think it was to figure out just what he was going to tell me, because what came out of his mouth was nothing but pure madness. He spoke indirectly and in a hushed voice, leaning against the window as rain started to fall, dripping down the sides of the car as we went.
"I was there," he started. Though I could not see him, I could feel his eyes looking at me. "I was there before Cain and Abel... and before Adam and Eve."
He then spoke of the first lives he ever took, and of the wars he had seen. Those who begged and groveled for their lives to end because they were in such pain. Many who felt they were not ready, and the ones who seemed to accept it as it were. He would take the lives of men, women, and children alike.
He also spoke of how he had been there.
The Deluge. The Black Plague. Murder, hurricanes, fires, avalanches, little Sarah and Jon as they play in their yards while a stranger watches them... everything. He'd seen thousands die in battle over absolute nonsense, and others die from their own account. The sadistic sociopath who gets their kicks from watching those around them suffer.
As he went on and on, I knew he was crazy. I mean, he had to be crazy, this man who claimed to have witnessed catastrophes and seen these horrible people. The deliverer of souls. This man who claimed to be Death himself.
Strangely enough, even though this insane man was speaking of taking lives and being through the flood and the plague, he did not seem completely unaffected. Not that any normal man would be happy about it of course, but when you hear of Death and his taking of lives you don't expect him to feel anything, let alone the possibility of remorse. It wasn't obvious, but sometimes he paused for a little too long or shifted in the back seat uncomfortably.
I'm not a religious, or even superstitious man by any means, but my curiosity was getting the best of me. I had to ask, "Are you the devil?" It was probably a silly question, relatively speaking, but it was one that I felt the need to ask from the very beginning.
"I am not," came a simple reply. He said nothing after that, but I felt the temperature suddenly drop in the taxi. It was as if the very bitterness he felt for Satan dripped into the cab. I chose to leave it at that and not ask him anything else.
By the time the rain has dwindled and he had fallen into silence, I was very much worried about my own life. Sure, the man had not threatened me yet, but I couldn't help but be afraid. Who in their right mind wouldn't be? He was obviously mad.
As I drove, I glanced down at my glove box where my gun was. I kept it for my own protection and if the time called for it I would use it. I then prayed that I would not have to use it.
As I glanced up at the street again I saw that it was time for me to turn onto 34th Street. I did so and looked into the mirror at the man again. Was that a tear drop? It was difficult to make out from under the hat, but it seemed as if a small drop slid down his gray face and splattered on his coat sleeve.
"Right there," he said, pointing to the home where he wanted me to stop. I did as I was told and parked my car on the side of the road for him. I told him how much money I needed and he handed it to me, his hands as cold as ice as he touched mine. He then slipped out of the car, only to poke his head back inside, but keeping his eyes hidden all the same under his bowler hat.
"And I'll be seeing you very soon," he told me before shutting the door. The strange man tipped his hat, as if it were necessary from its already awkward angle, and walked past my car only to vanish as he walked towards the house.
I blinked in shock and stared at the spot where he had been mere seconds ago. I then looked down at myself, not sure what to think of the situation. Perhaps I was the crazy one.
After several minutes of staring down at myself, as well as several honks from drivers passing me on the road, I finally gathered up my composure and convinced myself that it had all been a figment of my imagination. I started up the car and began to drive off. It took a while due to the traffic, but I was finally able to turn into a parking lot so I could pull out and head back the way I came.
I couldn't stop it. It happened so fast and I didn't know what to think. A boy, no older than six, ran out of the home that the man had walked towards moments ago. Before I knew it, he ran out into the road to get to the other side where children were waving for him. My car screeched as he ran out in front of my car, but I was too late.
The boy stared at me frozen in his spot right before I ran him down. Like a deer in the headlights he could not move from fear. I stopped immediately, but I was too stunned to get out of my car at first. That's when I saw him in my rear view mirror; The man I had given the ride to.
He walked in front of my car and stared down at the boy who was laying under my tire. "Pity..." I heard the man whisper in his raspy voice. He leaned down and touched the boy's shoulder, from what I could tell, as the family who lived in the house raced out screaming at what they saw. They did not see Death. They could not see Death.
Death's head turned towards them and he stood up straight, his attention then turning back to me. He tipped his hat up lightly and gave me a slight nod of goodbye. His eyes, black as coal with no sign of white, pierced into my heart like cold ice. He then returned the hat to its normal spot and walked away from the accident as he disappeared in the sunset.
His words kept ringing in my brain even as I jumped out of my car and called the police. The boy's mother and father were crying and screaming over their son, but I could not hear them to make out what they were saying.