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The Trip

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I was quietly driving one night on an almost empty stretch of road, as a precaution, I had slept all afternoon in order to be fully awake for the many hours I spent on the road. Then, the headlights of a car driving on the opposite lane allowed me to distinguish, through the mirror, a dark figure in the back seat of my car, and I must say that startled me a lot.

In order to calm my sudden and growing fear, I began to rationalize that whatever it was, that thing was completely still and if it wanted to hurt me, it would have done it by now. I immediately dismissed the matter as a play of lights and shadows.

I continued my journey until yet another car drove past me in the opposite direction, flooding the insides of my car with light. I instinctively looked in the mirror; the figure was still there, not moving at all, too quiet to be a person. You couldn't even see or hear it breathing. I kept driving, more and more nervous, because now I was totally convinced that it wasn't my imagination. This time the other car's lights illuminated the back seat long enough so that I could see that the figure was wrapped in something resembling a robe, its head hidden by a hood.

"Maybe it only was my imagination," I said aloud, "You may already be tired and seeing things that do not exist," and just at that moment, a truck passed with all its lights on. This made it possible to see the face of what was traveling with me, or rather, I could see where the face was supposed to be. All I saw was a skull. I had to muster all my courage to keep control of the vehicle, and although the backseat was again totally dark, I could clearly distinguish the silhouette of this being, as I knew it was there.

Trying to fight off the fear, I found myself thinking that a hooded figure with a skull instead of a face could not be anything but death itself. So keeping my terror filled voice as much as possible, I said: "Please get on the passenger's seat, I'd like to ask you some questions."

Then, the silhouette disappeared from the back seat, to immediately reappear next to me. The first thing I thought to ask was, "Is it my time?” To which the being answered with a serene, deep voice, "No, not yet, just wanted to hitch a ride." I dared not to ask him where he was going, because wherever it was, it would be to take a life. The entity, reading my thoughts, said:

"We do not take any lives; we only take care of bringing souls to the other side."

"We?" I asked surprised, "Are there more reapers?"

"Our numbers are close to a million," said Death, "No matter how supernatural the living consider us, it would be impossible for a single reaper to help the thousands of souls that leave their bodies every day across the veil."

"What is you true form?" I confidently asked knowing that it wasn’t my time yet.

"Our real shape," began Death, "is immaterial and invisible to any living or recently liberated soul; we have to materialize in order to perform our work."

"Why a skeleton?" I inquired.

"Because it's the easiest form for us to take," he said, "We can take a fully human shape, but that requires a lot of energy. Sometimes we have to, because some newly liberated souls suffer a great shock to see the classical figure of death approaching them, so we have to take a less threatening appearance in order to make the transition as smooth as possible."

"Why is it I can see you if it isn't yet my time?"

"I have a personal preference to gradually materialize," said Death, "It is less tiresome that way, but it takes a considerable time, so I start to materialize before reaching the place where I have to play my role. Besides, you are one of the few people who can see, even momentarily, through the veil that separates the spiritual from the material world."

At that time I was slowing down, as we were approaching the city entrance. Just before nearing a traffic light, Death asked me to stop. We had arrived at it's destination. Although the light was green, I stopped, just in time to see how the car in front of me was rammed at a high speed by another car that ran the intersecting red light...

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