Flash Fiction: Death and Bob

Getting back into the Chuck Wendig challenge after a week off.  Today’s theme, Death.

You have 1000 words to write a short story that prominently features death. What that means is up to you, of course. And genre is also in your court.

But a death — or the concept of death, or an exploration of death — must be front and center.

So without further ado, Death and Bob.

Death and Bob

The hospital room chilled.  The heater kicked on with a gentle breeze that rippled the thing’s cloak as it appeared.  Bob sat up from his bed, and smiled against the pain.  “You’re late,” he said.

The thing stood there.  It didn’t move, it only billowed.  Bob collapsed back on the bed, and turned to look out the window.  Beyond, the city wasn’t the city he’d been born in.  It became something different.  Then again, it had three centuries to do so.  He took in the view one last time.  There was a majesty to it, the buildings that looped and twisted around each other, the nearly invisible elevated roadways.  It was the best of the times he had seen, but he was ready to be done with it.  He looked straight up, took a deep breath, and said, “Alright.  Let’s do this.”

He closed his eyes, and prepared for nothing.  Nothing, indeed, happened.  Bob opened one eye.  Then the other.  He was still in the hospital room, and the figure in the billowing robes still stood there.

“I said I’m ready.”

“I’m sorry.”  When the figure talked, it was with a husky voice that smelled of lilacs and juniper.  The heat in the room picked up again, fighting to keep the room at a constant temperature, determined perfect for rehabilitation.

“That’s alright.  You’re here now, you don’t need to apologize.  Just do whatever you do, and release me from this life.  I’ve led enough of it.”  He lay back again, looked at the ceiling.

“That is not why I am here.”

Bob pushed up on a broken arm, the bed whined and buzzed to catch up to him.  “Why the hell not?  Haven’t I had enough time?  I’m a god damned miracle of medical science.  Two hundred and eighty-four years old, and that’s enough.  I’ve done everything I care to do, except for one thing, and that’s what you’re here for.”

“It is not.”

Bob felt his blood pressure tip ever higher.  The monitors beeped and complained.  He’d had twenty-six heart attacks by this point, what was one more?  Maybe that’s what it was waiting for.  “Can’t you see I’m an old man?  I’ve suffered through every disease, just to pull through.  I’ve broken every bone in my body, had every organ fail.  But you’ve refused me.  Now you’re here to what?  Taunt me?”

“Your file was misplaced.”

“My file?”

“Was misplaced.  I was meant to come for you in your sixty-third year.”  Sixty-three.  Bob tried to remember that year.  It felt like so little time to have.  The golden amount was somewhere between there and here, though he couldn’t say exactly when.

“It went to the wrong department.”

“The wrong department.”

“I am very sorry.”

“You’re sorry.  Do you know how many times I’ve tried to summon you?  Gunshots, poisons, slit wrists.  I survived them all, and you know, those are not good things to survive.  But here I am, and here you are, so I don’t care what department me file is in, do this.”

“You are no longer my department.”

“I won’t tell.  I promise.”

Billowing and silence as the apparition stood there.  Bob sat back in frustration, looked up at the ceiling again.  He was so tired of that ceiling.  “What department was it sent to?”

There was a whisper among the billowing.  It sounded like a word, but Bob couldn’t hear it.

“What department?”


Bob sat up quickly, popping his stitches.  Christ that hurt.  The billowing cloak was already gone, but the words “I’m sorry,” whispered through the air.

“You and me both,” Bob said, falling back on his bed for another day.

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  1. avatar

    #1 by Donna B. McNicol [@donnabmcnicol] on April 15, 2012 - 7:58 pm

    I so LOVE this…..well done!

  2. avatar

    #2 by Jessica Friday on April 17, 2012 - 7:51 am

    I love it too. Life worse than death. Excellent. :)

  3. avatar

    #3 by R.J.Keith on April 17, 2012 - 11:03 am

    HAH! Poor Bob :D

  4. avatar

    #4 by Louise Sorensen on April 20, 2012 - 1:32 pm

    Good one. Poor Bob.

  5. avatar

    #5 by AJ Hayes on April 20, 2012 - 4:05 pm

    There’s always a flip side to what we think we want. And the two eternal verities are: Bureaucrats are error prone and You WILL miss the memo. Cool.

  6. avatar

    #6 by Lesann on April 21, 2012 - 7:12 pm

    Oh I love the bureacracy of death. Awesome!

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