John walked along a lifeless tunnel. No light could be seen. He had been walking for miles, just to get to them. He turned a corner, feeling his way along the wall. Suddenly, he became aware of a faint source of light. So faint, he hadn't noticed it before. He ran towards it. He was so close, so very close. He ran towards the two figures in the distance. He was so close, so very close. And just like that, he was falling. Falling…
John Hickock awoke, sweat dripping from his body. No way was he going back to sleep with dreams like those. He looked at the clock. 5:14 it read, in all its glowing neon glory. John rose from his bed, and stumbled to the shower. It promised to be a long day. But then again, wasn't it always?
He typed furiously, his hands moving as fast as they could. So much work, so much work. After he had come back, they had covered him in work, piling it on with no regards to his state. He was fragile, and they didn't care. Bastards. He worked because he had to, to pay for all the expenses he had to cover. It was by no means his choice. He worked to survive, and at this point he was barely even doing that. He heard footsteps approach his cubicle, and sighed. He dreaded the words which were about to be spoken.
His boss, Paul, popped his head around the corner and walked to the entrance of the cubicle, effectively blocking it. He spoke. "John, hope you're making progress on those projects. The status reports say you're behind, John, and you know that's unacceptable." Paul stopped, feeling pangs of sympathy for this man, who had worked hard for so many years…
Paul shook it off. Company policy was clear. If he was lenient on John, it was his neck on the line. "Sorry to do this to you, but stop by my office before you leave. I have a few more reports which need to be detailed." Paul walked away, his blue suit disappearing behind the cubicle wall.
John groaned, feeling a mix of anger, hatred, and sorrow. He continued to work, but his shoulders were sagged, and his hands moved at nothing near the speed at which they had been typing moments earlier.
John left the company building at 8. Most others had gone home hours earlier, but with his added work, it wasn't even a possibility for John. They were working him to death. He got into his car, a junky, rusted Datsun, and began the commute home. He tried to keep his mind on driving, but it was impossible. His mind always drifted, always came back to them.
It was humid, but that's what John expected. It was summer, after all. Hot and sunny, and a glorious day altogether, made that way by the special occasion. It was his son's eighth birthday. With the dinner he had made, and the surprise presents he had picked out, it was sure to be an evening filled with fun. His wife and son would be home any minute now, having gone just up the road. His son Bobby had wanted to pick out one of his gifts, and his wife, being such the good-natured and loving mother she was, had agreed. John smiled. It was his birthday, so why not? Probably going to get some of those wacky Pokemon cards. They were the latest craze, or so his son was always telling them.
The doorbell rang, and John sighed. Wouldn't those damn Jesuits ever stop? He had explained time and time again that he and his wife were devout Christians. They just wouldn't take no for an answer. He walked to the door, ready for a long debate on why his particular religion was wrong.
He was surprised to find a lone policeman standing on the front porch, in place of the religious fanatics he had expected. John's surprise quickly turned to despair when he heard the news.
A hit and run, two victims left dead. A woman and a young boy, identified as having the last name of Hickock. Had the driver been caught? No. Any witnesses? Another no. Clues? Yet another shake of the head. By then, John was crying. How could this have happened? How could a day so perfect be ruined?
The accident had happened two months ago.
John arrived home an hour later. He was in no mood for anything. Making himself a quick dinner, he prepared for bed. He set his alarm on his clock, and hit the sack.
John awoke abruptly, having heard a noise downstairs. He bolted up, his senses flying back to him. He had a feeling, something was wrong. That was when the man appeared in the doorway. Clad in a black hooded sweatshirt and black sweatpants, his face was cloaked in shadow. Though he carried no visible weapon, John suspected one was there.
"Take whatever you want," John said. His voice was quiet, but composed. He thought he saw a smile beneath the hood, but dismissed the thought. Nothing could be seen in this light, and John decided it had simply been his imagination.
"People always say that. It must be the first thing that comes to mind, robbery. No one wants to face the truth. Interesting, really. Few ever guess my true purpose on their first try. I blame it on a little thing called hope."
The voice was low, and had a cold edge to it, although the intonation had not seemed harsh to John. John thought for a split second, before the conclusion came to him. The only other one. "Then you must be here…to kill me." He swallowed hard, his fear betraying his calm front.
The man laughed. "Ding, ding, ding," he said. "We have a winner."
The way the man spoke the sentence made John shudder. "B-b-but why? Why me?"
The man nodded. "Good question. I get this one all the time. There's a method to my madness, I assure you. For you see, I killed your wife. I killed your son. And now…well, now your time has come."
An unspeakable rage filled John, and he flung himself at the hooded man. Fists flying, he struck again and again. Several minutes passed, John's rage finally subsiding to the point where he could see that the man was still standing. That, and the fact that no blows had been returned. Hell, the guy hadn't even moved! John noticed his arm felt numb, but he dismissed the feeling.
"That's not possible! This can't be real…" John sank to his knees, feeling weak. He tried to stand, to meet his end on his feet, but he felt so weak. He suddenly realized how vulnerable he was. John gasped. His heart. It felt like it was just stopping.
The hooded man just looked at him. John fell the rest of the way to the floor, his eyes returning the hooded man's gaze.
"They've worked you too hard, John. Pressure will do this to you," the man said as he gestured to John's current state. "It's your heart, you know. You're having a heart attack."
As John's vision blurred, the man removed his hood to reveal a somber skull beneath.
"I killed your wife, I killed your son. And now your time has come. For you see, good sir, I am Death."