Death Knocks Three Times
by Aidan Lucid
|part 2 of 3|
One Year Later: 17th August 2007
As the rays of the sun seeped through the curtains, Sean, a skinhead of average height and stout build, tossed and turned in what seemed to be a never-ending nightmare. In the dream, he was fleeing from something hideous and dark. Panting and struggling to stay on his feet, he continued and soon came to a crossroad. Unsure of which path to take and with the creature gaining, he took the road to the right. It was long and narrow with high bushes at either side. The trees were old and had branches jutting outwards like skeletal fingers pointing to an anonymous place.
Abruptly, he arrived at a dead end. Closer and closer the monster drew. He looked at its black, hooded robe. Then in one swift movement, the menacing being swung a scythe from behind. With every step closer, Sean feared but also hoped in a strange way that he would suffer a heart attack and die before being beheaded. When only inches from where the young man stood, the hooded monster raised the scythe.
“DEATH... IS... NEAR!” boomed the nightmarish pursuer. He dropped the scythe and severed Sean’s head clean off his shoulders and watched it roll along the ground.
Sean woke up in terror and rushed straight to the bathroom. His face and T-shirt were drenched with sweat and his armpits emitted the unpleasant odour of perspiration. He threw water on his face and inhaled a deep breath.
“It’s only a dream. It’s only a dream.” He kept reminding himself of this for the past three months when the same dream would occur every night. While taking a shower, Sean thought about the nightmare and wondered if it meant that he was the first to die.
Upon exiting the shower, the mobile phone rang causing him to jump. He could not see any number on the small screen but only the words, “Private Number.”
“He-Hello.” There was no answer. “He-Hello. Who is this?” Again there was no answer. Anger overcame him and he said, “Is this some sick joke?”
“DEATH... IS... NEAR!” a loud voice suddenly replied. Recognizing who it was, he released the phone from his grip as if it were a hazardous object and took a few steps back from it in terror. The air in the room combined with his thumping heart, seemed to suffocate him. Quickly drying off the rest of his body, Sean got dressed and left the house.
When Sean returned home, his mother was in the kitchen.
“Sean is that you?”
“Tim rang earlier and said he wants you to ring him. It seemed important so you better ring now.”
Immediately Sean phoned Tim.
“Hello?” Tim’s voice sounded on edge.
“Hi. My mom just gave me the message. Everything all right with you?”
“No, man. I’ve been having the same dream for nearly three months now and it’s freaking me out!”
“What’s the dream about?” Sean enquired rather curiously.
“It’s just plain freaky! I am running down a road and there is this big thing in black chasing me and then I come to a dead end and he says this weird line, ‘DEATH... IS... NEAR.’ and cuts my head off!”
Sean could hardly steady himself, he grew pale. “You’re joking, right?”
“No, I’m serious!”
Sean then proceeded to explain that he, too, had been having the same dream for the past three months. Both boys were uneasy and an awkward silence lingered between them for a few moments. They then agreed to meet up with Paddy later at the diner.
Tim arrived at the small diner and noticed Sean and Paddy sitting in the corner near the pinball machine. They all bore the same expression on their faces for Paddy and Sean had the same nightmare too. They each ordered a milkshake and a large burger.
“When I was speaking to you on the phone earlier, I forgot to ask did you receive a call after your dream?” Tim said to Sean.
“Yeah, did you?”
“Yeah, it said—”
“Death is coming?” Paddy interrupted. An eerie silence descended onto the table. The three boys gazed at each other in dismay. The waitress arrived with the burgers and milkshakes. Even the crunchy fries and the succulent, meaty burger could not momentarily draw their attention away from the macabre debacle.
Tim spoke. “Look it’s almost a year since we did that thing. Did one of you tell anybody about what happened?”
All four shook their heads. Then they knew for sure what it meant. It had to be an omen, a sign that one unlucky person was going to die.
“How many times did you get the call?” Paddy queried. Sean and Tim both agreed that they only got the call once. The blood drained from Paddy’s face. “I got the call twice. At first, I thought it was a prank but then it rang again and I knew it wasn’t.”
“Is there any way of breaking this... thing?” Sean asked in desperation.
“No.” Tim replied, with his eyes staring at his plate. His answer further increased the doom-laden atmosphere that surrounded them. Then from that moment on, Tim, Sean and Paddy knew that their fate was sealed. Nothing could prevent it.
Later that evening, Paddy went home and watched T.V. It served as a distraction.
A knock came to the door. Paddy looked at the clock and it was 9.30. Thinking that it was an odd time for anyone to be visiting, he answered the door. No one was there. Paddy shut the door and then sat down. Five minutes later there was another knock. Once more, he opened the door. To his surprise a cream envelope was left on the “welcome” mat. After he opened the envelope, Paddy discovered a note inside. Upon reading the note, a cold chill soared up and down his spine. It read:
“DEATH IS NEAR!” Dropping the piece of paper in terror, Paddy picked up his mobile phone.
“Tim, I got a note, I think I’m the first one.” He was close to hyperventilating.
“Paddy, take it easy. Stay calm. What did it say?”
“Death is near.”
Tim kept up a brave voice even though he was full of alarm.
Sobbing, Paddy asked, “What am I going to do?”
“Look, calm down. I’ll be over in ten minutes, all right?”
Another sinister knock came to Paddy’s door and he fell silent. Paddy braved a glance over at it. Beads of perspiration trickled down his forehead.
“What’s wrong?” Tim asked, worried for the safety of his friend.
“Someone’s at the door but I’m not answering it.”
Instantly, a blade from a scythe hacked through a panel on the door and Paddy screamed.
“What the hell is going on over there?” Tim shouted. “What-”
Paddy abandoned the mobile phone and fled in terror. He ran out the back door. Speed never came to him quicker than it did today. Navigating his way down the path, he burst through the bushes, down a grassy field and out on to a narrow road. Continuing on, he went across to another meadow. This was becoming all too familiar.
Not daring to look back, he ventured out into a farther road. With the pace he was running at, he didn’t notice a log lying down on the ground and tripped over it, gashing his leg in the process. Limping, he tried to get away but it was to no avail. When he ran around a corner, he came to a dead end. An asthma attack struck, rendering him useless and caught for breath. The black-hooded creature came closer and closer. Paddy was shaking hysterically. There seemed to be no face on the creature, just a dark pit.
“DEATH... IS... NEAR!” the Grim Reaper said, his scythe poised in the air. Paddy wanted to scream but he couldn’t as he watched the blade coming down...and then there was darkness.
A week later and in the midst of a light shower of rain, Tim, in his black suit and tie, watched Paddy’s coffin being lowered into the grave. He stood under Sandra’s umbrella and she wrapped her right arm around him.
Although Tim appreciated her trying to comfort him, it didn’t have the desired effect. A grim thought passed through Tim’s mind. That will be me in two years time. I don’t want to die, at least not like that.
When the funeral was over, Tim and Sean met at Paddy’s house. They were full of grief and dread.
“Did you hear about the way he was found? Imagine having your head chopped off like that and then having “Death number one” written on the wall in your own blood? What a way to go.” Sean remarked.
Tim remained silent, his head dipped in trepidation, knowing who would be next to die.
“What do we do now?” Sean asked.
“Nothing we can do, Sean, because now... it begins.” Tim said before leaving his doomed friend with that chilling thought.
Somewhere in the distance, a black-hooded figure stood alone holding its scythe as the sun glinted on the blade. A sparkle was in Death’s eye as he said, “Death... is... near.” The Reaper vanished and his laughter, inaudible to human ears, echoed into the skies above.
Copyright © 2009 by Aidan Lucid