The Kiss of Death

I took another gulp of the whiskey I carry with me and stumbled up the stairs. The night club had just opened and I was already falling all over the place. Lately, drinking has been the only way I can keep sober. I coughed a lot. My lungs hadn't been doing so well, then there were allergies, and my sore throat would fill up with mucus. I went into the bathroom to empty myself and, before I left, I took one last drag on the cigarette. I blew the smoke out of my lungs, but the air didn't come back. I tried breathing in and nothing. My trachea was blocking the air. I was suffocating. Without any oxygen in my lungs, I soon lost all strength and collapsed. I was dying and there was no one around to help me. I started to make my peace with it and realized that would be the end of me: Dying in the bathroom of the Maria Teresa Vieira Arts Center. A decadent end to a degenerated life, a free fall towards the abyss.

I lost conscience and felt lighter. I opened up my eyes and saw a beautiful woman standing in front of me. She had black hair, pale skin, and looked about twenty-five. She was wearing jeans and a black suit jacket, and she looked at me as if she had been waiting for me to wake up.

“Are you God?”

“Ha! Never heard that one before! No, I'm Death.”

“Death...? Had I known Death was so attractive, I would have killed myself a long time ago!”

“You're just no good, are you?”

“Have you been watching me all along, all my life?”

“Mm-hmm. I know everything there is to know about you.”

“So you know I'm crazy for you.”

“You didn't even know I existed!”

“Still, I have flirted with you so many times...”

“With me and so many others.”

“I was just trying to fill the hole you had left in my life.”

“Let's see where you're going now.”

“Where do you think I should go?”

“That's not my jurisdiction.”

“People have always judged me, but they don't know what it's like to be me. They didn't understand me, but you do, don't you?”

“I understand, but without forgiving or condemning. My work is to simply guide souls to their destiny.”

“Take me with you. I've always known I didn't belong to that world! Everything so shallow, superficial... Fame, money, women. All those songs. And everything I did for you! I kissed you with each cigarette, I searched for you on the bottom of each bottle.”

“I know you're not the only one like that. There are others like you, who spend their lives trying to find me, looking for me unwittingly, spending such a perishable, self-destructive existence. But I'm with you all along, at each night club, each pub, each alley. At the same time, I'm always alone... Mine is a very lonely existence. You empathize with my loneliness, have such a strong connection to me, and I'm really thankful for that.”

“I'm here! I came to put an end to your loneliness!”

“No! You're a mortal, and you have played your mortal part. You lived so intensely and died just like everybody else. And I have to play my part now. You'll finally know what awaits you beyond life. Aren't you curious?”

“One night with you and I'll go wherever you wanna take me.”

She watched me in silence. It seemed she had taken interest in something about my proposal.

“Deal! You'll go back to your body on that night club and I'll meet you in half an hour. You'll show me what living like a mortal is like for one night.”

I opened my eyes and took a deep breath, as if I had been drowning. I coughed hard and spit in the toilet. I was breathing again! Relearning to breath, like a newborn. I was back in that filthy bathroom. Someone was knocking on the door, infuriated.

“Did you fucking die in there?”

I opened the door and got out. Everything was spinning and my head hurt. That was the last night of my life and I didn't look presentable at all. I could hear Bauhaus' “Dark Entries” coming from the dance floor downstairs. I went to the bar to people watch. They were all strangers to me. Whatever happened to the people from back in the old days? Have they stopped partying? It's been some time since I walked around and everybody knew me―and what a glorious time that was! Now I'm just an anonymous shadow, and I think my time here has really come to an end.

I drank some cola and went back to the bathroom. I puked my guts out and washed my face. I'll have the date of my life in half an hour! I went down the stairs and waited, looking at my watch. I must be going crazy, I thought. I'm waiting for Death to come? What the hell was in my drink? Was it real at all?

At exactly midnight, the woman came into the nigh club, the very same way I remembered her. Dazzling, wearing a black dress, with that indifferent look in her eyes, and morbidly attractive pale lips. She caught the eye of many people on the dance floor, and some certainly felt that fatal attraction they had been longing for after so many years. And she was making her way to me.

“Got a cigarette?”

I gave her a cigarette and lit it for her. I looked at the pack a little fearfully.

“Don't worry, I'm not taking you right now. Go ahead and smoke, don't be afraid.”

And we danced as if nothing else mattered, as if the world were coming to an end, as all Goths dance. The hypnotic atmosphere of The Sisters of Mercy took over the dance floor, along with the scented fog and cigarette smoke, while Andrew Eldritch's baritone voice put stakes through our hearts and stole our souls away. When I was a child, I thought these night clubs only existed in horror movies. A few years later, they started to become part of all my weekends.

Time was running slower as the lights were blinking. She moved smoothly, sublimely, and sensually. The music ran through her body like a shock wave. She is a goddess that walks around her own temple with authority, the mother of all of us. I felt like a child before her.

Little by little, I notice that the appearance of those people dancing started to change. Their flesh was rotten, their clothes had deteriorated, and the same thing was happening to the walls. A decadent mood took over the dance hall and it seemed we had been taken to another dimension. But I was the only one who had noticed it.

It was the best night ever. Dawn was upon us and we were dog tired. I looked at her and saw a young mortal, end-of-party smudged makeup, and that intoxicated look in her eyes. I realized how fragile and confuse we are, how helpless... And that our “mother” who comforts us every Saturday night makes us forget our problems and die for the rest of the world for a few moments. Has any mortal ever dared to touch Death's lips?

“Thanks for everything. It was an unforgettable night! Being human for a few hours reminded me of how this world is so full of poetry.”

I kept staring at her, thinking of something to say. She touched my face and kissed me. Her lips were warm, her kiss was intense. She let me go and my body fell to the ground, heavy like a stone, but somehow I was still standing. A guy who was nearby came to check the body, most people kept looking, others simply ignored and thought nothing out of the ordinary was going on.

Amid the crowd, Death became a crow and flew out of the door. As chaos ensued on the dance floor when people realized I was dead, a portal opened up on the wall. A winding path would take me to a chaotic and mysterious place. As I had promised, I walked through the portal. I've had enough of this world. What new experiences are waiting for a girl like me on the other side? Whatever it is, I'm ready.”

ANDERSON ELIAS (aka "Sombra Posthuman") is a self-described misanthrope homunculus who lives in the twilight of Rio de Janeiro.

The author graduated in Languages and Literature (Portuguese-English) at the Fluminense Federal University and completed his post-graduate studies in Translations at Gama Filho, when he wrote an article about the translations of “Alice in Wonderland” as the final paper, available in Portuguese.

He started working on book translations at Reader's Digest in 2005 and, two years later, he went on to translate technical texts exclusively.

When he is not working, he practices Krav Maga and writes short stories and poems. He loves fantastic literature and collects graphic novels starring Spider-Man. Sombra is a fan of Augusto dos Anjos, Neil Gaiman and Guimarães Rosa.

In addition to writing, he also spends his free time composing songs and singing. He studied classical singing and was the lead singer of Heartagram, a Him cover band. He is fascinated by tattoos, RPG, and music―especially the industrial metal genre.

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