Deerly Departed

“You don’t know?” Clark asked with wide eyes. “Who doesn’t know how and when they’re going to die?” Eila nervously looked around the restaurant to see if anyone else heard him. She wasn’t embarrassed exactly, but the 32-year-old woman was not fond of strangers asking her questions. And they always did when they discovered she did not know how, or even when, she was going to die.

“Me,” she said. She expected, and even hoped for questions from him. They met on a dating app and this was their first meeting. The date had been going so well they started talking about their respective futures. Clark only had sixteen more years left, but his green text said he would be dying naturally at 3 a.m. on a Sunday. Then, he asked about her death.

“Let me see your D-card,” he grinned. He tried to sound playful, but Eila heard serious doubt in his words. She debated stalling. She could claim she left it at home and show him there; but, no one went anywhere without it. Eila realized if she made him wait, she’d only be making herself miserable in the meantime. She decided to risk the rejection early to find out if her blue text made him uncomfortable. She dug through her purse and pulled out a slim, black leather card holder. She pinched one end and pulled out a transparent, glassy business card. No one knew where D-cards came from or how they were made, but for those reasons, they were impossible to fake. She placed the transparent card on the white linen tablecloth and slid it across the table to Clark; but, she continued to cover it with her hand.

“It’s kind of weird, okay?” Eila said. Clark nodded.

“How weird can it be? It’s just a date and time in green or red text,” he chuckled.

“Yeah,” Eila rolled her eyes but moved her hand out of the way. The glass was so thin and clear that the D-card almost disappeared into the white tablecloth. The only reason it was still visible was the text.  Clark stared at it for several seconds, tilting his head first one way, then the other.

There was no time, no date. Just a large, bright blue “45” in center of the glass rectangle.

“45 what?” he asked. He looked up from the card into her eyes, then his eyes darted down again after he asked the question as if he didn’t trust it.

“I don’t know,” Eila repeated the only answer she had. “What are you doing?” Clark had pulled out his D-card and held the two back to back to compare the sizes. He gave a half shrug, then a sigh.

“It’s the real thing,” he said, then realized what it sounded like and began apologizing. “No, no, sorry. I didn’t mean you would try and trick me, but maybe it’s been a fake from the beginning? That’s what I thought anyway.” Clark held her D-card out and she took it back.

“Hey, that’s weird,” Eila said. She happened to be looking out the window and noticed a lot of commotion happening on the street.

“That’s new,” Clark said. He was starting at his D-card. The green date 16 years in the future changed to today’s date in red. Five minutes from now.

“Huh?” Both of them asked the other at the same time. Eila pointed out the window while Clark showed her his D-card. Before she registered the change the front glass window shattered. Several white skeletons climbed through the new opening while others crashed in through the doors. The patrons were frozen with fear; they did not know what to expect. A skeleton reached a waitress and plunged his bony hand into her chest without any hesitation or warning.

It wasn’t until the skeleton pulled her heart out that the other diners began to scream. Clark scrambled up to help Eila get to the back but several other customers had the same idea. The panic bottle-necked the crowd between the dining area and the kitchen; the door was not big enough to let more than two people through at a time.

The skeletons violently mowed through everyone in their way as they walked toward the crowd. Clark had been trying to lead her through the crowd and ended up stuck with Eila behind him as a result. A skeleton walked up to Eila and raised its arm, but paused. It stared at her for a moment then turned its attention to someone next to her. The skeleton killed the other stranger instead of Eila and started to work its way through the crowd around her.

Despite the coppery, bitter smell of blood in the air and the screams of despair around her; Eila realized the skeleton would not kill her for some reason. The realization struck as a skeleton killed the only stranger between it and Clark. Without thinking, Eila stepped in front of Clark.

“What are you doing!” Clark yelled. But even as he asked he realized the skeleton had moved on to another target.

“C’mon!” Eila grabbed his hand and led him toward the front. The group of skeletons ignored her. A few of them swiped at Clark, but Eila positioned herself in the way to keep him safe. She let out a heavy sigh as they reached the door. She did not know what they’d do next, but she would be glad to be out of the five-star death trap. The relief was short-lived when a tall, pale woman with bone-white horns appeared at the doorway; her eyes were focused on Eila.

“A Venado?” The woman said with audible disappointment. “You’re not even worth killing,” she complained, then shrugged to herself. “But, this Earth is mine now. So, off you go. Tell everyone Ballisea conquered your Earth.” Ballisea made a dismissive gesture at Eila and a black portal opened under her feet. She fell in, but Clark reacted fast enough to catch her hands as she fell. He grabbed the nearby door frame for extra support and tried to pull Eila up out of the hole.

“On the other hand…,” Ballisea said. A black hole formed around his wrist then disappeared. Eila fell screaming into the hole still holding his hand. “Being slaughtered is the only thing Zeros are good for.” The hole that Eila fell in disappeared. Five minutes after her arrival Ballisea killed Clark.

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