Thursday, April 12, 2012

Write On Edge Prompt: Paying Back What You Owe

This week's prompt puzzled me at first.  Then this idea came.  It's a little different from what I ususally write so I hope you enjoy it.  As always, feel free to, kindly, let me know what you think.

This week, write a fiction or creative non-fiction piece about a time one of your main characters finds himself or herself paying back a debt–financial or otherwise.
You have 500 words, so use them wisely, and we’ll see you this Friday to link up.

He looked around but nothing was familiar.  He couldn’t remember how he got here.

“Hello!” his voice echoed into the inky blackness, “Anyone there?  Please help me!”

A burst of rustling came from behind him.  He spun around looking for the source of the noise, his heart pounding.  He didn’t see anything.  The sound repeated behind him again.  He turned again trying to locate it.  When the noise happened for the third time, he froze, waiting to see what would be next.

“Jonathan Davis.  I have been waiting for you,” a sibilant bass whispered inches from his ear.

He jumped, turning again to see nothing but the pervasive blackness, “Damn it!  Who are you?  Let
me see you!”

“This is fascinating.  You are all alike.  You insist on having a visual construct,” the voice observed,

“Since we will get nowhere until you are satisfied, look upon this for I do not think you would appreciate my true form.”

An even darker shape materialized in front of Jonathan.  It was somewhat humanoid but the proportions appeared slightly off.

“Where am I?”


“What?  How did I get here?  What’s going on?” Jonathan struggled to breathe.

“You are dying.”

Jonathan felt as if he’d been sucker punched.  He couldn’t seem to get enough air and his head kept spinning.  He sat down hard.

The shape sighed again, sounding like a giant steam engine, “Let me answer a few of the questions your insignificant brain is trying to process.  Yes, you are dying.  No, you do not remember what happened and will not for a while.  Who am I?  I have many names.  Some have called me Hades, others Santa Muerte, yet others Izanami.”

“You’re the Grim Reaper?” Jonathan coughed.


“But I’m not ready to die!  I have a trip next month.  I’m getting promoted at the firm!”

“It does not matter.  You are dying.”

The specter watched as Jonathan struggled to grasp what had happened to him.  Several minutes later, Jonathan stood up and visibly squared his shoulders.

“So what happens now?  Is this where I stay forever?”

“No.  You must face your accounting.”

“An accounting of what?”

“Your life.  The scales of justice must balance or you will be required to pay back your wrongs.”

The shadowed figure turned and gestured.  Jonathan’s life began to replay in the mist where the Fade pointed.  Jonathan noticed a second image of an old fashioned pan scale near the first.  He couldn’t tell which side was which, but there was a distinct tilt.  Jonathan looked back at the image of his life just in time to see it disappear.  The scales were still uneven.

The figure of Death turned to him, “Your life was out of balance.  You must repay your debts to preserve that balance.”

“How do I do that?  What happens if I don’t?”

“You have time equal to the length of your life to redress your wrongs.  If you fail, you will be condemned to Hell.”

Everything faded into darkness.


  1. I love Jonathan's need for visual construct here. I also love the use of scales for the "accounting". Brilliantly done.

    There was a spot where the POV shifted from Jonathan to the Grim Reaper. "The specter watched as Jonathan struggled to grasp what had happened to him. Several minutes later, Jonathan stood up and visibly squared his shoulders."

    Change the subject of the first sentence here. As it reads right now, the specter watching is what is drawing this from Johnathan's POV. And you'll want to remove "visibly" from the second sentence. Unless Jonathan is looking in a mirror, he wouldn't know if squaring his shoulders was visible or not.

    I love where you took this prompt. Well played!

  2. Very cool! I love that he is given a chance to redress his wrongs...surprising that a devil-like character would be put in charge of redressing the wrongs gig. I would expect and angel or something :)

  3. I like the idea that he has the length of his life to balance the scales. What an interesting idea. I wonder how exactly you go about doing something like that.

  4. I would have liked to know what he had done to put the scales out of balance! This was a very interesting take on the prompt--Limbo is a place not often discussed, and that the Grim Reaper would live there is a fascinating premise.