Face To Face With Death Itself is the fourth short story in the “Works of Fiction Compilation by Elijah Buchan” and is rated M for harsh content included alcoholism, murder and death by multiple different violent forms. This story is NOT recommended for anyone under the age of 18 and is not recommended for the light-hearted. It has some very important messages however uses a very dark style of story-telling in order to convey these messages.
This story is an EXCLUSIVE story that will only be available in the hardcopy version of the series titled above. The first scene is only released for temporary viewership.
I used to be a good man. That was a marriage ago and by now, it feels like a lifetime ago. I have come face to face with Death many times now. But I fear this is it. As I lay here on this cold cell floor, the blood flowing from me at an unstoppable rate, I can’t help but recall the events that led me here.
It was early in the morning. Not the kind of early when I would slip on a tie, put my badge in my coat pocket and head out the door to put murderers in prison. No, it was the kind of early morning where midnight just passed and I walked into a small bar where everyone knew me by name.
“That stuff’ll kill ya, son,” an old man told me as I sat down at the front and ordered my usual.
“What’s it to you?” I snarled.
“Oh, I don’t know… I just don’t want to see yet another young man, like yourself, throw his life away.”
“Listen, old man, I think you’ve had a little too much.”
“No… it’s a rarity to find me in a place like this.”
I sighed as I turned to face him. He, despite being bothersome, had caught my attention. And in hindsight, I wish I had listened to him. “Then what are you doing here?”
“I’m trying to convince people to not take this path.”
I laughed. “And what path would that be?”
“Heart disease. Liver failure. A whole slew of physical and mental problems that will slowly deteriorate your soul and ultimately lead to your-”
“What else can I get ya?” the bartender interrupted as my full glass clinked the counter near my hand. She was a medium height brunette whom I hadn’t seen working there before.
I looked at her and smiled. “Something strong.”
“I’ve got just the thing.”
The old man sighed again. “Oh my son,” he said, “I hope one day you learn before it’s too late.” He finished his advising, stood and walked away.
The bartender returned with a short glass half-filled with the poison I now wish I had never drunk.
“Thank you,” I said as I took my first sip.
The bartender leaned over the bar, her face only inches from mine. “I am going to kill you,” she whispered.
Her words astounded me, but my body had begun feeling numb so I could not react.
“But first,” she continued as my sight began to fail, “I have to kill a few more.”
Every part of me was fighting the strong drug that surged its way through my system. But I was unconscious before I had even hit the floor.
When I woke, I was at a crime scene. I was sitting in a booth in that little bar with my partner across from me.
“What happened to you Paul?” he asked me.
I couldn’t answer him. I still felt dazed but I managed to get a glimpse of the room. Everything was normal except the large corpse on the ground near the bar.
“A man’s dead. We were called to the scene but you were already here.”
I looked him in the eye.
“You were passed out, Paul. You could’ve stopped this had you not been drinking so much.”
“Had I not been drinking so much,” I replied, “I would never have been here.”
I took a moment to recall what happened before I blacked out.
“The bartender,” I said, “she killed him. She told me she was going to kill me but she had to kill some more people before she did.”
“What on earth are you talking about Paul? It was the man’s wife… we’ve got her in custody already, she was found at the scene and witnesses can corroborate she shot him.”
“No, no, no, no,” I said, “she’s gotta be the killer! She drugged me!”
“You’re wrong Paul. Whatever she did to you, she’s not the killer.”
“Let’s get some air.”
We left the bar together. I stepped out onto the sidewalk and felt refreshed by the morning air.
“You got a smoke?” I asked my partner.
“Yeah, here. I’m going back to the precinct to file my report.”
“I’ll catch you later.”
“I’m sure you will,” he said as he walked away.
I sat down on a nearby bench in an attempt to clear my head and light the cigarette in my mouth.
“That’ll also kill ya,” the old man from the bar said as he sat down beside me.
“Goodness man, you’re like a broken record, you know that?” I snapped.
He laughed. “Yeah well, the same old problems have the same old solutions.”
He looked down the sidewalk and at the taped off section leading to the bar’s entrance.
“Someone died in there,” he said. “I wish I could say I didn’t see that coming.”
“You were there, what did you see?” I asked him hoping to get some more information that might support my theory.
“That man killed himself.”
I looked at him startled from his observation. “He was shot… in the chest!”
“He was an alcoholic and when he wasn’t drinking, he was with his mistress. In fact, he was waiting for her in that bar. His wife got fed up with it and shot him. Therefore, his actions got him killed.”
“How could you possibly… you knew him?” I asked.
“I knew him well. I was there trying to convince him to stop. I told him he was throwing his life away and that his actions would only lead to—”
The old man was interrupted by my phone ringing. It was my partner.
“Yeah,” I said.
“I just got a call. One of the witnesses claimed to be our guys’ girlfriend. They had been having an affair for a couple of months. And the wife just confessed that she did it. I’m sorry Paul, but it wasn’t your bartender.”
“Thanks.” I hung up the phone and looked at the old man. “You’re right.”
“I always am,” he said as he got up and began to walk away.
I went to the precinct and reconvened with my partner. The evidence was overwhelming. I was told the case would move to a trial and the wife would be pleading guilty. I was to file my official report and move on. But I wasn’t ready to do so just yet. The timing of what the bartender said and that man’s death was too close together for me to walk away.
That same day, I walked out to buy some lunch. As I was heading toward a nearby food truck, a taxi veered off the road and plowed into the vendor’s stand. I ran toward the car and found the merchant pinned against the hood. He was dead. I looked at the driver’s seat and saw a middle-aged man getting out of the car. I looked at him and held out my badge. He turned and began to run away.
I chased after him down the sidewalk, pulling my gun as I ran.
“Hold it right there!” I yelled.
The dozen or so people on the sidewalk were quick to get on the ground and allow for me to have a clear line of fire, but I had no intention of firing just yet. The man quickly turned into an alley. When I turned the corner I was struck by a metal object. I blacked out and when I awoke I was in a dark room with a small lamp shining on my face.
Out of the darkness, stepped the bartender.
To be continued only in the hardcopy version of “The Works of Fiction Compilation by Elijah Buchan” – stay tuned for the release date.
For the first story in this 5 short-story compilation, click here to read Amber.
For the second story, click here to read The Godmother.