Death stepped from the shadowy curtain of night along a deserted stretch of road toward the mangled hunk of cherry-red metal that used to be a sweet Z240 sports car. Stardust glinted in the black hair that dipped to her waist.
She kept a safe distance from the wreck. Inside, a thirtyish man slumped behind the wheel, the air bag deflating away from his near-lifeless body. Blood oozed from a nasty gash to his head. Should have worn his seat belt. Too late for life lessons, though. Those weren’t her expertise anyway. Just the opposite.
Leaves crackled in the underbrush beyond the nearby trees. Death gripped the silver charm bracelet on her wrist, her senses on high alert. Her finger poised near the hidden latch, ready to release a stream of lightning.
A deer. It stilled, its wide eyes fixed on her.
Seeing nothing else, she continued with a modicum of caution. Taking souls didn’t exactly make her popular, and after so many millennia, she should’ve been used to it. The bad jokes. The Halloween parodies. A scythe? Please. She’d never used cheap props. Only the finest weaponry. No mortal ever suspected the intricately designed baubles adorning her bracelet were anything more than ornamental.
Moonlight gleamed off the curves of the sports car, and she ran a gilded nail along its hood. She wouldn’t mind taking one of these babies for a spin. In its former condition, of course, before this guy took the curve too fast and wrapped it around a tree. Humans always rushed everywhere, sometimes straight into her arms.
The man’s moan signaled she had no need for weapons. This one would give her no trouble. She fingered his blond hair, matted with blood. What a shame. So young, and so handsome. He’d leave at least one lover grieving, no doubt.
His eyes fluttered open. When he looked up, recognition intensified the flicker of life in his eyes.
She needed no introduction. They always knew her, unmistakable in the glimmering black filament gown, its folds revealing a glimpse into infinity.
The stilettos usually earned a second glance, the four-inch heels glistening like fool’s gold. The butterfly tattoo spanning her upper arm likewise drew curious looks, which inevitably changed to horror when the souls recognized the face imprinted within that colorful ink: their own.
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