Deadly Kisses - By Kerri Cuevas


I grinned at the old man. The dim gray light of his aura flickered. He lay motionless in the hospital bed with thin white sheets that clung to his long, scrawny body. His face was sunken in, leaving his cheekbones visible. Heck, a pile of dog crap sitting on a black tarred parking lot on a mid-summer day looked better.

“It’s time to die, old man. Tell you what, I’m feeling lenient and I’ll give you about five seconds to tell the little hottie sitting next to you goodbye.”

He looked up to meet his guide to the other side: me. I, Aiden Grant, came bundled in a nice package of black cloak and a hood that came down over my nose. All he could see of my face was my Hollywood smile. It was the ribbon on the present.

“Will it hurt?” His tongue extended in a continuous motion making sounds like a lapping puppy. When my phone rang loud with Paramore singing “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” his eyes widened and I laughed, because today was Sunday. The dude just might keel over from a heart attack before I could reap him.

“Tell you what, you tell me who the little blond chick is and I’ll make it quick and painless. Don’t worry, she can’t see me.” She was hunched over the old prune just enough so I could see down her shirt.

“It’s my granddaughter.” His stiff hand moved to her head, smoothing down her yellow hair.

She sat up in alarm and eyed the heart monitor, ruining my view. “Did you say something, Granddad? Do you want more pain medication?”

“Damn, dude, you must be like one hundred because she has got to be about my age. Seventeen?”

“Yes.” The old man croaked. The girl pressed the call button, but he was looking at me with brown, watery eyes.

“For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.” Time was up, and I yearned for the temporary warmth of his soul. “Here’s how this is going down. When I collect your soul, your heart will stop beating. You have to come with me, but your physical body stays right there on the bed. You’re going to be foggy-looking until I deliver you to a little place called Destination Forever. Once there, your soul will be returned to you, giving you a normal appearance again. Now, do you have any regrets?”

He moved with a slight twist that looked like a no.

“Good, because if you did, you would be stuck with me, a dead president, and a black cloak. Just stay still and it will go faster.” This wasn’t my dream job, so the quicker I collected the soul and delivered it the better. I tracked, reaped, and delivered within days even though I was given a week to complete an assignment.

I leaned in close. He started to whimper and pull back. I became annoyed. “I do this all the time and don’t want to brag, but I’m that good. As long as you’ve got no regrets, your pain will disappear. Do you want that?”

I was inches from his face. The corner of the old man’s mouth twitched and rose. The scythe heated up and my bony hand hovered over his heart. I placed my mouth to his dry cracked lips and drank up his soul. He didn’t flinch. His soul filled my body. It tasted old, sour, and provided little of the warmth I craved, but I took what I could get.

When the slow thud of his heart stopped, I pulled away to watch the chaos that followed. It was always a sight. The heart monitor went flat with a long, drawn-out note, and the hottie started to cry.

Flawless performance.

“Let’s go, old dude. Got places to go and more people to reap.”

My arm rose, the sleeve of the cloak hanging heavy like death itself, as I pointed toward the door.

“I haven’t walked in two years.”

This was going to be good. He would think I was a miracle worker.

“You can walk now. Isn’t death grand? Come on, upsie daisy. Put one foot in front of the other.”

He finally got up and started to follow me. We walked out of the hospital, through the streets of Manchester, New Hampshire, and to the nearest cemetery. Crypts were the only way to enter and exit the world of the living, if you used a gondola for your mode of transportation. It prevented traffic jams. I never asked how Grim Reapers who drove cars entered through the veil to the other side.

The path led us to the