Thanatos Journal entry
Type: Remnant World One
Number: World Nineteen
Date: July 5th, 1946
What a desolate place!
No structures stood in this place. There were no trees. No birds sang, no animals stirred, and no flies buzzed. A coat of thick black ash covered the ground. Yet I felt the pull of souls in the north, and my feet moved me in that direction like a magnet.
In the mornings, the skies were gray and overcast. Occasionally it rained water, sometimes ash, sometimes both. I alternated between flight and continuing to trek this barren landscape. At night, there was a strange luminescence under the cloud-covered sky, and lightning storms charged the air. I rested and stared off at the horizon, hearing the cry of a thousand wayward and lost souls. I felt their panic and confusion. It’s a heavy sinking feeling in my heart and stomach. The back of my head tingled with static electricity as they searched for passage to the other side.
I wanted to give them the relief of that passage. It was my duty. Even though I had abdicated on my world, that didn’t mean I was not still a god, let alone the God of Death.
“I am coming. I will bring you aid. I will bring sweet, blessed, and kind relief,” I told the empty horizon.
The nights were cold, almost like winter minus the snow. There was nothing to burn to keep warm, so my wings would have to do the trick. They came in handy that way. I removed my trench coat. My cloak, now long discarded, was in the dark purple pouch in the backpack I carried. I unfurled my wings and wrapped them around myself to sustain my body heat. As always, they did the job well. I didn’t sleep like most of my fellow gods or mortals, but entered a meditative state to rest.
At what I considered sunrise, I broke camp and started moving. The sinking sensation got stronger, which meant I was nearing the place where the souls wandered. My heart raced faster than Hermes on caffeine, which was a funny story, but that’s for later. The static in the back of my head felt as if Zeus himself hit me with a lightning bolt. That’s another funny story, but later.
I saw my destination on the horizon, making my nerves and hair stand on edge. It was the only structure I had found still standing in this empty world, an old, decrepit, wooden Victorian mansion. I stared in wide-eyed wonderment of this thing. Two thoughts ran through my mind. One, How in Tartarus is this thing still standing? Two, Where are all the gods?
I was about to find the answers to both these questions.
Before I approached the house, I removed my pouch from my backpack. The little dark purple bag felt heavy in my hand. I’d told myself I would never don my cloak again after leaving my world, my Pantheon, behind. Not since August 9th, 1945, and yet here I am, about to drape it over myself. Honestly, what else could I do for these souls? I had a duty, and whoever was this world’s version of me, had failed in his. I would bear the weight and pick up the slack.
I opened the pouch and removed the cloak. The light material weighed a ton. I stared between it and the house. The souls urged me to come in. All their voices were chattering away in my ears and filled my head like a maddening cacophony. I draped the leaden cloak over my shoulders, and it embraced me as it always had. It carried the essence of the one who wove it, my mother, Nyx. Even here and now, I heard the echo of her begging me not to go, and screaming my name as I fled. Tears threatened to run down my cheeks. I sucked it up and walked up to the house.
I climbed the creaky wooden stairs to the double doors. On my right, the porch had been extended to make an outside patio sitting area. I heard running footsteps from that direction. A child! A little girl! A soul! The first to claim. I pivoted to the right and stared into empty space. My mind raced.
Empty space? But how? I should be able to see the soul.
The creaking sound the doors made as they opened inward interrupted my thoughts. I turned slowly, the soul’s cries only growing louder from the open maw. An image of a carnival performer placing his head inside a lion’s mouth came to mind as I gazed into the house. I swallowed hard and audibly, then slowly exhaled to calm myself, summoning my will. My sense of duty drove me forward and over the threshold.
The doors slammed shut with a bang behind me, stirring up a small cloud of dust. I stood there, taking in the cavernous inside. It was well kept, despite the outside falling apart. I saw hardwood floors covered in expensive looking area rugs, a grand staircase, long halls that stretched forever, and multiple doorways. I stepped away from the doors and entered the drawing room.
A fire roared in the fireplace. To my right were two massive windows with a bench seat under them. In the center of the room, on the area rug, two leather high-back chairs sat with a small circular table between them. A small bar with glasses and alcohol was to the right of the fireplace, and a plant sat to its left. There were bookshelves stacked with books, and in front of me were closed sliding doors. The house went silent, still, and then…
The sound was coming from my right, and my head spun in that direction. Unease filled me when I saw him. A fat, middle-aged man, balding at the back of his head. He wore black slacks and a white button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up. He walked into the open part of the wall near the fireplace, bounced off, and walked into the wall again. I stood there, watching him do this repeatedly.
I attempted to sense him, his name, his past, so I could identify this lost soul. I reached my hand out and closed my eyes in concentration. I couldn’t find him. Shocked, I opened my eyes. It was a soul. It was a dead man Death came to claim. I carefully walked over to him.
I placed my hand on his shoulder and received a large static shock. I pulled back with a hiss, shaking my now numb and throbbing palm. When the tingles stopped, I reached out and touched his shoulder again. Yes, there was a charge and a painful tingle, but I had no idea what that meant or why it was happening.
I turned the overweight man to face me so I could address him. He did not have a face, yet he screamed at my touch. It wasn’t an open maw, but as if skin had grown over his face and mouth. I let the panicking soul go and took a step away. He staggered back, still screaming, and tripped as if he was lifted off his feet and thrown. Where he would have landed on his back, he fell through the floor instead. I dropped to a knee and felt the floor where he went through. One of those closed doors slid open.
I looked over my shoulder and saw a little black-haired girl in a white dress regarding me. I rose and walked to her. She smiled warmly at me, and I put on my most reassuring smile for her. I squatted down to be on eye level with the little one, my knee popping as I did. That made her giggle, and I laughed, too.
“Hello, dear one. My name is Thanatos, the God of Death. I am here to help, and there is no reason to be afraid,” I said.
She nodded emphatically, causing her long black curls to bounce. Her eyes were bright and intelligent despite the black circles around them. Her smile was toothy, full of joy, and what I mistook for innocence.
“But you are wrong about one thing, God of Death who flees,” she started.
My heart sank as I asked, “What did I get wrong, dear one?”
“You do have to be scared,” she finished, giggling.
“Of what?” I asked, my throat feeling dry.
“Me!” she answered.
I gulped as she giggled. Unseen shadow tentacles rose from the ground and wrapped around my legs. I was slammed to the floor and pulled down one of the many infinite hallways as her giggles followed.