Gerald endured the tirade of laughter thrown at him, the laughter occasionally broken by a strained wheezing for breath. He had become used to the frequent bursts of mockery thrown at him since meeting death, still, five minutes seemed to be a touch beyond what was warranted.
“Gerald, oh how you do make me laugh. Look,” Death said, wiping tears from his cheeks, “some of those beings that are actually meant to be here take millennia to even realise that reality is different here. And you, of all people, have gone and damn near mastered it within moments.”
Gerald shifted uneasily at the near-compliment, his feet shifting beneath him and his hands smoothing out the fabric of his grey pants.
“Oh don’t be like that. It’s really quite remarkable, I mean it. It seems as though that toxic mixture of indecisiveness and self-doubt is actually good for something.” Death began to pace about Gerald. “I would surmise that your lack of trust in yourself leads you to doubt that what is beneath you is down, and your loathing toward making a decision is what makes you doubt that doubt itself. It’s truly amazing. When alive, that was what turned you into this man-shaped blob of redundancy, but now, trapped in between reality and chaos, it gives you something special. Perhaps you might just survive the trials. . .”
With that, Death dragged Gerald by the arm and led him from the lobby into a smaller room.
In stark contrast to the natural opulence of the lobby, this room was reminiscent of the libraries Gerald had heard about; the type with books and things. The walls of this room were moving. They folded in on themselves, words forming along the parchment-like lining until the segment could fit no more and once more folded itself.
A lanky man peeled himself from the wing-backed chair which sat behind an oversized desk; quills and ink pots lay haphazardly amongst prodigious tomes. Gerald heard the elongated creeeak of ancient joints grinding as the man approached. The man’s voluminous robes cascaded over the floor, giving the impression that he was gliding toward Gerald. A waft of dust and ink declared that this man rarely left his desk.
“Hello, Gerald,” a voice deep and rich crooned from beneath the deep hood. “I’ve read a great number of things about you. I am Charron and I can help you. . . for a price.
“You see, Gerald. I once had charge over the entrance to the heavens and hells. That is before they digitised the process,” he almost glared at Death with those last few words. “I still have my ways to ship you to the rightful place, but you will need to prove your worth.”
Charron ran a clawed fingernail along Gerald’s jawline before creaking back to his chair and sinking back into its expansive embrace. He breathed deeply, teeth chattering as he reached out toward an antique bell on his desk. The ring it emitted was lower pitched than Gerald would have expected, its echo reverberating through where his bones should be. The persistent ringing seemed to have no effect on Charron and Death.
A sudden slam of a door and the hastened shuffling of feet accompanied the welcome fading of the bell. Gerald was still struggling to compose himself as a feathered hand roughly grabbed his arm and jerked him upward, his toes barely scraping the floor. A sharp prick on his palm sent a rushing sensation of fire and trepidation throughout his entire body, radiating from the pin-prick to his every extremity before subsiding. Moments later, the flames within reignited and Gerald convulsed as they raced back through him toward his hand, finally sinking to the floor.
Drained, Gerald hardly noticed the beaked face in front of him. The room began to sway and darken as unconsciousness threatened. In the distance, Gerald could hear a conversation being held and knew it would be of the utmost importance to him. Gerald fought to understand.
“. . . the Narrator. . .” a new voice said as the room turned a light grey.
“. . . she will accompany. . .” that could have been Death, the snippets of conversation barely registering to Gerald.
“. . . certain trials. . .” the new voice spoke once more.
“. . . judged accordingly.” Charron’s deep voice seemed to end the conversation and Gerald succumbed to his exhaustion.
Thankyou again for following along with Gerald’s adventures. I will be taking a short break from Gerald to complete some editing/refreshing of his experience so far.
Remember to hit like and follow to rejoin him when the adventures begin again – one might say his adventures have only just started.