Going out in a hail of bullets and under the wheels of the ten ton lorry was the only way to go. Well, I didn’t have any other choices really because there was no way I was going to jail. The murders they had pinned to me would have meant total life imprisonment and that wasn’t an option.
Committing suicide had also not been an option up until that point, to be honest. I don’t know, maybe, I was thinking I’d dodge the bullets or they’d hit non-important places and that I’d just avoid the lorry’s wheels like they do in the movies. But nope, my number was up.
Once the heavy crushing pain had faded and blackness had come I knew it was the end. When I next opened my eyes, I was standing at the side of the motorway, looking across at the scene. There were flashing red and blue lights everywhere and the sirens were so loud that they blocked the rushing traffic. Though of course, most of the cars were stopping now and people were taking in what had happened.
Police swarmed the scene; searching my fancy BMW, whilst others blocked the view of my body wedged under the lorry. The driver of which was hushed off to one side into a police car like a sleeping baby. The police officers’ whispered voices came to me; is he really dead? The serial killer? The one the papers nicknamed The Red Shadow? He killed ten people we know of, but there maybe hundreds more. Yes, he’s dead. You can see that, can’t you?
I turned away, wondering what to do. Surely a pit to Hell would open up underneath me? I’d be sucked down and spend all eternity being tortured by demons. But I didn’t believe in that.
To the left of me, I saw a black shape peeling itself away from the trees. Ah, the grim reaper coming to claim my soul!
‘Wait….What are you?’ I spoke, the words tumbling from my mouth before I could stop them.
‘I am your reaper, deary,’ replied a sweet old granny’s voice.
Stunned, I just stared. There before me was a small old woman- eighty or ninety odd-she had a hunched back and skin was as wrinkly and folded as one of those weird dogs. She was dressed in a long flowery pink dress, pink handmade cardie and was holding a large blue handbag. Her hair was dyed a strange blue color and she had large glasses perched on the end of her nose.
‘When you are ready, if you’d like to follow me, sweetie,’ she spoke out, ‘you just take as long as you need, okay? No rush.’
I glanced back at the scene behind me. Cars were parked up now and an ambulance had just pulled off the hard shoulder and was trying to get in close so they could collect my body without the public seeing. Police were all ready trying to stop people from coming over.
‘Oh, I think I got some peppermints here. Somewhere,’ the granny said and began searching in her handbag.
‘No, it’s fine,’ I said, ‘who are you really?’
She looked up at me, hand still in her bag, ‘I’m your reaper, deary, come to take you to the other side.’
‘But…I was expecting demons! Devils! A black cloaked skeleton! Black, fire wings!’ I cried.
The old woman chuckled, ‘everyone believes that, but no. We take a different form every time. Everyone is different you know and often they need to be handled differently too.’
‘Do you know who I am?’ I spit.
‘Were. Sweetheart. Who were you?’ she asked then, ‘oh, here are the mints. Care for one? Go on take a handful.’
‘No,’ I stated as I waved my hands and stepped back, when she held out a pink and white stripped paper bag towards me.
‘Not a fan of mints, huh?’ she added with a wink, ‘I got something else in here for you then…’
‘I don’t want anything! Just, let’s go!’ I yelled.
‘Now, now, don’t get upset. I’ll fix it. There now,’ she said and held up a tube of my favorite childhood sweets; lemon sherbet.
She pressed it into my hand, a large smile on her face.
I looked at it in shock then opening the lid, I tossed the white power into my mouth. It tasted just as I remembered; sour and sweet, fizzy and lemony.
‘All better? I knew that would help, petal,’ she said.
I nodded, feeling for the first time in years the sensation of tears in the corner of my eyes.
‘Are you ready to go?’ granny asked.
‘Yes,’ I mumbled out.
She held out a hand which was more like the gnarled, dry root of a dead oak tree.
I took it, feeling no heat or coldness against my own hand.
With her other hand, she patted the top of mine, ‘there, there, deary. It’s all okay now.’
‘So…no demons? No Hell?’
‘Stories!’ she laughed, ‘to scare people. There is no Hell or Heaven. Just the sky.’
I looked up and saw above me the darkening sky.
We started raising towards it. Leaving everything behind. The air rushed around me and as we met the sky, I savored the last taste of sherbet on my tongue.