Abby Stokes is Going to Die by Charlie Cottrell
Written by Lazy Gramophone Press on Sunday the 24th of January 2010
Abby Stokes blinked her sleep-swollen eyes and looked at the man-shaped object where her dressing gown hung. Squinting in the half-light, she made out that the man-shaped object was indeed a man and immediately she was wide awake.
"I've come for you Abigail," said the man. "It is time."
Abby fixed the man in her gaze. Her fingers grasped around on her bedside table, searching for anything that resembled a weapon and grabbed hold of the first solid object they found. It was an Ikea lamp with little silver feet. She held it out in front of her, a foot in each hand.
"What do you want?" she asked.
"You must come with me, said the man, "for I am death."
Abby looked at the man who was standing by her dirty clothes hamper. He was tall, with short dark hair and the face of an accountant. He wore black trousers and a striped blue and white shirt that had a vague polyester sheen to it, like the kind you dont have to iron.
"Youre not death," she said.
"Im a death," said the man.
He handed Abby his business card. It read: 'Keith Jackson certified reaper (Grade C)'.
"We re-branded a few decades back," he explained, "lost the morbid cape and scythe stuff and went for something more identifiable."
"Death's name is Keith?" said Abby.
"And?" said Keith.
Abby apologised. Keith shrugged.
"Whatever. Ive got a schedule to keep to so lets get on with this."
He reached into his trouser pocket and took out a small scroll. It was no longer or wider than a cigarette, but, as he unravelled it, it seemed to go on and on until his arms were at full extension and there was still paper coiled at either end.
"Abigail Stokes," he read, "born 11:04 a.m. September 12th 1974, died 7:15 a.m. November 8th 2007. Daughter of Helen Claire Stokes and Martin Clive Stokes. You were a bonny baby though you suffered with severe cradle-cap . . ."
"How do you know that?" asked Abby, in a whisper.
"Its in your file," said Keith.
He went on, ". . . severe cradle-cap which meant that your baby hair grew up vertically like a tiny Mohawk."
Abby looked at the card in her hand. The words on it morphed like mercury and reformed into the shape of a grimacing skull. An icy shiver ran down her spine.
"Im going to die," she said.
Keith stopped reading. He looked at Abby from over the scroll.
"Youre already dead," he said. "See?"
He began reading again.
"Abigail Stokes born 11:04 a.m. September 12th 1974,died 7:15 a.m. November 8th 2007 . . ."
"Wait!" said Abby.
"Im sorry, said Keith, Im afraid I can't. You're in the system now."
"No," said Abby, "the time s wrong. You said 7:15 a.m. Its only 6:15 a.m."
She pointed at the glowing red numbers that burned out of her alarm clock. Keith followed her finger, then looked at his own watch.
"Shit," he said.
"What does that mean?" asked Abby.
"It means that Daylight Savings has shafted me," said Keith.
"But Im alive?" asked Abby.
"Yes," said Keith. "Youre alive. For one more hour, you are alive."
Abby breathed a short sigh of relief. Then burst into tears.
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Title: Charlie Cottrell reading Abby Stokes is Going to Die
Lazy Says: Charlie Cottrell
Alex Rose14/05/10 6:47pm
It's great to see a face from the past doing well. Glad you became a wordsmith rather than a homeopath Charlie.
This is a brilliant story - the writer is very talented. I ran outside of the pub to tell her so, and to comment on her lovely dark princess dress.
Great story but then they're all brilliant! I also loved Window, Window :) xXx
Funny and probably the best story in the book! The author is stunningly beautiful as well! (LOL)