His eye is always on you. He waits and watches for the night, the time, the moment he will send his legions out to collect your soul. Satan watches from his domain to dispense each of his "S" division on their special nights to do their job, but does all of his collections end up in Hell?
Sam looked at his watch. It was that time again. He laid down the book he had been reading, stretched his long legs and arms to relieve them from having sat so long. Hesitantly he stood, then stretched some more and yawned.
He really hated the ninth hour of Sunday nights. He didn't want this job in the first place, but it needed to be done. He was assigned to the "S" division and there was nothing he could do about it.
Reluctantly Sam walked over to the hallway closet to get his coat. He stood staring at the black felt waist coat, then pulled it from its hanger and slipped it on, enjoying the cool feel of the satin lining.
"Is it that time already?"his wife Lilith's melodious voice broke the silence.
"Yes, it's time to go." Sam patted his pockets of his coat checking for his leather gloves with a disdainful look on his face.
"Who is it tonight?" Lilith straightened Sam's coat collar, then ran her hands down the lapel to smooth it out, letting her hands linger on Sam's large chest.
"An old woman named Bess." Sam waved his hand as if to clear the air. "Her identity means nothing. Remember, no familiarities with the people" he sighed, then kissed Lilith on her forehead. "I won't be long. She is weak, and ready for me. She can feel that it is her time."
"Good. I am glad it is not like that 10-year-old last week . . . " Lilith stopped mid-sentence when she saw the look of despair on Sam's face. "I'm so sorry, Love. I only meant that . . ."
"Hush! I do what I am told to do! You of all others should know we don't call the shots!" Sam pushed Lilith's hands away from him and slammed the door as he left.
Lilith took in a deep breath, then let it out slowly. The air whooshed upward and blew her red hair away from her forehead. She didn't mean to upset Sam. He was definitely getting touchier with each passing year. He needed to take a break, a vacation, but then there could be no such leisure time for them. It wasn't something they were entitled to.
Lilith could sense that perhaps he was getting too involved in the lives of the people he served. Nonetheless, he was efficient at his job with the "S" division. Most of the members of the division were. They understood that they were meant to do many jobs unwanted by others and it put them in a position of being repulsive to the very ones they were here to tend. Other divisions even had a distaste for them, but that was the price they had to pay being in the service of their people.
Sam watched for a brief moment as the old lady's arrhythmic breathing made her chest rise and fall unevenly.
He walked over to her bedside and quietly pulled the privacy curtains around her bed. He didn't need to be interrupted by any meddlesome nurses.
The movement woke Bess from her light sleep.
"You're not the nurse." Bess said in a fragile, weak voice.
Sam moved closer to Bess.
"Do I know you?" Bess tried to focus using what little light splayed about the room.
"No, not personally." Sam finally answered. "You have been expecting me, however."
"No, I am expecting no one. All of my family has passed on." Bess sighed. "You must be a doctor." Her lugubrious voice filled Sam with compunction.
"I am here to alleviate your pain. I am going to take you away from this." Sam stretched his hand out to Bess.
Bess squinted trying even harder to focus on Sam. Realization struck as Bess recognized who Sam was. "Oh, it is you!" Bess gasped. Panic and eschew built inside her bosom, restricting her capacity to breathe even more. She tried to reach the call button for the nurse, but Sam got to it first. He sat it out of her reach.
"Don't fear me, old woman, you know your time is here. You have had nearly 90 years on this earth. Let's make this a smooth transition."
Bess began to weep, then to chant. "Oh angel of death, prince of demons, leave my side, I command you!" Bess managed to feebly gesticulate, pointing her finger toward the door.
Sam smiled "Dear Lady, I take my orders from a much higher source." With a lambent grin playing upon his lips he pointed upward.
"No, not from above!" Bess tried to raise up on her elbows, but fell back onto her pillow, exhausted.
"Yes. I have been blamed and persecuted for my job, but it is written in the Book of Life, you, Bess Adwell, must leave this existence at the 9th hour of Sunday. Today, dear woman. Now, just take my hand . . . "
"No! Dogs howl, with thy icy breath, oh great Samael, angel of death. Take your flight elsewhere . . . back to the bowels of Hell!" Bess tried to shout out the commands, but she could only manage a raspy, lachrymose whine.
"Oh dear Bess, understand, I come not from Hell for your soul, but from Him. I am Samael, agent of the Satan division, the bearers of souls to their rightful resting place. For many generations I have served as the catalyst to your God. Only those souls who deserve to rest in Hell are taken there, now, please, Bess, don't believe in those myths and fears. Long ago, when we walked among men, they knew us for what we really are. Servants to the human race, angels more of mercy than of damnation. I have a job to do, just as when I had to go and collect Moses. Everyone has their time to be collected." Sam smiled and offered his hand. "No more pain nor suffering. Please, I am not the bête noire you make me out to be. Come . . . walk with me. " Sam made his voice as pleasant as he could manage.
Bess stopped weeping, as Sam displayed a collage of her life on the wall opposite her bed. A protean of images formed and faded showing decade after decade of all the loved ones gone before and how many years she'd had.
She saw her wedding day with her dear husband Albert dressed so fancy and looking so handsome. She remembered how uncomfortable he was in that tuxedo, but how glamorous he looked.
Her joys and her sorrows played out their stories and she knew Samael was right. It was her time to go.
With tear filled eyes, she slowly, cautiously reached out her aged hand, bent with arthritis, pained and gnarled. She gently rested it in the large, strong hand of Samael.
Samael gazed down on Bess, his eyes filled with compassion. "Weep no more, Bess Adwell."
Sam covered her hand with both of his with such great comforting warmth.
A surge of relief flooded every fiber of Bess as she acquiesced. She closed her eyes and enjoyed the drifting feeling that washed over her. Bess now felt void of all sensations, as though she were only her mind and nothing else. There was no pain, no body sensation, no sense of touch, just nothingness.
She could hear the sweet strains of sensuous music drifting over a long distance. Voices filtered in and out. Pieces of fragmented conversations from friends and family long ago. She could smell the aromatic blend of Spring flowers as they filled the air. It made her remember walking barefoot through the thick grass of her childhood backyard, taking in the scent of the lilacs in May.
Bess felt utter and complete relief in her mind. She knew she had passed over completely and peacefully.
"Open your eyes, woman." Sam whispered softly in her ear.
Bess opened her eyes to see an old woman lying on the hospital bed. Her wrinkled lips turned upward in a knowing smile. She felt as though she had shed her outer casing. A facade she no longer needed.
"It's time to go." Sam presented his arm for Bess to hold onto."
Bess caught sight of her own reflection in the window. She was the young, beautiful girl she had been 70 years ago. The brio of her spirit lit up her face. Bess smiled and tightly hugged Samael's arm.
Sam smiled down at Bess, and she blew him a kiss.
Bess peered more closely out the window to the hospital yard outside when a movement caught her attention. She saw him standing there. He smiled at her, his usual toothy grin. His youthful face glowed. It was Albert! Her Albert, and he was dressed in his jeans and flannel shirt, the way he always dressed. Albert waved for her to hurry up. He was prancing like a young stud impatiently waiting for his mate.
She looked at Samael. "Stop wasting time. Let's go."
C. Lee Finkle had a short story called DRIVEN in the December 1999 issue of YELLOW STICKY NOTES MAGAZINE. She has won an honorable mention for a Writer's Digest Magazine contest in 1991, as well as poetry published in two anthologies. Her novel BEASTS is available at Publish America and Amazon.Com. For more information or to find out how to buy it visit her web site.
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