Pew, pew, pew! The lasers blasted from my futuristic laser gun. I stood on the porch and in the distance, was my friend Chris. I aimed the transparent gun at him, ready to win. “I got you now!” The shots fired from the series of noises from my mouth. We loved to play pretend as soldiers from 2239, the thrill of battle filling our minds. This was an everyday thing for us, every day was a different story with different characters and a different plot.
“Agh! You killed me!” Chris shouted from the sidewalk. He proceeded to hunch over and dramatically die from being blasted with a laser.
“Oh shut up, it’s not like you’re actually dead. It isn’t like we could actually die now. Actually, I’m gonna live ‘til I am 500 years old!” I said with pride.
“Uh, no you’re not. You’ll die before then.” Chris replied.
“What do you mean?” My head was spinning. What was he talking about? I never met anyone who actually died. I thought people dying only happens in the movies or video games. I had never been so confused in my life. Was he joking?
“Yeah, everyone dies. My mom told me that.”
“Nick! Come here!” My mom called me in, looking nervous. “Nick, I have to tell you something.” Sweat formed on her forehead. “Uncle george has passed away.”
Patter, patter, patter. It was raining. The sky was bleak and grey, the air was muggy, and I was sweating in my little suit. I traveled up the stairs, step-by-step, each time, the grip on my hand tightening. I walked in with my mother, not really knowing what to expect. The carpet was a beautiful maroon red and there was a small glass chandelier in the middle of the family room. Family members and familiar faces were all around. I stayed quiet the entire time while my mother spoke very softly with the rest of them. Then, we entered the viewing room, and the atmosphere transformed in a split second. There was a heaviness in the room. Most of the family were gathered in the seats in front of the wooden box, however, there was someone-no, something else that wasn’t accounted for in the room. My mom’s grip tightened even more, my hands turning purple. We inched closer and closer to the wooden box, the heaviness becoming thicker by each step. Half of the lid was open. I peered inside, and saw something I would never forget. My first dead body. It was my uncle. Everything in my childish mind began to fall apart. My mother had mentioned that my uncle had passed away and gone to a place called heaven. I didn’t understand it, what does it mean? I was in denial. I thought death was in video games, and even then, you came back to life. The eternal sleep that the vessel of my uncle faced in his new home. He was a phantom, so pale it made me sick. Now, he wasn’t here, just a ghost in my memories. I reached and held his hand, it was ice cold. I stared in shock, my mouth slightly gaped. I wasn’t looking at my uncle anymore, just a box within a box. Warm streams of tears ran down my cold face. I shivered in devastation, fear. This couldn’t possibly ever happen to me…
Ding! The elevator doors slid open, the muffled scratching of metal against metal emulating from the small opening on the floors. My sister, my dad, and I stepped out into the hallway. There was tension in the air and I felt as if a plastic bag was forcibly wrapped around my head. In the hallway, there were stretchers pushed against the walls, the imprint of its victim clearly visible. Nurses and doctors frantically treading from door-to-door to help any patient desperately in need of patches and painkillers. We walked towards the end of the hall, where to the left of us was the front desk. “Dr. James to the I.C.U, Dr. James to the I.C.U.” said the nurse over the loudspeaker. The hallways reeked of hand sanitizer and a mixture of various cleaning supplies. As we inched closer to our destination, the sound of small wheels frantically rolling could be heard in the distance. A horde of nurses raced down the hall with a patient that had wounds deeper than the uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Pretty soon, we were a couple steps away. I had made the mistake of turning my head to the left. An Asian woman laid in her stationary hospital bed, her blank eyes facing the ceiling. A man sat alongside her, hunched over, sobbing. I stared directly into a room of lost hope and a lost soul. In a split second, I turned away. Out of morbid curiosity, I looked into the room next to it, and I saw a black man with bruises all over and an elderly standing next to him, praying. I did not make the same mistake again. We were right at the door, the entrance to my aunt’s deathbed. A male nurse came out and advised us to wear scrubs before we entered. We all scrambled to put on the tight, light cyan blue jumpsuits and the white caps. I walked in, scanned the room and saw familiar faces, my two uncles, my cousin, and my two great aunts all with their heads bowed in gloom. And then, I saw my aunt, her eyes wide open and blank just like the lady from before. Her mouth gaped, frozen in shock. Her body was still living, but I could already see rigor mortis taking effect on her soul. This was true death. Not the pale blue body, not the gray pupils surrounded by a green hue, not the breath that fails to leave her mouth. No, death was the lack of a soul. Her soul had long departed her body and it was evident. I felt nothing holding her hand, speaking to her. I felt absolutely nothing from her, not her lively energy nor her warmth. I learned that day, Death doesn’t reap bodies, it reaps souls.