The Decision

The following story is based on an actual incident.

I felt a little chilly on my legs, it was cold enough to wake me up.

I raised my sleepy head trying to open my eyes but was able to open only one. My left leg was out of the blanket. I tried to get it under the cover by throwing it inside the blanket. After I was done, I again tried to sleep when I looked at my wife's face. How beautiful and innocent she looks while she sleeps. I was awake now and looking at her sleepy face, didnt want to anymore.

I was lost and was thinking if I should just keep staring or should go ahead and kiss her when suddenly I heard, “Go ahead, kiss her.”

Quickly, I rolled myself on my back and was met with a shock.
Who wont after seeing a 7 year old kid in your bedroom in the middle of the night?

“OH SHIT !!!”, I almost screamed and slipped inside the bed.

My sudden outburst failed to get any reaction from him and he stood there calmly. He shifted his glances from me to my sleeping wife and said, “Relax! I am no stranger. You know who I am.”

I seriously had no clue who he was and what he was talking about.
“You have always wanted to meet me and when I am here, you look like you are about to wet your bed.”, he said sarcastically.

ZOOP! --He vanished from my side and re-appeared near the bed where my legs were. He looked at me from there and smiled, “You have always wished for this meeting, havent you? But now you dont recognize me. Its me! Death!”, He made a dramatical hand gesture while saying this. How much I hated that.

That kid was right, I had always wanted to meet the death, but just a meeting and nothing else and especially not in my bedroom.

In my childhood I heard a lot of stories where a few people accidentally bumped into death and it told them that there time hasn't come yet and they lived to tell the tale. Even I wanted to meet Death and to hear that the meeting was just an accident and to live. But believe me, I was about to piss in my underwear right now. Besides, I always pictured death like a beautiful woman with long silver hair and a glowing white skin with a charm that no living female on this planet can match. But a 7 year old kid, please! My head was filled with so many things now, what my grandma told me about death and the other stuff I read on internet about death but nothing seemed helpful at the time.

Suddenly, I felt him coming a little bit closer to my legs and I shrunk myself under the blanket.
The first words that came out of my mouth were, “What do you want?”

“I guess I have a bad news for you.”, he said like a doctor who was about to tell a patient that he is terminally ill.

“I gathered all my courage and vocal chords together and said, “I am about to die.”. It came out more like a statement, but I wanted to ask a question. My tone failed me.

He looked at me like I was a student who has given the right answer to his teacher's question. He stood up took a dramatic pause and said, “Oh you know, good. So shall we?”

"I dont want to die, I have to do so many things.”, I pleaded. He threw his neck aside in exhaustion and sighed, “You dont understand. Its time and we have to go. So come on, be quick.”. He was clearly losing his patience.

“Isnt there a way to avoid it? Please! There has to be something. Anything!”, I was bitching out.
He stared into my eyes and I felt like my heart and lungs were made of ice-cubes. With those cold eyes, he thought for a second and replied,
“You know what? There is a way. I think I can spare your soul but this involves a deal.”

"Really?”, I dont remember if I was happy or terrified at the moment.

“Yes! You can live, but since I wont be able to take your soul, YOU have to give me another one.”, he pointed his finger to my face while saying this.

I was amazed at the responsibility and was in no mood to take it. “How can I give you a soul? You can take anyone you want, so why are you asking me?”, I tried to shrug it off my shoulders like I do with all the other responsibilities.

He smirked and came a bit more closer, “Oh its not that simple. See, there are rules, which we all have to follow.”

He settled down comfortably in the bed and continued, “This doesnt work this way. There is a system, a pattern for this process. All the things are related to each other. Like tonight, I am here to take your soul but you expressed a wish to make a deal here. So the replaced soul has to be chosen by you, because though it will spare your life but will effect you in a great manner.”

I didnt understand a single word he said and he got me with my expression. He sighed again, “In short, the soul which I have to take instead of yours has to be connected to you in some way and the death of that person has to be your wish. So in a nutshell, 'You get to chose who is going to die in your place.'”.

He finished this and looked at me like he expected a big 'Oh Yeah!' from me. I didnt react, how was I supposed to and it totally ticked him off. He disappeared and re-appeared by my wife's side and clapped his hands like he was in a real hurry. “Listen, I dont have time for this, I am on a very tight schedule so let me make this short and simple for you.”

“... If you want to live, better give me somebody else to kill!"

Still there was no reaction and I was staring at him. I realized that I was drooling with my open mouth.
But he seemed more dumbfounded than me by my reactions. And so he started again,
“Alright, let me make it easier for you. I am gonna make some suggestions. How about... your wife?”, he pointed towards my sleeping wife like he is pointing to a prize I am about to win and this was enough to kill my awe.

“NO! NOT HER. NOT HER. PLEASE!”, I moved towards him trying to hold his hands.
ZOOP! --He disappeared again. “Hey, just maintain the distance, dont try to come close alright.”.
The voice came from my back. I turned around and saw him sitting over the cupboard now.

“Listen, I cant give you my soul but please try to understand you cant have her either.”. I tried to make it up for my silence. The kid looked at me, and suggested again, “Alright, how about your enemies? I know there are a lot of people you dont like. Tell me the name of just one person and thats it. I will be gone.”

I can swear on anything how hard I tried not to think of him.
A name did come in my head but I didnt speak it out. But the kid was looking at me like he was reading my mind.

“Cmon! Just say it. I know you dont like him.”, I found him staring at me.
This kid was inside my head and I didnt like it a bit. But besides the fact how much I hated that person I just tought of, I didnt want to kill him. And so I stayed mum but that was the time when he lost it,
“I cant take you and I cant take your wife and you wont give me a name. FINE!” He bend forward to jump off the cupboard but vanished.

The funny thing was, he was not that scary now to me like he was before. Right now, he was like a little kid throwing tantrums. ZOOP! He again appeared before my bed.

“Thats it!”, he said. “You want to play it hard. I will show you what hard is.” he walked into a wall with all his anger.

I was watching the wall like it was a TV. The room felt a little warm now and I felt a few drops of sweat on my whole body. My limbs were shaking and my eyes and mouth were wide open. I looked at my wife and she was still sleeping, no movement. I wanted to go the bathroom but the thought of going in the other room with the wall in which he walked, made me slip under the blanket and I dont remember when I fell asleep.

“Wake up!” I hear my wife screaming. I got up like a dog who had his tail stepped over and looked at her. She had the phone in her hand and was constantly screaming. I did not understand a single word of what she was saying. Suddenly it all started making sense after she shook me. “Ashish had an accident. He is being hospitalized.”, she yelled.

Ashish is one of my friends and fellow writer who lives by himself. His family lives in another state. We both dont go along very well but my wife thinks of him like her brother. That is why she was all worked up. He even had her listed as his emergency contact. And he was the guy I was thinking of when that kid asked me of one name.

“Are you even listening, Ashish is serious. We have to go now.”, she was still screaming.

But it didnt make any sense. He said, I HAVE TO say the name of the person if I want to live. But since I didnt give him any name, was he going to take my soul? Is this all a plan to get me out in the open and killed??

My thoughts were jumbled by my wife, “Lets go. Wake up. His condition is serious.”, she was out of the bed and was dressing herself up to go. Suddenly I remember 'him' pointing towards her when she was sleeping and I yelled, “No, you stay at home. I will go.”

She looked at me and said, “But I want to go and want to see him.”.
I said firmly, “Listen to me, you stay at home. I am going. I will let you know if you will be needed. So just stop.”.

One good thing about my wife is that she doesnt contest my decisions. So when I asked her to stay at home she did. I got up and got dressed.

I took my bike-keys and helmet, and went to the bedroom. There she was, looking at me with soaked eyes. She stood up and I hugged her with all my strength. I didnt want to go but I had to. After like a minute, I let her go and paced towards to the door. Left the apartment, reached the parking started my bike and in 15 minutes I was on the road.

I was trying to focus on the road but was not able to. I was scared; what if that kid would do something to my wife in my absence? I was relying on the honor of the Death's words. He was after me and not anyone else, unless I make a choice. But how can I be so selfish to deliberately let someone else die just to save my life? Well it sounds pretty obvious but I am telling you, at that time, it felt both like a power and a burden.

I was now on the highway and the images from the earlier moments of the night were still processing in my head. Suddenly I felt something on my right and there he was. He was grinning while cruising on the roof of a car. The car passed me and he was looking at me all the time with that creepy grin on his face. Suddenly he signalled me to look forwards and vanished. When I looked ahead, I realized I had jumped a red light and was in the middle of an intersection. Also, there was a man on the cycle trying to cross the road (my right to left, perpendicular to me).

My bike was in inertia and the light for my left had turned green. The traffic started coming in from my right, and the man on the cycle was still trying to control his cycle just like me.

It was a time to make a quick decision.
"If I stop now, the guy on the cycle would cross and the cars coming from the left would hit me. But if I keep going, the cycle-man has to stop and he will get his behind whacked by the cars coming behind him." I was thinking rapidly.

There are moments in your life when right and wrong dont matter at all. These moments dont give you any time to think and decide, these are the moments when you have to make a decision in a split second. And what you do in those moments, decides the rest of your life.
THAT was my moment. I had to decide either to run and save myself, leaving that guy on the cycle on his fate or to do the 'right' thing and stop right there to get run over by the incomin traffic on my left.

But none of these options gave me a guarantee of saving the either of the lives. So I made a quick calculation, based on my moral and rational thinking.

"Better him than me! I am not ready to die."

I clutched the accelerator of my bike and leaned forward to race out of this mess, I didnt want to think about the fate of the man on the cycle. But it is impossible for a man to escape his guilt. And so I locked eyes with mine. My eyes met the eyes of that guy on the cycle and suddenly my right leg and hand automatically hit the brakes. My bike paused in the middle and I was still looking in the eyes of the cycle guy and he was looking in mine. Now, we both were about to get hit.

And all of this happened in a split of seconds but that second, I tell you, felt like a frozen moment.

I felt like someone lifted my bike from behind and I was flying in the air. The push was sudden and I was able to see my bike falling on the road and sliding. It was a truck that hit my bike's rear. I was flying towards my North-West.

They say when you are about to die; either you whole life flashes in front of your eyes or you just see the things or people you love. Take my words, nothing like that happened. The only thing which flashed before my eyes were the massive blinding headlights of the truck that hit me.

Now, I am a person who calculates everything and is right most of the time, and believe it or not but at that time I was calculating where and when I was about to hit the ground.
And 'Voila', I was right with my calculations yet again.

My right shoulder hit the road and then the right side of my head. The helmet took the toll and I saw and felt the pieces of it shattering on the road. I took a few descent rolls on the road and dragged for about 5 feet or so. During my final roll, back of my head hit the road and I was lying on my back. I could see the headlights of the same truck but my eyes wanted to shut and I didnt stop them.

Well, if you would say that I am telling you this story because 'obviously' I survived and people only tell their survival stories to others because they are alive. Well, I would say, "Stop being a smart ass!"

I was alive. But I was in no condition to move my body. I remember being dragged. Someone was holding me under my arms and was dragging me to the side of the road. “I am alive.”, I said to myself in amazement.
I really was amazed.

The guy dragging me heard me and said, “Yes you are, but a man got hit by a car. His leg got trapped in his cycle wheel.”.

“Is he ok?”, I asked with no expression or intention.

“I dont think so.” he placed me on the pavement. "I will be back.” He said and ran towards the crowd.

I was not able to see what the situation was because there was a crowd at the traffic signal and to be honest, I really didnt even care!

“Nice choice.”, I recognized the voice and it was enough to give me goosebumps even when I was immobilized. There he was, smiling at me. But this time I wasnt scared of him and was looking him right in the eyes. He was looking at me and we both were in a staring standoff.

Suddenly, the guy who dragged me came back, "That poor fellow on the cycle. He couldnt make it. You are lucky my friend. Praise the lord."

The kid was looking me at me but his eyes were not cold this time.
He gave me a final warm smile and vanished into the crowd.

I placed my head back and closed my eyes.


  1. dude i would love to make this into a short fiction film.. I mean it! This is amazing man. .I can visualize each and every bit of it and it was all playing in the back of my mind.
    Bravo. .eager to read the sequel!

    1. Go ahead Avi, make a short film out of it. I give you the official rights :D

  2. stunned & short of words... :|
    one of your best notes...great writing