I hear them drawing nearer, voices rising and falling. In my mind’s eye, I watch a human chain wind a serpentine path down the hill in this danse macabre. Nervous laughter gives way to raucous cheers as new recruits reach out a tentative hand to the last person in line.
But I stand alone, commanded by the Angel of Death to play my lute and charm these new denizens of the underworld. The music calms the confused ones, those who died unexpectedly and now venture with trepidation toward their unknown fate.
It’s the screams of the angry or terrified ones that chill me, clawing icy fingernails along my spine. If I could, I’d cover my ears to shut out the cacophony of curses and wails. Instead, I’m forced to keep playing, never stopping until the last person upon the earth has passed away.
The first time I saw the contorted faces and pale, blood-stained cheeks of these tormented souls, I froze, unable to play a note. Offended at my perceived disobedience, the Angel of Death blinded me.
No matter how much I beg, he will not kill me.