Title: The Fall
Author: Stephen Cost
Publication: September 16th, 2014
For thousands of years, Death walked behind the dark veil of the living, waiting to ferry the dead. That is, until the day that Death took a life for pleasure rather than duty. On that day, the first Reaper fell to Earth. Now, Reapers live among us, craving the taste of death, forcing them to kill to satisfy their immortal hunger.
Giles Reid fell more than 300 years ago starving for the taste of death, only to find himself drowning in a sea of the living and blinded by a hunger that forces him to kill. In the centuries since his fall he has tried to be more human, desperate to live a life that makes up for what he is and the wrong he has done. Driven by his guilt over killing, he has chosen to feed only on evil; humans that have never been a threat to him but who are always a danger to others. That is, until the day he tries to feed on a human as strong, fast and cunning as himself; a human who, it turns out, has been hunting him. Now he is being pursued by the very evil he has fed on for centuries, embroiled in a deadly cat-and-mouse game, where friends and other Reapers connected to him are simply pawns on a chessboard waiting to be sacrificed. Giles is left with a choice, save the life of the women he loves, the daughter of his mentor, or betray her for his own survival.
To save the woman he loves, Giles will have to be the monster he is.
“By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.” The day that is the basis for The Fourth Commandment. (Genesis 2:2-3)
The following text was found in 1947 in a synagogue in Cairo, Egypt and rejected by the Church as heresy.
“By the seventh day God had created all life and the Earth, but He knew life could not exist without death and so Death was born to provide passage for his Children of Earth to his Kingdom of Heaven. This, he completed before the setting of the sun on the seventh day and so He rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on this day He celebrated his creation of life and Death, He rested from all the work of creating that He had done. (Geniza fragments, found Cairo, Egypt, 1947)
“Death is the beginning of immortality”
— Maximilien Robespierre, July 26, 1794
People say they love the smell of fresh cut daisies, but I far prefer the scent of what pushes them up, the dead. You see, death has a scent all to itself, slightly tangy and bitter, pleasing and calming on the palate. Sure there are other aromas I love too, not just that of death, which can chase the chill from my heart, or would, if I had a heart; at least one that could beat and warm the night’s cold from my blood.
Every day I crave the smell of death and evil, I have since my birth. But living in a sea of flesh and blood, I have developed an appreciation for other human and earthly scents; Like the ocean, its sea salt assaulting my senses with a clean, pure bouquet, quite unmatched by anything manufactured. Or the first morning smell of fresh-cut, wet grass and, of course, women. Women smell so much sweeter than men. They, over the millenniums, have refined their scents out of necessity as much as pleasure, each expertly adapting their sultry, seductive and secret combinations of body lotions and perfumes. Honing this craft throughout the ages, to tempt and seduce men out of their minds.
But these are not the only olfactory delights to curl my toes and tickle my senses. For nothing—not the tangy stench of death, nor the sweet scent of a woman—compares to the most inspired aroma of all. Coffee. Nothing in my three-hundred-plus years of experience has compared. Sure, coffee itself has evolved, from non-filtered to filtered, from espresso to cappuccinos, and now from mochas to Frappuccinos, but the essence is the same. The intoxicating sweetness, the mild-to-bitter flavors that leave you wanting more—needing more.
You see, that’s my drug. Some people need cocaine, others heroin, and some crave cigars or alcohol. I, on the other hand, have the most decadent, refined and expensive vice of all. And it’s because of this little addiction—or weakness—that I can be found most nights here, sitting on the dimly-lit, damp, covered balcony of Martin’s Books and Coffee.
I sip my overpriced drug while the not-so-distant smell of the ocean creeps its way through the maze and tangled web of Seattle’s wet streets. The cars filing by below enhance the scent of the ocean sitting not too far from here, as the sound of their tires splashing through wet, potholed roads echoes that of the rush of a wave over a rock and the sound of ocean spray.
On most days, Martin’s tends to be a good place to relax. One of the few independently-owned book stores left in Seattle, the atmosphere here is calming and the lighting muted. Not so dark that you cannot read a book and enjoy your coffee, but just dim enough so that someone of my, let us say fair complexion, can go unnoticed by the everyday person stopping by for a fix and a good book.
The décor is modern contemporary, although the designer clearly relied far too much on his collection of old IKEA catalogs, with a thousand shades of tans and browns with brushed steel accents scattered throughout, for effect. I do think that they might have gone a little overboard with the alternating redwood and pine floor boards. The effect is still pleasantly calming if not somewhat dull.
So, why so critical, you may ask? It’s an occupational hazard, I’m afraid. We all, Reapers and humans alike, must have a day job and mine happens to be that of a wine critic. The crème de la crème of critics, although, truth-be-told, I’m not a big fan of wine. However, I have been gifted with a palate most French chefs would give their sous chef’s right hand for. Not their own hand, of course. No French chef I have ever met, and I have met more than my fair share, would ever think of giving that much for their craft.
“Mr. Reid, would you like another?”
The sound of her sing-song voice pulls me back to the moment, temporarily suspending my hazy, drug-induced stupor.
The question comes from Sarah, one of my favorite wait-persons here at Martin’s. Yes, I said wait-persons. Living—if you can call what I do living—in a world of political correctness, I’ve learned it is no longer appropriate to refer to someone as a ‘waitress’. That would be such denigration. Sarah is just the typical twenty-something coffee house wait-person who can be seen in any of the hundred or so coffee houses that pepper the Seattle Landscape—not Sarah herself, of course, but the type. Tall, but not too tall, with long blonde hair. A lightly tanned complexion and the body, a perfectly sculpted masterpiece. I’m not sure about the other Sarahs out there, but my Sarah has one defining attribute that I find hard to resist, her smell. The bouquet that wafts around her is subtle and ambiguous, what is that? Lavender with a hint of vanilla and cinnamon, perhaps?
Stephen Cost was born in Wexford Ireland and raised in a small seaside town not far from Dublin. From a young age he would spin dark tales and write them down for his own amusement. At the age of 13 he moved from his home in Ireland to America and his love of dark American cinema took root.
He passes his free time, when not writing, by reading horror and fantasy genre novels in addition to watching science fiction and horror movies.
He graduated from University with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. A computer engineer by trade, he specializes in integrated system services and uses the knowledge gained from his degree to write emotionally captivating urban fiction.