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Dearest Death: A Collection

by W. Dale Jordan

Dearest Death - W. Dale Jordan
Editions:Kindle: $ 6.99
Pages: 173
Paperback: $ 14.00
ISBN: 979-8833172988
Size: 5.00 x 8.00 in
Pages: 196

Humans are, so far as we know, the only creatures on this planet who mark the passage of time. As such, we are keenly aware from an early age that time is tick, tick, ticking away.

In the end, for all of us, is Death. We fear it. We are intoxicated by it. We run from it and somehow find ourselves wrapped in its dark-robed arms.

A small village suffering through a terrifying plague seek a solution from a prophet. A “pig” crawls on his hands and knees through the dark labyrinth of a BDSM dungeon in search of the only thing that can satiate his hunger. Two young men find themselves chased through the woods by a real-life urban legend. A lonely young man finds a boon companion in Death.

These stories and more fill Darkest Death, a collection of short horror fiction by W. Dale Jordan, author of The Stop.


Excerpt from the title story "Dearest Death"


I was only nineteen years old the day that Death first knocked at my door, though it was not the first time I’d seen him. I knew who he was as soon as I laid eyes on him. Granny always said he’d come for me…someday.

“He’ll be so beautiful you’ll want to love him. Don’t bother. He ain’t got a heart in him to return it, and he only wants one thing.”

The thing he wanted hung in the air like the odors that wafted from her stillroom when she set about casting for or on one of the neighbors. It could go either way, really, depending on her mood. I heard when he came for her. It was the middle of the night, and she’d been telling me her time was up for days.

“Well, I’ll be damned,” she said, sitting up in bed.


I sat up too. I’d fallen asleep in an old chair where I’d been reading to her. She said it helped her relax. The book fell to the floor as I stood up, moved to the bed, and knelt beside her.

“Granny, what’s wrong?”

“He’s here, baby boy. Sure as shit, he’s the most beautiful thing I ever seen.”

I followed her gaze to an empty spot at the end of her bed. I could feel nothing there. I don’t mean I didn’t feel anything at all. It was just like a void…the void. The nothing took up space where something should be, and my skin went cold as I stepped forward.

“Don’t you look at him!” Granny shouted behind me. “He ain’t yours.”

“Granny, what are you talking about?” I asked. I felt that emptiness expand and move. It was close to me now, and Granny was about to pitch a fit.

“I ain’t talking to you, Nic’las. I’m talking to him.”

I don’t know how to describe the touch on my face. Granny taught me how to feel all kinds of things when I held someone’s hand. If they was hurting or sick, I could pinpoint the exact reason. If they was broken-hearted, I could see the face of the one who did them wrong. No matter what, good or bad, there was still a sort of comfort in the touch. Contact with another human being, skin to skin, is healing in itself.

This was an ache, a desire that couldn’t be fulfilled. I felt like someone had reached inside me and squeezed my lungs. The colors of the afghan that lay across Granny’s bed faded. The light in the oil lamps dimmed. For one brief moment, I saw…nothing.

“I said he ain’t yours,” Granny said, her teeth grinding. “You come for me. Take me and be done with it.”

Just like that, the emptiness left me. The touch withdrew. I turned to Granny. She was looking up at me. Her smile was sad.

“I taught you everything I could. The rest is up to you. Be a good boy and bury me out in the field where the blackberries grow up every year. The thorns oughta keep the critters away. Ain’t no need to make a fuss.”

“Granny, I—”

“Hush, now. Everything and everyone takes one last walk, and I can see the road. I love you, baby boy.”

“I love you too,” I said. Tears pricked my eyes.

“All right, let’s be done with it,” she said, looking over my shoulder. “I’m ninety-three years old. You probably should have been here a couple years back.”

I watched her go. The light left her eyes all at once. She slumped back against the headboard that Papa had carved for their fortieth wedding anniversary. He’d died three days later, and I honestly think Granny’d been waiting to see him every day since.

I was alone, and it was somehow worse than the emptiness I felt when Death got close. I fell to my knees next to her body and wept ‘til morning.

*      *      *

Three years later, I was sitting up late one May Eve.

I’d made a way for myself since Granny died. I knew how to mix the potions and poultices and grind the powders that folks needed from one season to the next. I’d grown accustomed to answering the door of the little cabin in the woods like Granny had all those years, only I didn’t have no one to hush up.

The knock was quiet, and I sighed, setting my book aside and pushing myself up from the low chair next to the fireplace. April hadn’t been quite as warm as I’d hoped. Flames danced a jig behind the grate, casting shadows around the room.

He was waiting for me, and I knew it was him. My body reacted immediately. My eyes lost focus; my heart slowed. I stepped back reflexively.

“What the hell are you doin’ here?”

He only stared. Tall and thin with snow-white skin, a sheet of black hair that shone like crow feathers in the summer fell down his back. His eyes were just as dark, and when I looked into them, I saw stars and moons and suns. Black robes sort of floated around him like they was only half-real. He bowed his head and then looked past me toward the fireplace.

Against my better judgment, I stepped aside.

“Come on in, then. Sit a spell.”

He moved so quietly I wasn’t sure there were feet underneath that robe of his. Hell, there might not even be legs. Then, he shocked me by sitting on the floor in front of the fire and holding out his hands to warm them. I shut the door and sat down in my chair, shifting the book out of the way.

I frowned as the fire dimmed. It was like he absorbed the heat and light from it.

“You put the fire out, and I’m sending you out to get more wood,” I said.

He smiled at that but pulled his hands away and shifted, turning to look at me.

“I felt you,” he whispered. “When I came to get Thelma.”

“Yeah? That unusual or something?”

“It is,” he said, and his eyes went wide. “When I come to claim a soul, they are all I can see. There is beauty in the fragility of humans. You are here for the blink of an eye. Then I collect you and take you…away.”

I raised an eyebrow.


“But when I came to collect—”


“Yes, Thelma, your Granny…I felt you, and you saw me.”

I stared at him for a long time, then pushed myself up off the chair again.

“You want a drink?”

“No,” he said.

I pulled out two glasses anyway and filled them with apple brandy. He took the offered glass but didn’t drink. He stared into the depths of the glass for a long time as I sipped.

“I have thought of you often since that night. No one has ever seen me except when it is their time. No one has ever felt my touch and reacted the way you do. Even the dullest mortal can feel my presence, but you…you knew where I was. You saw me.”

“Only a little, just a glimpse.”

“More than any other mortal. It’s why I returned. I had to see if it was merely coincidence, a singular occurrence. I had to know.”

“So, even though you knocked on my door, I shouldn’t be able to see you now?”

“Not even a glimpse.”

I frowned and sipped my drink. Granny used to say we all know what we’re supposed to know when it’s time to know it, and we could only see what we was meant to see. I guess that meant I was supposed to see Death. She also taught me to listen to that little voice at the back of my head.

“That’s where your soul speaks, baby boy,” she said.

As the silence stretched between us, I finally looked him in his beautiful face and asked a question he’d probably never heard in his long existence.

“Well, what can I do for you?”

It was his turn to contemplate, then. I didn’t rush him. I figured he deserved to take his time.

“May I visit you from time to time? It would be nice to sit and speak with you, to ask and answer questions.”

“You want to be friends?”

After a moment, he nodded.

I looked around my little cabin. I hadn’t changed it much since Granny died. No one ever came to visit unless they needed something. No one ever wanted to just sit a spell and talk. I was too different. Like Granny, they relied on me, but they didn’t want to know too much about me. They kept my pantry stocked with food. Most paid with grain or baked goods. Some even brought chickens or beef when the need was great enough. I’d never had an empty belly, which is more than I could say for some of the village folk.

“All right,” I said.

He smiled.

And just like that, he disappeared, leaving me alone with my thoughts.


About the Author

W. Dale Jordan is an out and proud gay author living with his husband in the wilds of East Texas. His imagination was always just a little too big for him growing up, and it often spilled onto the page. Today, he splits his writing life between fiction and journalism. He is a big believer that representation in media is vital to equity in the real world and incorporates those ideas into his writing whether it's a scary creature feature or a fantasy tale like those he loved growing up.