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The Grim Reaper is no longer able to claim lives directly. Instead, when your time is up a mark appears on your body and it is the duty of every other person to kill you on sight.

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I am not a careless person. I cover my tracks, monitor what I say, look before I cross the street. At least, I do now.

When I was 20 years old, I walked home reading a book. I was so engrossed that I failed to notice the heavy metal vehicle moving at my frail, human body at 40 mph.

It swerved, I stopped, no one was hurt, no one died. They never do.

It was only when I took the cookies out of the oven that I noticed the mark on my arm. I knew what it meant. It was my duty to report to the authorities to be murdered. If I didn’t, anyone who saw it would kill me on sight.

I didn’t want to die. I was only twenty years old! I hadn’t even finished college, much less gotten to all my grand plans and ambitions (never mind that I didn’t have any. I had time to plan out the rest of my life later. So I thought.)

I burned my arm on the cookie sheet. The scar covered the black mark somewhat, and I put a bandaid over it. The people at work didn’t question it.

After some time, the burn healed. The mark remained black over the scar, bigger now. I tried carving it out with a knife. It was winter now, and long sleeves were the norm - no one would notice my injury. The mark remained, the bloody lower layers of my skin black as death’s robes.

From then on I wore long sleeves. When I went to the doctor I covered it with paint and hoped they wouldn’t notice. They didn’t. I was lucky.

The mark grew.

I was in trouble when it reached my wrist. As soon as it covered my hand I would be discovered. I ran.

Soon I will be nothing but a shadow in the night. Perhaps some of the stories they tell of night creatures originate from people like me. Those who escaped, their marks covering them, even the whites of their eyes turned deepest black. In a way, we are no longer human. Isolated, undying, immortal, betrayers of nature’s most fundamental law: all things must come to an end.

If I outlive humanity, will I ever die?

When the sun goes nova, will I still exist?

When the universe ends, will I endure?

Or is death simply a shortcut to that end? When the last star has gone out and matter has been erased, will Death greet me with a weary sigh, saying “where have you been? We’ve been waiting for you for an eternity.”

At that point, will I even remember who is waiting for me?

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