His search proved fruitless. He spent the better part of a day going through every book on mythology and magics both black and white that he could find, and there were many. He had even tried to look up some of the arcane symbols he had seen on the knife but that also had proven a dead end.
In the months that followed he had tried to put it all out of his mind but he had been killed twice and it was clear that he would be killed again. And again. And again. It gnawed at his mind like a low-grade toothache.
He developed new interests, actively sought out friendships and even tried community service. Nothing worked. There at the back of his mind was the constant knowledge that one day in the not too distant future his life would come to an end. Only it wouldn’t be an end. It would be the close of a chapter with the start of a new one to follow immediately.
In moments of extreme self-pity he came to think of his life as a living hell. In a way he felt the anger was better than the depression he had been through before but he knew that in time the impotence that accompanied the anger would surely turn it back to depression once again.
He began to count off the months as they went by. The length of his last two lives had been around two years, and as the anniversary of his last death approached he began to have nightmares. He relived his deaths over and over and couldn’t go even one night without seeing the face of his tormentor laughing maniacally as he appeared before him.
Two years came and went and he saw no sign of the gentleman. As the next few weeks went slowly by he allowed himself to hope that his torment was finally at an end. That perhaps it had been deemed that he had paid enough, though for what he was at a loss to understand.
Another two months and the weight on his shoulders began to lift some. So it was that when he saw the gentleman standing directly across from his house one day it was a blow more harsh than any of the previous ones. He had just come out the front door to begin his day and for once wasn’t thinking about his plight. He stopped in his tracks and the blood drained from his face as the gentleman slowly tipped his hat and then vanished into thin air.
It was the first time he had actually watched him vanish. It gave him a chill the likes of which he had never experienced before. Two days later his third death had come. This time it was even more horrendous than the first two. He had burned alive in his car. The sensation was forever etched in his memory.
Since that time he had died by most every conceivable means. Falling from a great height, eaten alive by wild animals, garrotted, blown to bits, and the whole gamut really. Each time death has come without any warning other than the obligatory tip of the hat a couple of days prior.
And now, as he wandered idly down the street in this latest incarnation, so many, many years removed from the beginning of his nightmare he was in the same position he had been in countless times before. He had no more than a few days at best until he would be killed again.
Suddenly it occurred to him that he had never tried to ask why directly. He had never confronted his tormentor. Death always came suddenly and swiftly. What if he maintained hyper-awareness from now until the moment he came face to face with the gentleman. Could he possibly get him to stop long enough to at least say why it was happening? Did he really want to know?
He decided he did. Maybe, just maybe he would get an answer.
Tomorrow Part 8 – The End