97 comments

Jan 04, 2021

Speculative Sad

*Nainika's Note* HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! WHOOOOO :) My first story of 2021, and here's to many, many more!!! Enjoy :D


Many say that when you die, you will meet a robed skeleton holding a scythe. Some say you go to Heaven or Hell. Some say that you are reincarnated. Some say you turn into a ghost, while some say you sleep for eternity.

But the truth is, Death is just a figure. A soul. A mystery. I appear to people in their final moments, looking like whatever they believe Death looks like. To those who don’t believe in me, I’m invisible. Just a force leading them to my domain.

The Underworld for the Greeks.

Hell for the Christians.

Nirvana for the Buddhists.

Valhalla for the Celtics.

Reincarnation for the Hindu‘s.

Gender fluid to the different people who see me. I’m not a he or a she. I’m not a they either. I just Am.

It’s really all a matter of perspective. Ever since humanity was a weak fledgling of civilization, their brains sought complex ways to deal with death. To believe what happens to them after they die.

To tell you the truth, it gets pretty boring sometimes. To constantly lead souls to their next destination. But that’s in the job description. My eternal contract. I help people leave their old lives behind.

You wouldn’t believe how many people hate dying. They want to go back to their lives. Most of those people are the ones that I take early. The ones who die while drunk driving or in accidents. And the ones who die from something they can’t control, like a tumor or cancer. In recent centuries, those have become my most received souls.

Don‘t believe me? Still? You humans live in a world filled with the most amazing, dangerous, and imaginative inventions, yet a tale like mine you don’t want to believe?

Fine, I guess I’ll tell you a story. A story about the boy who helped me remember the importance of my job. A story about a boy who made Death realize what he did was worth something.

October 21, 2012

Breckenridge, Colorado

I materialized into a hospital. A pretty normal occurrence for me. Most of the time I come to hospitals to take the elderly or the ones in accidents. But what I paused at was the sign above the ward.

Breckenridge Children’s Hospital

Est. 1996

That was unusual. I hadn’t visited a children’s hospital in decades.

When I appear wherever a dying soul needs me, a gold fiber shows up, leading me to my next victim. Ok, maybe victim is too harsh a word, but my next soul to reap. I call the fiber Truth, as nothing can stop or deter it from its destination. This time, Truth led me to the elevator and hovered above the 3rd-floor button. There was a woman in the elevator already, and she shivered as I walked in next to her. Mortals who don’t require Death don’t see me, but rather feel a cold wind or a creeping feeling instead. They don’t know how close Death was to them.

The elevator dinged open and Truth pointed me down the hallway. I gathered my black robes around me and swept after Truth.

Wails greeted me. Not the dying kind, but the newborn kind. I paused in front of the window on my right. The nursery. Now I can’t claim to feel anything, being Death and all that, but of all the souls I claim, newborns who haven’t gotten to experience life are the worst to take.

Never forget. I am not human. I do not feel. I cannot be swayed. The Greek legend of Sisyphus cheating my form as Thanatos was a lie. A story told to children. I took Sisyphus the first time I came around. He did not try and cheat me. As if you humans could possess the brainpower to have some ingenuity. If anything has stayed the same in the 140,000 years mankind has been on this planet, it’s that humans are predictable. But I can still imagine the souls I take living fuller and better lives.

I can see my reflection in the glass. A robed figure with a scythe strapped to my back. The standard form of Death to those who don’t believe in one specific religion. Truth nudges me, impatient as always, reminding me of my duties. Death is swift. Merciless. I move on.

Walking away from the nursery and the baby ward, I find myself in the long-term ward for children. Truth leads me to a door. While the other doors in the ward are decorated with pictures and streamers and all sorts of parental or guardian attempts of cheering their child up, this one is bare. Nothing to show the character of the child within. I wave my hand and the door opens soundlessly. I walk into the room, my gaze immediately going to the occupant of the bed.

His eyes are closed, but being Death and being able to know everything about the souls I reap, I know they are hazel colored eyes, flecks of green scattered within the hazel. His light brown hair is combed away from his face, sticking out every which way on the pillow. Faint freckles dot his light caramel-colored skin, and he’s breathing evenly. At odds with the multiple tubes sticking out of his skinny arms.

Nathanial Jay Hunter. 11 years old. Brain tumor patient.

I didn’t make a sound, but Nathanial’s eyes fluttered open and he looks straight at me, lurking at the foot of his bed. Don’t look at me like that, old habits die hard.

“Are you here for me?” He asked. I started. Usually, humans can’t see me until they actually die, but he must be close enough that he can see me. And also, most people don’t want to see me, believing that if they hold on long enough, I will leave. They forget that Death is eternally patient.

“Yes,” I said simply. I don’t mince words. Nor do I do what you humans excel at, saying one thing and meaning another. He nodded and leaned back into his pillow.

“May I ask you a question?” He asked suddenly, eyes boring into mine. I sighed, thinking he’d ask to prolong his life or come back when he’s 80. Most people do. But instead, he looked at me with an eye far more mature than most kids his age possessed. Let alone most adults.

“When I die, will the pain go away?” I studied him, not quite sure how to respond.

“I can’t tell you for certain, but those whose souls I reap who have died as you soon will, do say that the pain vanishes.” His eyes flickered in relief and he sighed.

“Thank you.” I didn’t know what to say to that. Who thanks Death? “Do you ever get lonely?” He asked. I blinked. Do I ever get…lonely? I thought about it. In my 150,000 years of being Death, I guessed I was lonely. Human lives are over so fast. There’s really nothing or nobody that can keep me company in my realms.

“I do,” I conceded softly, and Nathanial studied me.

“Well, what do you do, other than guide souls to the afterlife?” I pondered his question.

“I help them find their way. I help them let go of their pasts. Not every human wants to die. Restless souls make for a restless realm, then everybody wants to go back to their former lives. I essentially prevent chaos.” I said. I felt free speaking about the importance of my work to somebody. Like a weight had been lifted. Humans are so selfish. They only want to talk about themselves when they died. Not about me, let alone to me.

“So, if you help them let go of their pasts, or their old lives, are you going to do the same for me?” He asked. I looked at him.

“Do you want to hold on to your past?” He sighed and shook his head.

“Nothing in my past is worth remembering, or holding onto.” I didn’t say anything, and after a few minutes, he spoke again. I’m great at loosening people’s tongues. They spill everything to me. It’s a little funny. But I’m really not in charge of their fates. That’s up to their gods. Or their faiths. I just lead them to their…next part. “My parents didn’t want me. As soon as we found out about the brain tumor, they dropped me off here and never looked back. I was a burden to them, and I don’t want to even think about them anymore.” I shifted, silently allowing him to continue.

“You don’t know how sad that made me feel,” Nathanial continued, his voice breaking. His eyes were growing bright, welling with unshed tears. “My own parents, leaving their only child behind like he’s trash. It hurt me more than the tumor did. And that’s when I think I gave up on life. When the nurses had to tell me that my parents didn’t want me.” Nathanial sniffled, wiping away the few tears that had escaped. I could see a golden light around his body, a sign of his soul beginning to break away from his weakening body. He was close. Close to Death.

“And are you still mad at them?” I asked him softly. He sniffled again, then wiped at his runny nose, looking up at me. He took a deep breath.

“No. Not anymore. I forgave them when I knew I was going to die soon.” I smiled.

“Well then, I think you’ve successfully left your past behind. Come, child. Let’s move on. It’s time to finally rest.” I opened my arms. Nathanial’s body began to seize. He clutched the rail of his hospital bed as his body tried to fight the tumor in his brain. His eyes clenched shut as his body gave a fight rivaling most. It was a remarkable event. Not in a macabre way, its just over the millennium I’ve watched humans die in front of me, I hadn’t seen such a strong will to live such as his.

Nathanial’s body gave one last great heave before finally falling still. The monitors beside his bed flatlined. He was dead. Like a shedding of skin, Nathanial’s soul arose from his body, a golden figure of himself. He looked down at himself, then sadly at his body. Nurses rushed in, but we were oblivious to them, and them to us.

I held out my hand, and Nathanial slipped his into mine, looking up at me with the child-like innocence he was robbed of at an early age. I opened a portal to his afterlife with a simple thought and turning led him into his new beginning.

***

So you see, human. Death is not all doom and gloom. I do have, well a life. As much of an oxymoron as that seems. For years I had struggled to reclaim my purpose in my endless contract of bringing souls to their next part, or not at all, and I finally found it again in the words of a young boy who was all alone in the world.

When I come for you, maybe we’ll have a conversation. Maybe you’ll brag to all the souls in the afterlife you’re headed for that you, a lowly human, helped Death reclaim its purpose in its wanderings. But no matter what god or gods, afterlife or no afterlife, that you believe in, believe in this. Death is watching. And Death will come. 

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97 comments

Devaki Inamdar
15:04 Jan 10, 2021

This story was flawless. The amount of description added to it is phenomenal. I especially loved the part at the beginning where you described death as a figure, a soul, a mystery...Also, I know it is a lot to ask, but can you follow me and upvote me 100, please? I know it's a lot to ask, but I am new and just got downvoted. It's totally fine if you can't.

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Nainika Gupta
15:07 Jan 10, 2021

Aww thank you so much!! Really appreciate that!! And no!! It’s not too much to ask, I’ll definitely upvote you, friend!!!

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Devaki Inamdar
15:10 Jan 10, 2021

Thank you so much, I really appreciate it! Also, I am new to this whole thing... so how does upvoting work?

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Nainika Gupta
15:12 Jan 10, 2021

Yeah!! So basically you just push the up arrow on a comment BUT NEVER THE DOWN ARROW (that’s downvoting and it’s bad) And you get more points!!

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Devaki Inamdar
15:11 Jan 10, 2021

Thank you so much, I really appreciate it! Also, I am new to this whole thing... so how does upvoting work?

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Devaki Inamdar
15:14 Jan 10, 2021

Thank you so much! Also, if you don't mind, can you please follow me and comment on my story (when you have the time) Also, what happens if you downvote someone?

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Nainika Gupta
19:11 Jan 10, 2021

Sure I will!! Basically, when you downvote, they lose points, and originally it was meant for people to downvote hateful comments, but now people just do it to gain more places on the leaderboard.

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yes, i love this story especially the fact that it was written from Death's perspective!! :)

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Nainika Gupta
15:23 Jan 04, 2021

Thank you so much!!!!

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You're welcome =) if you dont mind can you check out my new story

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Nainika Gupta
15:32 Jan 04, 2021

Of course not :)

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Thanks

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Nainika Gupta
15:34 Jan 04, 2021

:)

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Radhika Diksha
03:44 Jan 04, 2021

I see a new Nainika. Your writing style is different, your character development is also changed. And I loved it. The nice plotline and it had a very deep meaning. I think this may get shortlisted. Let's hope for the best. Keep writing.

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Nainika Gupta
13:57 Jan 04, 2021

Thank you so much, Radhika!!! I really appreciate that :) And gosh, wouldn't that be something :) I would love that, although there are a lot more professional writers on here that deserve it more than I do :D

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Radhika Diksha
14:25 Jan 04, 2021

But you are not less. Will you consider anytime collabing with me?

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Nainika Gupta
14:28 Jan 04, 2021

Aww. I would absolutely love to!! Just not for a couple weeks as I have finals coming up and I have to prepare for them :)

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Radhika Diksha
14:49 Jan 04, 2021

Sure. Best of luck with your exams. You must be in 12 the right? I wish you all my luck.

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Nainika Gupta
14:57 Jan 04, 2021

Yes! Whoo, its a lot ;D Thanks so much!!

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Sarah 💛
01:47 Jan 04, 2021

*Book Theif war flashbacks intensify* I think writing this story from the perspective of Death was a very interesting choice (hence why I'm remembering the Book Theif, also written from Death's perspective). This story was a bit sad but well-written and good as well.

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Nainika Gupta
01:51 Jan 04, 2021

Great readers and authors think alike :) Yeah, actually I had just wrote an essay on The Book Thief a couple weeks ago for English class, and when I read this prompt, I couldn't think of anything else BUT writing it from Death's perspective. Thanks for the read, Sarah!!! :)

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Sarah 💛
01:57 Jan 04, 2021

Ooooooh that makes sense. You're welcome, I've been trying to check out new authors and follow more people.

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Nainika Gupta
02:05 Jan 04, 2021

yeah!! That's a great way to integrate yourself into the community *thinks she sounds wise, but has only been on here for 2ish months* :D

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Sarah 💛
02:09 Jan 04, 2021

lmao

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Nainika Gupta
02:12 Jan 04, 2021

:D

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18:15 Jan 04, 2021

Wow.... No words. I'm stunned. :)

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Nainika Gupta
18:34 Jan 04, 2021

Aww, thanks!! :)

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21:26 Jan 04, 2021

:D

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16:12 Jan 04, 2021

NAINIKA WANNA UPVOTE 100 POINTS??? I'M TRYING TO GET TO 18 ON THE LEADERBOARD...

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Nainika Gupta
16:20 Jan 04, 2021

OF COURSE!!!

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16:31 Jan 04, 2021

YAY!!

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Nainika Gupta
16:37 Jan 04, 2021

DID THAT HELP??? 6602ish!!!

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16:38 Jan 04, 2021

YES!!! HBU??

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Nainika Gupta
16:44 Jan 04, 2021

3293ish!!! OMG THANKS :)

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Hey, Nainika! Would you mind signing this petition to remove the downvoting feature on reedsy? Heres the link: https://forms.gle/j3V39n9S928uxrbX9 Thanks!

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Nainika Gupta
15:29 Jan 04, 2021

Of course!! Thanks, Carolina!!

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Nainika Gupta
15:31 Jan 04, 2021

I just responded!!!

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Thank you so much!

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Nainika Gupta
15:50 Jan 04, 2021

yeah!!!

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12:48 Jan 04, 2021

I LOVED THIS!!! THIS WAS LIKE THE BOOK THIEF WHICH IS PROFUSELY SPELLED WRONG BTW!!!! You used Hindu's when you should've just said Hindus tho. GREAT STORY!!!!

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Nainika Gupta
13:58 Jan 04, 2021

Thank you!!! ...did I spell it wrong??? I didn't think I did :( and thanks for the correction, I'll fix it!! THANKS!!!!

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13:59 Jan 04, 2021

Well, in some of the comments peeps said Book theif. Also, MALLOW PRIDE PT. 3 is OUT ISAAC AARON DID PART TWO

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Nainika Gupta
14:00 Jan 04, 2021

ohhhh got it :) and ooooh going now!!

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Izzie Chan
04:04 Jan 04, 2021

Hi Nainika! Writing your story from Death’s perspective was such a creative idea! This was incredibly sad but heart-warming at the same time, and very well written. Amazing story, Nainika!

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Nainika Gupta
13:58 Jan 04, 2021

Thanks so much, Izzie!! Really appreciate those kind words :)

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Izzie Chan
14:33 Jan 04, 2021

No problem!!! :)

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Maya W.
02:09 Jan 04, 2021

This reminds me so much of an old friend's story about a little girl who cheats death by making him kiss a poppy instead of her (kissing was how he killed people). And it reminds me a lot of my own story, Her Emerald Eyes, which I can't remember if you've read yet, but you should if you like this sorta stuff. But anyways, I loved this. I really enjoyed Death's perspective and Nathaniel's dialogue with him, though I really do think that some parts were slightly rushed. All in all, amazing story. Can't wait to read more like this from you. W...

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Nainika Gupta
02:13 Jan 04, 2021

Thank you so much! I have read your story, and it was absolutely amazing :) And I agree, it was kinda rushed, I'll work on that in the future :) Thank's for the read!! Of course I will!!!

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Maya W.
02:14 Jan 04, 2021

Thanks! Haha, sorry, I forgot.

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Nainika Gupta
02:19 Jan 04, 2021

Absolutely no problem :)

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Maya Emerson
01:49 Jan 04, 2021

This story is so intriguing! The voice/ perspective of Death and the way he viewed himself was so interesting! Your stories are always so amazing, Nainika!!! :D

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Nainika Gupta
01:53 Jan 04, 2021

Thank you so much, Maya!! That means a lot <3 Actually, one of my resolutions for 2021 was to make readers think in my stories and intrigue them, so I'm glad it worked out in my first story of 2021!!!! awwwwwwwwwwwwwww glad you think so :D yours are always amazing toooooo :)

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Maya Emerson
02:08 Jan 04, 2021

Yay!!! Your resolutions are already working! :)))

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Nainika Gupta
02:12 Jan 04, 2021

I know!! (now lets see if it still holds a couple months from now loll :)

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Maya Emerson
02:23 Jan 04, 2021

I'm sure it will! :)

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Frances ☾
22:51 Jan 04, 2021

Oh this was SUCH a great way to use the prompt. omg it fits so perfectly and the story itself is incredible

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Nainika Gupta
22:52 Jan 04, 2021

awwww, thank you so much!!! ;D

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Frances ☾
23:40 Jan 04, 2021

sure!

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Maya Emerson
23:09 Jan 04, 2021

Hey Nainika! I'm thinking about doing a story this week or pretty soon with characters dedicated to different friends on Reedsy. And when I do it, I would like to put you in the story, but I was wondering how you would want your character to act?

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Nainika Gupta
23:21 Jan 04, 2021

Hey!! omg, thanks so much, first of all :D ok, you don't have to use all of this, but I want my character to be bossy, yet kind, smart, yet not a know-it-all, funny, yet stern, and a GOOD FRIEND is that helpful, or not at all :)

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Maya Emerson
23:23 Jan 04, 2021

Yes that is definitely helpful! Are there any physical descriptions/ special skills you want?

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Nainika Gupta
23:26 Jan 04, 2021

Sure! Um lets see. Hazel eyes, light brown skin, dark hair, and tall!!

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Nainika Gupta
23:53 Jan 04, 2021

Does that help???? and also, new story out!!!

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Maya Emerson
23:57 Jan 04, 2021

Okay, I'll read it in a sec. One last thing, I might have all the characters have spirit animals possibly so what animal would you want?

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Nainika Gupta
23:58 Jan 04, 2021

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO I'm already in love with this story :) I'D LOVE A WHITE TIGER PLEASEEEE :D

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Kristin Neubauer
00:57 Jan 12, 2021

Oh my gosh.....what a powerful story. First of all, such an original idea....and second of all, brilliant writing. You developed such a unique voice for Death - though matter-of-fact, Death did not feel at all sinister or cold....I could sense an underlying warmth. Thirdly, wow you know about other histories and cultures. And fourth, poor Nathaniel! His story was heartbreaking and I was actually relieved that Death came for him. Amazing work, Nainika. I have to do another edit now (still at work) but will move onto your next when i fi...

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Nainika Gupta
02:09 Jan 12, 2021

Thank you so much!! Really appreciate the read :) Yeah it was fun to develop Death’s character!!! Ooh can’t wait for you to read them!!!

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Bill Cipher
11:28 Jan 11, 2021

I really loved this story! Coincidentally, I used this exact prompt and wrote a story quite similar, except mine is based on an a battle and I have a female protagonist. Yours is really well written and I loved the attention to detail, the description of Death and how they didn't have any belief or any they tied themselves to was amazing. This deserves a win, it's my favourite story on Reedsy so far :)

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Nainika Gupta
13:48 Jan 11, 2021

Aww, you made my day!! That’s really sweet of you to say, and I really appreciate that!! I’ll check out your story!! That sounds soo cool!!

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Bill Cipher
13:59 Jan 11, 2021

No problem, you have a really unique style of writing that keeps me hooked throughout, it reads like a novel :)

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Nainika Gupta
14:08 Jan 11, 2021

Aww thanks!!!

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Kate Heesemann
11:53 Jan 15, 2021

Good chilling story

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Nainika Gupta
12:45 Jan 15, 2021

Aww, thank you!!

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