The lanky and sallow figure stood before the old man sitting on his high-backed chair. Logs crackled in the fireplace, and the fire light cast flickering shadows on the wall, cloaking the darkening room with a golden hue. Blue dusk glimmered through the window.
“I’ve seen you before,” the old man said.
“When I was a boy, I fell off a tree and punctured my lung. You were there.”
“And then in the war, in the trenches, you stood untouched as fire rained down on us.”
“And now you’re here,” the old man stated, and his eyelids became suspicious slits.
The hollow voice and deadpan tone brought tears to the old man’s eyes. He scanned the luxurious room and his eyes swallowed all the possessions, and recalled all the toil and trouble to secure this material comfort.
“I spent my life collecting all this,” he opened his arms and glanced around the room, “yet you took from me the only things that mattered.”
“Why?” the old man asked, “Was it my Destiny? Was I fated to spend my old age searching for what you snatched from me in my youth?”
“No,” the figure replied and the old man let out a shaky sigh, “it was not your destiny, it was theirs.”
Tears gushed down the old man’s cheeks, and sobs choked his throat. He buried his face in his hands and his shoulders shook with such violence even the playful fire cowed in the corner. The room darkened and beyond the window a black and moonless night fell, plunging the estate and all its wealth into darkness. The lanky figure glowed with preternatural silver while the old man wept for the past, and for two silent graves sharing a weathered headstone in a gloomy graveyard.
“I gave them everything,” the old man blubbered, “except my time. I thought I had plenty of it.”
“You had plenty of time. They did not.”
“So now what?”
“Now I am here, and your time is finished.”
“Will you take me to them?”
“Yes, they await you.”