It was a warm, sunny day in Paris when Archer strode into the paint shop down the street from his studio. He had a kind smile on his face and many would describe his hair as liquid gold in the sun. Archer was an apprentice to an artist named Eric, and was sent to the shop to buy more red paint for the artist’s latest painting. He walked up to the counter with the crimson shade in hand and greeted Madame Beaumont, the owner of the shop.
“Bonjour Madame. I hope you’ve had an wonderful morning.”
“Why Merci, Archer. It’s been quite a lovely day. How is Eric doing? I hope he is not stressing himself too much,” replied Madame Beaumont.
“Oh you know him Madame. Eric is always stressing about everything,” answered Archer with a chuckle, “Well au revoir, I must be off. Eric will be frustrated if I am late again.”
“Tell him to give you the day off!” exclaimed Madame.
“He would never do that,” said Archer with a smile as he grabbed the paint and exited the shop. He was walking down the street and towards the studio when he heard a voice.
“The treasure can be found under the cliff at the secret island!” shouted a voice. Archer spun around to see who it was. No one was there. The whole street was empty. He continued walking, thinking he was imagining things.
“The answer is in the question and the question is in the answer!” said another voice. Archer’s panicked eyes flitted around the street looking for a source of the voices. But there was still no one. He began to walk faster before bursting into a sprint as the voices kept screaming in his head.
“A heart of gold is all you need.”
“With a breath comes death and with great strife comes life.”
“A heart must break for a heart to heal.”
And as the screams and cries went on and on in his head, Archer began to think that he had gone insane. Yet insanity is simply a state of mind and it can be fixed, he thought with confidence. And the more he believed this, the shouts slowly quieted down before stopping completely.
Archer stopped in the middle of the street when he realized that he had ran all the way to his favorite cafe where his best friend, Colette worked. The streets were once again packed with people and things were returning to normal. He walked into the cafe and right up to Colette.
“Archer! Are you alright?” asked Colette as she dragged him to a chair and sat him down, “You look very pale. Has Eric been sending you all over the city again? I should have a talk with him.”
“Colette, I’m fine. I just had a weird morning, that’s all.”
“Oh really,” she challenged, “Well why don’t you tell me what happened?”
“It was strange. I was walking down the street and then I start hearing these voices in my head and they won’t stop. After I started telling myself I was insane they finally went away. But, it was terrible. It was like the voices of the dead were screaming for help.”
Colette walked up to Archer and gave him a big hug. “Archer, you will be ok. I’m sure you’re just very tired. Why don’t you go home and maybe take a nap? I’ll call Eric and tell him you got sick.”
“Thanks Colette, you’re the best. But, I think will stay here with you.”
“Okay, you feel better now,” answered Colette and then she went back to work. And no sooner had she left and the voices started again. They shouted random things in Archer’s head, but he was determined that they would go away. Then a man in his 40’s with an all black suit and a detailed ring sat in the chair in front of him.
“Hello Archer,” said the man causing Archer to freeze, “ My name is Death and I know you’ve been hearing the voices in your head and I’ve come to help. You see Archer, the universe alerts me when something like this happens because it is a sign that you are in line to be the next Death. But I must warn you, the path you will perhaps now embark on is a dangerous one filled with uncertainties.”
Archer remained silent, in fear of the man in front of him. The man seemed like a person who could level a city block because he was annoyed with the name of the street. And, at the same time Archer was sure this was a joke, but then the voices started screaming in his head that it was the truth. Listening to the voices in his head was probably not smart, but what other choice did he have?
“If you are wondering why you would be picked to be the next death… well, that is something out of my control. Only the universe can make such big decisions.”
“If I become the next Death will the voices go away?” asked Archer with intense curiosity.
“No,” said Death honestly, “But you will learn to control them, among other things.”
“Alright, I’ll do it,” answered Archer without hesitation. He didn’t want to go insane with the voices and if this man said he could help then maybe he could.
“And so the journey begins,” said Death.
And then just as Colette turned her head to check on Archer, she saw him and the strange
man sitting with him simply disappear into thin air.