It’s not right to speak ill of the dead. Especially the recently dead. And I’m not necessarily saying I’m going to be speaking particularly ill of Richard. He wasn’t a bad person. He just wasn’t funny. Maybe that made him funny, but I’m still not laughing at his jokes. It’s probably wrong to be writing any of this so close to his death, but fuck it. More than likely his family will never read this. And, if in some weird circumstance they ever do read this, sorry, ladies and germs. But, I have to write what I know.
Richard woke up. A beast stood over him. Over his bed. Richard didn’t start, didn’t jump back. Didn’t seem fazed. Richard yawned.
The beast cleared its throat. “Fuck you, Richie,” it said, gravelly and full of phlegm.
“Fuck you, too,” Richard rasped.
The beast reached down and grabbed Richard by the collar of his t-shirt. “Get up.” It lifted the teenage boy, forcing him to his tired feet. The beast shoved Richard into his dresser.
“Do people like you, Richie?” asked the dark beast. It jabbed its long, sharp finger into the boy’s chest. “Huh? Do they?”
Richard shoved the beast’s arm away. “I don’t know,” he answered. “I don’t care.”
The beast poked him in the chest once more. “I doubt people like you, Richie.”
“I don’t care,” Richard repeated.
The beast took hold of the boy’s shoulders and threw him across his room. Richard collided with the door of the closet. He fell to the floor. The beast stomped over to where he lay. It bent over, looking at the teenager, repulsed. Its thin claws clutched onto Richard’s short hair and it pulled. Richard squealed until the beast had him sitting up straight, and it let go.
“We’ve met before, Richie,” it hissed. “In your mama’s womb.”
The boy glared up at the monster. Tears on the cusps of his eyelids, but defiant.
“You could’ve been someone who people like. But, no. Not after I met you. In your mama’s womb.”
Richard wiped a fallen tear from his cheek. The beast slapped him across the face.
“You wanna be funny, Richie?”
Richard rubbed his cheek, didn’t look at the beast. The monster slammed the boy’s head back into the closet door. “Huh, Richie? You wanna be funny?” it asked, again. “Make jokes? Make strangers laugh?”
The beast stared at the teenager. Its eyes white, luminescent. Its skin black as oil, as gleaming. The boy didn’t look back.
“Let’s make you funny, Richie,” it whispered. “Let’s make you so funny.”
Richard looked into the Taker’s face and screamed into the grey daylight.