Henry Crow awoke to a cold, wet slap to the face, realizing he was propped upright on his run-down, sunken couch. He was startled when his gaze fixed upon the crimson figure of Dave sitting next to him, smiling--Dave to a T, but covered in vibrant, candy apple blood--as well as a mid-sized bear sitting contentedly at Dave's side on the ground, licking its paw. He jumped up in his seat a bit and started to squirm around.
'What in the FUCK is this all about?!!' he exclaimed, eyes wild with delirium.
'I've gotta have a talk with you, Henry,' Dave calmly replied. Even his hair was drenched in blood; his black suit was sopping wet, the white undershirt clinging to his form and looking like it was drenched in Kool-Aid. Henry was having a very hard time grasping all of this.
'Am I dead? Did you fucking kill me?'
Dave laughed a bit.
'No, no, I'd never do that! No, I'm here to help steer you from your evil ways to show you the beauty of life and human decency. Help save your immortal soul and what have you. Also, there was acid in that turkey.'
Henry readjusted himself in his seat, slicking his hair back a bit and taking in a deep breath. He went to grab his smokes and came back to Dave, lighting one up.
'Why are you all, red?'
Dave sighed. 'This is ain't shit. I figured it'd be surprising enough seeing me after all this while, so I put in a favor to at least have a bit of form before you saw me. I actually don't mind this shade of red on me..'
'Are you a ghost?' Henry asked.
Dave shrugged his shoulders. 'Something like that. A man stuck between worlds, a soul killed by unnatural means with unfinished business who needs to rectify his bit of the world to at least attain something of an afterlife. Limbo, yup.'
'You were killed by a bear..' he paused and looked down at the bear still licking its paw on the floor, 'being flung through your window. Another driver hit it and sent it soaring toward you. That's not supernatural in the least.'
'Though the evidence is tangible, and it can be explained, I doubt you would call my demise anything close to natural, Henry,' Dave said, raising his eyebrow and leaning in a bit closer toward his wary friend.
Henry looked down a bit and took a slow drag of his smoke in contemplation.
'What's that thing doing here, anyway?' he asked, nudging toward the bear.
'He's dead, too; also in limbo because of the situation.'
Henry took another slow drag off the cigarette.
'So, what do you want with me?'
Dave smiled. 'So glad you asked. Do you know the story of Gabriel Grub? It's a Dickens short.'
Henry exhaled through his nostrils after a bit of thought. 'I think I remember you saying something about it, actually,' he quietly mentioned.
'That's right. A surly gravedigger who's sent to the goblin cave to learn the err of his evil ways, one dark and frozen Christmas Eve...'
Henry gave him a bit of a look.
'Are you ready to go, Gabriel Grub?'
'Actually, I guess not one of those questions really matter, hmm?' Dave laughed to himself.
In the blink of an eye, Henry Crow found himself in the darkest, coldest place he'd ever been.
'What..where am I?'
Henry Crow was now sitting in a black cave at an elongated dinner table, two three-pronged candelabras sitting at the opposing sides--the only form of light in the dark, frozen dwelling.
Across from him sat two figures in black cloaks, their only distinguishing features the gaping holes for the faces. But they weren't faces underneath the cloaks. Not even a feature. In place instead were oval mirrors staring blankly back, reflecting himself and Dave sitting at his side. He turned to his sanguine friend.
'What is this?'
Dave paused, never taking his eyes off the figures before them.
'Eventually, Henry Crow, we all have to face ourselves..'
The figures seemed to be studying them intently.
'..and the demons within.'
Henry felt coldness plunge to his very core.
(One more, after this.)