"Is this a dream?"
Thomas thought to himself as he looked around. He was alone in a large dark room with a single flickering candle providing the only light source. It was placed on top of a small dining table in the far end of the room. There were also a couple of chairs and some other furniture, but nothing seemed particularly out of the ordinary.
Except that he was walking.
Ever since the accident 5 years ago, Thomas had been a paraplegic. Before that, however, he was what media called the fastest rising basketball star in the PBA. At 22 years old, 6'7, well built and dashingly handsome, he was also the biggest crowd drawer of the league.
However, tragedy struck when in a freak highway accident, the car he was driving crashed into a speeding truck. It killed his parents and fiancee, and left him with a disfigured face, multiple burns and a broken spine. In turn, he lost his career, his millions of fans and numerous commercial endorsements.
Now, he is living solely on the scraps of his used to be numerous investments. His relatives shunned him. His manager deserted him. He was not only a cripple, but also dead broke.
"Is anyone there?" He called out as he walked towards the table.
He walked awkwardly, unused to the sensations of standing on his two feet again. Has it been five years? he thought to himself. He looked down at his two legs. Weird, he thought again. Why am I wearing a Tux?
"Welcome, Thomas." a sultry feminine voice answered. Thomas, distracted from his thoughts, looked towards the sound of the voice.
"Join me for dinner." it said again. Thomas could see the slim silhouette of the female standing behind the candle. As he neared the dining table, she made a gesture towards the chair to her right. The table, it seemed, was set for a dinner for two.
She then sat at the other chair.
"Am I dreaming? Why can I walk? Why am I dressed like this?" he asked her. Something was very wrong with this picture.
"Minor details Thomas. Please, make yourself at home. Sit down and I will tell you everything" The woman was dark haired, pale, slim, and hauntingly beautiful. He had a feeling he knew her from somewhere but couldn't remember where.
"IM sorry, I'd hate to say this but I cant remember who you are. Can you tell me your name?" he asked her as he sat down. The silverware was topnotch, the wine of excellent quality. This was someone very rich, probably one of the elitist socialites he used to cavort with. She was beautiful too. But Thomas never forgot a pretty face before.
"Ah, Thomas, how easily you forget. Can you try to remember me at least?" She flashed a smile at him, showing her perfect teeth.
Thomas shook his head.
"You are, after all, one of the few men on this world to catch my attention." she said with a smirk. "We met 15 years ago. In this same house."
"Fifteen years ago...?" he murmured. "And you mean... here?"
Thomas looked around. For some reason it DID look familiar. But fifteen years ago, he was barely into high school and definitely not yet part of the rich and famous. He shook his head again.
She softly chuckled. "Oh, so you really don't remember? Well, maybe you will during the course of the dinner." She pointed at the food. "For now, you are my date, and lets enjoy this moment. For old times sake." she raised her glass then took a sip.
Thomas was definitely confused. "I'm sorry, did anything happen between us?" If anything did happen between him and this beauty, he was sure to have remembered. Taking her example, he took a sip of the wine as well. It was superb.
"Ah, it is nice to see the color returning to your face. I haven't seen you look this good in a long time."
Thomas started at his food. The food was excellent, the best he ever had. The woman had taste.
"Its been so long since we had a chance to talk Thomas. Do you remember our conversation the last time?"
Thomas had a feeling he didn't remember it for a reason. It was a bad feeling.
"You were honest, witty and very interesting. I think I fell for you that time Thomas, didn't you know?"
He didn't. He was scrutinizing her face thoroughly now. Why was she so familiar?
"...One of the things I remembered most was a witty quote you told me." She looked deeply into his eyes now. "Something about the sting of victory...?" She was probing for a reaction.
And there was one. It hit Thomas with a jolt to the brain.
Suddenly, the image flashed before his eyes. He KNEW where he saw this place before. He KNEW when he talked with the woman in front of him. And felt cold. Everything was exactly the same as he saw before... even the face that was now in front of him.
"I see you are remembering what happened."
Yes. He was dreaming then as well. More images.
"You were twelve..." she continued.
And confined in the hospital for leukemia, Thomas added mentally. He was young, sickly and had no friends. He was a laggard in school and was the black sheep of the family. Dying of leukemia...
"You were in my dream..." he said.
"Yes. I came to you in that dream Thomas."
His mind raced. "The dream... It was you who made me well again. You made me strong. You were the one who gave me the talents I never had before." This was no ordinary human. This was a goddess of some sort, but he couldn't remember.
"Yes. Your life was shit before I came along. Not only did I make you well, I gave you a taste of power, I gave you good looks, a perfect body and skills so you could know the pleasures of life." She was beaming.
"Do you remember who I am now? You hated your life so much before I came. I gave you a chance to enjoy life"
Thomas was trying his best. He forced himself to recreate what happened before. He was in this room as before, but a lot younger then. Another jolt of memory. Yes, I was ready to die.
Too ready to die.
And then it hit him.
She wasn't a goddess.
"Yes, I AM Death."
Thomas shuddered at the realization. She continued. "You were special Thomas. You did not fear me. You even looked me in the eye and said O Death, where is thy victory. O death where is thy sting..."
Thomas was reliving the memory as she continued "You looked at me as if you didnt care if you died or not. It was the first time I saw someone as dispassionate as you. And a child at that! You didnt care whether I took you or not." The Mistress Death was looking at him intently now.
"Yes. I didn't die that night. I woke up fully healed the next morning... And then my life started to change." A thought passed thru his mind.
"Will you be giving me another shot at life like before?" Thomas suddenly blurted out. This was his chance! She came back to help him. "Please! I cannot go on living life as a penniless cripple!"
"No. I did not meet you here for that."
"Then take me now. End the suffering." Thomas pleaded.
"Before, you hated your life so much that I showed you how to live. Now that you understand life and truly want to die..." She stood up, blew him a seductive kiss and drew towards him.
Thomas flushed. He had lived his life to the fullest. There was nothing else to live for now. He was ready this time.
Death kissed him deeply, with Thomas surrendering to her passion. Then she spoke to his ear. "Touché Thomas. No one snubs my charms and gets away with it. I foresee a very very long life ahead of you."