The soft white glow of the old television illuminated the apartment. The dull sounds of the television sounded muffled... as if someone were covering the mouths of the speakers on screen. It was midnight, and nothing good was on TV. Just the usual late night trash. Donna sat mindlessly in front of the television as if absorbing it's waves.
Donna had just gotten home from working all day in the local diner. She always busted her ass, and when she got home she was much too tired to do anything. Every day was the same, she'd get up, go to work, pull a double shift, and then come home and crash on the couch. She was stuck in an endless loop, toiling for money in a dead-end job, locked into her own terrible existence.
To make matters worse, just last year she lost her husband in a car accident. He had been the sole provider, and they both had lived a great life together. After he passed away she was forced to move out of their home. And now she was stuck in this tiny rat and cockroach infested dump.
Often she longed for the days she had before, when she didn't need to work so hard for nice things. Just simply keeping this apartment took most of her income. She needed a change. She needed a ticket out of this place.
As Donna watched the television, an ad came on. It was one of those special ads... the kind that promise to change your life. "For only $19.95..." If only they worked. But then wouldn't everyone be doing it? For some reason as she watched this ad, she felt compelled to call the number. Just to find out. It wouldn't hurt anything.
She picked up the phone and dialed the number. She was greeted at once by an overly cheery woman.
"Hello, my name is Christine! How may I assist you today?" said the woman on the phone.
"Uh... Hi... I was just watching TV and saw your ad. I was wondering how exactly you change people's lives. You know... 'cause I see a lot of B.S."
Christine giggled "Oh we aren't like those other companies. You see... We give you everything you want. And it doesn't cost you a dime. We exist purely to help you."
"But that sounds too good to be true." replied Donna, "Because if you gave me everything I wanted you would be bankrupt!"
"We don't ask for money... Mrs..."
"Donna. You can call me Donna." (Donna did not like to use her last name after her husband died, it hurt too bad.)
"Yes, Donna, we do not ask for money. We have a much... more agreeable method of payment. You pay us with items you no longer care about. We simply take the item and call it even."
"Well that still sounds too good to be true..."
"Try us Miss Donna... try us and you will see. We will dispatch a representative to your apartment promptly and he will show you we are legitimate."
There was an audible click as the phone hung up. "How did she know I lived in an apartment...I never even told her my address…"
Just then there was a knock at the door. No one would disturb her this late... it was now 1 in the morning! Who could it be?
She crept to the door and looked through the peephole. It was a very handsome young man, well dressed in a suit and tie. He carried only a briefcase. She shouted through the door to him "WHAT DO YOU WANT?"
She heard no answer. She looked again through the peephole. He was gone. Thinking it was all in her head from lack of sleep, she turned around and headed for the bedroom. She looked up and standing right in front of her was the man.
"HOW THE HELL DID YOU GET IN HERE?" Donna shouted.
"I have come to give you a better life." replied the man.
"GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!"
"Maybe you do not understand who I am madam... so let me make this perfectly clear. I am the hand of death. I am a representative of the reaper. I have come to take you away to a better life... the afterlife. You see... when you came home from work tonight, you were having trouble dealing with everything. You took an entire bottle of sleeping pills and laid down on the couch to watch your television. You died shortly after in your sleep.”
“NO!” shouted Donna, “That cannot be possible!”
Donna looked over to where the couch was. On the couch she observed her own body, slumped over in a strange position. She approached herself, and stretched out her hand to check her own pulse. There was no pulse… she was dead. There was no denying that.
“What do you intend to do with me?” inquired Donna.
“Exactly what Christine told you we would do, we took your old life that you did not care about in exchange for a new and improved life. As Christine stated, even though I represent the reaper… we are a non-profit agency. We simply care about your happiness and want to make your dreams come true… as long as they exist in the afterlife.”
“But this is all so… this is all so wrong” said Donna.
“Donna, I mean… Mrs. Simmons, I know you hate to be called that, but I do have someone who would like to talk to you.”
The man motioned for someone to come into the room. Donna turned and looked at the person entering the room. There was no mistaking it. It was her husband.
“Steven!” shouted Donna, “You’re alive!”
Steven just smiled. “Not exactly, honey. This will take some getting used to.”
The man just smiled as he left Donna and Steven in the room, “I’ll give you two a few minutes alone.”