Dear readers, tonight with me is a woman doomed to pay for crimes she doesn’t remember committing. As a grim reaper, the split of time between life and death is the only chance she gets to feel anything real.
She is here to tell us about the ephemeral transition between life and death, and of what binds her to the mortal world.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
I have absolutely no idea where I grew up. As a grim reaper, my memories of my life (and the crime that got me here) have been wiped clean, and I’m stripped of my soul. The only life I’ve ever known is the reaper realm. It occupies the same space as the physical world. Same buildings, same things, but there are no people. There is no color. I leave ghostly footprints. I could be crashing is your guest bedroom or stealing your coffee. I can’t stick around in the same place very long, so I bounce around from houses to hotel rooms. The only thing I’m meant to do is reap souls, but residual urges drive me. I eat. I sleep. I run. I have sex. It’s muted and emotionless, but I guess it’s the only way I can connect to what I used to be.
How did you get here?
As a reaper, I’m unable to connect any living being. They’re not supposed to be able to see me. Just before I was ripped out of the reaper realm and thrust back into the physical world, I was supposed to reap the soul of a murdered young girl. The only problem is that the killer was there, and he could SEE me, and he seemed to know me. Then, instead of killing the girl, he tried to kill me. It’s not even possible to kill a reaper, but in that moment, my whole world shifted, and I was in the middle of a parking lot, bleeding to death. So now I’m trying to piece together how I got out, why a human could see a reaper, and what I did in the past to be a reaper to begin with. To make matters worse, I feel a constant pull to kill. I have no soul. I feel a bit like a monster.
But it’s nothing like him. They call him the Phoenix. Before he tried to murder me, I felt his soul. It was solid. Pure evil.
What did you first think when you learned you were alive again?
Pure panic. I’m sure I looked like an idiot, slapping the wall, trying to walk through it. I guess I should be lucky they didn’t put me in the nut ward. I’ve got agents trying to figure out where I came from and how I’m connected to a serial killer. I can’t tell the truth. “Excuse me, Agent. I’m actually a criminal serving punishment as a grim reaper. If you could just let me kill you, I’ll just be on my way.” I don’t think he’d agree to that. Besides, who the hell would believe me? The reaper realm is a prison, but this actual physical world? It’s terrifying. Living is awful. Everything hurts. Even gravity is excruciating. And I’m only alive because someone pulled my skin together and sewed me up. How strange is that? But on the other hand, I can see color. I can feel the sun. I can actually feel the pitter-patter of my heart whenever the handsome doctor comes near. I can only imagine what sex is going to feel like. And blood. I’m constantly imagining what it’s going to feel like to spill blood again…
Now that you’re mortal, what do you do now?
I am forced to work as part of my FBI rehabilitation program. They think I’m an amnesiac trying to regain my memories. My collector, Westin, thinks a job might keep me from killing again. Frankly, I have to guess that he’s never worked a day in his life at a restaurant because there is no way this job is going to keep me from killing. I started out walking people to tables. Sounds like an easy job, right? Not a chance in hell. Let me tell you people, if you want a damn booth, tell the host up front that you want a booth. Don’t make me walk you to the other side of the restaurant before suddenly realizing that it’s not what you want. And now I’m serving people. It’s so much worse.
Aren’t you happy that you escaped your prison?
Sure, but there at least I was immortal. Here, I can die. Every day that I’m alive, I’m growing weaker and weaker. And someone out there knows my secret, and he’s already tried to kill me once. And I can feel. Fear. Sadness. Excitement. Attraction. It’s terrifying. Everything is so dull in the reaper realm. I thought it was to keep us in line, keep us pliable, but now I think it may have been to protect us. Imagine that. Trying to protect the worst of humanity.
You mentioned a serial killer. Is he your biggest foe?
He’s bad. I thought that maybe I was here to kill him, but if I kill him, I go back to reaping souls. Or maybe I’m retired. I cease to exist anywhere. At least, that’s what Westin says. As much as I’m struggling with life, I like the freedom. I’m not sure that I want to go back. So for now, there’s not a whole helluva lot that I can do about him except hope that he doesn’t come looking for me again.
Live life and try not to die. Isn’t that what everyone is trying to do?
Probably. I’m not great with reading other people. But the reaper realm isn’t just leaving me alone. The judges have decided that I should have my memories. The dreams. Each memory starts the same way. I’m by the same lake with a judge, and he keeps asking me who I am. How the hell am I supposed to know? He’s the one who took my memories! Someone is out in the lake. They’re drowning. I want to save them, but I can’t. Maybe they were my first victim. Maybe they’ll be my last. Every time I try, the scene turns against me. The waters get more violent. The wind howls, and the judge pulls me deeper into my memories. I have the face the past life as she kills. It’s not possible. I’m hundreds of years old, and I’ve killed time and time again, but that’s not possible. I can barely wrap my head around escaping the reaper realm once, but escaping over and over again? With no soul? And every time, Westin is there to bring me back. He knows something about me, but he’s not telling me. He looks at me with hatred and with guilt. I don’t know who to trust. I don’t want to keep going back to that lake, but it seems I’m still a prisoner, still at the will of the all-powerful judge.
Who are these judges?
I’m not really sure. They’re old. Like….really old. They can sense the intentions of humanity and sentence people based on the weight of their soul. They control the reaper realm. Hell, maybe they control the afterlife as well. Even though I see one in my memories, I can’t tell you much about them. They seem like everyone and no one at the same time. I don’t know where the came from or why they stick around. They just…exist.
Should we be scared of them?
I think if they wanted us to be scared of them, we’d be terrified. They have a shit ton of power.
You seem close to Hunter and Westin. Are you indulging in any romantic feelings?
I…romance…let’s just say that I enjoy Hunter. I’m not the kind of person who falls in love. Soulless people don’t fall in love. But he sees something beautiful in me. Westin is a big influence in my life, but there’s something between us that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s not love. It’s sure as hell not trust. I get the feeling that at one time, it was hate. Now? I don’t know. I guess in the end, I’ll discover just how much they’ve affected me.
Do you ever get to relax?
Westin disappears from time-to-time. God knows what he’s doing, but when he’s gone, I can relax a little. He even loosened the leash a little when it comes to shopping. Books are awesome. Shoes and clothes are amazing. There are no colors in the reaper realm except for the split of time between life and death. I’ve become obsessed with colorful clothes. I love to learn. History just shows us over and over again how progressive humanity is…and how brutal. And God…now that I can taste food? Food is awesome. I’m trying to convince Westin to teach me to drive, but he’s dragging his feet on that one.
How do you want the story to end?
I want to prove that I’m strong. Stronger than destiny. Stronger than fate. But I don’t think that I’m meant to be the hero. Who knows? Maybe when it’s all said and done, I’m the actual villain. Good people don’t kill.
Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?
I know that the judges are powerful, and I know that I terrify them. Deep down, I think there’s something wrong with me. I don’t think I belong here. And I think that I’m going to lose.
Abbie Chandler is an author of paranormal mysteries. She lives in Central Virginia with two dogs and a feral cat who just wouldn’t leave her alone. She loves snow, Halloween, horrible B rated killer animal movies, and singing in the shower and praying her neighbors can’t hear her. She’s a big fan of James Rollins, John Connolly, Sarah J. Maas, Sylvain Reynard, and Jayne Castle. She’s currently writing book two of The Veiled Soul Trilogy (The Split Soul), and she’s also about to debut her first paranormal romance under the name Adaline Chase.
You can find Lia on the pages of The Veiled Soul.
Next week we will be hosting an eleven year old girl, who grew up amongst the Picts in Wales, not knowing her true heritage. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right), via Twitter, or like our Facebook page to be notified when the next interview is posted.