Chapter 18:

The Promise We Shared

Second Chances

“I meant what I said. I can give you three chances. No. You know what, four chances. Four second chances for you to redo it. Your pathetic life. Since you defied fate so much, why not succumb to it this time?”

“Who are you?”

“I’m Grim Reaper, I lead people to the gate of their afterlife.”


“That’s me,” he pointed at himself. “So do you want it?”

“Say it again.”

“Say… what?”

“The contract. In details. How can I go back and save them?”

“Oh, right, right,” he clears his throat. “The contract starts here: if Shin, the human standing in front of me is able to save his loved ones, one by one, before their death, and all at once, at the last hour before the New Year’s, his life would be restored, in the timeline of which he managed to accomplish this in. He is to be given three chances of four days, and a final chance of three days—all before the New Year. If he were to fail, he would have forfeited his life to me, and is to serve as a Grim Reaper for eternity.”

Reaper knocked the end of his scythe to the ground. “Choose, Shin. For either a mundane afterlife, or a race against death itself. This shall be your path to salvation, to redemption, and to love. Do you want to have second chances? Yes, or no?”

I took a deep breath, as I stood myself up, “Yes.”

“Extend your right arm.”

I put my right arm out.

He rotated his scythe and made a small slice on one of my fingers.

My blood dropped onto the dark ground.

He knocked his scythe again. “The contract ends here.”

I looked at him. “That’s it?”

“Yeah, that’s it,” he quickly patted my back. "I've got your promise; we are sort of bonded by this contract now. Do you have anything else to ask me before your first trial?”

“Why would you help me?”

“Help you?” Reaper chuckled. “No, no, no, Shin. I’m helping myself. You see, when people die, they emit this sort of negative energy. Aura, you can call it. Those who died peacefully had less of them, but those with regrets, they were bursting with them."

He cleared his throat. "Now, people with deep rooted regrets who died cannot make it to the afterlife. Once they reach the gate, they will be decimated and crushed by their own feelings. They will not be able to be reincarcerated but to wander the realm between life and death for eternity. Mindlessly. If sometimes they accidentally stepped across the realm of life, then that’d be what you humans called ‘ghost’.”

“Soooo,” he continued. “Then these ‘ghosts’ wouldn’t be our problem anymore. What they manifest into, what they possess, they are out of our control. It’s the other division that handles this. Some call them the ‘demon slayer’, while some call them the ‘cursed sorcerers'. Meh, they went by different names in different eras.”

“What’s your point?”

“My point is, I cannot harness the negative emotions this way. I needed to find ways to gather some; I’ve searched for centuries until you appeared. You, and your attitude towards your life. You are the perfect choice. What would be better to see someone who doesn’t believe in second chances, to redo their life, to suffer again and again just to defy fate with their second chances. The amount of despair that you will have—ho, ho, ho, it’s going to leave God of Fate himself in fear.”

“I’m a pawn, then.”

“Oh, Shinnn. Don’t look at yourself like that. You get to save them; I get to have some power. Win-win.”

“Fine, send me back. I’ll save them all in my first try.”

“Oh… I wouldn’t be so hasty if I were you, else, you get God of Fate’s eyes all over you.”

“Send me back.”

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

“Send me back!”

He smiled. “As you wish, Shin.”


I snapped out of my thoughts and looked at my watch.


No premonition or anything. Great. I got caught off guard the third time when a truck hit me. It was a paradox in itself, where I was trying to avoid being on the street, but I ended up on the same street, and was hit by the same truck. The fourth time around, I chose not to move anywhere and so I didn’t have any vision.

“Shin,” Reaper appeared, sitting in front of me.

“What do you want?”

“This contract of ours, Shin,” he said. “It’s no longer our little secret anymore.”

“… What do you mean?”

“Those 10 children that you saved from despair, they made it to their afterlife peacefully.”

“So? Isn’t that a good thing?”

“Precisely. That’s why it has created a tiny abnormality in this timeline. Even though the 10 deaths were replaced, the end results were not the same.”

“So, you’re saying someone would come and interfere?”

“Not someone, Shin. Some god. God of Fate. Your vision, it’s been masked. Those invisible strin—”

My watch beeped.




I felt an electric jolt across my entire body.

I calmed myself down, and started to take deep breaths. My mind seemed to have suddenly swung and rotated at a dizzying rate.

I stopped the alarm and checked my surroundings. There was barely a single person that I could see, but me. Only one librarian was placing the books from the trolley to the shelves, while listening to her earphones. The sun shone in from the window, it’s a clear and blue sky out there.

I turned my attention back to whoever’s in front of me, but he/she was already gone.

The seat in front of me remained empty.

Wait… who was I talking to again?

Joe Gold
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