Dead Man's Touch
The illustrations herein are promotional images for a project with writer Dee Caples. The title for the book, Shadows of Death, first came to me while I was still writing. I intended it to be part of a series of books titled Dead Man's Touch. Shadows of Death would have been a subtitle.
The overall concept of the series concerns a man who sees a shadow figure he suspects is the Angel of Death. Before his own death he recalls an old family superstition that before you die you will see a raven three times. Upon his death he finds himself in the Shadow Realm and is escorted by a raven to Mortis, who explains that for his soul to be freed from its body he must touch it. If the Reaper does not, the soul will remain trapped with its corpse. The Reaper goes on to explain that he has been chosen to replace him, but he must choose to do so. The responsibility cannot be forced upon him. He must make a choice soon, as Mortis is dissipating.
After some time together, learning what his responsibilities would be, he decides it is something he should do. He makes this choice out of apprehension, as he honestly doesn't want to leave behind the Living Realm. As a reaper, he would at least be able to witness his loved ones, although he would never be able to touch them. Mortis warns him that he himself had only one regret as a reaper. There had been a living soul he was once fond of. He watched him grow from a child into a young man who was a talented artist and had the potential to be one of the greats. During the Great War it came time for this soul to meet its end. Mortis could not bear the thought of having to watch this living soul die and he be forced to touch him. He made the foolish decision to whisper into his soul. Before an explosion, the man moved from the blast radius and was saved from his end. That man was Adolf Hitler.
Time passes, perhaps a great deal of time, and the new Reaper encounters a beautiful soul within thr body of a child; a child that reminds him so much of his own child when he was a living soul. But when the child encounters a stranger and is murdered, the Reaper remembers the warning of Mortis and watches, unable to do anything about it.
After he escorts the child into the After the Reaper returns and makes a choice. He calls for a raven to watch the living soul of the stranger who murdered the child. More time passes and more children are murdered. A manhunt to capture the stranger is useless and he seems to get away with all the evil he has done. Eventually someone seeking revenge finds and kills the stranger. The Reaper bends down to stare into the soul of the corpse. He tells him what he must do to set his soul free. All he needs to do is reach down and touch his corpse. But he wants him to know he will never touch his corpse. He will never set him free. He wanders off, listening to the soul of the stranger screaming within his corpse.
The above synopsis would have been book one. Future books would have dealt with consequences. Just as the choice of Mortis to save the life of Hitler caused the deaths of thousands, the new reaper's choice to never relase the soul of a serial killer from its corpse would also have consequences. And what that would have been was largely undeveloped.
Dee is a talented writer and I wanted to work with her. Finding the right project is all that was needed. I approached her with the idea of Shadows, a collection of stories written by her that would all be somehow connected to death. Not every story had to be about murder. As I write this post now we are probably about half way in. Her stories are going to entertain you and set your imagination on fire.
As I stated above, the images below are meant to promote this project and are not illustrations for the book. Material for the book will be shared upon its release.