Reader dear, if you will hearken,
a hellish tale I shall relate;
each and ev'ry word consider,
for in their story lies my fate.
One night while vainly seeking sleep,
I heard a sound within my room,
and slowly opening my eyes,
I pierced the near-Stygian gloom.
A fearful sight confronted me,
O reader how can I convey
the scene that met my startled eyes,
a scene that haunts me to this day?
A figure draped in black I saw,
it lurked mere inches from my bed;
a vision from the vaults of hell -
my quaking heart was filled with dread!
I lay quite still, no sound I made,
though all the while I longed to scream -
but I held back my cries of fear
with hope 'twas all an idle dream.
And then with stealth I pinched myself,
with fervent pray'r my head would clear,
but, alas, 'twas no vain fancy -
the image did not disappear.
I heard it moving closer then,
though soft and muffled was its tread,
a face peered out from 'neath its hood -
a ghastly pale skeletal head!
I watched the fiend loom over me,
my body froze, my limbs grew numb.
It bent its skull towards my face -
I thought my final hour had come.
And then it spoke - O saints above,
I felt its fetid icy breath!
The words it said near stopped my heart -
"Tremble mortal, for I am Death!"
And then my clouded head did spin,
for he stretched out his evil claw,
but something seemed to hold it back -
his gnarled talon did withdraw.
And as I gazed into his eyes,
they glitter'd with intense regret;
and then he spoke and I knew why -
he said "Your time has not come yet.
But know you this, although unseen,
I stand forever at your side -
and when at last your time does come,
there is no place where you can hide!
So now I leave you with these words" -
he seemed to fade into the black -
"You have respite, for now at least,
but live in fear for I'll be back!"
And with those words the fiend was gone,
though only from my human sight,
for he, in truth, yet lingers near -
in spirit, ev'ry day and night.
And since that dreadful hour I fear
the chimes that bid me to my bed,
for on some unknown day to come,
the rising sun shall find me dead.
And so I sit here while time flies
until the day of Death's return,
when he shall come to claim his prize -
O reader dear, the tale is done!