The fire cast the only light in the room, a hazy copper glow that reached as far as Armand’s well-worn easy chair. He held a cigarette in one hand, a glass of good scotch in the other, wondering what else a retired writer does during his last night on earth. He could imagine a few things, but at 75 and ill, they were the wistful and wishful desires of a younger man. He took a drink and savored the smoky tang around his tongue before swallowing. As he set the glass back down on the chair’s arm, the air behind him began to chill and wrap around the back of his neck and shoulders like an icy blanket. He dabbed his dying cigarette in the glass ashtray.
“Are you preparing, Armand?” came a hoarse, hollow whisper behind him.
“I’m afraid you’re too late,” said Armand, taking another long drink. “I’ve finished the last chapter.”
“You couldn’t know. No one ever knows.”
The old man responded with a dusty laugh. “Not even you, apparently.”
“I make the decision. What’s that smell?"
Armand’s glass fell to the floor. “What? You don’t recognize the smell of death?” he rasped, his heart’s final beat a triumphant exclamation point to a life ending exactly when he knew it should.