Title: Shawn Faces Death
Author: Beth Green
Author's Notes: I wanted to write a little something for Halloween, but I've obviously lost my mind.
Neither the Psych characters nor Death belong to me. Sorry I couldn't do proper footnotes, but they're in there all the same. Happy reading!
Shawn knew better, he really did. He wasn't a cop. He didn't have a gun. When bad guys started firing guns, the smart thing to do was to run far and fast in the opposite direction. Shawn knew that he was smarter than the average psychic. So why, oh why, had he apparently left his brain on hold when the shooting started?1
1. Shawn's bravery might have had something to do with the fact that Juliet was one of the people being shot at. Or, the more likely explanation was that it was all Gus' fault, because Gus had refused to let Shawn stop for a pineapple smoothie on their way to the crime scene, and Shawn's blood sugar was so low that it was affecting his ability to think so this was ALL GUS' FAULT.
After brilliantly solving the case and pointing the police toward both the killer and his accomplice, Shawn had then done something incredibly stupid. He'd run along with the police toward the source of sudden gunfire. He'd felt quite heroic, at least until the bullets began to fly in his direction. At that time, he wisely changed course and took off running, attempting to leave the scene. Unfortunately, in his haste, Shawn not only left Gus behind, but somehow managed to become separated from the rest of his Santa Barbara Police Department escort. That occurrence would not have been a total disaster, if one of the gunmen hadn't chosen to follow Shawn's retreat.
Shawn was not familiar with the layout of this particular building. Instead of heading for the nearest exit, he led his pursuer down a hallway that dead-ended in a closet-sized room; a room with only one way out. Thankfully, Shawn managed to stay ahead of the bad guy. With no choice of where to go, Shawn entered the small room and immediately slammed the door shut, temporarily separating himself from his pursuer. He dropped to the floor as the gunman proceeded to give the door a nice new set of peep holes. Shawn tried to make his body as small a target as possible, apparently succeeding. When the shooting stopped, he remained huddled upon the floor, waiting for the bad guy to kick in the door. Shawn opened eyes he hadn't realized were closed after the expected kick never came. To Shawn's relief, it appeared that he had managed to escape un-bloodied, uninjured, and most importantly, un-dead.
Shawn's ears were ringing in the sudden silence. He spent a few minutes flat on the floor, amazed that he was still alive. Eventually Shawn decided it was safe to raise his head from the floor. No doubt he looked like a prairie dog as he popped up to take a look around, but better to be a wary prairie than a dead dog. He moved to take a look through one of the new peepholes, then stepped back so quickly that he barely managed to avoid falling flat on his ass. Instead of the hoped-for empty corridor, Shawn had seen someone standing outside of the door. If it had been the gunman or one of his friends, that wouldn't have been quite as startling as what Shawn had actually seen. Somehow, his eyes deceived him into believing that the Grim Reaper was standing in the hallway.
Shawn quickly sidestepped away from the ventilated door to lean himself flat against the sturdier wall. He could feel his heart beating as the sweat trickled down his brow. He raised a hand to stop the sweat from progressing into his eyes, letting out a nervous laugh as he looked at his now-damp hand in relief. "So, I'm not dead."
This realization renewed Shawn's courage. "Obviously, I experienced some kind of visual hallucination." Much more cautiously this time, Shawn returned to the door and its lacey parade of holes. His movements slow and slightly unsteady, Shawn found the courage to take another look. His breath caught in his throat as his eyes took in the sight of long, dark, flowing robes and the faceless visage of a skull peering out from the folds of cloth where the head should have been. As if those details weren't enough to suggest a visit from the Grim Reaper, the scythe clutched in the figure's skeletal hand left only one impossible conclusion to be made.
Shawn moved without realizing that he did so, and once again found himself trying to become one with the wall.
In a voice that, if he were forced to describe it, Shawn would have to describe as other-worldly,2
2. 'Other-worldly' was the only term available to Shawn with his somewhat limited vocabulary. If Gus had been there, he would have correctly described the voice as 'sepulcher,' but Gus was off somewhere safely being coddled by the entire SBPD while Shawn was facing what he hoped wasn't (but probably was) the specter of his own death.
The robed figure uttered his name: SHAWN.
Even though there was a door separating the two of them, whatever bravery Shawn had had long since departed. That's why he attempted to disguise his voice as he replied, "Shawn's not here."
The Grim Reaper wasn't fooled, stating, I'M NOT FOOLED. REALLY.
Shawn grew a bit more confident as the door (and walls) of his fortress remained un-breached. "Okay, then. You know my name. What's yours?"
Shawn felt the air vibrate with the heavy sigh the specter let out. DO YOU REALLY WANT TO PLAY THIS GAME WITH ME?
A nervous laugh escaped as Shawn replied, "Why not? I don't have anything better to do. I take it we're playing the game of life?"
Shawn thought furiously. "Well, that sucks."
There was no way Shawn was going to let a disembodied voice have the last word. "You still haven't answered my question."
The voice seemed more than a bit peeved as it replied, YES I HAVE.
Shawn figured it wasn't a good idea to piss off the Grim Reaper when death was literally trying to stare into your face, so he clarified his comment. "Well, okay, you answered my second question, but not my first."
Shawn was encouraged when the Grim Reaper didn't immediately smite3 him where he stood.
3. Not that Shawn hadn't already been smitten with terror. He was just hoping to avoid the part of smiting that involved hitting and attacking and death.
After a long (but not long enough) pause, the voice spoke. WHAT IS YOUR QUESTION?
"What's your name?"
I HAVE MANY NAMES. AZRAEL. THANATOS. MORT.
Shawn listened in growing horror as the robed figure confirmed his suspicions.
THE GRIM REAPER. UKWTAKUN. VALDIS. PERIWINKLE. DEATH.
Shawn's fatalistic world view was interrupted when he heard the second-from-last name. "Wait a minute. What was the name after Valdis?"
THE GRIM REAPER.
Shawn corrected the specter's mistake. "No, not that one. The one before Death."
The voice grew more menacing in tone as it refused to answer.
IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHY I DO WHAT I DO, ASK ME THAT QUESTION AGAIN.
Shawn supposed that if his parents had named him Periwinkle, he might harbor a few unkind feelings toward his fellow man. He had no wish to receive a graphic demonstration of how pissed off someone saddled with such a candy-ass name could possibly be, so he decided to drop the subject. "Never mind."
Death did not say another word. Neither did he advance into the room. The inaction gave Shawn enough confidence that he was able to push away from the wall and stare through the hole-filled door. He was not happy to see that Death was still standing there.
Shawn questioned the silently menacing figure. "If I'm not dead (and I don't think I am), why are you still here?"
Shawn took a step back when Death took a step forward.
HAVE YOU LOOKED AT YOURSELF LATELY?
The psychic really didn't like where this was going. "There's no mirror in here, and I'm not psychic, so I can safely answer that question with a big, fat no." Shawn rubbed at his forehead as he pondered why Death would have asked such a question.
When the robed figure did not speak after a too-long pause, Shawn asked for clarification. "Is there some reason why my looks (which are normally just this side of perfect so you have to make allowances for the fact that I was just running for my life) are important right now?"
DOES IT SEEM LOGICAL THAT DOZENS OF BULLETS COULD BE FIRED IN YOUR DIRECTION AND YOU COULD ESCAPE WITHOUT NEEDING SO MUCH AS A BAND-AID?
Actually, Shawn had been thinking precisely that. "Why not? It's happened to me before."4
4. This references the psychic's case labeled 'There Might Be Blood,' where Shawn seems to think that he's bullet-proof. Despite the title, Shawn did not shed a single drop of blood during the shootout on the oil rig. Maybe this story was written to make up for that fact. Maybe it wasn't. Maybe you'll have to keep reading if you want to find out.
Shawn examined himself as best as he could in the darkness of the room, using the feeble light from the bullet holes to see by. After a thorough inspection, he gleefully informed Death, "And it seems that the great Shawn-O has once again performed a miraculous escape." Shawn waved a hand toward the door in a scolding gesture, and continued, "So, why don't you take your scary Halloween costume and your kick-ass props and go haunt someone else?"
Shawn remained still, staring at the door while he waited for Death's response. It wasn't long in coming.
Something bony poked him in the shoulder from behind. Shawn froze in place, straining his eyes as he looked to find the source: a skeletal hand. He screamed (not unlike a little girl) and jumped back and away from the Grim Reaper, who had somehow teleported himself into the room through the still-closed door. Shawn's right hand clutched tightly at his chest "Holy shit! Don't do that! You could give someone a heart attack!"
His eyes widened in horror. "Unless - Oh my god, that's it! Joe bad guy couldn't kill me, so in order to meet your body count quota for the day, you decided to kill me yourself!"
"Possibly?" Shawn's despair lessened with Death's ambiguous response. "That's - good; that it's not definitely. Possibly could be 'no.' I think." He reached behind himself, trying to locate the door handle by feel. "So, you won't mind if I leave?"
When Death repeated the word POSSIBLY, Shawn was more than a little pissed off. "Possibly? You know, the whole 'I'm an enigma so I've got to give enigma-y answers' thing might work for you, but it's starting to get on my nerves." Shawn waved his hands as he ranted. "What is your deal? Why can't I just open the door and leave?" As he uttered the last word, Shawn grabbed the door, turned the handle, and stepped out of the room.
He stood in the hallway, staring Death in the face. "Okay, Mr. Grim Reaper, if I'm not dead, why are you here?"
The skeletal shoulders shrugged. I WAS BORED.
Shawn could not believe he'd heard right. "Bored? You've been standing there scaring me half to death because you were bored?
Death's eyes glowed red as he answered, I COULD MAKE THE 'SCARED TO DEATH' PART MORE THAN HALF.
Shawn wisely reined in his anger. "Sorry. I'm really, really, sorry. There are no words to describe how sorry I am." Shawn was mentally debating the merits of facing Death head-on when his thoughts were interrupted by the distant sound of gunshots echoing down the hallway.
Death nodded his head toward the sound. AS AMUSING AS OUR EXCHANGE HAS BEEN, IT APPEARS THAT MY SERVICES ARE REQUIRED ELSEWHERE.
Shawn shivered at the coldness-of-the-grave-like wind that blew as Death moved past him and floated toward the intense sounds of a gun battle.
The Grim Reaper did not turn as he uttered his final words. SEE YOU LATER.
Shawn offered a few parting words of his own, glad that Death couldn't see how badly he was shaking when he shouted, "Yeah, well, make that much later!"
Shawn was not in a hurry to rejoin his friends when the gunfire stopped. In fact, he was more than happy to stay where he was. His energy reserves depleted, Shawn leaned against the corridor wall and slid to a seated position.
His friends joined him long minutes later.
Gus reached him first. "Shawn! Are you all right?"
When Shawn did not immediately respond, Jules voiced her concern. "Shawn, are you okay?"
Shawn leaned forward, toward Gus' crouching shoulder. "Look at my head. Do I have a head injury?"
Gus frowned. "Did you hit your head?"
Shawn's eyes showed nothing but confusion. "I don't know. Did I?"
Juliet joined them on the floor. She pointed toward the back of Shawn's shirt. "There's blood on your collar." Her eyes reflected her concern as she examined the back of Shawn's head. She pulled her hand away and reached for a handkerchief. "You're bleeding!"
Shawn's vagueness and confusion earned him a trip to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a concussion. Shawn did not remember injuring his head. The doctor explained that short-term memory loss was a common side effect of a concussion head injury.
Shawn only wished that he could forget his near Death experience.