A Bucket And Then You Die

People have kicked the bucket for as long as there have been people.

I punched it.

How to best sum up the results?

Don’t punch the bucket.

You’ll be tempted to now that someone did it and because it sounds funny but I warn you, I’ll not be accountable for the results. So, it’s like this-

I had been in a bad car accident.

Head trauma, broken left arm, various bumps and bruises.

I was in the ICU recovering from surgery when the machines I’m hooked up to start going nuts.

Thing was, I wasn’t, as in I felt perfectly normal.

Then the janitor walked in.

Well, he looked like a janitor but the thing he was pushing sure didn’t look like janitorial supplies.

For one, those big, yellow rolling buckets don’t glow.

For another, the mop never has a fucking scythe blade on it.

I’d have pissed myself if it wasn’t for the catheter.

Everything about the janitor was dark, I’m talking cave-darkness dark, except for his eyes and mouth which burned with light.

He spoke and his voice was arctic.

“Benjamin Thornton.”

“Uh, he’s over in 207.”

“Benjamin Thornton.”



The janitor pushed the glowing bucket into the room and stopped.

“Benjamin Thornton, it is your time. I come to perform the Ritual of Last Cleansing in order to prepa-”

I sprang out of bed, grabbed the bucket and jammed it over his head and punched him in his bucket-face.

“MUBBFULBER!” came a sopping voice from under the bucket as the janitor’s arms cart-wheeled around.

He slipped and landed on his ass but by then I had already flown out of the room, anxious to find some security staff to put between Mr. Mad Mopper and myself.

I reached the nurse’s station and slammed my hands on the counter.

“Call security! There’s some crazy black guy in my- no, I mean, he isn’t black, he’s like, I don’t know! He came at me with this huge blade-”


I slammed.

My *hands* on the counter.

My left hand should have been in a cast.

For that matter, I was pretty sure at least one of my legs should have been filled with metal.

Never mind the catheter.

None of the nurses had come over yet.

“You punched the bucket!”

I jumped, spun around.

It was the janitor.

I yelped.

He flailed about like a tube man.

“You punched it!”

“I- what-”


I stood there while the shadow man ranted. what else could I do?

“There are no guide lines for this!”

“Guide lines? Who are you?”

“I’m Death!” the janitor barked.

You’re Death?”

“Yes! Guides souls to the afterlife, foreboding appearance, farm tools?”

I looked at him.

“Why are you a janitor?”

“Because I’m a Hospital Aspect. People fear going out a mess, shitting themselves and such.”

We stared.

“Did… I shit myself?”


I took a moment to appraise the situation.

“So I’m dead?”

“You were dying. I came to cleanse your body and soul so that you could cross over, a task which YOU royally boned when you punched the bucket.”

“You said that before. What’s the deal?”

“You’re supposed to kick it!”

“You mean that’s not just a saying?”

“Of course not. Everything regarding death has deep symbolic meaning and in this case a very real meaning. I cleanse you but only you can send the burdens of your life down stream, as it were. You part of the ceremony is to kick over the bucket and let the burdened water wash down the drain, not clock Death in the head!”

“You look like a demon hobo, what should I have done? And what drain, we’re in a hospital.”

“There is always a drain, and I take offense to being referred to as a “demon, which I am not. I am a Celestial, an Angel of Death. Celestials are too much for the human mind to process and so I do not blame you for being afraid but you should definitely not have been able to affect any kind of behavior like you did back there in a pre-cleansed state. This is most troubling.”

“So, what then? It was a freak and it sounds like we cleared it away. Refill the bucket and I’ll go along with the routine and then you and I can do whatever it is that we’re supposed to do next.”

“That’s the problem, Benjamin.”

“What is?”

“That was your bucket.”

“Yes, you explained that to me.”

“No, Benjamin, that was your bucket. Each soul gets one bucket.”

“What do you mean “one bucket”? You can’t just refill it?” Death spread its arms out and took in the surrounding rooms.

“From which of these taps would you suggest that I refill an object from a higher plane of existence? You are born once, you die once, you are cleansed once, you pass on once. Well, unless you’re tagged for reincarnation, which you aren’t.”

“So, what, I can’t be cleansed now?”


“So what happens to me then?”

“I honestly don’t know. There is no “Sucker-punched by a madman” rule in place. I must report to my higher-ups, as it were, and see if anything can be done. Until then, I have no other ideas so you will simply wait.”

Suddenly everything went dark. I lost all sense of anything and everything but my own thoughts. I started panicking when I heard Death again.

“Relax. This is Limbo. You’ll remain here until I, we, or they decide what should or can be done with you.”

“How long will that take?”

“Time no longer has meaning, Benjamin.”

I asked and yelled a bunch more but heard nothing and eventually gave up and let my thoughts distract me. And that’s where I am now, Death’s waiting room with no TV or magazines. I do know how long I’ve been “here” or for how much longer. I’m very bored and incapable of going mad. If this is Hell then it’s a terrible joke.

Don’t punch the bucket, folks.

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