Reaper’s Repertoire

A writers’ group friend recently brought up the subject of how people die in books. She seemed to be somewhat at a loss for variety. Well, here are a few that come to mind from my own reading:

“Airlock Flush”–standard space opera version of walking the plank

Deconstruction by runaway nano-devices–Crichton’s Prey

Execution by pneumatic bolt driver (livestock-killing device)–McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men

Grief-induced insanity followed by drowning oneself–Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Grief-induced insanity followed by wandering into the desert to die–Fante’s Ask the Dust

Individually-targeted military micromissile–Iain Banks’ Ask Phlebas

Glorious Homeric death in battle: “…then from his tender neck Aias Oiliades, in anger for Amphimakhos, lopped his head and bowled it through the melee till it tumbled in dust at Hektor’s feet.” –from The Iliad

Here’s a writing prompt: Come up with five unusual ways to die, pick one at random, and write a flash piece about someone’s last few minutes of life.

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