Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Reaper Chapter Three

Chapter Three

Airian and I dated for a few months. I have to say that those months were the happiest I’d had in a long time. We did things that couples did. Cooked together. Played with her camera together. Saw movies together. Introduced our respective friends to each other. Fought on occasion. Nothing major.

But she was everything to me.

It's almost indescribable the way she made my heart tremble. I didn't want to spend a moment away from her and you bet your ass I was up hers the whole time. It was reciprocated. It was wonderful. I felt like I could fly around her, I was that lovesick.

“So explain it to me again,” she said one day as she added more vegetables to the hot pan. I turned off the oversensitive smoke detectors so she wouldn't set them off. My cooking capabilities consisted of Ramen and TV dinners, so she made sure I ate right every weekend or so. “You walk the dead down to this beach and they row off?”

“That's the pattern.”

“But where do they … you know, go?”

“Beats me.”

“You obviously get paid.”

“Enough to survive comfortably.”

“Don't you ever wonder why you were chosen to do this?” she asked, putting the pasta into a pot of boiling water. Every motion she made was captivating.

“All the time,” I admitted, handing her the pepper. “But it's not like I can just ask.”

I never told her about Marcus. For some reason I thought his presence on this earth should be a secret.

“That's bullshit,” she told me, pointing the spatula at me. “Is there a way to complain to some kind of death supervisor or something?”

“I wish.”

“What happens when you don't do it?”

“Never tried. Something bad. I feel it.”

Arian drained her pasta and lathered it with butter and garlic. “Are you scared?”

“About what?” I asked.

“Of dying.”



I thought about that and lit a cigarette, dragging deeply and exhaling slowly. “I'm just like anyone else I think. I’m alive, so I can't know what lies beyond that beach. It's that simple. Everyone fears the unknown.”

“Not me,” Arian laughed. “I get excited.”

I wrapped my arms around her from behind. I can say I cherished every moment when I was with her. I swear the sun shone brighter in her presence. My whole world was more enriched, and good god she was my everything.

I couldn't have been happier.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Reaper Chapter Two

Chapter Two

“Man, cheer up, London. You're killing my buzz!”

I shrugged and knocked back another shot. “Sorry.”

“You've been real shady lately, you bastard,” Seth told me. “Ever since I helped you move into that apartment your all emo.”

“Don't compare me to teenagers,” I replied.

“So what have you been up to? This is only like the third time I’ve seen you since May.”

“Nothing, really.”

“I call bullshit.”

“Call it what you want, I’m just not into getting so inebriated I can't think strait.”

“Buzzkill,” Seth accused. The waitress came by and cleared our empty glasses, then asked if we would like anything else. I declined. Seth ordered another shot of tequila. “So what, you got a girlfriend or a boyfriend something?”

“No, not really.”

“Do you even have a life when I’m not around?” Seth laughed.

“Can't say I do.” I rose to leave after I paid my tab.

“Hey, where are you going?”

“Home. It's late.”

“Good lord, it's only nine o'clock!”

“See you later,” I told him, and left. I wonder if it was truly just chance that I was getting irritated with one of my only friends and ducked out. Still raining. Maybe I was depressed or something, but dealing with death every week or so was taxing to my psyche. I found myself wondering what would happen if I just stopped doing it.

I wonder a lot of things.

“Don't be this way, baby.”

“Get lost, you creep!”

“Come on!”

“I said beat it! I broke up with you because you just don't listen. We're THROUGH, got it?”


“Get your hands off of me, asshole!”

That made me stop and glance over to behind the bar. Call me chivalrous, but I had real beef with anyone that would lay their hands on someone weaker. It just triggers a nasty reaction in me.

I walked up behind the jerk and yanked him off of his victim. Whoever he was, he was drunk and swinging at me. I ducked and laid a hard punch into his gut, which stopped him dead in his tracks. He dropped, moaning in pain. I held my hand out to Airian, who seemed too shocked to really register what just happened.

“Let's get out of here,” I told her. “Before he decides to get up.” I nudged him with my foot. “Which won't be any time soon, but still...”

Airian smiled. I thought I would die in that instant. She was a heavy set woman, but looking at her face made me conclude that if she were skinny she wouldn't be as pretty. Her blue eyes were captivating, and though her hair was wet with rain, it perfectly framed her face.

“Okay,” was all she said as she took my hand.

We made our way down Main Street, and then the questions started.

“What's your name?” Airian asked, looking up to me. I was tall and lanky, so her seeing me drop someone who weighed about a hundred pounds more than me might have been a surprise.

“London,” I answered.

“I'm Airian.”

“Pleased to meet you, Airian.”

“The pleasure is all mine.” She smiled again. God she was hot when she smiled.

“Should I walk you home?” I asked, concerned for her safety. Honest.

Airian frowned. It wasn't as pretty as her smile, but she still had a magic about her that I could not deny. “I don't … want to go home yet.”

“That's okay. Let's enjoy the rain,” I told her with a smile. As I thought, she smiled again. I could go on all night and day about that smile. And when I was the reason for it I felt giddy. “What are you doing in this crappy little college town?”

“I'm a student,” she said as we walked. “I study art.”

“Any specialty?”

“I'm a big fan of Andy Warhol, so it's pretty broad,” Airian sighed. “I like photography mostly, but I’m not sure what I’m going to do with this degree.”

“Why do you say that?”

She gave me a look. Oh, that look. “Come on, who hires an artist? Very few of us miserable artists can make a real living off of what our passion is. I’ll probably be on register for the rest of my life.”

“That's so sad.”

“Gee, thanks.”

“No, I mean that you have to compromise on your passion for your job.” I turned us up Court Street, not really caring where we ended up, though I was headed home by habit. “Nothing you do should be a waste.”

She looked inquisitive, but didn't continue the topic. “So what do you do?” she asked.

“I escort the dead to their fate,” I said bluntly. I don't know why I was honest, but I wasn't told that it was supposed to be a big secret or anything. I looked down at her to gauge her reaction.

“I don't know what that means,” she finally said.

“To be honest, neither do I,” I laughed. She laughed with me. Golden music, that. “It's just something I have to do I guess.”

“We all have to do things that we don't want to,” Airian said quietly, stopping.

“Are you alright?”

“Where are we going?” she asked.

“I dunno, I was headed home and wouldn't mind the company.”

Airian squinted. “No funny stuff, I have mace.”

I laughed again. “No way! You're definitely my type, but that would just be rude!”

She blushed. Ah, her expressions! Her lips hinted upwards, like she was trying not to smile. A tragedy in my opinion. “Just keep your hands to yourself and I’d be happy to join you.”


“I'm serious, no hanky panky or I will mace your eyeballs right out of your skull!”

“You have my word. Unless you initiate, my hands remain innocent.”

We stopped at the top of the hill so Airian could catch her breath. I was used to the trek, but waited patiently. She had taken off her heels, as it had been too steep for her to walk in them, so there she was, barefoot in the rain, a vision of beauty.

I don't think I even swooned this much with my first girlfriend.

We got to know each other a little, but the last few blocks were quiet. I paused and she bumped into me. “What's wrong?”

“We're here,” I said, looking past my house to the graveyard fence not twenty feet away. My one bedroom upstairs piece of crap dwelling was dark and lonely upon entry. It made me uneasy, so I turned on the light. Airian took off her coat. “Put it on the couch,” I instructed, taking off my own drenched hoodie and hanging it up on the bathroom door.

“I could never live so close to a graveyard,” she commented as she looked out one of the windows facing the hill.

“Part of the job description,” I told her. I still wasn't sure if she believed me or not.

I’m not sure what happened next, but the order of the evening meant little. I was fucking her before I knew it. I don't know, maybe I found her confidence in her body image attractive. Most bigger women are always griping out their weight. Airian never did. If she was insecure about it, she hid it well. Every inch of her skin was quivering to my touch, and I worshiped her figure with my lust. It couldn't have been more perfect.

We exchanged numbers in the morning and she went on her way. Watching her leave, I caught sight of a hurse. No rest for the wicked I suppose. I located my dry longcoat and found the mask, tracing over the lines painted on it with my fingers for a while before donning it. I couldn't get my mind off of her though.


I was struck dumb in love without even noticing it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Reaper Chapter One

Chapter One

Maybe I was just looking for an excuse.

My life was mundane, and there were a lot of empty holes, so I filled them with a search for myself. Whatever that meant. I lived by myself across from a large graveyard down the hill. I had a job. I paid my bills. I played guitar. I looked at Playboy. I thought about how interesting my life would be if I actually cared about anything enough to follow through on stuff like that. I could have moved. I could have turned it down.

I have only met Marcus once, and he gave me the vague details of what I was to do. It was surreal, as if I had woken from a dream only to find that I had been awake the whole time. He told me about the dead. He handed me a mask to shield my identity. From who I can't really say, but Marcus was kind of a big and scary dude. So the only questions I asked were the ones that pertained to my duty.

I guess what I regret the most is not asking him why.

It was rainy, so today's funeral was a short and tearful affair. I had gone numb from such things. It didn't matter if it was an older person, someone my age having their lives cut short and even children didn't even make me flinch anymore. They were dead. That was that. I didn't know them, and I didn't care to. With the mask only the deceased could see me.

It got old, really. The dead – only just very recently severed – asked an awful lot of questions. Sometimes I answered them. Sometimes I just didn't bother. “Where is Heaven?” “Am I a ghost?” and “How can I be dead?!” were common protests. Today a forty-eight year old woman named Sharie had died of cancer two days ago. She was the most distraught of any of them I’ve seen. She could barely speak through her weeping. Six months ago I would have tried to comfort her. Today she was just another dead person.

“But WHY?!” she sobbed into my chest.

I didn't know. So I didn't answer. Just pulled up the hood of my longcoat and beckoned for her to follow me down the hill. She just stood there.

“Are you Death?” she asked fearfully.

“Tch!” I snorted. Yeah, like I had that kind of power. I’d make my bitch landlord drop dead if that were the case. I beckoned again. I wanted to say “Hurry up, lady,” but being cruel to them never helped. They cling to me, why I could guess was that I was the only one that could interact with them before they departed. Rarely was anyone willingly accepting of the fact that they were dead.

My presence made it real.

Some would cry. Some would even laugh. A lot of them drilled me for answers I don't have. I used to hate just shrugging , or apologizing when I didn't have the reasons they wanted to hear. But now they were just another soul awaiting wherever they went after I delivered them.

I started to walk down the hill.

“Don't leave!! Wait!” Sharie called, jogging to catch up to me. “You really don't know anything?!”

I shook my head and beckoned again. Finally, Sharie followed, eyes watching her feet in defeat. The fog and steam from the cold autumn storm swelled up at the bottom of the hill, and as I led her through, the grass and gravestones faded away, lost in the thickness of the cloud of damp dew. After a few minutes the sound of an ocean could be heard.

Sharie noticed through the silence between us. She seemed anxious to break it, though asking me anything probably wouldn't answer any of her fears. “Where are we?” she asked meekly through tears.

I suppose I’m a sucker for weaker women. “The River Styx,” I finally told her, pointing to a boat on the shore of a dark and murky beach.

“But … where am I supposed to go?” she whispered, holding tight to my arm.

I shrugged again. I just pointed to the boat again. Sharie screwed up her face as she let more tears fall. But I recognized the posture of the conclusion the soul at last comes to. She was dead. And there was no taking it back.

As soon as she got in the boat and started rowing my obligation ended. But I watched her until she disappeared into the fog, wondering if I too would someday come to this fate. And who would guide me? Or would I already know? I never knew what was beyond that beach, and I suppose when I’m dead I’ll find out. I went back the way I came and ended up back in the graveyard, the mourners already gone. It was pouring here, so I just left and went back to my second floor apartment, stripping off my wet clothing and putting that mask back in my bottom drawer.

I’ve tested the ability to go about invisible, but it seems to only work around gravestones. Never tried that again, when every soul that hadn't been sent off flocked to me like moths of a flame. Made me wonder … who else does this? I know I can't be the only one, or the world would burst with dead souls. I had burning questions like these for Marcus, but I only ever met him once, and I was too shocked to really ask anything else.

No, I’m not Death. I’m a Reaper. Whatever that means.

And then I met Airian.