I floated to the assignment office after helping an old lady cross through the gates. It had been a long week full of assignments and I was ready for an easy one. I waved to Micah as he handed in a report to our secretary. I turned down the corridor leading to Damien's office and soon found the room I was looking for. I entered the office and sat down in one of the cushioned chairs.
"I have your next assignment." Damien said as he passed me a manila folder. "She's eligible to be a Reaper so make sure you mention it to her. Unlike the last soul." He said glaring. Apparently, suicide victims were eligible to be a reaper. Which, I thought was stupid, but when did my opinion count for anything?
"Gotcha." I said lazily and floated outside the office. I entered the door to my apartment complex and summoned my scythe. I opened a portal and wandered around for a soul. I saw a few running around and figured it was a popular death date. I opened the folder that held a picture of a girl, no older than seventeen, with long brown hair. Her hazel eyes reflected her smile. I read through the brief report and found her soon enough. It's not that hard to spot souls. Their aura surrounds them and they are a bit on the nude side. That is why I keep a cloth in my cloak pocket. I learned from my first experience when I was assigned to a drowning girl. This was before I brought a cloth on assignments so the girl awoke and thought I was a peeping tom, until I convinced her otherwise. Let's say the bruises didn't heal until after a few more assignments…
I floated awhile until I came upon a house in the suburbs. Sure enough, the girl was lying on the ground, not yet awoken from her death. You see, it takes a little while for the soul to completely separate from the body. I floated down and managed to wrap the cloth around her tiny form and tie it in the appropriate places. I sat there, waiting for a few minutes until the aura faded slightly. Soon, the aura faded completely and I knew that the soul had finished separating. I stood up and brushed myself off and waited for her to open her eyes. After a few minutes I decided I would help her wake up.
"Hey. Hey, you! You can't just lie there all day, ya know." I said. She opened her eyes and stared at me with a curious look.
"Who are you?" She asked in a soprano voice.
"My name is Ace. I'm you're Grim Reaper." I said bluntly. Apparently she didn't believe me.
"Dude, Halloween isn't for a few months, I think you're a bit early." She told me. She stood and looked around for something.
"You wouldn't happen to have seen my sister, would you? She's got red hair, and she's six, but she looks more like a four-year-old…" She babbled on for a moment. I really hated this job.
"You're dead." I told her. She didn't believe me, not that I should've expected her to.
"How can I be dead when I'm standing right in front of you?" She laughed. I kept frowning.
"I told you. I'm a Grim Reaper." I reiterated. I was growing a tad tired of her.
"Grim Reapers are skeletons. You, on the other hand, have skin." Of course that was the typical stereotype. I wondered for a moment if I could leave her a wondering soul, but I decided against it since that would require a long lecture from the boss himself. And that, I was not about to do again. I'd had that once when I didn't tell the suicidal kid he had another option.
"Fine, I'll show you since obviously you don't believe me." I summoned my scythe, hoping maybe it would scare her enough she would be silent and believe me. I wasn't so blessed.
"What the hell?!" She shrieked. Definitely not what I was hoping for.
"Do you believe me now?" I asked tiredly. She stared stupidly at my scythe. "I hate this job." I grumbled. I dismissed my weapon. "Come on." I told her and helped her to her feet as any gentleman would. I wrapped my arms around her waist and prepared to float with the added wait. You see, spirits retain their original weight until they learn to float. It doesn't normally take long, but it is a pain.
"What are you doing?" She asked, regaining her ability to talk. Whether this was a blessing or not, I wasn't sure.
"I'm proving to you that I'm the Grim Reaper and that you're dead." I said, slightly annoyed with her question. I flew upwards just below the clouds.
"What the hell are you doing! Put me down now! Put me down!" She squealed. I smirked. It was amazing how someone so tiny could have this much energy and that much bite, and be scared of something that wouldn't harm her.
"Scared of heights?" I asked, teasingly.
"That's none of your damn business! Now put me down!" She screamed again. I decided to be mean and freak her out.
"Okay." I let go of her waist. She screamed and clung tighter to me. She opened her eyes slowly.
"I'm not falling." She said, incredulously.
"Nope. You sure aren't." I reaffirmed her suspicion.
"Why am I not a pancake?" She looked up at me.
"Because. You. Are. Dead." I told her slowly so that maybe she would understand this time.
"How do I know this isn't a dream?" A typical reaction that frustrated me more.
"My god!" I screamed and pushed my fingers through my hair forcefully after throwing them in the air. I mentally counted to thirty, since twenty seemed like too short amount of time.
"Come with me." I took her hand and led her to a newspaper bin. Normally if none of my other antics worked, I would show them the obituary. That was my final plan. If that didn't work, I told them it was a dream and to just go with it. Hopefully I wouldn't have to. When she saw the headline, she began crying. I'm not very good with girls crying, so I just waited until she said something.
"Why?" She barely whispered.
"I don't know why you died." I told her, being as gentle as I could.
"That's not what I was asking!" She yelled at me. "Why is it I can't fall, but I can cry!" I decided to answer this somewhat stupid question.
"Spirits aren't affected by gravity because technically they have no mass. But you can cry because it has to do with emotion." She wiped away her tears.
"What did you say your name was again?" She asked, standing.
"Ace." I replied.
"What exactly are you supposed to do?" She sniffled.
"I'm supposed to take you back to where I'm from and send in my report so that the higher ups know that I've got you. Then you have to choose either to become a Grim Reaper, like me, or go through the gates." I gave my typical response.
"What gates?" She said with a confused look.
"Come on, I'll just show you." I said, slightly irritated. Grim Reaper cases tended to be the most bothersome cases. Because normally they were young people and were all bent out of shape about dying before their time. Lucky me, I tend to get the young females who got emotional over the fact that they would never be married or have children or such. Quite annoying. I created a portal and tugged her along through it. Home, sweet home.
"My apartment's down this way." I motioned for her to follow me. I took the winding path to my door. It may seem confusing at first, but it's quite simple. I go down one door, then turn right, then go down three doors and make another right, then go down five doors and we were there. I opened the door to my place. She looked awestruck.
"Where are we?" She looked around.
"This is where the grim reapers reside." I waited a moment and then continued. "Before I show you around, I need to show you the gates." I led her back through the doors and invisible passage ways that only became familiar with time. I created the portal to the gates and had her follow me.
"What is this place?" She studied the gates. They were beautiful, but somewhat intimidating by their stature.
"These are the gates. No one here knows what lie beyond them. God created them. When the grim Reapers were first established, some spirits didn't want to be grim reapers. So God, being her usual kind self, created these doors as an alternative." I told her.
"Oh…Wait, did you say 'she'?" I nodded and explained about how it was a misconception of God being male. Looking back at it now, it's somewhat humorous to think of her as a man.
"You'll learn more about it the longer you stay here. But for now let's just show you around town." I opened another portal to the city. I floated through it and down the street a little ways. She had a curious expression on her face, seemingly from the fact I was floating.
"Just take your feet off of the ground." I instructed. "You can walk through walls too. There aren't any doors in the city. The only reason there are doors here is because it would just look like a white space without them. No one would know where their room was." I told her to stay close to me, knowing that if she got lost I would be in hot water, big time. I looked around for a shopping center. I saw Belle's clothing store and began floating in that general direction. "We need to get you some clothes." I said and passed through the wall. She followed me to the women's section and I saw Belle. This was normally where I found clothes for my assignments. Most of them ended up costing me my whole paycheck.
"Why do I need clothes?" I rolled my eyes before turning to her.
"Well, I figured you didn't have anything else to wear. And I thought you might want to get out of that." I said, pointing to the cloth that hung about her. She finally realized what she was wearing and donned a look of astonishment. I motioned toward Belle.
"That's the salesgrim. She'll help you find something suitable." I said. She floated over to Belle; thankfully she caught on quick to being a soul. She and Belle exchanged words and soon she was trying on everything from a goth-loli dress to a very expensive Indian Sari. Thankfully for my wallet, she chose jeans, a T-shirt, and flip-flops. I floated over and paid Belle.
"Thanks, Belle." I said.
"You know her?" She asked.
"You could say I'm a faithful customer." I said. I remembered the way she looked in a few of the more ridiculous outfits. And the more expensive ones. I began laughing uncontrollably. She was very hard to figure out, this one. Most woman souls can't decide what to wear so I end up spending half the night waiting for them to decide and they end up choosing everything. Not very healthy for my wallet. Then this one chooses something plain and simple. Everything in the store was of top quality and the number one brand of that particular culture. It was simply amazing to me she turned everything down.
"What's so funny?" She asked, sounding a bit annoyed.
"Every piece of clothing you tried on was considered the best of the best of that fashion and you threw away all of them! Poor Belle probably won't be able to float for a week!" I laughed a bit more.
"That's not nice! She did the best she could!" She frowned at me.
"I know, and you looked absolutely adorable in that EGL dress!" I said and pinched her cheeks like an aunt would. She just glared. "Come one, Cadi. Can't you take a joke?" I grinned.
"I never told you my name." She stated simply.
"A, it was on the file I was given, and B, it was on the front page of the newspaper." I told her, my laughter dying.
"What file?" She asked. I took it as a valid question.
"You are my assignment. In order to fill my assignment correctly I needed to make sure I had information about you." I told her.
"What kind of information?" She asked suspiciously.
"Birthday, physical description, death, just the basics." Not to mention her status in every way, shape, or form. I stretched my upper body to wrap around her twice. I was beginning to like her a bit. Just a bit. It was pointless to get too close because she would just leave soon anyway.
"What are you doing?" She asked, surprised. I guess I forgot to tell her that. Damn.
"Hm? Oh! I'm stretching. Spirits can stretch themselves to any lengths because they don't have the restriction of a body." I told her. I stayed like that for a few paces before deciding she was a bit uncomfortable and returned to my normal shape.
"What time is it?" She asked.
"Um…Where's the clock?" I asked aloud. There was a clock in the middle of the city, a bit big and it was hard to miss. Sure enough it came into view. "There it is!" I pointed toward it.
"Wow." She stared in amazement. The clock chimed eleven. Not that it mattered much to me. It just meant that I was seven hours closer to the end of my assignment. Not that time matters much here anyway.
We wondered around for about an hour and then came to the bar where Damien and the rest of our division were meeting. I floated through the wall and made sure that Cadi followed me. My three co-workers waved and I floated toward them with Cadi in tow.
"Hello, Ace! It's been a while, hasn't it?" Jake said. He talked in a bit of an odd way, but that was just how he was raised before he died.
"I've been a bit busy lately." I said truthfully. Damien had given me a barrage of assignments in the past week, and I still had one left until the monthly quota was met. You see, each division has to meet a certain number of souls. If they meet the quota, they can add another grim to the team. Most grims actually work in the city, like Belle, for example. They were just waiting to get called by the secretaries to say they had a position open. Luckily for me, I was able to bypass all of that by being Rob's replacement soul.
"Who's the chick? A new 'friend' of yours?" Micah asked. He was somewhat of a new addition. He choked on an apple. He got to bypass all the confusing paper work too. I wasn't sure exactly why.
"Actually, she's my latest assignment." I told him. I sat down and signaled for Cadi to do the same.
"Dude. She's a soul? Wow. I've never seen one up close before." Damien said, stretching to see her up close. Damien was all business on the job, but get him out in public and he's crazier than bipolar person.
"You're a grim reaper and have never seen a soul before?" She asked. Damien laughed. He didn't realize how out of the loop new souls were. "What's so funny?" She wondered. I understood her confusion.
"Damien isn't a reaper." I whispered.
"Then what is he?" She asked. I explained to her about the power pyramid and the order of things. At least just the surface. It was a lot deeper than that. You see, Lucifer was jealous of boss. So not only did he cause mankind to suffer eternal damnation, he also attempted to off the boss. Thankfully, that didn't work and he was sent to hell. And the only way to get sent to hell, is by a grim's scythe. And since Boss is the ultimate Grim Reaper, he got the pleasure of sentencing Lucifer to the eternal pits of hell and brimstone. There are seven layers to hell: the first is a plane of uncertainty, where you aren't really sure if you're dead. You wonder until you find a staircase that leads to the second layer. This is the layer where all your fears become reality. Eventually you reach the third layer which has no one, whatsoever. The fourth layer is the lake of fire. You burn until you burn straight to the fifth layer, which is the brimstone. It might not seem bad at first, but the smell of rotting flesh eventually drives even the sanest of people mad. The sixth level is the level of demons. They torment and torture you. And the seventh hell is Lucifer himself. That would be where the term "seven hells" came from. The only reason us reapers know about it is that occasionally Lucifer sends his demons to do something horrible and we have to go stop him from causing the world's destruction. Example would be world war two, assassinations, suicides, and the like. I've only seen Lucifer once and the man was so creepy, I never wanted to go down there again.
"So how did you die anyway?" Micah asked.
"Micah! That's rude. She might've died in a tragic way and not want to talk about it." Jake chastised. He tended to act as if Micah was a younger family member. "Please excuse him for his rudeness. He's only been a grim reaper for a few months."
"How long have you been a grim reaper?" She asked curiously.
"Seven hundred years." He told her.
"It has not Jake! It's only been seven!" Damien said.
"Not in the human world. One year here is equal to one hundred years there. Just like she's been dead here only a few hours, but in the human world it's already been a few weeks." Jake replied. Damien, of course, didn't realize this. He's never been to earth and doesn't know about time warps and dimensions and the like.
"I've been dead for weeks!" She gasped. Of course she was shocked. I hadn't gotten that far in the explanation yet. Although it didn't matter who told her, as long as she found out. It took me a while to get used to the time difference too. It's a big adjustment.
"Time passes by different here than in your world. Micah's been dead here for three months. But in the human world, it's been twenty-five years. Ace has been dead here for a year or two, but in the human world, he's been dead for over two hundred years." Jake explained.
"How did you die?" She asked me.
"I died in the American Revolution." I said. "I was Seventeen and I was in the Battle at Cowpens. It was in January and I was one of the few people that died. I remember wandering around with the others that died. But there were always two men that kept following the dead. I knew they hadn't died. There weren't any bullet wounds or anything. They weren't even carrying guns. One of the dead finally asked who they were. One of them was Jake, the other was a reaper named Rob. All of the other soldiers didn't qualify for the Grim Reaper job, or they chose the gates. But I took a different path." I was somewhat ashamed of choosing to become a Reaper. I didn't really know what was in store, but at least I knew that I could go on existing, even if it wasn't really living, at least it was something. It didn't seem that bad at first. But then I had to witness the dead screaming, crying, hyperventilating, and praying that it was dream. Of course it wasn't. The dead have it ten times worse when they die. Unlike the people they leave behind, they mourn for all the people they know and care about. Their heart shatters. That's why most choose the gates. Because they hope it can lead them to something better. That they may see their families again. Did they? That's something not even Damien could answer.
"Cadi, Come one, we should get you home. It's late and even though you're a soul; you should still get some rest." I told her. We said our farewells and continued on home.
"Cadi, you do realize you don't have a lot of time to decide, don't you?" I truly felt sorry for her. It seemed that she was taking it pretty well, but I had the feeling she kept a lot of things hidden, like she was keeping everything inside.
"Don't worry! In the human world I still have eleven months and some change!" She smiled a somewhat fake smile and I knew she was trying to hide her fear. We floated into the apartment and I pulled out the futon for her. She rolled to the middle of it. I sat on the edge.
"Cadi, get some sleep. You'll have a big day tomorrow. I have to give my report to Damien and then file it to our secretary. I might be called in to see the head Secretary, so I might have to let Micah or Jake watch you. It's illegal to have souls wandering around without a Reaper near-by." I told her.
"Ace?" She whispered. "Would you rub my back? My mom used to do it when I was a kid. Whenever I was sick or I had a bad dream I always asked for a back rub." I complied with her request.
"My mom used to do it too." I said, not paying much attention to my surroundings. After a minute, I felt the slow rhythm of her breathing and moved off the futon so that she could sleep. I floated to my room and plopped on my bed, thinking of the past.
I don't know when I fell asleep, or how long I had slept before I heard the screams. I jumped out of bed and flew to where Cadi was sleeping.
"Cadi! Cadi wake up, it's just a dream! Cadi!" I shook her lightly. Her eyes opened, fear written all over her face. She looked up at me, tears in her eyes; then they started pouring down her cheeks. I pulled her to me. She stayed there until she quit crying. I rubbed her back again, hoping it would soothe her.
"Does it still hurt?" She shook her head. The worst part of becoming a spirit, are the dreams. They're ten times more horrible that the reality. My bullet wound felt like fire was ripping it wider and wider. Just remembering the dreams made my wound hurt. I felt her forehead and carried her to the bathroom. I wet a towel and began wiping her tears and the perspiration from the dream.
"They'll fade soon. The dreams, I mean." I said, hoping the words would be reassuring. She glanced at her ankle.
"What about the bite?" I shook my head. It was quiet until she spoke. "Ace?"
"Hm?" I asked.
"What was your life like? If you want to tell me, I mean." I was stunned when she asked me. I wasn't expecting that. I decided to tell her. As I spoke, she began to cuddle further into my embrace. My death was horrible. I could feel my energy drain with every drop of blood. And then I blacked out because there wasn't anymore blood that could sustain my body. I awoke and saw Rob and Jake. My mother died. That was the biggest shock. Even when she was bedridden, she still seemed so…so strong. It was as if her mind and heart were stronger than her body. The thought of her not there, was just too much. That's when I broke. When I decided that I didn't want to feel anything stronger than friendship for anyone ever again. But for some reason, Cadi wasn't just another soul to me. It was as if she needed me to help her open up. Just like I needed someone to help me open up.
I opened my eyes slightly and realized it was morning. I felt her breathing and held her closer. I closed my eyes and almost immediately sensed her watching me. I squeezed her tighter and her heart pounded harder. I buried my face in her hair, smelling the sweet fragrance. I breathed her in. I felt her stiffen slightly, oblivious to the fact she had done so. I laughed lightly.
"What are you so embarrassed about?" I grinned. Her eyes grew.
"How long have you been awake?" She said, annoyed.
"Long enough to know you've been staring at me." She began stuttering idiotically. "Why don't we take a bath?" I asked. It seemed an innocent enough question. My sisters and I bathed together all the time when I was alive.
"What do you mean 'we'?" She eyed me warily. Apparently, it wasn't taken as innocent as I'd meant it.
"We. Us. You and me." I replied.
"You perv!" She yelled and pushed me into the wall.
"Do you honestly think spirits come with a tarp draped across them? I put that there missy. Before that you were in the nude." I informed her. "Cadi, the only thing on your body that's in detail is your snake bite. Everything else is just the same as me. Well, except the outline of your, well, um…" I blushed slightly.
"My breasts?" I just nodded.
"Fine, but let me get in first and there better be a lot of bubbles!" I started running the bath water. I heard a knock and then Belle's voice. I poured the bubbles and went to see if she brought more clothes.
"Hey, Belle. Thanks for bringing them over." I smiled. I paid her for her troubles.
"Anything for you, Ace!" She smiled back. Once she left, Cadi went into the bath. After a few minutes I got undressed and knocked on the door.
"Come in, Ace." I heard her say and walked in. I had glanced at her when I first found her, but I never really noticed how beautiful she really was. I stopped staring and lowered myself behind her. She was small between my legs. She turned to me, her eyes wide.
"Why are you sitting behind me?" She asked.
"I didn't think you'd want to see my wound." I whispered. It was the truth. The wound was pretty gruesome and most grim reapers could bear to look at it, let alone a new soul. I stared down at the bubbles in the tub. I felt the water shift and saw her turning around to face me. She stared down at the wound. I expected any minute she would recoil from it, shocked by the warped and blood stained flesh. And from the fact that if you looked hard enough, you could see the inside of my body. But she did none of that. She brushed her hand lightly over the wound. I closed my eyes, partially from the fact that I didn't want to look into her eyes, and partially from the fact that she was teasing me.
It's a well known fact that the wound you die from is your weak point. For me, it was just below my sternum. If you're like Micah, your weak point is an area, not just a spot. His is his throat, and Jake's is his chest since he fell off a cliff into the ocean and drowned. And currently, I was being teased by a new soul who knew nothing about what she was doing to me. That's when she did something I wouldn't have expected in eternity. She kissed it. She kissed my wound, ugly, blood stained, and deformed. My eyes grew wide.
"When I was little…my mom used to kiss my scrapes and bruises. She would say that kisses make everything feel better." I was speechless. I had no words. This is very unusual for me, because I'm somewhat of a talker. She traced the circular wound, again, teasing me. I had to stop her. I grabbed her hand and looked in her eyes and said the only thing that came to my mind.
"Thank you." I breathed. She smiled up at me. I wrapped my arms around her. And she leaned into me, slipped her hand in mine. I buried my face in her hair again. It was quickly becoming one of my favorite habits. We were quiet for a moment, just soaking in the water.
"What makes you tick?" I wondered aloud. "I've seen tens of thousands of spirits…but not one of them was as hard to figure out as you." She just didn't make sense to me. Most new souls are easy to figure out. They're emotions control them. But it was like she'd been dead before. "I'm acting like a new spirit…damn annoying…" Now I was the one letting my emotions run wild.
"What do you mean 'new spirit'?" She asked.
"When you first die and come here, your spiritual body is in tune with the time here, but your emotions and your heart is still in tune with Earth. An example would be…If you got mad at someone on Earth and it lasted a few weeks, it would only last a few hours here." I explained. It was rather annoying. But then again, it's good in a sense.
"So if I had a crush on someone and I liked them for a few weeks, it would be a few hours?" It was a rather odd question to ask, but I nodded my head. "So it would be expected of a new spirit to have tons of emotional changes the first day, right?"
"The first few days actually." I replied. Then she did something that completely shocked me. She turned around and kissed me.
AN: Whatcha think guys? Good? Bad? Ugly? Reviews are appreciated and I would like to re-name this story. I was thinking something like "Death Wish" but then again I'm not sure. No reviews on the last chapter (sniffle) So that means no review replies. I'm hoping to finish this story by September 16th, and so far I'm ahead of schedule! YAY!
Thanx for reading!