The Grim Reaper Diaries
Death Rides Inline Skates
"Ah..." Araqiel stared up at the clear sky. "It's all so boring here." He swung his legs out under him, and the wheels of his roller blades knocked against the concrete of the fountain he was perched on.
He hadn't come to Earth for pleasure this time. No, he was here for an appointment, but that wasn't for another fifteen minutes anyway, and he so desperately wanted something to do. Something fun, or at least amusing. He'd been sitting there for seven minutes and was already bored out of his mind. Anything would be good at this point.
The wind was stronger than usual and it ruffled his blond hair, making it messier than it already was. He didn't care, though. Things like that were just a waste of time.
Araqiel was the youngest of the Undertakers. At least, to him, he was. There were probably some that were younger than himself, but they didn't matter. He hadn't heard of any, therefore they were inferior. And inferior meant obsolete. They might as well not even have existed.
He continued kicking his legs against the fountain as he boredly scanned the area. The hospital grounds. He found himself coming to these things often, but had never been to this one in particular. They were all pretty much the same, though, so he didn't feel the need to explore. Repeating the same, mundane experiences like that needlessly was a waste. He adjusted the camera strap at his neck. It was itchy. He'd have it fit with a new one once he got back.
Araqiel's interest was momentarily piqued by the voice near him. He looked to see a little girl standing a few feet away, smiling broadly at him. In appearance, she looked about six or seven years younger than him. So she was probably around five in human years. He stared at her for a moment long enough to assess this, then looked away. Back to the sky. She couldn't possibly be talking to him. Humans couldn't see Undertakers.
"Hey." She pulled at the hem of his shorts, and he immediately jerked his leg away, nearly kicking her. She pouted and put her hands on her hips but he was too preoccupied with freaking out that a human had just touched him to care. Or perhaps he wouldn't have cared anyway.
What the hell? he thought, unable to keep the shock from reaching his expression as he stared at the little girl. She was still pouting at him. How the heck could she not only see him, but touch him, too?
"Go away," he said after a moment, having regained his composure. He gave her a lazy stare and made a shooing motion with his hand.
This only prompted her to come closer. "What's your name?" she asked, her pout disappearing.
He looked at her, then off into the distance. "You don't need to know."
"Why not?" Without asking, she pulled herself up onto the fountain so she was sitting by him. "I'm Shelly." She leaned way too close to him and he continued staring off into space, hoping his indifference would deter her and she'd run along and go bother someone else.
When he didn't answer, Shelly pouted again, and this time crossed her arms. She stared at him for a few moments and he ignored it as long as he could, until something occurred to him. He drew out the dossier card from his vest pocket and glanced at the picture, then frowned. No, this girl wasn't the one he'd come for. If she was, then this would probably be a little easier to explain, but since she wasn't, then how -
"Wow, those are so neat!" she squealed suddenly, and he glanced at her only because he'd been caught off-guard. She was bent over and pointing at his roller blades. "They sparkle like stars," she giggled, reaching for them.
Araqiel sighed and moved his feet away. "Don't touch them."
"Why?" The question seemed to serve more as a distraction because before he had the chance to answer, she reached for the roller blades again, making contact this time. "Ow!" She withdrew immediately and popped her pointer finger into her mouth.
"I said don't touch them," he muttered, crossing his legs. He watched as she nursed her tender finger. The Undertaker's transportation gear was made of an alloy that proved harmful to vulnerable substances, such as human skin. "Listen to your elders next time."
"It hurts," she moaned, tears welling up.
He sighed. "Then stick it in the water, jeez."
A moment passed and the girl just stared at him with a confused look. Then, she moved so she was sitting facing the water, and tentatively dipped her finger in.
A few minutes passed and her whimpers had subsided. She had taken to staring at her pinkened finger and bending it and dunking it back into the water. The process repeated itself several times until she took to staring at him again, much to his dismay.
"Take a picture of me?" she asked abruptly, her eyes glued to the camera that dangled from his neck.
He scoffed. "Keep bothering me and I will."
"Please," she sang, somehow turning it into two syllables.
"It's not that kind of camera."
"Is it broken?"
A pause, and he looked at the camera. "Yes."
"Can you get it fixed?"
"Stop talking to me."
Her expression looked hurt enough, but she remained undeterred. "Why?"
"Because I said so."
Surprisingly, she stayed quiet for the new three minutes. After a while, he looked to his watch, and realized it was time. He hopped off the fountain, balancing smoothly upon landing, and fussed a little with the camera strap. It was digging into his neck. Again.
"Where are you going?" the girl asked. Her tone was subdued now.
"To do my job."
"Can I come with you?"
His eyes met hers. "No. Leave me alone." And before she could respond, he skated away, towards the entrance of the hospital.
The doors were the automatic kind, which opened without any kind of handle. He preferred those kind because they didn't require stopping. Once inside, he found the nearest elevator and slipped inside, unbeknownst to its other occupants. He stared at them blatantly, as he was used to, and when that became boring he crossed his arms and tried not to think about that annoying little girl. After a little more waiting, they arrived at his floor and he skated out and into the hallway.
There, it was dead quiet, which felt appropriate. He consulted his dossier, which detailed what room his charge would be in. 323. He glanced at the nearest one: 297.
He travelled on down the hall, in no hurry. He still had two or three minutes, and it wasn't like you had to be there the exact moment given on the dossier. That was more like a guideline. Being late by a little didn't matter. Dead was dead.
"I found you!" a voice cried from behind him. He stopped shortly, and the wheels of his blades screeched against the tile flooring. The little girl from before stared back at him with a look of glee.
Araqiel glared at her as she hurried to catch up with him. "Why are you following me?"
"This is the way I have to go to get to Mommy," she said, playing hop-scotch with the different colored tiles.
"Whatever. Don't bother me." He turned around and continued to make his way to 323. Once there, he pushed open the door slowly, then went inside.
The woman lying on the bed was without the wires, plugs, and plastic that Araqiel was accustomed to seeing on hospital patients. She was without those adornments and he briefly wondered why as he confirmed her identity with the dossier. There was just the heart rate monitor, and that was just a flat line, accompanied by a monotone beep. He'd come to learn that meant death. The staff would probably be in here soon. He looked at the time and quickly jotted down his report. Identity: check. Death: check. Time: check. He shoved the notebook back into his pocket and picked up the lunky old folding camera with both hands and snapped a shot of the woman. Soul: check.
And then the door opened, and the little girl stepped inside. "You came to see Mommy?" she asked.
Araqiel looked to the dead woman, then back to the girl. Unease coursed through him. This wasn't part of the job.
Shelly ignored him and hopped to her mother's side. "Mommy, guess what?" She leaned against the bed and jostled the dead woman's hand. "Mommy?"
Araqiel stepped away from the bed. "She can't hear you."
The girl looked up at him and frowned. "Why?"
He immediately broke eye contact and swiftly skated around her, to the door. "She just can't."
The girl, her smile gone, opened her mouth to ask more, but loud voices approached quickly, and suddenly three hospital workers came rushing in. One of them held her by the shoulders and ushered her out of the room. She threw a final look over her shoulder, into the room, and Araqiel was gone.
Less than five minutes later, he was back in the clouds, waiting for a gate to be opened. He yawned as he waited, and cast a glance down towards the land. He wondered if that girl was bawling by now. She probably was. Talk about annoying. And why could she see him, anyway? He'd never had that happen before.
The cloud beneath his feet began to glow a faint silver as the gate opened. The black abyss on the other side stared back at him, expectantly. Finally, he tore his eyes from the earth and stretched his arms behind him as he stepped through the gate.
"Tch. So stupid."