“Well, well finally done with your assignment?”
He glared at Quincy nastily as he tied his black hair into a top knot. “That girl was a lot faster than me…she pushed me on the bed, Quincy!!”
“Damnnn, a feisty one, alright!!” Quincy exclaimed, half-jokingly as he scratched his forehead, “But then again…I’m not surprised anymore. Live the life when you have it.”
There was always a kind of strange luck Bastian had with his assignments. They all ended up being explicit with an innocent, pitiful cover- some, a little more direct than the others – craving for some cinematic romance in their otherwise boring lives. Even at the end of their lives, they wanted to die doing what they did best.
“I’m going to meet Orfer. I can’t stand this anymore. I’m going to take a long vacation before I’m assigned next,” Bastian muttered under his breath.
“By long vacation, you mean being sleeping beauty? Or hunting down relics? You make some of the best money out of us. Don’t mind a little action now, will you, darling?” Quincy said as he put on his silk black and purple striped vest over a white shirt. His blonde hair was gelled, black glitter eyeliner under his violet eyes drawn to perfection, light shimmer on his bronze cheeks and a heart-shaped ruby drop earring from his left ear.
“Shut up. Off to pick up some ladies?” Bastian asked as he rolled up the sleeves of his black shirt, tucking the hem into his grey pants.
“Yup,” he said as he went up to the large mirror in the Waiting Room to admire himself.
“You never get them anyway. Why try?” Bastian asked as he hovered behind Quincy. Bastian redid his bun as he smoothed out his shirt. If you had seen a concoction consisting of Adonis actualized, that would be him. Sharp emerald eyes, a crooked well-defined nose, black tresses gathered around his shoulder when let down and three white stone piercings on his right ear. Probably the reason his assignments were a tad bit touchy with him.
“I’m going to pretend I did not hear that. If it weren’t for me, you’d be terrible with the ladies. You need to thank me with your life. Wait... why is no one at the Waiting Room? Isn’t it break time?” Quincy asked as he looked around the expanse of the room carpeted with intricately designed gold motifs, antique wooden furniture, chandeliers, crystal goblets that carried fine wine and artisanal wares which contained carefully selected delicacies to be enjoyed every day. On the beige walls, mirrors were lined up - bordered with gold flowers, depictions of naughty elves and ethereal nymphs. The ceiling was not anything less lack lustrous. Misty clouds were painted in the background of endless aqua blue. Tiny silver dots formed constellations like the never-ending Nautilus. It was a perpetual feast fit for celestial beings. And celestial beings they were. Kind of.
Bastian popped out his Draphacon, a cellular device that is similar to the one used by humans except it only serves purely the purposes of the Drapha, containing all the contacts among the Drapha network. Easily identified by its bordering golden swirls and a singular grey pearlescent gem that had the owner’s signature printed in gold. The gem was strung on a rod, situated in the hollow posterior part of the device resembling an abacus instrument.
“Shit. Shit. Shit,” Quincy said, looking through his Draphacon as he grabbed Bastian’s arm. They began running through the corridors, breaking one of the most important rules - which was not as much as getting into trouble for not attending General Hall meetings.
As soon as they reached the door, they heard Orfer say, “Okay, meeting dismissed!” Their footsteps caused everyone to turn towards them. Looking through his metal tinted glasses, Orfer was displeased as ends of his moustache stood up. He gestured them to come towards the podium. Quincy grasped Bastian while Bastian’s teeth were showing off itself to appease Orfer’s anger in vain. Being under the spotlight amongst other Draphas, they were no stranger to such attention except it was always for getting caught. Giggles and low whispers passed inside the crowd. There stood Fyre and Klove, a smirk applied onto their faces – passing no opportunity to mock their seniors. They were way too skilled for rookies. Five days into basic combat training, Quincy found himself sitting on the floor a little longer than he had hoped for. Not that he specialized in combat yet they flicked him off like a fly, considering his seniority. Bastian, on the other hand, was only a bit lucky and finally, he also had to bite the dust.
“Good luck, boys,” mocked Klove.
Bastian flipped his middle finger at her, casually tucking his strands behind his ears.
“When I meant dismissed, I meant dismissed!!”
The crowd dispersed quickly by the time Orfer’s thundering voice broke non-existent Victorian glass vases. He got down from the stage, hands tied to his back. His black hair had the correct amount of platinum dash, making him one of the veterans and the classiest Drapha. He wore a fit double-breasted black suit with white stripes that matched the pattern of his pants, a white shirt underneath and a black tie. From his waist hung a golden pocket watch that matched the colour of the butterfly brooch which was pinned over his left breast pocket. The butterfly’s head contained a pearlescent gem, the brooch signifying Orfer as the Drapha Head. Drapha Head or rather the Devil for Bastian. The one who dictates the crappy assignments he gets.
As Orfer neared them, both of them stood with their fists close to the shoulders, gazes forward and legs stiff in attention.
“I’m not surprised anymore,” Orfer said, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. He looked at Quincy whose sweat was rolling down his face, bead by bead. “You look like you are dressed to hit the club, mister.” Quincy smiled nervously in response.
“You are going to be banned from going to the human realm until your next assignment, Quincy. As for Bastian....”
While Quincy kneeled on the floor in defeat as he brushed his well-done hair, Bastian knew things were going to be different for him.
“You are going on an assignment. Follow me.”
Bastian’s green pupils dilated as Quincy got up who was less displeased to know that there was someone else having it worse than him. He winked at Bastian and walked out, whistling to himself. Quincy was going to settle to chilling with Draphas and possibly some Grime reapers instead until the ban lifts.
“Sir, I know my tardiness is no excuse but I just finished my assignment. It was totally not on purpose. Quincy and I, we were resting for a while before we noticed that no one was at the Waiting Room. And why the difference in the punishment, may I ask, if it is considered not rude?” Bastian asked.
Orfer folded his hands for a moment as he settled at his desk, “Not rude considering that I haven’t punished both of you for all the clowning you end up being a part of - intentionally or unintentionally. The only difference is that I have removed what you both need most. He wants to pick up human girls and you want to be rid of the task.”
“Sir, Quincy is still going to enjoy being here but I am going to work?” persisted Bastian.
“Three days into the ban, Quincy is going to be begging for the Cherry Bear Peppermint Latte found only at a particular restaurant in the human world. Our cooks and Quincy himself tried to recreate the drink but the venture bore no fruit. It was so bad that the cooks are ready to defend themselves with knives whenever they see Quincy.”
Bastian kept mum through the whole thing before asking, “I would also like to ask why my assignments are of a particular nature?”
“The nature being?” Orfer asked, leaning forward.
“Kind of obscenely explicit....”
Orfer looked at Bastian in the eye and said, “Bastian, you are a very capable Drapha. That’s why we assign the problematic ones to you. And yes, they may lean towards particular tendencies or attitudes but they are human. Lives short-lived unlike us and it is our duty to make sure that we give our best. I know the Grim reapers and the Angels mock at us for being ‘fairy godmothers’ but we are the ones fulfilling the last wishes of those who can no longer live. Some lives, unfortunately, too short. Take pride in what you do, Bastian. Those you’ve been with maybe more thankful than you’ll ever know.”
Bastian put his head down. He did his job, alright but certain things were simply unfair to him.
“Besides for the trouble you go through, you are going to get a very good compensation when you retire. What do you have to lose?”
My life. Does my life mean nothing to you?
Orfer reached out to his Draphacon and pushed numbers. His Draphacon contained a shiny black pearl in the place of the grey ones that the active Draphas carried. Usually, the retired Draphas used Draphacons like that. Retired meaning that they were no longer actively working on the field but rather helped the active Draphas perform their duties from the sidelines.
As soon as the call connected, he said, “Issue an assignment to Bastian. He’ll be coming to pick it up. The assignment has to be recorded carefully.”
Looking at Bastian, he said, “Go to the Records Archive to get your assignment. That’s it. You’re dismissed.”
Bastian walked out, sighing. Nice way to manipulate. He pressed the button six, placed the posterior part of the Draphacon containing the signed gem against the scanner and waited for one of the eight elevators to open.
“Howdy, son! Why the long face?” said Waldo, grinning as he nodded, opening the metallic gold motif laden gates.
“Hey, Waldo..” Bastian greeted back as he walked in.
“Come on, son! Do everything with a cheer!!” he said, patting Bastian’s back.
“Not everything’s positive, Waldo. I wonder how you do this job?”
Rubbing his bald head, his eyes shimmered, “I’ve known all these people for so long and the new Draphas are more enthusiastic than I’ll ever be. Do you know how great it is to absorb energy from youngsters like you?”
“You definitely seem more excited than me now.”
“Maybe because things were a lot lenient for us? We didn’t have reporting officers or these hall meetings often. Yet you’ll get there. Everything occurs for a reason. That’s what all those years as an active Drapha taught me.”
Waldo was legendary among the Draphas. He had a great sense of humour, often joking around with everyone in the Waiting Room as well as offering sound advice. It was a mystery to everyone why one of the greatest wanted to stay with the Draphas, working as an elevator man - a job of a rookie when he could have enjoyed life with all the wealth he had accumulated during his active years. Yet, it somehow eased out the pressure for being a Drapha - to have a veteran among them.
Waldo did a short salute as he closed the gates. Bastian smiled as he saluted back and made his way to the Records Archive.
Records Archive was a giant room, full of shimmery yellow cupboards, all decked one over the other. It contained all recorded events of Drapha’s interactions with humans. It started out for the sake of recording but ended up
proving to be useful when mishaps happened during interactions, experiences young Draphas can learn from.
Bastian walked towards the reception and said, “I’m Bastian and an assignment has been issued for me, Miriam.”
The receptionist looked up, her grey hair pulled into a messy bun as her hands adjusted the ends of her layered blanket that covered her torso. She dived her head into the mess of papers and held one in her hand. “Ah-ha! Bastian, right? B-A-S-T-I-A-N? Go to Sector 4 to meet your reporting officer, Vidya. She’s rarely at her office, so look through...” she said, indicating the endless rows of cupboards, all stuffed with files.
Getting lost inside this mess was easy. Thankfully, sectors were divided, a gold embossed signboard hung from the edge of the cupboards that separated different sectors. Walking into Sector 4, he saw no one except for endless segments of documents, uniformly placed to the point that dizziness was starting to hit him.
“You must be Bastian.”
Bastian looked up. A young lady of dark complexion climbed down the ladder. Tossing her long, black plaited hair to the side, she handed him his assignment which she was carrying all along.
“You must be Vidya. Nice to meet you,” Bastian said, offering his hand.
As she shook, she said, “You too. Got into some trouble, eh? Orfer sounds pissed off. Are you one of those trouble-making Draphas?” Her eyebrows were raised as her pale tan lips smirked.
“It’s a misunderstanding, really. I....I’m just going to get over with this. See ya.” As soon as he turned his back to her, his fake smile wore off. I’ve got to end this. I need effin vacation.
Getting into the elevator, he pushed the button ‘10’ and placed the Draphacon against the scanner. The Portals. They were gateways to other realms. The presence of supernatural has always been omnipresent yet unfeeling to the mortals.
“Now, let’s see who you are and how you are going to destroy my life..” grumbled Bastian, to himself as he opened the file.
Assignment : 54
Name : Erska Saphine
Age : 24
Occupation : Writer
Address : 52/3 , 5th avenue, Knoxville, Lessa
Death : 7 months from now
Cause of Death : Heart Attack
On the right brown cover of the file was a photo attached belonging to the assigned person. A vibrant smile hung on the baby pink lips of the light brown-skinned person. Her hair was coloured in light purple, curly tresses reaching her chest. She wore a yellow pinafore underneath a base of white. Bronze rimmed heart pendant hung around her neck which matched the bronze coloured snake ear cuff on the left ear. The yellow beret on her head seemed odd yet fitting somehow.
He closed the file as soon as he entered one of the Portals. If one thinks of a magical halo hanging in the air, you’re wrong. More like elevators, less extravagant than the ones present in the abode of Draphas. Stepping into the ordinary metal-coloured elevator like compartment that looked like it belonged to shady buildings, he thought to himself.
Alright. Let’s see how much of a faker you are, darling.