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By Gemma Newey All Rights Reserved ©

Thriller / Fantasy

Blood and Feathers

I knew I was a gonna, the minute I heard the shot and felt the bullet rip through my insides. Damn, I was an idiot. Why I ran over to protect that little girl, I don't know. I mean, no-one came to my rescue when I was abandoned on the streets by my mother, at the ripe old age of four.

Yeah, my life sucked big time. I had done things ... things I'm not proud of. Well, it's not like I had a choice. It was the only way to survive. I had to steal, seduce and sell my body, just so the streets didn't chew me up and spit me out. Now? Now it was all over. I was dead and I couldn't do shit about it.

Honestly, I was expecting something more upon my death. You know, the whole light at the end of the tunnel, or maybe even white fluffy clouds, white robes, halos and wings. 

But instead of heaven, I was met, momentarily, by an old guy with white wings and a golden scythe. He told me that I was taking over for him as a Grim Reaper and that I would receive my 'Holy Orders' upon his departure to heaven. I know what you're thinking, because I had thought it too. Actually, I said as much.

"Yeah, okay? And that's about as helpful as a bullet to the chest, don't you think?" I said, still trying to understand what was happening. "Give me more of a clue, would ya? Just what's going-"

"You'll find out soon enough. Brace yourself, it won't be pretty." He interrupted me with a smile, seconds he disappeared in a flash of blinding white light.

"Thanks," I shout, "for nothing."

I looked down at my cold, bloodied body and sighed. It was bound to happen, eventually. I thought to myself, kneeling down to take a closer look at my corpse. My long crimson hair blended in with the pooling blood, and my face was contorted into something between a smile and a pain. There was blood and bullet holes in my chest, face and arms. They had definitely done a number on me. My head snapped up when I suddenly remember about the kid.

"Is she okay?" I say to no-one and everyone - not that any one alive heard me.

I stood and looked around. There, inside the convenience store was the little girl. She was crying and being comforted by the employees inside. I couldn't help but feel relieved that she was okay. Taking a deep breath, I looked back down at my body. What was I thinking, wearing that skirt with that top? I thought, as I reached down to move some hair out of my face, only to stop and after reminding myself that I was dead.

I heard the sounds of the police sirens off in the distance. This is where I become one of those unsolved drive-by shootings that I keep hearing about on the news. I thought with a sigh. Standing up, I gave my body one last look.

"I wonder what happens–" My words were cut short when a blinding light surrounded me and pain crippled my body.

The bullets were bad, but this ... this was beyond anything I had ever felt. I fell to my knees; my fingers instinctively raked the tarmac trying to grab hold of something. My head flicked back as a gut wrenching scream is ripped from my lungs. I can't think. I can't move. I remain on my knees, tears streaming down my face, as cries of agony pierced my ears.

That's when it happened. That's when my fate was sealed. With the sound of bones popping and flesh tearing, my nightmare as a Grim Reaper had finally arrived. Blood covered, black wings contort and explode from my back, along with the last of my screams. I collapsed onto the ground; a panting, sodden wreck. Too scared to move, I laid there, hoping that it was all a dream and I would wake up at any moment.

My lips turn up into a a crooked smile, as the thought of waking up in my warn soft bed washed over me. That's it! It's nothing but a dream, a nightmare. I'll wake up any moment. I turned my head to the left and the vision of my cold, lifeless body brings me rushing back to reality. I couldn't help the sobs that burst from my chest.

I wasn't crying over my death, it was more over the pain and agony I have so far endured after my passing. I had hoped that all that would stop once I was dead, instead the opposite was the reality. Maybe this is hell? Maybe this is my penance for all the bad things I've done to survive?

I heard a thud, as something solid and heavy hit the ground near my head. I debated on whether it was safe to move. My back felt heavy and my body was still shaking from the violent assault it had just gone through. The police sirens made up my mind for me. I was never one for being around the police. Hell, I even refused cops as my customers, when I walked the streets selling my body.

Bracing myself for the worst, I gritted my teeth and pushed up from the floor. My new accessories fluttered behind me wildly; unable to figure out how to control them. For fuck sake. It's bad enough I'm dead, now I have these giant, pain the ass, wings to think about. I cringed. Wobbling to my feet, I spotted a strange black book on the ground next to me. That must be what I heard. I thought as I crouched down to pick it up.

No writing, just a black, scuffed, leather bound book. I flipped it open; there on the first page was my name in big bold capitals. SCARLET MARIE ANGEL. The irony of my name didn't escape me. In fact, I couldn't help myself from laughing.

"Well mom, you almost got your wish. I may not be your little angel anymore, but I got myself some wings." I laughed harder, causing more tears to stream down my cheeks.

After I had calmed down, I flicked to the next page. I was astonished to see lists detailing every bad thing I'd ever done, since I was born. Going through each page slowly, there's more of the same and then there it was ... on one page and extending to only a few paragraphs, were all the good things I'd ever done. No surprise there. I shrug, which caused my wings to flutter about and unbalance me. Dammit!

Managing to stop myself from falling, I returned to grazing through the weird little book. Huh? Instructions? I thought as I read the title of the next page. Orders for the Grim Reaper, please read carefully and do not falter in your duty, or dire consequences will result.

"Okay? So do as I'm told or else. Sounds like all the men I ever shacked up with." I mused.

I heard the sound of cars and sirens, as they pulled up outside the convenience store. "Time I left, I suppose." I take one last glance at my body and my old life, before walking away from my murder scene. But where do I go?

Having no place to go and being dead kinda made things difficult. With that in mind, I decided to head towards my old stomping grounds, also known as the warehouse district. Having a pad in that area had come in handy, especially when I needed to escape ... from everyone. I wander if I can change clothes? Hell, I'm a Grim Reaper, for all I know, I can do anything ... I hope.

My afterlife as a reaper of souls hadn't sounded too bad, considering the life I had already lived. I had figured that being a Grim Reaper was better than going to hell, or even continuing with my current life. I mean, living from moment to moment, having to screw anyone and anything just to make a buck. Not exactly the life fantastic! Honestly, anything would better than the life I had made for myself when I was alive.

With book in hand, wings and my old life to my back. I raised my chin and boldly walked forward into the role, as a Grim Reaper. "I wonder if there are any hot male reapers out there?"

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