A day in the life of Death
A day in the life of Death
England, February 21st, 1349 AD, Friday
Death walked wearily down the street, his black hood pulled down low. The rounded, wooden, end of his scythe thudding heavily against the hard stone cobbles with each step. The fringes of his long, black robes dragged along the ground behind him, with an odd swooshing sound. On both sides of the narrow, building clustered street, men and women lay dying. Their bodies covered with large black, puss-filled tumors. Some were half-conscious and fever stricken. Barely audible moans passing through their cracked, blistered lips. The others, lay unmoving, too weak to even breathe, as they waited for him to arrive. The Black Plague was at its peak, with over two hundred people, being buried each day, in a desperate attempt to halt the spread of disease.
Death came upon three men. The largest of the three was pushing a large wooden cart, piled high with the bodies of the newly deceased, while the other two were struggling to pick up the body of an obese man and lift him into the cart. This had become an all too familiar sight, within the plague ravaged city. The three men stopped what they were doing, uttering whispered prayers, as he passed them by. He heard one of the men curse aloud, when his end of the body slipped from his hands, and fell hard to the street with a gross sounding thud. Normally, Death always traveled unnoticed by the eyes of the living, but having been so over worked as of late, he did not have the energy to keep himself hidden anymore. Well, that last statement was not entirely true. He did have the energy, he just didn’t care anymore.
Turning down a narrow alley, and having to tip toe through the limbs of the dying, so that he would not trip and fall, he made his way to a door, which appeared black in color due to the hundreds of flies caked upon its wooden surface. This was the place; he told himself, taking a few deep breaths, and steadying his composer. Reaching a pale, ash colored hand out toward the door, and swatting away a handful of flies in the process; he started to open the door, but stopped just shy of his fingers making contact with the brass doorknob. Leaning his scythe against the wall of the alley, and shaking out his arms and legs, in an attempt to loosen up his stiff muscles. “Come on. You got this,” he said to himself. “Who’s the Angel of Death? You’re the Angel of Death!” He pushed the door open and strode confidently across the threshold.
The smell of decaying flesh slapped him hard across the face, making him gag, just a little. Being the Angel of Death, he had seen a lot of death in his time, but he had never gotten used to the smell. It was something he had learned to tolerate, but as he looked about the large room, he doubted that even if he were to shove a red-hot poker into each of his nostrils, that it would do little to change the odor, which hung heavily in the air.
The walls were stacked floor to ceiling with the dead from about a week ago, Death judged, given the condition of the bodies. The fresher ones, from the past day or so, had been hastily dumped into several large piles, throughout the room. Next to one of the piles of bodies was a somber looking man in his mid-forties. He was on his knees and sobbing softly.
Death reached into his robes and pulled out a scroll of aged parchment paper, which he unfurled. Clearing his throat several times, and doing his best to not breathe in through his nose, he began to read: Charles Pennington, having died this Wednesday, February nineteenth, in the year of your Lord, thirteen forty nine, prepare to have your soul weighed.”
“It’s Friday,” the man said in-between sobs.
“What?” Death asked, looking over the top of the scroll.
“You said that I died on Wednesday, but its Friday.”
“And?” Death inquired, sounding rather annoyed at having been interrupted.
“Shouldn’t you have been here on Wednesday then? I’ve been sitting here in this foul, infested room, for the past two days.”
“Yes,” Death answered slowly. “As you can see,” he added, motioning around the room, I’ve been a little busier than normal these days.”
“Still no excuse for the quality of work if you ask me,” the man said, getting to his feet. “I operate the local bank, will I guess I did operate the local bank, but if I had opened my business late every day, I would have promptly found myself out of business. Just saying.”
Death quickly pulled back his hood, exposing his pale white, bald bead and gazed upon the man with his piercing blue anger filled eyes. Standing at six foot tall, he was an opposing sight, which usually caused the opposite effect that he was witnessing here. He thought about to saying something rather rude, but quickly decided against it, wanting to be free of this room as fast as he could. He shifted his gaze back to that of the unfurled parchment. “On one side of the coin, you have been married for thirteen years, and have commented the act of adultery at least double that. You did run the local bank, where you received bribes from unscrupulous people and helped yourself to the coins of your hard working customers.
“On the flip side of that same coin, you did give some of those coins to the poor and hungry, and to the women whose children you conceived out of wedlock. For those actions prepare to have your soul weighed upon my scales,” he said, motioning to a small table with a set of scales upon them, which had not been there a second ago.
“Yes, yes, I’m well aware for my past transgressions,” Charles stated. “No need to run me through the mud.”
“Very well then,” Death said. “Let’s proceed then, shall we? Where’s your body?”
Charles Pennington pointed to the pile of bodies he was standing before. Death walked up to the spirit of the dead man and followed the tip of his finger. “I don’t see it,” Death said.
“It’s on the bottom,” Charles said, with a bit of sarcasm lacing his voice. “I was one of the first to be brought here on Wednesday, but now it’s Friday.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Death said, with a loud, depressing sigh. “Well, just don’t stand there,” he told the man, grabbing the wrist of the nearest dead body and pulling it from the pile. “Give me a hand.”
“I’ll pass,” Charles said.
“You’ll what?” Death asked, standing as tall, and as menacing as he could. A pair of black, out stretched, feathered wings appearing upon his back.
“I’ll pass,” Charles said again. “Maybe I would have been a bit more receptive if you had gotten here on Wednesday.”
“Is that so?” Death inquired, rolling up the scroll and placing it back into his robes. “Have it your way,” he said, spinning on his heels, and rushing off toward the door.
“Wait! Where are you going?” Charles inquired in a tone that brought an unseen smile to Death’s face.
“I have a very over filled schedule, and you are not the only soul that I need to weigh this day. I will try to make it back this way in a few weeks. Maybe then, you will be a bit more receptive.”
“Here, why don’t you let me help you with this?” Charles said, thrusting his arm into the bottom of the pile of bodies. He squirmed a bit, grunted a bit more, and pulled a lot, but in the end, he somehow managed to drag his own body free from the pile, while leaving the rest of the dead bodies undisturbed.
Death knelt down next to Charles’ dead body and plunged his hand into the chest of the corpse, which made Charles look away. When Death stood, he was holding Charles Pennington’s unbeating heart in his hand. After placing the decaying heart upon one side of the scale, Death reached into Charles’ ethereal chest and removed a small glowing orb of bright white light, which he set down upon the second scale.
Charles watched in sickening anticipation as the two scales became even. They stayed in this position for several long seconds, before tipping in the favor of his dead heart. “The scales have spoken,” Death declared. Before Charles could utter a single word of disagreement, his spirit burst into a thousand embers of glowing ash, which fell to the ground and faded from sight.
Death wasted no time in leaving this room, as he leaned heavily against the stone wall of the alley, breathing in all the fresh air his lungs could hold. Retrieving his scythe, he made his way to the next reaping. This went on for a month straight. The list of the dead needing to be judged kept growing with each passing second, keeping the Angle of Death constantly on the move. Finally, a small window of reprieve appeared uopn his schedule, giving him just enough time for a short, but much needed break.
Upon finishing with his last scheduled appointment, he approached the nearest door, and tapped the point of his sickle against it three times. The door opened by itself, revealing a long, almost deserted hallway, somewhere within the first circle of Hell. Death stepped through the door, and as soon as he did, and the door shut tightly behind him and vanished from sight, taking the fresh air with it, which was almost instantly replaced by the smell of sulfur. The temperature also rose dramatically, luckily for him, things like that did not bother the Angle of Death.
Angel. He thought about his prestigious title for a moment, which brought with it a disapproving laugh, as his black leather boots squeaked against the black marble flooring. While he was in deed an Angel, and not of the Fallen variety, the other Angels, the ones dressed in white and walking around like that had sticks shoved up their asses, thought that his presence and overall appearance, created a depressing feeling about the clean halls of Heaven. Therefore, he found himself tucked away, in a small, windowless office, in a far off forgotten area of Hell.
A group of Demons made their way down the hallway toward him. They were all laughing amongst themselves, jokingly carrying on about one of their newest assignments, when they all moved, as fast as they could, out of his way, hugging the side of the wall, and holding their heads low. Well, that was odd, he thought. While it was true that he was a superior being to the lesser Demons crawling about the upper levels of Hell, they had never acted like it before. And, while no Demon would ever openly disrespect him, at least to his face, he had never seen them move as they just had. The more Death pondered upon this, the more Demons he encountered on his way to his office. They too hastily moved out of his way, with some even turning around and heading in the opposite direction.
Death walked into his office and set his scythe in the corner, before sinking heavily into the chair behind his desk. Opening the bottom desk drawer, he took out a bottle of red wine and took a long drink straight from the bottle. Leaning back in the chair, as far as it would go, he put his feet up, and felt a wave of relaxation wash over him. According to the scroll in his robes, he had four hours and twenty-three minutes, before his next weigh in. Times like these were few and far between, so one needed to make the best of them when the opportunities presented themselves. Clasping his hands behind his head, he closed his eyes, and decided to take a nap.
The silence in his office was nothing short of bliss. For the last month, he had been under constant assault from whiny people complaining about how life was not fair, and that they needed more time, or his favorite excuse, there must be some sort of mistake. Some bribed him with the promise of gold, some with the promise of power, things that were not of any interest to a being like himself, but yet they tried none the less.
The sound of several demons scurrying past his office door caused him to sigh. It could be worse, he told himself. At least they weren’t being their normal loud selves. The walls in Hell were very thin, as were the doors. Usually, when he sat at his desk, he could listen to entire conversations, as the Demons paraded up and down the hall.
He sat up and took another drink of wine, as the sound of yet another group of Demons rushed past his door. Why was everyone being so quiet? Something must have happened while he was gone, but what? The rules of Hell did not apply to him, so he was never one to become entangled within their political webs, but he liked to stay in the know. If something major had happened, especially something that had all of the Demons on edge, he wanted to know about it.
“Alastor, you over there.”
There came a crashing sound from office next to his, as if someone had just fallen out of a chair. “Yeah, what’s up?”
“Can you come over for a minute?” Death asked. He heard the sound of the other office’s door opening, then closing, before his door opened and the Demon named Alastor came striding in. He was average in height, for a demon. Two small nubs protruded from his forehead, and his teeth were as black as his eyes.
“Whoa!” Alastor exclaimed, stepping into Death’s office. “What the hell died in here?” he asked, plugging his nose, and stepping back out into the hall. Just then, a Demon walked past the open door, taking a nosey glance into the office as he passed. A look of utter disgust crossed his face, before he threw up right there on the spot.
“Are you kidding me?” Death asked. “What the hell was that all about?”
“What the hell’s that smell all about?” Alastor asked from out in the hallway, his nose still plugged.
“You seriously don’t smell that?”
“Smell what?” Death asked, sniffing at the air. “I don’t smell anything. What’s it smell like?”
“Not you, but you.”
“Not me, but me?”
“Your office smells like decaying flesh, that’s been sitting out in the hot sun for week.”
Death gave him a confused look, before sniffing the sleeve of his robes. “I don’t smell anything,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.
“Believe me. It’s there, and it’s NASTY.”
“I guess that does explain a few things,” Death said, taking another sniff of his robes.
“You’ve become nose blind,” Alastor replied. “You seriously need to get some new threads. You are never going to get that smell out. I’d just burn’em if I was you. Oh God, it’s in my mouth,” he added, gagging several times.
“Thanks,” Death replied, getting up and slamming the door on Alastor’s face.
“Thank you!” the Demon exclaimed joyously, from the other side of the door. “I can still smell you,” he added in between gags.
Death took the shortest route he could remember, straight down to the third circle of hell. Every hall he traveled, he got the same response. Demons pressed themselves up against the walls, giving the Angel of Death the widest berth possible, until he passed, which only irritated Death that much more, and causing him to walk that much faster.
He came to stand before a doorway, which held a door that had two halves. The lower half of the door was closed shut, denying him entry into the room. There was a sign above the doorway, which read: Requisitions. On the top of the lower half of the door, was a shelf, which held a small bell, and a hand written sign on a piece of dried human flesh, which read: Ring for service.
Picking up the bell, Death gave it a few flicks of the wrist, signaling that he needed service. Looking about the room, from where he was, he could see row after row of stacked shelves, filled with an assortment of things needed to keep Hell up and running. After what seemed like an eternity, and with no one appearing to service him, Death rang the bell again.
“Keep ringing that bell, and I’m going to put it somewhere very uncomfortable,” came a voice from somewhere inside of the room. “What the hell is that God awful smell?” said the voice, as a very short Demon, with small horns and tiny wings, came flying out from behind one of the shelves.
“That would be me, I’m afraid,” answered Death, as the Demon landed on the shelf on top of the lower half of the door, and snatched the bell out of Death’s hand.
“Then why are you standing in front of my door?” the Demon asked. “If that smell seeps into any of my wares, I’ll never get it out.”
“I need a new set of robes,” Death stated.
“I’ll say,” replied the Demon.
“That’s where you come in,” stated Death. “Requisitions,” he added, pointing toward the sign above the door.
“No can do,” the Demon said, shaking his head and waving his hands about wildly. “This stuff is for Demons only. Not Angles. You are going to have to go upstairs for that. Way upstairs,” he laughed.
“I don’t have time for this,” Death responded. “I need to get back to work.”
“The best I can do for you is to have you fill out a Requisition form, which I can send upstairs for you,” the Demon offered. “I’m not usually this forthcoming with my services, but for you I’m willing to make an exception,” he said, handing Death the form and an inked feather.
Death looked the form over and wrote his name on the top. Wrote the words Death Robes, on the line asking for the item that needed to be requisitioned, and making sure to remember to put the letters X L in the size category. “Think this should do it,” he said handing the form back to the small Demon. “How long do these things usually take?”
“Hard telling,” the demon answered. “Depends on how far the stick is up the Angels ass who gets this. Things don’t run as smoothly up there as they do down here. If you don’t hear something back in a couple of weeks you might want to head upstairs and take it up with them personally.” The Demon did not wait for a response, as his little wings began to flap, lifting his short body from the shelf and slamming the top half of the door shut.
The next month dragged on even slower than the previous one had. The Black Plague was still ravaging Europe, and did not show any signs of slowing. He did his best to stay hidden from the eyes of the living, but the odor of himself followed him everywhere he went, and only seemed to be getting worse. The smell had become so strong, that he was no longer nose blind to the scent, and found himself being rather disgusted. Finally, a few hours of downtime appeared on his scroll, and he was eager to return to his office and put on his new set of Death Robes, so that he could be rid of the horrid scent once and for all.
He went to open his office door and found his hand shaking with anticipation of what lay on the other side. He had heard about the living’s Christmas holiday, and wondered if the young children felt like this upon receiving their presents. Opening the door, he rushed inside, and began to look about his small office, but became quite disappointed, and a touch angry, when no package could be found. Then he found something he had not accepted to see again. The Requisition form that he had originally filled out for his new Death Robes, was on top of his desk, with the word DENIED stamped across it in red ink.
The top of Death’s head became as red as the red ink stamped across the denied requisition form. Storming out of his office, he charged straight down to the Requisitions Office, where he found several Demons gathered about, talking to the small Demon in charge. Upon seeing Death approach, or smelling him approach rather, they all scurried off, leaving the small Demon sitting atop the door shelf, wishing that he had moved faster.
“Ah, I smell that you have not gotten your new robes yet,” the Demon said, plugging his nose.
“What’s the meaning of this?” Death asked, holding up the denied requisition form, so that the smug little Demon could read the word stamped in red ink.
“Looks like your request has been denied,” the Demon answered.
“I can see that,” replied Death rather sarcastically. “You need to fix this. Now!”
“I already told you that that is not my department. Upstairs. Remember?”
Death placed the point of his sickle under the Demon’s chin, which brought about a loud gulp. “I’m sorry, but I can’t help you. Demons only.”
“Can you at least find out why it was denied?”
The little Demon took another look at the form, and pointed out. “You don’t have a supervisor’s signature.”
“A supervisor must approve all requisitions, in order to have them ok’d by upper management.”
“Why didn’t you tell me that when I filled the damn thing out in the first place?” Death asked, his voice filling with anger, as he lifted the point of his sickle up, causing the Demon to get to his feet and stand on his tippy toes.
“I…I forgot?” the Demon replied, with a slight shrug of the shoulders.
“Bollocks,” Death cursed, lowering his scythe. “I really hate going upstairs,” he said, with a slight pout forming on his lips.
“No other way I’m afraid,” declared the Demon. “Unless you wanna keep smelling like you do.”
“Close the door,” Death ordered.
The small Demon leapt from the shelf and slammed the top half of the door shut. Death tapped the point of his sickle upon the door’s surface three times, before pushing it open and stepping through.
The ground underneath Death’s feet was made of white fluffy clouds, and he found himself standing in front of a large ivory tower, which was so tall that he could not see the top of it. At the base of the tower sat a lone wooden door, with a slot cut in it, which was level with Death’s shoulders. Inside of the slot was a metal sliding plate. Death knocked upon the door.
“Step forward and announce yourself,” came a voice from behind the door, as the plate slid open, and a pair of bright green eyes looked upon Death. “Oh my God! What is that horrid stench?”
“Sorry, that would be me,” Death replied.
“Please take three large steps backward,” said the voice.
“I most certainly will not,” Death declared.
The metal plate slammed shut.
Death knocked on the door for the second time. The slot remained closed.
“Fine,” said Death, taking three large steps backward. The plate slid open, the same green eyes filling the space in the slot. “I can still smell you,” said the voice.
“That’s why I’m here.”
“Very well, announce yourself,” the voice ordered, in a rather annoyed tone.
“You’re kidding me right?” Death asked, quite seriously.
The eyes just stared at him, narrowing just enough that Death could tell that whatever face the eyes belonged to, was now wearing a perturbed expression. “Announce yourself,” the voice said again, impatiently.
Death let out a loud sigh, as he matched the Angel on the other side of the doors perturbed expression with one of his own. “It is I, the Angel of Death.”
“Where’s your employee identification badge?” asked the voice.
“Your employee identification badge,” the voice repeated. “General order twenty seven, subsection three, states that all employees, and or contractors, of Heaven, entering upon these premises, shall have their employee identification badges displayed at all times.”
“But I don’t have one.”
“Then how do I know you are who you say you are?”
“Seriously?” Death questioned.
“Seriously,” the voice responded.
“And I suppose you get a lot of people pretending to be the Angel of Death walking around in there?” Death asked, with a slight wave of his hand.
“No, because nobody gets it without a badge,” the voice answered, the metal plate slamming shut again.
Death let out a frustrated cry. Stepping forward, he knocked on the door for a third time, this time pounding on the door with enough strength to cause the wooden planks to buckle and creak. When the plate slid open, Death jammed the point of his sickle into the slot, making sure that he would not be shutout again. “I suggest that you either open the door, or get me someone who can,” Death huffed, a large vein popping out on the side of his neck. “And remember that the longer you keep me waiting, the longer the souls of the dead have to wait to be judged, and that will not be good for business. For either side.”
The greens eyes quickly disappeared from the slot, and after roughly half an hour, a pair of bright amber eyes took their place. “Death? Is that you?” came a voice that the Grim Reaper recognized almost immediately.
“Peter! Thank God himself!” Death exclaimed, his voice filling with relief. “Can you open the door and let me in?”
“What’s that smell?” Peter asked. “Is that you?”
“You see, I filled out this requisition form,” Death began to explain, taking out the form from his pocket and holding it upon to the slot.
“It doesn’t have a supervisor’s signature,” Peter replied.
“Yes, I know, that’s why I’m here. If you could just let me in.”
“Where’s your employee identification badge?”
“That’s what I asked him,” squawked the first voice.
“Didn’t you get the memo?” Peter asked.
“What’s a memo?” asked Death, who was becoming more and more aggravated with each passing second at the thought of how far behind in his work he was becoming.
“A thought just occurred to me,” said Peter. “I’m almost willing to bet that it is because you’re downstairs,” he added, saying he word downstairs in a whispered tone. “I don’t think our interdepartmental mail reaches all the way down there. I guess that I could make an exception this one time.”
The metal plate slid shut, and the large wooden door opened, revealing an old man with a long white beard. He was dressed in a white business suit. A long blue tie, accented with white fluffy clouds, stood out against the white background of the suit. Standing next to Peter, was a young Angel, who was dressed in the same white suit and tie. He was almost a whole foot shorter than Peter, who was almost a whole foot shorter than Death. His bright greens eyes still telling Death that he was very unhappy with the way things had just been resolved.
“Nice suit,” Death snickered, stepping into the tower, and immediately discovering that the interior of the tower looked nothing like the exterior. For starters, the inside was so vast that Death could not see the other end from the front door. He could not even be sure that the interior was round, like the outside. Then there were the windows. Large glass windows stretched themselves across the all walls that he could see, allowing the bright sunlight to flood the interior, and giving everyone inside glorious views of blue skies and white clouds.
Everywhere Death looked, Angels scurried about, lost in their work, as they crisscrossed the large open area that he now found himself standing in. He was amazed that everything inside the tower was white. The floors were white marble. The walls were white, as was the high ceiling, and every Angel was dressed in the same suit as Peter, right down to the blue tie. “You’ll be needing one of these,” Peter told him, handing him a small rectangular piece of paper with a piece of black string attached to it in a fashion, so that it could be hung around his neck. On the surface of the paper was a hand drawn image of himself, with the word Death written underneath it. Death took the badge from Peter and reluctantly placed it around his neck, and in doing so noticed that everyone else was wearing one as well.
“What about his pointy thing?” asked the green eyed Angel.
“What about it?” asked Peter.
“Yeah, what about it?” repeated Death.
“This is a weapons free zone.”
Peter let out a nervous laugh, before leading Death to an open doorway, which in turn led to a large, empty stonewalled room. “Requisitions is in the nineteenth floor,” the old Angel told him. Death stepped into the room, and discovered that the room was really the bottom of a vast open shaft. Unfurling his black wings, the Angel of Death took to the air.
All about the shaft, Angels could been seen moving from floor to floor. Each of them wrinkling their noses and giving Death disgusted looks, as he passed them by. Upon reaching the nineteenth floor, he stepped from the open shaft and saw that the white color theme remained, as he found himself standing in front of a white receptionist desk. There was a long hallway behind the desk, and a small seating area off to the right side of the room. The Angel sitting behind the desk was a woman, with fiery red hair, and green eyes. A pair of black framed glasses rested upon her nose, which she looked over as Death approached her.
“Can I help…oh my God,” she gagged.
“I need to see someone in Requisitions,” Death told her.
“Do you have an appointment?” she asked, waving a hand furiously in front of her face, in hopes of keeping the horrid scent away from her nose.
Handing him a clipboard, and an inked feather, she had him sign in, before directing him over to the waiting area, which was thankfully empty. Plain white wooden chairs lined one wall, and Death took a seat and waited. Several hours passed by, and Death caught himself nodding off several times, before the receptionist finally called his name. “Samuel will see you now,” she said, motioning toward the hallway behind her. “Office 1922.”
Death made his way down the hall, counting off the office numbers as he passed them. Office 1922 had a wooden door, with a large frosted glass window. The numbers 1922 were etched upon the surface of the glass in gold leaf lettering. Death entered the office and found Samuel sitting behind his desk. The office looked almost identical to the reception area. Clean, pristine, and white. Samuel’s skin was the color of milk chocolate, which was only highlighted by his white suit. His desk was large and filled with an assortment of oddities, and several large stacks of paper, including a large pile of requisition forms, all of which bore the same red inked stamp as his own. In front of the desk sat two exquisite looking chairs, with plush white cloth cushions.
“Ah, Mr. Death,” Samuel greeted, his smiling face contorting at the smell that followed Death into his pristine office. “Excuse me for a moment won’t you,” he added, springing from his chair and opening the office’s only window, which seemed to help, even if just slightly. “Now, what is it that I can do you for?” he asked seating back behind his desk.
“Well, you see,” Death began to say, stepping in front of the chair closest to him, which he planned to sit on, but stopped abruptly, upon seeing the cringe that suddenly appeared upon the Angel’s face. “I filled out this form for some new Death Robes,” he said, deciding to stand. He placed the denied form upon Samuel’s desk and pushed it toward the Angel.
Samuel went to pick up the form, but decided against it at the last moment, fearing that he would not be able to wash the smell from his fingers if he touched the paper. “It does not have a Supervisor’s signature,” Samuel pointed out, picking up a feather quill and pushing the form back toward Death.
“Yes, I have been told that several times now,” Death replied. “But I don’t have a Supervisor,” he added, pushing the form back toward Samuel.
“Everybody has a Supervisor,” the Angel responded, pushing the form back toward Death.
“Everyone except me,” Death responded, pushing the form back toward Samuel. “I have worked alone for the last thousand years, and never have I ever had to answer to anyone other them myself.”
“There was a massive restructuring done by upper management a few centuries ago. Didn’t you get the memo?”
“It would appear not,” Death replied, not hiding the sarcasm.
Samuel stared at Death for several long, awkward seconds, before realizing the tone that Death had used. A nervous smile crossed his lips, as he opened a desk drawer and removed a rather thick looking book.
“This is our Employee Handbook,” Samuel answered. “You should have received your copy through the interdepartmental mail.” The Angel opened the book and began searching through the table of contents. “Ah, here it is, the Departmental Directory.” Samuel flipped the book open and thumbed through several hundred pages. “Says here that the Department of Death was consolidated into the Department of Beaches nearly two hundred years ago.”
“”Alexandria runs a very tight ship over there,” Samuel defended. “They are one of the busiest Departments in all of Heaven. All those tiny grains of sand don’t make themselves you know.”
“What in the hell does Beaches have to do with Death? This is one of the most absurd things I have ever heard.”
“There have been a lot of…budget restrictions,” Samuel tried to explain. “We’ve all had to make sacrifices.”
“Listen!” Death exclaimed, raising his voice and slamming the end of his scythe upon the hard marble floor, both actions causing Samuel to jump. “I just need a new set of Death Robes. And I’m sure you can smell that my current set of robes are no longer any good.”
“Oh, I can certainly smell, though I’m not sure for how much longer due to the burning sensation, but as I said before, without a Supervisor’s signature, there’s nothing I can do. Now, if you ’d be so kind as to remove your stench from my office.”
Death pondered his options. The line of the dead needing to be judged was getting longer with each passing second and it was going to take him years to catch up at this point, but he had not come this far too simply cave in to absurdity. He decided right them and there that he was not leaving without a new set of robes. “Fine.”
“A wise decision,” Samuel declared, feeling rather full of himself.
Death sat down.
Samuel’s jaw dropped so far that it nearly hit the desk, but he quickly closed his mouth, as he started to gag. “What are you doing?”
“I’m not leaving until I get what I came for,” Death told him.
“But I told you that I can’t approve your request without a Supervisor’s signature. If I make an exception for you, every other Angle that just waltzes in here without an appointment will expect me to do the same for them. My hands are tied.”
“Then you’d best be off to the Department of Beaches then,” Death said, rather smugly. A large, satisfying, grin stretched itself across his lips, as bent over and removed his boots, before leaning back in the chair and plopping his bare, cracked feet down upon Samuel’s desk.
Samuel shot up out of his chair with the most disgusted look etched upon his face. “This is unacceptable!” he shouted.
“Got anything to eat?” Death asked.
Samuel needed to come with a plan of action and fast. Maybe some reverse psychology he thought. “Who’s down on earth weighing the souls of dead while you’re up here?”
“Not me,” Death replied, with a shrug of his shoulders.
“Man, they’ve really got to be backing up by now. Gonna have to put in a lot of extra hours to set things straight down there.”
“Have at it,” said Death, holding up his scythe.
Samuel sat back down, trying to call Death’s bluff, as the two of them engaged in a rather intense staring contest. After thirty-nine minutes of neither of them blinking, a thick layer of sweat had formed upon Samuel’s forehead. Without saying a word, the Angel sprang from his chair and rushed out of his office, only to return a few seconds later to snatch Death’s denied requisition form from his desk, before disappearing back out into the hall. “Make sure they are an extra-large,” Death called out after him. Fifteen minutes later Samuel returned with a signed form, and a new set of clean black robes, which he placed on his desk in front of Death.
Death looked at the new set of robes with a very content filled expression. “That wasn’t so hard now was it?” he asked, slipping off his old robes and tossing them onto the other chair, which caused a sickly squeaking noise to slip from Samuel’s lips. Death put on his new robes, and sniffed at the fabric. Satisfied that the scent of himself would no longer be following him, “Have a nice day,” he said, heading toward the door.
“Wait!” Samuel cried. “What about those,” he said, pointing to Death’s old robes.
“I’d burn those if I were you,” Death advised. “Along with the chairs. You’re never going to get that smell out.”
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