A Dance with Death

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Chapter 6

The day after he told me of his career, I recieved a call at exactly seven am.

"I want to show you what I do, Roku. I'll pick you up at six pm?"

I agreed, a little apprehensive but also curious. Not many people get to tag along with a reaper as he takes souls but also not many people fall in love with one either. I don't even know If I'm the only person in history to fall for death.


The day seemed to drag on, I was irritated by the time the clock's hand hit five, signalling the end of day. I couldn't wait to get out of there. I needed to get home quite fast, so I decided to walk home. I'd most likely get home faster If I walked anyway.

I had just finished preening myself when the door bell rang, and as usual he was exactly on time.
He seemed distracted as he drove me to a local pub, I've driven past it in taxis, walked past it, but it never occurred to me to go inside.
Mors found a park, turned off the engine and focused his attention on me. His eyes softened as he asked me,
" Are you sure you want to do this Roku? I won't force you.
Remember, you will be witnessing real deaths experienced by real people. There will be no violent deaths tonight, all of them will be of natural causes. Hence, why I've chosen tonight to bring you along so you can gain an insight to my job and what can happen with just a simple touch and why I fear killing you."
Mors paused and waited for my reply. I was not going to back out now.
"I am sure Mors, I want to do this tonight with you."
He nodded in acknowledgement of my answer and continued,
"Another reaper called Shin will be joining us. Tonight, he is the one to take the soul of the deceased into the afterlife. He is waiting for us inside. Are you ready Roku? If you want to leave, this is your last chance."
"I want to join you tonight Mors. So let's go." I said defiantly
Together we walked through the door. Mors motioned for me to take a seat, while he fetched Shin to introduce us.
After a couple of minutes passed by, Mors appeared with an attractive suited man with fine features, pitch black hair, brown almond shaped eyes, and soft full lips beside him. He arrived at the table and introduced us.
"Roku, this is Shin."
After the introduction, it didn't take long for Mors to go into work mode. He was staring at a man sitting at another table just near the entrance to the pub. It looked as though he was sharing a meal with his family. He looked happy enough.
"In exactly five minutes this man will die of a heart attack." He said in an almost robotic voice.
"But he looks happy Mors, and healthy."
"He isn't. He has ignored the warning signs so he can have dinner with his family. It's his Wife's birthday tomorrow, but this was the only day that his daughter was free."
My heart sank.
"It's time."
Mors approached the table and simply touched the Man's chest and he died within seconds.
The commotion, cries, and pleas for help followed. It was as though I felt the family's pain, my heart ached for them. Shin knelt beside the Man's body, whispering softly and holding his hand. I saw the Man's soul leave his body. Shin pulled a small black book from his chest pocket and wrote something in it. Before he disappeared from my sight, his family didn't even notice Mors or Shin. Mors stood close by and watched the man leave with Shin before returning to my table.
"How come they didn't notice you or Shin?" I asked.
"When we are working, they can't see us, they didn't know we were there. It's rare, while working that we're seen by humans at all."
That was a bomb shell, I wasn't expecting.
"You mean that no-one in this pub can see you?"
"No, Roku, they can't."
"So, if they look over to me now, it'll look as though I'm having a good old conversation to myself? Like a crazy person?" I questioned.
He replied to my question cryptically.
"Well, Technically, no. I'm not working when I speak to you."
"What! What do you mean technically no? So they can see you? I'm so fucking confused Mors."
He let out a sigh,
"Ok, so all I can say is it doesn't register to the human brain that you are talking to thin air. It registers that you are talking to someone and the brain fills in the blanks."
"Right..." was all I could say, as I tried to understand his explanation.
"Soooo, that's why you won't meet my friends? Because, they can't see you?"
Mors sighed again, annoyed that I wasn't understanding his explanation
"They'll see me, but only see me as what their brains want me to be, and it might not be the same."
"So when I see you, is it the real you or what my brain wants me to see?"
Mors sighed again,
"I'm not sure Roku. It's too complicated to explain further. We don't have time. The next death occurs in twenty minutes. Come."
"What about Shin? Do we wait?"
"No, he'll meet us there."
After watching three more people die of natural causes, it was the end of the night. Mors and I decided to call into a twenty - four hour cafe to have a coffee. I wondered how Mors handled his job, mentally. After all, he was human once.
"Mors?" I asked, trying to choose my words carefully.
"Yes, Roku." He replied before taking a sip of his coffee.
"How do you handle your job? Don't you feel guilty about taking those people from their family and loved ones? How do you handle being there for child and violent deaths?" I asked without pausing for a breath.
"So many questions Roku, slow down." He sighed.
"It's my job, and I've been doing it for a while now so I'm not affected by what I see or what I do. Death is a release from suffering and reapers like me keep the balance, without us reapers the world would be a chaotic mess. Can you imagine what type of world it would be if everyone were immortal?
As for violent deaths, I know when it will happen, and I know how. I even know who did it, but I cannot intervene. It's even worse when I know a child is going to die by the hands of a parent/s and I still cannot intervene.
The children, they get so confused and scared when they receive my touch and either myself or another reaper takes their soul away. They don't understand why a parent they love so much killed them, they barely understand my existence. It's heart breaking, Roku." Mors paused, His cold eye's softened and reflected so much sadness and helplessness.
I just wanted to pull him into my chest and hug him, it hurt that I couldn't even do that. He took in a deep breath and continued.
"However back on topic, in some cases a person could have multiple scenarios in which they die, I know each scenario and I know each scenario could end with me.
Sometimes they escape death because of the kindness of strangers, gut feelings and instinct, interventions by family members and friends, or even receiving medical help in the nick of time.
Therefore, they last until the next scenario and may even escape that too. Even if they escape my grasp, old age is always around the corner. So I get them in the end. I'm inevitable, even for you Roku...even for you." Mors trailed off, his mind seemed to be elsewhere.
I cleared my throat and tried to pull Mors back to earth.
"Why are you called away, if you know when people are going to die?"
He looked at me, sighed and answered
"Sometimes souls don't want to leave their bodies, other times a reaper might want my opinion whether a person should live, and whether sparing this life is within the rules. Also, just like any other job it gets busy and they need me to help them.
The power to take lives is given to us. We have to follow certain rules and our power is limited to our little black books and our scythes. If reaper's break rules, we get punished, and most of the time it is not pleasant. If we fuck with what the powers that be want and the universe expects, we always lose." He paused and sighed tiredly.
"No more questions, please, Roku. I'm exhausted and sick of talking about my job."
My head was full of so many questions, but I did as Mors asked.
I wondered what his scythe looked like, and what happens if he breaks the rules. I wondered if taking me with him while he is working and explaining this part of his job to me was considered breaking the rules. I highly suspected it would be considered as such. I hoped Shin was a trustworthy colleague.
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