“Oh Man,” said the Reaper, “Not him!”
The Grim Reaper tossed his Book of the Dead on his kitchen counter and picked up his fresh cup of coffee. He put the mug to his lipless mouth and poured the hot coffee over his dry teeth.
“Ugh, I don’t even want this now,” said the Reaper. He poured the rest of the contents down the kitchen sink and turned around to face the refrigerator. He caught his own morning reflection in the stainless steel exterior. His bony face frowned, or at least he imagined it frowned. It was hard to frown with just a skull for a face, but after the centuries he’d sort of forgotten he was just a skeleton in a dusty robe.
He turned back toward his counter top and pulled the Book of the Dead back toward him and flipped to today’s date. Again he stared in disbelief, or would if his eye sockets weren’t technically completely void of anything resembling eyes.
“Really God? Really,” he asked out loud. He sighed and closed the book. He hated when he had to collect the souls of so many talented people in one week, or even just a couple of days. He thought it sort of affected the morale of the humans to take the souls of generally loved individuals. Those individuals that transcend the isolation of the human condition and managed to become something far larger than themselves, to lose them was a blow for the humans. A hugely creative rock star and a very talented actor were on the list and Grim felt a pang of annoyance at God’s fickleness.
Grim moved through his Manhattan apartment toward his bedroom. He hung his morning robe on its hook and took his reaping cloak from his closet and draped it over his bleached frame. He moved to the mirror over the dresser and made sure he looked as menacing as possible. A look he’d grown quite accustomed to since the Black Plague. He sort of liked it, even if it was rather, faceless. He sighed and looked at the time on his nightstand alarm clock. It was time.
He went to the front hall closet near the entrance to get his scythe. Grim remembered he’d left it propped up against the TV stand. He had been watching a documentary about some murderer but he just couldn’t get into it since he was the one who ultimately took their souls. It was sort of boring.
He grabbed his scythe and took a look around his apartment. He checked his cloak for his keys and cell phone and then pounded the base of the staff on the floor. A thick explosion of smoke billowed around Grim and he was instantly transported to the home of the next soul due for collection. A modest mansion, filled with good to excellent art, music, a nice bar area, a family area neatly appointed with large family photos and the general disarray of a well-loved and used room.
Grim shook his head and drifted up towards the bedroom of the aging Rock star, where he’d been hiding his illness from the world. Grim floated past the crying wife, the sad children, the helpless doctor and the general hangers on. He stood next to the bed and bent down over the face of the iconic rock star. A rock star so influential that even the Grim Reaper had a few of his albums. Albums that caused the Reaper to play his scythe like a guitar and thrust his boney hips about his apartment.
“I’m here for you. It’s time,” whispered the Reaper.
The aging, but not old, rock star opened his eyes and looked into the face of Death.
“What took you so long mate,” said the Rock Star.
“Are your Earthly tasks completed, have you lived a life full and right? Are you now ready to pass from this realm to the next,” asked the Grim Reaper. It was his standard set of questions, used since the very early days of the human acknowledgement of the soul.
“I am ready mate. I’m ready,” said the rock star as he raised his hand. Grim took his hand in a bony clasp and with a bow of his head, released the soul up in a flash of light. The heart monitor in the room pealed its familiar monotone. The family sobbed and head hung low. The rock star’s face fell into a peaceful pallor. Death stepped away from the bed as the family, the inconsolable wife, fell onto the empty shell of the rock star. Death took a moment to remember the well lived life of the rock star, the flashes of genius, the exploration of what it meant to be human, and the general majesty of his accomplishments. The true hole his moving on would leave in the lives of so many. It made Grim a bit sad.
Grim’s iDeath started buzzing in his cloak. He had no time to mourn the passing of the human icon. It was morning in Chicago and the toll was already rising. He sighed and tapped his scythe on the floor and vanished in a plume of black smoke and ash. “The actor can wait a day,” thought Death, “I can at least do that.”