Monday, January 31, 2011

Death: Parts 5 & 6, Of Lists and Paris Above

This is parts five and six of Death's story, Of Lists and Paris Above. You can find links to the previous installments here, at part four, In Which There Was Card Playing.


5. A (very) Short List of Things Death Did to Find Moira

Since his failed trip to the Expiry, he’d tried asking a few other Incarnations about Moira, but most of them treated him as if he was Pestilence or Disease instead of Death. He’d even asked a couple of demons that’d been lingering about of late, sniggering behind their clawed hands. He’d thought at first the demons had been assigned by the Devil merely to heckle him as he went about his business, but it finally transpired that the demons were waiting to steal a very particular soul.

The brutish little tag-a-longs had been quite disappointed when Death refused to give over the priest’s soul; there had even been a bit of a skirmish. In the end, Death stuck the soul into his bag with the others, and they’d slunk away, spitting every other step. He wished he’d asked about the Fate before the fight.

One night, he’d hunkered down on the sofa with the Manual of Death and Disassociation for the Newly Installed Device—which title, he felt, made him sound like an emotionally detached yet homicidal sink faucet—for information regarding the Fates: their origins, properties, and specifically, their length of office and how to go about locating one. As with most issues, the manual was unhelpful and thus had been relegated to keeping the kitchen table from tottering over. Everything in Death’s house, it seemed, was fourteenth-century your-mother’s-old-cast-offs.

This had left one option: actual work. He’d found ticker tape beneath the couch, in the pocket of robes destined for the celestial wash, and once, stuck to the bottom of his foot. Soul by soul, Death started to catch up on his backlog. And still her name did not appear, while the certainty of her impending demise grew stronger in him.

And then he remembered one way guaranteed to bring Moira: his natural gift of sheer laziness.

6. In Paris Above

“You are in so much trouble.”

Death looked up. At the end of the alley, Moira’s horse stood, breath steaming in the January air. Her pale legs hung down over its red-speckled hide.

“I’m on a break,” he said, tossing the last of the moldy bread to the pigeons and rats.

“Death doesn’t get a break.”

“Is that so?” he said, peering into the dumpster.

“I’m afraid it is.”

His audience jostled closer. He spread his hands.

“Th-th-that’s all, folks.” A pigeon pecked his hallux. “I mean it. There isn’t any more. Get lost.” The rats waddled away and the pigeons flapped noisily to the rooftops, and Death stood beside a dumpster in the alley behind a Parisian café.

Moira slid from her horse and walked barefoot through the gray slush. Death studied a drainpipe with great interest, tapping it to hear the echo.

“I’m not kidding. You haven’t been keeping up, and you’ve lost fourteen souls.” She glared, feet spread and arms crossed, the very picture of woman-irritated-by-man. “I’ve found eight of them, but I’ll be damned if I know what you did with the rest. Any idea what happens to Incarnations who don’t do their jobs properly?”

Death said nothing, believing it to be in his best interest to neither make a smart-assed remark in reply or to inform her that there had been, perhaps, one more transgression of which she apparently was not aware.

“They’re going to terminate you.”

He shrugged. “So? Let them.”

“I don’t think you understand what it means to be terminated.”

“Heaven or Hell, right? I have a pretty good idea already where I’m going.”

“That’s because you’re an idiot. Follow me.” She turned, and Death pretended that he wasn’t going anywhere with the Fate for the sum total of three seconds before following along in a slouch.

At the end of the alley, she swung up on her waiting horse. Apparently, the Fates were against the wearing of underpants. As this revelation sunk in, he barely heard her repeating herself. Until she reached down and thunked his skull.

“I said, get up on the horse. We haven’t got much time.”

Death put a hand on the horse’s great red rump, unbelieving his luck.

And from the café rooftop, casually munching on unlucky pigeons, two demons watched with interest as Moira and Death began to clop-clop-clop down the Paris street.


A/N: Bonus installment. I remembered I'd promised Moira, and she doesn't show up in part five. I should be careful what I promise.

And part 7 here.

Thank you very much to everyone who is reading. I sure do appreciate it.


  1. Well, there´s the part about the manual and ”Apparently, the Fates were against the wearing of underpants.” LOL! ”Good Omens” goes ”Hitchhiker´s Guide…” but in your very own style -- bravo!

    Then there´s the delicious descriptions; ”… sniggering behind their clawed hands.” ”At the end of the alley, Moira’s horse stood, breath steaming in the January air. Her pale legs hung down over its red-speckled hide.” ”Moira slid from her horse and walked barefoot through the gray slush.” The two last -- sex, sex, sex ;)

  2. LOL! It's very hard to keep those two heavy-hitting influences out of mind while writing. Kudos to Adams, Gaiman and Pratchett for embedding themselves in my brain so nicely.

    Delicious descriptions, eh? I have a prediction: Asuqi and Mimi will enjoy the opening to part seven.

  3. Squeee!!! I can't wait! This is written with so much humor; his disparagement of Pestilence and Disease... the manual... his slacker attitude... this is seriously one of your best pieces! I find myself thinking about it at odd times during the day, wondering what is going to happen with Death, LOL! As Oscar would say: "The suspense is terrible. I do hope it will last."

    Have I mentioned how much I love this? Okay... gushing over....

  4. The suspense may last a bit longer. I... can't say much more. But I do believe the pay-off will be well worth it for you, Mimi. *crosses fingers*

    I feel it may be one of my best, too. You know why? Because I'm writing what I should be writing in the way I should be writing it! *thunks forehead* Could've figured this out sooner. :)

  5. which title, he felt, made him sound like an emotionally detached yet homicidal sink faucet *snickers* two more fantastic installments. and - ack! a cliffhanger! *is eager for the next*

  6. More cliffhangers ahead. Hold on to your underpants. Unless you're a Fate.

  7. ...Apparently I AM a Fate... whaddaya know?

    "Because I'm writing what I should be writing in the way I should be writing it! *thunks forehead* Could've figured this out sooner."

    Sometimes it's the obvious things that are the hardest to see clearly.

  8. This series is a lot of fun Rebecca. It's obvious in your writing that you're having a ball with this. Thanks for bringing us along for the ride!!

    It reminds me, in subject only- your style is completely your own- of a story I wrote about "Luck" spirits; one of whom is trying desperately to usurp a Horseman of the Apocalypse. I think it's just the approach of such intangible, ethereal concepts as "plain folks doin' a job."

  9. Chris, would you mind linking it? I've got tomorrow off due to the winter storm and I would love to read it. If you don't get this message before tomorrow, I'll peruse your blog and see if I can find it. I'm really interested.

    It's difficult to bring something new to this concept. People have said, here and elsewhere, that it reminds them of "Good Omens" and "Hitcherhiker's Guide" and Piers Anthony's Incarnation series. All I can hope to do is, as you said, bring my own style. And yeah, I'm kind of having a ball. :-)