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.