writing exercise #34

Prompt: a character misplaced at his job, doing something he’s not meant to do 


Oh, jeez. This guy? All of 42 years old, three kids, one still in diapers, an adoring wife? This wasn’t right. Of course, neither was the woman next on his list, 92 and still volunteering at the homeless shelter. Who was he kidding, though? Sure, taking someone guilty of double homicide was somewhat easier and pedophiles he didn’t mind at all, but those were disheartening rare. His typical assignments were typical people. Families. Friends. Folks who would cry at at a well-attended funeral.

He knew everyone had to die. Obviously. He was Death, after all. But only because he couldn’t get a job as an angel. He’d really wanted to be one of those winged creatures who watched over speeding motorists and people who texted while walking. Unfortunately, so did everyone else. He hadn’t done well enough on his tests to make the final cut – tests made him nervous – and, desperate, he’d applied for an opening in Purgatory. He was as surprised as anyone else when, after two short years, he’d been promoted to Death. Which was a sort of angel and motorists were definitely involved, plus the pay was outstanding, but it wasn’t the dream he’d longed for in his youth.

It was just so depressing, the pleas for mercy, the last gasps, the mess. Ask anyone how they wanted to go and they’d say peacefully. In their sleep. But even when he showed up in the middle of the night, their spirits would cling to the pillows after being extracted, rend his garments, howl for the loss they should have expected but never did. Eventually, he was told, they settled down and accepted the new chapter in their afterlives. He didn’t get to see that part, however, tasked as he was with simply getting souls from point A to point B.

And now, this guy. What the hell was wrong with him? He knew he had high blood pressure and an inherited heart condition, but there he was, earlier today, sucking down chicken wings and throwing back beers as though a perfect summer day was some sort of inoculation against death. Death shook his head. People. They’d never learn.

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