February 21, 2016

Pure Human - Reaper at Work

[Posted by Ted H]

New job starts tomorrow, good thing I got a shit ton of this novel written...


[Pure Human - Reaper at Work]

            "Sorry, can't sell to you," a man in his late 50s said with his arms crossed, standing behind the gas station counter with imagined authority. "Why not?" Blake said plainly, feeling the pressure to replace his fast emptying pack of cigarettes in his pocket. "I got a call about you earlier," the man said "You're trying to buy smokes for an underage girl. Everyone in town knows about you."
            "Is there some sort of gas station dead end in life clerk club that I don't know about?" Blake asked "Where you guys have nothing better to do than talk about legal aged clients and how you can kill them from nicotine withdrawal?" The clerk chuckled to himself at Blake's little outburst, but made no indication of compliance. "The girl is long gone!" Blake cried out "Just me and the guy now and I got both our IDs right here!" the clerk simply shook his head.
            "This isn't funny," Blake said, but the clerk wasn't budging. "I'm gonna call the cops," he finally said, no longer finding Blake entertaining. "Do it!" Blake screamed as he stormed out, another stolen cup of coffee underhand. "Why does Albany hate me?" Blake yelled at John. "Technically," John said "We're not actually in Albany. We're in a nearby suburb-"
            "I don't care!" Blake shouted as he climbed into the car.
            "Are you sure more coffee is a good idea?" John asked as he climbed into the driver's seat "It's not like you don't have some cigarettes left still."
            "I need to taper off a little and stretch out what I have left," Blake reasoned "So I'm increasing my caffeine intake to make up for the drop off in nicotine."
            "That can't be healthy."
            "I bet the Surgeon General would approve."
            "How's your heart rate feeling about all this?"
            "Shut up and drive. Hospital, please. Let's see if they can hook me up with some lung cancer."
            "Anin's boyfriend probably left for work by now," John said "Wanna pick her up and see if she wants to tag along?"
            "We don't pick up the purple idiot until I find a new pack of smokes."
            "Classy," Just said as he started driving.
            John drove out to a hospital. It didn't look like what Blake had expected, but he wasn't going to judge. John parked a block away and they walked up a back road, Blake smoking a cigarette along the way. They ended up in back by the ER entrance where Blake stopped to look around. "Finally, something goes my way for once," he said. "Um..." John started by gave up "What are you talking about?"
            "There," Blake said as he pointed near a dumpster. John shrugged. "There's a guy standing there, look harder," Blake said. John squinted as he stared. He imagined this being one of those magic eye games he always played as a kid; look long enough at something and a secret image will appear. "Black hoodie, leaning against the dumpster like it's no big deal," Blake added.
            Then John saw it. He could see a man in a black coat with the hood up casually leaning against the dumpster, constantly checking his watch. "What in the..." John said as Blake walked on and approached the man. "Hi!" he called as he waved. The man looked up quick at Blake, then looked away immediately, pretending not to notice. "I see you," Blake called "And I know you saw me see you."
            "You didn't see shit!" the man called back "Now keep walking." John caught up to Blake as he stopped in from of the man in the hoodie. "What is going on?" he asked. "This is a Reaper," Blake explained as he gestured to the man. "Fuck off," the Reaper replied. "Isn't he missing his sickle?" John asked. "Aren't you missing you balls, you fucking faggot?" the Reaper snapped back.
            "They're not typically nice," Blake said "Though this one is extra surly." The Reaper looked to Blake and was about to say something offensive, but then stopped and stared for a moment. "You're not normal," he said "Explain." Blake shrugged "Must be the coat." The Reaper leaned in and felt Blake's trench coat the recoiled his hand. "That belongs to someone way above my pay grade," he said "How do you have it, mortal?"
            "Poker game," Blake said with a smirk. The reaper made a face and stared back. "High stakes poker game...I'm talking really high stakes," Blake added. "Enough," the Reaper said "I've got a busy day and my appointments are late and I don't need you two pansies getting in the way."
            "Appointments?" John asked.
            "What do you think a Reaper does?" Blake said.
            "Well, what about last night?" John asked "You think he may have reaped a mother and her son?"
            "Yeah, what about last night?" Blake asked.
            "Ugh," the Reaper said as he rubbed his head "We don't reap everyone, idiots! Only if your death has been prepared. More along the lines of 'They died after a lengthy battle with cancer' and less of the unexpected deaths. If you're going to Hell, you get reaped."
            "What if you go to Heaven?" John asked.
            "Don't get me started on that shit. Angels flying down, singing, it's a fucking ordeal."
            "So," Blake asked "If someone was violently mutilated and killed by an unknown assailant..."
            "Not my job description," the Reaper said.
            "Worth a shot."
            "This is why we came here?" John asked "To take a long shot at finding a Reaper then asking him something he'd unlikely know anything about?"
            "Hell no," Blake said "We still need to get into that hospital."
            "Good luck with that," the Reaper said as he went back to ignoring them.
            "You can help us," Blake said.
            "What would I know about sneaking into hospitals?"
            "You do it all the time on business. There's no easier place to operate than in a hospital."
            "And even if I knew how to get in, why would I help you two?"
            "Because you're angry, and I now know why. I know withdrawal when I see it. It's not anything hard, you're at work and you could schedule any shoot up or snort on your off hours. Your appointment is late as well, meaning you've been here, probably all day, waiting for someone to make their meeting with death. I doubt you expected to be here long, so you didn't plan ahead."
            "What's your point?" the Reaper asked.
            "You're out of cigarettes. I know that look anywhere. I've had it myself at times."
            The Reaper's eyes went wide as he let off an excited breath. "D-do you have one?" he finally asked. Blake held one of his own up, tempting the Reaper with it. "What's your name?" he asked.
            "Clyde," the Reaper said.
            "I thought Reapers were immortal badasses?" John asked, puzzled. "They still need to operate in the real world," Blake said "And that comes with the usual vices. Except, you know, no fear of dying, so they get to do as many hard drugs as they like."
            "I'll help you," Clyde said "Just, you know, let me bum one or two stogies."
            "Wow," John commented "Such a dick a minute ago. Now look at you. You're a little bitch."
            "And look at you, "Clyde shot back "A minute ago you were such a faggot. And you're still a fag now!"
            "Can we ease up on the homophobia?" Blake asked as he offered Clyde the cigarette "So how are we getting inside and to the girl without the cops getting wise?"
            "Easy," Clyde said "But why do you want to see a girl?"
            "Remember the dead mother and son I mentioned?"
            "What about em?"
            "There's a daughter who survived. I need to talk to her."
            "You don't think the cops are all over that?"
            "Cops are looking for someone...I'm looking for someTHING that did the killing."
            Clyde arched his eyebrows. "Nothing from my world, I can assure you," he said as he and Blake lit up cigarettes "Nothing I know of to be honest." Blake nodded. "I know," he said "We've been ruling out anything...foreign."
            "So it's some dude. Crazy, but just some dude," Clyde reasoned.
            "It just doesn't fit," Blake said "Even so. If it is just some dude, I'm good at solving those type of cases too." John gave a sarcastic cough as Blake and Clyde ignored him and continued smoking. "So what makes you think it's more than just some dude?" Clyde asked. "I found a clue," Blake said "Something not human but also no animal I can reason in this area. There's also the cave we found earlier."
            Clyde gave an interested grunt as he blew smoke. "Well, not so much a cave as much as a shady spot near the lake where whatever this is had been gorging on the local wildlife," Blake continued "Inside were bones, droppings and claw marks. Something's been living there a while. Couple weeks by the looks of it."
            "Cool," Clyde commented. "Anyway," Blake said "How we getting into the hospital?"
            "Like I said, easy," Clyde said "But it only works because Reapers are always moving, never in the same location twice. The goal is to get as close to the intended target as possible as they die because if they run, I have to chase them. The fun part there is I can slip out of the physical world to chase after."
            "How does this get me to the girl?"
            "I said I'd get you in. The girl is your own problem."
            They finished their cigarettes and made their way around to the front of the hospital. Clyde led as they casually made their way up to the front desk where a security guard was waiting. "I'm here to see my dad," Clyde said. The security guard barely looked up from his magazine as he asked for IDs.
            "I'm so glad we left Anin behind," Blake said as he pulled out his license. John rolled his eyes.
            "So, what are you boys doing here today?" the guard asked.
            "We're here to see John Fitzsimmons," Clyde said without missing a beat. The guard typed something into his computer after taking the IDs. "Family only," he said. "I am family," Clyde said "He's my father." The guard looked at his ID again. "Clyde Rackner," he said reading the license. "After the divorce I took moms last name after she won custody," Clyde said, looking like he had practiced his lie countless times. The guard shrugged. "Whatever," he said as he printed a guest ID sticker.
            "He's my dad too," Blake said. The guard arched an eyebrow. "Dad had an affair. Why do you think his marriage failed?" The guard waved the notion off as he printed another ID sticker. "What about the big guy behind you?" he asked "Lemme guess, another affair?"
            "Nah," Clyde said "That's my brother's life partner."
            "Got a problem with that?" Blake asked as the guard quickly looked down and printed an ID sticker for John. The three were then on their way into the hospital. "Can't believe that worked," Blake said. "Rent-a-cops are easy," Clyde said "They ain't calling out gay people cuz the job is so disposable. Too awkward."
            "You clearly have a hang up with homosexuals," John told Clyde.
            "Blah blah blah," Blake said "Onto business. Clyde, good luck reaping. John, let's go find that girl."
            "Don't be retarded," Clyde said "All of us need to find this Fitzsimmons dude."
            "Why?" Blake asked.
            "Anything funny happens, they're gonna review security tape. We need to be on that tape making a bee line for our 'dad' or they'll know something's up, especially if you're fucking around a crime scene survivor."
            "Ugh," Blake said as Clyde called for an elevator "Fine. I've always wanted to see a reaping anyway. Do you use a sickle?"
            "Don't get me started on that shit," Clyde said as the elevator arrived "Every Reaper is different. The most popular and well known tool is a scythe, but not everyone has to use one."
            "What's yours?"
            Clyde patted his side pocket and smiled. "I like to get real close and personal," he said "I always shank a bitch when I reap them."
            "Comforting," Blake said as they walked into the elevator and Clyde chose the floor.
            "Alright," Clyde said as they rode up alone "Try to keep fucking quiet while I do my thing. I'm not used to an audience so make like the background and stay out of the way."
            "How long you been doing this?" Blake asked. "Long fucking time," Clyde said while watching the ascending numbers on the screen. John had no interest in Clyde and kept himself occupied with his cell phone.
            "Reap anyone important?"
            "Nah, important people tend to bite it at unexpected times. I know a guy who knows a guy who reaped a pope once."
            "Popes get reaped? Which one? I figure it's straight to Heaven for them."
            "Nah, I dunno who. So long ago. The guy who reaped him doesn't shut up about it though."
            The elevator arrived at their floor and they made their way down the hall to the Intensive Care Unit. At one end were a couple police posted where the girl was being kept. Clyde led them down the other end where his target was dying. There was a glass sliding door with the lights out inside. In the bed was a man covered with a blanket up to his neck with wires coming out, connecting to a monitor. His breaths were slow but steady, his blanket over his chest rising up with some difficulty before constantly falling back down immediately.
            "Remember, I'm at work," Clyde said before he slid the door open and everyone stepped inside. Blake and John remained in the corner by the door as Clyde approached the bed. "John Fitzsimmons," he announced in a low voice "You have lived a wicked life and have been forsaken by all higher powers. Your time has come and your fate decided."
            "I think I know why everyone always runs from you," John said, the light of his cell phone brightening up the otherwise dark corner he and Blake occupied. "Shut up," Clyde said through gritted teeth. "Not gonna lie," Blake added "He don't seem like he's about to kick the bucket."
            "You have no idea what you're talking about," Clyde said.
            "He's got a nice heart rate going," Blake said "Crappy, sure, but it's steady. I mean, if he suddenly starts rallying, then I think he's in trouble. Right now his heart seems to be in a holding pattern before death."
            "You don't know the first thing about dying people."
            "Neither do you, apparently," John quipped.
            "You guys can wait outside now," Clyde said. John, not needing more of an invitation than that, started for the door and opened it. "But I kinda wanna see this," Blake said. "Don't forget, we're at work, too," John reminded him, causing Blake to unwillingly drag himself out of the room.
            "That guy's an ass," John said when they closed the door. "You say the same thing about me," Blake said with a grin. "You're an ass who at least makes an effort," John replied as they started down the hall towards where the girl was "Clyde is just insufferable."
            "He's a Reaper," Blake said "They ain't suppose to be pleasant."

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