I don't think I can be satisfied unless am completely swamped with fics and people are yelling at me over half of them. So, here's another. Like most of my fics, this'll be somewhat of a challenge for me. For starters, I'm attempting to write a romantic story about an Anthropomorphic Personification. Not sure how this will work out…but I'm willing to try anything if it's interesting enough. In the mean time, I plan to have a lot of fun with this one.
And i've seen through'em all seen through'em all
and seen Through all the people you knew were the actors
All the people you knew were the actors
-Bankrupt on Selling – Modest Mouse
A Promise To Be Kept
Albert frowned. He was almost out of eggs. Three hundred cartons with a dozen eggs in each and he was almost out. Granted, this batch had lasted nearly nine years now, given the fact that he was the only one who ate them and the girl almost never stopped by…and generally made excuses when she did to avoid eating anything he cooked, but still…damn.
He didn't have to look at his lifetimer to know that he was out of time. Even if he popped down long enough to shout 'Eggs' at a confused tradesman he would still be cutting it horribly close. That meant, either, that he would have to ask the master a favor…or he'd have to go without. He was currently debating which one would be worse. Finally, he set his frying pan aside and headed for the master's office.
Perhaps if it would have just been for the eggs he would have let it go this time, but he had also run out of milk, cheese and nearly two weeks (estimated based on a human concept of time that won't quite give up long after time itself has packed up and gone home) ago he'd used his last bit of soap.
He knocked first. He always knocked. It was polite, though, he supposed not entirely necessary. It wasn't as though HE was surprised easily.
COME IN ALBERT
Albert stepped inside and walked to the desk, where Death was sitting with his chin bone resting in one skeletal hand. He gave Albert his attention; coming out of whatever thought had been previously occupying his skull.
"How are you today master?"
FINE, DID YOU WANT SOMETHING ALBERT?
"Er…we're out of eggs…and…well a few other things and…seeing as I don't have the time to go down there I was wondering if you could er…make a bit of an exception…I'd only be gone for twenty minutes or so."
Death appeared to think for a moment, while staring absently at his desk.
DO YOU THINK PERHAPS MY OFFICE COULD USE SOME REDECORATING?
"Sir?" Albert asked, a little nervously.
I WAS JUST THINKING THAT I MIGHT LIKE TO HAVE A REAL DESK…YOU KNOW…ONE WITH DRAWERS.
"Um…the eggs sir." Albert felt a certain wariness sinking in. Dear god, he was talking about redecorating.
YOU KNOW YOU DON'T REALLY NEED THOSE THINGS ALBERT…IT'S NOT AS IF FOOD IS A NECESSITY HERE.
"I know…only…its habit see. I've been eating all my life." Death stared at him for a moment. He had a very good stare.
I NEED TO GO DOWN ANYWAYS. I SUPPOSE I CAN PICK UP YOUR EGGS IF YOU LIKE. Albert frowned as Death stood, towering over Albert by several feet. (Although some of this was due to the fact that Albert almost always slouched, and so, many people seemed to tower over him.)
"Well…I mean…I suppose I could make a list…only…"
"Er…nuthin…never mind. I'll go make a list shall I?" He headed swiftly out of Deaths office, still frowning. The last time the master tried to do the shopping…out of kindness…he wound up getting it all wrong. He had brought back quite a lot of stuff he had been talked into buying from various merchants and Albert had been stuck with the junk for months. He STILL had some of it, as a matter of fact.
The master was lucky that he never got shortchanged or overcharged. He certainly got talked into buying a lot of junk…but at least he got his money's worth. (In fact, since much of the shopping was done in Ankh Morpork many of the tradesman did in fact TRY to cheat Death out of his money…the majority of them, would then after, be consumed with a pressing need to right the transaction and would generally apologize rather whole heartedly at the terrible mistake that was made.)
One might wander what sort of place in the human mind things like curiosity and sympathy occupy. A cat is curious…there's even a saying about it, as you certainly have heard…but a cat is also bored and selfish…and…when it comes down to it, can a cat like or dislike someone…well…like someone anyways…or do cats simply choose to tolerate a person as long as said person continues to feed them?
Does having curiosity and sympathy mean that someone has emotions as well? Certainly, Death seemed to be both curious and sympathetic…and perhaps…caring in his own way…but did that mean he could really experience human emotions like sadness, anger or love? Hard to say. Logically no. But then…logically Death shouldn't be out buying eggs either.
"I can't give you fifty eggs…there's a dozen per case, see." The man said impatiently. He had had a busy day.
YES…I WANT FIFTY DOZEN.
"Fifty dozen?" He looked at the…man?…yes man…suspiciously. "Why do you need fifty dozen eggs?"
…I LIKE EGGS
The merchant gave him an untrusting look and then began to pile a few crates up.
"All I've got now is fifteen dozen." He said bitterly.
PITY…AND HERE I'VE GOT MONEY FOR FIFTY
"Right…well…that is a pity…that's a dollar per case by the way."
YOUR SIGN SAYS 15 CENTS
IS IT? For a moment the man behind the desk squirmed under the unblinking stare that he was suddenly subjected to.
"I suppose…I could make an exception seeing as you didn't get all the eggs you wanted…" He said finally.
Death seemed to come up with the money out of nowhere.
Elizabeth Shaul was sitting on her porch with a messy pad of paper sitting in her lap. In her hand a tiny pencil dangled an inch above the page. She was looking off into what appeared to be an endless field and had been in deep thought for the last hour or so, hence the blank page.
Something brushed up against her bare feet and brought her out of her thoughts. She looked down as a black cat sat and stared at her expectantly.
"Yes alright." She said and stood. The cat jumped up onto the now empty porch swing and began to make itself comfortable as Elizabeth went into the small house in search for milk.
When looking at Elizabeth Shaul, the word 'earthy' comes to mind. Elizabeth is not unattractive, but she's certainly not beautiful. She's too skinny to be desirable, a trait, rather made even more devastating by her choice in wardrobe, which almost always consists of a pair of overalls rolled up to the knees, or some sort of clothing two times too big for her. Her hair is a listless dusty brown or possibly a very dirty blonde, which falls in tired curls down to just above her shoulders, and her eyes are a rather unexciting hazel/green. If someone painted a picture of Elizabeth, people might walk by and say 'ah, what a lovely painting,' but no one would say 'Ah, what a beautiful young woman.'
A few moments after she left her porch, Elizabeth returned with a saucer filled with a bit of milk. It was the last out of her canteen. She was rather sorry about this, because it would mean she'd have to walk to town and buy more. But then, she'd been putting it off for almost a week now anyways so it was best to just get it over with.
After the cat had licked up the last of her milk, Elizabeth headed towards town on foot. It was about a forty-minute walk that she made as rarely as possibly, but it had to be done. The cat followed for part of the way and then got bored and ran off, perhaps to lie on her shaded porch, or perhaps to try and get food off of someone else.
Elizabeth hoisted a large bag onto a slightly elevated patch of grass and pulled out a crumpled piece of drawing paper to look over her list. She had scratched it out quickly before leaving and had most certainly forgotten something, but was unconcerned about whatever it was for the moment. She'd worry about those things after she got back and found out what they were. Until then, she was pretty certain she had everything she had remembered to put on the list. Now she just needed to get it home. Five miles on foot was one thing. Five miles on foot with a ten-pound sack over one shoulder got a bit more complicated.
"Damn, shouldn't have sold the horse."
"Why miss Shaul, you look like you could use a hand."
Elizabeth frowned and turned towards the voice. She didn't know the man per say, but she did recognize him in a somewhat far off way. At one time, when she was younger she had known everyone in the small town through her father. I had been several years since then, but it was the sort of place where several generations of families stayed until the line slowly petered out. Besides, he looked like all of the rest of them.
"I'm fine, thank you." She said and turned away.
"Now, now, I've got a cart right here that you can load that bag onto. Names Walter May by the way. You may have met my son, Devon, a while back."
Here we go again
"I'm afraid not." She said quickly as she hoisted the sack once more onto her shoulder. She had met Devon May…or at least she had seen him around. He spit a lot and threw things at birds with friends who were about as bright as he was.
"Well believe it or not but he's rather fond of you." The man said, as he lit a foul smelling cigarette.
"Amazing…and here we've never met. Excuse me, I want to be back home before sunset." She started past him, but of course it wasn't that easy.
"Hey, come on now! I got a lovely cart right here that you can load that up in. We'll just stop by my house real quick to drop off my grocery's then we can head to your place. Got two fine horses to take us. My son could come along to help you unload."
"Really…that's alright…I like the exercise." She said as she slipped around a stall where a man was selling something green and suspicious looking.
Walter frowned, then, after spitting out his cigarette, he pulled out a tiny pocket knife and followed Elizabeth.
"Now wait maam." She sped up when he spoke to her. He still overtook her soon enough and stepped into her path. The look on her face spoke of waning patience.
"Look, I already said…"
"Now come on. You shouldn't carry that all the way back yourself…"
"I do it all the time."
She stepped around him. As she did he brought the knife out candidly at waist level and nipped her bag. It ripped slightly, just enough so that it wasn't noticeable, but would keep ripping. He then smiled to himself.
Elizabeth kept her head down to avoid any more unwanted attention as she headed quickly through the market place. By doing so, she failed to pay attention to what was in front of her, and ran into someone. She steadied herself to keep from falling into a nearby vegetable stall by bringing the sack out in front of her.
Normally it's not difficult to avoid people even if ones attention is on the ground, on the count of peripheral vision, but Elizabeth had honestly not seen any trace of the figure of the corner of her eye…in fact…she could barely see him when she looked up to apologize. Although that was ridiculous…he was there…after all, you couldn't not see someone who was right in front of you (Unless…you know…you were blind or really farsighted.)
"I'm sorry…I didn't see you." She said, while developing the look of quiet puzzlement that every person seemed to wear when speaking to Death. (Unless they were dead. After life's ended people tend to see things a lot more clearly)
THAT'S ALL RIGHT. ER, YOUR BAG IS RIPPED. Elizabeth looked down and cursed to herself as she began gathering up the stuff that had fallen out of the sack.
When she did, Death eyed her for a moment in curiosity.
DO YOU NEED A HAND?
"No, thanks." She said as she attempted to pile everything back into the sack while holding the ripped bit closed. The journey home would be a real pain in the neck. A couple things fell out again.
ARE YOU SURE?
"Yeah, I'm fine." She said a little testily. Despite this, he kneeled down and gathered a few of her things. She looked up again to discourage him from doing so and frowned. Something was bothering her about him. As an artist she relied quite a bit on her eyes…but it was extremely hard to focus on him. Not to mention, she was certain she'd never seen him before (Because she'd never seen someone she couldn't really see before)
"Are you from around here? I'm pretty sure I've never seen you before." She asked finally.
NO. I HAVE STOPPED BY ON A FEW OCCASIONS.
"Ah." She gathered the stuff once more, and rather awkwardly stood to her feet. The figure in front of her rose as well. She got the distinct impression that he was very tall.
"Well, well." Elizabeth turned away from the stranger, who was still watching her curiously as Walter May stopped a few feet away from them in a cart loaded with groceries and smiled. His teeth were stained yellow with tobacco. "Looks like it's a good thing I haven't left yet, Miss Shaul. Why don't you put that old ripped bag in my cart and we can be off."
Elizabeth pulled the ripped pieces of the bag together and took a few steps away from the man's extended arm. She seemed to think for a moment then shook her head.
"No…It's alright…it's hardly ripped at all."
"Aw come on. It's ripped wide open!"
"It's fine." She said, and cursed general happenstance when an apple fell out between her arms as she said so.
"Look, where's your sense of integrity little lady? I'm trying to be helpful."
I know what you're trying to be.
"Well, I'm very grateful, but…I'm sure I can manage quite well on my own." The man's jaw tightened. He made to grab for her bag but was stopped as a hand closed around his arm. He looked up, surprised.
"Hey, what the hell…"
THE LADY SAID NO. Death said in a cold and empty voice. The man's mouth worked as he tried to speak, and then, finding no words, he shut it. His tobacco stained teeth clicked together.
"Fine, suit yourself." He said quietly as he pulled his arm away. He cast the dark figure a nervous look and eased his horses forward.
After he left Elizabeth picked up her fallen apple and pulled her bag together once more.
DO YOU NEED HELP GETTING THAT HOME?
"No." She said automatically. "I'll manage…besides, my house is almost five miles that way…" She motioned towards what appeared to be a long endless field. "It would be a waste of your time."
TIME IS NOT AN ISSUE, MISS. Death responded.
"No, really…it's fine…I'm fine." She took a few steps and frowned as the apple fell out of her bag again and landed on the ground.
The figure picked it up and handed it to her.
YOU'RE CERTAIN? IT SEEMS AN AWFUL LONG WAY TO WALK…AND I HAVE A VERY GOOD HORSE.
Elizabeth sighed and looked at her bag once more.
It was a magnificent horse. The most magnificent horse Elizabeth had ever seen. It was huge and white and it didn't move a muscle as the figure loaded it with her stuff. There was something else about it too…it almost seemed like…it was the most real thing Elizabeth had ever seen. Horses as a subject matter was not all that interesting to her, but she suddenly felt as though she needed to draw this horse…to try to capture it's…actuality.
I have a feeling I wouldn't be able to…not quite.
"Are you here on business?" Elizabeth asked as the dark figure loaded his horse with his own groceries. He seemed to have quite a lot of eggs…and quite a lot of soap.
NOT THIS TIME. I'M JUST SHOPPING.
"You said you've stopped by here before, you were on business then?"
"Oh…what do you do?" She couldn't help but notice that suspicion was edging into her voice. She cursed herself for it. She was becoming naturally paranoid…after all, he had been very nice so far…if not a bit odd.
"What…taxes?" Death thought about this for a moment.
NO, BUT THERE IS A SAYING.
NOTHING…NO, WHAT I COLLECT IS FAR MORE IMPORTANT THEN MONEY.
Elizabeth laughed hollowly.
"Some people would say there isn't anything more important then money."
"No…although…I suppose it should be at this point…Money always seems to be tight these days." Death finished loading his horse and then, without hesitating mounted it with experience and grace.
CLIMB ON. He said. Elizabeth stared at the horse for a moment.
YOU WONT FALL OFF. He extended his hand. Elizabeth took it hesitantly. Once again her face twisted into a look of puzzlement as he pulled her up.
His hand is very bony…he must be really skinny…REALLY skinny.
The next few minutes were a bit of a blur, but she was certain that it was the quickest she had ever gotten back home from the market. It felt like seconds…but that was impossible…she must have been used to walking.
Death dismounted in front of her house and offered his hand once more. She took it, still slightly puzzled as her feet touched the ground again.
He took her stuff from the horse without spilling any of it and handed it to her.
SEE, NO TIME AT ALL.
"Yeah…" She said, a little dazed. "Um…thanks…what did you say your name was?"
I DIDN'T Death responded, a little puzzled. Elizabeth eyed him for a moment and then cleared her throat.
"Er…I suppose what I meant was; what is your name?" Death watched her for a moment.
I…WAS ONCE CALLED BILL DOOR…
"Bill Door?" She smiled a little. "Sounds made up."
"Well…thank you Mr. Door." She turned back towards her house and started towards her porch.
Death stood in place for a moment, feeling slightly bewildered.
Elizabeth turned back towards him a little warily.
YOU HAVEN'T GIVEN ME YOUR NAME. Elizabeth cast a quick look towards her house.
"It's Elizabeth…Elizabeth Shaul." She said a little uneasily.
YOU'RE THE DAUGHTER OF MARTIN AND LILLIAN SHAUL? Elizabeth frowned.
"Yes. You…knew them?"
I MET THEM…ONCE. YOU SAID YOU NEEDED MONEY?
"Did I say that?" She asked nervously, his presence was becoming more and more uncomfortable.
YOU DID. I'VE BEEN MEANING TO HIRE SOMEONE TO DO…CERTAIN THINGS AROUND MY HOUSE. I HAVE A SERVANT BUT I THINK PERHAPS A MORE… ORDINARY INFLUENCE IS NEEDED.
"I'll…think about it…um…it's getting dark…I'm going to go in." She said.
VERY WELL, I SHALL STOP BY SOME OTHER TIME TO RECIEVE YOUR ANSWER. HAVE A NICE EVENING MISS SHAUL.
He mounted the horse again. Elizabeth didn't answer, instead, she turned and headed quickly into her house. After setting her bag down by the door turned back towards the window. He was gone.
"He was odd." She said quietly to herself and for the most part, forgot all about it…for a little bit anyways.
Well, it's a start. Hope you guys liked it.