Chapter One: For Shits and Giggles
Haru was bored. He was in charge of the East when it came to souls. Every once in a while he would have a bit of fun when it came to someone's death. He would arrange a seemingly strange accidental death, sometimes going out of his way to really make things interesting.
(Like the last time he grew bored. He had a Chinese satellite nail this poor sod right in the gonads. His fellow reapers had laughed themselves silly over that one.)
Haru went to the usual meeting place. Most reapers didn't even bother to show up unless the big boss got on their case about it. They just tapped their scythes three times on the ground where they were assigned and the souls would be carried off by their familiars. Haru had three owls, four black dogs and seven black cats. His usual haul would be around ten to thirteen souls a day.
"Hey Haru. How goes the day?" asked Bob. He patrolled Bulgaria and Germany.
"I'm bored. Where's Danny and George?"
"Still out on patrol. Why don't you arrange another 'bizarre accident' like last time?"
"Because even that gets boring after a while."
Bob drank his coffee and an idea struck him. An evil idea. He knew full well that several of the other reapers were as bored as Haru. So bored in fact that they had followed his example of arranging strange accidents that the humans were hard put to explain.
Their explanations for how it happened were often more amusing than the way the poor sods died.
"What's up Bob?" asked Fred.
"I had an interesting idea on how to end our boredom."
Fred, Sarah, Daniel, Angela, and Rachel were listening. Things had calmed down since World War II and after the Wizard's war the death toll had gone down so much it was boring. Aside from accidents, disease, and old age, people were living too long.
"Do tell," said Daniel.
"I've already talked with the big guy, and he's okay with it. My idea is this. How many interesting ways can you kill someone who was going to die anyway, but escaped due to someone getting a vision just before it happens."
"Oh?" said Haru, who passed out the snacks.
"We give some random schmuck, magical or otherwise, a vision of a horrific disaster, like say a plane suddenly explodes in midair. He or she would manage to take at least five people off with them, who then watch as it actually happens. Then we have a contest to see who can kill of the survivors in the most creative fashion, the more elaborate the better."
"And the big guy is okay with this?" said Rachel incredulous.
"So long as we don't end too many lives who would have lived past fifty were his words. Old folk are fine as collateral damage so long as they're over sixty and they go quickly."
This was an interesting challenge.
"But who is going to give them a heads-up on why the survivors are dying?" asked Haru.
"We draw straws. Loser has to tell the morons who live that Death is after them specifically...just don't mention this little competition."
"Can the loser still be in after he alerts them?"
"Sure. You guys in?"
Daniel, Fred, Angela, Rachel and Haru all agreed. This would definitely spice up their usual collection. Sarah went back to her usual route.
"I volunteer to tell them. So how are we going to do a mass killing?" asked Haru.
That had them stumped.
Rachel had an idea.
"Aw hell, let's just cause a fatal error in a plane. They can blame the electrical wiring. What I'm more interested in is the survivors."
"I'll send the vision and act as the mortician. Rachel, you take out the wiring," said Bob.
Someone was half asleep before the plane even finished boarding. Bob grinned. They needed someone who wasn't fully conscious in order to send a proper vision. So he used a bit of the big bosses power of seeing the future and let the kid know how it would go.
It seemed the kid had a bit of a conscience, because he got six people to get off by freaking out. Most of them were his classmates and the like.
They watched in horror as the plane exploded like the kid said it would.
Haru whistled in appreciation, and clinked his beer with Bob and Rachel.
"Nicely done on the electrical bit Rache."
"Thank you! I cause more accidents by satellite failure than anyone else. A simple air plane is cakewalk to a government satellite," grinned Rachel.
Haru snickered. It was a good thing that no one could see or hear them, because he had a good feeling if people knew that it wasn't a real accident, they would lynch them.
"So who gets who?" said Haru, enjoying his beer.
None of them noticed someone watching them with anger. A woman with a sixth sense had heard the entire conversation. They thought it was funny to toy with people's lives like that?
She got up and went to them. Haru spotted her and looked more than slightly annoyed.
"Great. Someone heard us."
Angela looked up from her daiquiri. She spotted the woman and smirked.
"Not like she can do anything."
The woman stalked up to them furious.
"How dare you!"
No one noticed anything was wrong. Haru's muggle repelling charms worked a little too well sometimes.
Haru glared at her.
"How dare we...? By what do you mean Madam?"
"How could you kill all those people?"
Haru snorted in disgust.
"Miss, people die every bloody day of the year. We just make it more memorable for those who are left behind. And besides, we have to have some fun to ease our boredom."
"Is that all that was for you? Shits and giggles?"
Haru started snickering at her choice of wording.
"Lady, we have to carry the dead from here to the afterlife every damn day. So excuse us if we need a way to get rid of our boredom!" said Angela.
"Either leave, or we'll add you to the list," said Rachel. The woman wasn't going to live past forty anyway.
Haru grew annoyed. This woman could screw up everything by telling the survivors why the plane actually crashed.
Haru walked out of the air port with his beer. He wasn't too drunk that he couldn't open up a portal to his house.
(One of the many perks of being a reaper is that the big guy could care less how you use your power so long as you do your job and don't screw up. Like say instant transportation to anywhere in the world.)
Angela lived across the street from him.
"So how many did we manage to get?"
"At least one for each of us, including the big guy."
"So who gets who?" asked Rachel, walking up behind him.
"Take your pic. I get the kid who saw it though."
Rachel and Angela grinned.
"I'll take the younger brother," said Angela.
Daniel and Bob walked up beside him. Technically their houses were next to each other, but they could move the front door to wherever they wanted.
"I'll take the teacher," said Daniel.
"I swear you have a thing for older women," said Haru in good nature.
"In that case I get the blond," said Bob.
"I'll get the one who was almost late," said Fred.
Haru looked at the memorial for the ones who didn't escape. When he saw what they had placed on top, he tried not to laugh.
"I've seen some bad tombs in my day, but that is tragically tactless," said Haru.
"Agreed. Who thought a bird was in good taste?" asked Angela.
"What's with the FBI dudes?" asked Rachel.
Bob, Fred and Daniel were still cleaning up. They had declined, since they didn't need the extra paperwork.
"You know how mortals are. One little plane crash or accident and they feel paranoid. Particularly when someone happens to see it happen before it actually does."
Haru watched the two boys fight, and heard the darker haired one claiming he wasn't going to die. He snorted.
"And we have an idiot. Which one had him again?"
"I did," said Rachel.
"What are you planning to kill him with?"
"Not telling~!" she said in a sing song voice.
Haru grinned. Rachel could be a lot of fun at times.
"So when do we start the killing of the survivors?" whined Fred.
"Soon enough. Get your game face on Fred, because how you kill your survivor shows how creative you can get. I overheard the big man saying he might give the best death a prize."
"What kind of prize?" asked Bob.
"A raise and a full month off, all expenses paid."
That had them all laughing.
"He does know that since we no longer live with the mortals that all our expenses are paid by the accounting department right?"
"Yes, but he said we get a vacation in another dimension."
Angela waited for her victim at his house. She started off by causing the toilet to spring an unnoticeable leak.
The idiot picked up an antique razor and managed to cut himself with it. The leak spread across the floor.
Angela moved into view of the mirror, and all he could see was a vague shadowy figure. He messed around a bit more, turning on his radio. He failed to see the watery puddle that was rapidly approaching his feet.
He unplugged the radio and moved away from the puddle.
Once he moved the shower curtain out of the way, he began to remove the clothing that was hanging. The line was there, begging to be used.
Angela grinned. The idiot wasn't even wearing any house shoes.
She made his foot move back in time to slip in the puddle of water. The hook from the shower stall broke off and wrapped itself around his neck. He began to choke, struggling and slipping in the bathtub which had become slippery from the shampoo.
She didn't need to see the rest as he struggled to breathe. He reached for anything to alleviate the choking sensation. Including the small pair of scissors on the counter.
His body twitched a few more times before it convulsed. He was dead.
She made sure to hide that she had been there, and made the water retreat back into the pipes.
As far as anyone knew, the kid had committed suicide by strangling himself.
Haru and the others were waiting.
"What's my score?"
"Death by strangulation and hiding the evidence without anyone knowing... I give it a seven," said Haru.
She scowled. She had expected an eight at least.
Each of them held up a card. Since Death was letting them do the scoring (he would do the tallying of the points for them), they each had a card. It would be her turn to score next time.
"I give it an eight," said Rachel.
"Seven," said Bob and Daniel.
"Six. You almost left before the kid was dead," said Fred.
"Anyone in the mood to watch the fall out?" asked Haru.
They shook their heads. Wasn't as interesting as watching how their fellow reaper concocted a death.
"How did that kid like the owl?" asked Angela.
"Oh please. Like it was really that hard to mess with him. If he's allowed to see the future, or even get a hint of it, then why not have fun with it? I had Danny crash into the window, and made sure the one slip of paper with the idiot's name on it made it to his lap. He didn't suspect a thing," said Haru smugly.
Haru was in the funeral home, preparing the boy for his final rest. As a rule of the game, the one that killed the survivor had to take that soul to the afterlife personally. So Angela was gone for the day, trying to recover from the headache her victim caused. (He had shrieked at her for four hours once he learned of the game.)
He heard someone drop in, and tried not to look amused. His glamor was on in full force. As far as these idiots knew, he was a man who worked in the funeral home.
He grinned. He used a little of his power to make the arm spring up and give them a scare.
Being a reaper gave you a few new ways to prank others.
"Why did his hand do that?" asked Alex.
"Chemicals. The vascular flush creates cadaveric spasms," Haru lied smoothly.
"Look, I'm his friend..." Alex started.
"I know who you are," Haru said bored.
"What are all those tiny marks?" asked Claire.
"Cuticle lacerations from pulling at the wire."
"Pulling at the wire? If he was pulling at the wire it means he didn't kill himself. It was an accident."
"In death, there are no accidents, no coincidences, no mishaps, and no escapes. What you have to realize is we're all just a mouse that a cat has by the tail. Every single move we make, from the mundane to the monumental...the red light that we stop at or run the people we make out with or won't with us, the airplanes that we ride or walk out of...it's all part of death's sadistic design, leading to the grave."
"Design. Does that mean if you figure out the design you can cheat death?"
Haru tried not to smirk at him. This was too easy.
"Alex, you've already done that by walking off the plane. Your friend's departure shows that death has a new design for all of you. Now you have to figure out how and when it's coming back at you. Play your hunch if you think you can get away with it. But remember...the risk of cheating the plan, of disrespecting the design, could incite a fury to terrorize even the Grim Reaper. And you don't even want to fuck with that Mack Daddy."
Haru pulled out the instruments with sadistic glee. The sheer look on their faces made the whole performance worth it. The slight amount of fluid that came out made them wince.
"Ok then... well I'm sorry we broke in and..."
"No harm, no foul."
He grinned and pointed at Alex.
"I'll see you soon."
He waited until they were out of hearing before he burst out laughing his ass off.
This entire game was worth the entertainment value.
Bob and the others replayed the scene in the mortuary and all cracked up. The look on Alex's face was priceless!
"You play the mortician a little too well Haru!" laughed Rachel.
"And to think, if Bob hadn't decided to back out at the last minute we wouldn't have seen that bit."
They were all sitting on the rooftop of the cafe. It was Bob's turn next. Alex was talking to the brunet who had broke in with him into the mortuary. He seemed to be over analyzing the whole thing.
"Hard to believe this all came about because we were extremely bored."
Bob sent the kid a vision of a bus, not that the others saw it.
"Oh look! It's my prey!" said Rachel cheerfully.
"And it's my turn. Be prepared to clap and cheer," said Bob in evil humor.
"Has anyone else noticed that they've all gathered down there?" asked Haru.
"Good point," said Angela.
Bob watched with amusement as the blond girl got into position.
Alex and the jock idiot were fighting and Terry (blond) had had enough.
"Enough! Both of you! They died, and we lived. Get over it. I will not let this plane crash be the most important thing in my life! I'm moving on, Carter and if you want to waste your life beating the shit out of Alex every time you see him then you can just drop fucking dead!"
Without warning the blond girl was hit with a bus that had been going through the stop light. It had been green, so the driver couldn't hit the brakes fast enough.
"Nicely done Bob!" said Haru, clapping his hands.
"Note the poor choice of wording there too," said Rachel amused.
Angela and Danny were too busy laughing at the shock on their victims faces.
"Totally an eight," said Angela. Rachel, Danny, and Fred all agreed.
"I give it a ten," said Haru.
Bob got up and bowed to his appreciative audience.
"And all it took was a subtle rewiring of a traffic light," smirked Bob.