A job can keep you real busy and a break is needed now and again but some jobs are so demanding, a break is needed…
You’d think that movie premieres are no big deal, right? A crowd of hysterical fans squashed together behind barriers desperately trying to get a glimpse of their favourite stars walking up a red carpet (or sometimes a different colour) with the lucky ones getting a hand shake and/or an autograph, dozens of flashes from paparazzi cameras and fan cameras both hoping to get that excellent shot for either prosperity or selling to the highest bidder, and the TV news reporters telling us about the massive crowds and other things that I may have previously mentioned. But this upcoming premiere which is detailed in the short story that’s about begin now is far, nay, miles, nay, LIGHT YEARS from normality. Why, you may ask, well, I’ll tell you why.
Many people are rushed off their feet in their careers and find it extremely difficult to adhere to their extremely demanding schedules in both their work and personal lives. None comes to mind right now… oh how about a lawyer, s/he would be in and out of meetings constantly, deciding on which clients to represent and staying up to date with the law. Sounds hectic yeah?
Now let us move on to another plain of existence, this place is known as the Deadlands where the recently deceased are met by Death, or the Grim Reaper if you happen to be more familiar with that name, and from here he escorts them into the afterlife. Think of him as a bouncer outside a nightclub only not as beefy or intimidating and he is in employ of the Deceased Assessment Board, which assesses each new client and determines whether they are destined for Ascension or Descension.
With the passing of each century, technologies have been updated and Death has learned to adapt and thanks in large part to Steve Jobs, and uses a diePhone and a diePad Mini but still carries around the scythe because… well, it’s traditional. However, I’m veering off topic here.
The job is very hectic as thousands upon millions of names are added to the ledger every second and Death needs time to relax, even if it’s just watching TV or reading a book or something (imagine if he was reading this story… woah, that’d be a serious messing with your mind moment eh?). It’d be hard to imagine the busiest entity in the universe finding some down time but he does.
Swinging open his front door, Death was greeted by his butler, Stephen. “Good afternoon, sir,” he said in a strong, posh British accent. “May I take your scythe?”
“Yes,” Death replied in a deep, booming voice and handed him the scythe. He shut the door and said, “Stephen?”
“I’m going upstairs to change out of this cloak.”
“Can you make me a coffee?”
“And could you please stop calling me sir? I told you I don’t like that.”
“Certainly sir.” And with almost military precision, he turned on his heel and walked into the kitchen. Death rolled his eyes (yes… even though he’s just a skeleton, he does have eyes) and sighed; he should know that Stephen was set in his ways and asking him to stop addressing him as sir was impossible feat to achieve.
He loosened the rope on his cloak and went upstairs.
Death was feeling better now that he’d changed into a jet-black robe and a pair of… eh… fuzzy pink slippers. He walked into the lounge and Stephen was standing to attention beside the sofa. He felt a pang of temptation to say ‘At ease soldier’ but managed to resist and instead said, “Hello Stephen.”
“Hello sir,” he responded. “There is sir’s coffee on the coffee table and I’ve put it in sir’s favourite mug.”
One thing Death was really thankful for, he may not be able to get Stephen to stop calling him sir but at least he didn’t refer to himself as one; that would kind of creep him out. He sat down the sofa, leant over to pick the mug and took a sip. “Thank you lovely,” he said.
“You’re welcome sir,” he said. “May I fetch you anything else?”
“No, thank you.”
“Well if you’ll excuse me sir, I will go into the kitchen.” Stephen left the room and Death took another drink from his coffee; if you’re wondering how Death can eat or drink despite having no internal organs, it’s all a simulation. Anyways, he picked up the remote and pressed the button to turn on his giant 42-inch plasma screen hi-def TV. He surfed through the channels to find something to watch… the usual stuff, Judge Judy, Deal Or No Deal, Law & Order: SVU, Hawaii Five-O, SpongeBob SquarePants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Adventure Time… all these annoyed him.
He got to the E! Channel and stopped as they were talking about Carlton Edwards’ newest movie The Scorpion’s Sting: The Blood of the Angels. Carlton was being interviewed by a woman sitting across from him, “I’m Kathryn Jameson,” she began, “and I’m talking to Carlton Edwards whose new movie premieres tomorrow night in the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Hello Carlton.”
He smiled broadly at her and said, “Hello Kathryn, how are you?”
“I’m very well, thank you. So what made you want to do this movie?”
“I always wanted to do a thriller because everyone would know me best as a director of dramatic films but nothing… “he laughed, “exciting.”
“So you think your earlier movies are boring?”
“Well not me personally but I would imagine some cinema goers would have found them boring.”
“Directing a thriller is very out of character for you, have you been tempted to do anything else out of character?”
He puffed and thought for a moment before he responded with, “Well, I am tempted to direct a comedy, either a witty one or a very silly one featuring innuendos and lowbrow humour or a spoof movie. I love spoofs.”
“Really? What’s your favourite?”
“That’d have to be Scary Movie 3.”
They both chuckled. Kathryn continued, “Anyway, back to your movie.”
“What was it like working with your two leads, Ariel Heath-Kielding and Tyler Harrison?”
“I really enjoyed working with them and I’m sure they liked working with me,” he said. “We became good friends during filming and there were no disagreements.”
“So do you think have potential franchise on your hands?”
“Hmm,” he stroked his chin and answered with, “well, I never had the intention of doing a sequel, it’s just too early to say. But if this is successful, I would be open to the idea of Scorpion’s Sting 2.”
“Carlton Edwards, thank you very much for talking to me.”
“You’re very welcome Kathryn,” he said and lent over to shake her hand.
Death pressed the power button on his remote and laid it down on the table. He drank the last of his coffee and thought to himself, Carlton Edwards’ new movie premieres tomorrow eh?
Suddenly, the metaphorical light bulb appeared over his head as an idea suddenly materialized in his mind. Jumping to his feet and nearly knocking over the table in the process, he shouted, “Stephen!”
Carlton closed his front door; he put his keys in his pocket and hung his jacket on the hook on the wall beside the door. He walked into the lounge, opened the liquor cabinet and took out a bottle of whisky and a glass. He poured some into the glass, downed it, poured himself another and put the bottle back in the cabinet. Carlton wasn’t a regular drinker but whenever he did, it was usually when he was socializing or to calm his nerves. Whisky seemed to have that calming effect on him. He downed his second whisky and felt a warmth in his stomach that was soothing; he put the glass back in the cabinet, closed it and crashed down on the sofa.
He reached over for the remote and a deep voice boomed, “Don’t bother, there’s nothing to watch.”
Carlton froze and started breathing heavily; horrifying images flashed through his mind, could he have interrupted a burglary in progress and now this burglar would kill him viciously or was it one of those deranged fans that’d developed an obsession with him and would kill him viciously before confessing their undying love? The voice sounded male so, in a way, he hoped it was the former.
He tilted his head in the direction the voice came from and saw a tall skeleton wearing a jet-black cloak and wielding a scythe. “Hello Carlton,” it said.
He jumped off the sofa and screamed, “What the hell are you?”
“Calm down,” it stood up. “I’m Death.”
“Yeah Death,” Carlton looked at him in confusion. “Most of you humans know me as the Grim Reaper.”
“But you-you’re f-fictional.”
“Well I can assure you, I’m very real.”
A panicked look crossed his face and following a long exhalation, asked, “Have I died? Have you come to collect me?”
Death walked over to the liquor cabinet and looked inside, “Whisky, eh?”
Carlton stared at him intensely, a look that screamed Just answer me!
“No, you haven’t died and I’m not here to collect you.”
Carlton exhaled again, but this time out of relief. “So, why are you here then?”
He took a few steps toward him and said, “I want to ask you a favour.”
“Okay… what is it?”
“I watched your interview on the E! Channel earlier and I’m very much looking forward to seeing your new movie. I’m a big fan.”
Carlton smiled nervously; he was still getting over the fact that what he thought was a fictional character is actually non-fictional, now he finds out that he was one of his biggest fans. “Erm, thank you,” he said.
“Anyways,” Death continued, “I work for the DAB, the Deceased Assessment Board, and my job is real hectic. I mean look at this…”
He produced his diePad Mini and put in the password. Carlton walked up next to him and asked, “Steve Jobs yeah?”
Death pressed the ledger app and a huge list of names popped up on screen. “Woah!” Carlton exclaimed. The amount of names on the list was staggering and names kept appearing, It took him by surprise as he swiped up.
“Is that all for tonight?”
“So how can I help?” he was still unclear as to what Death wanted. Death turned off the diePad Mini and shoved it into his cloak and said, “I want to go your movie premiere.”
Carlton was hesitant; I mean like what could he say. A straightforward yes or no seemed like an impossibility but he knew that he needed to say something as Death was looking at him with high expectations. Afterwards, he managed a very feeble sounding, “I don’t know.”
“Why don’t you know?”
Before answering, Carlton reached inside the liquor cabinet and poured himself another shot of whisky. He downed it and said, “Well isn’t your job far more important than this?”
“Yeah but… I’ve never been to a movie premiere,” Death said.
“So have lots of people.”
Getting desperate, Death nearly threatened him with an accident a la the Final Destination movies but didn’t because in doing so, he would appear petty and small. “Well, do you have… someone to cover for you?”
Death felt hopeful. “Yes,” he said, “my butler Stephen.”
“Wait, you have a butler?”
“Hmm, I always imagined you doing things for yourself.”
“Well, having Stephen was the boss’ idea. He felt that I was running myself ragged and a butler would’ve taken the load off, as it were.”
“I see. Okay then, you can come.”
“Thank you!” Death said as he wrapped his arms around Carlton and squeezed tightly and then after a few seconds, he realised the awkwardness of the situation and backed off. He cleared his throat and said, “Thank you, Mr Edwards.”
“Err yeah… you can be my guest.”
“Woah… accompany the director down the red carpet! Cool!”
Carlton smiled, he loved making people happy but this was a whole new experience for him. “When should I be here?” Death asked.
“Well, the premiere is at eight so can you be here at seven?”
“Sure,” he replied. “I’ve got to get going now.”
Walking to the front door, Carlton shouted after him, “Wait! What if someone sees you?”
“Don’t worry,” he said, “people can’t see me unless I want them to see me.”
He closed the door behind him and Carlton crashed down on the sofa. It was at that moment, he heard a loud neigh and the fast beating of hooves gradually becoming fainter and fainter.
Carlton was both excited and nervous about tonight. As he dressed in his best Armani suit, thousands of questions kept coming to mind like bubbles in a fizzy drink. But the question that took prevalence over all others was would the fans enjoy this?
He went downstairs, looked at himself in the mirror and checked to see if his tie was straight. “You look nice,” a voice boomed.
Carlton turned around to see Death wearing a golden robe with an encrusted diamond lining and carrying a crystal scythe. “Thank you,” he said, “and I could say the same thing about you.”
Death smiled, “Thanks, this is my special occasion wear.”
Carlton stared at him with a raised eyebrow and asked, “Special occasion?”
“Yeah, I would wear this if I was due to meet celebrities and royalty. Nice eh?”
“Yeah,” he said. “C’mon, we’d better get going.”
Carlton grabbed his car keys and they both left the apartment. As Carlton locked the door behind him, he heard Death say, “Wow!”
“Really cool Ferrari.”
They both got in. “What about your horse?” Carlton asked as he pointed toward it.
“Oh don’t worry about Stroke, he’ll be fine.”
“You sure… we’ll be gone a long time?”
“Relax, he’s not like your Earth horses.”
“Yeah I can see that, but he’s still an animal.”
“Hey Stroke!” Death shouted. Stroke looked up, “Carlton wants to know if you’ll be okay?”
Stroke neighed loudly and nodded his head. Death looked at Carlton.
Carlton said, “Puts a whole new spin on the phrase straight from the horse’s mouth, doesn’t it?”
He put the keys in the ignition, turned them and the car revved into life. He backed out of the driveway and drove off.
The waiting crowd were eagerly anticipating the arrival of their favourite stars even though there was crisp chill in the air. The first to arrive was Ariel Heath-Kieldling wearing a beautiful jewel encrusted white dress and elegant open toed white high heels; the dress made her look like a Disney princess but she also wore a black cardigan to keep the cold out. As she traversed the red carpet, she waved to crowd and tried to make the dress seem more attractive by doing the model walk.
Next to arrive was Tyler Harrison, the male lead of the movie. The crowd’s cheering seemed to increase in volume when he made the scene, especially the female fans. Wearing his best suit and parading his best smile, he was in sheer euphoria as the fans screamed and the cameras clicked.
Now the person of the moment arrived, the director. Carlton got out his car and then helped Death out; the crowd fell deathly silent as this huge figure got out of the car and stood before them. Putting on nervous smiles, they waved to the crowd as they walked the red carpet and of course, the silence didn’t help. Even though the crowd was silent, photographs were still taken.
“You know,” Carlton said through clenched teeth, “I’ve had a nightmare about this.”
“Don’t worry,” Death replied, also through clenched teeth. They reached the main entrance and once the door closed, they heard the fans cheering the arrival of the other stars.
Seats were filling up fast as the crowd were eager to see Carlton Edwards’ latest offering. Death was very excited as he got to sit beside Carlton, Ariel and Tyler however he had to leave his crystal scythe at the doors as the staff not only deemed it as a fire hazard but also an obstruction too. The lights dimmed and he let out a squeal of anticipation.
The movie began with a man hailing a taxi on a busy New York City street; one pulled up and he got in. He told the driver where he wanted to go and after a short time driving, the driver pulled into an alley where he turned to face his passenger and violently thrust a hypodermic needle into his hand. Whatever was injected into him was extremely fast acting as he passed out. The driver then sped off.
The movie’s main character, journalist Helen Masterson (played by Ariel Heath-Kieldling) was soon introduced when she received an email detailing the murder signed I Am The Scorpion and she soon gets involved in the investigation and has to team up with an NYPD detective named Andrew Morris (played by Tyler Harrison), they don’t get on at first as Andrew is deeply suspicious of Helen’s motives but it soon becomes apparent that a crazed serial killer is running rampant in New York and that the murders are linked to an ancient cult planning on saving the world via blood sacrifice.
As the credits rolled, the audience started applauding which soon became a standing ovation. Tyler, Ariel and Carlton walked to front of the theatre and with broad smiles, bowed in front of them. Death, slightly confused by what was going on, quickly rose to his feet and joined the audience in applauding them.
Much later, Carlton and Death arrived back at the apartment. “I gotta tell you,” Death began, “tonight was just what I needed, thank you very much.”
“And that movie, absolutely fantastic!”
“Thank you,” Carlton smiled.
“I really do think that Scorpion’s Sting 2 will happen.”
“Well, let’s not jump the gun here.”
They got out of the car and Stroke neighed in excitement when he saw them. “Stroksey,” Death said with open arms. Stroke pranced up to him and Death hugged him. “How’s my big man?” he asked. “Did you miss me?”
“Wow,” Carlton was surprised, “you’re a lot more… caring than I thought you’d be.”
“Oh that’s a common misconception, people think that because I’m Death I’m cold-hearted and unfeeling.”
“Don’t be. Anyways, we have to get going,” Death mounted Stroke.
“Will I see you again?”
Death looked at him with intense burning red eyes (well eye sockets) and said in a menacing tone of voice, “Soon.”
Carlton swallowed hard and made an audible gulp. Death leaned in closer and then shouted, “GOTCHA!” and laughed. Carlton let out a sigh of relief. “By the way,” he said, “nobody, except you, will remember seeing me tonight so you’ll have to keep this yourself.”
“And remember our walk down the red carpet?”
Carlton was still having trouble getting that moment out of his head, “How could I forget?”
“Well that’ll come out differently in the news tomorrow.”
“Bye now Carlton, and thanks,” Death said. He pulled back on the reins and Stroke whinnied and Carlton stood watching as they galloped off into the sky. He turned and fished his keys out of his pocket. When he opened the door, he couldn’t help being struck with an idea for his next movie… a comedy perhaps?