Tales From An Elevator – Death’s Desire

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?”

“Yes sir?”

“I’m going upstairs to change out of this cloak.”

“Yes sir.”

“Can you make me a coffee?”

“Yes sir.”

“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.”

“Okay.”

“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.”

“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?”

“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.

“I KNOW!”

“Is that all for tonight?”

“Yes!”

“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?”

“Yeah.”

“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!”

“What?”

“Really cool Ferrari.”

“Thanks.”

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.”

“You’re welcome.”

“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.”

“Mmmm.”

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.”

“Sorry.”

“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.”

“Okay.”

“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.”

“Good.”

“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?

THE END

Tales From An Elevator: The Final Episode (Part One)

TV shows can make us laugh, cry and make us feel other emotions but what happens when it’s the final episode? What do the characters feel about that?

Peter sat on the bed wondering what the day had in store for him and just what sort of amazing mystery the writers had come up with in this week’s episode. For nearly ten years, The Christmas and Vanderbrooks Mysteries had been THE show to watch on the BBC and he was real glad that Gillian was his partner, both professionally and personally.

Gillian opened her eyes, “Hey.”

Peter turned and asked, “Did you sleep well?”

“Mmm great,” she said. “I can’t believe we waited until season seven to start sleeping together.”

“Well, it was the writers’ decision and we were giving the people the best of all reason to watch. A long running will they won’t they storyline.”

Gillian sat up, “True… still though.”

The phone rang, Peter reached over and answered it, “Hello?”

“Peter, it’s Andy,” he sounded sad, “I need to see you and Gillian in my office as soon as possible.”

“Okay.”

Andy hung up and then Peter did too. Gillian asked, “Who was that?”

“That was Andy, he wants to speak to us.

“Why?”

“He wouldn’t say, but he sounded upset.”

“Okay,” Gillian got up, “let’s go see him.”

***

There was a knock at the door, “Come in!”

Gillian and Peter strolled in. Andy stood up, “Peter, Gillian,” he said, “please have a seat.” They all sat down and Peter asked Andy, “What’s this all about?”

Andy let out heavy sigh before speaking. “Okay, I’m just going lay it out straight. The series has not been renewed and this is the last episode.”

They both looked at him in horror. “WHAT!?!” Peter exclaimed

“Yeah, this came to us straight from the Director-General.”

“They can’t do this, were the BBC’s biggest show.”

“Well, they feel that it has gone on too long and that it should end. Also, I’ve hard Harvey and Janet in here wanting to move on to other things.”

“Can we speak to them?”

“You can speak to the Director-General.”

“And why not Harvey and Janet?”

“Because they’re in character right now.”

“Oh I see.”

“But if I were you Peter,” Andy got up and leaned on the desk in front of them, “I’d let it go, no point in wasting your last…” he looked at his watch, “twenty-three minutes on TV.”

Peter jumped to his feet, said, “We have to try!” and stormed out of the office. Gillian stared at Andy with a look of embarrassment on her face and then she got up and left.

***

Tales From An Elevator – It Could Happen To You (Part One)

Winning things can be the most fantastic thing world and can bring us untold wealth that change lives forever but in some instances, it can lead to dangerous and unpredictable circumstances.

“Good evening,” he began, taking to the stage, “and welcome to The Accumulator, where people can amass a great fortune or lose it all. When we left, David Barrows had seen off his opposition and decided to risk his £25,000 for a chance to play for our £500,000 jackpot in The Final Five. Good evening David.”

“Good evening Bryon,” David replied in a cold steely manner.

“You must be really nervous tonight,” Bryon asked.

“Not really,” David exuded confidence in his response, “I’ve been practicing and readying myself for this.”

“So, what would you do if you won the half million tonight?”

“Y’know Bry,” David smiled, “I really haven’t thought about that.”

The audience chuckled as Bryon raised his eyebrow. David stared back with a determined expression as if to say let’s do this.

“Ok then,” he said, “let me remind everyone and you, how you stand. David, you have answered four out of The Final Five correctly bringing your total accumulations to £250,000 and you still have your Swap. Now, you can always walk away with that… but you could decide to go for the final question and potentially win £500,000. Two people have gone for it and sadly, they lost all but £75,000.”

“Right… okay,” David nodded.

“I can only say be really sure before you give me your decision.”

“Okay.”

“Are you ready?”

“Okay Bryon,” David said, “ask me.”

“David…” Bryon stared at him, “risk… or reward?”

David could feel an internal conflict between his brain and his heart; the brain was pleading with him to do the logical and rational by saying Reward, but heart was telling him to go for it and say Risk, who to follow?

David was locked in a stare with Bryon, unable to speak. After what seemed like a very long five minutes, he eventually said, “Risk.”

The audience cheered and applauded boisterously while David remained locked in his stare with Bryon. Once they had calmed down, Bryon spoke. “You’re a very brave man David Barrows,” he said. “Okay, you’ve decided to take the risk on the final question. Just remember, you’ve got a guaranteed £75,000 no matter what happens. So here it is, the final question for £500,000.”

The spotlights went down, the audience was in total darkness and Bryon and David looked up at the screen. Bryon read out the question. “Although he appeared in earlier cartoons, what year is considered by many to be Bugs Bunny’s official debut? 1938… 1939… 1940… 1941.”

David stared at the screen and stroked his chin. “Mmm,” he said, “that’s a tough one.”

“Do you like Bugs Bunny at all?”

“I do but this would be before my time, I am only 32 y’know.”

The audience chuckled. “Well, you still have your Swap if you’d like to get rid of that.”

“I’d eh… I’d like to play this one.” A collective gasp followed David’s statement.

“Okay then,” Bryon acknowledged. David stared at the question on screen and he mentally played a game of eeny-meeny-miny-mo with the answers. To him, the money was incidental and playing the game was more important. After reaching his final decision, he said, “Okay, I’m ready.”

Bryon stared at David. “David…” he began, “for £500,000, your answer is…”

“1940.”

“Computer, please lock that in.”

1940 was highlighted in blue. “Are you still happy with that?” Bryon asked.

“Yes,” David replied.

“I hope you’re right. Was Bugs Bunny’s official debut in 1940?”

Everyone held their breath as they waited for the correct answer to be revealed. The studio went so quiet, you could hear a pin drop. Eventually, 1940 became highlighted in green. There was cheering, screaming, the confetti fell down onto the floor and the celebratory music played, David grinned broadly as Bryon hugged him. Eventually, the studio fell silent and Bryon went back to his mark.

“Wow,” he said.

“Exactly!” David responded, which garnered a huge laugh from the audience.

“For so long, we hoped that this would happen but we had convinced ourselves that this would never hsppen.”

David continued beaming and said, “Well, now it has.”

“I have to ask,” Bryon asked, “what was going through your mind at the last question?”

“Well, staying calm was the prevalent thought in my mind and I suppose the rest was down to luck.”

“Was there any gut instincts involved in the decision making process?”

“Oh yes, guts were involved… as well as some other body parts.” More laughs followed.

“Well, that combination just netted you a half million pounds. And now, here is our executive producer, Melinda Sunderland, to present you with the cheque.”

To David, it felt like a real Wimbledon moment as a smartly dressed Melinda walked up to him and handed over the much sought after cheque. She stepped back and applauded, as did everyone else.

He held it up above his head and screamed “WOOOOOOO!”

Bryon turned to face the camera. “And so David Barrows, architect from Yorkshire, walks away with the half million jackpot. Join us again next week to see if we can do it again, good night!”

***

Later that night, he arrived back at his hotel. He walked up to the reception desk and rang the bell. “Good evening Mr. Barrows,” she smiled.

“Hello,” he said, smiling back, “can I get my room key off you?”

“Sure.” She turned around, took a keycard from the shelf and handed it to him. He looked at it.

“This isn’t my key,” he said.

“It is now,” she said.

David was slightly confused. “I don’t understand.”

“No we didn’t, but Ms. Sutherland called and asked us to upgrade your room.”

“Oh,” David said as he took the keycard, “thank you.”

“I have to say Mr. Barrows, congratulations.”

“Thank you.” David nodded and walked toward the elevator. He pressed the button and boarded the elevator. Inside, he pressed another button and the doors closed and the elevator went up. The doors opened and he went into corridor and searched for the door to his room. He found it and inserted the keycard into the slot. Opening the door, he said “Woah!”

Everything in the room was luxurious and clearly, no expense was spared. On the table was a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket and a card that read: Compliments of the staff. Many congratulations.

He picked up the bottle and poured some into a glass. He picked up the glass and walked to the window. Pulling back the curtain, he took a sip and sighed as looked out into London’s night sky.

***

A Tales From An Elevator comic?

I like comic books and I would do it myself only I’m really rubbish at drawing but I’m good at writing so I can still do a comic. So if there’s any artists reading this post, send me a message through my contact me page about collaborating on a Tales From An Elevator comic

Tales Form An Elevator: The New Assistant (Unfinished)

Death gets an assistant to help him out with his work. This tale remains unfinished as I lost my direction in the story, could be a perfect candidate to be rewritten eh?

It was a normal day for Death, he sat at his fine oak desk and just sat back in the chair but he knew that he was scheduled to arrive at the scene of a horrific car crash where three people would be killed… sometimes he felt Fate was just so cruel in his motivations but it wasn’t like he had the ability to change destiny, it was something that just is. The phone rang, Death picked up the receiver, ‘Hello?’ he asked.
‘Death… God here,’ God replied, ‘I need to see you as soon as possible’
‘Right away boss,’ he put the receiver back on the hook. He got up and left the catalogue and index room, he walked down the stairs, grabbed his scythe and left his house. Soon, he arrived at God’s office, he knocked on the door. ‘God,’ he announced, ‘its Death.’
‘Come in,’ God said. Death opened the door, hung his scythe on nearby hook and sat down on a chair in front of God’s desk, it was cluttered by paperwork. ‘Now, Death,’ he started, ‘it has come to my attention that you are now starting to find it difficult to keep up with your workload.’
‘Yes I am.’
‘Well I have decided to give you an assistant, to help ease the workload.’
‘Oh that’s fantastic news!’ Death said with a smile. If, however, you’re one of those readers who like to point out inaccuracies in stories, I’ll rephrase that. ‘Oh that’s fantastic news!’ Death said, his eyes lit up; there… happy now?!
‘But here’s the thing,’ God stumbled as he revealed the catch, ‘your assistant… is going to be… a soul you’re going to reap tonight.’
‘Huh?’
‘Fate tells me you’re scheduled to appear at a car accident this evening, yes?’
‘Yes, that’s right,’ Death answered, ‘Fate told me that three people would die tonight.’
‘Well, Fate actually changed his mind. He’s going to have one person die in that car crash and her name is…’ God began typing furiously on his computer, ‘Martina Hix.’
‘Is she a young girl?’ Death asked, he was still repulsed by the idea of having to reap souls of the young, especially kids. God had pulled up the file on Martina Hix, ‘Unfortunately yes,’ He said, ‘she’s only 20.’
‘Damn it.’
‘I know how you feel about this but it can’t be changed,’ God sympathised, ‘apparently, she was a never-mean-to-be sort.’
‘I see,’ Death kind of groaned at this, ‘so I’m correcting mistakes again?’
‘Looks like it,’ God replied. Death got up from the chair, grabbed the scythe and stormed out of the office. Meanwhile back in our reality, Martina Hix was in her car and had set in motion the event leading to her demise. She was at a crossroads, the light was green but she checked both sides for any unexpected dangers. As she pulled out, a speeding car rammed into the side of hers; the collision was so devastating that it toppled Martina’s car onto the side. She lay in heap with a broken neck and she felt her heart coming to a stop as she slowly closed her eyes.
‘Er… Martina?’ boomed a deep voice. Martina opened her eyes but could see nothing only darkness, ‘Agh!’ she screamed, ‘I can’t see!’ However, she could feel that she was lying down.  ‘Here,’ the voice boomed, ‘take my hand.’ The mysterious stranger helped her to feet; it felt weird though, his hand felt unusually… thin.
‘Thank you,’ she said, ‘but I still can’t see.’
‘Hang on…’ the deep-voiced stranger seemed to do something, ‘there… how about now?’
‘Yeah, thank…’ Martina said but it instantly turned to a stammer when saw who was in front of her, ‘you. What the…?’
‘I know what you’re thinking, all new souls think that. Let me introduce myself,’ he said, ‘I’m Death.’
‘Okay, so I must be dead then,’ Martina was trying to come to terms with what was happening. She then looked around her surroundings and looked at herself, she was now a skeleton. ‘Agh!’ she screamed, ‘what’s going on here, why am I a skeleton?’
‘Well,’ Death was trying calm her down, ‘let’s just go to my house and I’ll explain it all over coffee, you do like coffee?’ He asked that question quite calmly but could still sense Martina’s reserve. Within moments they were standing outside Death’s house… well, mansion really. ‘Woah,’ Martina exclaimed.
‘I know,’ Death said smugly. He fished a key from his pocket and opened the door; they stepped into the giant hallway and Martina gazed in awe at the sheer fantastic beauty of the main hall, ‘C’mon into the kitchen,’ Death urged her so she followed.
‘Nice,’ she said as she walked into the kitchen. Death made two coffees and placed them on the table, they sat down and Death tried to explain the situation to her. ‘Well…’ she said sternly, ‘I’m listening.’
Death took a long sip from his coffee, ‘Alrighty then,’ he started, ‘the situation is that you’re my new assistant.’
‘Assistant!?’ she exclaimed.
‘Yes,’ Death tried to calm her down again, ‘apparently, this was meant to be. This is all down to administration.’
‘I find this cruelly unfair! My life comes to an end, and a violent end I might add… just so you can have an assistant!?’
‘Look… if it was up to me, you would have gone on living but Fate made his decision.’
‘But why me, I never believed in you or Fate!’
Death couldn’t answer that question; he even wanted to come up with a guess to make her feel better but was left lost for words. Martina got up from her chair, ‘Can’t you even say anything to make me feel better?’
Death stared downwards. ‘Right,’ Martina said and left the room, Death then followed her into the living room. Martina had crashed down the sofa holding her head in her hands; she was still trying to absorb what happened. Death sat beside her and one of Martina’s eyes fell on the floor. The dislodged eye was like a wakeup call for her.
‘Okay then,’ Martina picked up her eye and screwed it back in her eye socket, ‘how will this assistant job work?’
Death became slightly happy when he heard that question; he knew that Martina had finally accepted the situation. ‘Well,’ he answered, ‘we’ve got to get you a robe, c’mon’
‘Like the one you’re wearing?’
‘That’s the one.’
‘Right then,’ she said, ‘let’s go.’ Minutes later, they were in the bedroom and Death went into his walk in closet where he found a robe for Martina. He later came out with a robe, ‘Here try this one on,’ he said and Martina took it. She pulled it on over her head and admired herself in the mirror; she kinda liked what she saw. ‘Mmmm… I like it,’ Martina voice had become deeper, ‘hey, what’s the deal with my voice?’
‘Don’t worry about it,’ Death answered, ‘it’s like when a teenage male’s voice breaks when he gets to thirteen plus it’s also a requirement.’
‘God’s request?’
‘Yep… He said it brings more “authenticity”,’ he said that in quotation fingers, ‘to the role as does this.’
Death handed her a scythe and as she took it, she was feeling more like Death’s assistant than ever. ‘Okay,’ she said confidently, ‘I think I’m ready to start reaping now.’ Death looked her up and down, he could see that she was ready to take on the challenge as she looked exactly like him, if not more so. Several days passed and Martina had now fit in to her new capacity as Death’s assistant and even come to enjoy it.

Tales From An Elevator: The Lunch Break

Lunch is an important part of the day as it not promotes eating but also gives you a chance for social interaction. Have you ever wondered how some other groups may interact… well, this story may answer that question (note: this story may be revisited at a later date)

Masaki, Reiki and Jasmine stood rigidly to attention as their master addressed them. Master Yamaoto stared at them, but it wasn’t a stare of disgust, it was a stare of pride. His students had trained very hard that morning. ‘My students…’ he began, ‘you’ve made your master very proud.’

These ninjas were in the prime of their youth, Masaki was fifteen, Reiki was thirteen and Jasmine was twelve; they were abandoned as babies but they were all found by Master Yamaoto at the base of his training compound. He took them in and raised them as his own, so they didn’t so much look on him as a master but a father. ‘Your progression amazes me,’ he continued, ‘never have I seen such excellence… in any of my young warriors.’

He sat down on a nearby tree stump. ‘But…’ he warned, ‘you must not let yourselves become too cocky or else all that hard work shall be for nought. Now, go to the kitchens and get yourselves some nourishment.’ They bowed before him and ran off to the kitchens.

As they walked toward the door, Masaki’s stomach started to rumble. ‘I wonder what the chef has for us today?’ he asked.

‘There’s only one way to find out,’ Jasmine replied as she opened the door. There was the chef, Soto, standing waiting to give the ninjas his speciality of the day. ‘Ah…’ Soto smiled broadly, ‘my favourite ninjas have arrived.’

They greeted him with a bow and Masaki said, ‘Hello, Chef Soto.’

‘Have I got a treat for you today!’ he said excitedly. He handed them a bowl of steaming hot rice and plates of sushi. Soto’s sushi was a particular favourite of Masaki. ‘When you have finished that,’ he said, ‘I have been baking one of my apple pies, it’s cooling on the window.’

‘Are they the apples from Kippet Valley Forest?’ Jasmine asked with anticipation.

‘You know it, Jasmine.’

‘Yes!’ Jasmine was extremely happy to hear it. The Kippet Valley Forest apples were the sweetest apples in the whole province. They walked towards their table and all the while Jasmine salivated over Soto’s apple pie, they sat down. ‘Did you hear that guys?’ Jasmine asked excitedly, ‘Soto made us an apple pie!’

‘Yes Jasmine,’ Masaki and Reiki answered.

‘C’mon guys… show more enthusiasm here.’

Reiki began eating his lunch, making sure that he wouldn’t have to say anything. Masaki had that pleasure.

‘Well… it’s just… err…’ he stumbled.

‘It’s just what?’

‘Soto’s pies aren’t that… special.’

‘What do you mean, Masaki?’ she asked as she raised a piece of sushi to her mouth.

‘We get Soto’s apple pies on a regular basis.’

‘Yes… but this time he made it from Kippet Valley Forest apples.’

‘Okay,’ Masaki said. Jasmine became slightly annoyed, ‘Look here, I will not hear another word against the pie.’

Masaki and Reiki didn’t say anything, as they had each seen how Jasmine reacted when she got angry. It was something they cared not to see too often or be at the receiving end of. ‘Anyway…’ she said, ‘how do you two feel training went for you today?’

‘I think it went fine today,’ Masaki replied as he munched on some rice. Reiki swallowed what was in his mouth, ‘Reiki also think training go fine for him too.’

‘Okay then,’ Jasmine said. They sat quietly eating their food, well basically picking at it. ‘Hey…’ Jasmine broke the silence. Masaki and Reiki looked at her. ‘Do you think that the author has lost interest in this story?’ she asked.

‘Why do you say that Jasmine?’ Masaki asked back.

‘Well, he gave us a big setup and now there’s this mediocre middle bit.’

‘You’re probably right Jasmine, he’ll probably just trail off until he writes an abrupt ending.’

‘Author took on too big challenge,’ Reiki said, ‘not know what Japan like back then.’

‘Too true, Reiki.’

They finished their lunch all the while passing judgement on my story… and I just like to remind them this is MY story here.

‘Ooo, he sounds mad!’

Damn right, I’m mad Masaki! How dare you cast aspersions on my storytelling techniques; and you all shouldn’t be breaking the fourth wall anyway.

‘Jeez sorry.’

I can’t spend the rest of this story fighting with you. Soto approached them with his pie in hand, ‘So, you enjoyed my lunch?’ he asked.

‘Sure did,’ Jasmine replied, ‘now what about this apple pie you made for us?’

‘I’ve got it right here,’ he put it on the table and using a knife, he cut the pie into three pieces. Then, he gave each a slice.

‘There you go,’ he said, ‘I gave you the biggest piece Jasmine, cause I know how much you like my pies.’

‘I don’t think Master Yamaoto would be too happy about that!’ she joked. Soto smiled and walked away. They started eating their slices, ‘Mmmm…’ Jasmine said, ‘this turned out be better than I’d hoped.’

Masaki and Reiki both nodded their heads in agreement as they ate. When they had finished, they took their plates to Soto and he took them. Job well done, he thought to himself. The ninjas walked out the door and raced to the top of the mountain where Master Yamaoto was still sitting on a tree stump. ‘Oh, you have finished already,’ he said, ‘very well, let’s get back to it.’

The ninjas took their positions. ‘By the way…’ Master Yamaoto said, ‘I know you have been breaking the fourth wall again.’

‘How did you know, sensei?’ asked Jasmine

‘I know all that goes on in my compound,’ he stood up, ‘plus I actually read what was going in the story.’

‘But…’

‘Silence, Jasmine,’ he ordered, ‘passing judgement on other people is… a bad thing. “A bad thing”?’

Sorry Master Yamaoto, I ran out of clever wisdom-like things to write down.

‘Good night… Anyway my ninjas, let’s get back to training.’

THE END