i rewrote one of the things from all those years ago (three, if i’m not wrong), and i’m surprised at how much this has changed. oh well.
She was noticeably small – about five foot one, if he were to be specific – and the blonde, wavy hair tied back into a bouncy ponytail, coupled with the bright, pink lipgloss really did nothing to help her look her age. He wasn’t even going to comment on the clothes. Neons should be illegal out on the street.
Actually, he thought, maybe she is exactly the age she looks – which is twelve, bordering on thirteen – and I’m just making assumptions based on her actions.
There was no reason for him to believe she was older – except maybe the fact that this was her third murder in the past week, and that she was teetering on five inch stilettos that surely no twelve year old’s mother would allow. Then again, no twelve year old’s mother would allow murder either. Or any mother in general.
Maybe a mother who is also a murderer would allow her child to be a murderer as well. Who knew. Humans were strange beings, after all.
Tod took a deep breath, composing himself. Four seven eight, Tod, four seven eight.
“What are you doing,” he said, instead of asked – because he had no need to ask. Clearly she’d just committed a crime, and he was going to do nothing about it – as he stepped out of the shadows and watched the girl turn to beam at him with a positively exhilarated look on her face. Her clothes had minimal blood on them, and he almost admired the fact that she’d done this so cleanly. Most murderers didn’t manage that.
“You came!” she exclaimed, her voice as sickly sweet as he’d remembered. She dropped the shoe she was holding – one of the painful looking stilettos – and stepped into it daintily, pulling the strap over her heel and trotting to where he was standing. Instinctively, Tod took a step back. “I wasn’t sure if you’d come, I didn’t see you last time but I really had to try again, I couldn’t forget the way you spoke to me that first time and –”
“Who are you,” Tod interrupted. “Who are you and why can you see me?”
“Oh!” The girl gasped and held out a perfectly manicured hand, offering him a dazzling smile he wasn’t sure he could forget. Should she be having such an effect on him? He didn’t think so. Everything about this felt wrong. “I’m Languora. Languora Stebern. My friends call me Lanni. You can call me that too!”
“I won’t, because we’re not friends.”
“It comes from the word languor, which means tiredness or inactivity, especially the pleasurable kind,” Languora continued, ignoring his comment. “I think it’s like, super sexy. My last name means ‘death’ though, I dunno why my name has to go with something like that. ‘Sexy death’, isn’t that kinda morbid?”
Tod raised an eyebrow, glancing over at the corpse lying next to the dumpster, eyeing the bloody footsteps that led from the body to where Languora was standing now. “Is it now,” he muttered. “And anyway, nevermind that, you didn’t answer my second question.”
“Hm? Oh! Why can I see you!” Languora hummed, frowning and looking deep in thought. “I’m not sure. Can people normally not?”
“No.” he said, flatly, pushing past her to get to work. He wasn’t in the mood to answer the questions he knew were coming. In fact, he’d practically invited questions, by asking his own. Had he always been this stupid? Probably. That’s why he’d ended up here, instead of in the Guardian Angel department. Grim Reapers always got the short end of the stick. Humans feared them, the other angels looked down on them, and they were all overworked and underpaid.
And to add to that, they often came across psychopaths like this one.
Although in general, said psychopaths couldn’t often see them, much less talk and ask questions. But the very fact that Languora existed and could do all of the above just added to the complications of his job.
He should have gone for a hospital. More systematic deaths, less freakshows, and all these humans running around, trying to make his job easier for him. No college student slash part time serial killer, claiming to be in love with him and running around committing murder just so he’d show up.
Tod rolled his eyes, squatting down next to the corpse, placing a hand over its heart and taking a good look at its face. Middle aged male, probably around forties, reeked of alcohol. His left shoulder glowed red – a sinner. Tod sighed and reached into his pockets for this week’s name cards.
“But I can see you.” Languora continued, walking up behind him as he hadn’t just brushed her off and looked over his shoulder at the name card he’d picked out. She gasped, gripping his shoulders and making him jump. “Does that make me special?”
You’re already pretty special, he thought to himself, and didn’t say as he pushed her hands off, because who knew how that would have made her react. Probably excitement, ecstasy, all forms of good emotions. Humans were confusing.
“Ms. Stebern, if you could let me work, that would be great,” he said instead, giving her a look that he hoped would convey even the smallest fraction of his frustrations. She gave him a wink and a cheeky grin in response, baffling him to the core.
“First call me by my name.”
Really, this girl –
Tod took a deep breath. Four seven eight. “Languora – ”
“Nope, wrong one!”
He paused for a second while she smiled at him expectantly. Wrong one? What did she – oh. Well. “Lanni – ?”
“Bingo!” Languora and not Lanni, clapped excitedly, jumping even in those heels – he hoped she wouldn’t fall, because he most definitely was not going to catch her – and beaming at him. She was, in all senses of the word, quite astonishing.
“Okay, Ms. Stebern, Languora, Lanni, human lady who I wish was like every other human lady on the planet, whatever, if you could let me work now, that’d be super cool, okay,” Tod paused for a second. “Please.”
Languora simply laughed. She gestured at the body. “By all means.”
He hesitated. “You’re going to watch?”
Right. Well then. If she wanted to watch then he wasn’t anyone to stop her. Not that he could, anyway. He was kind of scared of her, if he had to be honest. She was just the slightest bit (read: extremely) terrifying, and he was this close to asking for a transfer. Maybe now was a good time to take up hospitals.
Turning back to the corpse, Tod pushed the sleeves of his jacket up and slowly placed his palm over its forehead.
A blood curdling scream – just a few octaves higher than what an average human being would be able to hear – filled the air and Tod had to resist the urge to just leave the soul and run away. This was the worst part about being a Grim Reaper. He didn’t get paid enough to be able to afford the necessary treatment for damaged hearing.
“Come on,” he muttered under his breath, pulling harder at the icy blue mist that had started leaking out from the body. “Give up on life already, you’re out of time – ”
From the corner of his eye he noticed movement, and looked up to see Languora circle the dead body and seat herself on the other side. Her bright green eyes were fixed on the soul-matter – meaning she could see it – but she didn’t look like she was in any sort of pain. So she probably couldn’t hear the screaming.
That’s good, Tod thought. No one should have to hear something like that if they don’t really have to.
With one last pull, he managed to force the soul out of the body, and fell back, panting. As the soul matter started materializing into the shape of a human, he read off the name card he’d picked out. “Jacob Andrews. Born: September 8th, 1958. Died: February 12th, 2017. Cause of death: homicide.” He looked up at the soul. “Is that you?”
“Hah?” The man shouted, clearly alarmed. “Who are ye? Did ye kidnap me? How do ye know my birthday?”
“No. You’re dead.” Tod stood up, wiping his hand on his pants held out the name card. “This is yours. The backside has directions to the Underworld. Go whenever you feel like it.”
Jacob Andrews looked at the card with unease. “’M not dead. Yer makin’ a fool outta me.”
“I am not. And I’m also not in the mood to fight with you. If you don’t think you’re dead, then you can go and live your life, must have been my mistake. But take the card, anyway, I don’t want it.” Tod raised the card higher, waving it in front of his face. Hesitantly, Jacob Andrews took the card and gave it a suspicious look before pocketing it.
“Ye kids are lucky ‘m too tired to deal with ye,” he said before turning sharply on his heel and storming out of the dull alleyway.
Tod sighed in relief. So that was one problem taken care of. There was still another, bigger one to go, and he wasn’t sure what he could do about it.
“Ooh!” Languora sang, clapping her hands again. It seemed like that was a thing she did quite often. It annoyed him. It was also kind of cute, in a small child way. But he wouldn’t know what cute was, anyway. He was a big, bad, Grim Reaper. He had a fair idea of cute, though, and Languora was, admittedly very cute.
She reached out now, and grabbed his hand, catching him by surprise and making him tense up. “What happened to him?”
“He’s a ghost for now,” Tod replied, simply because he knew she’d never let him go if he didn’t. “Ghosts can’t really do anything except waft around and be useless. Eventually they get tired of it, and accept that they’re dead and go to the underworld. Then they’ll be sent to heaven or hell, depending on how he lived and stuff.”
Languora hummed. “So it’s real.”
“Um, yeah, of course it is. Could let me go now, I have work to do – ” he pulled at his hand but her grip on it only tightened, and with surprising strength he had no idea could exist in such a small being, she pulled him to her until they were only centimeters away. Tod felt his mind temporarily fog up.
“You saw his life, didn’t you?” she whispered, looking up at him with sparkling eyes. “You saw that he was a worse killer than I am.”
Tod hesitated, processing the statement and what it was supposed to mean. His heart was thudding in his chest, and he could feel sweat dripping down the back of his neck. He didn’t know why and how she was able to have such an impact on him but he knew one thing: he was scared of her. This feeling – this intense panic – there was no other explanation.
Languora continued, blinking up at him with big, seductive green eyes; her lips parted just enough to be seductive and her face tilted upwards just so. “I just don’t want anyone else to see you, Tod. I’m just eliminating the competition.”
“No one else can see me anyway,” he managed to croak out, pulling at his hand but to no avail.
“I’m just,” one hand trailed up to rest on his shoulder. “Making sure.”
Everything about this is wrong, screamed the voice in his head. You should run far, far away.
“Look, Lanni,” he said, pushing her hand off his shoulder and gently prying her fingers off his own. His voice was calm – the way his mother had talked to him when she was trying to convince him not to opt for criminal hunting. And he should have listened to her. “You’re a human, and I’m a Grim Reaper. Whatever you’re trying to do is never going to work.”
“Not unless you try!” She snapped her fingers in his face. “You can’t quit before you even start!”
But what the hell are you trying to start in the first place?!
“Agh!” He ran his fingers through his hair in frustration, resisting the urge to just write her name on one of the namecards and drag her soul off to hell. No, she wouldn’t let him do that. Even if he killed her, she’d just insist that being a ghost now means the relationship she wanted was possible, even though it wasn’t, goddammit! “Okay. Okay, look. If I take you on a date, will you leave me alone?”
She shrugged, inspecting her nails, feigning indifference. “We’ll see how it goes.”
“Promise me, or no date.”
“Hmmm. Okay, I promise, I’ll leave you alone. Unless you don’t want me to. Any time on Saturday is fine, but remember, I have a test this Monday, so next weekend okay?”
There was a wink and a kiss blown his direction, and Languora spun around on her heel and strutted out the alleyway, leaving behind a dumbfounded Tod, with a broken ego.
He had a date with a human.