Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dear Grim Reaper > Death Inc. > Page 4

"Where are your parents?" a large bearded police officer asked.

"At work. If you want to call my Dad here's his number," she handed him a card. Madison had been in the office for over two hours, and was waiting on her aunt to pick her up. The officer glanced at the card without reaching for it, instead picking up the receiver to dial her aunt's cell number one more time. In a 'speak of the devil' instance, a tall slender woman in a large ankle length fur coat stepped into the dim room.

"Tante Christine," sighed Madison in great relief.

"This is she. What are you doing in the cop's office?" she asked, lighting a cigar and adjusting her star shaped sunglasses. The plastic rim was dark blue, and consisted of one of the many dollar store accessories she possessed. Married with an excessive amount of high end brands and luxurious indulgence were a panoplie of cheap, tacky add-ons in all domains of Tante Christine's self expression (although particularly when it came to clothing). Under all the leopard fur she wore a well fitted turtle neck sweater, a layer of black cachemire skin transplanted on her bony body, and a pair of wide leg jeans of the same abysmal color. An asymmetrical haircut sat atop her head, the right side, waist length and ebony, while the left was cut just above the shoulders, and of an electric blue. Christine was an architect, and unofficial parental guardian of Madison's, whose real folks where seldom home. She worked frequently, and had a loaded schedule herself, but was a lot more free thinking, and must have assumed such a role in a slight attempt to salvage at least one other family member from mindless bigoted conservatism. Because of this, Madison, despite her token teenage demeanor, housed a discreet connection with all related to the strange and supernatural.

"Listen ma'am, your niece here may have experienced a great deal of trauma," he began to explain in earnest compassion, despite both Madison and Christine's look of utter nonchalance, "It appears she has witnessed a suicide."

A meticulously drawn eyebrow was lifted on the aunt's statuesque face as she took a long draw from her cigar.

"Her boyfriend killed himself in her house. We're still investigating, but don't worry, she's innocent, just a witness!"

"Yeah, otherwise it would have been a murder."

The poor officer, visibly intimidated by a lady of such presence, blushed.

"Yes yes, well- As I said, we're still investigating-"

"She's a rich blonde white teenager. Probably won't get accused of much of anything any time soon," she said with a wiry smirk, which seemed to extend up to a small mole on her left cheek.

The officer blushed once more.

"W-well, as I was saying," he stammered, "We're still investigating, and so far have only come up with the assumption that the young man was jealous. But, we'll keep you posted."

  Madison was sitting with her head rested in her hands, paying little attention to her aunt's snide comments and the officer's fumbling. She was busy thinking of her visit to the Underworld. The more she thought of it, the more the memory blurred and became dreamlike. The last thing she had remembered before dying and entering the realm of the dead was her boyfriend, Jack, ringing at the door. Afterwards, everything had gone black as a gunshot was fired, accompanied by a vision of Jack being pierced in the head by a bullet. Then, as though someone had flicked the channel, she had woken up with her head off, forced to carry it around relentlessly. After what had seemed like a period of several hours, all of which had been spent in a room with a red sky, three sisters walked up to her and offered a free ticket back to earth. Who knew getting free tickets could be so easy? With a recomposed body no less! She had enthusiastically accepted, and presented it to the person guarding the only door in the room. The sisters hadn't asked for much, just her name. They had even agreed to pose for a few pictures.

Boo - the eldest of the three.


"Come on Maddy, let's go," her aunt woke her from her rĂªverie.

"Of course she may need psychiatric help-" added the officer.

"She can talk to me. Can we still get in the house?"

"Yes, we cleared up. No evidence was needed there, as we firmly assume it was a suicide, so we're mainly going to rely on testimonials. You don't have to worry about anything, we've got it all covered," he articulated in his nasal voice.

"Ok," Christine put her cigar out in a nearby ashtray, gesturing Madison towards the door. The two made their way out, towards a sleek mustard yellow 1950s Buick. If her aunt wasn't married, it was probably because she was in a relationship with that car.

"So, what happened?"

"I died." Madison watched the people walking by as they rode through the streets. It was already 10:00 PM on a cool September evening. The incident had apparently occurred early that Sunday afternoon. School would start as usual the next day, and she didn't plan on missing cheerleading practice. This senior year would be her big break. She was already celebrity level popular, but now was time to really impress everyone. Everyone that mattered of course.

"A little more detail perhaps?" Christine suggested.

She recounted her journey to the Underworld, without fear of judgment. After all, her aunt had a passion for any things otherworldly and supernatural. Sometimes, this fascination reached an almost cartoonish degree, mirroring the stereotype of the strange, eccentric female relative.

"Hm. So what are you going to do?" she inquired plainly, her eyes- or sunglasses; seeing as she rarely took them off, you would almost think she actually did have star shaped eyes- focused on the road.


"Wha-well I don't know!" Maddy exclaimed impatiently. She was still deep in thought, and felt her headache coming back. "Like, the only thing I remember is Jack coming in the house, and then I black out and- and hear this gunshot, and he's got some sort of bullet wound in his head. I don't know what to do. Just go on living as usual or something! Oh my gosh..."

"Don't you remember?"

"Ugh, remember what?" she sunk down in her seat as far as her seatbelt would allow, getting seriously exasperated. Why did she always have to be so cryptic? She just wanted her to ask normal questions. Say something like "How do you feel?" "Why do you think he did that?" "Well that's strange, are you sure you didn't just black out and dream?" But no, it always had to be along the lines of-

"Plan on going back to the Underworld? Five years ago, when you were twelve, you wanted to visit so badly. One day you fell down a flight of stairs and died...clinically. You'd woken up in a dark room, where you won a chess match against Death. It's a good thing I taught you how to cheat. You told me you'd been, and wanted to go back. That makes this your second visit. But, as soon as you hit your teenage years - poof! - all that was gone. You wanted to be the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jones. Dropped hockey and went for cheerleading. I will forever be puzzled," a slight smile etched at the corner of her mouth as she mock sighed in reminiscence.

"Yeah, well I'm not into things like that anymore. I mean, all that creepy stuff."

"So, you still believe you died, or that it was all a dream?

"I don't know..." she felt a  sudden wave of sadness waft over her. All she had ever wanted was a normal life, complete with boxed macaroni and cheese, yearbooks, cable TV and thoughtless social networking. As a kid, she had been fascinated with the occult, and spent her time locked up in the library, researching supernatural phenomenons. She didn't know why the subject fascinated her so much, but her aunt had always encouraged it, saying such an interest was part of "who she was". They remained silent for the rest of the way.

...

  The next morning, Madison woke up with clear thoughts. Christine had waited for her father to arrive (her mother was on a business trip in Taiwan), and Madison woke up to the smell of fresh Lucky Charms and processed fruit juice. Just like the good days! Hopefully, this could go on forever. She gobbled up her breakfast, greeting "Dad", who was already on his way out, then headed for her bright red convertible, a shiny present she had received the day of her sweet sixteen. She drove on that bright sunny morning, her blonde hair flowing in the wind like a Disney princess ready to break into an annoying chant about her life, catching glances from all cisgendered heterosexual varsity jacket equipped white males of east coast suburbia that crossed her path, in their equally smart convertibles and Jeeps. It was a day like every other. Parking her car in front of her friend Sunny's, a bubble gum  pink Cadillac, she stepped out as boys and girls alike turned their heads in her direction. The astroturf like grass, freshly mown and glistening with morning dew, helped paint a picture frame scenery as the young teenager ascended the steps towards the brick brown building towering above the scattered students. "Happy High" read the gold plaque located above the double doors, mimicking the sign by the bus stop on the main sidewalk. On the way through the hall, she stopped by her locker to stuff away the few books she'd brought, waving and returning smiles to her joyful classmates. She arrived at the gym just in time for the cheerleader meet.

"Hey Maddy!" a chorus of voices went off upon her entrance in the girl's locker room.

"Hey hey cinnabun!" chanted a shrill voice behind her. She turned around to face Sunny. A chirpy, shapely girl with pigtails rolled in a perfect curl, her best friend was always in the greatest of moods.

"So, what's up?" she asked as Madison put her cheerleading uniform on.

"Nothing much," she lied. "This weekend was BORING. Spent it with Tante Christine."

"Aw that sucks! Where was Jack?"

"Um..." she felt slightly nervous. She had no intention of recounting the strange course of events which had previously occurred, for fear of awkward questions, but most of all, negative attention. It could hurt her reputation to be implicated in something so bizarre. "I don't know. How about we get started?"

She pranced energetically towards the football field, waving the red and blue pompoms in the air. As head cheerleader, she led the group of five through a series of choreographed movements. Around halfway through, her hair began to frizz up, despite the perm she had inflicted upon it that very morning.



"I'll be right back," she grumbled, jogging towards the bathroom.

"Ugh, why does my hair have to be so weird," she mumbled while entering the girl's lavatory. The light switch wasn't working. So this was how the day was going to start? Well, that was just grand. She shuffled towards the sink, bending down to wet her hair, when suddenly the room grew unearthly cold. Something was standing in the far left corner, besides the bathroom stall. She wanted to scream, when suddenly  a large black mass emerged from the shadows. The cloaked figure was beyond recognizable. The being making its eerie entrance was none other than America's favorite Death God.

"Greetings," spoke the one and only Grim Reaper. "You are Madison, if I am not mistaken."

Madison would have recoiled in fear, had she not suddenly recalled the letter. The letter adressed to this very entity.

"Oh. My. Gosh," she uttered incredulously," You actually came to say hi to me? It's okay, I'm back on earth and- wait...so all of this is real...Hold on while I have some sort of like, mental breakdown. No way. I'm dreaming. I mean, nobody's actually ever met the Grim Reaper person-"

"Don't be a fool, we played chess together once."

"I don't think I remember... That must have been another Madison-"

"I'm having none of this today," he huffed, "There's work to do. Time is ticking, and not in seconds, but money. You are Madison, stuck between both worlds: the land of life and death. I even got your letter!" he whipped it from out his cloak.

"Okay okay! I remember that one chess game, but why are you coming to see me now? I'm normal now, not interested in dead things. Want nothing to do with them actually."

"You cheated."

"Okay, I'm sorry. I cheated on that one game. I promise I won't ever do it again-"

"Oh for crying out loud! Will you let me land?" he hissed between what, had he been living, would have been gritted teeth. "I am in need of an assistant, and you fill all criteria required for that position."

"What? No no no-"

"You where born with the ability to interact with other beings not part of this world. I will give you a free pass to the Underworld. It's kind of like a subway pass, only it can bring you anywhere in the nether regions and it lasts an eternity." With that, he handed her a small card in a leather bound protective case.

"But, what about my life?" she wanted to keep it. She wanted to stay the normal girl she was now. Being accepted in society required maintaining your social status, but it also required sacrifices. When she was a kid, everyone had also called her "weird", until she'd discovered her ability to chop off 95% of her personality. Now people liked her, and nothing was going to ruin that.

"You have two options. Neither of them are good," he unfolded a paper. It was time to resort to harsher measures. "According to my records, you have transgressed the Law of the Deceased over three times, including two resuscitations and one ticket fraud. Association with beings of non-human form is also a felony, and from what I have here...you've mingled with three already. So, guess what kid? I could sentence you to years of long dragged out painful labor in Hell with my man Satan, or you could serve your penalty with me."

"I didn't know those rules...How am I supposed to explain this to people?"

"You can still go to school," he added, more reassuringly, "Consider this another 'extra curricular activity'. You will simply be managing troubled souls that wander the earth by bringing them back to the Underworld, and doing administrative work. Your job is basically to do what I don't always have time for. It's like a game. Try to win."

Madison was stunned. Nonetheless, if she had to do it, she would. There was no escaping Death this time. She just had to be strong, and hold up. Be a winner. As her Mom always said "Losers suck, always act like you've already won". There was no way she was going to be a loser. Madison Wades had already won this game.

"Okay," she inhaled, gathered up her courage and straitened her back, before extending one manicured right hand in firm recognition of her fate. "Let's seal this deal."

And, thus began Madison's contract with the Grim Reaper.


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