Once again it’s time for a fun adventure. Enjoy my story below, then follow the links to other stories of participating authors in the blog hop. Leave us comments. We love hearing from you!
This is the 9th installment of GRIT’s adventure. To start at the beginning for context, start with Grim Failure.
Reapers are required to arrive ten minutes early to their assigned death, or deaths in this case. My training instructor recommended twenty minutes, thirty while in training…just in case.
I arrived at the scene of the coming earthquake an hour early and floated from room to room in the seven-story resort hotel located next to a beach full of swimmers, tanners, and party-goers.
I located my couple sipping champagne in a large in-room whirlpool. I ached to warn them to find a safe location outside of the hotel. The collapse of the building this afternoon will kill the twenty-six persons on the about-to-die list. It could have been worse. Most of the rooms were empty; their residents probably enjoying the beach and the sun.
In the lobby, the other reapers gathered. Eleven in total. I dreaded the prospect of trying to huddle two souls, especially with my career on the line, but I was also grateful I wasn’t one of the poor saps who had to gather three.
The worst part was that I couldn’t expect any help.
I think one of the other reapers, a confident girl a few years older than me, noticed my anxiety.
“Your first cataclysmic death?”
“It’s the obvious?”
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
At that I burst into laughter and it felt wonderful. “My name’s G.R.”
“I’m Samantha. They don’t usually give a reaper still in training a multiple collection. Did you make someone mad in scheduling?”
Everyone. “Let’s just say that I could use a friend in upper management.
“It shouldn’t make a difference but I have an uncle that helps me out. He won’t admit it, but there have been some situations that I believe he stepped in on my behalf.”
“Sounds like a good guy,” I said, a little jealous.
We floated up from the lobby and Samantha stopped on the third floor. “This is my stop. I wish I could help you but as know this is going to be a challenging collection and I’ve got three of my own to round up.”
I guess her uncle didn’t step in for this assignment.
I found my couple in their seventh floor suite, lying together in bed, her head on his chest and both asleep.
It was a good thing that Samantha distracted me because now I didn’t have time to warn the couple. As soon as I entered their room everything started shaking. Within a few seconds the couple sat up, their eyes wide as they held each other tight.
The shaking quickly grew worse and when plaster fell from the ceiling the woman screamed. Her husband held her hand and led her into the bathroom where they huddled in the now empty Jacuzzi.
It wasn’t clear to me how they would die until suddenly the floor gave way and they plummeted down with a full Jacuzzi following from above.
In total they must have fallen three or three and a half stories before coming to a rest, buried beneath tons of rubble. The shaking stopped and I had to float through gaps and openings before I found the mangled, unrecognizable bodies of the couple.
I was near a panic because in the few seconds it took me to locate them, their souls had time flee and I didn’t have a great history of chasing down escaping souls. How would I ever capture both? But I had to or else. I didn’t want to think about or else.
Just before I shot up through the rubble to see if I could locate the direction they left, I heard a calm, quiet voice. “Are you here for us?”
I turned to see the couple’s souls holding each other and looking grief stricken at their dead bodies.
Relief overwhelmed any sympathy I might have otherwise had.
“You didn’t run!” I shouldn’t have sounded so excited when they were trying to come to grips with the fact that they were dead, but the words came without a thought.
“We’re together, and that’s all that matters,” the husband said.
This was fantastic because it meant I would keep my job and maybe collecting two souls at once would help get me off of probation. I might even pass my training period.
“I need to take you—”
A scream rang out from below and I recognized the voice. Samantha.
I darted down but caught myself and stopped. I looked back at my assignment, the two love birds waiting. Maybe I could deliver them first and then help Samantha.
But then another desperate scream rang out from a little father away the best I could tell and I shouted at my collection. “Stay here! I’ll be right back!”
I float into the lobby just in time to see Samantha fighting multiple souls. They disappeared so quickly I didn’t have time to count.
I followed and when I saw five angry, vile souls ganging up on a lone reaper I yelled, “Stop!” As if I had the authority.
The souls paused but only long enough to curse and tell me to mind my own business. I had at least delayed them, but what could I do to help? And what reaper was responsible for the other souls that had joined Samantha’s collection?
I wanted to go for help. The souls entrapping Samantha were evil and no doubt trying to drag her to Hades with them. I had read about instances like this during our training sessions but the instances where a reaper gets overwhelmed by multiple souls is rare, especially since we unionized and bargained for extra safety measures to prevent situations like this one.
Our training instructor warned us to only engage with adequate backup. The manual stated the proper response to this situation is to get help. There wasn’t time to go for help. If I left, I would simply be filling out paperwork to document what had happened. Once the souls had Samantha in Hades, they would be there forever.
And I didn’t want to join them.
I didn’t want to end up in Hades.
“G.R. Help! Please!”
But I couldn’t ignore Samantha. “Let her go.” I tried to yell but it barely came out audible. I cleared my throat to try again but couldn’t make myself heard over the raucous laughter of the souls. Not only did I fail to help Samantha but I thoroughly embarrassed myself in front of her. At least she wouldn’t be around to ever tell anyone.
What kind of thinking was that? If I had time I would be ashamed of myself.
I rushed forward, demanding they let her go. When I flew by without stopping they quieted and anger replaced their laughter.
Only the worst characters want to drag a reaper to Hades and bypass processing. How did this many evil souls end up together? Maybe the mob had a convention at the hotel. Or maybe it was a time share seminar.
I thought if I could get them to chase then I could lure them outside to where the reapers were handing off their souls to the collectors. It seemed like a good idea. It was my only idea.
Unfortunately, before I cleared the ceiling of the lobby, two souls had me in their grasp. I was now useless.
The realization hit me that I would soon be in Hades. I wanted to cry but I held it together—too ashamed to further embarrass myself. I would have plenty of time to cry in Hades. Exactly forever. My vanity was ridiculous, especially in light of my dire situation. I’m not proud; only honest.
Samantha screamed as if that would do any good. I joined her.
“Shut up you fools!” One of the nasty souls roared.
Another shouted, “Let’s get them to Hades so we don’t have to listen to them any longer.”
Just then the couple I had left alone to come after Samantha appeared (descended) from the ceiling along with Stan. It was the first time I had been glad to see Stan and I secretly hoped the scowl on his face was directed toward the souls and not toward me. It was probably both.
If I avoided Hades, I would certainly have to pay for my actions with Administration. Not only had I abandoned my two assigned souls, but I had gotten myself captured and now had probably put Stan and the couple at risk. So much for my job.
“Let the Reapers go and come with me,” Stan ordered.
His tone frightened me and I would have obeyed, but the evil souls just laughed as if this were some kind of game. Stan’s scowl grew meaner, if that was possible.
Do you really think you can over power us, Reaper boy?” one of the souls asked.
“Maybe, maybe not.”
Just then a dozen more reapers and collectors flew into the room and surrounded the vile souls.
“But I think you’re outnumbered now.”
They quickly gathered the souls and the collectors took them away for processing.
Continue reading GRIT’s adventures:
Check out the other stories in the blog hop and leave us comments.
Fiddle of Gold by Barbara Lund Author
The Origin of a Reluctant Supervillain by Vanessa Wells
Help Wanted by Juneta Key
Fishing Expedition by Laurie Hicks
The Deed by Chris Makowski
Fetching Water by Katharina Gerlach‘