“Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something.”
― Pancho Villa
The wood floor was hard. It pushed unforgivingly against Miki’s spine.
The blood was warm in her mouth. It tasted of pennies.
Her foot was at an awkward angle, but to shift it would mean jostling the knife still jammed up into her ribs, and she didn’t think she could take the pain any worse than it was.
This was a lot more traumatic than the first time she’d died, and if she wasn’t trying so hard to not choke on her own blood, she would’ve been pretty shouty and angry about it.
As it was . . . she just lay on the floor, chest on fire and foot falling asleep.
Waiting to die.
Waiting for Death.
When he finally came, he had to stir her from unconsciousness, which brought all the pain surging back. So she just glared at him.
“What in hell took so long?”
“We are very busy,” Death said, looking up and down her body with his bright, bright eyes. “One of the undead?”
He sounded very, very tired.
“Is that what we’re calling them?” Miki snorted, dried blood crackling around her mouth. “I guess they do prefer knives to biting.”
Death knelt down silently, his features shifting smoothly as he did so. When Miki next met his gaze, it was in the face of a older man with dark red hair and faded freckles across the nose. He looked sad. He placed a human hand on her ribs, and the pain slowly dissipated to numbness. Miki gave a grateful sigh.
“What did they do?” he asked softly.
“It was a girl, younger than me. I woke up to this in my chest” — she loosely indicated the knife with a weak hand — “and her laughter ringing in my ears.” Miki paused. “I don’t think she meant to kill me . . . She looked surprised when I slipped off the bed and there was blood everywhere.”
“They are trying to recruit a Reaper to their side.”
“Well, they suck at it. I don’t know who’s in charge, but they obviously don’t really know what they’re doing. If she wanted my soul, she went to the wrong person.” Miki eyed Death, and then looked away.
“She took my cloak. I couldn’t even try to stop her . . . I’m sorry.”
Her throat felt tight, but she had already run out of tears. She was just about spent.
“There is no need for apologies. This is the work of unnatural forces. It is I who should apologize to you.”
Death stood, and Miki found that she was floating in midair. Then, she was back in her bed, the sheets free of stains. The knife was gone from her ribs, and the blood cleaned from her body. The soft mattress yielded comfortably to her back, though she was beginning to feel numb all over. It was nearly time.
“Thank you,” she whispered, unable to fully express her gratitude.
“It is the least I can do for you, my Reaper.” His countenance shifted back to that of the white skull, though the lights of his eyes seemed dimmer than before. In his skeletal hand, Miki could see her hourglass, glowing a soft blue.
“Thank you for your service, Miki Jones.”
Miki managed a smile. “It has been an honor to serve you, Master,” she murmured, as she closed her eyes.
And with Death, she moved on.
This little drabble takes place before Return. And now you know how the cloak was stolen. =’)
Part of my Memento Mori series!