Death Incorporated

This was an original piece written for a competition. 

 

Death needed to be brought up to date. Why on Earth did death need to be brought up to date? Everyone died, even the creatures who dealt in death died. No one was really immortal, no one. Life was one big cycle; you died, you moved up and if you were lucky you got another job higher up. You died there and moved up another place or moved on and when you moved on, when that door appeared for you there was nothing on the other side. You disappeared. Soul returned to the Earth and you were reborn, and so, the cycle began again.

Why on Earth then would it need bringing up to date? Death was the same archaic thing it had always been. It didn’t need a makeover, a rebranding, it didn’t need a flashy executive. It didn’t need to be more effective and efficient.

Death was death.

And Death, like Life and Fate and all those things was part of a multi-planial corporation. Like all corporations, change was coming. Death Inc. had recently been taken over by a much younger suited and booted Agent of Death who had ideas to vastly transform the company. Ideas that he felt would ensure that targets were hit, that quotas were met.

Kevin couldn’t think of anything worse. Dealing in death wasn’t just about plucking names out of a hat, it took careful consideration. As an agent of death he’d spend weeks liaising with other departs to build a case for why old man Fitzwilliam deserved three extra days and seven year old Macey didn’t.

Death wasn’t just about random chance. It took careful cooperation with other departments; discussions about people’s life spans. About their impact on the world and the people around them. About how their death would impact others. Eighty-percent of the people who died had been carefully chosen the other twenty percent was a result of mortals deciding to take things into their own hands; usually pre-meditated murder or suicide.

It often made Kevin laugh, that mortals thought Death was just one cloak wearing, scythe carrying man. That he had complete control over everything. That people died because it was their time. It amused most agents of death that some humans took comfort in the idea that death was entirely chaotic. Not an administrative form or number in sight.

Kevin drummed his fingers on his computer. They all had to increase their mortality yield by 20% and he was struggling. The fact was, there were too many mortals living to be too old. The Earth couldn’t cope. Ackley, the new head honcho of Death Inc. had informed them all in a meeting the previous week that they needed to stop being sentimental. They were in the business of death not happiness. People, beings, they had to die. No matter what other departments said.

”If they ain’t changin’ the world they can get the chop.” Were his exact words. ”No more dallying around about impacting 20,000 lives. It ain’t enough, that world down there is chocabloc and we’re growing slack. We’re Death, we can change fate and time and life just by wiping someone out and I think it’s about time we remembered that.” Ackley’s words had certainly roused the forces. Everyone had left the meeting ready to be ruthless with the lists of billions of people and creatures before them. The Spectral teams were moved into cracking down on those members of the Spectral Society who refused to move on. Everyone improved almost immediately. Everyone except Kevin.

Kevin had left the meeting unmoved and disappointed. He was always very fond of the personal touch his work afforded him. Still he realized that he would have to move with the times, or, be deemed ineffective and be forced to move on through his door. There was no way, after all, that he would be promoted and there was no way he wanted to step into the unknown.

Kevin was absent mindedly scrolling through the list of people in his account range when an idea struck him. Maybe moving into modern times had it’s advantages, maybe Death Inc. did need a small update to bring it in line with the world below. Kevin’s fingers moved quickly across the keyboard of his computer and though it was prohibited, he accessed the mortals internet. Maybe he could make this work for him, maybe he could raise his quota and still manage to do what he imagined would be a good job.

He’d read about certain social media sites in one of the e-zines that came through to his work email. The article had been about how Agents had been able to dispatch of people more quickly because the mortals were never off their phones. Constantly engaging with the electronic devices in their hands and forgoing their own safety. According to that article, these phones were an untapped market which could help the Moirai get to better grips with humans in all departments, not just death. Kevin thought there was something in that, something worth investigating.

Thirty minutes into his perusing of the mortals internet, of rifling through a variety of social media sites a thought flitted through his mind, leaving as quickly as it had entered. An elusive thought that Kevin, were he to catch it, knew would lead to a genius idea.

After 3 hours of trawling through pages and eventually settling on one site in particular, he had a list of at least 3000 people he could wipe out. Each one more deserving than the last judging by their news feeds, what they chose to share and the godawful, most of the time, racist, homophobic and misogynistic shit they posted. Every person was as ignorant as the last. All mortals could do was comment angrily but Kevin could feel the rage there. He could feel the collective anger of the internet towards these people. The hate was almost visceral and the usually mild mannered agent found himself getting angrier as he read more comments. He was fascinated enthralled and so giddy his head felt light. He was angry too, angry that these mortals were allowed to just continue. His outlook on his work, on the people he’d gotten sentimental over was rapidly changing.

How had nobody thought of this before? How had nobody thought to look into this. This was the jackpot. This was the future of how they could decide. This was the future of how they could give one man, one more hour with his wife. This is how they could reduce the ghost and poltergeist population.

Kevin felt giddy. This would warrant him a promotion for sure. He stood cracking his spine back into place, trying to remain calm despite the adrenaline now rushing into his ears.

He was halfway to Ackley’s office, spring in his step when he slowed suddenly in front of a long wall awash with pictures. The wall of fame was littered with agents who had caused thousands, if not millions of people to die. Dieses, genocide, war. The creature that had caused the plague was a personal favourite of Kevin’s.

Kevin’s steps came to a stop, a full stop and he just stared at the wall as his brain started to whirr.

Maybe he shouldn’t share this just yet, maybe he should keep this too himself. This was after all something huge. Ackley could steal the idea for himself and then Kevin would remain just Kevin all his life rather than the decorated hero of death he was imagining he could be. After all with the right idea, which was currently forming, this could be utilised in a similar way to the plague. This could be the modern plague. 

With several eyes on him, probably due to the grin spreading across his face, Kevin turned and walked straight back to his desk. He pulled out pen and paper and began to furiously scribble down ideas.

The modern plague, with the right help from the right departments they could make it so the biggest social networking site on the planet was transformed into a virus capable of culling the human race.

Introducing the New Superhero – Anti-Climax!

From this prompt on Reddit; “If you kill him, you’ll be just like him!” “Dammit, Steve, not this shit again.”

One, two, three punches to the stomach and then slam straight into a brick wall that crumbled behind Mysteroso’s head. At last she had him, pinned against the wall life slowly being choked from him. Slender fingers turning white with the pressure as they crushed windpipe, nerves and muscle together.

”Wait! Stop! If you kill him, you’ll be just like him.”

”Dammit, Steve, not this shit again!” Fury groaned loudly. At the height of her rage there was always this asshole telling her to stop. Being some sort of moral fucking compass even though no one had asked for it. Not this time. ”Why the fuck are you never there when you’re actually needed?” She snapped, hand still wrapped around Mysteroso’s throat as she turned to look at Steve.

”Bombs about to go off, you’re on the other side of the world, when I actually get the guy who did it, suddenly you appear like the most annoying Jiminy mother fucking cricket.”

”Fury I thin-” Steve started to speak and Fury slammed Mysteroso into the wall again in her temper.

”No, you know what. This guy has hurt people, he’s a freaking danger to society and because I didn’t kill him the last time you came out with this moral bullshit. 2000 people are dead. Kids, women, grandparents. All obliterated, and he’ll do it again. Are you actually thinking of the greater good? Because that seems like bullshit to me considering that it’s fine that a bunch of his henchmen were killed and the civilians during this battle-. So you know what Steve fuck you and your Jiminy fucking cricket complex.”

As the last words left her lips, suddenly blood erupted as Mysteroso’s head disappeared into the air. Popping off like a champagne cork with the pressure.

”Oh for fucks sake!” Fury cried as blood rained down around them. ”I don’t even get to watch myself choke the life right out of him. You should change your name to anti-climax or buzzkillington.” Fury deadpanned as she shoved past him, leaving Mysteroso’s headless body bleeding on the floor.

Ugly

  1. Write about something ugly — war, fear, hate, or cruelty–but find the beauty (silver lining) in it.

The cruelty of life is an ugly thing. It preys on our deepest fears, it settles uneasy in our chests, it sends us down rabbit holes that are filled with darkness, twisted thorns and broken mirrors. It sends us to a place that is dingy and cold rather than bright and warm. Life in its infinite cruelty chases time and forces him to steal from us precious moments. Forces death to take too soon, forces sorrow and pain onto those who don’t deserve it. Life at its cruellest thrusts the foulness of pain, suffering and anguish onto shoulders trying to be strong and it does not stop until our shoulders are deformed, disfigured and almost broken beneath its weight.

Life is a cruel mistress,
                                                           and yet….

From adversity strength blossoms. There is beauty in the ugly, safety in our fears, light within the dark. There is pleasure in the pain, strength in suffering. Where there is hardship there can be kindness.

The beauty in the ugliness of life is that one cannot exist without the other. Beauty must draw it’s strength from the wounds caused by the ugly and the ugly must draw it’s strength from the wonder incited by the beautiful.

Without adversity we would not know triumph and so we should see each cruel act by life herself as a stepping stone towards the next moment of wonder.

 

Jeff

You’re sure you’re just going mad, that’s what it must be surely.

Now; stood face to face with your bathroom door, a glowing light coming through the cracks in the edges. You’re not so sure.

If you were the sort of person to believe in ghosts, (which you’re obviously not), you might think that’s what it is. A friendly ghost who just likes to move things around your house. Eat things out of the fridge and enjoy making things go bump in the night. There’s been a buzzing for days but you’ve always just assumed it was a fly or some other bug that would be caught, sooner or later, by the spider living in the garage.

To be fair the spider is getting out of hand. It’s big, bigger than ever but you’ve never really been scared of them and it helps keep your house clean. As long as it doesn’t give birth to a million babies you haven’t minded it.

There are a million things that can explain what’s happening in the house. Books being left open for example; maybe you forgot you’d started reading it, maybe it fell like that. The food gone out of the fridge; maybe you’ve taken to sleep walking, sleep eating. Maybe that’s where that pillow went.

The dips in electricity, dimming then brightening of lights is all surely just a fault on a power line somewhere. Surely it’s a power line, nothing in your house could be doing that. 

You’ve tried to tell yourself it’s nothing. You’ve tried to rationalise everything but now, now stood in front of the bathroom door, with it’s strange glow. Now you’re not so sure. What if it is a ghost and not a friendly one? What if it’s an alien being who wants to feast on human flesh? An electricity monster as seen on Scooby Doo once upon a time.

You stand there, shrugging your shoulders like a prize fighter trying to ready yourself to open the door. Every time your fingers almost touch it you pull back. Apprehension, anxiety, fight or flight makes your heartbeat step up a notch. Makes you start to sweat, your stomach churn. Your hands become clammy and your muscles tense, locking. Are you ready to run? 

And then…

The toilet flushes. The toilet flushes and a part of you that isn’t terrified feels some form of humour. You reach for the handle because now you have to see what’s going on. As your fingers touch the handle, you get a shock, an electric one and the door is pulled open from the other side.

”All right. I’m Jeff, nice to finally meet you.”

The voice is gruff, rough and belongs to a 6 foot glowing spider wearing reading glasses and holding a book. ”Good stuff this. Fancy a brew.”

Let Sleeping Dragons Lie

[WP] – The heroic knight stumbles into the dragon’s cave to find out that the princess is there out of her own accord and does not want to leave.WRITING PROMPT

”Oh Fuck off.”

And there she stood in all her glory. The princess with the black as coal hair, falling about her shoulders and waist. She was every bit as pretty as the king and queen had said she would be. Yet the expression on her face was anything but pleased to see the young Knight. Her arms were folded, weight resting on one hip. She gestured towards the entrance of the cave door, urging him to leave.

”Miss, I’m sorry. I don’t think you understand I’m here to save you from the beast.” The Knight was handsome, chiselled, a mess of tussled blonde hair atop his head. He was young though probably no older than eighteen. A boy for the women of the court to swoon over. The princess was older however, wiser and certainly with a mind of her own, a mind not swayed by pretty boys.

”Oh no, I know why you’re here. Now if you’d kindly fuck off back to the castle.” The Princess shifted just slightly but her gaze was fixed and mean. This was something that the Knight had been in no way prepared for. He had expected a pretty princess held captive by a dragon, just like those in the tales. He had expected to step in and rescue her. Return with a princess, the dragons head and then he’d probably be allowed to marry her.

”My lady I don’t think-” The knight began and the Princess snorted out a laugh.

”I understand perfectly why you’re here and if I wanted to leave I would, that big path you walked up to get here, I’m perfectly capable of walking down that by myself. They’ve not taken my legs!” The Princess gestured to the dragon and walked away from the Knight towards the dragon. ”See!.” She gestured to her legs before running  a hand over it’s head, a head that was almost as big as the Princess herself. The dragon made a noise akin to purring at the touch.

”My Lady, I believe this monster has you under a spell.” The Knight protested, the Princess raised a brow. She let out a laugh that echoed off the cave walls. Typical, a woman could not just enjoy the company of a dragon, could not go wandering on her own. No of course not, not for her own enjoyment anyway. No a woman had to be the victim of some terrible curse or spell. The thought was laughable.

”Your beliefs are wrong, now I will not ask you to leave again.” The Princesses voice was almost a growl, she was aggressive and irritable. This so called Knight had interrupted her reading time!

”My Lady I must insist!” The Knight took a step towards her and reached out for her arm, as he did The Princess stepped back and the great black dragon who had lain sleeping peacefully awoke. It rose gracefully to a full and terrifying height coming to stand behind the Princess protectively, roaring loudly.

Unfortunately for the Knight the roar was not just a roar, it was fuelled by fire, which billowed from it’s throat and burnt the Knight to a cinder.

”Oh dear.” The Princess said as the Knights armour dropped into the ashes with a clang. ”Well at least we have a new sword.” She chuckled, picking it up and throwing it into a pile with others. The dragon let out a huff before settling back down into a peaceful slumber. The Princess left the remains of the Knight in favour of curling up next to the dragon and picking up the book she had been reading when they’d been so rudely interrupted.

Who Can Make The Sunrise

(Prompt: A horror story set in a candy factory and be sure to include some creepy children)

You walk along the dark corridor, the only light that isn’t from your torch filters through the factory windows. It’s not even sunlight. It’s moonlight. It took you so damn long to find the place that the sun had already started to set when you eventually got on the right road.

Crisp underfoot are wrappers from candy long abandoned, the noise reminds you of autumn leaves underfoot. That delicious crunching that brings forth warm memories of hats and scarfs, allows a feeling of safety to settle in your system amidst the dark factory. There’s a sudden noise that isn’t you, something that could easily be a child’s laughter or something else entirely. Maybe it’s just the rats, maybe it’s part of that soft music filtering through the factory. A worn out tape that’s probably been on loop since it was abandoned.

You’re only here for the documents, the investigation is well underway and you’re a damn fine detective with a gun, you’re not scared of some shitty factory no matter how creepy it tries to be. A shadow flits across your periphery and you turn ready to draw your weapon before shaking your head, relenting the need for the gun and passing it off as a rat or maybe even just your imagination. There’s the noise again, the thing that could be children’s laughter.

”Oh come on!” You roll your eyes head tilting back slightly, you’ve been so busy focusing forward, that you haven’t been covering all bases. You don’t need to you tell yourself. You hear that noise again and finally a tiny sliver of fear permeates your shell. A tiny sliver that bleeds into your brain and makes the shadows suddenly worrying, the dark a terrible threat, the rats suddenly seem the size of rottweilers.

You roll your shoulders trying to ignore the warning rushing around your system, the sudden accelerated heartbeat. This isn’t a horror movie dammit and this isn’t fiction. ”All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.” The quote echoes in your mind and you curse your mind for suddenly deciding that right now in this dark, dank, tinny silence. Save of course for that (creepy) music. In this empty, middle-of-nowhere warehouse is suddenly the place to become philosophical. You roll your shoulders again trying to physically shake away what your mind is doing.

The music is louder now and the shadow, the one that scurries across your periphery seems much, much bigger. You refuse to give in to fear though and keeping your torch steady you press on, pace unchanged.

The wrappers continue to crunch underfoot along with whatever else has gathered on this god-awful floor. The office is just up ahead, metal steps with a rail that you’re not entirely sure you want to touch.

There’s no light up there either, savour the moonlight that just seems to get thinner on the ground the closer you get. The door to the office is ajar and there’s that creepy sound again, the laughing. It’s not laughing, it can’t be. It has to be the rats, the echo’s, sound distortion due to space and the imagination. It’s not any louder or quieter in here, the music and you wonder how people worked with that all day.

The first thing you do is walk to the tape player and press the stop button. The music stops and you breathe out a sigh of relief into the silent air. The silence is actually quite calming. Slowly, ever so slowly, as you make your way to the file cabinet, the silence starts to become less comforting. You start to make more noise to fill it, your heart rate increases slightly and you can feel adrenaline start to pump in your veins sending these chills down your spine.

You need to fill the silence, need to fill the void because with no music, now you can focus on everything. Everything. Every thud, every scurry, every whisper of the wind. You start humming a familiar tune when you feel the changing of air.

You straighten up as you start to hear your pulse in your ears. Your hand is on your gun. Your breathing has dropped so quiet you don’t even know if you are breathing any more. There’s that giggle again, that high pitched child like giggle and suddenly fear floods your system and you’re caught, hung in a moment between wanting to turn around and not.

”Hi there, what’s your name?”