Collin watched as the man rained one kick after another onto the prone boy. He had been watching the man beat his son for almost ten minutes now. The fat, slovenly abuser had broken the nine yearold's body within the first few minutes, but his rage would not be aswaid. The boy had given up begging, now just hoping to be rendered unconscious. Collin knew that soon the boy would receive his wish, he would be unconscious forever.
That was why Collin was there, a silent observer to the horrific scene. He was assigned to reap the boy's soul at the appointed time. Today, Jimmy Henson of Whitehall Kentucky would die at eleven twenty-two pm, local time. It would be in the form of a brutal kick to the head from his father that snaps his neck, killing him instantaneously.
Collin was regretting ariving so early. He could do without watching all of this as a silent, impotent observer. He stood back in the shadows with his dark robe blending in. This was not necisary, he could not bee seen by the living. His pale hand gripped his scythe painfully hard. He wanted nothing more than to slash through the man, pulling him violently into the afterworld. The man was cruel and evil. Nothing would have been more just than to drag his soul through the Hell Gates. He could not though. As a reaper, he was forbiden to take anyone before their time. His only job was to take souls to their finall rest, justice was decided by other powers.
As the boy coughed up another mouthfull of blood, another figure entered the room. Collin glanced over to see Agnus pass through the wall. She took short, measured steps that brought her to stand beside Collin. She was dressed the same as him, in flowing black robes. A skullmask hung from her rope belt. While Collins was etched in runes and gave a grim vissage, Agnus's was smooth and plain with a tranquil look. Only two crossed glyphs on the cheeks adorned it. Her scythe blade was thin and precicse like a surgeon's scalpel topping a slender shaft of mahogany.
Silently, Agnus moved to stand beside Collin. She let her scythe rest in the crook over her arm while she folded her pale hands into the sleeves of her robe. After a moment, it was Collin that broke the silence.
"What brings you here?" he asked. He voice gruff, the violent scene putting him in a foul mood.
Agnus held up her own sheet of parchment as she explained, "The man will be dying soon. The police will kick in the door and shoot him three times. Unfortunately, it seems they will arrive to late." She tilted her head to indicate the unfortunate fate of the boy.
"It's a pitty we can't just reap him first, though I think by now it is to late for the boy in anycase," Collin responded. His eyes flared a bit at the thought of dragging the abusive father to the afterlife that he deserved.
Agnus's lips pursed tightly in a frown before she said, "Be careful with such talk Collin. You know that we can only reap in the assigned order. This is as horrific as anything, but the boy's fate is locked."
"I know the laws," Collin said tightly. Then he added in a lighter tone, "That does not mean I have to like them."
"No, no you don't," Agnus added sympatheticly. She looked away slightly as one of the boy's legs made a splintering sound. "I hate reapings like this. I like the quite ones that pass in the night or when it brings relief from suffering."
"You are good with children though," Collin noted, then paused, "We could trade assignments?"
Agnus did not hesitate, holding out her scroll to him, "Done." After another hard kick, she added, "Take him the hard way."
"I intend to," Collin said firmly.
The pair watched the beating continue for another minute until it was time to reap the boy. Agnus solumnly approached the boy from the side that was not being kicked and knelt beside him. At the appointed time she reached forward and gently touched the boy on the shoulder.
Jimmy sat up, looking around confused. He was like a young pup openning its eyes for the first time, seeing the world in a hazy light. Tentatively he asked, "Wh-what is going on?"
Smiling softly at him, Agnus said in a soft voice, "You are going to a better place Jimmy. I'm here to take you away to a place where you will not feel pain or fear."
"Will mamma be there?"
"Yes Jimmy, she is waiting for you," Agnus said. She offered Jimmy a her hand and helped him to his feet. She guided him to step out of his body and led him toward a wall. Agnus knocked once and a door appeared. When she pulled it open, brilliant white light shown through, illuminating everything save the shadows that surrounded her and Collin. Jimmy squinted as he was led through the door. As soon as they were through, the door closed and dissapeared.
Collin stood alone in the room once more. He watched as the man beat the body of his now dead son, appearing to have not even noticed that he was brualizing only a corpse. Collin lifted his hourglass and held it before him so that he precieved the man through it. He watched the sand fall, rapidly emptying. The man had little time left. Each grain of sand another second off of his life.
Grimly, Collin put away the hourglass as it drew near empty. He took his mask from his belt. With solumn determination he placed it on his face. The white mask adhered to his face, binding to him completely, body and soul. No longer was he Collin, he was now Death personified. The mask had transformed him. Gone were the trappings of moral flesh. Hidden deep in the shadows of his obsidian robe was a skeleton with bleached bones.
He gripped his scythe in both hands and approached his target. As he did he could hear the sound of shouting and boots outside the door to the room. As he raised the scythe a police officer kicked in the door with a shout. As he prepared his strike the officers surveyed the room and saw the tortured body of poor, departed Jimmey. The man shouted curses at the police officers as they shouted at him to stand down. The man reached for a knife on his belt and the officers opened fire.
Death swung the scythe in a powerful arc that cleaved the man from shoulder to hip. As the body felt forward to lie on a pull of blood, the man felt backwards in two pieces. His screams echoed through the room as he tried to make sense of what had happened. He looked up to to see Death looking down on him and began to realized what was happening.
"No, noooo! I can't die. Please!" the man begged in terror. Were he capable he would have fouled himself. "I'll do anything. Just let me live a little longer. Whatever you want, its yours!"
Death ignored his pleas and pointed, first at the man, then at the floor. He waited a moment, watching as dawning crossed the man's face, as it sunk in what Death meant. Death took his scythe up again even as the man renewed his pathetic begging. Death slashed down, this time at the floor.
Where the scythe raked the floor it parted in a widening fissure. Floor boards broke and curled away. They pulled back to reveal a gapping casm. Fiendish light issued up from the pit, casting eerie shadows that danced about.
Death reached down for the man who tried to writhe away. It was no use though, and the frigid, skeletal hand of death grabbed the man's hair. Death drug the man across the floor even as he tried to claw at the boards to delay the inevitable. Death drug him into the fisher and down a flight of crudely carved stairs.
The man's body bounced along each step on the narrow staircase. To either side was an impossibly long fall that ended in a lake of fire. The cries of tortured souls and the laughter of demons filled the air in a madening cacophony.
After what felt like an agonizing eternity for the man, Death came to a stop before a colossal gate. The arch was made of mortored skulls while the doors were a pair of massive iron gates. Death forced the man's head around and pointed up to the top of the gate where something had been inscribed in the primal tongue.
While the alphabet was unfamiliar to the man and the language was unknown, he was still able to read it. It was a message that made itself clear to all, to let them know uniquivecly what their fate was to be.
ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE
"No no no no NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!" the man screamed, but it fell on deaf ears. Death dragged him forward as the gates opened. Once through, they slammed shut to seal the man's fate.