‘No smoking in this area’ the sign read as he sat down on the bench outside the hospital, he gave a little chuckle, when the threat of MRSA lurked in every ward. He wiped a sleeve across his withered brow, and noticed the thread bare look of his garment, he had a requisition in for a new one for months now, he made a mental note to chase that up in a spare moment.
A spare moment these days was as rare as rocking horse shit, he mused, he had not stopped in over a week, no sooner than he had claimed one soul, the time was running out on another. As the population grew year on year, free time grew smaller and smaller. He was not the only Grim Reaper, but there was never enough new recruits to keep up with demand. After three hundred years of reaping it was all getting a little same old, same old, with never ending monotony, people screaming ‘why them?’ begging for a few more moments with their loved ones, some people welcomed him with open arms, tired of the struggle to survive, or those who try to convince him they have the wrong person, he was the Grim Reaper, he had a warrant from the big man, he had the right person.
After an afterlife with little or no respite from collecting souls he thought a weekend off might be nice, or a holiday, finally get to see some of the tropical paradises he had not seen or known about during his life. It is true that during the early part of the 1900’s and again in the 1940’s, came to be the busiest part of that century, these days there was a lot less war, ok, the skirmishes in the Middle East went on and on, but even that was a lot quieter than the days of the crusades and holy war, even the oppression of the masses was a lot less common, but he still felt that they were a little light on body’s to allow the reaper community to have any real and substantial free time to pursue their own interests. God had a number of lovely 18 hole golf courses up there, he would love to play a few of them, one day.
He mused on the thought of quitting, he had never heard of a reaper quitting and hanging up his cloak and scythe, but there always had to be an exception to the rule, unless the exception to the exception rule was there was no exceptions. Maybe he could transfer to a job in the South Pacific where he could visit some of the places that he missed when he was alive, do a bit of sight seeing as he gathered souls, and it had to be a little more pleasant than a wet Wednesday in Wigan. Less oldies slipping on ice and never leaving hospital alive, motorway pileups, where it became tough to try and wrangle all the souls to move in the same direction, stockbrokers jumping from windows, all that blood made him feel a little queasy.
He would give this idea of a transfer a bit more though, he guessed it would become as much of a chore, just in nicer surroundings, same shit, different day. The truth was he was exhausted, and would be just as exhausted in a different location, and the thick wool cloak in the hot sun must be just unbearable. He pulled a packet of cigarettes from his pocket, the only perk of the job, free cigarettes and risk free smoking, there was only just how much dead you could be. He pulled the pre lit smoke from his packet, and chuckled as he looked at the no smoking sign with a light hearted,
“Fuck you”, his ethereal pager was vibrating like a box of coked up hornets in his pocket, but he ignored it, it was just the Head Reaper telling him he was going to be late to his next collection. He did not care, what would it matter? A minute here or there? He was going to enjoy his smoke.
He flicked the end of his smoke and watched it barrelling through the air, until it disintegrated in a puff of dust. He pulled the pager from its pocket to retrieve the message for his next location, and shuddered as he read the first line………..
‘Luton airport, plane crash, multiple souls’
The worst type of job, multiple souls, blood and carnage, and he just knew it was going to be be chaos, all he wanted was one quiet day, just to breath and relax, but oh no, not today. He would go to this job, the straw that has broken this camels back, but now he was more convinced than ever. Enough was enough, he was going to message God after the next job, and tell him just where he could stick his job, although he was not sure his supreme eminence had orifice in which to stick it.