Death’s New Helper – Part Two (2252 words)
It was a grand room. There was a fire blazing in the fire place. The decoration was grander than anything she had ever seen. The floor was covered in great hand woven rugs. “Welcome to my home.” Said Death
“Thank you. This is beautiful.”
“Have a seat and I will tell you why I brought you here.” Oblivia climbed up into a chair by the fire and Death took the seat across from her.
“I need an assistant.” He began. “When I first started this job the population was much sparser. The animals were not yet tamed and I had plenty of time to get my job done.”
Oblivia nodded and let him go on.
“The last half millennia, in my real time not your time, has just wore me out. The disease, the wars, the pestilence and the just plain stupidity that comes with humans has been overwhelming. The animals seem to have much better sense but I think that is being bred out of them to sate the human self-righteousness and plain greed.”
Oblivia sat quietly, she suspected she knew the proposition and was already considering it. And then it came.
“I need a helper. I need an intelligent, common sense helper who can think for themselves. Someone who has some experience in life and no ties to the living. I have thought about this for a short while and honestly never considered a rat. But you are all the things I need in a helper.” Death sat back in his chair. Think about it for a moment before you answer.
“May I ask some questions?” Oblivia ventured. “They would help me decide.”
“Ask away I was hoping you would. I don’t enjoy too many question but a thinker always asks them and I need a thinker for this position.
“What would happen if I said yes.”
You would have to pass forward to join me. Die as you would say. No it would not hurt as you saw with the cows and the little mouse. They were happy to be released. You would be given the ability to release their Spark.” Death was beginning to like calling it a Spark rather than a soul. Soul has such a woeful association and spark a bright crackly one.
“How would I know who when and where I needed to be to release these sparks?” Oblivia asked.
“You would know. It would just be there in your thoughts as it is with me” He replied.
“I am much smaller than you. How would I get from place to place fast enough?”
“I did give that some thought on the way here.” Death rose and went to a huge glass cabinet and pulled something out. “This should work just dandy.” He turned held out his hand. Cupped in it was a beautiful black snail shell.
Oblivia looked at it thoughtfully. Her rat brows crunched in consideration.
“I can see you are thinking it is too small for you to fit in. Well that is a matter of magic. You would and it is much more than it looks. I can not show you unless you accept the position but I will tell you that this is how it will look when you travel. It does metamorphose into what you need it to when you need it to.”
Oblivia smiled. She loved the snail shell and the prospect of its magic. She wondered what her mother would think of her new job. She wondered if she would be as good a um?
“What would I be known as? How would I be referred to,” he asked?
“Well most refer to me more or less as Death. Albeit it is spoken different in different languages. I think referring to you as Little Death would serve both well. Would that title suit you?” Death asked hopefully.
“Yes” Oblivia said. “Yes, I think it would. When would I start?
“As soon as you say yes. I would release you and set your old shell to harden as mine was when I accepted the job. Your spark, unlike those we release needs to hold onto some of its original form. You must have some substance. A spark is energy but not with any real substance.”
Oblivia’s face scrunched up.
“Oh nothing to worry about. The animals never see you until you have released them and even then you will appear to them the same as they are, wearing a black cloak of course. It is part of the magic of beings of all kinds. They prefer to see things familiar to them and that is what they will see. A cow will see you as a cow, rabbit will see you as a rabbit but not until you have released them.”
“Will any living creatures see me?
“No unless you work yourself so tired you fall asleep as I do and some little creature crawls into your cloak.” Death grunted a laugh. He was feeling positive right now and it was a good feeling. “So what say you? Will you take the position?”
Oblivia looked down at her paws for a moment.
“There is one thing you should know. You said when we first met that if you didn’t have yourself to keep you company you would just want to parish. Remember saying that to me?” Death asked.
Oblivia nodded but did not lift her eyes. “That everyone needs a little family.” He went on. She nodded and looked up. “Well this is a somewhat lonely job and I had never thought about it like that before but I have had a little family all this time. Me and Myself. If you agree to the position my family will have doubled because I will have you and yourself as part of mine.
I think it would be nice to be your helper. I just hope I can do as good a job as you. I never asked you your name.” Oblivia
“Festus Mortemero but please just call me Marty.” Death said.
“Well since we are going to be family my mom always called me Obee and my siblings like to call me Livi but you can call me what you prefer.”
Death thought about it for a moment. He put his right hand out for Oblivia to climb onto. She did and he lifted her up to his level. “I like your given name Oblivia so I will call you that.” He finished speaking he lifted his left hand and gently brushed her whiskers back with his left hand. Before Oblivia knew what had happened her body collapsed and she ran up Deaths arm and onto his shoulders.
“Wow, that was easy.” Oblivia looked down when she reached his shoulder. “Is that what I look like? I have never seen myself. What happens now?”
“Well you will stay with me while I work and we will place your physical self in a special place. In a week, one of our weeks, not a living week we will return and you will start working on your own I will shadow your first few visits but only because it was requested not because I think you will need me.”
“What about my cloak?”
“Your spark needs to be attached to something physical. A spark alone will not activate the shells magic. So are you ready to go?” Death asked as he walked her limp and lifeless body over to a safe in the wall. He opened the door.
Oblivia peered into and it was endless in size with swaths of pinpoint lights. “What are those lights?” She asked as Death set her body inside.
He waited until he had closed the door. And spun the three locks to their desired setting. “That is infinite and those are stars with worlds of their own.
A week later…
I can’t believe a week has passed. You really are the busiest individual I have ever know and in the rat world that is an impressive statement.” Oblivia said as she jumped down from Death’s shoulder. She landed on the chair next to his. “I am excited but perhaps a nice rest is in order. I am tired and I don’t even have a body to haul around like you do.”
“Yes Oblivia I think a nice rest would be good.” Death agreed as he got up and moved over to lay on the couch.
Oblivia curled up on the chair tired but not sleepy she thought of all the new things she had learned about setting an animal’s spark free. She learned that, like pigs, dogs will often linger reluctant to leave their owners.
She learned that death still happens, whether or not they are there on time, just the occupant has to wait. Death explained that this is what happens when he sleeps. The reason the world looked like it was standing still is because Death moved at over two and a half hours to a normal minute. Moving at fifteen hundred times faster than normal earth speed barely seemed fast enough to keep up with his job.
When they had finished resting Death opened the safe door and there was a package wrapped in Gossamer Blue, the faintest of blue and the shimmer of it, until you got used to it, was blinding.
Death removed the package from the safe and set it on the table. “It looks much smaller than it did when I was alive.” Oblivia said
“It has no flash left to it. It is the bricks and mortar of the house where your spark once lived. I find it very pleasing not to have to deal the shortcoming of the flesh.” Death answered her thoughts. “The easiest way to do this is for you to enter into the package. You will know when you have merged with your new home.”
Oblivia sailed down from his shoulder and then onto the package. She looked down at it and then at Death. “How do I get inside?” She pushed her feet down with some effort but to no affect.
You have always walked on top of things that were solid. Your imagination is telling you it is solid. Your mind is also telling you, you are still solid but you are a spark, are you not?” Death asked.
“I am, you are right. I hadn’t thought about it.”
“Well now is the time to become what you really are and then what you have chosen to be. Let yourself into the package, into your new form. Just relax. When the time is right you will know and the package will open for you.”
Oblivia was excited and tried once to push herself down, with no luck. She stepped down off herself and turned so that she could rest her front paws on the package where her body. She closed her eyes and thought about passing through.
“Relax.” Whispered Death.
She did and after a few moments felt some movement. She opened her eyes and watched as her front paws continued to sink into the package. The package itself felt one way and as she reached her body under it, it felt different. Neither felt bad. In fact she her hands reached her body she could not resist climbing in further. Soft like an Egyptian cotton towel, it was a place she wanted to be.
She disappeared into the package. Death heard a sigh of great comfort. She had found her fit. He knew it would be a few moments so he went to the sitting room and into the glass cabinet and fetched her new shell.
When he returned there was a bit of rustling but nothing opened so he waited. But he didn’t have to wait long for the package to open. “Ah” he said. “That is much more appealing. I am not much for the flesh. It is so limiting but bones. Now ones are of a greater value.”
Oblivia stepped out and tested her new solidity. She jumped up onto Death’s should and back down. “I like it,” she said. “It’s light and agile.”
“Let’s go into the sitting room and try on your new cloak for size.”
Oblivia jumped up onto the coffee table. Death picked up the iridescent black snail shell and with little ceremony, Death was not one for pomp and ceremony, he rested the shell on top of Oblivia’s skull.
“I still say I am too big for this shell.”
“It slid over the top to her shoulders and stopped. She looked around in wonder for the inside was hugely spacious as in the size of a large shoe box and everyone knows a rat or even a dozen rats can fit into a shoe box.
“Climb in.” Death said from somewhere far away.
She did it with awe and joy. She popped her head back out the hole she had come in. “Oh this is wonderful Marty thank you.” Oblivia grinned a grin only she knew was there.
“Wait there is more.” Death said.
“More? What more could a girl rat ask for than her own private room?”
Death reached down and with deft fingers removed a ribbon of material from his clock. He wrapped it carefully around the edge of the snails opening. “Pull this tight around your head and watch what happens.” Death handed her the ends.
Oblivia pulled tight on the little strips and the snail shell opened up into a lovely full length cloak.