Dead things

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Post  davew on Sun Jun 05, 2011 12:40 pm

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I have totally pinched Death from Terry Pratchett, which sort of makes this fic.



Two shades met on a field.
They were both tall, one skeletal clutching a scythe, the other simply a shape clad in black. They met by the bodies of three men. Death looked down at the collection of weapons and armour, prodded an axe with the butt of his scythe, and shook his skull.

SUCH A SHAME he said.
"They were doomed from the start" said the other, standing motionless and looking anywhere but the bodies.
OH? said Death.
"Oh yes" said the second shade. "From the very moment I laid eyes on them."
The figure drifted over as Death swung his scythe and did his job. He paused and turned to his companion.
DID THEY DO SOMETHING TO OFFEND?
"No," said the figure lightly "but you know how it is sometimes. Or all the time, in my case. A mortal crosses your path and, well, it's almost embarrassing really. I don't think I mean to, but I shouldn't have to tell you how it is with us."
PERHAPS YOU COULD TRY? suggested Death.
"Well, let's take this first poor chap" said the shade "who really never did anything very much to anyone. Other than kill them. Oh, and some rape. And pillage. But what choice did he have? Society, I blame society. And then he crossed my path, so I did what I do. It isn't my fault that he wasn't prepared to cope with the results. Letting himself be taken like that, he'd turn in his grave."
ASSUMING HE GETS ONE
"And this lad here. What on earth was he thinking? He gave himself up to me, literally put himself in harm's way - and for what? For a sticky end, that's what! But we do what we do."
ALWAYS
"The one at the end, though. I really did a number on him."
REALLY?
"Yep. I've been killing him for a decade. Well, more than that. I took his independance, I took his self reliance, I took his aspirations and his ambitions, I took his desire and I broke his spirit. I smashed everything that made him him, and didn't kill him. You know, he changed completely? Abandoned his friends, let himself go too, gave away all the things that he thought he wanted and still I had more to do to him."
WELL, AT LEAST YOU LET HIM LIVE.
"Was that merciful, then?"
SOME WOULD SAY SO.
"Not me"
OH?
The figure shrugged off his cowled robe, revealing a small, round, pink figure with tiny wings that flapped furiously to keep him off the ground.
AH. said Death.
Cupid shrugged.
"They give me a bow and arrows and then they tell me 'aim for the heart'. Tell me, in your experience, what happens to people who get shot in the heart?"
TYPICALLY? I HAPPEN.
"Right! Only in my case, it can take decades for them to die. They still do, though. All of them."
EVERYBODY DOES.
"Yes, yes, I know. Pestilence can strip away the mind, flay the self and the ego until you're nothing but a shambling, drooling wreck that doesn't know itself. But only I can grind away your soul."
Death began to move away and then stopped, shook his head and turned.
STOP BEING SELF PITYING AND LOOK.
He pointed, and when Death points, you follow the finger.
There, sitting by the fire, sat a ragged man with a disconsolate expression. Or rather, the image of a ragged man sat there.
"What's he doing? Shouldn't he have moved on by now?"
APPARENTLY NOT. AND HE IS...WAITING.
"What for? Judgement day? Reincarnation?"
FOR HER said Death.
Cupid blinked, and then sobbed.
"I am such a bastard" he sighed. "Even now, he's still in my power! Is there no end?"
Death thought this over carefully.
OH, GO AND TORMENT A POET he snapped BECAUSE I THINK YOU MAY HAVE RATHER MISSED THE POINT.
"Well then show me!" shouted Cupid. "Show me what they would have been without my intervention!"
Death sighed.

The warrior leaned on his axe and waited as the horses were rounded up. He wasn't about to run after them himself. He turned to accept a mug of water and was facing the wrong way when the chief's daughter gave him an appraising look. A look he should have returned.

"Well?" said Cupid.
WELL, said Death IF YOU FOLLOW THE CHAIN OF ILLOGIC, HE IS MEANT TO TREAD THE JEWELED THRONES OF THE WORLD BENEATH HIS SANDLED FEET, TOPPLE KINGS AND WREST THE EYE OF...OH, SOME GOD OR OTHER, YOU KNOW THE DRILL...IN ORDER TO PROVE HIMSELF WORTHY OF HER.
"Is that what all the blood is for?"
YES
"Why?"
IT'S...CULTURAL.
"And now?"
HE WILL DIE IN HIS FIRST BATTLE BECAUSE HE WILL NEVER TRAIN WITH THAT AXE. HE WEARS IT FOR SHOW.
"Well that's an improvement, anyway. It's not like he was going to do anything but kill."
THAT DEPENDS ON HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT REGIME CHANGE AND WHETHER YOU HAPPEN TO BE AN OPPRESSED PEASANT IN DESPERATE NEED OF A BERSERKING AXE WIELDING BARBARIAN said Death, almost to himself.

The knight's sword was nicked, battered, bloody to the hilt and still moving as the armoured man tore his way through the crowd of men at arms.
"Well, this one hasn't changed" said Cupid cheerfully.
Death said nothing, as the man hacked and slashed, stabbed and savaged.
REALLY? said Death eventually. HAVE YOU LOOKED CLOSELY?
Cupid looked, and saw the arrow in the man's heart.
THIS IS WHAT HE LOVES said Death THIS IS WHAT HE HAS GIVEN HIS LIFE TO.
"That's not one of my arrows" said Cupid, voice brimming with paranoia.
Something red rose out of the slaughter and stalked, dripping, towards them. It turned eyes afire with rage to Death, to whom it nodded, and favoured Cupid with a sneer.
INDEED NOT said Death IT'S HIS.
The creature spread arms that were a multitude of blades and howled triumph into the skies as, about it, men fought and fell while the Knight strode on, slicing a path forwards.

"But that was horrible!" said Cupid, sitting on a pile of discarded armour. "Can a man love death that much?"
I FEEL I WOULD HAVE BEEN TOLD.
"Well, yes, but...it was awful."
IT WAS THE LOVE OF BATTLE. IN TERMS OF ME, THINK OF IT AS MILD FLIRTATION.
"And it means nothing!" insisted Cupid "He still fights, he still hunts! He still has his life. Show me the last."
Death sighed again.

The tavern was a little oasis of light and noise in an otherwise quiet street, but Death took them to the alley behind it. There, a man had collapsed and slumped against a wall. He was fat, florid, and he stank. He was also not breathing well, and there seemed to be a lot more wrong with him than a night at the tavern could account for. The knife in his back was obvious, but Cupid had suspicions.
"Show me the archer, then"
THIS IS HIM.
"It can't be."
WITHOUT THE WOMAN, HE DRINKS AND GAMBLES. HE HAS NO INFLUENCE IN HIS LIFE TO GIVE HIM PURPOSE BEYOND THE NEXT NIGHT. HE HAS NO REASON TO LIVE FOR ANYONE BUT HIMSELF.
"So at least he's free, then."
A voice bubbled at them from out of the shadows.
"and he has such an interesting collection of diseases, it's almost a shame that the knife will finish him off. i was so looking forward to seeing what all of the major venereal diseases at once might...achieve"
Death raised a hand in what was part wave, part salute.
AND NO ONE WILL MOURN HIM he added OR EVEN NOTICE THAT HE IS GONE
"Well, that's not so bad" said Cupid. "Unloved and unmourned at least spares someone some pain."
SHE DIED YEARS BEFORE, BEATEN TO DEATH FOR DARING TO BECOME PREGNANT AGAIN said Death conversationally WHICH OF COURSE WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED IF SHE HAD MARRIED THE ARCHER. SHE TOO WAS UNMOURNED. AS WAS THE CHILD. ARE YOU TELLING ME THIS IS GOOD?
"Look, he was a rake and a wastrel and infested with the pox and lord only knows what else" said Cupid hurridly "so he's only got himself to blame. It's not my fault."

They were back at the log. The bodies had gone. The spirit of the archer had gone. The moon skulked behind a cloud, and Death leaned on his scythe.
"You really haven't shown me anything I can't argue against" said Cupid. Death shook his skull.
LOVE WAS THEIR REASON FOR EVERYTHING. TAKE IT AWAY AND THEY BECAME NOTHING.
"It was a justification! That's all! They made their choices and they took the paths they took!
THEN WATCH.

The city spread as far as the eye could see. Stack upon stack of grey cubes, each one identical. Each one a part of a larger structure that went up, and around on all sides. There were no people on the street, which split and burst here and there allowing plants to struggle into the almost no daylight, where they yellowed and sagged.
"And this is?"
A WORLD WITHOUT YOU
"Well that's not possible. Where are the people?"
IN THE BOXES. THEY WAIT.
"For?"
ME.
"How did this happen?"
Death turned and leaned close to Cupid, his empty eye sockets a terrible swelling blackness.
YOU DIED he said. Cupid shook his head.
"No" he said in a hollow voice.
I SHOULD KNOW said Death I WAS THERE. WITHOUT YOUR INTERVENTION THE WORLD WAS GIVEN OVER TO PASSION, BUT PASSION DIES AS PASSION MUST. THEN THERE WAS NO REASON FOR THEM TO INTERACT OR BE ANYTHING BUT MEAT, IN BOXES, AWAITING THE REAPER. AND THAT IS ALL THEY ARE.
"But it's so..."
"Grey?" said a small voice "Flat? Weary? Unmemorable? Oh, yes, this is pretty much a perfect world. It's all so very..." They turned to see a small figure in a neat little grey suit. It was no more than three feet tall, and yet seemed very much larger, as if something had squeezed itself out of the raw essence of the cityscape so it could talk.
"...dull" finished the figure.
"And you are?"
THIS IS ISOLATION said Death
"Isolation plc" said the figure "After a merger with boredom and ennui. Well, it made corporate sense to stop diversifying and hit the whole thing as one personification. And thank you, Mr. Cupid, for the opportunity. I must say, it's nice to see you once more but it's so sad you won't be staying."
"This is monsterous!"
"No, merely sensible."

They sat on the log.
WELL? said Death.
Cupid kicked at the fire.
"All that over a barbarian, a knight and an archer?"
YES
Cupid shook his head.
IT HAS TO START SOMEWHERE. IT STARTED HERE. ONCE YOU DECIDE ONE LIFE IS BETTER WITHOUT YOU, ONCE YOU DEVIATE FROM YOUR ASSIGNED TASK, IT ALL FALLS APART.
"Point made" said Cupid, "point made, you boney bastard." He picked up his bow and nocked an arrow, stubby wings whirring to lift him into the air.
Death waited until he was gone.
[b]UNGRATEFUL TYKE he said AT LEAST HE GETS TO BE CELEBRATED.
The shade of the archer looked up at him.
"On balance" said the Archer "it wasn't a bad life, really."
I DON'T MAKE VALUE JUDGEMENTS said Death I JUST DO THE REAPING.

davew
Just Starting
Just Starting

Posts : 9
Join date : 2011-05-06
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