I did this week’s Terribleminds challenge, where a title is picked at random.
The old man and the newbie arrived at a sunny beach in the late afternoon. It was deserted, aside from a lone woman in a bathing suit, reading beneath an orange umbrella. They walked without footprints, without noise, to their target. The woman spoke without looking up.
“I have ten pages left. I’d thank you to wait until I’m done.”
The newbie leaned over and hissed a whisper.
“She can see us?”
“Yes, she can.”
“Can everyone? That’s going to make this job difficult.”
“This one’s a special case. There’s always one for each Reaper.”
The old man dug around in a hidden pocket of his black robes. He pulled out a silver locket in the shape of a skull. It had delicate filigree engraving around the face. He handed it to the newbie.
“When you find your one, put a portrait in here. He or she will be protected until your time is up.”
The newbie opened the locket. A faded sepia-tone photograph was tucked inside. The woman in the picture wore a lace-trimmed dress with a high collar. The woman on the beach looked exactly like the one in the photo.
“But, this must be a hundred years old!”
“Older. 1903, I think it was?”
“But that’s not… This woman… She’s…”
The woman sniffed as she turned a page.
“I can hear you. It’s not polite to speak of a lady’s advanced age.”
The old man smiled.
“Almost done, my dear?”
“Nearly. Ah. Yes, thank you.”
The old man nodded and turned to the newbie.
“You will go quite insane if you don’t have a friend to share the journey. Collecting life energy takes a heavy toll on a Reaper. Remember that.”
He took one last wistful look at his faithful scythe before passing it on. The newbie gripped the handle as a surge of dark power washed over her.
The woman set down her book. As she stood to take the old man’s hand, her skin formed wrinkles, and her hair lost all of its color. They stood hand in hand, facing the new Reaper.
The newbie lifted the scythe. She exchanged a smile with her mentor before bringing the blade down.