Flash Fiction Friday is upon us again! This challenge called for dice again. Rolling on two tables to create a title and go from there. I rolled a 14 and a 4 and created the title Seven days of debt. Telling my husband he told me about a small comic he had come across. It sparked my creativity and voilá; a story! I’ve included the comic, maybe it will spark your creativity. Have a good weekend!
Seven days of debt
“So, I hear you are going to intern with us for a week, to see if you want to pursue this career.” Hades said as he shook the hand of the new intern, Tom.
“I will give you a quick tour ‘round the office, and then I’ll take you over to meet your first mentor.” He pulled Tom with him into a dark corridor.
“You probably never realized that each animal species has its own grim reaper. This being your first day, you’ll be tagging along with human death, as it is most recognizable for you.”
Hades stopped at a large frosted glass door. “Here we have the gals and boys of the administrative offices, the secretaries, declarations, travel bureau and such.” Hades opened the door and waved at the staff. Tom raised an unsteady hand in an attempt to wave. His nerves were getting the better of him.
“Next stop is PR, payroll, accountants. If you have something to do with money, this is your stop.” Again Hades waved and Tom attempted to. Her sure hoped nobody noticed he was feeling so insecure.
“And the last stop is the IT-department. Mostly guys, but everything to do with technology they can fix here,” Hades dropped his voice to a whisper, “Here are the real geeks, but it’s fun to joke around with them, especially as they don’t get most jokes!” Hades chuckled. “Last time I did one of these tours I had a girl with me. Total panic when I opened the door!” Now he laughed aloud.
“But in all seriousness, they can fix nearly anything you bring them. They are the backbone of the company.” He finally opened the door but Tom didn’t see much. It was very dark in the room and the only light visible was coming from all the screens in there. The only sound was a low growl, and Tom wasn’t sure there were actually people in that room.
“Alright, that was the office. You’ll probably be visiting here a couple of times with your mentors, so you’ll get to know some of the people over time. Now, let’s meet your mentor for today, human death.” Hades opened another set of glass doors and stepped into a brightly lit room. Tom saw all kinds of animals, all dressed in the typical black robes. It reminded him of the first Men in Black movie, and he looked around with wide eyes.
“Hey, Dave! I’ve got your intern here! Come and meet him.”
Tom turned towards Hades. “Dave? I thought you told me I was tagging along with human death?”
Hades laughed at his remark. “Yes, you will be spending the day with human death, but being death doesn’t mean we don’t all have a normal name. It would be a crime to address someone if we didn’t have a name, don’t you think?”
Tom scratched his head while thinking about it. “I really never thought of it that way.”
Dave came over and all three men shook hands. “Dave, meet Tom. He expressed some interest in our trade so he will do an internship this week. And you have the honor to take him along on his first day, have fun!” With a puff of smoke, Hades was gone.
“Always a drama queen.” Dave shook his head. “Welcome to the Department of soul collecting, or debt collecting as it’s also known. Hades has already shown you around the office, so now it’s up to me to show you the ropes of the business. I’m Dave, the current grim reaper for humans, and going strong for 200 years now.” He pulled Tom with him to the coffee machine.
“Have a cup of coffee, I have a feeling it’s going to be a long day.” Dave handed him a plastic cup.
“Is that a hunch or based on actual facts?” Tom had questions and wasn’t afraid to ask them.
Dave smiled. “Part hunch, part fact. Today is Saint Patrick’s day on earth, that means a lot of people on the streets, and a lot of alcohol. It’s going to be a busy day for all of us. You picked a good week!”
Even before Tom could finish his awful coffee, they got their first call. Dave threw him a robe to put on and flashed them to the scene. Tom was handed an iPad, showing the details of the human that was about to die. “Name, age, cause of death?” Dave asked him, all business-like.
“Uhm, Sally Peterson, age 86, falling down the stairs.” Tom replied with a hurry. He read the status in front of him. “She surpassed her children, but was very happy overall.” he added.
Tom kept back as Dave walked over to the woman crumpled on the floor.
“Sally Peterson,” Dave said with a low, menacing voice, “Your time has come. You lived a full life of 86 years, it is time to go up to the heavens, and see your children once again.” Tom witnessed the transparent white soul of Mrs. Peterson rise up to them. He turned to Dave.“Is that speech really necessary?” Dave laughed, even though he couldn’t see his face. “Not really, but for some reason, it calms the humans down if you do it like this.”
“Am I dead? Is this heaven?” the frail voice of Mrs. Peterson asked.
“Yes, you are dead; no, this isn’t heaven yet.” Dave removed his hood and pulled a machine from his pocket. “Mrs. Peterson, devoted Christian right?” He waited for the old woman to nod. “One trip to the pearly gates, coming up! Have fun up there!” He pressed a button and the soul of the lady was gone.
Tom was baffled.
“That’s it? No traveling with them, or some dramatic speech about being dead?”
“No, this is it. Look at your screen, do you see a green button there that says ‘collected’?” Tom nodded at his mentor. “Press it, then we’re done.”
Tom was knackered by the time Dave released him. When he got over the fact that his imagination was nothing compared to the real deal, he started to have fun. And even though he had a hard time keeping his eyes open, he was excited for the coming week.
The four days that followed went by in a flash. He spent a day with the grim reaper of sheep, of frogs, the reaper of crows and of salmons. Tom had requested to spend his last day with Dave again, but today his mentor was Luna, the soul collector for cats. Hades turned him into a cat for the day, and he set out to find his mentor. It wasn’t a real surprise he found her in a basket by the central heating.
“Good morning, I’m Tom. Did Hades told you I would be tagging along with you today?” He got no reaction. With his small paw, he tapped her on the head. “Hello, Luna?” The cat in front of him gave a small hiss.
“Who dares to disturb my snooze?” She growled.
“My name is Tom, I’m your intern for the day. Don’t you have to collect souls?”
“Nah.” Luna closed her eyes again and hid her face on her paws.
“Luna! Get to work you lazy fluffball!” Hades’ voice rippled through the office. Tom had his back in the air and a tail three times its normal size. The little grim reaper of cats flew out of her basket.
“Yes, sir! Of course, sir!” Luna waited for the commotion to die down and as soon as it happened, went to lie down again.
“Now, Luna!” Hades appeared right in front of them. “Forgot I’ve got eyes everywhere again?”
“I’m sorry, sir. I’ll leave at once!” With a poof, she was gone. Hades sighed when he saw Tom still sitting there. Hades flicked his wrist and Tom disappeared as well.
It was only two hours later and Tom had never been more tired. Luna wasn’t the epiphany of accuracy and collecting the souls of cats involved a lot more running than he could have ever imagined. Halfway through the day, he was done. The second they returned back on headquarters, Tom ran through the rooms, trying to find Hades.
“Please, no more! I like the job, and I really want to spend my last day of my internship with Dave, but please don’t make me go with Luna again!” Tom’s legs gave out from under him. “So. Much. Running. So. Tired!”Hades laughed as he picked up the cat. “It’s ok, Tom. Take a nap, and then I’ll change you back. You can spend the rest of the time with Dave.” He let Tom slide into his shirt pocket. “Luna has a reputation around here, maybe it wasn’t the best choice to send you with her.”
Tom had the best nap of his life and enjoyed peeping out of Hades’ pocket. He stretched it for half an hour but then Hades saw him peeping.
“Hey, little guy, feeling better?” He scooped him out with care and even before Tom had touched the ground, he was turned back into a human again.“Yes, much better. Thank you. I’ll go look for Dave.”
At the end of the next day, Tom sat in the breakroom, very happy with his tasteless coffee. When Hades entered, he didn’t have the strength to rise from his seat.
“Don’t get up on my account, son. There’s a reason I delegated this business, it’s tiring as hell!” Hades laughed at his own joke and then sat down next to Tom. “So, this was your seven days of debt collecting, what’d you think?”
“I really liked it! Tagging along with the animals was a bit weird, but the days with Dave were fun.” Tom filled his coffee up and gave Hades one too.
“Well, if you want, I’ve got some good news for you. Dave was very positive about you and has expressed to me he wouldn’t mind getting an assistant.” He took a sip of coffee before continuing, hoping to catch a glimpse of Tom’s reaction.
“It relieves him a bit and it’s a good way for you to learn the tricks of the trade.” Tom’s smile became wider and wider with each word. “But, I want you to think about it before you give me an answer. Go home for a week, and return with an answer only then.” Hades leaned forward and put his arms on the table.
“You have to realize that I have to upgrade your human status, otherwise you would collapse in a week. But if you do, you can’t go back, so you must really want it.” He waved a finger in Tom’s direction. “Do you understand?”
“Yes, sir. I will think about it, and decide what I want to do. Thank you for this opportunity, sir!” Tom felt a lot better.
A week later a broadly smiling Tom received his own robe out of the hands of Hades, shadowed by a similar smiling Dave.