It was quite a relief to see Death appear yesterday. He had come for Senga’s ghost and she was becoming quite tiresome already. Not that she wasn’t often quite tiresome in life, you understand, but being dead seemed to have annoyed her somewhat more than usual.
Oh, I had all the details of her death at Caligula’s hands, feet and teeth over and over. He’s my son. I know how he operates. Very messily. Yes, yes, I know it was a painful death and yes, yes, I understand she’s upset but Caligula is a Dume. A young and still quite exuberant Dume. She should, by now, expect that sort of thing to happen once in a while.
Death managed to get her into his soul bag after quite a struggle and at last, peace descended. Death and I heaved a sigh of relief. Well, I sighed. Death just moved his ribs a little.
“I don’t know what to do with this one, Dume.” Death scratched his mandible with his phalanges. “I don’t think either side can handle her. Sure you don’t want to keep her?”
“Quite sure, thank you.” I decided against calling Click to make tea and headed for the drinks cabinet instead. “I have a very nice Green here. They ferment well because they’re full of vegetables. Feel like a drink?”
“I shouldn’t, not on duty, but that was a tricky job. Just a small one then.” Death leaned his scythe against the wall and took a seat. “I’ll have to take her to the Boss for a decision, you know. He won’t want her and I doubt the red guy will either.” He accepted a glass of Green. “The Boss might have to make a whole new place just for her.”
“Tell him to make sure the new place has no mirrors.” I said, “In case she manages to pass through one and get back here.” I took a seat and sipped at my drink. Green does ferment really well but there’s always a trace of bitterness left.
Death laughed. “She didn’t look like the sort who’d be fond of mirrors.”
“I have several cracked ones,” I said. “It’ll be worthwhile replacing them now.”
Death raised his glass. The liquid swirled, passed between his teeth and vanished. “That’s pretty good stuff, Dume. Ever thought of going into business with your fermented corpse drinks?”
“No, I don’t produce enough to make a living at it. Visitors are few here and those suitable for fermenting are rare.”
“Pity.” Death took another drink. “If more people visited you, it would save me a lot of travelling.”
“Well there has been a new visitor lately. I haven’t enticed her in yet but she seems keen to visit. She’s interested in flattened cardboard apparently. Ex-boxes.”
“Let me know how you get on then.” Death downed his drink and stood. Then sat, shook his skull and stood again, more carefully this time. “That’s stronger than I expected. You really should consider selling a limited edition at least. It might finish off a particular drunk I’ve been watching for a long time.”
“You watch drunks?” I sipped at my drink more carefully than Death. I’ve had this stuff before.
“A few. One in particular seems damn well indestructible though. I’ve had his name circled in my book for almost thirty years, but he just won’t die.”
“Send him here.” I grinned over my glass.
“He’s been here and left intact. A previous assistant of yours.” Death retrieved his scythe and leaned on it. “No matter what happens to him, it all just grows back.”
My brow furrowed. Only one assistant ever left here alive. So he’s still alive. I must get around to looking him up.
“Well, best get on.” Death sounded a little slurred. “I hope there are no major incidents tonight. I doubt I’m in any fit state to deal with them.”
“Yes, of course.” I placed my glass on the table and stood. “Thanks for collecting Senga. She really was getting in the way of things,”
“Ah. I’ll have to face the Boss while I’m a little tipsy. This could be awkward.” He leaned against the wall and faded through it.
I picked up my glass and smiled into it. Finally, life looked like it was getting back to normal.