This Town’s Death

Another Monday, another bottle of milk by the door. Semi-skimmed as always. Padding out of the front door in her dressing gown, she wandered down the garden path marked by small paving slabs surrounded by grass to check her post box.

No letters. Death breathed a sigh of relief and headed back in to make some toast. The house she was in came with the job. A little two bedroom end of terrace property with a nice long front and rear garden, a shed for her bicycle and gardening tools, plus a freestanding bathtub that was always perfect to sink into after a day’s work.

Some days were busier than others. Other times she could go weeks without having to pull the scythe down from the fireplace and cycle out to the location given to her in the Final Letter. They always arrived in the morning, a black envelope sealed with white wax. The contents of the letter were just there for the sake of tradition. As soon as she opened it the knowledge of who, where, and when popped into her mind.

With nothing to do that day and no reason to walk into the town center, she padded upstairs with her toast and tea to settle in front of the typewriter. On days a letter arrived, she was this town’s Death, reaping souls and sending them along to wherever they were destined.

On every other day, she wrote love stories under the name Patricia Lively.

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Keeping Count

The brush ran smoothly through her hair, stroke after stroke from top to tip. Her maid was diligent in her duty. One hundred brushes, every morning. Sunlight streamed in through the bay windows into the royal bedroom, not yet reaching the full length mirror in front of where the Queen sat. Once possessing an unmarred beauty, her face was now careworn and her wealth of raven black hair streaked through with grey.

“Eighty-one, eighty-two-” She heard her maid counting just under her breath as the paddle slid down, drawing the bristles through her locks.

Waiting for the Queen once she left the room would be stacks of paperwork, reports from the front lines, and the list of casualties. The last one was never a surprise, though.

“How many today?” The Queen inquired as her maid finished brushing. She could see the the young woman’s lips moving as she picked her way through the bristles with delicate fingers.

“Thirteen, your Majesty.” Came the delayed reply in a timid little voice, carefully presenting thirteen strands of grey hair, draped over her palm.

She took them carefully, running her fingertips along the length. “You may go for now.”  She only let her jaw tremble for a moment once the maid was out of the room before steeling her expression into one of regal calm.

Thirteen grey hairs for thirteen fallen knights.

The Farringdon Falcons

Alderman Farm was not the first remote settlement hit by the Volsta Empire, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. Over the next five and a half years the fringe of the Empire unleashed more attacks on the planet, and had even taken Central City, the planet’s capital. Farringdon III had resources a growing empire needed, and they intended to burn every farmstead, subjugate every facility, and use the world to fuel their expansion.

The Volstoy Colony Fleet had left the Earth centuries ago, sent on their way by first generation warp encapsulators. Now they were coming back from the depths of space, no longer quite human and with no interest in commerce or negotiation. Other fringe systems had been hit by them too, and one of the last messages they got before the fall of Central City was that the Galactic Federation was scrambling their armies to meet the threat at all conflict points.

Some farmsteads capitulated, working for the Volsta and finding most of their produce diverted to the war effort. Central City rolled over for the invading empire after the Farmer’s Council was eliminated. Those who stood up for their rights, like Jarell and Joran Foster, were made examples of. The Foster farmstead had fallen three years ago, incinerated by a volley of fire from a ground assault ship.

Jena had spilled blood long before her first period. A scout from a raid team had found the survivors of the farmstead by accident. Startled as he was to see the huddled few with their meagre possessions, he wasted precious seconds before activating his comms beacon. With her father’s hunting rifle gripped in her arms, Jena had fired five slivers of energy into him before he hit the ground. Placing a worn boot on the shredded chestplate of the enemy, she delivered another shot into the pale, pointed face that stared skywards.

She was twelve when she had her first confirmed kill, and in the three years that followed, many more dots were etched into the stock of her rifle. She even made a few on her ceramisteel axe and her sling, thanks to the open-faced helmets the Volsta soldiers wore.

Not that the young woman spent all her time fighting. A satchel held dataslates that she spent hours pouring over. From military tactics to technological specifications and scientific reports. She had helped tinker and tune a lot of the vehicles and machines on the farm as a kid, maintaining their scant supply of weapons and working on traps was not a great deal different from that work. Resistance groups had sprung up all over Farringdon III, and the Falcons that Jena Foster belonged to were one of the more notorious among the invaders. The defense of Kayo Farm only proved how well that notoriety was deserved, and the group would live in infamy from their next strike.

Wrapped in camouflage netting made of scraps from ruined clothing, Jena watched from her perch with her rifle to hand. The dropship had finished loading supplies from Kayo Farm, and the marauders were ready for their final act before leaving. Two of them had their weapons pointed at the gathered farmers bound by rope, five were lugging a heavy barrel of fuel in their direction ready to detonate it and leave the land scorched. It had taken a lot of talking to restrain her forces this long, but they knew the signal.

Peering down the scope, she took the barrel in her sights. They were far enough from the dropship, far enough from the restrained settlers. With a pull of the trigger, she lanced the barrel. The surge of flame erupted with a great roar, engulfing the five Volsta and leaving the two guards reeling back from the sight of their fellows caught in the inferno.

Two more shots burst forth, taking both guards in the back and sending them stumbling forwards. The Volsta might have had more men, but their technology had stagnated in their isolation, and even poorly equipped as they were the Falcons had some advantages.

The dropship pulled up from the ground, its weapons systems searching. That was when one of the young girls who had joined them demonstrated her talent. With a whip of her wrist she let a sphere loose from Jena’s sling. Colliding with the sensor array on the front of the ship, it shattered and let its contents spill out.

The mix of conductive paste and metal fillings was the idea of Jena’s middle brother, Jaret. Made after careful observation and analysis, he had formulated the plan and the compound. Smeared against the sensor array, the dropship reared back as it computed navigation dangers that weren’t real and responded to objects that weren’t present, mere shadows and errors putting the ship in danger. It span out wildly as it careened back, only to plummet into the field it had landed on.

Jena whistled the hunting call, and the Falcons were storming it as a small group freed the farmers, offering them sanctuary in the forests and caves they called home. The guard and the pilot on the ship, knocked senseless as they were, didn’t react as the Falcons killed them where they stood. Together with the farmers they unloaded the supplies before starting on the ship itself. Stripping it for parts, for information, for weaknesses. Then they sunk back into the undergrowth with their new members and their hauls loaded on all-terrain crawlers.

Jaret ran to meet his little sister when they returned to the camp. He was thinner than Joran, with glasses perched on the bridge of his nose. Truth be told they were all thinner than they should have been, they had to make the most of their supplies. Jena herself was all wiry muscle, her hair roughly cut short and her lips seldom graced by a smile. As he released her from the hug, she pressed a cartridge into his palm. “The data from the Volsta dropship. Be sure to let the other resistance groups know about the scramble paste, it did a number on the ship.”

Jaret nodded, taking her scar-lashed hands and almost dragging the fighter to one of the recessed camp-fires with a cooking pot perched on top. “Eat, Jena. I’ll need time to look over this data and see if I can write something to affect their systems.” He pushed her down to sit, his hands on her shoulders. While he was more of a thinker than a do-er, he still had some strength to him.

Still, she tried to get up again instead of taking a bowl. “There’s the parts we stripped to sort through, and the Kayo folk to get sett-”

“If Father was here he’d be telling you to eat too. Others here can take care of that. Rest. Eat.” Jaret smiled, before considering his sister. “Besides,” he added, “you’re no good to the cause if you keel over.”

Jena’s eyes shot up to look at him, and she actually chuckled as she called him one of the terms her father would get elbowed for using in front of their mother.

“Love you too, Jena.”

 

It was several weeks later after the Kayo Farm incident when Jaret gathered the top level members of the Falcons in his workshop. On a holoprojector he had a list of commands displayed in the air next to him. “After extensive research on the dump of a Volsta Dropship’s operating instructions, these are the codes I think I could exploit, and-” He brought up another set, “given what we know of their transmission protocols, these are the ones I think a program could propagate through their command network. I’ve a few ideas, and I’m open to hearing suggestions.”

Jena stared at the two sets of instructions as talk babbled around her. She waited for a lull in one of the arguments over suggestions before throwing her hand up.

“Jena?” Her brother asked.

“Would that one for medical evacuation explain the behaviour we have seen from some dropships in the past? A very controlled take-off and a return to one of their orbital bases?”

He nodded.

“And it could be broadcast through the network to make other ships leave?”

Another nod. “Though once they got to their orbital base, they could just come back down.”

Jena leaned back on her rough wooden stool. “Could we send one ship up to its base, broadcast it on delay, and then recall the other active drop ships? If we had a ship to infect first, that is?”

Jaret ran over the idea in his head. “That should be possible. Have you got an idea?”

When Jena had finished explaining just what she was thinking, one of the meanest men in the camp ran from the workshop and could be heard retching outside.

“You’ve turned vicious on us, little sister.” Jaret reprimanded her gently.

“The Volsta were responsible for that, I’m just returning the favour. Can it be done?”

“It can, if my research is correct. Can -you- do it?” He asked pointedly.

Pushing herself up from her sitting position, Jena Foster turned to head outside. “Just watch me.”

 

It took several more weeks for all the parts of Jena’s plan to come together. Adjustments were made to the program Jaret was working on, and various targets were sifted through to locate the best possible one for just what she had planned. They had decided to trek a little further out to a farmstead that was firmly under the Volsta’s thumb. Dropships regularly traveled to the farm to gather supplies to take up to the orbital bases. That schedule was the keystone of the plan.

As night fell around the Ishigaki farmstead, the Farringdon Falcons slipped through the darkness to surround the building. Quickly subduing the watchmen, they moved to phase two. Sleeping gas grenades were dropped down the chimneys and placed in the air intake vents to fill the assorted bunkhouses that the staff had retired to. With masks on their faces the Falcons made their entry to restrain the gassed traitors, binding them with heavy-duty tapes and ties to ensure they didn’t escape or alert the incoming ship.

Then they waited. Jena was tucked into the recesses of a small workshop near where the ship landed, her axe in one hand and a hunting knife in the other. She dozed intermittently, conserving her strength and trying her best to stave off the nerves from what she needed to do to ensure the plan would go right. The greatest risk was on her.

The Volsta had grown complacent. They landed and disembarked to head to the farmhouse, their weapons slung at their sides rather than in their hands. They left the dropship door open for ease of loading. As the soldiers walked to the farmstead in the early morning sun, Jena sprang from the shadows and made her way into the ship. Her axe swung first, falling between the collar and the helmet of one of the guards to bite through his spine, felling him with ease. The pilot turned just in time to see the knife driving towards his unprotected neck.

A few seconds later she heard the shots ring out from the farmhouse as the rest of her team completed their mission. Those that lived were quickly bound and gagged and hurled into the cargo bay of the dropship as she worked, installing the device in the engine compartment as Jaret’s program was injected into the ship’s operating system.

With everything set Jena hit the medivac command and leapt from the ship to run clear as it started emergency take-off procedures.

 

Every once in a while, some idiot on a dropship got injured during a supply run. From dropping boxes on their feet or messing about with farm machinery, to a pilot getting an uneasy stomach from some food. Orbital Base Vadarai-7 noted the incoming dropship returning from the Ishigaki Supply Point issuing a medivac signal and sent the auto-dock command across, directing it to bay four for unloading crops and unloading idiots.

A burst of comms chatter came from the dropship as finished the docking procedure, filtering out across the command network. The technicians on the Vadarai-7 were looking to investigate when the explosion ripped through the bay and started down the large corridors of the orbital base.

 

“Commandant,” the operations officer on the Pride of Volsta reported, “Vadarai-7 is under atta- … Vadarai-7 has gone offline.”

“How can it be under attack?! These peasant do not even have gunships!” Commandant Ginv replied, watching on his monitor screen as the orbital base was torn apart from the inside by explosions.

“A dropship returned under medivac settings just beforehand.” The ops officer stated, before gulping. “Commandant, more dropships are leaving the planet and returning to their orbital bases under medivac settings.”

Ginv shot up from his chair. “How many more?”

“All of them. Every dropship currently planetside.”

Ginv’s jaw was shaking as wildly as his hands were trembling.

“Commandant?”

“Shoot them down.” He gave the order.

The ops officer blinked, turning in his chair to look at the Commandant.

“SHOOT THEM DOWN! SHOOT EVERY LAST DROPSHIP DOWN!” Ginv shrieked. “IF WE DON’T, THEY’LL TAKE EVERY BASE OUT!”

“But Commandant, what about-” The ops officer was cut off as Ginv hurled him out of his chair before issuing the orders himself. Every orbital base and the Pride turned their weapons on the incoming mass of ships.

 

Jena sat on the roof of the Ishigaki farmstead with a small thimble in one hand, and her father’s old hipflask in the other. Filling the thimble with rich brown liquor, she raised a toast to the sky as distant explosions could be seen far above the rich blue.

“For Joran.” She said as the carnage unfolded, before knocking back the tiny shot of alcohol. “For Jarell.”

The Lay of the Land

Farringdon III was a rural world in a rural place, in a system just on the edge of Galactic Federation space. Ships came to the system for only a few reasons. Long-distance stasis-freighters came to load up on foodstuffs grown in the vast plains and forests, while exploratory teams came to stock up ready for trips out of the GF’s domain. Occasionally a small colony ship passed through on its way to the great expanse of space beyond, but the colonists on the planet rarely heard from them then, or after.

The reasons they were there for didn’t matter to Jena Foster as she laid upon the mossy hill behind her house at night, watching the stars shine and spaceships in orbit. The little blonde girl preferred to pretend they were space knights on the way to slay star dragons, or treasure hunters looking for riches. Some nights she wondered if a shuttle might descend to reveal to her she was in the possession of amazing powers, then whisk her away on an adventure through known and unknown space, gathering fame and fortune in equal measure.

Her days were spent with dirty hands and a dirty face. It was either working on the family farm or playing in the countryside that helped her accumulate a healthy coating of mud and dust. From rolling down the hill and running through the fallow fields with her arms spread pretending to be a space fighter, to exploring the varying copses and thicket-enshrouded streams that separated crops from game and livestock. Jena knew her family’s land like the contents of her toy chest, and was comfortably familiar even beyond that expanse.

She was on her belly, crawling through the undergrowth of a grove on the land of neighbours when the dropship came up from the valley. The class was unknown to her, it didn’t appear in any of her brothers’ issues of Technical Shipcharter. The emblem on the side of it was a mystery as well. The whine before the discharge of an energy weapon was something she had heard, though. On all fours with bare hands and feet she scrambled back home, ignoring the thorns digging into her dungarees and the twigs getting caught in her mop of blonde hair.

Remembering something she had read in one of her brothers’ many books that she often pillaged their room for, she dug clods of damp soil from the ground and ran it through her hair to dull the colour. Her clothing was of earthen hue already, and years of playing and working under the  steady sun had brought a deep tan to her skin.

On her way home she unleashed shrill whistles in a set order, a fair approximation of the hunting calls of a pack of Farringdon falcons. Her whistled calls were soon answered, and through the fields of the Foster homestead the workers came back to the main building. Her father had already dug the weapons crate out of the outbuilding and was punching in his secret code to open it.

“Alright, alright!” He called to the workers. “Who made the call?”

Jena ducked her way through the multitude of long limbs in her way to put her hand up.

“Jena!?” Her dad blinked, pausing putting the code in. “You know that call is only for adults to-”

“It’s an emergency!” She butted in, pointing over in the direction she came from. “I was playing in the woods near the Alderman’s farm when this dropship came up from the valley! I didn’t recognize it or the markings, but I heard sounds like your rifles make!”

Her father looked to some of the other workers, before coming close to her and dropping to his knees. “Are you sure it was that sort of sound? It wasn’t fine-landing thrusters or descent control noises?”

Jena nodded. “It was more… ‘wwwwwrrrrrrrrrrrrrriiieee-thwaum’ than ‘wrrrrrst’ or ‘thrrrrrrsh!'”

“Okay Jena. Okay, I know we’ve had the talk about real and make-believe so…” Patting her shoulders, he stood up and put his code into the locker, covering his fingers with his other hand. “I’ll take a small team with me to check it out. The rest of you I want to return to the buildings and take up defensive positions until we return. Son,” He looked to Joran, her eldest brother, “you’ve got the reigns while I’m gone.”

Joran nodded. He was as tanned as the rest of his family, a serious-faced young man with a farmer’s physique. Climbing onto one of the old equipment crates, he clapped his hands. “Okay, you heard him. Any not volunteering to check on the Alderman homestead, get armed and get inside your buildings. Anyone going with Dad, stay here and grab a weapon.”

In the jumble of movement as people separated and started towards their assigned positions, Jena slipped into the wood shed and grabbed the handaxe she had become familiar with since her fifth birthday, almost four and a half years ago now. Making kindling for the fires was one of her jobs, and the wooden-handled axe with a ceramisteel head felt natural to her. She also paused to gather the sling and stone-pouch that was her seventh birthday gift from Joran, ideal for scaring off birds looking to snaffle seed and baby crops.

Coming back to the circle of brave farmers armed with an assorted selection of energy rifles and pistols, Jena once more navigated the tangle of legs to get up front.

“What are you doing with those?” Her father asked, his hands confidently holding his hunting rifle as the others went through their weapon checks. He brought the full effect of his disapproving fatherly glare down on her.

Jena lifted her head up and looked back at him. “I know the lay of the land better than anyone, Father, and I saw the ship to begin with.” She had her jaw set and her hands on her hips.

“Just let her come, Jarell. If you don’t she’ll just sneak off on her own, and she does know what the ship looked like.” Taren, one of the older farmwomen, said.

Glancing about, Jarell took in the expressions of the ten gathered with him, then looked down at the eleventh expression, his daughter’s.

“On two conditions. You don’t think about using that axe, and you don’t think about using that sling. If there is trouble, you run back here and alert everyone. Got it?”

Jena nodded.

 

They had spotted the dropship rising over the farm on their low approach, and watched as it swooped down into the network of valleys running towards the great cliffs. They all held their weapons a little tighter on seeing the unknown ship for themselves.

“Alright,” Jarell spoke. “go in low and slow and fan out, let’s not have any accidents crop up from shooting an Alderman or shooting one of our own.” As he waved his fellows forwards, he looked to Jena. “I want you to go and check on their chickens, low and slow-like.”

Jena didn’t look impressed, but he was the team leader. And her father. With an unhappy nod, she headed into the undergrowth to make her way apart from the others. As she approached, she felt her legs go from under her first. There was the smell of ozone and something else in the air. Smoke still wafted from the piles of charred mix of animal and burnt feathers. She had slain, plucked and prepared chickens before though, and all manner of other animals. That wasn’t enough to make her go weak.

‘Toothy’ Tommy Alderman was, in Jena’s mindset, a pain at least and at worst one of the words that her mother always elbowed her father for using. He had tried to steal a kiss from her, for one. For another, he broke her swing. For a third, he tried to cheat her Shuna Eye marble away. It was one of her favourite marbles with the mixes of blue, black, and white in ocean swirls. ‘Toothy’ was a bit of an odd nickname for him, given he knocked his two front teeth out while trying to raft on a single log in a pond at a party they had both been at. He was anything but toothy.

A crate of chicken eggs had been dropped by him, their contents baking on the ground as the sun hit them. She did like eggs, especially in omelette form with lots of fresh cheese.

The blonde girl with mud in her hair wasn’t sure why she was thinking about omelettes. The eggs had all cracked on the ground, and “Toothy” Tommy Alderman was dead too.

The One Named Obituary

Seven men waylaid the lone traveller, their armaments consisting of swords, spears, cudgels and other common weaponry. Clad in leather armour studded with metal, their grizzled and lean forms spoke of a lifetime outdoors, their weapons and garb that of bandits.

The one they faced stood cloaked in black, most of her face obscured by the hood that cast shadows over her features. Looking from left to right, she spoke in a light, disinterested tone.

“Who are you and what do you want?”

“We’re the Ecrador Eight.” One of the bandits snarled, fists clenching his cudgel.

Looking around again, a dry chuckle escaped from under the hood. “There’s only seven of you.”

“That’s because you killed Mirah!” The ringleader spat, his eyes narrowed. “You killed-”

“Mirah of Ecrador, nineteen years old, born under the New Moon of Spring, died under the Full Moon of Autumn.” She recalled, now sonorous instead of disinterested.

“So it is you. Obituary, The Walking Death.” The bandit pronounced, his fellows readying their weapons. “You of the Named are not immortal. You are outnumbered. And we’ll get our revenge on your flesh!”

Obituary was quick to whip her cloak off, flinging it high into the air. Wearing just a linen shirt and a short hose, her long legs and muscled arms were bare to show the names tattooed into her skin. The list of names extended under her clothing, up the back of her neck and across her bald head. The only place free of the ink was her face, instead given over to a dark pattern that somehow accentuated her ice blue eyes.

“I bear the names of every man and woman I have killed on my skin.” Obituary proclaimed, bringing herself into a ready stance. “Their death at my hands stains my flesh. Every life I have taken adds to mine. What they lose to oblivion, I gain in essence. If you think you can end my tale… try.”

“FOR MIRAH!” They chanted as one, lunging towards her as they did so.

The fight was short and painful. Leaping up, Obituary came down with hard swings of her fist, easily caving in noses and breaking ribs with singular strikes. As weapons lashed out at her, precise palm blows fractured blades and snapped poles. When she wasn’t punching, she was kicking, and when she wasn’t kicking she was breaking and dislocating with her practised hands.

A snap of the neck burned a name into her flesh, Damar of Ecrador. A blow to the solar plexus inscribed Hanir on her body. A one-two combo to the head added Fetel to her list. Twin palm strikes ruptured Remin’s lungs, his name soon appearing once he choked from the internal bleeding. Mahx and Vrost both died with their windpipes crushed by solid kicks.

Only Enrewn, the bandit who had spoken for the seven, was left alive with his eyes wide in how quickly this slight young woman had taken out his fellows. On all fours he crawled away, stomach still reeling from the punch that had felled him.

Her bare foot stepped down onto his back, pressing him into the dirt road she was travelling on. “Last words?” She inquired, catching her cloak as it fell.

“We… just wanted revenge…” Enrewn sobbed, fear choking his voice.

“And now none are left to avenge you.” Obituary sighed. “You were Eight. Then you were Seven. And now?” Her heel drove down into the base of his neck, her skin itching as another name was added. “You are none.”

Picking their pockets for change, she added them to the small coin-purse she kept hidden in the folds of her cloak, wrapping the garment around herself before continuing on her journey. She wandered not out of a love of travel, but out of necessity.

For she was named Obituary, and death would seek her out.

Sightseeing

The atmosphere inside the elevator was tense. Edgy people pressing themselves against the sides of the car with their eyes focused on the solitary figure standing in the middle. Pale, lithe and wearing sunglasses while dressed in black. It was not so much the look that had them scared, but the aura around her. She radiated the chill miasma of the dead.

She had stepped on just before the elevator departed to head up the iconic building, full of tourists eager to see the world-famous skyline of New York. Brushing a lock of blonde hair back, she couldn’t help but chuckle as the rest of the passengers collectively flinched. Turning her head to regard each one in turn, she offered a slight smile.

“You have nothing to be afraid of, I’m not here for you. Just doing some sightseeing.” She announced to incredulous looks. “What?” She asked them. “Even Death needs a vacation.”

Author’s Note: This Week’s Three Word Wednesday words were: Iconic, Edgy, Lithe.

Festoon

Entering the town of Goldsmill during the Festival of Spring was a delight to the nose. From house to house and post to post, vines blossoming with delicate flowers festooned the settlement, releasing their gentle fragrances in an olfactory harmony.

Clad in robes of white, the Followers of Spring tended to the gardens with love and affection, their fingers stained green from the constant exposure to the fluids as they crafted each plant, flower and shrub to their most healthy.

A shrine set up near the central water spring handed blessings out to the local farmers for their deference to the Wheel of Seasons. Death was at her fairest in Spring, her form shifting with the changes of the world, or perhaps the other way around. And on that sunny day, she swept into town, toes barely touching the soil as she drifted across the cobblestones and soil.

Henar, the elder priest of the Followers, looked up from his shrine with a knowing smile as she approached. “Is it time, my Lady?” He asked in a wheezing voice, her form clear despite the cloudiness to his vision.

Death nodded, gesturing slowly to him, the sky and then beckoning towards herself. The soft dress made of tender leaves and blossoming flowers that clad her draped lightly on the floor as she held a hand out towards him.

“Thank you for the time I have had, my Lady.” Henar bowed respectfully, his hood pushed back to reveal a balding head topped with whispers of grey hair. Taking her hand, each wrinkle straightened, each lost hair sprouting anew in the dark brown tone of his youth as the years fell from him.

Death smiled gently as her nature worked, his essence renewed and rapidly fading as power radiated from his body. Each pulse washed over the town and the smallholdings around it, ablating the coherence of his body until with one last pulse, both Henar and Death had vanished.

As the land bloomed with renewed vigor, the town rejoiced in glorious song. For Death, for Henar, and for the blessing of yield, flavour and vitality that his passing would give their harvest.

Something Sundays: Killer

The man was laying on the bed provided for him, arms folded and hands crossed behind his head. It was lights out in the prison, and as always his mind wandered back to those he had killed. He was twenty years older now, but the memories were as fresh as the blood he released from their arteries. The iron-tang of haemoglobin filled his nostrils. The slick crimson coating on his hands yet to turn sticky and copper-brown.

He remember their faces. All nine of them. And he remembered their last words.

“Please… die.”

He blinked, his eyes opening. That wasn’t what-

“Just die now.”

“You waste of oxygen, hurry up and die.”

Panicking, he tried to move, to get up from the bed. His hands were locked to the back of his head, a fire surging through his skull.

“You don’t deserve to live.”

“Come on and die already, there’s nothing for you here.”

“No one loves you, no one cares, you’re worthless. Die, it’s all you’re good for now.”

There was the taste of blood on his tongue, a slow trickle sleeping down from one nostril to his upper lip and into his mouth. He tried to call out, his jaw refused to move no matter how much effort he put into it. None of his limbs worked. His heart pounded faster in his chest, skin now drenched in the cold perspiration of terror.

“They all hated you, and they were right. Look at you, you’re pathetic. Please, go and die now.”

“Everyone can die, it’s easy. Or are you too stupid to know how to do that?”

“Die now. Just die. Die now. You need to die. You’re going to die. You’re dying right now. Are you dead yet? No? How about now? Or now? Wait…”

He started to convulse, thrashing about on the simple single bed with his limbs twisting and muscles bunching in frenetic spasms. His back arched up as his mouth drew in one gulping breath, face pulled into a ridiculous gurn of agony and fear before locking in that expression as he fell back down to the bed.

“Now.”

‘Newbury Nine’ Serial Killer Found Dead In Cell

Author’s Note: The idea for this story came from a headline in a tabloid newspaper, about a serial killer who may have faked needing to go to hospital. I don’t remember much about it, because it was the subheading that got me. It said: “Please Die” says victims of serial killer.

Of course, by victims it meant the family of the actual murder victim, but the seeds were planted for a story.