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Lesser Incarnations

by on November 4, 2016

This story was originally written for Round Two of the yeah write super challenge #2, fiction specifically. Enjoy!

The bar was unusually empty for a Saturday night downtown in the city. Even the bartender, a gregarious man who normally enjoyed his shift, wanted very much to clock out early and get away. An undefinable air of gloom seemed to hang over the place. Even the jukebox kept playing sad little songs with wistful saxophones trailing off into minor key.

The front door banged open, and a woman in a red jacket stormed through. “Right, where is he?”

“Ma’am?” said the bartender.

“Guy in a fedora. Used to wear a cloak, I liked the cloak, but he’s gone all hipster now. Wears sunglasses indoors, even. Said he’d be here.”

The bartender pointedly tried not to look at a shadow huddled in a booth by the far wall. .

“Ah,” the woman said. “Typical.” She marched over and sat down hard opposite the shadowed figure, slamming a thin sheet of paper down on the table. “What, may I ask, is this?”

The man slowly removed his sunglasses and folded them up with a neat, ominous click. “It is a complaint. I filed it with your department this morning.”

“I figured that,” she snapped. “But what’s it about?

“You were on vacation last week,” he said coldly.

“Yeah? So?” she replied angrily. “Look, you’re Death, you’re always on the clock. But I’m only War. I figure I’m entitled to some peace every now and again. People’ve been fighting all over, I just got done with a big show in East Plaznik, and then there’s the big missile scare. I deserve a break once in a while, yeah?”

“Perhaps. But your deputy had the duty.”

War shrugged. “Revolution’s a good chap. Knows his business. What’s the problem?”

“Revolution called in sick. The duty devolved to one of the…lesser incarnations.”

For the first time, War showed a trace of concern. “Who, exactly?”

“Monday.”

There was a long pause. Even the jukebox went silent. When War spoke, her voice was very quiet and very strained. “Monday.”

“Yes,” Death said. “The Incarnation of Monday was in charge of War.”

She sighed. “It couldn’t have been that bad…”

Death glared. “Oh, yes, it could have. And it was. Were you aware of what Monday usually deals with? People oversleeping their alarms. Traffic jams on the freeway. Terribly boring work meetings. These are not usually problems handled by War.”

“I still don’t see the problem.”

“Do you know how many people usually die because they were bored during a conference call?”

War’s left eyebrow quirked. “You’re upset because you didn’t have anything to do?”

“I found something,” Death growled, “but it was hardly dignified. There were no explosions. No uprisings. One person missed his alarm and in his hurry to make a meeting got hit by a bus. Another was poisoned by eating a pastry to which she was allergic. A third died as a result of an unfortunate stapler mishap!”

War giggled. “Oh dear.  That’s awkward.”

“Terribly.”

“Fine. I’ll make sure not to leave Monday in charge of War again. Deal?”

“At least Tuesday would’ve been appropriate,” Death said sullenly. “With being named after a god of war and all.”

“I’m curious,” War said. “If you did go on vacation, who’d cover the department for you?”

Death looked uncomfortable. “We have made inquiries. No one particularly has been identified for the duty…”

“No one particularly? So you’re saying there might be someone?”

“There was a volunteer.”

War’s eyebrow quirked again. “Someone volunteered to play Death?  You have to tell me.”

Death sighed deeply. “Dysentery.”

There was another long pause. “Perhaps…” War said carefully. “You should plan not going on vacation.”

“I don’t intend to.”

“Good.”

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3 Comments
  1. Ew. Although I would think that Dysentery and Death were old friends. Frenemies, maybe. 😉

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