Joining once again in the the Mid-Week Flash Fiction Challenge. Hopefully you enjoy this. I know I’m enjoying participating. And if you don’t enjoy it, blame Miranda Kate, because she started it, lol.
The rules and the challenge are HERE on Miranda Kate’s blog. As always, feel free join in, the more the merrier.
Here is the inspirational photo she picked this week. And HERE is the link to her Mid-Week Flash.
My eyes scanned the remains of buildings and homes strewn about. Three massive earthquakes, all within moments of each, two accompanied by tsunamis had every off duty called into action. There weren’t even lists for this. It didn’t matter, all of the reapers knew what do to, and though this was my first time dealing with this kind of thing, I’d been trained for it. There were a lot of dead wandering about, the souls as lost and bewildered as the living.
I’d already made two trips to the river. This site, like the other two, was swarming with reapers, and yet we still barely kept up. Hungry, but unable to take the time to eat, I grumbled under my breath about how inconsiderate it was for people to keep dying at a rate that denied even a short break. Hunger tended to make me cranky.
With a sigh, I trudged across what remained of the street, lifting the edge of my black cloak out of the way as I climbed a heap of broken wall. Five souls followed behind, each tethered to me. There wasn’t time to be soft and gentle right now. There were too many dead to deal with. Wails and weeping echoed among the crumbled walls of what had once been a beautiful city. I did my best not to listen and focused on my job.
I could feel them. A cluster of souls beneath the shattered stones of the wall I stood on. Even standing in the veil, where the mortal world couldn’t see me, there was no way to reach the buried souls. I was, after all, still flesh and blood. Still alive. And I would be for a very long time. Sensing movement from the souls beneath the rubble, I scrambled down the far side of the pile of ruined building. When the trapped souls finally realized they were dead and began passing through the broken rock, I tethered them.
When the last one came, my heart sank as I secured the tether. It was a little boy, who had likely barely begun to walk before the earthquake. I glanced around at the six other souls that had come from the pile. A variety of ages ranging from late teens to probably mid fifties, none of them seemed connected to the little boy. I scooped him up into my arms and turned toward the elevator that waited in the midst of the mess. I had enough souls for this run to the river. In fact, eleven was pushing the limits of my tethering ability. I would send these on their way and come back for more.
Standing free of any structure, the elevator stood waiting, doors open. As I made my way to it, the little boy in my arms weighed me down. He was light as a feather, and yet so hard to carry. This was the only part of my job I hated. Children should never have to be taken to the ferry. Sadly, none of the worlds worked that way and I was certain before my shift was over, there would be more.
I ushered the other ten souls onto the elevator then stepped inside with them. The doors slid shut and the car moved down. It opened to reveal the banks of the river Styx. I herded my charges forward. When we reached Charon, I placed a coin for in his hand for each soul as they stepped onto the ancient boards of the ferry. Then I handed the little boy to him. I watched as the ferry disappeared into the fog that cloaked the river, then turned toward the elevator. Time to head back to the ruined city and collect more souls.
I wanted a cheeseburger, or a steak. But I could sense all of the souls still wandering loose. Pushing thoughts of food out of my mind, I stepped off the elevator and surveyed the mess of a city. This was going to be a long shift.