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Friday, November 08, 2013

The Smells of Death (#FridayFlash)

I was going to use this last week, but didn’t get it written down until Saturday. So you get it this week instead. ;-)

Image source: openclipart.org
Odors were part of the job. Fever-sweat, stale urine, incontinence, rotten breath, all were honest smells. That stink of fear, though, that was the smell the Grim Reaper hated. And it was all over this one.

“Please,” the man gasped. “Not yet. Not yet.”

The Reaper sniffed and took out his tablet. “David Farnsworth, age 51, lung cancer.”

“Don’t kill me. Please. Not yet.”

“I won’t kill you.” The Reaper spoke quickly, overriding that look of relief. “That’s not my job. You just die, is all. If I got to kill you, I’d have done it twenty years ago.”


The Reaper opened the stylish black cover and flicked at the tablet’s screen. “Your doctors have been on your ass since you were… nineteen. So you’ve been getting the ‘quit smoking’ message for thirty-two years. If you didn’t want to die tonight, you should have listened. Instead of telling them everybody’s gotta die of something.” He glowered. “And flicking your damned butts out your car window, treating the earth like your personal f— freaking ashtray… if it were up to me, I’d have blown one of those back into your car, set your crotch on fire, and had you go off the road and slam into a bridge support.”

“Jeez. That’s harsh.”

“Whatever. I’m not the one who gets to kill you, in any case. You killed yourself. My job is to collect your sorry shade, and take you to Soul Court.”

“Soul Court? What’s that?”

“That’s where you’re judged. Yeah, you’re lucky I don’t have anything to do with that. They’re pretty lenient. If you haven’t made life Hell for people around you, worst that’s gonna happen is they’ll send you back for another go-around.”

“Like reincarnation? Ow. Ow.” Farnsworth gasped. “It hurts!”

“Yeah. Not as much as it ought to. But yeah, I figure they’ll give you a second chance. Don’t blow it.”

“Ah… ah… dammit, not now… oh.” Farnsworth looked down at the body on the bed. “Shit.”

The Reaper gave him a sardonic smile. “Two… one… yup.”

“Ewwww. Why did I have to do that?”

“You all do. Some don’t wait until they’re dead. Let’s go. You stink enough already.”


  1. You never really see Death engaging with the people who he takes so it was nice to see him being brutally honest.

  2. Great personification, Larry. The "I don't kill you, I just collect the soul" perspective is wonderful.

  3. The title alone deserves a +1 and "Soul Court" takes the cake. The last smell is why I don't envy coroners and crime scene investigators. At least Death and hired killers have a chance to get out quickly before it drops.

  4. For some reason I started humming the Night Court theme during this. The Night Court of Death seems like a great idea.

  5. Very enjoyable, loved Death's perspective in this.

  6. Heheh!, I like this tablet-toting reaper, and his perspective. :)

  7. Well done, Larry. Death is actually a little disgusted with certain aspects of his work, like more than a few of us. But is that an iPad in his hands or some schlocky android tablet? ;-)

  8. Loved it Larry - very funny! That's almost like something Terry Pratchett would have written - excellent have a big smile on my face now.

  9. Laughed out loud at this: "And flicking your damned butts out your car window, treating the earth like your personal f— freaking ashtray… if it were up to me, I’d have blown one of those back into your car, set your crotch on fire, and had you go off the road and slam into a bridge support.” BEAUTIFUL! I can't tell you how often I've wanted to do exactly that!

    (And how, way back in the days when I smoked, I set my own crotch on fire... not good...)

  10. Thanks, Icy. I like to do different takes on horror. Especially if I can make it funny.

    Tony, I was paying homage to a story called The Friend of Death (oh cool, I found it online!) that I read back in high school. It contained the line, "God forbid. I did not kill him. He died."

    David, I think the Reaper has smelled it all. It's just that fear-stink that bothers him.

    John, I suspect Soul Court does a lot of business at night. ;-)

    Thanks, Virginia!

    Steve, he's been at it for a long time. Perspective just comes along after a while.

    Boran, is there such a thing as the perfect job? And I figure it's one of the newest iPad minis with the Retina display. They have Dozeboxes in Hell, of course.

    Wow, Helen, that's some lofty company you put me in! Thanks!

    Cathy, that *is* one of my pet peeves. And you did set your crotch on fire? OUCHIE!

  11. I'm amused Death is toting a tablet around. Good way to keep track.

  12. Hah! People tossing out cigarette butts is a pet peeve of mine too. I enjoyed the humor in this.

  13. Harsh - but the truth often seems that way. Death's gonna need one of those cloud storage tablets to keep track of all his appointments.

    I loved the dialogue. It gave a great perspective on Death.

  14. I have a cut-off date for sympathy about cigarettes. If someone is the same age as I am or younger, they get NO sympathy, because I know then they grew up with the health warnings.

    This version of Death compares favourably with the ones from the Sandman comics and the Bergman movie. Fun!


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