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Author Topic: The "Write A Neil Gaiman Story" Challenge  (Read 1437 times)
B-Movie Kraken

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The sleep of reasoner breeds monsters. (sic)

« on: September 18, 2020, 11:23:33 AM »

My buddy Clare challenged me to write a story "like" Neil Gaiman, and so I did. I wrote it in twenty minutes from her challenge to its completion. If anyone wants to read it, it's below. And if anyone else wants to write a Neil Gaiman story for her and post it here, I'll see she reads it.

Tell me what you think.

Death Gets A Temp Job

Death studied the amphitheater with the precision of Ra's falcon. Or was it Osiris who’d had the falcon? It was hard to remember these days, but she was due to be in Lima, Peru to meet a young man named Juan, a rather sad street corner drug dealer of fourteen years, about to be knifed by a junky feverishly desperate for the stash of chems Juan carried around on consignment for his own boss, whom Death would be meeting in another three months. It was like that when you were Death, always scurrying around on a trillion-trillion planets floating in an infinite infinity of dimensions, comforting those who were leaving their erstwhile lives and bodies before they went off to....well, wherever it was they went when they died, not even Death knew, but maybe her blind brother Destiny had that fact written down someplace in his big book.

Still she saw all this as practice, just a pre-season preliminary for the main event still to come, Ragnarok, when doom would eat not just this world, but its place in time itself. (She knew this because a pair of charming ravens once told her so up in Norway.)  For an instant she recalled a beautiful young courtesan she’d given a hug on the day Pompeii was buried, and recalled how the volcano’s fires had glittered on the reflecting pool near that lovely woman’s body, after a tile had come loose from the roof and struck her on the head.

“I was so pretty,” the woman had wept against Death’s shoulder. “I was going to move on to Rome next spring. Maybe, just maybe, snag myself a Senator.”

“You’re going to be fine,” Death had told her, smiling almost maternally, and brushing away her tears.

Yes, she really had been at her job a long time.

"But why exactly am I doing this at all?" Death wondered aloud . "Because I am the personification of a concept? I don’t  remember ever exactly being given a choice."

"Why do we do it? Because if we didn't, who would?" said a voice, not spoken aloud in the air but drifting lazily into her head.

“Oh….hey,” Death replied.

It was Daniel, as she still thought of him, once a small boy, now the replacement for her most beloved brother, Dream. New brother, same job. SSDD. Sometimes she barely noticed any difference except for Daniel’s unfortunate choice in wardrobe color---white, yuck----but other times the newness was glaring, and she missed her baby brother and best friend terribly. Where did he even go, really? She still wondered this at least once a day, for how could something as indestructible as an idea really….end? They were The Endless, after all.

Still, she did love Daniel, let’s be clear on that. Death asked him, "But don't you ever want know, take a break?"

"Been there, done that last time around," Dream reminded her. "Didn't work so good."

"So 'well'" Death corrected, amused that despite his newfound immortality, Daniel still talked like a young mortal man. “And I’d hardly call what you went through a break.”

"Can you imagine what reality would become, though, if YOU took a holiday, or were imprisoned by a madman, as I was?" Daniel asked her.

"No, I really can't," Death said with a nascent smile. Frightening, more for reality than for herself, to think the madman who had captured Dream had really been after her. And yet, she often pondered, what impact would her absence have had on the progress of the First World War, ongoing at the time? Unkillable soldiers stabbing and shooting and bashing one another in the filthy French mud, or away in Russia and the Dardanelles, contesting national honor to a new set of rules where no one truly died? Would the war have ended immediately, or gone on and on and on?

"And you're not supposed to find out," Daniel/Dream said to her. "Even I know that and I've only been at this for twenty-five years."

"Yeah, but it's just that after the first trillion-trillion eons of watching galaxies collapse and combine and die and get reborn, it gets...."

"Boring?" Daniel provided the word. "Boredom killed the last me," he reminded his much older sibling, "so quit thinking like that."

Intractability, not boredom got him, Death mused. "Maybe I just need a new hobby," she said.

"Have you tried posting on internet message boards?" asked Daniel.

"Just this one about silly movies once," said Death. She gazed at Dream and told him, "And the people there were crazy."

"Well you'll meet them all again someday."

"True. That's the nature of my job." Then an idea struck Death, a good idea or a bad one, she wasn't yet sure. "Say, Dan," she whispered after looking around to make sure no one was listening (Desire was constantly eavesdropping, after all), "have you ever thought about us....switching jobs for a few bit?"

"What, you handle dreams and I take care of the meet 'n greet of the newly disembodied? Would I even be good at that, you think?"

There Death had to pause, because unlike her late brother, the first (or was he?) Dream, Daniel was still close enough to his humanity that he might actually be good at her job, just for a while. A couple centuries, a millennium, a million years tops.

"Shall we try?" Death asked her brother, warming to the idea now, more intrigued by the concept than she’d been by anything that'd come down the pike since she'd shaken off that sense of drear that'd depressed her about the time the Earth began to cool and assume its present proportions. Death didn’t like to remember how she was during that grim billion-year personality hiccup.

"What will Delirium say?" demanded Daniel, but with amusement.

"Oh, she'll want in on it for sure, but ye gods, Dan, can you imagine our batty sister giving anyone a dream? Butterflies and pink sunrises. Lots and lots of Jello. Can you think of it?"

"Actually, yes, yes I can at that...." Daniel thought on this a moment and began to wonder why he was down with this idea after just twenty-five years, and the rest of his family hadn't given this a try anytime in the oceanic eternity they'd been at their various shticks. Desire blowing s**t up while Destruction played Cupid to hearts longing for love…or at least a merry f**k?

"Hey," Death said, feeling a lot brighter now, "we've got to take you clothes shopping then. You can’t do my job all dressed in white."

"Not even in Korea?" Daniel asked, remembering meeting a sleeping girl from Seoul one night, Cho-Hee, who refused to wear any color but white in her dreams, explaining she was mourning her great-grandmother's passing.

"All right,” Death allowed, “in Korea, maybe, but in most places an '80s Goth look is what it's about. C'mon, we have to be in Peru in a second, and I'll show you how I do it. You can work on getting your own style going after that.”

"I think I might like this," Daniel told his big sister. (Older than him because the living could die before they could dream.)

"Yes! I'm getting a temp job! And I have such cool visions planned for the sleeping brains of mortals everywhere," Death sighed. "Has anyone on Earth even ever seen a pregnant Venusian zilnasaur? Oh, they're going to love pregnant Venusian zilnasaurs. All those colors…."

« Last Edit: September 18, 2020, 12:24:45 PM by ER » Logged

What does not kill me makes me stranger.
Archeologist, Theologian, Elder Scrolls Addict, and a
B-Movie Kraken

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Posts: 14285

A good bad movie is like popcorn for the soul!

« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2020, 06:44:20 PM »


"I'm always up for a little anarchy, as long as it's well-planned and carefully organized!"
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