At the End of the Universe, the locals are looking shifty. This might be because of the lone earthman getting royally blasted on pangalactic gargle blasters, by virtue of it being the dawn of a fresh earth year, although it’s most probably because of the large skeleton wielding a scythe sat opposite him, looking impatient.
When the Grim Reaper starts grumbling aloud, someone is going to get it*. I’d love to know why it resembles a human skeleton, if it’s genuinely a reflection of humanity’s own mortality. There’s more to the thing than an end product. Where did the rest go? And why do we assume it’s a “he” when the subject of gender is irrelevant?
The barman, noticing a general increase in volume**, risks a look in the reaper’s direction. Somehow- bear in mind this a damn skull -it manages to look both sullen and just a little sheepish. The barman wordlessly pours it a drink. He knows all about those kind of days***.
DAMN THEM ALL. THIS WAS OURS. OURS.
Death downs the ‘gargle blaster in one. The barman pours it another- reasoning, perhaps, that it’s best to keep those bony hands occupied while the owner is brewing up a foul mood.
I TOLD THEM, TWO -ING WEEKS IN ADVANCE. ENOUGH TIME TO PROPERLY WARM UP. AND NOW LOOK- EXCUSES UPON EXCUSES! YOU CAN’T -ING BELIEVE IT.
Err. Right. This was me- part of me, anyway, which is very unfortunately attached to all of me. I couldn’t help it. It’s the dawn new year, somewhere- I’m going to drink. Otherwise the world implodes. Which hasn’t happened yet.
Death turns to glare at me. Who knows, maybe tonight’s the night?
THE HORSEMEN. THIS WAS OUR GIG AND THEY -ING BLEW IT FOR SOME CHEAP -ING FIREWORKS AND A SNIFFER DOG.
…I’m just going to pretend I understood the last bit.
“You mean the apocalypse?”
CALL IT WHATEVER YOU LIKE. SCREW THE LOT OF THEM. NEVER ANY POINT TO THE WHOLE THING ANYWAY, BUT YOU KNOW. LIFE.
“Isn’t it meant to, y’know, divide the sinners from the other unfortunates?”
HA! NO. WHERE WOULD WE START?
“…good point. It’s kinda muddled.”
EXACTLY. THE BEST INTENTIONS CAN CREATE TERRIBLE THINGS, JUST AS GRIM INTENTIONS CAN TRIGGER THE BEST IN OTHERS. IT’S NOT A SCIENCE. IT’S A MESS.
“So why’d you plan all this, if you don’t think there’s a reason?”
…IT’S WHAT WE DO. IT’S WHAT WE USED TO DO. ANYWAY. NOTHING BEATS A GOOD APOCALYPSE. THE FIRE, THE MUSIC, THE WHOLE FORMATION OF DAMNATION RIDING IN SYNC TO THE HOWLS OF THE DAMNED…IT’S BEAUTIFUL WHEN WE GET IT RIGHT. BUT PESTILENCE HAD OTHER PLANS.
“Pestilence? Really? Like what?”
SOMETHING TO DO WITH SNIFFER DOGS. APPARENTLY. I DON’T KNOW, I REALLY DON’T. HE TAKES THEM TO COMPETITIONS AND EVERYTHING.
“…wow. Bet he knows a damn good vet with one hell of a patience. What about War? Surely he’s up for it, what with war being…stupid, and all…”
NIGHT IN WITH THE WIFE. FEW FRIENDS OVER FOR CANAPES AND -ING FIREWORKS.
GOT THE FLU- SOMETHING TO DO WITH THE CHRISTMAS BACKLASH. IT MAKES HIM FEEL EXISTENTIALLY POINTLESS. GETS WORSE EACH YEAR.
“What about Susan?”
WHAT ABOUT HER?
“Your granddaughter. Potentially the girlfriend of Time, whether or not she needs it. Poker-wielding badass. Works at a boarding school. You were in those books too!”
…SHE DOESN’T WANT ANYTHING TO DO WITH ME.
“She always says that! And as a relative- particularly an elderly one -it’s your job to totally ignore it. Part of being a family. And she can’t say no if you’re already there****.”
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
“What about me?”
YOU CAN’T SEE YOUR FAMILY. YOU WILL BE LONELY.
“Pffft! I’ll be fine, trust me. Now quit moping about glory days and piss off! Go on. Shoo.”
“Happy new years and all.”
…after a few minutes of respectful silence, chatter resumes. Without Death, it feels more empty. The abstract toastrack has a presence, I’ll give it that- apocalypse or not.
And Death says I’m lonely…pah. Gimme a break…
“Womble?! You here? Womble!!”
“WOMBLE! Must be late, I swear we said-”
“-I heard you the first time! Over here! No, not- freakin hell, how much have you already drank? Geez, spilling it all over the place…here- not there, I look nothing like that- to the left- my-oh for Ned’s sake- HERE! Big -ing Twili bastard in the furry coat! Opposite the comatose earthman OVER HERE!!”
“Ah ha! There you are! Sorry I’m late, got jumped by a Dalek hen party on its way to the races- asked for directions, nearly got vapourised! How you been? Good? Another round? Why not!”
Happy New Year everyone- from HH & W 🙂
*”It” generally referring to a very sound beating, in some sort of field, from one to another- the promise of very definite action summed up in two letters.
**Of drink, that is.
***Days in which nothing seems to go right, no matter how easy it should have been for things to not go wrong. Like locking yourself out of the car with the keys inside. Repeatedly.
****Technically incorrect, but I’d like to think even Death is capable of Bambi eyes.