Thread: In Progress The Reapers
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Old 09-23-2016, 02:33 PM
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Default The Reapers

Author's Note
This is a little thing that's been bouncing around in my mind for awhile now. It's nothing serious, but i thought i'd put it here just in case anyone's interested. I'm also posting it on my subreddit, so if that's more convenient, check it out there too. (There's an RSS feed there.) As always, comments and critique are not only permitted but desired; most of the people who read my writing are ESL, so i don't get my writing torn into very often. If you have any thoughts at all, please don't hold back or hesitate!
Prologue: Trouble In Little Otterton

There had been a jailbreak nearby, and so the residents of Hackles Way on Little Otterton were without exception shut up in their little smoking cottages by the time the sun had set these days. It was only minutes thereafter that their drapes would be drawn, their lights extinguished, and their covers filled, for the wind carried that chilly apathy that always preceded tragedy. It was on such a closed night that an astute observer might have been surprised by the presence of a man on the street, his tall, thin figure cloaked in all black, with shoulder-length black hair which glowed in the night like the moon. Surely anyone foolish enough to have peered out the window would be highly alarmed by the man's presence, but this was circumvented for several reasons. The first of these was that there was simply no one with the nerve to creep from their beds during this, the witching hour, for surely even the slightest creak of the floorboard would alert some creeping killer to their presence, and that would be the end of it. Perhaps more profoundly was that the man could not be seen at all; he did not have to fear the scrutiny of a dozen fearful eyes as he fished a golden watch from his pocket, and glanced at it with a sigh, slipping it back from where he had taken it and embarking at a brisk pace. The poor, frightened denizens of Little Otterton need not have feared the man, even if they could have seen him; he was not, after all, there to kill, or injure. He was simply there to reap.

There was another man in the town, surprisingly enough, by the name of Adam Gent. Draped in the very same black hangings as the first man had been (though they were less intimidating on his squat, chubby body), he seemed to be on some sort of tight schedule. His cloak bit at his heels as he paced the shadowy street, not so much as a single lamppost illuminating his presence. Unlike the first man, his hair was a bright blond which fell to his shoulders, and the first man's staunch, erect stance was replaced with a bouncy, playful one. "Silly people," he muttered to himself as he jangled loose change in his pocket absent-mindedly. "So afraid of the dark, and yet too lazy to turn on the light..."

The two men convened at a street corner. Gent looked up and met the other man's gaze pleasantly. "Ah, Fletcher, right on time, i see. How good of you." He offered a pleasant grin, which Fletcher returned with a look of utmost loathing; Gent's grin melted into an uneasy grimace as he said, looking more at Fletcher's feet than his face, "Well, very good. Let's get to it, shall we? We'll have our hands quite full by the end of the night, you mark my words..." Fletcher grunted indistinctly, and they resumed their walk together.

There were no words exchanged, and indeed little sound at all save for the ceaseless clamour of Gent's loose change bouncing in his pocket, and the severe clacks of shoe on pavement. At length, they came to stop in front of a little house near the end of Hackles Way, which stood between two others of equal size and make, looking rather quaint. It was surrounded on the sides and back with pleasantly-trimmed hedges, and the garden was dotted with tastefully-placed hydrangeas, which framed a stone pathway up to the red front door. They did not tread onto the path and up to the door, however; it was not their job to enter the house yet, nor was it their job to stop the man who was now scurrying through the garage and picking at the secondary door's lock. They watched him distastefully, but remained silent and still for awhile as he worked on the door's lock tirelessly.

"It's a shame, really," said Gent after the silence was too much to bear. "It makes a man rather curious, what he's got to gain from slaying an innocent family in their home like this... He'll just be sent back to prison, won't he? It's rather difficult for me to remember all their damned laws on top of our own, but..." He trailed off, his mouth tasting rather bitter as the door at last swung open and the man scampered inside. "Perhaps he's got some sort of vendetta against them, eh? I suspect this man came from Little Otterton himself, i'm willing to bet the man of this house was the one responsible for sending him to prison, i'm quite sure of it—"

"Enough," said Fletcher, his eyelids fluttering in annoyance. "If you are so interested in the affairs of Little Otterton, you may ask Wheatley when we return, but your inane sputtering is lost on me." Offended, Gent said nothing more, though he continued to grumble to himself something about "mere speculation" and "sour attitude." Unaffected, Fletcher spared his pocket watch another glance, and looked satisfied as he stowed it back away.

There was the sound of commotion from within the house, even audible from without; Gent gave Fletcher an imperative look which was not met, and they wordlessly traipsed up to the front door and walked into the house, gliding up the stairs. The man who had broken in had apparently not been as subtle as he might have hoped; the owner of the house, a rather attractive man of about forty with caramel-brown hair and a chiselled jaw, was standing in the doorway with his fists raised, not seeming to care that his brawn would not stand a chance against the invader's knife. They stood in the hallway, watching this through the open door; Gent took a seat and crossed his legs, feeling uneasy, but Fletcher remained standing with his hands behind his back, his eyes fixed on a particular point on the wall.

"For the final time," spoke the caramel-haired man, anger leaking into his forced tone of calmness, "go. It doesn't have to be like this, George, you really ought to be in prison right now, and you know if i call the police you'll in for life and you and i both—"

"Shaddap!" George cried, lunging forward with his knife. The man jumped backwards, evading it. "I'm in fer life no matter what... Yeh don't understand, the beatings, the labour, yeh did this ter me, i'm ruined forever, and now i'm gorna do yeh in right fer it!"

Gent, enthralled by the drama that was unfolding, gave Fletcher a very self-righteous look of i-told-you-so, but Fletcher said nothing, though the corners of his mouth twitched slightly. Satisfied, Gent extracted a shred of paper from his pocket, and from the hasty scribbles on it, identified the man with caramel hair as "Roger Wilkinson."

"George, please," said Roger, apparently shaken by the realness of the threat after having dodged a stab. "We can talk this out, let's be reasonable! I'll... i'll help you get away, you don't have to go back, just... Leave my family out of it, please, George, they need me—"

George shook his head as though the words were physically harming him, and Gent thought might have seen tears streaming from his eyes, but after a few moments, it didn't matter; he slashed out with his blade a final time, and then Roger was stumbling backward, clutching at his throat, choking as it poured with blood—

And then he fell to the ground, defeated. George made a squeaking sound, but he was unable to see the version of his victim that stood up, looking very offended. There were now two instances of the man: one lying on the ground, blood pouring from his open throat; and another, standing on top of the cadaver without crushing it, somehow, looking wholly unharmed. This second, living edition was suddenly quite aware of the two cloaked men sitting outside of his bedroom, and he gave an almighty gasp. "And you brought friends with you!" he cried. "Well, i've given you ample opportunity, George, here goes—" Seemingly unaware that he had just been stabbed in the throat a few moments prior, Roger threw a punch, which collided with George's face soundlessly. George did not seem to notice at all, but Roger withdrew his hand with a yelp, as though he had just struck steel; then he looked down at his own body with an expression of utter befuddlement as George snuck over to the man's wife, who was lying in bed peacefully.

Roger looked quite torn between his own dead body and the living one of his wife; he spared a desparate glance at Gent and Fletcher, and Gent said simply, "You're dead, mate." Looking frantic, he turned his head and shouted, "Elisabeth, wake up!" but she did not hear him, of course, having slept through the initial commotion; moments later, there was a knife in her throat, too, and then a second Elisabeth sprung from her leaking corpse, entirely whole. She shrieked immediately, and scurried away from George, who was none the wiser; then she laid eyes on her own body, looked at her husband standing on his own cadaver, and then fainted.

Fletcher gave a heavy sigh and walked forward into the room, beckoning for Gent to follow (and he did). Roger looked quite alarmed, and threatened to lunge out at what he clearly considered to be George's accomplices, but Fletcher continued striding forward until he stood perhaps a metre from the heaving Roger, not meeting his eyes. Then he looked down haughtily; being quite tall, he was able to maintain a sneering, condescending air. He cleared his throat, and then said mechanically and rotely, "Good evening. My name is Orphneus Fletcher, and i am here to regretfully inform you with my utmost condolensces that you have died." Contrary to his words, Gent rather thought that Fletcher did not sound very regretful at all, and that he, Gent, could have done far better, but he did not speak up. To interrupt or otherwise anger Fletcher was a very foolish thing indeed, he had learnt over the years. "It is my duty and privilege to serve as your guide into the afterlife." He unenthusastically slipped a pale, bony hand into his jacket and fished out what appeared to be a very large pearl, which glowed pleasantly in the night. Gent recognised the device immediately; it was a Ferry. He raised an eyebrow at the notion; Fletcher appeared to have forgotten, or not noticed, that Elisabeth was unconscious.

Roger was looking very confused, though there was a pinprick of dawning in his expression as he reached out for the sphere, but Fletcher yanked it from his grasp reproachfully. "I advise against taking the Ferry at this time," said Fletcher when Roger opened his mouth in protest, Elisabeth's status apparently dawning on him. "It is likely that, should you embark alone, you will never see your wife again. I suggest that we wait for her to awaken before setting off." Roger did not pay any mind as George slipped out the window somewhat clumsily, neither did he seem outright disgusted at the presence of his own cadaver, though he kept his eyes firmly off it, or else looked at it with a touch of understandable revulsion.

There was a very loud, sickening crunch from outside the window. Fletcher's callous expression did not change, but Gent rose from his seat in concern, and Roger followed him to the window.

George's body lay crumpled on the ground, limbs bent at sickening, unnatural angles; a second George was standing just at its side, staring at what had once been his body with an expression of fear and confusion discernable even in the darkness of the night. "Bloody 'ell!" he cried. Roger's eyes widened, but Gent turned back to Fletcher and said, "George has fallen off the roof. Right muppet, him."

Fletcher rolled his eyes. "Well, go get him, then," he demanded, tucking the Ferry back into his pocket. "Bring him back up here; we may as well take him in with Roger and Elisabeth. How inconvenient, this wasn't in the orders... Odd indeed." Gent nodded and fetched George, who came with some difficulty; Roger turned to sitting on his bed between his wife's cadaver and her unconscious form, eyeing his murderer resentfully, when at last Elisabeth awoke.

"Wh-What... Roger, i've had the strangest dream, you won't be—"

"We're dead, dear," he said calmly, and Elisabeth burst into tears. He patted her back consolingly, looking disapprovingly at George, who markedly looked away.

"I knew it," Elisabeth sobbed, her face buried in Roger's shoulder, her voice thus muffled. "I thought— perhaps— but... Oh, George!" she cried, and then she descended into a series of decreasingly coherent sobs and pleads. Gent looked at her unfortunately, but Fletcher, who appeared not to have taken in the full gravity of the situation, simply began rattling off again, "Good evening. My name is Orphneus Fletcher, and i am here to regretfully inform you—"

"Oh, to hell with it!" Gent cried, red in the face. Fletcher opened his mouth, no doubt for a scathing response, but Gent just shoved his hand into the man's pocket and withdrew the Ferry, holding it out. "Come on, the lot of you, put your hands on it... Yes, that's good... We'll explain it later, for now just trust me, it'll be all right..." He turned his face toward an unimpressed and mildly offended Fletcher and shot him his nastiest of glares. "Really, Fletcher, how tactless, they've just died."

"Everyone dies," Fletcher said, unconcerned. Gent gave a heavy sigh and turned back to the three recently-diseased, who were all touching the Ferry somewhat superciliously; Elisabeth's face was blotchy, her gaze distant, and Roger was glaring at vacant-looking George, who was suddenly very interested in a bird that had perched outside the window.

"All right," said Gent, and as abruptly as they had appeared, Fletcher and Gent disappeared with a sharp sucking noise, the three deadmen vanishing with them, and a pair of bodies was left in the room to rot, a third one to fester on the pavement below. The investigations that washed over Little Otterton the following morning were like nothing the little town had ever seen, though they were largely haphazard; the case practically presented itself, given that the perpetrator's body was found clutching a bloody knife. Very sympathetic and understanding, the denizens of Hackles Way were inwardly glad, in a twisted, perverse sense, that it had not been them— they gave their witness reports to the investigators gladly, but not one of these involved a pearly white sphere, a pair of men cloaked all in black, or the giant shadowy creature that had lain atop the Wilkinson family's roof all the while, spectating silently before taking off into the night.
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Last edited by Nira; 09-28-2016 at 07:13 PM. Reason: thanks, negrek!
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