Six hours earlier...
I knelt on the black marble floor. I kept my head down, focusing on the reflection of myself in the floor. I looked at my green eyes glittering with the light from the chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. My black hair blended in with the marble.
I heard the doors behind me open and I pressed my knuckles into the marble beneath me.
"Ryder," said the voice as it travelled to the front of the hall.
A hand appeared in front of me. I kissed the ring and resumed my previous position. I saw the shadow float over to its throne.
"You may stand," it rasped.
I stood but kept my head lowered respectfully. My hood fell forward slightly, shrouded most of the hall from my view.
"I have a new assignment for you." I didn't respond, just waiting for more details. "A girl. Seventeen years old."
A file appeared on the ground in front of me but I made no move to take it. Not yet.
"May I enquire as to her situation, my Lord?" I asked quietly.
"Lung cancer." I nodded once. "She has six months. Make sure she will come when it is her time. You will be leaving shortly."
That was my cue to leave. I bent down on one knee and stood again, picking up the file as I did. I turned and walked out of the hall. I walked down the corridors silently. The only sound was my cloak as the hem swept along the floor. I passed few others; they weren't many authorised in this part of the halls.
When I reached my room, I shut the door behind me. I dropped my hood. The room was simple, holding only a desk, wardrobe, chest of drawers and a bed. I went to the chest of drawers and pulled out some human clothes. I dragged a bag out of the wardrobe and put the clothes in it, just a couple pairs of jeans and some t-shirts. I put in a few knives just in case and zipped it shut.
Slinging it over my shoulder, I flicked my hood up again and enjoyed the quiet for a moment. On Earth, you could never find silence like you could in Limbo. The corridors around these rooms where quiet, as usual; these rooms were reserved for reapers with a high status.
I took my scythe from its holster on my back and held it horizontally in front of me. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, focusing on getting to earth.
As I knelt down on the rooftop, I watched the ambulance drive away. That was her. That was the girl I was assigned to. I knew the horrors of cancer - I'd seen them often enough - but it wasn't very often that the patient refused the chemotherapy. Of course, you know the chemotherapy will be useless once you have a reaper assigned to you.
I disappeared, appearing in the ambulance that she was in. No one saw me, no one would; the wonders of magic prevented it. I studied the girl. Mollie Verone - that was the name on her file.
The paramedics, I believe they're called, were taking all sorts of figures. Her oxygen count, her heart rate, and one of them had some sort of disc on her chest. She had a mask over her mouth, no doubt giving her oxygen.
Sometimes you wonder about the fragility of a mortal existence. It's a matter of great debate among reapers; which is better, the knowledge that you will ultimately die or an immortal life? It makes you think, doesn't it?
I stood in the corner of the moving vehicle, watching her eyes stare out of the window at the passing buildings.
After a short while, the ambulance pulled into the hospital. The paramedics moved quickly, pushing the bed-like thing she was on out of the vehicle and into the hospital. I walked after them, silent and invisible. I followed as she was taken to the ICU and I couldn't help but smile a little. The intensive care unit was a rogue reaper's playground and I had no doubt I would encounter one at some point.
I walked into the private room the girl was wheeled into and stood in the corner, watching the fuss that was made around her. Doctors and nurses seemed flustered as they attached her to some machine and put a new oxygen mask on her.
How fragile life is...