Chapter 1.5Mature

As I leant against the wall, I felt another presence. I looked around the room. The doctors had left and called Mollie's family, who had brought her friends with them. I studied them, trying to track the origin of this new presence.

Once I'd come to the conclusion that it wasn't in the room, I left, sliding through the door. I stopped in the centre of the corridor, listening. Below the noise of the medical staff going about their business, there was the quiet - almost silent - whispering of magic. I followed it, stopping every so often to check I was going the right way.

After a few minutes, I found the source a couple of floors below. There was another reaper across the hallway, in the same state as me. He was walking through the ward, watching all the patients as they lay in their beds. I stared at the rogue, who had his back turned to me.

He had copper hair that glittered under the halogens. His build was muscular and he was fairly tall, about my height. It was his cocky walk that alerted me to his identity.

"Alistair?" I called to him.

He span around, in a fighting stance, his face cold. He wore jeans and a black button-up shirt. His knives were drawn and he was more than prepared to use them. I didn't respond to his aggression. When he saw it was me, he straightened up and put the knives away, a slight smile on his lips.

"Ryder," he greeted, bowing slightly. "Long time, no see."

"You went rogue," I reminded him, walking closer.

"I did," he chuckled. "Too much of a hierarchy in my opinion. So, what can I do for you? Have you sought me out?"

I shook my head. "No, I haven't. I'm here, following an assignment."

"Oh, I see. The situation?"

"You know I can't tell you that, Alistair."

"Ah, no, but I can guess. I knew you for long enough to know what sort of assignments you get. Let me imagine... Female, most likely. Probably quite young, twenty maybe? Terminal disease? Cancer, perhaps."

I felt a smile tug at my lips. "Seventeen actually," I corrected him.

"Oh, I see. Well, welcome to my domain," he said, grinning as he spread his arms, gesturing to the whole of the hospital.

I shook my head slightly. "Trust you to find an uninhabited hospital and take over."

"How do you know it was uninhabited?" he challenged, raising an eyebrow.

"Because it was last time I was here, fifty-seven years ago."

He laughed. "So, how is this assignment going?"

"I only got it today."

"Ah. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a dying man in Ward Seven."

Alistair turned on his heel and strode off. He hadn't changed. I smiled slightly and went back to Mollie's room. Some of her friends had left, leaving her parents and what I assumed to be her younger brother crying at her bedside.

Why did death always involve so many tears? Death is nothing but an inevitability, so why such sadness? I've never been able to get my head around it. I died once, not that I remember it. I remember nothing of my human life - no reaper does.

I sat in a chair by the door, watching the scene in front of me.

"I don't want you going to school tomorrow, Mollie," said the woman as she wiped away her falling tears.

"But I want to. I want to try and live normally for the next few months," said the girl that lay on the bed, lifting her mask away from her face.

"What if this happens again though? And it's only going to get worse," the woman, presumably her mother, sobbed before bursting into another bout of tears.

Mollie said nothing further, though I could see her silent scheming in her eyes. She was going to go anyway. She really was intent on not letting the cancer rule her last six months. I had to admire her for it; many of those I'd seen had given up any hope of remaining normal.

After an hour or two, the doctors concluded that Mollie could go home because there wasn't anything they could do for her; she'd turned down the treatment after all. She seemed happy when she heard she wouldn't be staying in hospital and I didn't blame her. Of course, she didn't know about the reaper that prowled the halls.

I followed her home.

The End

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