Passing Time

A cosmic deity suspends his curiosity with a visit to a hospice.

Time stepped into the room, letting the door fall behind him.

There was something, he found, very caustic in the echo of wood against itself. He allowed the harsh ripples of noise to shred over and past him, before deciding he had so much enjoyed the first hearing that he would a second.

A flick of the wrist later and the ebbing realities of transition unwove themselves. Effect ran into cause, and the stoic molecules that comprised the mahogany pane of the bedroom’s entrance were lifted back from collapse by the ascending force of gravity.

With another, Time re-set the approved order, and was enveloped again by the crashing melody.

The room was small; squalid, even. Four thin walls tucked within the enormous compound, the roof just scraping against the peak of his cap. Time removed it with a flourish, doffing to the two within.

Wrinkled, the both of them. Their faces, pock-marked by a thousand shallow crevices, were well familiar to him. The man leaning from his chair he knew to be Tobias Williams Deckard, born 1913, married 1940, died-… he would make a note of the date at the proper integer.

The woman lying, groaning, within her perfect linen sheets, was Julia Priscilla Deckard. Born 1916, married 1940. Died at four minutes past noon. Precisely.

Time plucked his watch from its pocket. Twelve o’clock.

Precisely.

She had outlasted most and, so far as he could appraise, had a fine few moments to her name. Tobias was, of course, devoted to ruining her last sheets with an uncontrolled weeping. They always did that.

Some little quirk Life had created within them, Time imagined.

Four minutes.

It was a strange marvel that they had the reservoirs to maintain it. By all conceivable notions they should surely dry out after a short while and add their own weight to the grave-carts and yet on they went, sobbing for hours, days, weeks and even months without end.

It was a strange feature he had oft mused upon before Life in the hope that she might concede to reveal the inner workings of her foremost creations.

Toss off,” she would reply.

Ah. None of his business, he supposed.

Three minutes.

Julia had just begun the converse of her final lectern. Tobias’ simpering had fallen quiet, although his eyes continued to flush odd little treacle-drops. The room was still.

Things were proceeding to the cosmic schedule. He should be arriving in shor-

The door shuffled close in a gentle hush, guided by a hand in tatty shroud.

There were many things Time misliked about Death. The unkempt, Medieval attire that bore with it the unwashed stink of five centuries’ plague, warfare and ash was amongst them, but for all his many, storied faults, there was one admirable quality in him.

He was always punctual.

Which one is it?” his voice was a metallic rasp, like a breath of wind against rusted rafters.

The woman,” Time pointed “Lying there.”

I can never tell them apart.”

We know that. Remember London, eighteen-fifty-four?”

The instructions were unclear.”

Time huffed. “Life was livid. Do you know how long it took her to nourish a new strain to explain it? I can tell you-”

I am aware.”

Time, retorting only in a low grunt, returned to his pocket-watch.

Two minutes.

Julia had come to the epoch of her speech. Her eyes glazed fuzzily as she recounted the memories of a life fading. Tobias was crying fitful into her lap, his tears dampening the bedding as he prepared to part from the woman he had always adored.

Time was wafting violently the air, clenching his nose with two fingers.

Must you wear that atrocious thing?” He jutted toward Death’s robe, spoiling into a frown.”

It is tradition.”

Ah, Death- my dear… thing. The mortals have a phrase this century. Move with the Me. You really must learn to … well not live exactly but… embrace new things?”

Death turned, his ceremonial sickle flashing hints from his belt.

What of that?” He jerked a rotten, boney finger at the watch in Time’s hand. “Antique.”

That’s different. My elder sister, Space, had it made for me from the materials she had left over from the start."

Death raised a brow- or so Time would have imagined. No one was quite certain what Death hid behind that nightly veil, eyebrows or otherwise. “Were you not the older sibling?”

Ah! No, common error there. You see, as it happens, time requires space for stuff to transpire within but space can sort of… be. I don’t know, I’m no expert of Quantum Mechanics. Never found the er… that is to say I never got to it.”

One minute.

The two settled into silence, their eyes following Julia as she set back into a lasting sleep.

“… And don’t forget that I love you, you silly old man.”

Tobias nodded, the flickering ember of a smile dying upon his face.

Death stepped forward, untugging his sickle from its hold and lifting it high. With the woman’s final breath he crooked his arm, digging the blade through her chest and into her heart.

It was done.

The Reaper turned, his duty accomplished. Time went with him, his interest satiated.

Tobias lingered, crying.

How do you suppose they do that?” Time whispered, closing the door behind.

The End

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