It was nighttime; the shadows played across the cold cement of the ghetto, creating a shifty, blurred pattern of black and white under the darkened sky. Footsteps echoed across the deserted street, pounding loudly through the still air.
Misery walked around the corner, his black combat boots shuffling against the ground noisily. His hands were covered in fingerless gloves, and his hair, which went from white at the roots to a faded black at the tips, fluttered in the wind. Underneath his trench coat, its high collar nearly covering his chin, he shifted uneasily.
Across from him, the light in the window of a house flickered out. He gripped the scythe slung across his back a little tighter, and waited patiently for the rest of the lights nearby to extinguish themselves. Whenever he walked across the living Earth, it always got darker.
It wasn’t his fault, he reflected. He was a reaper, one of the select few who existed between life and death, and guided the spirits through the barrier. Light didn’t seem to like him; he probably intimidated it. He was a very intimidating person.
Wondering vaguely about the time, Misery looked down at a piece of paper he’d pulled out of his pocket. It was his list of portals to be opened that evening—there were fifteen, and none in the same district. If he’d been more energetic, maybe he’d have run, but it wasn’t like him to exert himself for someone else’s benefit. Cocky, they called him. He laughed.
“If they think I’m such a jerk, why do they keep sending me off on these assignments?” he asked no one in particular, staring off into the shadows. “Honestly. There’re things wandering these streets that aren’t nearly as nice as I am.”
“To get rid of you,” a girl’s voice said from somewhere distant. Misery knew she wasn’t actually there. Sometimes he heard voices in his head, voices of the souls he helped to reach the void in between life and death, voices of those he’d killed, and voices of those he’d loved, many years before.
He was lying to himself, he knew, if he said they didn’t frighten him.
Showing fear was beyond Misery’s capabilities; if there was one thing he was determined to never do, it was cry. He wasn’t a sissy. He could take life’s knocks.
“And I can do it without even breaking a sweat,” he said loudly, glancing around him. The street was still deserted. “I can, you know. Easily.”
“You don’t even know yourself, do you?” The voice asked, laughing. “You need so much more than you think you do.”
Misery waved his hand irritably. “You voices are all the same. Always pretending to know more about me than I do. Listen, I’m perfectly capable of getting myself through anything. So bugger off.”
He walked towards a small, white gate on his left, slamming it open. Rose petals fell from the bushes beside it as it thudded closed behind him.
The handle fell off the door to the house after he sliced it with his scythe. He chuckled to himself at the simplicity of it all, and shoved the door open.