Author: L.F. DiBello PM
In an alternate earth, creatures called Reapers, with special powers, stalk the earth killing humans that they are assigned to. To keep these superpowered beings under control, a special police force is needed. Please R&R. I'll return the favor!Rated: Fiction T - English - Suspense/Horror - Chapters: 4 - Words: 18,920 - Reviews: 12 - Favs: 8 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 02-21-07 - Published: 11-05-06 - id: 2272100
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: In order to make this more like an actual manga, I've collected my first chapters into one volume and I will continue to do the same with later chapters. Thank you for everyone who took the time (or will take the time) to read this 19 page long volume. As always, PLEASE REVIEW! I much appreciate it whether you hate the story or not and constructive criticism is always appreciated.
Special thanks to shortyblonde, FoolishHamster, Nairu, ttSerenity, Eternally Loveless, and K.T. Nye for their reviews for the first few chapters, without which I probably wouldn't have had the motivation to continue writing, and for giving me the knowledge that people are actually reading and enjoying my story.
No more stalling for now-I present GRIM Volume 1, complete with a new chapter at the very end (for those who have already read the other chapters). ENJOY! (And please tell me what you think). GRIM Volume 1-The Servants of Death
GRIM Volume 1-The Servants of Death
Reapers. A superior race of humans with incredible powers. Together, the Reapers hunt down human targets assigned from a greater power, and kill them. To the normal human eye, a Reaper seems like any other human. Silently they walk among normal humans waiting for their next target.
Akio stood at the ledge of the tall building as the bright neon lights of the large city buzzed beneath him, making the light of the full moon seem almost insufficient. Carefully, he scanned the street below as he gripped the shaft of his scythe nervously. Finally, the target turned the corner in a small blue car-just as he had planned. Quickly strapping the scythe to his back, Akio pushed off the building, and into the warm night sky. His long black trench coat trailed behind him as the wind howled in his ears.
The powers of the Reapers are the things that separate them from normal humans. The powers include flight, invisibility, the power to walk through solid objects at will, and of course the touch of death. A Reapers most important tool is his scythe. The second the scythe touches a human, they have been marked with death. The scythe of the Reaper never actually kills a human by itself, of course.
Akio carefully slowed his descent as the traffic rushed past in a blur below him. Soon, he was levitating in the air just above the street as the blue car rushed towards him. Akio waited for the perfect time, when the car was just beneath him, before phasing through the roof and landing directly in the passenger seat of the car. The woman inside shrieked with terror at the apparition, but before she could react, Akio swiftly detached his scythe and swung it-directly into the woman's head.
The scythe is only meant to mark the place of death and causes no pain for the human. Nature takes care of how the human dies. For example, getting hit by a scythe in the heart means the human could die of a simple heart attack, or be stabbed through the heart by a murderer. The Reaper can never determine the cause of death. Once hit by a Reaper's scythe, the human only has 40 seconds to live.
Akio covered his ears as the woman shrieked and the horn of a truck blasted loudly. The accident lasted only a minute as the car traveled into the middle of the intersection and was immediately side-swiped by a large truck. Like a rag doll the car flipped helplessly across the road as pieces of shrapnel littered the street. Nearby, an abandoned construction site sat eerily in darkness. A large iron pipe jutted out from the unfinished foundation, as it swayed lightly from the strong wind. The crippled car smashed through the fence surrounding the compound with ease as the car slid across the mud. The piles of mud gathered in front of the wheels, and slowed the car down as it smashed into the neglected building-finally bringing it to a stop. The iron pipe shot through the windshield of the car as a torrent of blood dripped from the cold metal and onto the hood of the car.
The problem is-all Reapers have one weakness…
After a short pause, Akio opened what was left of the car door and stepped out. He was covered in cuts and bruises, but his powers had mostly kept him from any serious injuries. With a quick glance at his demolished surroundings, he slipped on his hood and examined the car. Silently, he stared up at the moon as the tears dripped down his face and mixed with the trail of blood on the ground.
They all have human emotions.
Akio walked away from the wreck as he turned invisible from human sight. If the police discovered him, it could be disastrous. Shaking with sadness and anger he took out a piece of paper, damp from blood, and crossed out a name. Putting it back in his pocket, he left the terrible scene behind him, pausing for only a minute as a sign of respect.
"I'm sorry, sister," Akio cried as he continued towards his next target.
"Please! For the love of God, spare me! I meant you no disrespect master-just grant me some mercy!"
Akio smiled cruelly as he lifted his bloody scythe off the ground to prepare for the final blow, "I told you that I would accept no weaklings in my plan. You let the GRIM's find out about you-and I can't have them on my tail. I'll stop your suffering now."
Akio swung the scythe and ended the shrieks. Wiping the blood off on his pants, he turned to the horizon to see five GRIM's flying through the air. Swiftly, he flew into the air, and onto the roof of a small building where six others were resting.
"Are you finally ready?" one of the men grunted.
"Yes, the Grims are coming-so we'd better hurry-"
"Not so fast!"
Akio clenched his fists in anger and turned to see the owner of the voice. Cowering before him was a teenage kid, tenaciously holding a scythe-his father's scythe.
"Ah, yes. I had forgotten that the fool was a father," Akio said as he lowered himself to the boy's level ominously, "so, do you want to avenge the death of your father. Do you want to fight me? I have more experience than you-you'll definitely lose. Do you really want to throw your life away so soon?"
"Why? Why did you kill him!?" the kid screamed ferociously, "he was always loyal to you-always followed you orders-"
"It was because…he was too weak."
With a cry of anger the kid rushed forward and swung the scythe. Akio easily parried as he slammed his own scythe into the kid's back. He shouted in pain as he collapsed to the ground and into his own pool of blood. Akio laughed as he picked up the kid's scythe and replaced it with his own bloody one.
"This is a nice one your father had. I think I'll borrow it," Akio smiled, "take care of mine for a while. Let's go."
In only a few seconds the seven flew off into the dark night, but were quickly replaced by five GRIM's. Skillfully, they landed in a circle around the wounded child with their scythes poised for attack. Seeing that there was no danger, the leader of the squad stepped forward and examined the kid, as well as the bloody scythe beside him.
"Killed by his own partner," the man said as he turned to the other five, "at least he managed to do some damage before his death. Arrest the child and bring him to headquarters!"
"WAIT!" the child cried helplessly, but it was too late. Together, the five Grims raised their scythes in the air as a painful cry echoed through the moonless night…
Because all Reapers have human emotions-it makes them unstable. Therefore, a special police force, made of trained Reapers, is sent to arrest or destroy any Reapers involved with illegal activities (which may include killing people not specifically assigned to them, committing massive genocide, killing other Reapers or working with a normal human who is not supposed to know about the existence of Reapers). The name of this special police force is GRIM.
Oma sat quietly on the top of the caboose as the soft morning fog swirled around the remnants of old technology. His sharp, golden eyes searched the old train graveyard; across the battered metal of old train engines and decaying wood of retired cars. Satisfied that there was no immediate danger, he laid his scythe down and slipped the dark hood over his bald head to protect from the harsh wind. Pulling out a damp sheet of parchment paper, he rechecked the mission to make sure he was in the right place. He knew GRIM never made a mistake in any information they gathered, but sitting in the cold all night had multiplied his doubts. His eyes scanned the sheet for what seemed like the tenth time-not really internalizing anything that it said. For a GRIM, it was just like any other mission-capture some rogue Reaper on a killing spree and bring him/her back to Division Headquarters.
With a final groan of boredom, Oma fell back against the old beauty and closed his eyes. Carefully he listened to the sounds of his surroundings, but only the creek of cold steel reached his ears.
Then, he heard it.
A shout exploded from the darkness, the echo reflecting eerily in the dead air. Oma instantly perked up with his scythe poised at his side and ready for attack. After a short pause another shout emerged, and this time he pinpointed the exact location.
With swift skill, he launched off the caboose with a tremendous speed that had made him famous in his division. Without even blinking, he flew through the wreckage as the moisture from the damp fog collected on his clothing. In only a few seconds, he reached the site of the shout, and landed gracefully on a rusty car leaned against the rocks of some ancient landslide.
Below him stood two figures swirled in fog. To his luck, they hadn't appeared to notice his intrusion. One figure cowered with his back against a random car while his scythe rested limply on the ground a few yards away. Towering above him was another, trembling figure. Whether it was from the cold or anger, Oma couldn't tell, but his scythe hung firmly above his head, glinting threateningly in the moonlight.
"Please," the cowering man whimpered, "you know just as well as I do that I had no choice! It's our job to kill the one's we are assigned to! It was inevitable."
"Shut up!" the other said, tightening his grip on the shaking weapon, "you're just a kid-you could never understand. You had no idea what it was like to hold her in my arms while her last words were choked away by blood. Can you understand what love is? What it's like to watch the one you love die-and know you can't do anything about it. You could've made it a quick death with a scythe to the head or heart, but being an amateur you let her suffer as she died; and I was the one that had to watch that suffering. Watch her eyes screaming for help! Well don't worry-I can give you wisdom. Give you the knowledge to know what that suffering was like!"
The clang of metal reverberated through the graveyard, as the steel trains themselves seemed to shudder at the sound of it. Oma stood between the two, easily blocking the angry man's scythe with his using only one hand. With his free hand, he whipped off his hood-facing the man to make sure he could see the GRIM symbol branded on his forehead. His expression quickly turned from surprise to rage as he sprang back and crouched, ready to attack.
"Oh, thank God you're here. That maniac would've killed me for sure," the whimpering man started.
"Don't you dare call him a maniac," Oma retorted firmly as he moved his hand further down the shaft of the scythe to prepare for battle, "what he says is true. A kid like you could never understand the pain of losing a loved one. However, a man who forgets his duty to the Reapers over his own emotions must be eliminated."
"I've been hunting this man for nearly a month," the third member of the party stated, "and you damn GRIM's won't get in my way now. As I laid her body down in the earth I swore to avenge her death-and I won't stop until I do!"
"Your mindless babble annoys me," Oma spat, "one thing I hate worse than a rogue Reaper, is one that throws his life away for an empty cause-"
Oma barely had time to dodge as the man shot forward like a bullet. He gripped his thigh as a small trickle of blood warmed his leg. Oma turned to the man crouched on the ground like an animal, the veins pulsing from his neck and his face, and his eyes shining from the savage desire of murder. The man pounced again, but this time Oma was ready.
Oma blocked the attack as the two scythes clashed and met at an X. The man's eyes widened in surprise at the block, and Oma took the time to his advantage while he flipped under the two scythes and delivered a hard kick to the man's jaw. With a groan, he reared back, but Oma caught the front of his shirt with the scythe and pulled him back for a punch to the face.
The man toppled across the mud as Oma wiped the blood off his fist. With a sickening crack, the man hit the pile of rocks and fell unconscious.
"Mission accomplished," Oma said as he got out special handcuffs made for Reapers so that they couldn't escape from. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched the other man run to his side energetically.
"That was amazing!! Thank you for your help! I don't how I could ever thank-"
The man silenced as Oma held his hand out to his face, "Don't thank me for killing a wounded man."
As a sign of respect, Oma stripped off his black cloak and hung it on the coat rack as he entered the room. The office before him had long since lost its impact from the first time he had entered it. Pinned on the walls were dozens of pictures, containing Reapers wanted for some crime. Most of the pictures had been crossed out with blood, but on the far end of the room, seven stood untouched. Despite the several cabinets for storing, papers still littered the floor of the office making it impossible to see the floor. A window sat on the opposite wall, but the shades casting a crusty yellow light into the room made it seem almost useless. Below the window two scythes were mounted directly above the desk as the boss sat underneath.
Oma saw his huge body turn towards him as he entered, the chair creaking from the immense weight. On either side of the desk, four packages of blood, supported by two stands, were slowly being fed through IV's into the man's arm.
The boss motioned for Oma to sit with a lethargy that made it seem like even the weight of his arm was too much. Oma sat, keeping his eyes locked to the man's face, trying not to show any disrespect. The boss was still young, but his bald head, slanted eyes, thin mouth, and rolls of heavy wrinkles made him seem near 60.
"Congratulations on a successful mission," he said with a low rumble that reminded Oma of an old sputtering car
"Thank you, sir," Oma said, shifting awkwardly in his seat.
Suddenly, the boss stood from the desk, a feat that Oma had deemed impossible. He bombarded through the mess to a cabinet on the right of the room as the stands of blood squeaked behind him.
"Oma Valentine...ever since you arrived at this District-you have trained and worked nearly non-stop for several years. More work than some lazy GRIM's will do in a lifetime. Needless to say, they are impressed; but sadly they have some suspicions about your behavior," the boss concluded as he lifted his paw into the cabinet to fish out papers.
"Yes. You came to this doorstep at the age of eight near death, covered in blood, and not even realizing you were a Reaper. Ever since I took you in, you've been a diligent worker, but have never once mentioned about your past. Now, I believe that if you want to keep your past a secret, then so be it, but they won't accept such an excuse. Nothing of your past is known, and therefore suspicions have arisen."
Oma slouched quietly in his chair as the boss finally fished out the file he had been looking for-his file. Flashes of that storming night flashed through his head, but he managed to shake the old cobwebs away. He had decided to never talk about his past and move on-he wasn't about to break his vow for some damn suspicious GRIM's.
"Now, to take care of this once and for all, I want you to tell me your ambitions," the boss said as the file landed on the desk in front of Oma with a loud slap.
"I don't understand-"
"Why do you work so hard? Why do you do the work you do? What are your dreams and goals? Just tell me anything to satisfy them so they don't think you're some Reaper spy."
Dignified, Oma stood from his chair and leaned in close to the boss. Normally, he would think twice before committing such a rude act, but the situation seemed right to him. Taking a short breath, Oma slammed his fists against the desk and opened his golden eyes as they melted with his passion.
"My ambition? To serve the Reapers! My dream…to be the first person ever-to die of laughter!"
Stunned, the boss sat back in his chair. Closely he searched Oma's face, and to his surprise, found him completely serious. After a few short seconds to process the words, the boss burst out in a laugh that seemed more like the ugly croak of a frog, "What the hell are you saying something like that so seriously for? I can push you off some building, you can laugh on the way down, and when you hit the pavement your dream is fulfilled!"
"NO!" Oma exclaimed as he pounded the desk, "I don't want to die while laughing-I want to literally die of laughter. Laugh until my lungs burst, or laugh so hard that my heart explodes!"
Oma snatched his file angrily as the room exploded in laughter, and the blood bags feeding the IV bubbled in agreement. Quickly, Oma grabbed his cloak and shoved the file into the front pocket as he slipped it on. His foot only touched the threshold when the wheezing voice offered a last reply.
"My servant has your next mission on the way out. Three Reapers were found dead early last night. You're to investigate and catch the murderers."
"Gladly," Oma sneered as he trudged out.
At long last the boss stopped as the laughter sliced through the dusty air of the room. Interesting kid, the boss mused to himself, such a dark job as this and he still has the optimism to say something wild like that. We could use a few more like him.
With that, the servant shut the door, and the boss continued his work in solitary darkness.
Chapter 2-A Reason for Murder
Kyra watched the small rubber ball roll to a stop at her foot. She picked up the ball and twirled it in her palm-watching the dull colors faded from years of use and the thick layer of dust coated on the rubber. Instantly a small boy tugged at her skirt, the boy not in a much better condition than the ball, wearing ragged and torn clothes smeared with mud; and yet he wore a large grin as he lifted his hands pleadingly.
"May we have our ball back Miss," he stuttered, motioning to a group of boys at the other side of the street playing soccer in an abandoned lot.
With a slight grin, she handed the ball to him, watching his young face light up with joy as he ran gleefully back to his companions. Kyra loved to watch children, their happy and joyful innocence; a quality in her that had faded long ago.
But she didn't have the time to enjoy herself, she had to kill someone.
Kyra flipped the scythe from her back and gripped it in her hands in case she needed it before she reached her target. Even with her powers, a wealthy man was bound to be guarded by someone. She craned her neck at the massive tower before her, shining like silver and smeared like a painting from the dim colors of the sunset. The rest of the tower disappeared in the clouds, challenging her to defy the heavenly countenance, a challenge she proudly accepted.
Taking a deep breath, Kyra walked through the revolving glass door and examined the entrance. She could have used her powers to fly directly to her victim's room, but an easy method like that diminished the thrill of the hunt-a desire that was only satisfied with blood. A satisfaction that reined her senses until the next victory.
She stared anxiously at the elevator door as the death clock slowly counted down the floors. Already she could feel the blood pounding in her ears, her muscles tensed and ready for anything. She moved her eyes to the distorted reflection of her scythe, her emerald eyes staring back at her with the same savage passion.
Finally, the doors opened and Kyra rushed inside with the others-carefully making sure that her scythe would not touch anyone. She didn't always use to look forward to killing; in fact there was even a time when she abhorred it. However, that one night had changed her view on everything.
To become a true Reaper she didn't just have to sacrifice her emotions, but her humanity.
The elevator music chimed like a requiem in her ears as she slipped her black hair back in a ponytail-she didn't like the strands clouding her face as she did her work. At long last, the doors opened on the 13th floor of the large hotel. The hallway stretched out before her like a golden palace. The walls, and ceiling, were painted gold as the red carpet welcoming her was lined with a golden trim.
A fitting tomb for a wealthy man, she thought as she popped up her black hood and disappeared from the sight of humans. Swiftly, she stalked down the hallway, paying careful attention that her feet would not make any sounds. Invisibility was a useless power if people could hear you. Turning the corner she finally caught sight of her goal as a large set of golden double doors rested at the end of the hall, guarded vigilantly by two large men.
Sneaking forward, she chuckled at the fact of what their faces would look like if they saw a hooded figure with a scythe approaching them. She amused herself a bit more by making faces at the two-which they clearly could not see, but her enjoyment was short. The target would be there soon and she needed to get ready. She walked cautiously between the two-spotting the hairs on each of their necks rising in feeble defiance. With a quick breath she phased through the door and into the room, without detection.
Kyra took a moment to adjust her eyes to the room, vastly contrasting to the bright gold outside. Inside, the room was covered with white. She took off her shoes so as not to track any mud and slipped across the furry white carpet. Just inside the entrance stood a large TV built-in to the wall with a white leather couch directly across from it while on the room to the right was a kitchen built from beautifully carved white marble and filled with every appliance she had ever known, and even some she had never seen before. On the left, several doors led into an intimidating darkness that she had no time to explore.
A large window took up an entire wall of the room, revealing an overhead view of the city, the several lights of buildings glowing like fireflies in the twilight. With a last sigh, the sun retired its light under a range of mountains in the distance, coloring their snowy peaks dark red as if waiting for the bloods of their victim.
Kyra quickly shifted back into invisibility as the key clicked in the doorway. To her luck, the two hallway guards stalled the victim with their greetings, giving her time to jump up on the glass table in front of the couch so that her feet could not be detected in the soft carpet. The blood lust rushed back through her again as her knuckles turned white from the grip of her weapon. The victim finally entered, and she leaned down to pounce, when he was quickly followed by another person; a woman.
Stunned, Kyra stood in her position as the two locked bodies in a passionate kiss while the door closed behind them. This had not been part of her plan at all, but Reapers were ready to adapt to any situation and this was no exception. After a pleasurable sigh, the two released their embrace as the man hung his tuxedo jacket and led the woman to the couch, directly in front of her.
The woman touched up her make-up as the man went into the kitchen and reappeared with a bottle of champagne as the lights dimmed and somewhere in the dim room jazz leaked from the walls. Kyra rolled her eyes at the cliché event, but apparently it worked well as the two were soon locked in another exchange of delight. The man viciously shook the glass bottle as the cork exploded out, missing her face by mere inches. The kisses continued as the woman's legs kicked with passion, forcing her to dance around them, trying not to be detected.
"I'll be right back," the man said suddenly as he handed the woman his drink and walked down the dark hallway to what Kyra guessed was a bathroom. Finally, she had her chance.
Alfred Frances Smith III whipped off his tie and unbuttoned his stuffy collar as he stumbled blindly through the hallway. The news that his company had reached #100 on the Fortune 500 List was the greatest news he'd had for several weeks; and now he had a woman waiting for him in the next room.
He had only been in charge of his father's business for a few short years, but under him the corporation's profits exploded. Despite the success being, in part, due to his father, he took pride in the fact that he worked hard for his success, and had no regrets.
After a short relief, Alfred flushed and walked to the sink of the bathroom. He noticed the bags under his eyes from the nights of stress made him look terrible. Turning on the cold water, he submerged his face and sighed with revitalization. Snatching a towel from the rack, he wiped off his face, and screamed in horror.
In the mirror, sitting on the toilet, was a figure in a black cloak carrying a large scythe. In the hood of the cloak he could see a woman's face, fair but sinister, and white as a ghost which seemed to electrify the green envy in her eyes. With a malicious grin she licked her lips and raised the scythe.
Feeling his heart beat furiously against his ribs, seeking escape, Alfred dropped the towel with a choke and yelled his last two words, "MARTHA! HELP!"
Out of the corner of his eye he watched the woman swing the scythe towards his back and responded with a yelp. For a few seconds he waited in frightened silence before realizing, there was no pain. In surprise, he turned to the woman, but slipped on the damp towel sprawled across the floor.
Flailing his arms in desperation to grab something he fell back towards the shower. He heard the sound of his own spine snap as he landed on the ledge of the shower. The fiery pain shot throughout his body as he tried to scream again for help, but the sound was choked by his own tongue. The room before him swirled with colors as he heard the bathroom door open. He tried to reach towards his love, but his limbs felt like stone as his head turned to the side and he watched the trail of blood slip down the drain.
Kyra turned away from the body, snapped like a twig and twisted like a lifeless pretzel half in the shower, and half on the bathroom floor. She switched back on her invisibility as the woman rushed into the room. With a scream of shock and terror, she dropped the champagne glass as the poisonous liquid seeped towards Kyra. The woman frantically pulled the man out of the shower, but his eyes were rolled back into his head, white, cold, and lifeless. With emotion welling in her heart she shrieked straining the base of the mirror over the sink. Kyra watched the event with cold amusement, her taste for blood finally satisfied as she crossed out the victim's name on her list. She stepped down to leave, but the unexpected shout stopped her.
"WHY DID YOU KILL HIM!" the woman cried out desperately, "Show yourself, damnit, I KNOW YOU'RE THERE! I watched you kill the last man I loved to-and now this one! Why can't you just leave me alone! For this one time, just this once, couldn't-
you have declined your mission. Just this once, couldn't you have let me live?"
Kyra stood defiantly as the blood coated her skinny arm. She held the scythe directly through the man's heart, all that was left was to pull it out and end his misery. She watched the man's hands as a present slipped from them and splashed into the blood dripping to the ground. The present was labeled for her, on her 14th birthday, from her father.
Kyra shook the memory from her head as the woman's continuous shouts drove into her mind like screws, unhinging the past she had hidden along with her soul. She needed to end it, here and now. Displaying the bloody scythe menacingly over her head Kyra came out of her invisibility.
At the sight, the woman gave another cry and backed into the corner.
"Don't worry, I won't hurt you. I only kill the people I'm assigned to."
Surrounded by death the woman's face turned to rage, "You bastard! Do you have any sympathy for the lives of other humans? You didn't have to kill him. This world would be better off without you!"
The woman charged, but before she even got within a foot of her, Kyra slammed the butt of her scythe into the woman's forehead, instantly knocking her out.
"I'm sorry," Kyra said as she left the room and phased through the wall into the cold night air, slowly floating down to the street below,
"It's my job!"
Kyra's father stared up at her with pleading eyes as the tears dripped down his face, "Why do you have to do this job? Humans kill each other every day through murder, violence, wars without the consent of the Reapers. Why do you need to kill people when they kill each other?"
"You just don't understand," Kyra said choking back tears as she watched the present drown in blood, "it's true that humans kill each other every day, but they are also growing faster than they are dying. Each day just as many children are born as are murdered. Without Reapers to keep the balance between life and death the world would fall apart. Without us to kill people, the human population of the earth would continue to grow even with these wars. Eventually the planet would get overcrowded, and food would become scarce. Soon, all countries would be at war for simple resources like food and water making earth a giant living battleground; a living hell. Starvation and war would lead to disease and plague and pretty soon the entire earth would be annihilated by a nuclear war which would kill everyone anyway. The earth needs the Reapers to survive-THAT'S A FACT!"
Kyra listened closely to the chirps of the crickets in the night, but they were distant from her mind. The memory had been dragged up by the night's event and no matter what she tried it would not leave her head. It was the day of her transformation, the day she cut herself off from humanity; the day she became a Reaper.
"But, Kyra…I'm your father," the old man pleaded one last time.
"And a good one," Kyra shouted as she tasted the salt of her tears in her mouth, despite shutting her eyes tightly to stop them, "you've raised a good daughter. I'll always remember you."
Kyra ripped the scythe from his chest as he cried out some phrase that was choked in pain. She heard a horn behind her and watched in shock as a car traveled into the alleyway, later, she found, driven by a drunk driver. The car phased through her body as it slammed hard-directly into her father's chest. She watched in gross revulsion as her father's body exploded in blood which streaked across her own. Wiping the tears from her face, she turned around, strapped the scythe onto her back, and left the accident along with the last of her family members.
She was free, but only for a heavy cost.
Kyra jumped in surprise as she turned to see a crow resting on a street sign above her. At first she thought nothing of it, until she noticed the note tied to its leg. The crow swooped down in front of her, and Kyra recoiled. The crow was covered in bloody scars, poorly sewn together and missing one eyeball. With another loud warning, it dropped the note and flew off, soon consumed by the night.
Bending down, she picked up the note and unfolded it. In hasty and bad handwriting it stated:
Want to meet your brother?
Chapter 3-The Red Dove of Destiny
The buzzing florescent lights shone endlessly through the pure white hallway creating an obscure cloud of light that blocked one's vision like a shroud. Oma exhaled the air he had been holding through the nose as he gulped more of the foul air through his mouth. Despite the cleanliness of the morgue, the piles of Reaper bodies stored beyond the walls contaminated the room with a sickening scent. As an amateur, Oma had breathed in the air upon entering the room and found himself lying facedown in a pile of his own vomit. With his breathing under control, Oma whipped out his assignment sheet from the front pocket of his heavy leather jacket and checked the room he was supposed to go to. Confidently, he walked down the hallway, his boots echoing loudly against the bare walls and his breath swirling across his face. Despite the several layers of clothing he wore, the below freezing temperature of the morgue made him shiver. Tensing his muscles to make his body warmer, Oma found the room and silently knocked on the door.
"Come in," the coroner yelled from inside, "just make sure you're ready for this sight!"
Oma snickered as he pushed the door open. He had been through dozens of Reaper murders, and nothing surprised him anymore. Instantly, the smell of burning flesh attacked his nostrils, worse than he had ever experienced before. Oma held the top of his jacket against his nose and mouth for protection, and that was when he noticed the bodies.
Three bodies lay across the tables, but all of them had been mutilated to the point where the corpses barely looked normal. Dozens of slashes covered the bodies along with the blood, now collecting bits of frost from the temperature. Oma walked around to see the faces which were completely black and blue from bruises and deformed from the fractured bones. The one sight that disturbed him, however, was that each victim had a hole where the heart was, and the surrounding area was black from the burned skin and covered with broken, oozing blisters from the burn.
"What the hell happened to these people?" Oma blurted out as he cautiously allowed himself to breathe again.
"That's your job," the coroner, a middle-aged man with gray hair and a nasty gray beard with chunks of flesh stuck in the tangled hair, said. Carefully, he placed a bucket on his work bench to the right of Oma, filled with appendages roughly hacked from the bodies. "I can, however, tell you the cause of death," he grinned creepily as he slipped on some latex gloves.
"I'm going to venture a guess and say loss of blood," Oma said as he followed the coroner through the room navigating through the several machines. From top to bottom, the room was filled with machines used for tests, or examining the bodies. To one side was a wall filled with pull-out cabinets to which bodies were stored. The room had no windows, yet managed to still be as bright as day. The coroner walked to one of the bodies and lifted up the hand, turning it over for Oma to investigate the palm. Just like the chest, the palm was blackened and blistered from burns.
"Actually no," the coroner said as he placed the hand down, "however all the victims did lose a significant amount of blood. As you can see they are covered with blood, cuts, and bruises and are missing some body parts; but, some of these cuts are fresh, some of them are old-just not healed yet, some of them were wounds that were closed and re-opened, and under the blood are several scars from other wounds. The actual cause of death is electric shock. The shock entered the body through the wound on the heart and killed them instantly. The burn on the hand was where the electric current exited the body-probably since the hand was touching some kind of metal object like their scythes. Even though the patterns of cuts and bruises on the body are different-the cause of death is the same for all of them. Also, the shock was the most recent wound."
Oma scanned the corpses as his face furrowed in frustration and grief, "So, you're telling me-"
"Yes," the coroner said as he lowered his head, "all the victims were tortured before they died."
Oma clenched his fists and turned away. He didn't personally know the Reapers, but he still felt a sort of spiritual connection with them. Anybody sick enough to torture and kill one of their own kind deserved death no matter what the reason.
"Don't worry Doctor," Oma said through gritted teeth, "just give me the address where these bodies were found and I promise to find the Reaper that did this and kill him. I won't let them get away with this."
"It's sad," the coroner said as he took out a bloody pen to write down the address, "that a Reaper defies his destiny to do something terrible like this."
"What are you saying stupid things like that for?" Oma scowled as he grasped the paper and stuck it in his pocket.
"The thing that annoys me most is when people use words like fate and destiny as an excuse. Whenever something terrible happens in their lives and they're frustrated they get angry at God or at their cursed fate when it was their fault in the first place. When they were the ones that made the choices to their success or downfall. People like that are only cowards. This criminal didn't have any such thing as destiny to follow or decline-the bastard tortured these people of his own free will! The only true destiny is death which everyone experiences at sometime, but everything leading up to that death are choices made by that person. Destiny is only an excuse used by cowards!"
With that, Oma left the room, slamming the door behind him.
"That kid, thinking something like that in a business like this," the coroner said with a smile, "he really is one of a kind…"
Kyra showed her ID to the guard who examined it carefully. After a quick examination to the authentication of the ID, he stepped back as the bolts covering the steel door of Hallway B9 opened with a loud clang. Kyra bowed a quick thank you as she rushed in and the doors closed behind her, surrounding her in darkness in which the only light was from the slits on the door.
The several rusted cells stretched far into the darkness. She turned to glance at the cell to her left and recoiled. The inmate inside stared back at her with black, soulless eyes as dirty, torn rags, which she supposed were clothes at one point, stretched across his shrunken frame. In his hand he grasped a dead rat between his long yellow nails. Kyra turned away just in time, but she could still hear the squish as the man voraciously ate the living creature.
What the hell am I doing here? She thought as she walked down the darkness, holding her head with what little dignity she had left after the first spectacle. Suddenly, she heard a flutter of wings in her ear and a swift passing wind which caused her to shriek in fear. Angrily, she whipped out a flashlight and pointed it to the ceiling. Above, hundreds of black crows rested on the rafters, eating the remains of their poor comrades. Kyra refused the urge to gag as she turned away from the sight.
"Hey, over here!"
Kyra turned to the direction of the voice and flashed the light inside another cell. The man cried in pain from the light, a scream that pierced her ears. Quickly she turned off the light and let her eyes become adjusted to the darkness. The man was also covered in rags, but sat with a greatness that demanded attention. He smoothed back his greasy black hair and stared at her with emerald eyes that mirrored hers. The cell was coated with a brown filth that seemed to infect what little objects there were in the cell like a virus. The man stood and walked forward, his starved ribs shone plainly through his chest. He walked as far as he could, for he was chained to the wall. With each step Kyra backed up a little, his countenance sending a shiver down her pine.
"Are you the one that called me here," she said trying to regain her composure, yet the voice came out with a squeak.
"Yes, I am," the man answered with a deep, weary voice that seemed like it had not been used in years, "my name is Lodovico. How are you, sister?"
"Cut the crap!" Kyra shouted as she whipped the note out of her pocket and threw it through the bars of the cell, "what's the meaning of this? I don't have a damn brother-I was an only child!"
Lodovico smiled his yellow teeth and black gums dripping from his recent food, "I'm not surprised that mother and father didn't tell you about me. I am a criminal after all, but I assure you-you do have a brother. I'm in here because I was accused of murdering my partner merely 20 years ago. Once mother and father heard what I had done they rejected me. Never even came to my court case, and never visited me. One thing I did remember through my lonely 20 years, however, was that mother was found to be pregnant just before I was convicted. I knew you were alive-it was just a matter of finding you."
"Do you really expect me to believe this? You randomly come and say you're my brother-how do you expect me to respond? How did you even find me in the first place?"
"That doesn't matter right now, this is urgent! There is a deadly man out there, a man that has been plotting ever since the beginning of my imprisonment. He has been sneaking around under the detection of the GRIM's plotting the downfall of humanity. I fear he is finally moving."
Kyra looked into the man's intense eyes for only a second before exploding in laughter, "You're crazy! Thanks for the entertaining talk, but I'm getting out of this sick place."
"Wait!" Lodovico yelled desperately as she turned to leave.
"Sorry, crazy man, but your lies won't convince me. Next time have some actual proof."
Suddenly, Kyra felt a light tap against her ankle. She looked down to see a silver necklace shining eerily in the darkness. At the end of the chain, rested half of a dove, its wing made of a ruby jewel as if covered in blood.
"My parents gave that to me on my fourteenth birthday-is that enough proof for you?"
Kyra stepped back from the ghostly object as she felt the other half of the necklace wrapped around her own neck. The present her father had given her, the half necklace, a gift that marked the end of her humanity. She had always wondered where the other half was, and now, like a reopened wound, the memories were ripped from the prison in her mind. She fought back the emotions as Lodovico sat down, his chain rattling and raising a small cloud of dust.
"Good, it seems you now believe me," he said, "I called you here because I want you to break me out of this jail!"
On the bottom of the picture flashed a single name: OMA VALENTINE.
Chapter 4-Fresh Paint
The gravel crunched softly under Oma's feet as he dropped from the sky. The abandoned factory gaped before him like an abandoned shell as the late afternoon sun electrified the years of dust and ash piled on the fractured machines. Above, the scorched roof of the factory clawed at the sky, the rafters twisted from the heat of the flames, exposing the delicate devices inside to the elements. Oma walked forward, the dust swirling around his traditional black cloak as he walked. The afternoon heat made the cloak unnecessary, but he liked it as a reminder to focus on the case and conceal the anger of the murders brewing inside him.
Oma jumped to one of the tall, old mechanisms scattered outside the factory, no doubt placed there by the explosion countless years ago. Squinting with his golden eyes, Oma scanned the area around him, processing the information like a computer.
"Tire treads clearly imprinted on the dust and gravel, all the same vehicle-meaning multiple trips to and from the crime scene. Three victims and five sets of footprints," Oma noted to himself as he formed the image of the crime in his mind.
The wheels grinded hard against the gravel as the car scraped to a stop. Without hesitation, the man threw out the body, bound by special chains made especially for GRIM's. The woman squirmed in fear as each beat of her pounding heart sent another rush of pain to her head. Soon, the second man exited the car, his hood hiding the cruel face from the moonlight. Together, the two men forced her battered body to her feet and prodded her forward into the ominous building.
Jumping from the grave of technology, Oma landed back onto the path and walked to the entrance of the old factory. Placing his hand on the entrance, Oma scanned around the area, only to have the large rusted part of the door frame come off in his hands. Turning the rust towards the sun he examined the spattered blood across the piece. Disgusted, he let the piece drop as he walked inside the factory. The retired assembly line of machines and half-made parts rested comfortably as the sunlight seeping through the large holes of the building softly illuminated the warped steel like dying embers. Oma stepped forward, his boot immediately knocking a piece of trash littered across the ground, covered in blood.
The two men threw the woman forward through the threshold as they examined to make sure nobody was watching. Seizing her only chance, the woman dashed towards the nearest window to make her escape. Her body exhausted from lack of food and water, the woman crawled forward as the man chased after her. Her scream muffled against the cloth around her mouth as the man swung the deadly scythe across her abdomen-spraying her life across the charcoal walls. Clutching the chains against the wound to stop the bleeding, her body finally gave to the weariness as she collided with a shelf of replacement machinery parts. Loudly, she clattered to the ground with the other metal as the men shouted to each other. The voices soon became muffled as her blood oiled the useless machine parts.
Oma followed the blood trail through the factory. After a short time the blood came to a stop outside a door that led to the only part of the factory not damaged by the fire. "The streaks of blood across the ground suggest that she was dragged the rest of the way after being knocked unconscious," Oma continued to speculate, "and according to the several blood drops on the machines, the two men were in a great hurry to get here, not caring about the body bashing against other objects. What were they in such a hurry for?" Preparing himself for what was on the other side of the door; Oma took a deep breath and pushed down the handle.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you."
In a flash, Oma whipped around with his scythe in mid-strike ready for the attacker, but to his surprise, before him stood a woman no younger than 25 with a pink T-shirt and jeans. Her long red hair rested across her shoulders, burning like a flame in the dim sun.
"What the hell is a little girl like you doing in such a place?" Oma exploded. "You shouldn't scare people like that. Now hurry and get back to your home, this isn't a safe place for a little girl like you."
With a grin the girl responded calmly, "Could you lower your scythe please, it's making me nervous."
"Y-you can see it?" Oma gasped as he backed away from the mysterious girl. He was sure the creature was a human, but no normal human was able to see a Reaper's scythe. In the back of his mind, he felt a small sense of anxiety. The person was just a harmless little girl, but even so he should've been able to detect her from hundreds of feet away. "Who are you?"
"The same as you-a GRIM."
Oma laughed loudly as the sound echoed across the factory, bringing a cloud of ash, "A human like you-a GRIM? Impossible!" Without hesitation, the girl turned and lifted up her sleeve. Oma felt his jaw drop as he saw the sign of the GRIM clearly imprinted upon her bicep. "But how," Oma asked in astonishment, "how can a simple human become a GRIM? Who are you-why are you here?"
"My name is Donoma," the girl said through a snicker at his reaction, "I've also been assigned to this case to help you. The boss thought that since there were three murders this time you would be overwhelmed. As for how a simple human became a GRIM-I went through a near-death experience and ever since then I could see you creatures. I became a successful detective at only 22 years old and the GRIM's decided they could use me to go undercover and such since I was a normal human."
"A near-death experience?" Oma questioned.
"Yes, I was on a list to be killed by a Reaper," the girl said as Oma noticed a small glint in her eye, "but instead I murdered the Reaper before he could lay a finger on me."
Oma stood dumbfounded as the girl picked up his scythe, which had clattered to the ground from his surprise. Reapers killing each other were normal, but a human killing a Reaper was unheard of. He knew it was the truth from the symbol on her arm, but he couldn't imagine a human being so skilled.
"Anyway," Donoma continued, ripping Oma from his thoughts, "as I said before it wouldn't be a good idea to open that door. The person could have expected you would come to this place and wired a trap."
Oma snatched his scythe back from her as he felt an anger boiling inside him, "I don't need the help of a little human girl! I've been on dozens of missions-I know what I'm doing! The boss has never given me help on missions before, and this is no exception. Go back to Headquarters and get out of my way. The last thing I need is a burden like you dragging me down!"
Donoma backed away slowly as another grin appeared on her face, "You're kind of cute when you're angry. Don't say I didn't warn you though."
With a sneer, Oma turned back and pushed the door open. Shamefully, he backed away expecting her warning to be correct, but nothing happened. "Ha! Told you," Oma laughed with pride, but was immediately stopped by the expression of horror spreading across Donoma's face. He turned back to the room and instantly saw the reason.
The room contained no windows, and any spots where the sun may have leaked in were boarded up, keeping the nauseating scent of decaying flesh inside. The room was lit by a blue neon light that stretched across the ceiling, casting an eerie glow on the strange machines and tinting the red paint a dirty brown. Hesitantly, Oma stepped forward and felt a few drops on his neck. Wiping the liquid off of his neck, he didn't even have to see it to confirm that it was blood. Oma glanced around the room, and realized, with horror, that the entire room wasn't just colored red; it had been painted red-with blood. Worse, the paint was still fresh.
"This is sick," Donoma said as she walked into the room and eyed the machines, "using someone's life as a decoration. Who is this bastard?"
Oma clenched his scythe tightly as he walked towards one of the many machines. The one before him was a steel table with leather straps dangling over the sides, shrunken from being soaked in blood. Above the table hung a steel block with four scythes suspended in the air, connected to the block at one end. Carefully, Oma pressed a button on the side of the table. Instantly, the four scythes slammed down in an arch, screeching painfully against the table and splattering Oma with dried blood. He barely had time to dodge as the scythes completed the arch and hung suspended in the air on the opposite side.
"What the hell is that?" Donoma squeaked.
"These machines," Oma responded in a shaky voice that surprised even him, "were made specifically for torture. All the victims were tortured in this room before they were murdered. This is a room of suffering."
"Judging from the blood on the walls," Donoma said sadly as she wiped the crimson liquid between her two fingers, "the last victim would have been tortured up to 15 hours ago. The three bodies were found at the site nearly two and a half days ago."
Oma ignored the girl's words as his golden eyes melted with rage. Treating human lives like a game, not caring about torturing the bodies, it was, to him, an unforgivable crime. His mind flashed with one thought, find the person behind it all and kill them.
"This room must be destroyed!"
"What," Donoma inquired, but before her question was finished the screech of connecting steel and the rage behind the violence made her back away. Oma continued to slash the machines with his scythe, destroying them and ignoring the torrents of blood across his body. One by one, the machines crashed to the ground, becoming instant antiques like their ancestors in the factory.
Suddenly, Oma felt strong hands grip his shoulders. Slowly, the room came back into focus, the warmth of living blood pacifying his anger as he heard a whisper in his ear, "Calm down. I know you're angry at this asshole, and so am I, but we can't destroy this room. Like it or not, everything in here is evidence that can help us find the guy. We'll catch him, together." Oma relaxed as he strapped his scythe onto his back. The girl was right; he couldn't let emotions get the better of him-he had seen more devastating effects from it already.
"Thanks," Oma said as he released from her grip. Sheepishly he glanced at the floor, ignoring the destruction he had just caused. There, directly beneath, was a door.
"Yeah, I see it too," she said bending down with him. It was small, barely enough for a normal human to fit through, and the hinges rusted from years of use. Preparing for the worst they opened the small door in the floor, as the rush of cold air from the room below crept across their faces and sent a shiver down their spine. The door and everything beyond was wrapped in shadow, but one thing was for certain, they could both hear a muffled voice from below. Without hesitation, Donoma jumped in and disappeared in the shadow.
"Are you crazy?" Oma yelled after her down the hole, "You don't know what's down there."
Silence. Oma listened for a witty remark, anything, but heard only the drips of blood collecting in puddles in the carnage behind him. Nervously, he called out again, but only to a single reply.
"There's another victim down here. She's cut and bruised badly and barely alive. Probably this guy's most recent victim. If we don't get her help fast she'll die."
"Hold on, I'm coming down," Oma said as he lifted his body over the hole, when the sound of a slamming door made him freeze in terror.
"Ah, so you're already here. I'd have hoped you would be later so I could have a little more fun with the doll downstairs, but I guess it can't be helped."
Oma looked up to see a man standing at the end of the hallway of battered machines. The tight, black leather clothing he wore made him difficult to detect in the blue light, but one thing on his outfit was clear. Covering his entire body, were yellow wires, all seeming to sprout from his back and ending in frays at several parts of his body.
"Who are you?" Oma glowered as he stood up in front of the hole.
"The name is Topaz," the man taunted as he clapped his hands together, sending a shower of sparks into the air and watching them with childish glee, "I'm the genius behind this room."
"Genius! This isn't genius, its savage!" Oma shouted as he turned to the hole, "Donoma, take the victim and find another exit. Go now, as fast as you can!"
"Why, what's going on?"
"The sick bastard we've been discussing is here now, and I'm going to teach him what real suffering is," Oma said as he turned to the focus of his rage, "prepare for a place worse than hell."
"You shouldn't take me so lightly-I killed three of you remember? Besides, nobody takes away my toys," Topaz chuckled as he shifted his feet to prepare for battle.