Robin could honestly kill something. He was that angry. He cursed Eliza and Keith, their wedding, and their future. He cursed the blizzard that had formed out of nowhere so now he had to walk through it. And he especially cursed his 1997 Honda for finding that patch of black ice, and lay nestled in a snowbank off the side of the road.
A sharp gust of December snowstorm wind kicked up then and whipped through Robin's snowflake encrusted hair. At that moment, he also cursed his own stupidity for rushing out of the house without a hat. He shoved his hands deeper into his coat pockets, ducked his face away from the wind, and trudged forwards.
How had things gotten so out of hand? Things had been so perfect one minute, then it blew up in his face the next. Had he put too much faith in her? In him? In himself? In the entire relationship? During the planning of the wedding, he had kept his mouth shut and politely declined being part of the wedding party. But as the date of the wedding drew closer, Robin's need to tell Eliza he still was in love with her grew. Tonight, the eve of Keith and Eliza's wedding, Robin decided he needed to tell her how he felt. So after grabbing his keys and coat, Robin dashed out the door. Looking back now, he was more than 90 sure he forgot to lock his apartment.
Robin was too wrapped up his own thoughts to notice the red Ford pickup barreling down on him. That was, until it was too late. Suddenly there was the sound of screeching brakes, busting glass, and the unmistakable sound of breaking bones. Robin's battered body rolled into the ditch as the truck sped away. Then there was only the sound of the howling December winds . . .
Medb rushed down the harshly lit halls, her purple hair flying behind her. As if things weren't hectic enough, now something like this had to go and happen. Things had been bad since they got the new computer system, but something of this magnitude hadn't happened in a long time. It would just be her luck if no one knew how to fix it.
Medb hastily pushed the elevator button. She needed to talk to Erosie – now. After what seemed to be an eternity, the elevator's doors swung open. Medb rushed forward into it and pushed more buttons. When she reached the floor she needed, Medb darted out and down another fluorescent lit hallway. Finally, Medb skidded to a stop in front of a door with the name 'Erosie' written in gold lettering across its frosted glass window. She ripped open the door without knocking. "Erosie!" She demanded to the short, skinny man with a head full of blond curls who sat behind his desk.
He smiled coyly up at her. "Ah, the fair Medb. What can I do for you?"
"We have a problem," Medb hissed, closing the door behind her with a quick snap.
Erosie faked a frown and clasped his hands in front of him.
"Really? How so?" he asked innocently. Medb growled low in her throat. He was mocking her. She slammed her hands down on his desk, causing him to give a little jump.
"We know very well why we have a problem, Erosie," She said, her voice dripping with anger. "We have a problem because one of my clients is dead."
Erosie shrugged nonchalantly.
"I don't see how that's a problem."
"He wasn't supposed to die for another 65 years!"
"Yes," Medb sneered, "things do happen when you're involved. The Fates have to go through you, Erosie. You have to sign off on every person whose life thread is cut. You have to double check their life contract. It's in your job description. Now this person is dead, coming across the River Styx, and his astral body has already been sent to be reincarnated." The room was silent for a moment.
"Sounds like you have a problem," Erosie told her calmly. Medb was flabbergasted.
"T-that's it? That's all you're going to say? You're not going to fix it or even apologize?" She gave a small chuckle. "After all what could I expect from you? After all these years, you haven't changed a bit."
"I'll ignore your snide comment, but If I were you, I would hold my tongue. You see Medb, I still have a higher rank than you. I can easily report you for harassment." Erosie told her cooly "I suggest you go now, you'll have a client arriving soon in Limbo." Medb stood there for a moment glaring, while another uncomfortable silence snaked throughout the room. She then straightened up to her full height and hastily brushed a few purple locks behind her pointed ears.
"Fine. I'll go." The elf spun on her heel and walked calmly out the door, her dignity still intact. Once outside Erosie's office, Medb leaned against the bleak colored wall. Hades is going to have someone's head for this. She thought. And it sure as hell not going to be mine.
Robin's head was spinning and there was a fantastic light show happening on the back of his eyelids. Slowly, the lights faded away as Robin began to feel himself wake up. His eyes fluttered open, and he blinked a few times to clear away the blurriness. It was then that Robin noticed he wasn't cold or wet anymore. And he could hear water running, as if he was near a stream or creek. Robin frowned. All the streams and creaks had frozen over months ago. His eyes widened as everything came into view.
No longer was he on a snowy roadside in Massachusetts' countryside. In fact, there was no snow anywhere near him. He was sitting in the middle of a green, grassy knoll with the wind blowing softly through his hair. A crystal clear stream lay a few feet away from him, and the air was thick with peonies, lilacs, and saltwater. Night had turned into day, as the bright, yellow sun beat down on him from the sky. Even his clothes had been changed. His parka and heavy sweater had been switched to a white cotton button down, and his jeans had turned into matching pajama pants. His boots were gone, rendering him barefoot. It's not like he really needed them any way.
Robin shut his eyes again. Hadn't he been hit by a truck? That was it! He was unconscious and hallucinating. Soon enough he would wake up bleeding in a ditch, or if he were lucky, a hospital bed. Robin snapped his eyes open and looked at his surrounding again. Not far from where he lay, a girl sat a stump. Had she been there before? Robin couldn't remember.
The girl had long, purple hair which she allowed to flow freely around her face and shoulders. Her white dress was flowy and gauzy; Robin could only assume it was made out of the same materials as his outfit. Robin couldn't make out the color of her eyes. She kept them downcast as she chewed on her thumbnail at a rapid pace. But the thing that stuck out about this girl the most were her ears. They were pointed, like an elf. Robin shut his eyes again and shook his head, grinning slightly. He had to be dreaming. Otherwise, where was he? Middle Earth? The prospect almost caused him to laugh out loud.
"So. You're awake," the elf spoke as Robin reopened his eyes.
"Am I in Mirkwood?" Robin asked her jokingly. The girl sent him a confused glance.
"What?" Robin chuckled and shook his head.
"Nothing. Nothing at all." He sat up. "So . . . what's your name?"
"Oh, that's pretty. My name is . . . " Medb cut him off.
"Robin Lee Beck. You are 21 years old and born on June 22, at 11:37 A.M.. That makes you a Cancer born on the cusp of Gemini, with a Libra rising sign. Your favorite color is blue, you love eating egg rolls, and your favorite book is Catch-22. When you were little, you were afraid of the man on the oatmeal container. And finally, whenever you see the scene in Breakfast at Tiffany's, where George Peppard kisses Audrey Hepburn, you cry." She looked up at him expectantly and blinked her odd honey-colored eyes. Robin didn't speak for a minute.
"I'm dreaming." He murmured, shaking his head. "It's all a dream." Medb shook her head, causing her purple locks to go wild.
"You're not sleeping." Robin rolled his eyes.
"Yeah, right," he snorted. Medb pinched him. "Ow!"
You're not supposed to feel pain when you dream, are you, Robin?" Robin rubbed his arm where the elf had pinched him.
"Okay, I'm not dreaming. So where am I and who do you know all that stuff about me?" Medb took a deep breath.
"You're in Limbo." Robin paled slightly.
"You mean . . . I'm dead?" Medb wrung her hands.
"Well, not exactly dead. We just seem to have misplaced your body." Robin changed from chalk white, to beat red with anger.
"You lost my body?!"
"Lost is such a bad word. We misplaced it. You see it wasn't your destiny to die when that truck hit you, but something got mixed up in the Fates paperwork . . . " Robin interrupted her then.
"Yes, paperwork. Things have gotten much more advanced here in the underworld since ancient times. We even have a new computer system." Medb noticed the look Robin was giving her, and sent him a bemused smile. "You don't think that we here in the afterlife haven't advanced along with technology?"
"N-no. It's not that, it's just . . . what was you saying?" Medb shook her head, as if to clear the thoughts from it.
"Where was I? Oh, yes. Someone I know messed up the paperwork. Purposely, I believe. In order to make me look bad. So your body has been sent to be reincarnated, but you still have your soul, thus you can still feel pain. I feel I should specify that this is your astral body, not your human body. Your human body is probably still in a ditch somewhere. Anyway, everybody in reincarnation has been put on the look out for your body. I'm guessing it will only be a matter of time before someone finds it." Medb finished cheerfully. As Robin took in all the new information, something in his mind clicked.
"What time is it?" he asked suddenly. Medb frowned.
"Time is the same here as it is on Earth." Robin checked his watch. Twenty after five.
"I can't wait. I need to get back to Earth now." Medb shook her head.
"That's quite impossible. You can't step foot on Earth without a body."
"But I need to get back! I need to stop my brother's wedding." Medb was confused.
"Keith, my brother, and Eliza, my girlfriend, their wedding. Technically, she's my ex-girlfriend, but I still love her. The wedding is a seven o'clock tonight, at Central Lutheran Church in New York City. That's where I was heading when the truck hit me. I need to get back! I need to stop that wedding! I...I need to make Eliza love me again!"
"I'm sorry Robin." Robin approached Medb, and grasped her by the shoulders.
"Please!" he begged "You said I wasn't destined to die when that truck hit me, well maybe it's my destiny to stop this wedding." Medb bit her lip and glanced away from Robin's unblinking gaze.
"Maybe . . . " She whispered "it's a small chance, but if it were to work . . . "
"What?" Robin asked anxiously. Medb stared deep into his eyes.
"If this is to work, don't get your hopes up too high, you owe me. Big."Robin dropped his hands from her shoulders and nodded frantically.
"Of course, whatever you say."
"I'll be back as soon as I can." And with a small pop and a cloud of glittered dust, Medb vanished from his sight.
Xanthus kept his eyes on the monitor; the numbers kept going up. He looked down at the clipboard he was holding and hastily scribbled something. The death total for today was higher than expected. This was due to the fact that Poseidon had another fight with his wife, causing a large earthquake off the coast of Papua, New Guinea. This had also put everyone behind in their work.
Suddenly there was a popping nosie and Medb was standing next to him, looking over his shoulder. Xanthus jumped, and nearly dropped his clipboard. This did not escape Medb.
"Sorry," she apologized. Xanthus instinctively pushed his glass up on the bridge of his nose.
"It's quite all right, just warn me next time. Or try to be quieter. Anyway, What can I do for you?"
"I need your help, Xanthus." Xanthus raised an eyebrow.
"My help? How?"
"One of my clients died 65 years before he was scheduled too."
"I'm sorry, Medb that's truly awful, but that's not my department. Maybe you should go see–" Medb shook her head to cut him off.
"No, that's already being taken care of. The thing is, my client needs to get back to Earth now. If he doesn't, his entire destiny could be thrown off. Is there any way he can be transported back to Earth?"
"The only way that could happen would be if someone had recently died in his area."
"What if he needs to be some place out of his area?"
"Same rules apply."
"Can you check for me?"
"Of course. I'll check the database. What's your client's name."
"The one from Massachusetts?"
"And where does he need to go?"
"New York City." There was a beat of silence before Xanthus broke out into a grin.
"You're in luck. A Ms. Abigail Moneypenny just passed on not ten minutes ago. She died peacefully in her sleep at home. She lived by herself. He wouldn't have to deal with anybody."
"Sounds perfect. I'll go get him."
"Be quick about it. We have to get him in there within the hour." Medb nodded and once again disappeared in a burst of simmering dust.
"What?!" Robin exclaimed. Medb winched.
"I'm sorry, Robin. If you believe this is your destiny, this is your only chance until we find your body." Robin sighed.
"Are you sure there's no other way?" Medb nodded grimly.
"Positive." Robin weighed his options.
"All right. Let's go."
"Are you sure?" Robin nodded "Good." Medb snatched his hand in hers. "This will only take a minute." Suddenly Robin's ear popped and it felt as if he was swimming through wet rubber. He couldn't breathe. When he reopened his eyes, he was in a room with Medb and a man with glasses staring down at him. Medb was smiling sheepishly.
"Sorry," She spoke helping him to his feet, "I guess I should have warned you. Traveling like air can take some getting use to."
"That was air?"
"Metaphorically speaking, of course," The man with the glasses spoke. "We don't actually need air because, you know, we're dead."
"But of course," Robin muttered under his breath, which cause Medb to shoot him a look. Robin shook his head. "Never mind."
"Robin, this is Xanthus. He's the one that will be sending you to Ms. Moneypenny's body." Xanthus rubbed his hands together, reminding Robin of a hamster or some other small rodent.
"We should get started before it's too late." Medb nodded in agreement.
"I'll bring it up on the computer." Xanthus typed on the keyboard in front of him, as Robin looked around the room. The walls were completely white, and the linoleum-tiled floor was a meek brown color. Computers and other machines beeped and whirred from every direction. In the far corner of the room sat something that vaguely resembled a shower stall covered in a thick blanket of dust. 'It's a good thing I'm dead.' Robing thought 'Otherwise my allergies would be kicking up like crazy.' Xanthus stopped typing.
"Here it is," Xanthus murmured as the shower stall suddenly lit up and whirred to life. Robin jumped away from it. "Sorry, I didn't know you were there."
"What exactly is this?" Robin asked pointing. Xanthus approached him.
"This is what you will be traveling in. Since your death was premature and your . . . rebirth, if you will, is unnatural we have to use this method. Sorry about the dust. We haven't used this in a very, very long time."
"So what do I do?"
"You step inside and shut the door. I then type in the coordinates and the name of the woman who died. You will be transferred to her body. You'll still be yourself, just in a different host body. You can control her thoughts, actions, etc. up until about ten o'clock tonight. After that your carriage turns back into a pumpkin and we have to pull you back."
"Hopefully by that time we'll have found your body." Medb supplied.
"Right." Robin wasn't so sure.
"Well," Medb said over enthusiastically. "are you ready?" Robin inhaled deeply and let it out slowly.
"Yeah. As ready as I'll ever be." The door swung open and Robin stepped into the dusty chamber. Then there was a frantic beeping nosie, a flash of light, and a slight shuddering movement. Robin could longer see Medb, Xanthus, or any sign of the room he had previously been in. The shuddering movements grew more violent as Robin felt his eyelids begin to droop. By then the only thing Robin could recall was the slight ringing in his ears.
Images flashed on the back of Robin's eyelids like twin movie screens. A family vacation to Disneyworld. Swimming in the ocean. Communion. Confirmation. First date, first kiss, and a wedding. A baby being born. Then another. The babies growing up. And death . . .
Robin gasped desperately for air as his eyelids snapped open. It took him a few minutes to remember what happened. He looked around. He was in a cramped apartment overstuffed with family pictures and ceramic knickknacks covered in dust. The only light in the room was the bluish tinge coming from the tv set.
Robin sighed and rubbed his eyes with his hands, noticing they were wrinkled and gnarled by the sands of time. He set his hands down in his lap. What had he gotten himself into? He sat there for a moment. The only noise was the high-pitched buzzing nosie coming from the tv. As he sat there, a clock, located somewhere in the depths of the apartment, began to chime.
One . . . Two . . . Three . . . Robin's head snapped up. Just exactly was the time? He looked down at his wrists and searched desperately for a watch. No such luck. The clock kept chiming. Four . . . Five . . . Six . . . Robin drummed his fingers on the laz-e-boy he sat in. Seven . . . The clock finished as Robin shot up out the chair, the old woman's bones creaking the protest. He cursed as he rushed to the door, stopping short as he remembered the snow storm outside.
He would at least need a coat. And a taxi. He wasn't going to be brought to demise once again by this wretched weather. Robin darted to the hallway closet. He ripped the door open, pulled out a coat, and threw it on. He slipped a hat on his head and rushed out the door. Once on the street, he flagged down a taxi
"Central Lutheran Church please," He croaked out desperately. The cabbie grunted and shifted the taxi into gear. He watched the buildings whiz by and tapped his foot impatiently.
"Excuse me?" he asked the cabbie after a few minutes "Can you possible, uh, go faster?" The cabbie growled and muttered incoherent curses under his breath. Robin also took notice that he was holding the steering wheel so hard his knuckles had begun to turn white. Robin sunk back into his seat and didn't say anything until they arrived at the church.
Robin didn't even wait for the cab to come to a complete stop before jumping out. He had found a fifty-dollar bill crumpled in the old lady's pocket and threw it in the cabbie's direction. Robin rushed into the church as fast as Mrs. Moneypenny's body would let him. The chapel's doors were closed, but even so, Robin could still hear the pastor droning on.
In Robin's mind, his plan worked perfectly. He would burst into the chapel just as the pastor asked if there was anybody who knew why they shouldn't be joined in holy matrimony. He would confess his undying love to Eliza, she would run into her arms, and he would whisk her away. Of course, in his mind, Robin had been in his own body, not some 87-year-old woman who had just died. But he decided then that beggars can't be choosers, considering he himself was dead.
Robin yanked it open the chapel door. It slammed into the wall with a loud bang. Everyone turned to look at him and the pastor stopped talking.
Medb sat in her office feeling antsy. She glanced at the clock on her wall above the door. It was getting late. Xanthus should have found Robin's body by now. She wrung her hands and gnawed on her bottom lip. The ticking clock echoed through the empty room, and Medb feared it was beginning to drive her crazy. She tapped her fingers on her desk. She then sighed in irritation. That clock would have to go.
Medb pushed her chair over to the clock. As she stood up on the chair, it lurched a bit to the left. Medb regained her balance and reached for the clock. Just as the tips of her finger touched it, her door flew open and sent her flying off the chair.
"Hey Medb I have . . . " Xanthus' voice trailed off as he gazed down at Medb. He cocked his head at her. "What are you doing on the floor?" Medb drummed her fingers on the floor.
"Taking a nap," She dryly stated. Xanthus grinned at her.
"Well wake up, starshine! You have a round trip ticket to Earth to take care of!" Xanthus told her as helped Medb to her feet.
"I take it you found Robin's body?"
"Yup. What are we waiting for?! Let's get you going!"
"Wait! Go where?"
"So you can put Robin back in his own body." Medb paled.
"I thought we did that here." Xanthus frowned.
"No, you have to go get him and then transfer his soul. You have to do this on Earth. Why? What's the big deal?"
"The big deal? I'll tell you: I hated Earth. Why do you think I became an immortal elf? So I could stay in Limbo and help the dead." Xanthus stopped trying to pull Medb along.
"Oh." A beat of silence "I'm sorry Medb. You have to go, or Robin might not ever get back to his own body." Medb closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath.
"All right," she spoke quietly. "Let's go." Xanthus placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Maybe it won't be that bad." Medb smiled meekly.
"I wouldn't bet on it."
"Who are you?" Keith demanded at Robin from the altar.
"Who am I? Who are you stealing your bride away from another man.?" Keith laughed.
"How much did Robin pay you? I noticed he isn't here." Robin clenched the old woman's fists.
"Robin? Who is he?" Robin asked through clenched teeth. Keith laughed again.
"You're not a good actress, you know. If you think I stole Eliza away from him, you have obviously met him." Keith sent a smile in Robin's direction. "He always has been jealous of me. Always been a little crazy." Eliza shot her husband-to-be a look and spoke for the first time.
"Don't talk about your brother like that. He's a good man,"
"Apparently not good enough for you." Robin spoke sadly. Eliza squinted her eyes, as if she could see him clearly.
"Don't you remember? The first time you said you loved me? We were seven. It was the fourth of July. We grew up. We went out. I thought we were still in love, at least I was. Then 12 months ago you broke my heart and began to date my brother. I thought I could hate you, but I can't. I've tried. I never stopped, Lizzie, I still love you." Robin's voice was barely above a whisper, but somehow Eliza heard every word.
"Robin?" She stepped down from the altar. Keith reached for her, but Eliza dodged his grasp. She didn't stop until she stood right in front of Robin. She gazed deep into the old woman's eyes, that now was only a shell for Robin's soul. After a few silent minutes, Eliza shook her head.
"It can't be. I'm sorry ma'am, but I think you have me mistaken for someone else." She turned to her fiancé. "Keith, you better call the police. I think she may have Alzheimers. That would explain a lot." Keith nodded and headed out of the chapel. Eliza placed a gentle hand on Robin's shoulder.
"Please have a seat." She said softly, ushering him to an empty pew. As Eliza turned away from him to do crowd control, a flash of purple appeared in the corner of his eye.
"Hello, Medb." He spoke without turning to face her, but he knew very well the violet-haired elf now sat next to him.
"You found my body," he stated.
"You know, Robin, they can't see me. They think that you're talking to yourself." Robin gazed at Medb for the first time since she appeared next to him.
"So? They already think I'm crazy." He glanced downwards. "It doesn't matter anymore."
"I'm sorry, Robin."
"Everything." Robin shook his head.
"It's not your fault."
"That's not making me feel any better. You're my charge, my client, my responsibility. You're not supposed to feel emotions when you die! You're not supposed to feel guilt or depression or anger. You're just supposed to be at peace. I begged them to make me an immortal of Limbo, a guardian angel, because I was too terrified to come back to Earth!" She was crying now. Were guardian angels supposed to cry? Robin didn't really care anymore. He took Medb's hand in the old woman's gnarled one.
"But you're on Earth now. Is it as bad as you remember it?"
"Yes. No. Oh I don't know!" She wailed. "I'm so confused!"
"Maybe it's time to retire your immortality and be reincarnated." Medb sniffed again.
"Maybe." A small lapse of silence. "Are you ready?"
"Hmmm?" Medb rolled her eyes.
"To go back to your own body." Robin glanced upwards at the people staring at him and grinned.
"As ready as I'll ever be."
"Now, just because we found your astral body doesn't mean we know where you will wake up. It depends on where human body ended up."
"It's okay. My destiny obviously doesn't lie with Eliza." And with that Ms. Moneypenny's body slumped lifelessly to the floor.
"Are you sure he'll be okay?"
"Positive." Robin was beginning to come to. Colors swirled on his eyelids, as he attempted to open his eyes. He tried to sit up, only to be overcome with dizziness. He felt a hand placed on his shoulder.
"You shouldn't try to sit up. You're still very weak." Robin's eyes uncrusted and he came face-to-face with a woman that looked about his age. She had grey eyes and a dark mahogany hair that fell into curls around her face.
"W-who are you?" he managed. The girl smiled softly at him.
"My name is Anne." Robin looked around at his unfamiliar surroundings.
"Where am I?"
"You're in a very small Massachusetts town. You're at our doctor's office. We found you in a ditch, about a mile out of town, half frozen. It's a miracle you're still alive." Robin snorted.
"Yeah, a miracle."
"If you don't mind me asking, what are you doing all the way out here in the middle of nowhere?"
"Trying to get to my brother's wedding."
"So, did you make it?" Robin gave a little laugh.
"In a way." Anne shot him a confused glance. "At least I made an impression . . . "
Medb and Xanthus watched the scene unfold in front of them.
"Do you think they'll end up together?" Xanthus asked, his head slightly cocked to one side. Medb blinked.
"I think they make a cute couple."
"Are you going to take Robin's advice?"
"In what way?"
"Are you going to give up your mortality and be reincarnated?" Medb chewed her lip in thought for a moment.
"I don't know," she answered honestly. "I guess I'll see what tomorrow brings . . . "