Anatomy of a High School Misfit

Chapter One: A High School Student Foresees His Death By Demonic Entity

Fate had probably thought she was doing Spencer a favour when she assigned him to his current job. After all, when someone as notoriously anti-social as Spencer was forced to confront and interact with members of the general public on a daily basis, it would definitely be an idea to ensure they were all dead first. It meant Spencer wouldn't be able to actually kill them, no matter how much he might want to.

In Spencer's less than charitable opinion, the bitch held a grudge. There simply was no other explanation as to why he ferried the newly deceased to their various destinations when he could have been given a job more suited to his personality. Archiving, for example, seeing as he could actually read which was a major advantage over whatever idiot continually refused to process his transfer requests. Until that day though, Death would not be a people-person. And it didn't matter how many courses they sent him on.

But anyway, the pay was decent enough even if the hours left a lot to be desired. Spencer may not have any social life to speak of, but he objected to living and breathing his work. He objected to living and breathing in general. It tended to lead to other things like … well, death. People sometimes called Spencer morbid. They simply had no idea.

Spencer was technically supposed to conform to a dress code while reaping souls. According to a focus group, it was what the dead expected when they were led on to their next stage. This was the reason why he had been given the long black cloak with cowl hood on his first day on the job. The cloak had lasted about twenty minutes before Spencer left it heaped in a random alleyway between jobs. It was difficult to see when the hood hung so far across his face, the fabric was hot and itchy and most importantly, the sodding thing was at least four inches too long. Spencer had decided that if people had a problem with a five foot five inch Death wearing jeans and battered converse sneakers, they could take it up with him on their next turn around.

As can probably be established, Spencer's work ethic wasn't the greatest. But there wasn't anyone else prepared to take on the role of Death, so he had long since realised that for the most part, he could do as he wished. At the moment, that consisted of sitting out in the park of some random American town, admiring the moon and sipping on a Coke.

It had been a busy day. The recent spate of hot weather had sent tempers soaring and common sense crashing. There had been no fewer than fifteen accidents that would have never happened had even an ounce of intelligence been involved. Their reactions upon finding themselves no longer numbered amongst the living had ranged from bafflement to a dazed unawareness that probably would have remained even if Spencer had been dressed as a ten-foot chicken. Except for the last appointment with an underdressed teen-queen who had tried to hit on him. Repeatedly. With no apparent interest in her still bleeding corpse that was splattered between them. She might have felt able to brush off a fourteen storey drop, but her mortal body hadn't shared her optimism. Spencer had only regained his appetite about twenty minutes ago.

All of which was, in Spencer's mind, a reasonable enough excuse for sitting in a deserted park enjoying artificially sweetened stimulants and a slice of pizza. He finished the last of his drink and pitched it into the bin without even bothering to check his aim. Then he fumbled around in the back pocket of his jeans for a battered looking list. Unfolding it, he skimmed through the contents.

Fifteen names, locations and times stared back at him. With a small smile of satisfaction, Spencer removed a chewed biro from his other pocket and scored through each of the names in turn: fifteen names, fifteen appointments and another day of dealing with other people over and done with. Tucking both pen and paper back into his jeans, Spencer allowed himself to fall back against the grass with a large sigh and stared up at the night sky. A frown played across his face as Spencer became aware of a nagging sensation originating from deep within his subconscious. Something that he had forgotten was trying to make itself known. Spencer's frown developed into a fully-fledged scowl as he tried to think what it was that he was supposed to have done. It couldn't be soul-related; having had to spend even the small amount of time he had around each of those odious entities had served as a fine incentive to just get them wherever they were supposed to be going and out of his presence. Unless they'd gone to the wrong places? Spencer fished out his list once more and carefully uncrumpled it before studying the contents with narrowed hazel eyes.

Then he saw it. Lurking in the corner, right at the bottom was a final name. Sweet sixteen. Swearing fit to make a sailor blush, Spencer surged back to a sitting position as he looked at the name that was positively mocking him with its existence. It hadn't been there this morning, Spencer was sure. So either those idiots over in Fate's section were even more off the ball than usual or someone had been messing about with some pretty powerful shit while his back was turned.

Growling to himself, Spencer read the details and raised an eyebrow. Demonic entity? That was one he hadn't seen for a couple of centuries. He fought a wince at the memory. Always messy though, probably shouldn't leave the stupid bastard hanging around enjoying the scenery for too long. There was only so much trauma not caused by his own personal take on customer service that Spencer was willing to put up with. He looked over to see when the dumb kid was meant to die without much interest. It would be midnight – it always was. That was the thing about demonic pacts gone wrong; they always ended exactly the same…

Ten past nine???! Spencer nearly dropped the paper. What the fuck? Was it trying to get home in time for an episode of CSI and a cup of cocoa before bed? Cursing profusely once more Spencer checked his watch in the hope that his earlier temporal awareness had been hopelessly skewed. Nope, the dial still read quarter to ten. A few blocks away some hapless soul had been staring at its corpse for a good thirty-five minutes. Spencer was so going to get it in the neck for this one.

Luckily almost instantaneous travel was one of the perks to his job. Spencer burst back onto the scene at the mouth of the alleyway where his final job of the day had met his end and slapped a hand over his nose in preparation. Advancing into the alley, Spencer immediately noted the broken shape lying on the ground some way in and winced. Damn, that looked painful. The guy was probably glad he wasn't having to experience that any more.

Speaking of which … Spencer glanced around the alleyway, but the recently deceased soul wasn't immediately visible. Not that much of a surprise, of course. Who would really want to keep looking at that mess except to maybe attempt to identify organs. Personally, Spencer was pretty sure the dark purple looking chunks over there were once a liver and the more chewed looking bits over there were probably intestines but just what the greenish stuff was would be anyone's guess. Drawing his attention back to the more immediate task, Spencer scoured the shadows for the no doubt quivering soul he was supposed to be removing from the scene.

There was no one there. Spencer turned around in a slow circle to make sure, but it was becoming increasingly obvious that the alleyway was distinctly lacking in the soul he was meant to be taking care of. Had the soul been consumed by the demon? Spencer dismissed the idea. If that had been the case, there would have been no need to send him out here. That left one other option and it wasn't one Spencer was overly thrilled with.

The soul had gone walkabout and was currently wandering the city somewhere. Possibly thinking it was still alive. Spencer sighed and kicked something gloopy off his shoe. He hated having to run around after wayward spirits. But even worse than that, he was going to have to phone his boss and confess to having no idea where the kid was. And Spencer despised having to ask for help. It involved interaction. Plus he just knew the bastard was going to gloat about this.

Sometimes his life just sucked.