Hospitals are never quiet at night. The emergency room bustles with activity and nurses make their rounds in proper Drill Sergeant form, shoes falling heavy on the tile floor. The quietest place to be in the hospital at night is the extended care unit where only the sound of the occasional TV, left on, assaults your ears. On this night, the thud of a solitary pair of footsteps filled the empty corridor. It would've taken a special pair of ears to hear the footsteps of the grim reaper moving down the corridor.
Dressed all in black, from the shirt to the shoes, it wore a black cloak over everything else; hood pulled up over its head, concealing the face. On its back hung a scythe, the blade shimmering under the fluorescent lights of the hospital hall. Stride purposeful, it didn't stop until it reached what it was searching for.
The old woman was alive only because of the machines keeping her failing organs that way. Beeps and whirs filled the room along with the woman's raspy and shallow breathing. Standing over the bed, the grim reaper removed his hood slowly. Silver eyes and shaggy black hair, the reaper wasn't what you'd expect death to look like. Though his expression was blank, there was sadness in his eyes.
The woman opened her eyes slowly, sensing his presence and looked up at him.
"I know what you are." She said hoarsely, closing her eyes again. "I recognize death's face, no matter the package you wrap it in."
The reaper felt the corners of his mouth lift slightly.
"I'm a Spirit of Death and I've come to release your soul."
"Tell me, Spirit." Rasped the woman. "What were you before? That you enjoy taking people from everything they know."
The spirit frowned slightly.
"I don't know." He answered softly.
The woman laughed bitterly and opened her eyes to look at him again.
"Perhaps that is better for you." She sighed heavily. "Do your worst, Spirit, I'm not getting any younger."
The Spirit of Death walked out of the room as a red light started flashing over the door and the intercom went off, alerting the doctors and nurses of a problem. He stood in the corridor as doctors and nurses rushed passed him towards the room, almost passing right through him and not seeing him. Completely engrossed on saving the life that had left.
He waited until they emerged once again, the head doctor walking with a nurse.
"Put her time of death at 12:05 p.m." He said softly as they walked. "I'll notify her family."
Death turned and started walking towards the main exit of the hospital, his job there done.
Rain was falling hard outside and even though he wasn't visible to the people, the weather saw everyone. Soaking him quickly, even through his hood, he walked the streets aimlessly while waiting for a weakened soul to catch his attention.
Always wandering into the slums of the city, he walked amongst the street gangs and prostitutes doing their nightly routines. All of them were oblivious to his presence, with the exception of the occasional drug addict. Usually their antics when they spotted him were amusing, but tonight he couldn't care less.
His mind was preoccupied with what the old woman had said, asking him about his life before. What he'd replied had been true; he couldn't remember anything of his life before with the exception of his name and a sister. It brought a bitter smile to his lips because his sister had actually approached him and told him his name.
His sister's name was Suhi and the resemblance between them was unmistakable; they were almost identical. She had long black hair and the same eyes except hers were bright blue, but physically is where the similarities ended. Suhi was a Spirit of Mercy, sent into the living realm to maintain the balance between life and death. When tragedy struck, Suhi decided who would survive; Syren decided who would die.
Syren, that was his name. When Suhi had first told him, he thought it was stupid but looking at it now it sounded appropriate. Sounded like it should belong to him. He snorted and shook his head; it was the only thing that belonged to him.
His thoughts were disrupted when the pull of a weakened soul caught him and began steering him into a dark alley, away from the well-lit streets.
Walking slowly down the alley, he found the girl under a blanket of old newspapers. She was young, only fifteen years old, and had probably once been very beautiful. Now, her blond hair was matted with street dirt and vomit clung to the corners of her mouth. Wearing only a threadbare t-shirt, Syren figured she must have crawled under the papers for warmth.
Her soul spoke to him. It spoke to him of hardships that she'd been through in her young life and that it could now be saved if only someone would go for help. Begging him to pass her by and leave her to chance.
Syren's expression was blank as he looked around, seeing no one he could draw to the girl's need.
"I'm sorry for your young soul." He said softly as he crouched next to her, hands resting on his knees. "But if you grow too weak, you will be lost to the darkness and I cannot allow that to happen; lest you take me with you."
"Koatah…" whispered the girl, her eyes glazed over.
Syren felt her then.
A strong aura came upon the alley and turned down it. The light surrounding the girl was almost as bright as a spirit's, making it hard for Syren to see at first. But as she ran forward the aura faded rapidly, allowing him to see her fully.
"Get away from her!" she shouted in a panic, her long brown hair alight even in the darkness of the alley.
Syren's eyes opened widely for a moment, shocked that the girl could see him. When he recovered, he stood slowly.
"Go for help, girl, if you wish for your friend to live."
"How do I know you aren't the one responsible for her condition?" she demanded angrily, her green eyes narrowed on him with suspicion.
"Because, girl." Growled Syren, his eyes brightening with irritation and appearing like molten silver. "I will be responsible if she gets any worse."
He noticed the moment she realized the way he dressed and the scythe hanging on his back. She began to back away slowly, her eyes wide with fright. In an attempt to soothe her nerves, he stepped forward and raised a hand.
"Don't come near me!" she shouted. "You're some kind of freak!"
"I'm not here for you." Sighed Syren, lowering his hand. "But you're going to have to trust me when I tell you that your friend does not have long and you must go for help."
The girl frowned and glanced at her friend, half-exposed under the papers, trying to decide if he was telling the truth. Syren rested a hand on his hip in a relaxed manner, hoping to put her at ease.
The girl finally believed him and ran out into the street but Syren turned back to the girl on the ground, her soul giving up slowly.
"Don't leave now." He commanded, crouching again. "If you do, your friend will blame me and I will not have it that way."
"What do you care, Spirit?" asked her soul softly as it readied itself. "You won't be here when she returns anyway."
Syren had to agree. He didn't know why what the girl thought should concern him; he'd never see her again.
"You are right." He nodded. Without further delay, he reached out his hand and brushed the dying girls arm with glowing-red fingertips. "I'll never see her again."
- 3 -