Chapter 01: Life Sucks…Then You Die
Life is short. Whoever said it first wasn't kidding. Life also isn't fair. Also spot on perfect. And I hate that. Life's short and unfair…so why live at all? Because it's fate, and you can't shake destiny. Pfft. That's why I just so happen to be still in this world. Yeah, I'm dead…or undead, whatever. The point is: I died and came back. Lucky me, right? I get to see my loved ones and friends and it'll all be normal again. Not exactly. First of all, I can't see my family and vice versa. It would throw everything off if they knew I was miraculously alive. Super complicated. I bet you're wondering how I died, right? I'll get into that later, maybe. But first, I need to go somewhere. Just because I'm undead doesn't mean I don't go out into the open during the day. I just try to avoid people who could recognize me.
"Leslie Montgomery!" Oops. I turned around. The tall, lanky, dark-haired girl behind me raised an eyebrow, expecting me to acknowledge her. Oh, it's only Dawn Carter. Would ya look at that? I'm not the only Death Dealer walking around in broad daylight. Who would've thought? I crossed my arms over my chest as Dawn closed the distance between us.
"Don't yell my name so loud. What do you want, Dawn?"
"Boss wants to see you." She looked around her, and then smirked at me, "Why are you at a gas station? You don't even own a car." I rolled my eyes, "I was going to get lunch across the street." I pointed at the Subway directly parallel to the QuickTrip. Dawn nodded, "Fine," her eyes narrowed, "But you'd better hurry. Ash'll be mad if you're late again." With that, Dawn turned on her heel and jumped into her own car, a sleek black Volvo. Jesus, why do the gothic Dealers get the most money? Because, apparently, to men, she's considered alluring. Ugh. I groaned just thinking about it. I would've asked Dawn for a ride, but I'll admit I didn't feel worthy. Dawn isn't just older than me; she's also more experienced in her job. Our job. Being a Death Dealer means I have to watch over the dying until they move on to their afterlife. Sadly, the job doesn't pay. Hell, it doesn't do me squat. All I get is a little recognition and a few blood stains on my cheap coats. Yeah. Life sucks…then you die. It still sucks. I pulled out my cell phone (Piece of shit, that's what it is) and dialed a number. When I got voicemail, I groaned under my breath (I hate leaving messages).
"Ash, you better frickin' answer your damn phone. I wanna know why you wanna see me; and why you got Miss Independent to deliver the message." I sighed and rubbed my forehead, "Ash, you know I hate leaving messages…Just…"
"Leslie?" My eyes widened at the sound of Ash's voice, distant but still there.
"Finally. Why didn't you pick up?"
"Leslie, I don't need to explain myself to you. You need to get over here AFAP." AFAP?
"As fast as possible?" I guessed. I could hear Ash chuckle on the end of the line, "You're a smart girl. Come now." God, did he just command me?
"What if I don't?" I almost laughed.
"Dawn will come back and drag your ass over here." The laughter died instantly, and I clutched the phone, "Seriously?"
"Yes, now stop wasting precious time. Someone could be dying right now, and you could be doing your job…" I ended the call. Work. How I hated it. But what was a dead girl gonna do? Sorry, undead girl. Sometimes I forget. With a sigh of defeat, I started walking toward my work. The Death Dealers always met in the cemetery. In a city like Los Angeles, being undead was almost flattering. I sometimes felt like a movie star…Okay, maybe I didn't. I hadn't felt like a celebrity since I joined the Death Dealing business. As I walked toward the cemetery, I examined my life before it so abruptly ended. In conclusion, it sucked. Having two older siblings was torture. Not to mention my awkwardness around boys, my fear of water and drowning, and the occasional voice that spoke in my head…I slapped my cheek, "Get a hold of yourself. Life sucked. So what?" I grumbled. I had reached the cemetery. It was an old cemetery, with decaying and/or near deformed headstones and graves. I know it's strange, but I was buried in this cemetery. Well, at least my body was. I glanced at the names as I passed them. I stopped when I saw mine: Leslie Anne Montgomery…1994 – 2012. I hadn't been dead too long (Maybe a few months), but it seemed like forever. I didn't know if my family had moved on without me. I knelt in front of my headstone and touched the large piece of rock.
"Why did I have to die so soon?"
"What are you doing?" I scrambled to my feet at the sound of Dawn's voice. I wiped my face out of habit, "Just visiting my past." Dawn pursed her lips and leaned forward, "What's past is past. Get over it."
"Easy for you to say. You never knew your family." I regretted it as soon as it left my mouth. Dawn was orphaned at age 7. She had no idea who she was or where she came from. She only knew that she wasn't wanted and loved by her parents.
"Ash is freaking out." I shook my head, and the depression faded into anxiety. Why was Ash freaking out? It had only been about fifteen minutes.
"What's wrong?" Dawn shrugged, "He won't tell me. Told me he has to talk to you about something very important."
"Got it. Going right now." I pushed my hair back as best as I could (I have stubborn hair) and followed Dawn through the ancient cemetery. As we neared the morgue at the far edge of the area, I couldn't help but watch Dawn. It wasn't in a sexy-lesbian kind of way; more of a jealous I'm-hot-you're-not kind of way. I'm not saying I'm jealous; but when compared to gangly, frizzy redhead and sea green-eyed me, Dawn was a goddess, with her long straight black hair, model curves, and ice blue eyes. We were exact opposites. Maybe that's why I despised her so much. Nah. She opened the door for me, and I stepped through without a word. There was a secret staircase that led to HQ. I pushed the lever and the passage appeared. Dawn didn't seem to mind my sudden quietness (I didn't argue over hers much either), and soon we were walking down and underground hallway.
"Checkmate!" A feminine voice ahead chimed.
"No way! You cheated, sis. Play fair." Another voice carried through the tunnel. I smiled and walked faster. Sure enough, I caught Carly "Bunny" and Rich "Carrot" Saunders duking it out with some chess. They were always arguing over everything. I couldn't help but chuckle when Bunny picked up her winning piece and shoved it into Carrot's face.
"Do you even know how to play chess? Looks like I should've been the older sibling, right, Rich?" Bunny taunted, waving the queen in Rich's face. I cleared my throat. Bunny looked my way and dropped the piece immediately. Her face brightened, "Oh, Lez! You're here!"
"Yeah." I looked at Rich, "She beat your ass to a pulp. Your own sister." I shook my head, "Shameful. Very shameful." Rich shrugged, and I turned back to Carly, "Bun, what'd you do to your hair?" Carly's usually bright blonde hair was curly (It's usually straight, like Dawn's) and cut short. Carly the curly. Ha. At least she hadn't dyed it. Bunny's smile grew playful, "I decided it was time to cut it. Do you like it?" I touched a tight little curl. It was softer than it looked. I laughed, "Love it."
"I hate to be the bringer of bad news, but Leslie needs to be going. Got places to be, right, Lez?" Dawn replied, leaning against a stone beam. I rolled my eyes at the use of my nickname (She hated my little nickname; I don't know why), "I hate to say this but Dawn's right. I'm about to see Ash."
"I heard Ash yelling the last ten minutes about firing you," Rich pointed out, "I hope you're not in any trouble." What? I live for trouble. I shrugged, "He can't fire me."
"Yes, I can, actually." Ash. Shit.