Reply To: Monthly comp – October 2018

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The Book of Death

I’ve waited a long time to claim this one; lurking in shadows at each sniff of her foetid breath, or a glimpse that would transpire to be a rag in a tree. One day she would err, I knew it. Until now though, the loathsome hag had remained one move ahead, vanishing into the night before I reached the aftermath of her latest curse.

Of course, the greatest part of my work must be done incognito, usually a nurse or the ringer of a loved one. I’d never hook a soul while my skull grinned out from beneath a hooded cloak, now would I? Today, I’m the man in Lost and Found. Pity I had to take out the real one though he should be grateful: the tumor in his brain would not have been as merciful. So, a lunchbox and banjo left to claim beside the book I’m watching. I do hope their owners aren’t as quick to come forward as the soldier was for his great-coat. Twenty-two was no age to look death in the face.

I thought she’d have been here by now, despite the exhaustion she must have felt after last night’s cursing frenzy. Séance, she had told the poor wretches; twelve teenagers to make up the magic thirteen. The nerve of that hag; I decree who might live and who died. In the least, I’d have spared them the torture. Her attack was so manic that after five-hundred years of stealth mastery, her lapse was as foolish as a left book on the 23:45 train. Not any book either. It was the Book of Death, no less, left for any callow halfwit to find. And look how the hag had corrupted its pages, scrawling curses and spells from cover to cover. More to the point, while both have been missing over the centuries, the human population has become more like an infestation. Nature cannot sustain such a burden. Much longer and the whole earth would die.

Once back in my grasp, book and hag will be guarded like life, or should I say death, depended on it. Ah, here comes a woman wearing a scarf, perhaps for the lunchbox that looks like it came from the same era … except I’d know those eyes anywhere. The moment she stretches out her clawed hand, I’ll have it, then it’s straight to platform 666, destination hell.

399 words excl title