Short story (500 words) written for Tipsy Lit. Prompted: Taking on Death
Death sighed deeply as he sank back into his favourite armchair; it had been another long day. He enjoyed his job immensely, especially that moment when the travellers he was escorting realised that they were passing on to a better existence. Why had they not been willing to believe that this was the case during their earth years? He knew the answer of course, but still found it hard to accept.
When the earth years test system had been devised it had not been anticipated just what lengths some of the students would go to in their foolish attempts to get ahead of others. Did they not see that this was just the sort of action that would count against them? The rules had been carefully laid out and then, inexplicably, tampered with or ignored. These beings were supposed to be intelligent yet struggled to work wisely together, insisting on favouring those who shared their weaknesses rather than looking for complimentary strengths that could enhance the lives of all.
Even using the environment sensibly seemed beyond their abilities, a failing that had resulted in major damage along the way. Luckily the planet had an impressive self fixing system so would recover given time.
Time was the one thing that they seemed unable to grasp. The test was not intended to last long, yet they wasted so much of it on endeavours that marked them down. Death found it hard to accept that they could not see it was better for all if they looked after their temporary home and each other for the short time they were there. It saddened him that so few scored highly enough to become Guardians.
Still, the Creator treated the trainee Workers kindly, even those who seemed to think that the worthless baubles and privileges they had put so much effort into collecting on earth should somehow count for something. Despite the clarity of the rules they continued to act surprised that their negative actions were held against them.
Death switched on his overhead and checked the next day’s schedule. He noted that he would be collecting one young girl who had been on the edge of his list for some time. Although he was not privy to the exam board’s judgements, he strongly suspected that she would be accepted as a Guardian. It was such a shame that the beings who had spawned her would struggle to accept the departure.
Like so many on earth, they wavered between understanding the rules and believing the lies spread by their compatriots. Such difficulties would, of course, be taken into account, although blindly following was not a sought after trait. All of these beings had been created with the ability to think and reason for themselves.
With the various wars, plagues and the inevitable number who decided to end their test early it would be another busy day. Death checked that the earth Pause had been correctly set and closed his eyes. He settled into the deep, dreamless sleep that all understood was his.