It had been a particularly long day for Death. He had been rushing around in his zone all day long collecting the souls. The counter for the souls to be taken was unusually high today. He drove around on his bike, wore a grey shirt and black jeans and seemed to be an overall normal person to anyone that saw him. The only people who recognised him were the ones that were approached by him, whose names were on the day’s list. He loathed his job and most certainly himself for landing himself in this line of business. Whatever be the manner of the death, timing and place, he did his job efficiently and moreover he didn’t have any choice to do otherwise. Days like this made him morose and yearn for his previous job and life to which there was no going back. He had been an analyst working for the security of his nation. Now he served as an associate in the Death Wing. Although his name in the records was Death 921TI3, the associates of his zonal Wings preferred calling him just Death.
It was evening and Death was convinced that the night was crawling in. A majority number of souls still remained to be taken, but his back was sore from the day’s work and his head throbbed behind his forehead. It was all he could do from resisting the temptation to take a break, for it would certainly put him behind the schedule. He cursed the job and took a roundabout at the nearest crossroads, heading to the nearest cafe.
He parked his bike on the side of the Heaven’s Cafe and went inside. The cafe was on the poor part of the zone. It was small, dim light with only a few customers, a place exactly to his liking. He was a regular here. He seated himself at the usual table on the left, not very far from the door. The waitress came over to him, smiled and took his order.
He decided to go over the list of the souls to be taken before the order came. He took out his tab and started glancing through the names, manner of death, time and place. The usual, he thought. Suddenly, a name caught his attention. *Death 042CI3, murder by Death 921TI3, 8 p.m, Heaven’s cafe.* He tried to sink that in. He couldn’t believe his eyes. It wasn’t the fact that he had to take the soul of an associate of the Wing, the associates did that all the time. It was the name, *Death 042CI3*, his close friend. They both had broken the rule and told each other their names from their past life. Death 042CI3 or Roger also happened to be one of the Union leaders of the Wing’s associates. People looked up to him and respected him for bringing the Wing together. They met once a week for dinner and drinks. He was perhaps the only true friend of his. He couldn’t understand why Roger’s name was on the list. It wasn’t that he was ever sloppy in his job, but then why?
The waitress brought his order. On seeing him perplexed, distressed and sweating, she asked, “Are alright Mister? Do you need any help?”
“Oh no miss, I am quite fine, thank you.”, he said, hastily, clearly implying that he wanted to be left alone.
He couldn’t think anything but remember all the memories they shared together. What more baffling to him was that it would have to be right here in Heaven’s cafe, just half an hour from now. He had to thought of something fast. Whether he should just leave the cafe? Or find Roger and warn him so that he goes under hiding? He could even go with Roger, although they would be chased all their lives until they were dead, at least he wouldn’t have to kill him. He couldn’t just leave the cafe, if he missed the assignment, it would go over to someone else, someone who didn’t know Roger or cared for him.
Just as he was contemplating the outcomes of different scenarios in his mind, someone pushed open the doors and entered. A middle-aged man in worn and faded grey shirt walked towards his table. He gave a friendly smile which Death was quite familiar with and sat at his table.
“R..R…Roger!? What are you doing here?”, Death was visibly shaken.
“What? I wanted to have my last meal with a friend. Is that too much to ask?”, Roger said, nonchalantly.
“Who do you think am I? I have been in this far longer than you kiddo”, said Roger.
“I don’t understand…”, Death said, still shaking.
“Listen carefully, Han. Lord Death has decreed to increase the everyday counter for the souls by thirty per cent in order to fulfil his ‘Cleansing the World’ campaign. Do you know what effect it will have in a few years? The world’s population would go down by almost one-third. This is totally wrong. So the Union decided to oppose this. Since then, all the leaders who opposed are being taken down and Union is being dissolved so-“
“But wait, you can’t just die because of some stupid decree!”, Han cut him off.
“Han, Han..listen buddy, it’s alright. You have to get out of the zone. Head to this location”, Roger said, handing him a piece of paper. “The other Deaths and a few members of the Union who oppose the decree have banded together at this place. It’s uninhabited, so it’s out the jurisdiction. The paper has the coordinates of the location. They are going to fight this.”, said Roger, taking a bite from Han’s meal.
“Then why don’t you come with me to this location?”
“I can’t, I have been tagged. Han…I trust you will fight for me”, said Roger, looking into Han’s eyes.
“I am not going to kill you! And that’s my final decision. You..you are my friend.”, Han shot back.
“I know. Don’t worry”, Roger said, halfway through Han’s meal.
“What..What do you mean?”
“You will know. Take care of yourself, my friend. I’ll miss you. I have to go now. Go to the location. I know you can fight them. Goodbye..”, Roger replied, getting up, avoiding looking into Han’s eyes.
Before Han could say anything, Roger started to leave.
“Take care Roger..”, said Han, still confused. Roger smiled at him one last time, pushed open the doors and disappeared into the night. Han still couldn’t believe what was happening. Suddenly, it came to him what Roger meant, when he said before leaving.
Just then, he heard a loud bang and people screaming, somewhere near the opposite side of the street from the cafe. It was a gunshot. Han knew what Roger meant. Roger had shot himself.
Han couldn’t hold back the tears. He got up and walked slowly towards the scene, to take his friend’s soul, clenching the paper in his fist, and vengeance in his soul.
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