20 comments

Oct 30, 2020

Funny Urban Fantasy

On October 13th, 2020, candles flickered in windows around the world as millions mourned the death of actor Jim MacDonald, famous for his roles in “I Can’t Think of a Good Movie Title” and “Insert Clever Idea Here.” He passed away in the hospital after losing a dreadful fight with pancreatic cancer.

Martha MacDonald, Jim’s wife, fainted when she heard the news in the lobby of the hospital. She was rushed to another room, where the doctors found a weakened heart. 

Only a few days,” they whispered.

On October 18th, the MacDonald children prepared a spot for their parents at Rich Cemetery, famous for its, well, famous residents.

(Correction: dead famous residents.)

They returned to the cemetery on October 20th to lower their father into the ground. Martha was too sick to join them. After many tears and blowing of noses, the children left the cemetery to be with their mother for her last moments.

A security guard locked the gate behind them. 

Because its residents were famous, Rich Cemetery was kept under lock and key, surrounded by high fences that would impale any climber who dared to get a peek at their favorite celebrity. 

(Correction: Favorite dead celebrity.)

A security guard was posted outside the gates at all times, trained to pick up on every flash of movement, every snap of a twig. But on the night of October 20th, the posted security guard didn’t notice anything amiss despite two figures appearing beside Jim MacDonald’s gravestone. 

The security didn’t notice anything amiss because the two figures didn’t make a sound. Even more peculiar, when the security guard glanced over the cemetery grounds as part of his hourly walkabout, his eyes glazed right over the newcomers as if he couldn’t see them at all.

The two figures wore black cloaks with hoods drawn over their heads. Peeking out from under the cloaks was an odd sight, one that would greatly alarm the security guard if he could see it: skeleton feet. 

Skeleton hands hung from the arm sleeves. They gripped scythes, long and wooden with the silver blades glinting from moon’s light. 

“Evening, Azrail,” said one of the figures in a gravelly voice.

“Evening, Than,” said the other.

They rocked on their heels. A hazy fog hovered over the ground, illuminated by the soft light of the full moon.

“Nice night,” mumbled Than.

Azrail scratched his head. “Mm.”

“So...” said Azrail.

“So….”

“Got some business here, if you could just move along.”

Me?” Than blinked. “This...this one’s mine, Az. I was here first.”

“I’m--I’m pretty sure I was here first.”

Than crossed his arms. 

Azrail lowered his voice. “C’mon, man. You know I need this. I didn’t meet my quota last quarter.”

“Azrail!” Than shook his head. “I’m the one with a baby on the way, man!”

“Oh, so now we’re playing baby card--”

“It’s not a card, it’s my life.”

“You know I’ve got two kids at home, how about that?”

Than growled. Azrail gripped his scythe so hard his knuckles cracked.

“The boss is up my ass this week, Than. You know that, you’ve seen how he looks at me in meetings,” whispered Azrail. He glanced around anxiously, as if their boss would pop up out of the ground at the mere mention of the title.

“That’s not my problem,” huffed Than.

“What the hell, Than? What happened to you?”

“Life happened, Az. Rent happened. Bills happened. I can’t play nice anymore.”

“So our friendship was you playing nice? Ten years, Than. Ten years of playing nice? Of being the best man at my wedding? Of--”

“Don’t try to guilt me, Az, you know I’m just trying to provide for my family here.”

“And I’m trying to provide for mine!”

“You’re not good at the job anyway, you said it yourself--”

“Oh, so now we’re going for low insults? You got a long scythe there, compensating for anything?” Azrail wagged his eyebrows. 

Than threw off his hood. His skeleton face bared his teeth. A maggot fell out of his left eye socket. “I’m serious, Azrail. I need this. We can barely put food on the table as it is!”

“And I’m about to be fired.”

The reapers glared at each other.

Suddenly, a shimmering light appeared above the gravestone and the pale apparition of Jim MacDonald materialized in front of them.

“Evening, Jim,” grumbled Than.

“Yeah, hey, or whatever,” said Azrail, still glaring at Than.

Jim looked between the two figures. “Er--who are you? And where am I?” He looked around, his eyes widening. He gasped when he saw the gravestone below. “I died?!”

“Sorry buddy.”

“Tough luck.”

Jim looked back at them and sighed. “Not too surprising, to tell you the truth. Damn cancer.” He shook his head. “Is--how’s my wife, Martha?”

Azrail shook his head. “Sorry, Jim. Not doing so well there. She’ll probably be joining you soon.”

Jim sniffed. “Well, we were both getting old, I guess.”

“Tough luck.”

Jim looked between them, his eyes hardening. “Who’re you guys, again?”

“I’m Azrail. I’m here to take you to Heaven.” Than shot Azrail a glare and started to open his mouth, but Jim interrupted.

“I made it to Heaven?” he asked, raising his eyebrows.

“Yep. Pretty rare for an actor.”

“And you’re taking me? So… you’re the Grim Reaper?”

“I’m a reaper. Your reaper,” said Azrail, winking.

“It’s first-come first-serve,” said Than. “And I got here first, so I’m actually the one who’s taking you to Heaven.”

I was here first!”

“No, I--”

“Boys, boys!” said Jim, waving his arms. “Now wait just one second. No need to argue. Let’s just find a compromise.”

The reapers blinked.

“Not sure how we’re going to come up with that one, Jim,” said Than.

“Well, why can’t one of you take me, and the other take my wife? She’s coming soon, right?”

The reapers mouths dropped open.

“Of course!” said Azrail. “That’s--that’s a mighty fine idea, Jim.”

“Have to do all the work around here,” muttered Jim.

“What?”

“Nothing.”

Than clapped his bony hands. “Alright! Then I’ll take Jim--”

“Hang on, why does Than get to take you?” said Azrail to Jim.

Jim sighed. “Pick a number. Whoever’s closest to the one I’m thinking gets to take me.”

“Nine,” said Azrail.

“Three,” said Than.

“It was four, so Than it is!” said Jim.

Azrail groaned. “Fine. Whatever. Martha’s mine.”

“I know,” said Than, rolling his eyes. Azrail gave him one last glare before nodding at Jim and finally disappearing.

Than turned to Jim. “You ready?”

Jim shrugged. “I guess.”

“That’s good enough for me.”

Than took Jim by the arm and the two disappeared, leaving the security guard alone once more.

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20 comments

Lina Ozz
16:19 Oct 30, 2020

Ah I love this piece so much! This is such a creative and hilarious way to handle the prompt. I was laughing at the idea of reapers bickering with each other as if they're car dealers arguing over who gets the next customer...it's ironic and witty and I love it so much. The tiniest of edits: "You know that, you’ve seen how he looks at me in meetings,” whispered Azrail. --I'm a sucker for semicolons, as usual: "You know that; you’ve seen how he looks at me in meetings,” whispered Azrail. AMAZING story! This one got me laughing. Ah...

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Leilani Lane
16:33 Oct 30, 2020

Great catch Lina, thank you so much!! Does the beginning all make sense?

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Lina Ozz
01:22 Nov 02, 2020

Yes it did! I loved it!

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Grace Larson
14:44 Nov 13, 2020

Oh my gosh, amazing story!! SO funny, it completely made my day:)

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Leilani Lane
14:53 Nov 13, 2020

Thank you so much, Grace!! Your comment made MY day! :)

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Molly Leasure
08:36 Nov 06, 2020

I'm so disappointed that I read stories this late ahhhhhhhhhh I LOVE this story. Like, it's SO FUNNY. I can just imagine them bickering in the graveyard and the ghost showing up...so creative, so unique, so awesome. And I love how you step it up. It makes it even funnier, because you're giving it this serious beginning of a TV show backstory...then that. Brilliant. That's it. That's all I got. Just brill. Absolutely brill. ;)

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Leilani Lane
14:27 Nov 08, 2020

MOLLY! I feel like I haven't chatted with you in foreverrrr, I'm so sorry my life is a tad out of control lololol. How is NaNoWriMo??? Are you developing one of your short stories into a longer novel or doing something completely different?? BEST OF LUCK!!! And THAK YOU for your comment!! That made my day because honestly, my past ~10 or so stories have been so rushed and I'm a bit disappointed in myself for focusing on quantity over quality... hoping to churn out a few stories with some more effort for this next contest!! :)

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Molly Leasure
21:21 Nov 09, 2020

Haha, don't even worry about it! I've been deep in the trenches of NaNoWriMo and only take a few moments to breathe. xD It's going...I'm working on this novel series I've been working on FOREVER. I'm finally getting work done on the second book, (which has been my absolute least favorite book since I thought up the series, haha), and some editing done on the first. They'll be finished one day. One day...BUT THANK YOU!!! Hey, sometimes it's more fun to just write instead of going back through and editing. And, the more you write, the more ...

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02:08 Nov 05, 2020

I like it. Good.

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Leilani Lane
14:28 Nov 08, 2020

Hey Aerin. ;) Thank you!!

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Rayhan Hidayat
18:14 Nov 01, 2020

I think you use “didn’t notice anything amiss” two sentences in a row and in my opinion it sounds a little rough This was a highly amusing tale, anyway. The title had me thinking it would be about the security guard, but this is such a creative and fun take on the prompt. And a dead guy having to tell his reapers how to do their job is just hilarious. Awesome as always! 😙

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Leilani Lane
14:29 Nov 08, 2020

Hey Rayhan!! Apologies for replying so late, my life has gotten a bit out of control recently lol. I knowwww, this one was so rushed and I'm sad. :( But thank you so much for your comment, as always!!! Excited to read your new story. :) Are you doing NaNoWriMo??

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Rayhan Hidayat
01:46 Nov 09, 2020

No worries, my life is also a mess as it is lol I did consider expanding my romance story because that's what Yun and Mirah deserve, but I don't think it's fleshed out enough to hit 50K. Maybe next year :P How's it going for you though? I noticed your triple submission, I can't believe you still have time to do Reedsy!

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Leilani Lane
05:11 Nov 09, 2020

That's fair!! Maybe a novella?? What a great story to choose for a longer piece! :) Yeahhhhhhh it's not going too great for me... honestly with work and general world craziness, not sure if I'll hit 20k let alone 50k. Oh geez, I started writing on Friday so all the submissions are just so rushed and not my best work. :/ But it was fun to try and push those out!

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Rayhan Hidayat
05:33 Nov 09, 2020

Maybe. In terms of bigger projects I do have a fantasy novel (hopefully a series) in the works, so for now it’s just that 🙃 But I’ll pray for your nanowrimo adventure!! Not your best work, eh? I’ll be the judge of that! 😉

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The dialogue really makes this story shine. Me and my friend had fun reading this together.

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17:15 Nov 05, 2020

Good title that matches the prompt. I give Leilani one point for that. But the correction parts- "dead famous residents" and "favorite dead celebrity," should have been included in one sentences. This kind of mistake is called repetition of oneself. This error should always be avoided. The body fits in well with the conclusion summing up everything surprisingly.

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Leilani Lane
17:43 Nov 05, 2020

The repetition here is used for comedic purposes. :) I would encourage you to stay away from absolutes such as "this error should always be avoided" as many "rules" in writing can and should be broken. :) Thanks!

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Lina Ozz
21:24 Nov 05, 2020

Actually, I loved those repetitions; they're clearly used to add to the hilarious story you've crafted here, so I vote keep 'em! :)

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Leilani Lane
14:28 Nov 08, 2020

Thank you so much, Lina!! :)

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