“You’re fired, Kat,” my boss told me.
“Uhh, Sir, I’ll do better. I’ll make sure to kill the target next time, I promise that – “
“Promise?” The guild master scoffs. “I’m sure you promised the same thing to your previous bosses, right?”
I gulp nervously. He’s right, so I don’t really have anything to say.
“Look here, Katerina. I run an assassination guild, not a charity house. When I tell you to kill the target, shouldn’t you kill them?”
I nod rather slowly. Objectively, he’s right.
Subjectively, that’s a different story altogether.
“But what do you do, eh?” He pauses and looks me in the eye.
“You go around saving the person and helping them instead! And whose money are you using to save the target, hm?”
“Yours, sir,” I tell him meekly.
“And if we fail to kill the target, how’s our reputation as an assassination guild supposed to be? And don’t forget that if the target is not dead, the client will demand a refund. And whose money is used for the refund…?” He raises an eyebrow at me.
“Yours, sir,” I reply once again.
“See?” The guild master glares at me. “Do you get what I’m saying now, Kat?”
“Yes, sir. You’re really stingy with your money.”
Hah… I sigh as I lean on the tree. The shade is comforting on a day as hot as this, but my mood is not getting any better. Sweat trickles down my brow and I wipe it away with my sleeve. Is this the 12th assassination guild?
I think I’ve lost count after the incident with Mr. Ross. He was the head of an assassination guild but he was similar to slave traders.
Mr. Ross had that ugly face and bald head you would expect to see from corrupted officials working in court. He was fat, too, and his stomach would jiggle along as he tottered down the aisle of the guild.
“Kat, you’re a terrible assassin, y’know,” he drawled.
“I know that, sir.”
“I’ve never met a banshee who is as bad at you in killing, y’know.”
I knew that too. Banshees were usually the best assassins there were, but I just couldn’t bring myself to eviscerate anyone.
“Have you tried other jobs, Kat?” Mr. Ross leaned closer to me and I stepped back.
“Yes, sir, but…” I didn’t need to explain further for him.
Banshees were a minority in a land as vast as Ododo, but because of our dark and evil aura, banshees were most suitable to be assassins. Very few people would want to hire banshees as a waitress or clerk, and nobody would want to hire a banshee-ex-slave like me.
The only job I could try for was… assassination.
“Then, what about, y’know, marrying me, Kat?” Mr. Ross grins at me and I catch a glimpse of his yellowing teeth.
“Don’t you have a wife, sir?” I raise an eyebrow at him. What’s wrong with him?
“Argh, don’t bother about that old thing. All she does is nag me to spend more time with the kids. I wanna have fun too, y’know?”
“I can’t marry you, sir. You have a wife.” (I couldn’t possibly tell him that I don’t like him, right? He was my boss.)
“I can just kill her, y’know, Kat,” Mr. Ross smiles at me.
I stare at him incredulously and he simply shrugs.
“I’m running an assassination guild, anyway. I do this kind of stuff…” he drawled.
And if you don’t like me anymore, will you try to kill me too? No way.
So I told Mr. Ross I didn’t like him and wouldn’t marry him even if he was the last person in Ododo, and he grew furious (of course).
“You’re fired, Kat! And y’know, I’ll make sure no one wants to hire you anymore. Unless you come back here, you’ll end up starving and jobless!” Mr. Ross hissed.
His words made sense in a way, because he was quite influential in that town. His guild was the biggest (in that town, of course, not in the entire land of Ododo) so if he fired me, other guilds in that town wouldn’t want to hire me either.
…And that’s how I ended up in this small town called Nsabel, which is native to elves. I just got fired from my job, and I only have a few pennies to survive.
Uhhh… Maybe I should try looking for any jobs available. I see no harm in trying.
Yes, let’s go! I’m sure the perfect job is waiting for me. Somewhere, out there…
“A banshee wants to work in a restaurant? Can you even cook?” The elf in front of me asked, her face displaying obvious disbelief.
“I can manage not to burn the food I make, and I promise not to poison the food…”
“…No, we’re not hiring you. Try somewhere else.”
10 minutes later.
“So you wanna be a receptionist, huh?” The innkeeper was scowling at me.
“Yes, sir. Please give me a chance.”
“No way! What will my customers think when they see that I hired a slave to work here?”
“They’ll see that you have a magnanimous and kind heart, sir.”
“That’s not true, though,” the innkeeper sneered and kicked me out.
Several minutes later…
“A schoolteacher?” The principle eyed me with his narrow eyes.
“And why do you want to be a teacher? Don’t you think it’s… inappropriate?”
“I’m good with kids, sir,” I attempted to lie. The principal raises an eyebrow and glances at the child on his lap. (What’s a child doing in the principal’s office anyway?)
The child shot a terrified glance at me and started bawling his eyes out. Kid, I won’t bite. Really.
“Look, you haven’t even started teaching and he’s crying,” the principle sighed and shook his head.
“Sorry, Miss Katerina,” the principal gestured for me to leave.
Kid, I change my mind. I’ll bite you. I look at his round eyes and sigh. The kid is too cute… forget it.
5 minutes later…
“A laundry maid? No, no, we don’t need someone like you around here,” the man in front of me is staring at me in disgust.
“But sir, your notice states that you desperately need a laundry maid. Why not just hire me? I’m a good worker…” I bite my lower lip.
“Ha! I’m not that desperate that I’ll hire something like you. Get lost!”
Several minutes later…
“Let me guess, you won’t hire me because I’m a banshee with a bad aura and an ex-slave, am I right?” I glare at the elf in front of me.
“Well… You’re right. It would reflect poorly on us, you see…”
“Sure, sure. I’ll leave on my own.” I storm out of the building and sigh in exasperation.
After searching for a long time, I have found a nice job.
Every day I sit on the side of the street and hold out a (usually) empty bowl. I look pitifully at any passersby and hope they give me a little of what they have. When they place a coin or two in my bowl, I smile gently at them and thank them for their generosity.
That’s right. I’m a beggar now.
Every day I get a few, if not no pennies at all, and scrap by. I’m surviving day by day. Well, on the bright side, I don’t have to worry about angering my boss or getting fired. (Who can fire a beggar anyway?)
On the dark side, it seems like I have some rivals – there are some orphaned kids who beg for food too. They are my biggest rivals in the begging industry. After all, who can resist giving coins to a small, helpless, cute kid? And contrast that cute kid with me, a banshee with a scary aura who tries to act adorable. Heh, whoever said there is no competition in this job?
I don’t think that’s the worst part, though. I have a weak heart and… I have fallen prey to those cute kids too! See, let’s say I only have three coins in my bowl (barely enough to buy one meal for the day) and then a scrawny kid comes by, his stomach rumbling.
And since I can’t bear being cruel to a child, I gave him all my money… It’s nice to see the children smile and know that they’ll get to eat something, but if this continues, I’ll end up starving and die.
Will death be better…? Maybe my bosses were right. I should harden my heart and just look out for myself. Who cares if a kid dies anyway? Uhh, I care! This is driving me crazy.
My vision is getting hazy and my head hurts. What is happening? I try to lift my arm, but somehow it just won’t obey me. I feel so weak and cold and sleepy. Right, when was the last time I ate?
…I’m not sure.
It’s getting dark all around me, and yet strangely I don’t feel scared. It’s getting warm, and cozy. Is this what death feels like? Hm, not bad. It doesn’t hurt as much as I thought it would.
Woah, I’m even hearing things.
This must be an angel! I’m sure I’m in heaven.
Oh be quiet, will you? What kind of angel disturbs my eternal slumber?
“Hey, this is a one time offer. Are you sure you’re gonna skip this?”
One time offer? Nah, I don’t have the money for this. Wasn’t I dying just now?
“Miss, it’s a job offer made just for you.”
I’m quite content being a beggar, though?
“If you miss this, you’ll stay in hell forever…” The small voice trails off.
The life I lived was hell. Would this be any different?
“This is a chance to help people, so – “
My eyes fly open almost immediately. “I’m in!”
The speaker – a short bunny holding a scythe – glares at me.
“You didn’t even flinch when I mentioned hell!” The bunny is super cute, even when it’s angry.
I just laugh sheepishly and scratch my head. Eh? I realize that we are floating in a strange, milky white void that seems to stretch for miles and miles long. Where am I? Is it true that I died?
I look at the bunny and reach out my hands to squeeze its cheeks, but it jumps away from me and raises its scythe
cutely threateningly at me.
“I’m Death,” the bunny cuts to the chase.
“Uhh, I’m Katerina, just call me Kat,” I’m not sure if this is real or not but, let’s just go with the flow.
“So, about that job you mentioned…” I begin.
“Yeah, about that… one of my clients – “
“Wait you have clients?”
“Quiet! One of the clients, no, the dead, was a friend of mine,” Death explains.
“He wanted his descendants to be prepared to face death, so he made this wish that I was to always tell his descendants when they were going to die.”
“Ah, like an alarm clock or something?” I raise an eyebrow.
“If you put it that way, yes… anyway, I need someone to do the job, and I think you’re perfect.”
“I thought you said I was going to help people, though?”
“You help them by preparing them for their deaths.”
“…Right. Isn’t that just the same as killing them?”
“No way! I’m doing charity, not running an assassination guild or something.”
“And how will I tell them they’re going to die?” I murmur.
I have an idea!
“Should I send them a death note? Like, ‘You’re going to die in 5 days. Better be nice and prepare your will.’?”
“That’s too threatening. Think of something else,”
Mr. Rabbit Death said.
Hm… something non-threatening…
“Mark their calendar to show them their death date…?”
“Go to them and tell them…?”
I don’t really have ideas.
“Ahem,” Death clears his throat.
“Are you good at crying?” he asks.
“What about wailing, keeling, or screaming?”
“Yeah, that’s a good idea,” Death continues, “Make sure you practice wailing and crying. The client’s family is in a place called Earth. I’ll inform you when someone is going to die.
Until then, keep practicing your wailing, screaming, keeling, lamenting, crying – whatever.”
And just like that, the me who never once had a nice job while living actually got a job when I had died. I should practice screaming now.