CHAPTER 1: PART 12

“Where are we going?” I asked as X led me out of the Park Town apartment.

We were not hiding like the last time, but Jase said that the tech guy installed something so that the tracker could not be tracked when I was in the apartment. It was a third storey apartment in a well kept area. It did not have a balcony due to the fear of me being shot while trying to get fresh air. And most of the time, we used black out curtains. The joys of being me.

“Can’t you just follow me for once and be surprised when we got there?” X asked, cheekily grinning at me.

“No.”

“Well then.” He chuckled. “We are going to the art museum. Down the road there are a lot of places that we can see. Museums, art galaries, a mall and the science place.”

“Science place?”

“Where people showcase their science experiments. People love it.” I pursed my lips as I thought about what X said.

“Then why take me to the art galary instead?”

“Because you low key like art more than you do science.” He wrapped his arm around mine and I raised an are-you-sure-you-still-wanna-live eyebrow. He smiled.

“Let’s act like a couple for the day.” He chuckled. I could feel the sudden bounce in his walk. “Let’s have fun for once, yeah?” I removed my arm from his and his skipping stopped. He walked normally again, seeming distressed.

“Don’t be sulky. It doesn’t suit you.” He pouted.

“Nameless, we would be a cute couple. Just admit it.”

“You’re being delusional. We are aimlessly using our time to go to an art gallary.”

“C’mon, it’s gonna be fun!” X tried to persuade me, but I wasn’t taking it. I frowned as I followed him. I could see a crowd of people in the distance.

“What’s happening here?” I asked and X shrugged.

“It’s probably a street show. Joburger’s love those. Let’s go watch.” He excitedly said and took my hand, pulling me away. I groaned, but followed. There was no stopping X when he wanted to do something. Persistent annoyance.

I paused when our eyes landed on what was in between the people. Not a street show. Nope. A dead body. W written on the ground next to the gruesome scene with, you guessed it, the person’s blood.

The person had a single black rose on his chest.

“Great!” I sarcastically said as I turned around and walked back to the apartment. I was not about to deal with that.

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3: Day Two

Day Two

The reaper came the second day as well. Five more days. It was late and Denise was still asleep. A dog walked into the room and it growled immediately. It walked towards him and bared it’s teeth at the reaper. The reaper frowned.

The reaper made a flicking motion and the dog ran away, as quickly as possible while crying too.

Denise jumped out of bed and looked around confused.

“Munchy?” The reaper frowned at the horrid name. Denise sighed when she realised that her dog was nowhere in sight. She swung her legs over the bed and started with her daily routine.

The reaper still watched.

Munchy, the dog, was apparently sick, and old by the looks of it. Denise tended to the dog. Gave it food, hugged it. The reaper noticed just how much love the human had for the dog. He could not understand it, though. They couldn’t understand each other, so why did they share a mutual love?

The reaper disappeared at exactly 11:55 and reappeared at the Six o’ Clock cafe. He wore khaki shorts and a red checkered shirt, with white flip flops. The reaper liked the freedom of flip flops.

He walked in with the book that he had bought the previous day in his left hand. He ordered coffee and found a space on the outside section of the cafe.

The cafe was a ten minute walk from the mall. It was in a more secluded part of town, near a river. It was made of wood and had a mystical theme.

The reaper, just by sitting there could feel the calmness radiating from the people. He liked that feeling. Calm, serenity.

His coffee arrived and he took it gratefully. The waitress smiled extra chummily at him. He smiled back and then went back to his coffee and book.

With the book in his hand he took only two seconds to flip through it. He took in a deep breath and opened a random page and started reading.

He had memorised the book in only that one movement. It was one of the many things reapers could do. They had many talents, but were limited according to circumstances.

A minute or two later he felt her presence as she entered the shop. He looked up and their eyes met. He could feel her nervousness and so he smiled and gave her a small wave. She walked towards him.

The reaper took in her outfit. A blue floral dress, with different coloured flowers and flip flops. They were pink, and the reaper’s favourite part about the outfit.

“I thought that you weren’t gonna show up.” Denise was only seven minutes late. The reaper did not mind in the slightest. He was just glad that she had come. She had just made his mission easier.

“I thought that I wouldn’t come.” Denise chuckled when the reaper stood up before she sat. “What a gentleman.”

“My mother would be proud.” Denise laughed. She glanced at the book on the table and she seemed to get happier. The reaper could feel her excitement bubbling up. She was excited about a book. That amused the reaper.

And also her smile. That made him happy as well.

“You’ve started with the book?” The reaper nodded as he also stared at it. “How do you like it so far?”

“I’m not sure how I like it. I’m still at the beginning chapters. Everything is still confusing.”

“It is? How?”

“The Joshua guy. What’s his deal with Emily? And Emily, what is she?” Denise laughed at the reaper being dramatic.

“I can’t tell you that. Then I’ll ruin the book.” Denise said with a smile. Something that the reaper never saw when she was at home.

“The suspense is killing me.” That just caused Denise to laugh even more. The reaper watched her laugh.

Why did he find her laugh so fascinating? Why was he happy, only after he saw her laugh? What was it that he was feeling?

The waitress came back and she seemed disappointed when she saw Denise and the reaper. She asked what Denise would like and she ordered.

“Chocolate cheese cake?” The reaper asked when Denise said the order. Denise looked at him, her eyes wide in surprise..

“Have you never had it?” The reaper shook his head. Denise smiled and looked at the waitress again. “Make the chocolate cheese cake a large.” The waitress smiled and then left. The feeling of disappointment seeming to leave as well.

Denise smiled as she looked at the reaper. The reaper, confused just blinked at the girl.

“What?”

‘”You know,” Denise’s smile stayed on her face. She seemed amused. “I noticed you watching me yesterday at the book shop.” The reaper chuckled and scratched the back of his head. A nervous gesture.

“What? I did not.” Denise laughed at the reaper’s terrible lying skills. She smiled as she crossed her legs under the table.

“Is that how guys from where you’re from hit on girls?”

“From where I’m from?” Denise shook her head.

“You’re not from Nelspruit.”

“How’d you know?”

“Your accent.”

“No, I am not.” The reaper said. He sipped his coffee. He’d always thought that when he went to a place he was able to imitate their accents as well as their looks. No one had ever asked about his accent before.

Denise’s coffee and cake came with two desert spoons. Denise smiled happily at the cake. The reaper felt her happiness for the cake, but also a hint of sadness.

“Thank you.” She said looking at the cake in anticipation. The reaper watched her as she handed him a spoon.

“We’re sharing?” Denise nodded. She put the cake in the middle of the wooden table.

“I hope you don’t mind?” The reaper shook his head, a bit confused. He was certain on the previous day that Denise was nervous, and that she was shy. Yet on that day, she seemed to be the one insinuating everything.

The cake eating went well. The reaper loved the cake. It tasted to him like heaven covered in chocolate. He wouldn’t have minded going to a chocolate heaven. Denise laughed even more every time that he spoke. He was not even trying to be funny. Which led him to one conclusion.

Denise was faking happiness.

“Mark,” Mark, the reaper hmmed at his name being called. He looked at Denise inquisitively. “Why me? Out of all the girls that you could have asked out, you asked me. What’s so special? I’m not skinny, or pretty. I’m just common.”

The reaper sat quietly and looked at Denise’s sad eyes. She had been faking all the time and finally that showed her true feelings. The reaper could feel them. Her sorrow. Her doubts. Her unhappiness. Her feelings made his heart ache. He sometimes wished that he couldn’t feel humans’ feelings, but he dealt with death. Not feeling was impossible. He looked into Denise’s eyes.

“Who told you that you were not beautiful?” Denise laughed, yet the wave of sadness coming from her was unbearable.

“I know. My weight, that’s noticeable too.” She sighed. “I’m depressing, aren’t I?” The reaper clenched his fists as another wave of sadness hit him.

How could one human being bare so much pain? If even a reaper couldn’t take it, how were they supposed to do it? How was she able to do it all alone?

“You’re not.” As calmly as he could, the reaper said. “You’re beautiful, Denise. Don’t think otherwise. The first time that I saw you…” The reaper went back to his first memory of seeing Denise. It wasn’t like any of his other marks. What he was about to say to Denise, was the truth. “…I was speechless. I felt a pull towards you that I never felt with any other human being. I…”

“Stop.” Denise dug into her small bag and took out money. She stood up and the reaper followed her movements. “I can’t. I thought that going out with you, would help me. It did not.” She put the money on the table. “It only made me feel worse about myself. I am only destined for bad things. I’m sorry.” A tear rolled down Denise’s cheek, but she quickly turned around and started walking out.

The reaper made the money on the table double before he stood up and followed behind her. He couldn’t let her go. She was his mark. She was supposed to be dying in less than five days. She was supposed to die happy.

She was dying.

…….

The reaper did not want Denise to die. If she died, he would never see her again. That was how it was. The reaper only saw the mark once, when they were taking their souls. After that the reaper never sees them again. The reaper does not even know where the person goes, specifically.

He couldn’t bare knowing that he would never be able to see Denise again.

He could not understand why he felt that way. Marks were just his next job. Denise was supposed to be his next mark, his next job.

The reaper without even thinking wrapped his arms around Denise from behind.

They were outside and the reaper had finally caught up to her. Tears were streaming down her cheeks, and when the reaper held her close to his heart her crying worsened.

“Don”t cry, please.” The reaper begged. He did not know what else to say. All that he knew was that she needed to stop crying because her sadness made his heart hurt. “I’m here now. You won’t have to feel bad again.”

Denise was calm, but only for a second then she pulled herself away.

“W—what are you doing?” She asked, shocked at the reaper’s doings. The reaper also stood in shock. He also couldn’t understand.

“I’m sorry.” The reaper’s heartbeat quickened as he thought of a way not to lose her. “It was the only way that I could think of. I was honest with what I said. I can’t find you, just to lose you.”

Denise’s tears had ceased. She looked at the reaper, dumbfounded.

“You don’t know me.”

“I’d like to know you.” Denise shrugged and turned around.

“Because I’m pitiful. Don’t worry, I’m not suicidal or anything. You can go.” She said the last sentence softly. The reaper took a step closer to her.

“…” The reaper was silent as he stood behind her. He could feel the warmth radiating from her. He wanted that warmth to keep on being there after five days.

Denise turned around.

“You’re stubborn.” She stated, looking up at the stranger.

“I don’t want you to feel lonely. Even though we just met, I want you to know that you are not alone anymore.”

“You’re weird, and creepy.”

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CHAPTER 1: PART 11

My head was throbbing when I woke up. I was alone in a room, but forced myself to sit up. I did not like not knowing what was happening and the state that I was in did not make matters any better.

The door opened as I was trying to get out of bed. I looked up and X was standing at the door. He smiled and I settled down.

“How are you?” He asked, walking to me. I looked at him. He seemed fine, if not better than I had expected.

“My head hurts.”

“Yeah. You hit something when the bomb went off.” I rolled my eyes. “You’re all patched up now. You’ll be able to get back to your normal routine quickly.”

“You mean hiding and eating? Great.”

“Your sarcasm is how I know you’re fine.” I scoffed and then stood up. “I made pancakes.”

“Is that an apology for making me miss breakfast, or is it an apology for almost getting me killed?” I asked as I walked out the door.

I took the plate of pancakes from the counter and went to sit on the couch. Jase was not there. X sat next to me.

“They’re because I know that you have not eaten yet.”

“How long was I out?”

“No more than three hours.”

I nodded, with the pancake between my lips.

“Did the men die?” I looked at X and a smirk formed on his lips.

“No. The gun only neutralised them. We don’t kill, remember?” I pushed my hair back thoughtfully. We don’t kill. We never killed. Or so X said.

***

It was two days later and we were leaving again. Jase had left the previous day, finding us another safe place. He found it at downtown Park Town. Wherever that was.

When I woke up, X was already done packing. He also made breakfast and took out clothes for me to wear. I was grateful, but also felt that X did not need to do as much as he did. I could also do things on my own. I mean, my head still hurt sometimes, but I was still able to use my own hands.

“What will happen to this place?” I asked as I stood at the door, looking at the windowless apartment. X smiled, closing it, even though he was also holding the suitcase.

“Everything will be transported to the other safe house. This will be another empty space again.” I nodded. “Come on. We have lunch reservations.” I scowled up at X.

“Who makes lunch reservations? Why don’t we just go to a random restaurant like normal people?”

“You keep on forgetting, Nameless, we could not be further from normal.” He laughed, leading the way out of the creepy alley. I followed.

I wondered why X always did things for me the way that he did, but did not voice my thoughts.

2: Day One

Day One

Denise woke up early the following morning. The reaper watched her as she rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. She stopped and stared at the spot that the reaper was standing at. It was almost like she could see him. The reaper blinked at the human girl, with his arms crossed in front of his chest, the same as the previous day. Denise then swung her legs over her bed and then prepared herself for the rest of the day.

The reaper, just like the previous day, wore long black denim pants and a white T-shirt. Reapers do not wear robes, except for when they have to take the souls on the last day. It’s ceremonial.

The reaper disappeared from where it was standing.

Denise got out of the house with the goal of buying a new dress. She just hoped she could be able to afford it. Her money could only get her so much. It was also an excuse to get out of the house and not have to see her family for a while.

She told her mother that she would be back in a couple of hours. She did not tell her father that she was leaving. She didn’t tell him purposely.

The reaper walked behind Denise and carefully watched her. Why was she so sad? Was it that she knew that she would be dying?

Even reapers did not know how their next target was going to die. They just knew when, so that they would be able to take their souls.

At the mall…

The reaper took human form after Denise had bought the dress. She was in a book store and the reaper realised that she would be a while. He went behind a shelf and became visible to the human eye. He was wearing the same outfit, with green flip-flops.

He walked towards the young adult section where he knew Denise was looking for a book. He noticed that for a while Denise would stare at a book, and then look away. She would stare at it again, and then take another one and read it’s description instead.

He acted like he was looking the books over until he stood near Denise. He paid close attention to her and when she was about to take the book that she was eyeing the whole time, the reaper outstretched his arm towards the book.

Their hands touched.

They looked at each other before they both simultaneously moved their hands. They both laughed nervously, the reaper scratching the back of his neck nervously.

“Oh, sorry.” The reaper said at the same time that Denise apologised. Denise was mesmerised by the reaper’s voice. She did not expect it to be as deep and…mesmerising.

Denise did not know what to say. She just looked at the reaper, unable to utter a word. The reaper took the book from the shelve and smiled at Denise. He quickly glanced at the cover.

“Golden Age?” Was the name of the book. The reaper read it out loud as he turned the book to see the summary. He nodded, as if in approval, and Denise just watched, still speechless. “It seems like a good read.” He handed the book to Denise. She took it, but looked confused.

“I…don’t understand…” The girl was honestly confused.

“You buy the book. It’s the last one.” It luckily was. The reaper gave Denise a charming smile. Denise also smiled as she realised.

“Oh, no. You also want the book.” The reaper laughed.

“Not as much as I want your name.” Denise giggled as she felt a blush start to rise. The reaper watched Denise’s red tinted face. The smile still on his face. That colour…looked good on her.

“Denise.”

“Denise?” The reaper mused as he made a thoughtful expression. “What a lovely name. I’m Mark de Jager.” He held out his hand and Denise took it, the colour on her face seeming to darken.

The reaper smiled and then looked at the shelves again, feigning interest.

“I think mystery books are good reads.” He mmmed as he looked through the top shelve. “What about you?”

“Um….” Denise was flustered. She had not expected to start a whole conversation with the guy. “I like romance.”

“Ooh.” The reaper took out a book and turned it to see the back. “A good romance warms the heart, I believe.” The reaper smiled and he lifted his head from the book and looked at Denise. “I think I’ll buy this one.”

Denise glanced at the cover.

“I’ve read that one.” The reaper already knew that. He had seen it while he was in her room. She had the whole series, meaning that she liked the books. “I really liked it.” Of course she did.

“Then I will like it too.” The reaper looked at his wrist watch as his eyes widened at sudden false realisation. “Thank you. You were such a great help. Hope to see you again soon.”

“Yes, um, you too.” The reaper nodded as he turned, ready to leave. He stopped on his tracks and turned back around.

“I’ll be at the Six ‘o Clock cafe tomorrow at midday. You can come, if you’re free.” The reaper did not wait for an answer, but walked to the till and paid for the book.

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CHAPTER 1: PART 10

I groaned. I blinked a couple of times, trying to figure out what was happening. There was smoke all around us and I found it hard to focus my eyes.

“X,” I weakly said, but he did not answer. I tried calling his name again. When he did not answer I started to get up.

X was unconscious on the ground. I crawled to him, seeing that I was still not sure what had happened.

“X,” he still did not reply. Even when I shook him. I coughed, still shaking him. I blinked, when I saw silhouettes walking toward us. It took me a while to realise that they were holding guns and that we might die.

“Hey, can you see them?” A male voice asked. They weren’t coughing, so maybe they had masks on.

“They should be here.” Another voice replied.

Panicking, I tried to move X somewhere he could hide. But he was too heavy. And then I remembered the gun. It was bit far away, but if I hurried up, I would be able to use it. Deciding to remain on the ground and not risk being seen, I crawled until I was where the bomb had exploded. I started to look around for the gun.

“The guy’s here.” One of the men said, and I panicked even more. “He’s unconscious.”

“Shoot him. We only need the girl alive.” My breath started to get heavy.

They were going to kill him. I didn’t want that. I did not want X to die. I felt the cold metal on the ground and silently thanked God for the opportunity to save X.

I did not think. I turned around and fired. Two, four, five times. I lost count. I scrambled towards X, ignoring how the world was starting to be blurry again. The gun was still in my hands. I was too scared that I would let go and then find out that the men were still alive. I mean, I heard them fall to the ground, but I could never be sure.

X’s eyes slowly opened.

“Nameless? W-what… I heard gunshots.” He breathed out.

I chuckled, holding onto his hand.

“Everything is fine now.” I softly said. X sat up, slowly, but also worriedly. He looked at me, or rather at my forehead.

“You’re bleeding.” He lifted his hand, almost like he would be touching my head, but he didn’t.

I lifted my hand to touch my forehead. It was wet and sticky. I removed my hand and looked at it. It started shaking. The whole hand was stained red.

“I’m fine.” I tried to blink faster. The blurriness was becoming worse. “I just need a paper towel.” The world around me turned black and then I felt myself fall forward. X’s shouts followed after that, or maybe I dreamt that up.

1: The Mark

She’s your next mark. She has only one week left. Make it memorable.”

Reapers.

Yes, they do exist. They are there in every culture, just portrayed differently.

They wear dark robes and carry around a scythe. They haunt humans and reap their souls and lives. They leave fear in their wake, because they are associated with death, and nobody wants to die.

That is how they are portrayed, but it couldn’t be any further to what they really do. They help humans to pass on to their next lives. They help them find closure if needed. Reapers do harvest our souls, but they send the souls to the afterlife, be it heaven or hell. It’s their job to help with the transition to the afterlife.

I know of a reaper. He has been doing a good job for centuries. He was always given a picture of his next mark, an address and an alias to help him fit in.

Oh, did I forget to say? Reapers are sent to earth on the last week of the next mark and their task is to befriend them. Why? Because… I’m not really sure about that one. It’s been in the rule book since the beginning of time. So no one really knows why. That’s how it is.

Depending on the type of person and the type of reaper. Most reapers aren’t as nice though.

My story begins a while back, in South Africa. It was nine p.m. The Van Blou household was, as most nights have been that year, filled with shouting, annoyance, and hatred. Denise van Blou was the third born daughter in the house. She was also the reason that there was a reaper in the shadows of the house.

She banged the door shut in her bedroom as she matched to her bed. She was taking deep breaths as she stood in front of her neatly made bed. She picked up her phone and pulled her hand back, ready to throw it against the wall. She closed her eyes and for a few seconds stayed that way. She lowered her hand after a few calming deep breaths. She then threw the phone on the bed not expecting it to bounce off and fall, with a sickening clang. With the new anger bubbling up she picked up her pillow and forcefully threw it on the wall, next to the reapers head, and then slumped onto the bed.

The reaper, with his arms folded, watched the pillow as it slid down to the floor. He then looked up at Denise. She was crying. Silent tears rolled down her cheeks and she did not seem like she was about to wipe them away.

The reaper stayed the whole night, watching her cry and then go to sleep.

She was his next mark. Denise van Blou. He had met a lot of people like her, all his marks of course, and he knew her situation. She was having problems with her family. After being there for just an hour, he already knew that she was unhappy.

He watched her sleeping frame one last time before he disappeared out of the room.

Seven days from that day, he would have to reap her soul.

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