Death in an Airport

"I’ve always liked airports," I said brightly. The October wind grabbed my pink scarf and jerked the tassled ends of it against my face. I batted at the tassles. "All the bustle, people coming and going, endless possibilities."

Death didn’t reply, just stood on the tarmac of the runway, grinding his jaw and looking into the woods beyond. The smell of burning rubber and hair skudded in dark clouds that disappeared into the steely sky close above us.

"Well, obviously not for these people," I allowed. I gestured to the bodies and parts of bodies that Death stood in. What was left of the airplane smoked from somewhere over to our left. "Let’s not linger, pet. There are muffins inside the terminal. With walnuts."

Death stepped out of his current pile of bodies to kneel next to a three-generational pile of carnage, all blonde like me. I joined him and tweaked his ear. "Up, puppy. Angst looks so bad on you. Makes your features all peaked. Oh, cat!"

Picking his way around the bodies came the cat, holding his attaché case and looking distinguished as usual. The cat came to stand next to me and observed Death in a knowing way. "I thought I would find you here."

"You think?" Death said bleakly.

"Poor creature is not getting very much job satisfaction today," I explained to the cat, who had been playing with the tassles of my scarf. The cat immediately straightened and licked a paw instead. I looked at Death again. "Plane crashes always seemed so much quieter when you see them on television, don’t they, dear? And busier. Shouldn’t there be hoards of well-oiled young men striving manfully to put out this smoldering wreckage?"

"Oh, that I could’ve been on this flight," Death said. "Or at least rendered deaf by the sound of the impact."

"So dramatic," I told the cat, reaching down to pet him. "I think quiet heart attacks for the rest of the day will do him good. Although the bloody stuff is so much more interesting."

"And how are you holding up these days?" the cat inquired politely, in exchange for a gentle stroke behind the ears.

"Don’t pretend you’re interested," Death said, and kicked a piece of the fuselage across the runway. "It will only encourage her."

The cat raised one eyebrow. His tail made a question mark shape. "I hear that marriage rates are plummeting. And divorce climbing. Doesn’t reflect well on you, Love."

I selected a hot pink lipstick from my purse and applied it deftly. Wasn’t much sense being out in public without hot pink lipstick. "It’s not that I’m not doing my job, Aslan," I told him. "I’ve been inflicting romance left and right. It’s just that someone’s undoing all my work. Quite insensitive, I think."

"Quite," agreed the cat. "I see that your efforts closer to home have been in vain as well." He slid his eyes to Death, and then to me.

"I have no idea what you’re talking about," I said. I looked at Death, the wind fluffing his dark hair and chapping his normally pale cheeks, but he was staring out at the burning hulk.

"Quite," agreed the cat again. He picked up his attaché case, which he had set down to play with my scarf tassles. "Well, I’d best be going."

Death turned and crossed his arms tightly. "Why were you here in the first place?"

The cat stepped carefully over an arm on the pavement. "I wanted to see it for myself. This was to be my flight, if I hadn’t rescheduled. Thanks for the tip, Love."

A small storm brewed furiously in Death’s eyes for about fifteen seconds, and then he seemed to decide it wasn’t worth getting into. He said, "It’s too bloody quiet on this runway. I’m getting out of here. I suppose you’re coming with."

"Muffin time!" I said brilliantly, and took his arm. Together, the three of us made our way back across the tarmac to the looming gray terminal. The cat couldn’t reach the door handle, so I held the door open for him and Death.

Death stopped just inside the door, body stiff. Beside him, the cat’s tail puffed out and he clutched his case to his chest.

I slid in behind them, closing the October wind outside, and looked over Death’s shoulder, resting my chin on him.

"I didn’t do this," he said.

The floor was streaked with blood and there were bodies everywhere. Hundreds and hundreds of bodies; everyone in the terminal. Dead. The woman at the pretzel stand. The employees at security. Every passenger.

"Well, this is dire," I remarked. "I don’t remember where the muffins were, and there’s no one left alive to ask."

"Quite," the cat said again.

Death said, "I miss my Prozac."

I followed his gaze to the words smeared in blood across the soaring glass windows:

I think it’s time for us to meet.
— the real Death

Author’s Note: Part IV of the Death series (I didn’t realize it was going to be a series, but I guess it is. Part I-III can be found by clicking on the "Death" tag to the left of the community).

image courtesy: Ko:(char *)hook


19 thoughts on “Death in an Airport

  1. The endings on these pieces…hmm, I just thought better of my comment, because to say “kill” would be an absolutely horrible unintended pun. The point is that they’re all quite evil. And intriguing.

  2. LOL. Hey, I’m just happy that I managed to pull off a cliffhanger that late at night when I was writing (crazy day and my brain was fried).

  3. mua
    I just like writing the cat, that’s all. The others are just there to give the cat purpose.

  4. The most dangerous thing about cliffhangers is that sometimes they’re really, really easy to write.

  5. That’s true — it’s following it up with rappelling and climbing equipment that’s the toughie. At least with this one I know where I’m going.

  6. Which is good, because there’s nothing worse than cliffhangers where you read them and say “this author has no idea where they’re going, do they? they just wanted a cliffhanger”

  7. I KNOW. And what I hate the most is a cliffhanger at the end of a novel, with no resolution at all for the conflict that took place in the novel. Like BLUEBOODS . . . drove me CRAZY.

  8. YES. Like, I don’t mind a sudden cliffhanger if most everything gets resolved. Say, like, Uglies or something. It’s a totally evil cliffhanger, but most of that book’s events had been resolved. Versus like, Skin Hunger, which was an excellent book that just…stopped. I’d been warned about the cliffhanger and I still had to check a couple times to see it was really the end of the otherwise great book. And yes with Blue Bloods. I didn’t even love the book, so it was kind of annoying to be left hanging for the sequel.

  9. Wow, we really are clones. Normally when people start talking about books in the comments, I’ve read some of them but not all . . . but I’ve read all these and agree. Skin Hunger — I’m reading the sequel, despite evil cliffhanger. Bluebloods, I’m not, because there was no booklove there.

    I was surprised when LAMENT started getting read that people were talking about the “cliffhanger” ending — I was like — WHAT!? the immediate conflict was resolved! Sure, everything isn’t tied up neatly, but I like to think I at least wrapped up the main conflict of the book. That’s the sort of ending I like . . . actually in both series and standalones, now that I think about it.

    I’m thinking of the HP 7 epilogue now — I would’ve preferred to guess at the happy ending instead of finding out that Harry Potter was now a minivan driving soccer wizard.

  10. Yeah, aside from that sudden last page, Skin Hunger was great, so I’m definitely reading the second as well, and as soon as I read it I’ll probably get over the cliffhanger. Cliffhangers are mainly evil if you’re read them as they come out, but if I like the books enough, I’ll forgive them. Like the Morganville Vampires series…oh, they have EPIC CLIFFHANGERS. But I love those books, so I don’t mind *too* much when they end with “Or else I’ll kill everyone in this house.”
    I actually did read Masquerade (the second Blue Bloods), and it had an even more random and arbitrary cliffhanger and I didn’t like it any more than the first, so I doubt I’ll be picking up the third.

    See, I didn’t really see Lament’s ending as a cliffhanger either. Sudden and possibly heartbreaking, yes, but not really a cliffhanger. The battle was fought. If it was a complete standalone, I would’ve been sort of angry, but because I know there’s a sequel coming I liked the ending.

    The HP7 epilogue can be summed up in three letters, I think. TMI. Seriously. I am a huge proponent of endings that wrap up but imply further adventures. Like, say, Neverwhere. That’s the kind of ending I love, not that neat-little-bow. I have an insane obsession with last pages/last sentences…the balance between possibility and cliffhanger.

  11. Love the cat! This made me laugh — “Let’s not linger, pet. There are muffins inside the terminal. With walnuts.” Love has good lines.

    I’ve had no internet for a week, grrrr. I’ve finished Lament. Spiritual? Lots of comparisons for me in the book. Can’t say – spoilers. Loved it. I liked Dad. More Dad?! Maybe. *love*

  12. Yay! Yes, Love is delightfully unconcerned with the woes of other people. Like, if they’re DEAD.

    And I’m so glad you liked LAMENT.

  13. You. Are. Brilliant.
    These stories give me Hope. And Joy. And Evil Giggly Warmth.
    The cat is my favorite. Well, and Love.
    Well done.

  14. You, my dear, are a master (mistress?) of the cliffhanger. As was evidenced in Lament. 😉

    Gotta go find the other Death stories, as I’m still rather new to these stories. Good stuff as usual, though.

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