Death flashed his arresting smile at God.

God, despite Her supreme control, could not help but redden.

‘Flatterer!’, She said and hoped that Her pretended annoyance was bought.

‘Go on, what brings you ‘up’ here?, she demanded, her smile never leaving her ruby lips.

‘But it’s no exaggeration, ma’am. My words! I stand by them. I would die a thousand times, for one kiss on your lips.’ Death swore his solemnity and with the same nonchalance, began discussing their business.

‘Now, as for what brought me here, the usual ma’am. I come to seek 456 from the city of K. Cholera has fixed his stake at 241. Plague, bless her arrogance, will not settle for anything less than 200 and Fear begs for a few.’ Death went through his list and finding it in order, looked at God.

God wondered how such a strapping fellow could be the harbinger of misery. She scanned the list.

Then, as the wont, the haggling started.

‘Can you spare the one-year-old?’

‘No, ma’am. He had it coming, thanks to his father’s ‘adventures’.

So on and so forth the dialogues were carried on until late and surprisingly with no changes to the original list. Death was never a negotiator.

With that, it was agreed that Death would join God for a lunch after the harvest to brief her on the state of affairs.

***

Many days later,

Death was ushered into the verandah overlooking the sprawling garden.

God joined him fashionably late, in Her finest attire. Soon lunch was served.

The spread was delightful, a decanter of full-bodied wine, the eclectic spread of cheese and fine bread, and of course the juicy fruits.

After the pleasantries, the harvest was discussed.

‘All went well?’ God enquired munching her apple.

Death, now asking for a second glass of wine, began his narration.

‘Cholera was to take the spoils first, followed by Plague, quite scientifically so. Finally, a portion was granted for Fear.’

But then there was a turn of events. Cholera had to be happy with 56 lives. Fatalist as he was, he had convinced himself for a better harvest next time around. However, Plague was inconsolable.

‘43! A pittance for my crafty efforts!’ she was heard lamenting.

Rolling the succulent olive in his mouth, Death continued, ‘You see ma’am, the night before their harvest, while the duo of diseases were drinking and making merry, Fear sneaked off and entered the town of K before them.’

Death stopped to refill his glass.

‘300 and odd fell for Fear. Under pretense of warning the citizens, he crept into their skin, grated their nerves, entered their blood and took their shortened, last breath away as his own.’ Death mulled, staring at a distance and sipping his wine.

The above story is inspired by one of the many stories that the writer has come across as a school student. In fact, the character, Cholera, and Fear are in the original story, though it is written from a gate keeper’s point of view. The writer had been in search of that story for a long time and would be much obliged if someone could help her locate it. If found, or even otherwise, the writer duly credits the original for inspiration.

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