Half a flash fiction: Reaper’s Eschaton

A peculiar challenge from the terrible mind that makes up the terribleminds. Mr. Wendig insists that we must write a half story, stopping in the middle so that next week, someone else may pick up where we left off. It’s a bit intimidating, trying to write just half.

No post game analysis on this one, because I don’t want to taint the creative pool. The only thing I’ll mention is that I used last week’s title challenge to help me come up with an idea, hence the odd title.

If you feel like taking up the challenge, write the second half and link me to it! I would like to see a variety of interpretations on this. I find it exciting to see what different minds can take from a single idea. You get about 500 words, so make the most of them!

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The Reaper’s Eschaton
by J.D. Stoffel and [your name here]

“Reap, you have to wake up.”

Charlotte, the Senior Reaping Manager, shook Reap’s shoulder, jostling her blanket of cobwebs aside.

“Ugh,” said Reap with a crackling yawn. “What time is it?”

“2014 CE,” said Charlotte. She shoved a black cloak into Reap’s grasp. Reap opened her mouth to argue, but Charlotte cut her off. “I know you wanted to sleep six more years, but we have a situation.”

“Not Xanaxes,” Reap groaned, sliding the cloak over bony shoulders.

“Xanaxes,” Charlotte confirmed. “Started the apocalypse, like I told you he would.”

Reap did some quick math, accepting a sheaf of pages. “Sixty-three years ahead of schedule. Idiot.”

“There’s your best candidate. Now move!”

Brushing aside the compulsion to come down on Charlotte for bossing around her boss, Reaper swung her scythe. The blade hummed through the air and through the fabric of reality at just the angle necessary.

A tear opened and Reap passed through.

She stood in a city park.

Her reaping staff was in evidence. They stood by, waiting for buildings to fall, meteorites to strike, the ground to swallow people whole.

“Ronald, uh,” Reap called aloud, then squinted at the pages. “Ronald Passitelli?” She botched the pronunciation, but it got the attention of a passing low-level reaper.

A glance at his identification aura gave his name. Jim said, “You looking for Ron?” Reap nodded. “Oh, thank God. He’s over by the fountain. Electrocution in about five, so watch out.”

“Thanks, Jim,” said Reap. “Just handle that load.” She pointed at the collection of souls trailing behind the junior reaper. “I’ve got Ron.”

With a relieved sigh, Jim swiped his scythe to reach the Below. Reap paid him no mind, focusing on the now-identified Ron.

Ronald Passitelli stood ankle deep in the large basin of the fountain. A bland young man in a dress shirt and khakis, now soaked, he reached out toward a child. The child took refuge from the hell raining down from the sky in the bulky fountain sculpture.

“C’mon,” said Ron. “It isn’t safe.”

“Where’s my mommy?” cried the child.

“I don’t know,” Ron admitted. “Let’s find her together.” He made another grab but the child dodged around the fountain.”

“Ronald,” Reap boomed in a voice only moderately intimidating. She did not want to blow the man’s simple mind.

Ron looked at her, able to see Reap now that she had spoken to him, and gaped. “Oh, no,” he said, knees quivering a bit. “I’m not ready!”

Reap rolled her eyes, an impressive feat with empty eye sockets. Humans gave her a lot of practice. “I don’t want to reap you.”

“But you’re the Grim–”

“Yes, but we haven’t the time. Some ancient schlub of a god no one remembers named Xanaxes kicked off the apocalypse early, and you’re the only one who can stop it.”

Ron gaped again when the child in the fountain screeched, “I am not a schlub!”

“Oh, great,” Reap muttered. Xanaxes had found the chosen one first. “Ron, run!”

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