The polished oak door separating my office from the waiting area flung open without warning. A clearly distraught woman—least I thought it was a woman—burst in announced. I’ve been doing this job for a very long time—from the beginning, in fact. I’ve seen every manner in which a mortal could perish, so nothing shocked me anymore.
Nonetheless, it has been quite a while since I’ve seen a human skinned alive. I sat up quickly in my chair with an audible squeak from the old, oiled leather. The figure before me had long, copper-red hair with subtle highlights of gold. The hair framed what remained of her face—patches of pale skin dotted with light freckles—and cascaded over her shoulder and chest. The remainder of her form was entirely nude, not just of clothes, but also of skin.
As she flailed her arms before me, I watched her muscles flex and ripple exposing sinew which stretched and contracted with each movement. Tiny rivulets of blood darkened as it coagulated in the open air. Tiny flashes of light reflected off the golden flecks in her otherwise deep emerald-colored eyes irises which had now retracted to display fully dilated pupils. Frantically, she tried to speak, but only short gasping and gargling sounds escaped from her mouth—her tongue had enlarged and begun to dry already and of course she was missing lips. It didn’t take a world class psychologist to determine her death was clearly traumatic and she was still suffering from shock, even in the afterlife.
Thankfully, Charon glided into the room. His dark, frayed robes flittered gently behind him as he made his way to my desk and placed one of his trademark manila folders on my desk. Silently, he bowed his head slightly in apology for the intrusion and his apparent tardiness. As swiftly as he entered, he departed my office, closing the door behind him. I flipped open the file and began reading.
Mortal ID: 0314-90-50775BW
Name: Brianna A. Walsh
Est. Terminus: 7 May 2075
Profession: Air Quality Scientist
Chaos Probability: Extremely Low
“Brianna Walsh… Brianna Walsh… Where do I remember this name from?” I asked no one in particular as I tapped my lip with my fingertip. It’s not like Ms. Walsh was in any state to answer my question.
Then, it hit me.
Ms. Walsh was a young lobbyist I had met just a couple weeks ago. She had been an effervescent personality who flitted among the old, crusty politicians at a fundraising benefit. She was certainly a welcome addition to what past for a party in the elderly circles, even if her agenda was a direct conflict to my own. She was also the same person that the muse, Moxie, had temporarily inhabited to speak to me at Dark Sparks. I had been otherwise occupied by a most irritating text argument with Persephone when she had appeared. That’s probably why I didn’t pay much attention to her physical form.
What was it she had told me before leaving? Ahhh, now I remember. She had told me my long believed suspicions of Persephone’s top-world, extracurricular activities were well founded. Without another word, she pushed away from the café table and walked out the front glass doors. I sat there for a long time thinking about this revelation. Blankly, I stared out the window and watched the early morning sun dance off the windshields of cars passing by. Where did Ms. Walsh go to after our impromptu meeting? I thought I saw her cross over to the Olympus Administration Building. A short time later, I saw her entering the Ate’s beauty salon next door. Is that where Ms. Walsh met her untimely demise?
I pushed the thought from my head and continued reading…
…premature terminus…homicida terminus… chaos shift perceptible…
“What in the…” I shouted aloud again. Ms. Walsh ceased from her babbling at the sound and visibly flinched. “How? How could someone murder a mortal before the Fates had decreed?”
Ms. Walsh shrugged without an answer.
I pressed the intercom button on my phone. An audible click alerted me Charon was on the other end. “Dear Charon, please, cancel the remainder of my appointments for today. I have to make a visit to the Moirai immediately.”
Before I could even finish signing off on Ms. Walsh’s forms, Charon swept in with another folder and placed it on the desk in front of me. Bowing his head once again, he exited just as quickly.
Unconsciously, I sipped my coffee ☕ and whispered, “Now what?”
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