Wednesday, August 3, 2011

At Death's Daughter: The Scythe

It's come to my attention that there is an Amber Benson novel titled Death's Daughter with a similar premise. While her execution is nothing like "At Death's Daughter," and we're both arriving way after Terry Pratchett's Ysabell, the similarity is too strong. After months of deliberation, I've decided to put the plot on indefinite hold. But if readers strongly want more of __, let me know. It's swayed me before, and I do love some of the places she was supposed to go. Tomorrow I'll post the only other existing chapter.

Today's story has an audio edition, read by Max Cantor. To listen click here.

Moffet pushed the thing back across the table with two fingers, like the angel might take it to the back and have the chef whip up something better.

"No. I don't want it."

"You have to want it." The man folded his arms, refusing to pick it up. " It's rare. It's a multi-functional device. It could only be more desirable if it had an Apple logo."

"I don't want the scythe."

"You should want the scythe."

"Well, I don't."

"Fine. There's still good news."

"And that is?"

"Your mother wasn't unfaithful."


"Olivia Constantine was an absolute, one-hundred-percent lesbian. Your father was not that gardener you've heard about."

"Don't bother sticking up for him. He ran out on us."

"No, he moved because there was a new green house. He's actually just two counties over, and he doesn't think about you ever because he's not your father. Your mother never slept with him or any other man. She found them quite gross from her first day seeing a wee-wee on the playground to her last night in the hospital."

"Uh-huh. I guess she molded me from magic clay."

"Don't be petulant. You were immaculately conceived."

She rolled her eyes over the scythe, the man's suit, and his stupidly handsome face, giving the whole business a sweeping dismissal.

"That doesn't happen."

"Does too. Happened to you."

"Don't tell me I'm Jesus. I'm agnostic."

"You're getting a special delivery from a ghost. You're gnostic now. And you're not any sort of Sloppy Seconds Coming. He was a better dresser and conversationalist." He pushed the scythe across the table towards her, using the same two fingers she had. The blade made a sphincter-tightening scrape across the tabletop, though it left no mark. "He wasn't the first to be immaculately conceived, though, or the last. There have been at least six hundred immaculate conceptions this year alone, and it's not even cold yet. Snow makes those Winter Gods get kinky."

"That's ridiculous."

"You know what's ridiculous? That a lifelong lesbian can make eye contact with a man just once in public, and the first time somebody calls her a slut, the consensus is 'Guilty.' That, by the way, is how most immaculate conceptions get covered up. Statistically insignificant, and you never catch a ghost boinking a girl on film, so of course she's a dumb whore."

"Okay, now you're ridiculous." She rose, jerking a thumb towards the door, and accidentally pointing it at the only picture of her mother in the entire apartment. "Get out."

He rose along with her. He was unfairly taller.

"You think that's ridiculous? Think how many immaculately conceived prodigies have been aborted. Let me tell you, at least three of them would have changed the world if their moms hadn't flushed them. Their fathers knew it, too. Planted them down here to prove a point to all the other gods."

"And what was the point of predestining a bunch of aborted messiahs?"

"You ever see a horrible plane crash?" He stuck out his pinky and thumb, turning his hand into a mock airplane. It sailed down across his smile and crashed into the adjacent palm. "Thing's on fire before it hits the tarmac, airport crew swear they could hear the screaming over the engines, and whatever mangled survivors crawl out of the smoke spend the rest of their life in nightmares?"

"What could the fucking point be in that?"

"The point? Why should they bother stopping it if you won't? It's your fucking world. Lowest bidders build planes, overworked air control don't pay enough attention to the weather, and you launch a bunch of people into the sky on it with more concern for the in-flight programming than that your luggage is a few feet from jet fuel. It's your damned plane, and it's your scythe."

He stooped just low enough to meet her gaze. Those two fingers came back, nudging the scythe to the very edge of her side of the coffee table.

"Here you go. Do whatever with it. I only did this as a favor to your father anyway. I'm going to go sprout wings and do something you don't believe in."

Something stupid made her touch the scythe. Not take it. She wasn't that stupid; only stupid enough to touch it with two of her own fingers. Enough of a gesture to make him pause.

"You said I didn't have a father."

"I said your mom wasn't knocked up by any man."

"Okay. In the world where you sprout wings and think you're clever, just how did I immaculate my way into the world?"

"Baby, you just inherited a scythe. Notice you spent your whole life wearing hoodies? Where'd you think you got that?"

"Mom loved them."

"Maybe that's what attracted him. Goodnight. Enjoy your immortality."


  1. As always you leave me wanting more.

  2. Can I get a scythe? Because I totally want a scythe and I'm very fond of hoodies!

    Great sample John. I, too, want more!



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