Death is in Venice. Death is in London. Death is in every river and every lake, and all the half-formed thoughts you’ve had on nights too dark for comfort.

Death is around, is all I’m saying. Death is always around, no matter how much we try and pretend otherwise.

Death is also in a two-bedroom flat, somewhere in Surrey. The repeated clack of typing fills the room, the woman hunched over her keyboard like some sort of demented organist. Death stands behind her, waiting, as she continues typing. It’s mildly irritated by the fact that it’s being ignored.

It clears its throat.

She hold up an index finger in what Death has gathered is a “wait one moment” gesture. Death allows her a minute – feels, in the infinite turnings of the universe, that minute tick by – and then takes a step towards her. A floorboard creaks. She shakes her head, giving the “one minute” gesture again.

Death makes a small, frustrated sound. It only realises afterwards that it has just sighed. Humans, it’s beginning to understand, are a terrible influence.

“Last sentence,” she says, as if asking for extra time in an examination. (There was  once a twenty-year-old Death had to collect who dropped dead in the middle of one such examination. It had frowned at the paper, certain that the stress of the test might well have contributed to the young man’s death, and had been utterly unable to parse the second history question.)

It impatiently taps a foot on the floor. There is an unpleasant sound of bone against wood. It stops.

It looks up at the scrape of a chair across the floor. She stands, approaching with a smile. It’s faintly surprised at that.

“Right,” she says. She looks back at her desk. “Done. Bit pretentious, but… I dunno, I like it.”

Death, taking the bait, heads towards the desk and takes a look at the screen. The word is typed neatly underneath the last few lines, significant even for how small it is.


Death decides it wants to shrug. “Stylish,” it admits, in a voice that echoes across aeons.

She grins. “Yeah, I hoped so.”

It heads back to her, and she takes one bony arm, ready to walk.


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