Chapter. 2: Elysium
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I exited the office building. The meeting with the landlord had gone relatively well. I now had a place to stay. Even though a lot of the paperwork had been arranged for me, I still had to go through a few things. But even then I couldn’t help but frown looking at the street.

The noisy whirring of machinery, the fumes from gasoline, the mechanical engines of the things known as cars, the constant smoke coming from some restaurants, the garbage on the streets, and the busy people that used smartphones. Everything was new to me, which would’ve been exciting normally. 

Today was my first day after all! New things were exciting! But… 

I looked at the sky and sighed. No one seemed as enthusiastic about death as me. Oh, what was the issue with it? I tried to ignore it at first, but everyone’s mood seemed to tank when talking about it, the old man I met at the park was probably the only exception. Even the people I had asked on the way here would scoff and walk away! And the old man made me feel somewhat antsy. 

The old man… 

Perhaps it was due to the words he had spoken to me. But… How could I assure people were happy when passing? No, that wasn’t it. People could be happy, I knew that. But, I couldn’t help but feel slightly unsure. Perhaps it was due to the old man, but it bothered me. 

I sighed and began walking in the direction of my new home, guided by my smartphone. Why would everyone get so insecure about death? No, perhaps they just didn’t know what came after. The ultimate happiness ⁠— Elysium ⁠— I had seen it. 

                                                                                   .

     .        Even if it happened a while ago.                                                   .

                                                .                 .                     .

    .                                .                                           .

                I could still remember it clearly.                   .                      

                                                 .                    .             .

                            . .             .        .

                                    .             .     . It was a fateful day…

                            .  .             .                                 .

                        .             .     .             .

                 Everything appeared bleak back then…              

                                        .     .             .

                                                .     .

                                                       .

                                                       . .

                                            .        .         .

                                                            .

          .                  My home was bleak…

                                                .         .

                        .

                                                                               .

                    Battles were commonplace…

                                                       .

                  But then I saw it…                                                           

                                                           .

                                .                                                            .

                                                                             .

How old was I, was it 9 years ago? I was but a fledgling. Maybe 7 years old? 

“Daddy!” I ran up to him, my dad, my everything. 

“Ah, Kaiti, I see you’ve been happy.” His deep emotionless voice made me happy. 

“Well… I am only happy when you’re around…” I awkwardly told him, which made his boney hand pause. 

“I see…” Even though his abyssal voice was devoid of any emotions, I could tell how much it destroyed him. 

His draping cloak of distorting shadows stopped moving for a second, the eerie hum of his scythe filled the air, and his non-existent face looked at me without emotions, but in spite of everything, all I could feel coming from him was sadness. 

The Underworld was bleak, but it wasn’t anyone’s fault. Everyone minded their own business and tended to themselves. New things grafted and added in rifts, a hostile place. However, I could just feel it. I could feel their sadness, their despair and desires. I could feel everything around me, whether it was my dad’s happiness in seeing me, or the sadness he felt when hearing me. It was depressing. 

It was an intrinsic trait. A curse and a blessing.

“Kaiti, I understand, your…” He paused, his hand caressing my head. “Problems… I was like that once too, feeling influenced by others’ emotions.” 

“B-But!” I protested. “Emotions are important!” 

He chuckled, it was a deep one that carried a howl. “You are right, Kaiti. Emotions are very important. We can perceive when someone is ready to go, what they want and what they need.” He paused. “And we can also perceive if they are missing someone or something.” 

I nodded, looking at him. 

“Hmmm…” He pondered. “Perhaps I could bring you to a send off.” 

“Send off?” It was a rather unfamiliar term for me. 

“A send off, yes. When someone precious to a Grim Reaper dies, the Grim Reaper can guide them to the Elysium, a place where happiness is never-ending.” 

Happiness? Never-ending happiness?! “Please take me!” I shook my dad’s shadow cloak. Anything was better than home at this point! 

“Alright, alright.” He patted me, making me smile. “Then, you’re going to need this.” He touched my nose with his bony and cold hand, though it made me feel warm. 

A thin veil seemed to appear around me, it was ashen and devoid of life. It made me subtly frown, but it was necessary. From what I understood, it was a way to erase someone’s presence. 

“Well then, my dearest daughter, Kaiti. Do follow me, no touching anything.” I nodded decisively. 

My dad ⁠— the coolest Grim Reaper there was ⁠— reached for the scythe in his back, and with a black flicker, a space in the dimension was formed. His scythe rested on his hand and the ground. 

“Walk after me.” With those words he went inside, and I followed. 

My first time seeing death, it was… bleak. 

When I opened my eyes a smell of iron assaulted me, ashes permeated the air, the heat from flames invaded my skin. I had thought we were in the Underworld, but the sky was blue, different from the red hue I was used to. And then I saw him. Dad. 

He stood looming over a figure. A thing I had never seen before. It was a man. He had a tail made out of scales similar to the ones of a dragon, his face like a lizard’s. His skin⁠— no scales were mangled and broken at places, blood oozed out from him. This wasn’t the netherworld. 

It was… despair, full of despair. Everything was despair. Sadness, pain, resentment. This… I didn’t like these emotions. I didn’t like them… The Underworld was bad, but this was the worst.

“Gram, you’ve finally met your end.” Before I could ask dad to take me away, he began speaking.

“Keke,” the man chuckled. “The God of Death shows himself before me again. When was the last time? I was but a kid, then, yet you saved me, only me.” 

“Right.” Dad paused. “Your fate wasn’t finished.” 

“Fate.” The lizardman laughed. “Right, the very thing that took my family and wife. So this was the fate you spoke of. I wasn’t supposed to die then, but now.” He laughed again. “You’re a piece of shit.” 

He spat at my father’s feet. 

“How dare⁠— 

Before I could get angry, dad spoke again. 

“That is right, it was fate. And now it is time for you to go, friend.” Before the lizardman could say anything, a scythe loomed over his head. In an instant, he was decapitated. 

“Huh?” I paused. 

How? All of the emotions I had been experiencing suddenly vanished. All of those emotions came from… a single person? How could life be so cruel? The air was quiet, only the crackling and ashes present.

Before I could ask questions. Dad reached forth and grabbed empty air ⁠— it wasn’t empty, I could barely see it. A faint outline of a circle that distorted in of itself. 

“Kaiti, let us go.” 

“Yes!” He cut another ripple in the air and disappeared. 

Perhaps death was bleak, but it was alright. 

When I opened my eyes again, we stood on a grassy hill, my dad watching from behind. In the distance, I could see figures talking and hugging each other. They were happy, extremely so. And then after squinting my eyes, I realized. 

It was the lizardman and his family. He was happy; they were happy. 

I smiled and felt a hand on my shoulder. 

“Kaiti, as Grim Reapers our job is noble, but for our chosen ones, everything ends in happiness.” 

Elysium, a safe-haven of eternity.

A place where we could guide souls to.

A place where happiness was eternal.

 

                                                                           .

                    .    I never liked sadness…                                                                                                          .                 .                     .

    .                                .                                           .

                                   .                                         .                .

       But a place where happiness was everything existed.                                        .                    .             .

                            . .             .        .

                                    .             .     .

                            .  .             .                                 .

             A place only accessible to Grim Reapers.           .              .

                               .         .         .             .

                                        .     .             .

                     .     .

              .

                                                       . .

                                            .        .         .

                           If I became a Grim Reaper…                                 .

        .                     .            .

                                                .         .

                        .

                                                                               .

                    .

                                                       .

                                                                             .

                                                           .

                I could make everyone happy…            .                                                            .

                                                                             .

Perhaps it didn’t click with me then. But, if that lizardman could be happy in spite of all the atrocities he had committed. Then everyone could be happy in Elysium. Whatever the old man had said was wrong. 

Death was happiness… I smiled. Perhaps I wasn’t a Grim Reaper as of yet, perhaps I didn’t have all the abilities that made my father one, but I was close. I could still take lost souls to Elysium. A place of bliss, where everything was perfect. I couldn’t see fate, but⁠—

“While I don’t understand it…” I looked at the settling sun. “This is necessary.” My training, a path towards being a Grim Reaper. 

I looked towards the building in front of me, an open-air apartment complex, where leaving was as easy as opening one’s door. In the brief research I had made, it was truly the best. Others were inside a big towering building and one needed to use elevators. 

I looked around, it was somewhat desolate, some people walked the streets, and there was a park next to the building, but it was rather empty, almost no cars, no noise, and no restaurants. Faraway from the city, a relaxing place. Even the people here were relaxed. It was nice. But there was a slight issue. 

“That was a rather long walk… I guess I’ll have to use the train next time…” I sighed. I didn’t want to admit it, but they were rather scary. How could something so big move so fast? 

◇ ◇ ◇ 

I stood before a door on the second floor, the number reading ‘457’. 

So this was my new home? I scrutinized the door, it was a blue metal door, some paint falling off from its edges. Nothing impressive. I couldn’t feel anything inside, so safe to say my roommate wasn’t home. 

I set my backpack on the ground and began rummaging through it, but as I rummaged through the different pockets and clothes I realized something. I don’t have keys… Did he forget them? Did I forget them? I couldn’t remember… 

I paled. How was I supposed to get inside? No wait, perhaps my roommate was home and they were just in a vegetative state! Yes! Sometimes people didn’t feel anything.

I hurriedly knocked on the door, but there was no sound or response. Sigh… What kind of roommate would be a vegetable anyway? I scoffed at myself, I was being ridiculous! Oh! I remembered. The calling card! 

I hurriedly took out the card my landlord had given me. It was a small rectangle with fancy magic designs on its sides, some fine-print having random numbers and his name on it; reading ‘Sullivan Dowel’. 

I groaned, calling cards are always troublesome. Reluctantly, I bit my thumb, crimson blood with hints of black began seeping out. Why must they always be so troublesome… I ran my finger across the card, and⁠—

Nothing? No, it was a different kind maybe. I ripped it in half and threw it at the door. It was the portal kind! The bloody card flew across the air and hit the door, leaving a small bloody splooch on it. Huh? 

“Did he give me the wrong kind of card?” I paused. What now… A human solution… 

Ooh! The smartphone! I hurriedly pulled the smartphone I had been given. While I didn’t understand what model it was, it was functional and relatively snappy. Though it felt weird to carry a glass chunk with me all the time. 

Finding the icon in the interface, I nodded. It was shaped like a banana with thingies at its sides, I hurriedly tapped, the sooner the better. A contact display appeared. Uh, how to do this again? I flicked with my finger as I thought, a dial showed up on the next ‘tab’. Oh! My finger made its way through the contact numbers. 

“This is an emergency right…?” I pondered for a second. “I am locked out of my house, of course it is! What was the number again?” Oh right!  My finger began tapping.

Nine… One… One… And⁠—

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