The strong metallic stench of blood immediately assaulted his sense of smell as he entered the room. His lips curled into a frown as he took in the grotesque form of the corpses lying on the bed. Their faces were horribly disfigured, there were multiple lacerations and bruises discovered on their bodies, and they were missing either organs or limbs. Upon closer inspection, it was clear that the first body was lacking in lungs, and the second body had no left leg.
It disgusted the man to see their condition. He knew there were these kind of people in the world—those monsters—who wanted to murder just for the heck of it. It didn't matter if he'd been in this line of work for decades, he could never get rid of the feeling of revulsion and distaste when he went on brutal cases like this. It was better when he was working on cases that involved accidents. At least, no matter how horrible the body looked, nobody meant to end that person’s life.
He glanced at his right when he heard his partner clicked her tongue. The revolted look on her face was the same that was currently painted on his. He and his partner never really got along during one of their cases, because he always viewed her as the reckless one who could endanger him, their investigation, and herself, and also because she liked to rub the fact that she was his superior to his face. To learn that for the first time they were thinking the same was a bit surprising.
He shook these thoughts out of his head and proceeded on his job. Opening the black briefcase he was holding during their cases, he took out two folders. Before he could read them, his partner snatched it out of his hands. Eyes twitching in irritation, he refrained from taking it back and listened to her.
"Simon Quinshire," she said out loud, hazel eyes flickering towards the corpse of said man. "Date of death is March 17, 2004, at 2341 hours. Cause of death is immense blood loss from the injuries he received, as well as from losing his lungs afterwards."
She closed the folder and opened the other one. "Wendy Quinshire. Date of death is March 17, 2004, at 2348 hours. Cause of death is also from blood loss."
"Reapers Sylvia and William attending," she added, handing the folders back to the man, whose name was revealed to be William. "Now, to proceed to the soul-extraction process," Sylvia stepped forward, and placed her gloved hand above Wendy Quinshire's chest. A white mist was formed from her chest and went towards Sylvia's hand. William took out two special-made jars from his briefcase, and the female Reaper put the soul in one of the jars. She did the same to Simon later on.
"Mark this case as complete," Sylvia said as she replaced her glove with a new one. William quickly did his task and when he was finished, Sylvia smugly stated, sticking out her tongue childishly, "And that is how you do soul-extractions, my subordinate. Make sure you know how to do it, or you won't graduate into a full-fledged Reaper."
William gritted his teeth, "You were so serious earlier. Why does that have to change now? You're such an insufferable partner. How are you again a capable Reaper?"
"It's just skills, love," Sylvia winked at him. William suppressed the shudder he felt. "Besides, we've got to leave the place. We, Reapers, are not exactly invisible, are we? We have to avoid anyone seeing us."
And with that, Sylvia skipped merrily outside the room, whistling. This was probably one of her mood swings, William thought as he followed her. What a shame, though, she was actually tolerable when she was serious.
After exiting the building, William breathed in fresh air. No matter how used he was to the smell of blood, the clear air was always refreshing. He told Sylvia that her whistling was too loud, and could possibly attract any awake neighbors, if anyone was not asleep at all. She pouted at him, complaining about how much a spoilsport he was.
William looked at his watch, noting that it was just past midnight. If he remembered correct, their next case would die approximately in ten minutes. They had to move fast to their location in order to collect the soul before its time, or the situation would not be pleasant.
Reapers were tasked with the job of collecting souls of the dead. Reapers always came in pairs—a experienced one who graduated to be a full-fledged Reaper and the other one who needed more training. Reapers were given files of the souls they were going to collect. If the souls were not collected thirty minutes after the bodies died, it would result in the creation of an abomination. And if Reapers failed to extract souls for three times, they would be punished, in terms that they would suffer just from remembering their old lives.
The male Reaper did not remember his old life, and neither did the others. It was probably better this way, so that they wouldn’t be haunted by the sins of their past.
Sylvia suddenly halted on her tracks. William, who was too preoccupied with his thoughts, bumped into her. “Oi, what’s the hold-up?” he grumbled, stumbling on his feet, but he managed to steady himself.
"Elder Seraphina!" Sylvia stuttered, bowing before their elder. William's eyes widened before he also bowed, paying respect to the elder. Sylvia straightened her back after. "What brings you here?"
Elder Seraphina was one of the elders of the Reapers. Speaking of Elders, they were a bunch of beings that dispatched Reapers to their cases. They were the ones that the Reapers had to report to, and also the ones that punished them. Not only that, but the Elders were also the second highest order, meaning that they were the superiors of Reapers, as the Reapers were the ‘lowest of the bunch’.
"I wished to see how you two were doing," Elder Seraphina grinned at them, her teeth almost blinding. Her blonde hair shined as the moonlight illuminated it. "And, please, no formalities. You can call me Seraphina. The word 'elder' just makes me feel older than I already am."
The sudden appearance of Elder Seraphina didn't surprise either of the Reapers. After all, she was the only one of their Elders who actually went to some trouble just to see their conditions. If someone asked for his opinion, William would say that Elder Seraphina was the nicest and the most thoughtful of the Elders. Every time Elder Seraphina appeared before them, his cheeks would always take a pinkish hue, and he always wondered if Reapers were worthy of such thing.
"Oh my," Elder Seraphina said. "Are you on a case? I'm sorry for being such a bother. Please, continue on your work."
"You're not a bother, Elder Seraphina! Not even in the slightest!” William inwardly snickered at Sylvia, who was as flustered as he was under the presence of the elder.
Elder Seraphina put her fingers under her chin and pondered, "Is it okay if I transport you to your destination? It is only fit as I interrupted your case."
"No," William shook his head. "That is not needed, Elder. We could arrive to the destination on our own. We don't want to burden you."
Elder Seraphina giggled, "Silly. You won't be a burden to me. I want to help the Reapers, too. You do so much work in collecting souls while we, the Elders, are just sitting idle," she lowered her eyes as she uttered the last word.
"Elder!" William was shocked. To hear that from one of the elders was certainly upsetting. It was the elders that did all the work, and the Reapers only exist to reduce their jobs.
"Don't feel so worthless, Elder. You do a lot of work, more so than us Reapers. If you really insist, you can help us get to our destination," Sylvia quickly said, wanting to lift up the Elder Seraphina's spirits.
The blonde Elder cheered and grabbed both the Reapers' arms. William slightly felt nauseous as his surroundings blurred before him, but it was gone as fast as it happened. The next thing he knew, he was standing before another building.
William took out another folder and read its content. It said that their case would die at 0028 hours, because her drunk brother would accidentally kill her. A glance at his watch told him that it would only take a few minutes before the person would pass away and they would be able to fetch the soul.
He dragged his partner, who was fussing over a sheepish Elder, towards an area where they would not be easily seen. They could not afford to wait in a open area where anyone could spot them. He looked at the files once again, with Sylvia peeking over his shoulder.
“That’s such a nasty death, don’cha think?” Sylvia asked, humming as she read the details of the case’s death. “Head trauma from being bashed against a kitchen counter. Huh.”
William scowled, “Humans these days. They absolutely don’t care about their precious lives. What a greedy bunch.”
“Reapers were humans once, remember?” William ignored the jibe from his partner. Even if he didn’t remember his previous life, he could’ve been greedy back then. He changed when he became a Reaper, though, so there was no point to Sylvia’s statement. Okay, maybe there was.
Elder Seraphina spoke up from behind them, “Humans are still beautiful creatures. Please, do not judge all of humanity through means of only seeing the terrible actions of others. Each individual is different, it is the same with you Reapers.”
William, though a little hesitant, tried to believe what Elder Seraphina said. He focused on the home before them, blocking off Sylvia’s attempts at distracting him. He held back a sigh, sometimes it was as if he was more mature than Sylvia.
A scream broke off his concentration. He felt Sylvia recoil from him as both Reapers were taken by surprise. Fear had taken its hold on his heart, it was not their case’s scream. Instead, he recognized it as Elder Seraphina’s scream.
William turned around to fight with their Elder's attacker, but it was futile. He barely had the time to react before a sharp blade slit his throat. Choking on his own blood, William fell on his knees and the side of his face hit the pavement. He saw the same thing happen on Sylvia.
“Impossible,” William thought. He stole a look at their attacker, and his eyes widened. So that was why the assaulter had been able to land a blow on them, because it was holding such a weapon.
The last thing he saw before he was sucked into the oblivion was Sylvia's body glowing gray as her soul was destroyed. Then, the light faded from his eyes as his soul suffered the same fate.
The assailant smirked, looking down at the bodies. On the its hand was the blood-coated dagger that took their lives.