Wednesday, December 11, 2019

When Death Lives Twice

When Death Lives Twice - Speculative Fiction by S. H. Marpel“Well, this is curious – I’ve only got papers to take one of you.”

My two latest deaths stood in front of me.

“The other is supposed to keep on living. But here you both are.”

Neither spoke to volunteer which was which.

“So, you both intend to keep on living, in spite of my orders to take one of you.”

Silence signaled assent.

“You know that no one has ever cheated Death. Just because you have some spirit-guides looking out for you doesn’t mean I won’t end up with one – or even both of you.”

I tapped a long, bony finger.

“Or maybe all four of you, just to make it completely fair. Because the more those two gals are working to keep you alive, they more they are just making a bargain with me.”

The two men standing there looked at each other.

Then turned to me and shrugged. At the same time, like they’d rehearsed it.

“Alrighty, then. The Game is on. Let’s see who can beat Death and keep living. It’s like always – all or nothing.

“And I never lose…”

Excerpt:

Jude and I got called in again last night.

Because both our boys slipped under again. Red-lining like before.

Rochelle kept telling us we two were doing great at nursing them, that there was nothing anyone else could do any better. But no, each of us had only one duty right now – and that was to save the guy we were “assigned” to.

We knew she’d never seen something like this before. Sure, she’d had people just give up and die on her. Especially when she couldn’t get to them in time. Even after she’d brought them back to life once or twice.

But under the care of a Lazurai healer, body death is extremely rare.

Sure, they both had serious wounds when they came in. But those had all been patched. And there were only faint lines now where the jagged cuts had been repaired. In time, there wouldn’t even be any scars to show. The surgery here was expert.

Yet this was the third time both of us had to come in and stop the slide.

And once we did, it left us both exhausted. Of course, it didn’t help that we were either sleeping on hallway couches or a nearby wheeled gurney just to be on call.

At least we had plenty of towel around to sob into when it got to be too much.

– – – –

My sister and I were spirit-guides, not used to being healers.

We’d seen it done, been around to help, even held oozing pads on bloody wounds with our own hands while rushing the injured to an operating room.

This was different. Much.

Rochelle explained it as simply as possible. I was somehow connected to John on an intimate basis, and Jude was connected to Bernie. And just as Jude and I were both connected to each other, there was some connection between Bernie and John as well.

So it wasn’t just any healer that could come in and “fix” what was wrong. Not with our two boys.

Rochelle had talked to Ben and he’d been researching everything he could find on this area – everything the Library and his network could find.

But nothing more, really, than the way she had explained it.

And I felt it somewhere inside me as well. I’d give my eternal life to save John. Just as Jude would for Bernie – even though she’d known him less than a day before he wound up here near-death.

The one thing we knew about Bernie is his background as a shifter. Most of the time, he’d prefer being a border collie. And that breed was known to not just defend but care for their charge as if they were one with them.

And John would give anything to anyone to help them solve their life-problem.

The math on that was pretty clear: we four were in on this to the end. Either alive or dead, but preferably all alive.

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