“You never did say how you found out you could see Death.”
I paused, looking up at the detective talking to me. Murillo usually didn’t like talking too much about my job, and a large part of it I understood. Dead things were supposed to stay that way.
Necromancers had a bad habit of making dead things act like living things, however temporarily.
“Yes I did,” I said at last. “I had a goldfish.”
Murillo laughed and pulled a seat out at the little table in the police station’s cafeteria. “That doesn’t tell me anything,” he said. “Seriously, how did you find out you could see Death?”
I settled into a seat next to him and shrugged. “The same way most necromancers do,” I answered. “He showed up. I asked who he was, he told me he was Death. My mother told me we weren’t getting anymore goldfish after that.”
Murillo chuckled. “Come on, Clark. You’re holding back on a story.”
A sigh escaped, but I couldn’t help but smile. Most people didn’t like knowing about Death. I’d spent more than enough years ridiculed and outcast because I could see him. The few friends I had—living ones, that is—were people I tried to shield from Death and all that went with it.
“Alright,” I said at last. “So you know I had a goldfish when I was eight, right?”
“Well, her name was Tim because no one knew at the time she was a girl, so we put her in a tank with about four other goldfish, and everything was hunky dory until Tim gave birth to more goldfish babies.”
“So she got eaten by the babies?” Murillo asked and I looked at him. “I want to get to the good part!”
“Do you open a book and start reading from the middle?” I asked.
“No,” he admitted.
“Then you have to get some of the facts first,” I told him. “Tim went on to have babies four more times. And she probably would have had lots more babies, except that there was a small accident with a full can of coke being added to the fish tank.”
Murillo’s eyes widened. “What?”
“It was an accident. I set it on the side of the tank because I needed to feed them, only when I opened the lid to do so, the can fell in, and since it was still pretty full, it went mostly down to the bottom, leaking soda the entire way down.”
“And Tim was the only casualty?” Murillo pressed.
“No, Tim was the only survivor,” I replied.
“The other fish didn’t do so well swimming in coke, and the tank got really green even after we changed the water. We’re fairly sure the Plecostomus we had literally ate himself to death trying to clean it all out. So we got a new tank and Tim moved into my room.”
“Did Death just get pissed off that this fish wasn’t dying or something?” the detective asked and I sighed.
“You’re the one who wanted to know, so let me tell the story. No, Death generally doesn’t care if you’re dead or alive, unless you’re doing something wrong.” The number of times I’d seen him show up to try and talk someone out of suicide was incredible.
“Fine. But I want to know already.”
“I’m getting there,” I promised. “Anyways Tim lived in my room for about a year and a half before she got sick. No idea what with, or how, but she did. She got sick and kind of stopped eating. The night she finally passed away though, I’d gotten some new comics books and was up until two in the morning reading them.
“So Death kind of just shows up in my room, and I mean I was eight at the time, so you know, first reaction is to panic and hide under the covers because you think it’s your parents coming in, which made him laugh, up until he realized I shouldn’t have even reacted to him.”
“Wait, you weren’t supposed to react?” Murillo looked horrified.
“Most people don’t see Death,” I pointed out. “There’s that hole ‘invisible except to the gifted’ thing going on. Well, evidently, my gift had kicked in, because I could see him and I could hear him laughing.
“So, Death had to explain to an eight-year-old that he was Death, he was there for my goldfish and that this was a special sort of gift before he took Tim’s soul and kind of just vanished. It took about an hour before she actually went belly-up. Mom was not impressed when I informed her that Tim was dead, and even less impressed when I asked her if anyone else in the family could see Death.”
Murillo cackled and shook his head. “Can anyone else in your family?”
“There’s a little debate on that. Grandmam’s gotten kind of funny in her old age,” I said. “And it’s not unusual for Death to start showing up when the mind starts failing.”
“And your mom told you no more goldfish?”
“Well, after the heater blew out in one tank, the addition of a can of coke, and my sister’s cat attempting to swim, she decided the fish weren’t well-suited to the family.”
“The cat tried to swim?” Murillo questioned.
“He had a little help, but yeah,” I answered.
“Okay, that sounds like another story. What happened?”
Before I could respond, my phone rang. I pulled it from my pocket and grinned. “Sorry, maybe next time.”
Murillo mockingly glowered at me as I answered, but only shook his head as I answered my phone.
“Clark Anderson, Necromancer.”
by A.J. Helms