I heard the question as I entered Meredith’s studio, and I stiffened at the cool answer she received.
“Because it must be done, Meredith. Death cannot stop. It must not stop. We do this for Death, and we ask that you do this for us, as your father and grandfather did before you.”
When I rounded the corner, I saw Meredith Aldrich speaking with a stunning young woman. They both turned and nodded to me, and the sheer power and majesty of the reaper stole my breath from me. I offered her a low bow.
“Duncan Blood,” the reaper said with a small, pleased smile. “You’ve kept a great many of my siblings busy over the years.”
“Have I kept you busy?” I asked.
She shook her head. “No. I am not scheduled to follow after you until the early 1920s, I believe. There is a month, July, where you will be exceptionally active.”
Meredith took the opportunity of my conversation with the reaper to prepare the studio for the portrait.
“May I ask where you are headed?”
The reaper nodded. “Of course. I am going to be traveling down to Puerto Rico.”
“Will it be bad?” I asked.
She hesitated and then sighed. “Let me put it this way, Duncan Blood. I will travel from August until September, but it is Puerto Rico, where I will work the hardest.”
I would learn later what she meant about hard work and I can only imagine how difficult it was to collect 3300 lives.