She was waiting for me on my porch, and she surprised the hell out of me, which is no mean feat. I was about to ask the child what her name was when she smiled at me and I knew she didn’t have one.
“Are you here for me?” I asked her.
The child shook her head. “I want to speak to you. Walk with me to Charles.”
I took my pipe and my coat, and I walked with the reaper.
“Things are moving faster now,” she informed me. “There will be more of us. Many more. And you will have your work set before you as well.”
“What work is that?” I inquired.
She smiled. “The kind of work you’re good at Duncan Blood. The kind of work you’ve been doing since you killed your first man.”
I nodded and lit my pipe. “Will there be many?”
“That depends on who’s doing the counting.”
She laughed. “We are. Yes, Duncan Blood, there will be many.”
We continued for a distance in silence.
Finally, she asked, “Does this bother you?”
“No. Not when it needs doing. Which I suppose is the next question. Does it need doing?”
“It always needs doing,” she intoned somberly. “It is what my kind is about, Duncan Blood. It is what you are made to do. Why do you think your family is so long-lived? You prepare the souls for us to reap.”
“Do I perform my job well, Reaper?”
The child looked up at me and smiled.
“You are the finest your line has ever produced.”
I left her at Charles’ studio, and when I stopped by a short time later and asked what information she had left, he showed me.
“March 18, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky.”