I forced myself to visit Aldrich’s studio today, much against my desire, but I am glad I did. When I arrived, I found Wayne Aldrich attempting to seduce a young woman. He was promising her fame and fortune, the ability to turn her into a star by capturing her beauty on film and sending it in to ‘film stars’ with whom he was familiar.

I can only imagine how many he has tried to do this with, and had the young woman not taken care of the situation herself, I would have been only too happy to beat him.

She was more than capable, however, as all reapers are.

The cold look she fixed upon him caused the words to die in his throat as he too understood with whom he was dealing.

Mortified at having me witness his depredation, and at having been emasculated so effectively by the reaper, Aldrich stormed about his studio, preparing for her portrait. She did not speak to me as we waited, and I took no umbrage with it. Reapers speak when they wish, not when we wish them to.

He scowled and grunted as he finished, then gestured impatiently for her to follow him in. She did so, and they were done in a few minutes. The reaper stood patiently by the desk as he dug out the ledger and slapped it down in front of her. She took a pen from the desk, opened the book to the proper page, and wrote down her information.

“March 27, Alaska.”

Setting the pen down, she smiled at me. “I am going to shake the world, Duncan Blood. Do you believe this?”

“Of course, I do,” I replied.

Her smile transformed into an expression of pure disgust as she looked upon Wayne Aldrich. In a voice colder than any I have heard, she spoke to him.

“You have outlived your usefulness.”

She left without another word, and only when the door closed did I realize that Wayne Aldrich had soiled himself.

I did not bother to hide my smile.

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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