All is silent, no crickets, no birds, no rustling of the trees in the wind, only the soft click, click of the swinging arm of a golden cat in the window. The cat, with its pendant that reads luck and holding its coin that reads ten million gold pieces, with is right paw as its left arm waved back and forth, clicking softly.

The room beyond was dark, the moonlight spilled through the curtains too bathe the floor in a silver light. The dark pool spreading over the scuffed and peeling linoleum show black and silver in the moonlight. As the moon began to dip in the sky the light fell across the half open hand covered in a thick dark stain.

Click-click-click, the arm of the golden cat swung as the silence stretched out around the moonlit room. The arm stopped as my feet touched the cracked linoleum of the small kitchen. My dark cloak fell around me like fog over an island, smooth, silent, and heavy. My bare feet made no noise as I moved across the room, I stared down at the body laying in the pool of drying blood. I left not tracks in the blood, not footprints across the faded floor. She was dressed simply, a flower sundress, with red and yellow daisies dancing across the fabric, she wore no jewelry except for stud silver earrings, her auburn hair had fallen out of the loose bun she had it in, strands of it were floating on the surface of the blood, her blue eyes stared unseeing at the white plaster ceiling.

I froze as I felt other eyes following my silent movement through the room. I turned to meet the glowing green eyes of a silver tabby, watching me from the back of the couch in the living room. I let out a heavy sigh, the only noise that had been heard since my arrival. I moved from the kitchen to the couch where the tabby sat watching me. I lowered myself to the tread bare cushion, the couch has probably once been a vibrant gray or silver, but time and much use had warn the fabric to a dull brown gray, stains from food or drink had left dark blotches, shadows of the past. For such a young soul; her home was old, maybe she didn’t live here, or maybe she didn’t mind owner older things.

“I thought I would be here longer.” The tabby whispered, his voice was young, but his green eyes were old.

“I’m sure you did.” I was not here to make small talk with a Guardian, I was here to do my job, but if speaking with him made my job easier so be it. I looked back at the body of the young woman, when I looked back at the Guardian he was in his natural form. All pale skinned, platinum hair, and gray eyes, his white robe was spotless and highlighted against the drab room around us.

We stared at each other for a moment, he practically glowed in his white robe, while I glowered from beneath the hood of my onyx black cloak.

“What can you tell me about her, anything to make her transition easier?” I asked.

“She won’t go,” he stated flatly, “she was angry when he shot her, she will want to find out why.”

“Great.” I growled, glancing over at the body again, once she woke up she would have twenty-four hours before I would leave. Twenty-four short hours to find her answers, twenty-four excruciatingly long hours of me being towed around by a vengeful spirit. “You’re sure there isn’t anything I can say to get her to come with me?” I asked.

“She is estranged from her family, and has no connections on the other side. I’ve seen her type before, but if she’s as determined in death as she was in life, she won’t go with you until she has answers.” He replied.

“A ghost then?”

“We’ll see.”

“When do you leave?” I asked.

“When she does,” I felt my eyes widen.

“And if she doesn’t?”

“Then I will watched her until she is no more.” He stated, his young voice taking on a flat matter-of-fact tone.

“That could be ages.” He nodded, his gray eyes on the living room window. He did not want to be stuck here any more than I did, and at least I could leave after a day, he would be stuck until her ghost faded. If she stayed she wouldn’t be my first ghost but he would be the first Guardian that I had watched be trapped, the others had not been worthy of Guardians.

“I will make sure she goes.”

“Your job is to see them safely to the waystation, not to worry about a Guardian.”

“I might be a Reaper but that doesn’t mean I’m heartless.” I said. “Reapers, Guardians, Gatekeepers, we are all the same in the end, just with different jobs.”

“You mean souls that decided the afterlife was to boring and wanted a day job?” He asked, I felt the corners of my mouth curl, it was hard not to smile. It sounded crass but it was true, the afterlife was boring.

We both jumped as the sound of heavy sobbing echoed through the small apartment. She was up.

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