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Rated: E · Book · Children's · #1922493
A young boy writes himself an epic adventure...which starts to come true!
#776666 added October 1, 2017 at 4:57am
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Chapter Eight - The Grim Reaper
Heading for Chapter 8 of Grand & Epic Adventures

'I'm really not sure about this, Jayden,' said Caitlin worriedly. 'The Grim Reaper sounds scary.' She turned wide blue eyes on her brother sitting at the head of the bed.
'You can always stay here and I'll go by myself,' suggested Jayden as he tapped the pencil he was holding against his knee in a steady rhythm.
Caitlin shook her head quickly. 'No, we said we'd do all the rest of the adventures together. But you have to promise me that if it's scary you'll write us back home again.'
Jayden sighed but nodded his head in reluctant agreement.
'No, promise!' demanded Caitlin. 'Say it. I promise we'll leave if you get too scared.'
Jayden rolled his eyes but did as requested. 'I promise we'll leave if you get too scared.'
Caitlin took in a deep breath, then released it slowly. 'Okay,' she said finally. 'Let's go.'

The pencil kept tapping at Jayden's knee as he thought. How should he word the sentence in the book? Did he write Death or Grim Reaper? Was there a way to make sure that he was friendly? The pencil rose to tap against Jayden's lips. Hmmm...
'What are you waiting for?' asked Caitlin curiously. She sat with her back against the bedroom wall, her legs crossed in front of her.
'I just want to make sure that I write the right thing,' Jayden replied. 'Okay, well, here goes.' He raised his knees and rested the open journal on them and started to write.

Jayden and Caitlin were relaxing in a quiet, peaceful area when Death stopped by for a break from his duties. Suddenly the world went dark.
'Jayden!' cried Caitlin frantically. 'Why is it so dark?'
'I don't know,' he answered nervously. 'Do you think that maybe it's just night?'
Caitlin whimpered. 'Do something, Jayden!'
Jayden fumbled with the journal and his pencil. It was too dark to see to write, but he knew he still had it open to the page he'd been on before. 'I'll try to write something, just give me a minute.'
He felt her hand grasp his t-shirt and hold on tightly. What should he write? Was there a reason it was dark? He didn't want to make it daytime if there was a reason Death preferred it to be night. Did it need to be daytime or did they just need to be able to see? He supposed that if they could see it would be alright. Fine, that's what he would write then.
His writing was probably all over the place and very messy, since he couldn't see the page at all, but he didn't worry about it. He wrote as best he could. Jayden and Caitlin could see, just as if it was not dark. Just as suddenly as it had gone dark, he could see the page again with his words scribbled across them. He winced at the messy writing, then looked to Caitlin.
'Are you okay?' he asked her. She looked pretty frightened.
'Yeah,' she said, breathing in deeply. 'I'm okay now that I can see. Where is the Grim Reaper? Should he be here? What did you write?'
As Jayden answered her, he looked around at their surroundings. There were red poppies growing everywhere. At least, Jayden thought they were poppies. They looked like the poppies that people wore on ANZAC Day to remember the soldiers. It looked quite pretty with so many of them, like a living flowery carpet. As his eyes continued to search, he saw a sort of cave ahead of them.
Caitlin smiled at all the pretty red flowers that danced around their ankles, then looked up to the sky. She was confused to see stars twinkling up there. Wasn't it daytime now? She dropped her gaze back down and was just about to pose that question to Jayden when suddenly she saw two boys come out of a cave. Well, they certainly weren't the Grim Reaper.
'Who are they?' she asked Jayden.
Jayden shook his head. He had no idea. Just then, the boys looked up. Even from a distance it was clear that they were twins ' they looked identical. One had a short sword hanging from a belt at his waist, and another wooden object that Jayden couldn't identify. Both had curly brown hair and looked to be of a similar age to himself. Jayden thought back over what he'd written. 'Death stopped by for a break from his duties.' Nothing about boys or twins. Who could they be? Uh oh. A horrible thought occurred to Jayden. Maybe one of them was going to die? How awful!

Not sure what else to do, Jayden called out a greeting. 'Hello!'
The boys smiled at him. 'Kali╠▒sp'ra,' said the one on the right who had the sword on his belt.
Jayden smiled uncertainly. 'Um, I'm sorry. I don't know what language that is.'
'It is Greek, but do not worry, we can speak English.'
Before Jayden could say anything, Caitlin interjected. 'Who are you?' she asked curiously. 'We weren't expecting to see any boys here.'
'We were not expecting to see anyone either,' replied the boy. 'And since you are here at our home, perhaps you would like to introduce yourselves first?' A friendly smile remained on his face and Caitlin felt herself smile in response.
'Oh, well, I'm Caitlin and this is my brother Jayden.'
'Nice to meet you,' Jayden said.
'It is nice to meet you too,' replied the boy on the right. 'My name is Thanatos and this is my brother Hypnos.' Thanatos looked curiously at Jayden and Caitlin. 'It is very rare for us to get visitors. Have you come for a special reason? Is there something that one of us can help you with?'
Jayden and Caitlin looked to each other. Jayden wasn't sure they should mention the Grim Reaper, but he had definitely written that Death would stop by, so he supposed they deserved a warning if they lived here. It would be pretty scary to have Death just show up on your doorstep!

'We, ah, we have come to see someone. Death. We came to see Death,' Jayden explained haltingly. How did he expect these two Greek boys to understand that they wanted to meet Death? It sounded weird even to himself.
Jayden was surprised when Thanatos laughed and the other boy smiled. What was funny? Maybe they really didn't understand.
'Um, what's funny?' he asked.
Thanatos was still chuckling as he replied. 'I am sorry, Jayden. It is rude of me to laugh. Thanatos is a Greek name. It means Death.'
Jayden's mouth dropped open. 'You're Death?' he questioned disbelievingly. 'But....'
'But you did not expect Death to look like a boy?' queried Thanatos.
Jayden blushed. He went to answer, then settled for shaking his head.
'What does your brother's name mean then?' asked Caitlin, ever curious.
'Hypnos means sleep in English,' replied the other boy.
'Sleep? I didn't know that Sleep and Death were brothers. Or that they were Greek. Or that they were boys!' Jayden laughed. 'This is a lot different to what I was expecting!'
The two boys smiled, then Hypnos suggested they sit down and talk.

'What were you expecting?' asked one of the boys. Jayden looked to see if he had a sword on his belt, which he did, so he must be Thanatos. 'How were you even able to find us?'
Jayden explained about the journal. 'I expected you to be big and wear a black cloak and have just a skeleton for a body,' he laughed.
Thanatos smiled. 'People who have not seen us make up all sorts of strange stories about us. And the truth is, I could appear to you that way if I wanted. But this is the appearance that I am most comfortable with.'
'I didn't even know that Sleep was a person,' admitted Jayden, looking apologetically at Hypnos.
'Well, maybe you have not heard of Sleep or Hypnos, but maybe you have heard of the Sandman?' asked Hypnos.
'Oh!' Caitlin looked startled. 'I've heard of the Sandman. He puts people to sleep.'
'Exactly,' smiled Hypnos.
'So, do you visit everyone, every night, and put them to sleep?' Caitlin asked.
'No. Most people fall asleep naturally on their own. I only visit people if I need to. Usually I help Thanatos,' he said, gesturing to his twin. 'Sometimes I am needed when people are hurt or sick and they need to sleep for longer than normal or...' He shrugged. 'There are a few reasons.'
'So you mean like when someone goes into a coma, that's you helping them to sleep?' asked Jayden.
'Yes,' nodded Hypnos.

The four of them sat for a little while among the poppies, then Jayden thought of another question to ask. 'How do you choose whose turn it is to die?' he asked Thanatos. 'And why do you sometimes kill children or make people suffer horrible deaths?'
Thanatos frowned and looked sad. 'I do not decide any of it. And I do not kill anyone. I do not have that kind of power. I just visit people whose time has come, and I see them safely to their next destination.'
'Do you mean Hell or Heaven?' asked Caitlin fearfully, her eyes wide.
Thanatos smiled gently at her. 'Different people have different names for the places they go after they die. Just like you said Death but I say Thanatos. The Christians say Heaven but the Vikings say Valhalla. The name doesn't change what it is. Of course, the details might have been muddled up, but the basic idea is the same. You must remember though that almost no one on Earth has ever been there and so it is hard for them to have an idea of the truth. Mostly they are just guessing what they think it will be like. All I can say is that you should not worry about it. When the time comes, I will come and visit you, and we will go together. It is not something to be afraid of.'
Caitlin nodded. That didn't sound so awful. 'Not yet though,' she said, looking at him for confirmation. 'We're not going to die yet, are we?'
Thanatos smiled and shook his head. 'No, not yet.'

'So what happens when someone die?' Jayden asked. 'Do they just magically go from one world to the next? That doesn't seem like something they'd need help with.' He raised his eyebrows and looked the question at Thanatos.

'No, no,' replied Thanatos. It's not instant. I'd be out of a job if it was!' he laughed. 'No, it's a real journey.'

'A journey? I don't quite understand,' replied Jayden.

Thanatos nodded and started to explain. 'Dead people can't live in the world of the living. They live in the world of the dead. To get there, they have to cross The Acheron.'

'The Acheron?' asked Caitlin. 'What's that?'

'A river,' supplied Hypnos. 'You can't swim it, and there's no bridge.'

'Then how do you cross it?' Caitlin asked.

'Doesn't Charon take you across the river?' Jayden questioned.

'Yeah,' smiled Hypnos.

'Karen? Who is she?' Caitlin glared at the boys when they all burst out laughing.

'Not Karen,' Jayden corrected. 'Charon. He's the ferryman.'

'And our brother,' Thanatos added.

'Oh!' Jayden exclaimed. 'I didn't know that.'

'Yeah, there's a few of us,' laughed Hypnos. 'Do you have any other brothers or sisters?'

'No, just us,' Jayden replied.

'Do you want to meet Charon?' Hypnos asked. 'We could take you, if you want.'

Jayden looked at Caitlin, and when she shrugged, he grinned. 'That would be great! I'd love to meet Charon!'

As they walked, Caitlin gathered a small bouquet of poppies, and the boys talked. Jayden was asking all sorts of questions about the world of the dead, the journey Thanatos escorted people on, and other mythical beings the boys knew.

When the river came into view, they got their first glance at Charon and his boat. The boat was big enough to fit about half a dozen people. Charon looked fairly ordinary, an older, bearded man wearing tattered clothes. He stood in the boat, leaning on a long pole that went down into the water. He didn't return the waves Thanatos and Hypnos sent in his directions, but he nodded to the group as they came closer.

'He's your older brother, huh?' Caitlin said, looking at Charon.

Jayden frowned at her. 'Caitie! That's a bit rude!'

'It's okay,' Hypnos said, laughing. 'You must remember that we appear this young because we prefer it. Charon looks that way because that's how he's comfortable.'

'So you can just look however you like?' asked Caitlin.

'Yeah,' Thanatos replied. As Jayden and Caitlin watched, he grew taller, and within second he was the Grim Reaper that Jayden had expected. There was nothing but a skeleton under a black, hooded robe, and he was even carrying a scythe.

'Cool,' breathed Jayden.

'I don't like it,' whimpered Caitlin, moving closer to Jayden.

Thanatos laughed, although it sounded different and extra creepy coming the skull underneath the hood. He quickly returned to his previous form, receiving a nervous smile from Caitlin.

Thanatos and Hypnos introduced Caitlin and Jayden to Charon, and they spoke for a few minutes. Charon offered to take them on a ride and introduce them to Cerberus, the multi-headed dog that guards the entrance to the world of the dead.

Caitlin tugged on Jayden's sleeve. 'Jayden, we're using up too many pages. And I don't think I want to meet a big dog with lots of heads.'

Jayden nodded, reluctantly. 'Yeah, okay.' He gave their apologies to the others, and after thanking them for their time and saying goodbye to everyone, he wrote them home again.

Caitlin and Jayden were safely back in Jayden's bedroom.

Caitlin hopped off the bed, and opened the bedroom door. 'That was kind of interesting, but a bit boring and a little scary. What are we doing tomorrow? The Loch Ness Monster?'

Jayden nodded, although he'd found the whole adventure really interesting and fascinating.

'Oh my god, Jayden,' Caitlin whispered with wide eyes. 'I get to go to Scotland!'

'It's a lot like New Zealand, really, just with a funny accent,' Jayden told her.

'I don't care. I get to go to Scotland! Eeek!' And with that squeal of excitement, she skipped out the door.
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