Forever Young

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  • Published: 22 Dec 2015
  • Updated: 27 Jul 2016
  • Status: Complete
Darla is most definitely not a human.

She's one of the Ashki, an immortal race who have lived alongside humans from the very beginning. But friendships don't survive that long, and her contacts with her fellow Ashkine people are practically non existent, humans just tiny little pieces in the jigsaw of time. And an old enemy is back, proposing changes to the way their society has run and developed, and destroying the Ashki in the process.

Now Darla must gather her friends together to save themselves and their souls. But after so many millennia, is time finally running out for the Ashki?


12. The Call

The waiting area for death had really evolved since the eighties. The boring red plastic chairs had been replaced with black leather couches, and the old bright lamps were now chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The mahogany floor was so polished I could almost see my own reflection in it, and Janette, Deaath's secretary, was sitting behind a black marble counter, her blonde hair tied up into an ashy ponytail. The lot of us lounged on the sofas, after giving Janette our numbers, waiting for Death to call us into her office.


There was a general hum around the room, the white walls seeming to hide the darkness of Death's words. I tapped my fingers on the edge of the couch, the polish chipped to almost nothing. I'd have to fix that when we got back to Earth. It was an odd thought, but I couldn't trick myself into believing that it would be easier this time. For every minute spent up here, a day passed back on Earth, and it could take months for the three of us to get back and get stabilised again.


Of course, we had all been told the first time that our deaths were our own responsibilities, but I couldn't help but feel bitter about the fact that our mistress hadn't ever made an effort to help any of us. Sure, she'd stayed with us for a while when we were young, she'd told us we'd have to keep up with the humans, make them think that we followed their beliefs, pretend that we were the same as them all. Sure, she'd taught us that we shouldn't try to hurt them, that we should respect their laws and not ask her to try and help us when we messed up, and that we'd only be allowed to mess up like that a few times, and that if she wasn't happy we'd have to answer to her.



It didn't mean she cared.


Lara's knees were tucked up under her chin, and Adrien stared at her, trying to occupy himself with the tangles in her hair. "How many times have you been up here?" I asked the two of them, breaking Lara out of her box.


Adrien shrugged. "I don't know. About five or six - there was that time in the first war, and there was the second, so that's two. Then in the seventies, I can't quite remember what happened then, then the eighties twice, and just before the new millennium. So, yeah, six." He looked quite surprised at himself. "That's a bit scary, isn't it, that this is my seventh time being dead?"


"Just a bit," Lara laughed, in a voice that I couldn't tell was bitter or boastful. "This is my fourth. Seventeenth century, as you should remember" she shot Adrien a pointed look "and the nineteenth, which was totally not my fault, and the early twentieth. So either I didn't become physically as strong as you guys for a while, or you're just getting too old for all this now. You might start losing your memories, so please remember that my name is Lara, and that I usually think Adrien is an idiot, and Darla can't eat a curry to save her life."


"Hey!" Adrien protested. I would have joined him, except she was telling the truth about both of us. "I may be an idiot, but I am a proud idiot."


"That's exactly what makes you an idiot," I laughed. "But don't worry, you're still a kick ass slay queen."


He tried to flip his hair, which was actually nearly long enough for him to do so, but he failed dramatically and instead thwacked a wall, cursing. "I am though, aren't I?"


"Yes, you are. And Darla seems to be trying to change the subject."


I frowned. "What do y ou mean?


"How many times have you died?"


"Oh right. Four times before this - Dorothy Parker, which was when I decided to leave America once I got back, then in the forties, fifties, and the eighties. Dorothy was crazy, by the way, I wish you two could have met her, it would have been the funniest thing I'd ever seen." I snorted, much to Lara's amusement.


What came next was a complete and utter chaotic argument between the three of us over who had the stupidest death - Adrien's came first, when he blinded himself for a bet he'd ,made while drunk with Kaden, then stumbled around outside on a road, been run over near a beach, ran away then getting very confused and drowning, which seemed like something I really would have loved to witness, if it weren't for the fact that I've seen Adrien on hardly anything and nearly breaking his neck from tripping over a table.


By the end of all our tales, including the infamous diamond stiletto of my past, and Lara's burning - which she is still pissed off at Adrien about for not coming back and proving that she was totally a normal human being - Lara had dissolved into tears, and Adrien and I were too disabled with laughter that we barely even realised Janette had called us until she threw her pen at my head.


"Death is waiting for you," she said in a clipped tone, her pink heels clearly far too high as she wobbled unsteadily. "She will not appreciate it if you are late, and I suggest that you apologise for the delay, if you don't want to go straight to the Underside."


A smirk threatened to claw over my lips. "We're ever so sorry, miss." I smiled. "We'll go in right away."


Janette huffed and wobbled back over to behind her desk, glaring at us through half hidden eyes. The door to Death's office opened automatically, and when we stepped inside they closed straight away, like it was caging us into the small, slightly cramped room.


"So sorry for the delay, Ma'am," Adrien apologised as we took our seats. "You know it's not really our style, we just got a little bit caught up in all of us dying together this time. Hope you aren't inconvenienced."


Death waved her hand with a smile. "Not at all, it's only Janette who sees issues with these kinds of things, there's no reason to worry. Unless you want t be stabbed with a shoe again." She winked at me. "Now, down to business. I know your names - three of the Ashki, Adrien, Darla, and Lara - but ages? In the mortal sense, I don't like having to write large numbers, it hurts my hand."


"Twenty-two," I answered. "I changed my age back a few years ago, the mortals were being so annoying with all their talk of 'growing up'. Had to get out of there."


Death laughed, and turned to Lara, who answered, "Twenty-five. Unlike Darla, I am not overdramatic, and just changed because I bloody wanted to, instead of because the mortals were 'being so annoying' which they do on a daily basis anyway."


Adrien rolled his eyes. "Twenty-three. That's all."


"Okay." Death's eyes scoured us, as she flicked her hair back behind her shoulder. "Now, it says that the cause of all ypur deaths was exhaustion. You know that you are all responsible for your own health and energy levels, and that these are the most dangerous causes for possible deaths. May I ask why you are all so lacking in energy at this point?"


"We had a fight with another immortal," Adrien told her, sounding too ashamed for my liking. "We went home, then to London, and then we tried to go to Alaska and sort of... died. Sounds quite stupid, actually."


"All deaths are stupid,"


"Yeah, pretty much."


I rolled my eyes, crossing my legs over underneath the table. "I did all the fighting, by the way. They two ran off in the middle of it, because they're dickheads who don't understand the rules of friendship and teamwork."


"If you can't tell," Lara laughed, "she's in a bit of a pissy mood."


Death didn't respond immediately, but instead stood up, crossing over to what looked like a window and scraped back the fluttering red curtains. "Come over here, you three." We obliged with shrugs, and looked out the window. A jarring landscape sat before us, an ugly skyline of pointed mountains and high buildings, the sun glaring into our eyes. "This is Earth now, yes?" she asked, to which we nodded. "It has changed so quickly over the last few centuries, it scares me, just as I suspect it scares you all too. But yet I would give anything to walk among these people again, to be seen as something beautiful, instead of an ugly twisted face and a body shrouded in darkness and a stupid scythe like I'm a farmer instead of a businesswoman. Would you not agree with me?"



"Of course," Lara replied. "But I don't quite see why that matters when we're all supposed to be going back to Earth anyway soon."


"I exist in many forms," Death mused. "I can be anywhere, at any time, but I can never be seen on Earth, only by those who are a part of me, those who are already dead, and they have such little happiness left in their bodies, it scares me. I've done this to all of them, but I've never been able to take your kind forever, I barely get to spend any happy times with anyone with even a scrap of hope left in them. I was so lonely for so many years, but the rules confine me to this duty, and even though I hate it I am forced to do as I am told and I hate it, every single second of it. My brother can talk to anyone, of course, everybody loves Life, they think he's perfect and he's never going to hurt anybody, turning a blind eye to all the wars and the murders and the shootings and the disasters, they don't understand that he gives everything to me that I don't want." She turned to us, a flicker of a fire sparking in her eye. "Don't you hate it, too?"


"Um, yes," I answered, feeling rather bewildered. "It's awful, absolutely awful, but you know, we need to go back to Life soon, and if you want we can shove a stick up his arse or something, but we would appreciate it if you let us go now. It's just, we've got some things that we need to do, and - "


"No!" Death roars. "I'm not going to let you three go, I need you three! You have hope, you're not truly dead yet, stay with me!"


"We really can't," Adrien gasped, backing away slowly. "So, if you don't mind, this'll all be over in a couple of seconds, and you can go back to just having the rest of the immortals that Keda killed, how about that, that sounds like fun, doesn't it, see? You can just let us go now, it's not like you actually need us, right?"


Death sat down. "Yes," she sighed. "I suppose I can't keep you just now. But the next time that I see any of you, you will not be allowed to leave me ever again. You all have on e life left, I don't care what your mistress says. She can come and speak with me if she cares about you."


I wanted to protest - I think w e all did - but one look at her eyes told me it wouldn't do me any good. "Of course," I said, shaking a little bit. "But, just one question, why do you need us when you have all the other Ashki here, too? They're just the same as us."


A flicker of a shadow crossed over Death's face, and a cold smirk clawed at her face. "What other Ashki?"

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