2014 Summer Solstice Open The James Patterson Bracket
Note: One author withdrew
The Avengers vs The Justice League of America
The story must be told from the point of view of Death, the Grim Reaper
A Traveling Chamber Pot Salesperson
Death’s bony palm up hand showed as he extended his arm. “Gentlemen, have a seat.”
Captain America and Superman each sat in a padded round-backed chair in front of a simple oak desk. Death hung his scythe in the lone empty slot on the rack on the wall and then sat in a similar chair behind the desk.
“I called you here because God’s cashing in another favor.” Death sighed and then pulled opened a drawer to retrieved two manila folders. He placed them side-by-side centered on the desk. “Remember when you first died, you came to me.” He’s said this literally a billion-plus times. “I’m the keeper of all souls –ones in heaven, ones in hell, and questionable ones adrift in purgatory until judgment handed down.”
“And so what is God’s favor?” Captain America asked.
“There were only two times I allowed a resurrection – Jesus and Lazarus. God’s asked it be done again.” Death released a long breath then he spoke as a matter-of-fact. “He wants one of you to rise from the dead because Earth is in great peril. Apparently the Red Skull and Lex Luthor are kicking the Avengers and Justice League’s collective tails. I’m surprised you’re the only two here so far.”
“If Earth needs us, why not resurrect both?” Superman asked. “And I’m still not certain how I’m here since I’m from another planet.”
“God’s reach is everywhere – even on Krypton, Kal. You just died so you haven’t met your people, or anyone really.”
Superman’s eyes widened and his back straightened. Death held up a hand. “You’ll meet your parents soon enough – provided you stay.”
Captain America raised a hand with a single finger extended. “It probably should be Superman. I died a while ago. A sinewy skeleton would be grotesque? No offense.”
“Offense taken, Cap. But it doesn’t matter. We can recreate your body.”
“Really?” Superman asked.
Death’s bones clinked as he rubbed his face. “Really.” This question has been asked 971,432 – now 433 – times. “Science fiction is wrong. We can make you as you were, but it’s painful.”
“How do you choose?” Superman asked as he and Captain America stood, apparently both ready for the challenge.
“Sit down!” Death commanded.
Death mumbled a complaint as he opened the folders. “I don’t know why God’s putting me through this. Millions are dying and He wants me to do this. Why don’t I just go sell chamber pots door-to-door, too?”
Death looked up from the folders and yelled toward the door. “Minion! Bring my glasses.” He turned to the dead superheroes. “We have a list. The one with the most checkmarks goes.”
Superman raised his hand. Death answered his question before he could ask. “And ties are broken by a coin flip.”
A Twinkie-looking creature waddled into the office. It placed a black case on the desk then left. Death opened the case and slid on his glasses. A bony finger glided along the top papers in each folder twice. Death slammed a bony fist. “Dammit! Minion, get my coinI”
The creature returned, this time placing a silver dollar on the desk. “Cap, you died first. Heads or tails?”
“I am a good person.” Grim told his image in the mirror. “I am a public servant.”
He hung his head. No matter how often he repeated the mantras, they still rang false. The truth was he hated his job. An avid observer of human nature (one never knew when one might witness a near death experience) he knew there were few things people hated more than being reminded of their own mortality.
Did they think he WANTED to walk around in a black stuffy robe and hat carrying a heavy sickle? Did anyone ever ask his opinion about it? No instead they cut straight to the “bargaining phase” on the road to acceptance offering him everything from their first born to their bank account.
He felt a tug on his robe and looked down to spot his one pitiful minion, Marty. Who ever heard of a minion named Marty?
“Yes you’re right Marty we must be going. Lots of people to warn today.” He was sure there would be a battle going on in New York City. The Justice League was making a cameo appearance at Time Square and he felt that would draw the attention of several notoriously bad characters who like to make a public spectacle of themselves.
But he needed a disguise…..”Marty!”
He felt the tug in his robe again and looked down. “Oh yes. I need a disguise. Look in the basement and see what you can come up with.”
Several minutes later, Marty called to him from the basement. He found the minion surrounded by what appeared to be bowls with NEW YORK CITY written on them in black sharpie marker, a green robe with a turban, and a wooden wagon.
He rolled his eyes. “That’s the best you could do?”
“Mee moo mii ma.”
“Budget cuts!” He exclaimed. “Fine. Just grab it and let’s go.”
They arrived just as The Justice League took the stage. They quickly set up shop and he left Marty in charge while he listened.
“We’re here to keep you safe,” Spider-Man said. The other members of the league nodded in the background. “It’s what we do.”
“Uh correct me if I’m wrong,” a voice rose from the crowd, “but you were bitten by a spider and now you shoot webs out of your hands. Doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.” The crowd parted as The Iron Man made his way through.
“Stark. Always nice to see you. I offer a unique public servi-“
Grim was pulled away by a voice at his side.
“Hey dude – you look like the Wizard from the Wizard of Oz. Is that a munchkin! Righteous! What are those? They look like chamber pots. How much are they?”
Grim absentmindedly pulled out his sickle and pointed it at the stoner.
“Cool! Can I touch it?” He reached out and touched the tip, screamed and fell to the ground dead. All eyes in Time Square looked at him.
He sighed. Apparently he was the bad character. He braced himself as the League and the Avengers fought their way through the crowd to meet Death.
Even Death Can Dream
Sadness. This is what I feel each and every day. My name alone sends chills up the spines of the people around me. How am I supposed to have any type of life? The answer is …that I can’t. So I am forced to live out my days and nights dreaming of what was and what could have been, and even some days I dream of things so far fetched that I think I should have been a writer. However, who wants the curse of being a writer!
My dreams are amazing. Rarely ever are they horror filled. Who would think that Death would dream of bunnies, and unicorns, birthday cake and hugs. Death is supposed to be scary right, dreaming of ripping the heads off of unsuspecting people. This has always been unsettling to me.
I am not going to lie, in the beginning, I enjoyed this “curse”. I took vengeance on all those who did me wrong. The years that I spent as a traveling chamber pot salesman were terrible years. I was treated like I was nothing more than a clump of crap on a shoe. Day in and day out, I would walk until my feet bled, peddling my pots to every person I could. I did this for years, and still each night I went to bed hungry, I watched as my children starved to death. One day I came home and my wife was gone. I couldn’t blame her, I would have left myself if that was an option. Needless to say, when the “curse” was given to me, it was sweet relief. I was blissful with rage and I took out my sweet revenge slowly so that I could enjoy it longer.
Taking the lives of people is no longer joyful, it is painful. I am no longer vengeful, I am comforting. I take the lives of those that are suffering, but I do it in a manner that is swift and kind. Don’t get me wrong. I can still be every bit of every type of nightmare you can imagine.
Still at the end of the day, I come home and I lay down and I realize just how lonely I am. No one sees ME. I see them, each and every one of them. I pass my days watching movies and *gasp* reality television. I think of ways that I could make myself seem less scary. I think that if I just had some of those cute little Twinkie guys (I think they are called Minions) maybe I would seem more friendly. I mean really, those things are adorable. I think it would go something like this “I am Death, don’t be afraid, look I have a pet Twinkie named Kevin, now lets hug”.
Well the sun is setting. My dreams are beckoning me. Some nights I can steer them where I want them to go. Tonight I think that I will be in an Avengers vs. Justice League of America movie. In a bar, washing down a few dozen beers, hitting on Wonder Woman, kicking Batman’s backside at a game of pool.