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  • Jordan Keller

Reaper College / Crossroads Convenience #2

Updated: Apr 1

A haunted gas station with the books tile in red letters

Like the nine Tuesdays before, the door chimed open at 10:13 and a black-robed figure tumbled inside Crossroads Convenience. His chaotic energy filled the store with thick and murky air. Mable’s heart palpitated in tandem with his. She knew he overslept again just by the way he whizzed up and down the aisles, arming himself with his self-prescribed medicines.

Mable was never sure if the deep bags beneath his eyes were because of his poor sleep habits or his career choice, but she knew she didn’t want anything to do with the Reaper College he attended. Community college had its downsides for sure, but the course load never left Mable looking as skeletal as it did him.

The reaper-in-training set four cans of energy drinks atop the counter and rounded back down an aisle for a handful of overly sweet peach rings. The amount of caffeine and sugar on the counter would be enough to jumpstart an elephant’s heart.

“It’s midterms,” he explained the pile. “I’m so behind.”

“What kind of midterms do Reapers take?” Mable scanned the items. “It’s not a killing spree, is it?”

He chuckled. “A reaper can’t collect a soul until senior year.”

That was reassuring. Mable had at least two years before this kid would be swinging a scythe in her store. Maybe more if his study habits were like his sleeping ones. “So, tests and presentations?”

“You make it sound so easy.” He opened one can and downed half of it before Mable could total the amount. “I also need to write three essays before Friday.”

“Let me guess, you haven’t started any of them?”

“You know me that well?”

“You’re one of my regulars.”

“Would you help this regular with his midterm?”

Mable’s eyes widen. “I don’t know anything about being a Grim Reaper.”

“That’s okay,” he said. “I actually need a human’s perspective on death for one of the essays.”

Mable’s hand fluttered toward the salt she kept under the counter, then stopped herself. She doubted it would work on a reaper anyway, plus the kid looked harmless enough. “What kind of perspective?”

“What do you think a Grim Reaper looks like, and why? Just a few questions. It’s pretty easy.”

The most common image flashed in Mable’s mind. Hooded cloak, skeleton face, sharp scythe. Nothing like the college student in front of her whose shirt was halfway untucked from his trousers. Until she took the job and first noticed his school uniform, Mable didn't realize there was an actual Grim Reaper, let alone multiple. She had a couple of questions for him, too.

“Okay,” she agreed. “I’ll be your human perspective, but I want to ask you some questions after.”

"Deal." He grinned, then finished his energy drink and lobbed it into the trashcan near the door. It made a perfect basket.

“Impressive,” a new voice said. She also wore the Reaper College robe, but the emblem on the breast pocket sparkled compared to the dingy one Mable’s regular wore. “Can you channel that into our project?”

Her tone shifted from casual compliment to sneering insult.

The reaper at the counter dropped his shoulders.

“Midterm partner?” Mable asked and then told him the total owed.

“Yeah.” He handed Mable a wad of cash.

Mable counted out what was owed, avoiding the dead spider smashed between two singles, and handed him his changed and bagged goods. “Good luck.”

“Thanks, I’m going to need it. I’ll come by tomorrow for our interview?”

“See you then.”

He offered a tired smile and then headed to the exit where his friend waited impatiently with her toe-tapping.

Mable’s employee guidebook didn’t have a section about helping customers with homework, but she couldn’t stop the excitement running in her mind about learning more about the other side. She scratched down a few questions on the back of an old receipt as Crossroads Convenience waited for its next customer.

A superhero enemies to lovers romance with fire controlling characters.

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1 Comment

Elaine LaBonte
Elaine LaBonte
Oct 20, 2023


I like this even better than wildfire and burnout. but, I don't want to wait for more. If you can, please continue or finish this story soon.

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Elaine LaBonte

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