Taking the plates and all the cookies with her, Trypette walked quietly into the hall. Three doors down, a solemn line of three nurses filed quietly from a dark room, each carrying a single, freshly lit, votive candle on a copper holder, their eyes heavy with emotion. Pausing respectfully to watch them pass, the golden haired gnome matched her expression to their grievous ones and bowed her head. She remained in that position until the procession reached the far end of the hall and disappeared around the right side corner. Inhaling softly, she turned toward the dark room.
“They’re gone, you can come out now.” Her eyes followed the silent, shadowy Reaper as he slipped into the hall and stood beside her, staring at the plate of gingerbread men.
“He didn’t like them?”
“I don’t know, he never ate one.” She held the plate up for inspection. “The smiles are screwed up. They look like someone just ran over their pet.”
“Hmmm.” Reaching to pick one up, he took a bite. “They taste fine though.” He crunched sloppily through the rest of the cookie.
“I see you’re working on-call today.” Trypette nodded at the long, billowy cloak. “It’s probably for the best, Alba.”
“The Orbs seem to agree,” he said licking crumbs from his fingers. “I still hate it though.” He looked moodily at the room he had just exited. “Nobody wants to try anymore, they just want immediate relief.”
“The first human right is the right to die,” Trypette intoned. “We are not fit to judge.” Her round eyes seemed to glow with a look of blind devotion.
“I can judge all I want,” the Reaper countered, reaching for another cookie. “My eyes are the last one’s they look into.” He frowned as Trypette pulled the plate out of reach and glared at him.
“Why the Orbs ever thought it would be okay to let you try working a desk job here, I’ll never understand.” Sliding the empty plate from the bottom, she slapped it on the top and squeezed the sides, giving him a nasty smirk as the cookies between were crushed.
“That was petty.”
“I’m a healer, not an Angel.” She nodded at his cloak again. “And you’re a Reaper, not a discharge clerk. Do you have any idea how many Garden Gnomes would go on strike if they knew about the marigolds? It would become an absolute jungle out there!”
“Look,” Alba hissed. “You can stop raking me over the coals. The Orbs have already said it all.”
“I’m sure they have,” Trypette snorted. “But what they’re not telling you is how angry Sammy is.” Her nostrils flared as she talked, giving her the look of a Pug. “He’s confined against his will and thinks his friend is dead! And I can’t tell him one way or the other if it’s true.” Clearly surprised, the Reaper backed up a step and looked through the door at the snoring gnome.
“Tink’s not dead, he’s just misplaced.”
“Well un-misplace him!” Trypette snapped. “Why don’t you ask the Orbs where he is, or didn’t you think of that?”
“Why don’t you ask them yourself!” he snarled back. “They’re right here.”
Turning to face the dark, vacated room, Alba bowed to the three, translucent sphere’s that had just popped into view about the door. Trypette gaped at him.
“Why are you bowing?”
“Because— aren’t you supposed to?” Frozen at half-mast the elf stared at the gnome in confusion.
“Why would you bow to the Orbs?” She waved at him to straighten up. “That’s just stupid.”
“Um, last time they showed up Sammy said I had to or I would get tossed into the Indigo Beam.”
A deep, ringing gong sounded through the hall. Looking completely dumbstruck Alba watched as Trypette turned with absolute obedience and bowed to the Orbs.
* * * * *