The Reaper in the Room
rating: +6+x

The family dinner at the Wilks' house was somewhat different than what Ms. Wilks had planned.
Their two daughters, one age five, the other six, were occupied with the visitor her husband had brought home. The girls were very interested in the stories he was telling them, most of them inappropriate for the dinner table. Her husband had been merely shoving peas and potatoes into his mouth without acknowledging any wrongdoing on his part.

Ms. Wilks had known about her husband's work before she married him. She had even tried to work at the same company as him, but with their first daughter on the way, she had quit to become a full-time mother. She had once planned to go back, but she never found it in her to leave the kids alone. She had tried to keep the job out of the house as best as possible, but one time she was too late and a non-approved Christmas present had fallen into the two girls' hands, and now it had become increasingly difficult to explain what their father was doing when he left the house.

She had never forbidden him to bring his work home. She was afraid of losing him, for possibly months, to one of his projects. She knew that his line of work was very time-intensive. When she had worked with him, he always had remarked that the two of them were most likely the only people in the entire organization with a healthy lifestyle. She remembered one man who practically lived in his office, with his desk serving as his only sleeping place.

She eyed the visitor once more. No, not a doubt. This time he had crossed the line. Not in her house, not in front of the children and most certainly not overnight. The man in black robes was only a skeleton who carried around a scythe. Her husband had ordered Death incarnate into the house.

"So, Mr…?" "Call him Dave." Mr. Wilks had spoken the mouth full with meat. "I know, Honey, he might look bad, but it is almost as embarrassing for him as it is for us."

"I can assure you, Miss, I don't like to look like this either. I have to thank you for your hospitality. Most people would just run away arms flailing." The skeleton waved its arms in the air much to the joy of the girls. Dave's voice sounded like someone had tried to talk with a mouth full of sand. "With the help of your husband, I hope to look somewhat normal by sunrise."

"This is one of the most nasty cases of Reaper Syndrome I have ever seen. He was not born with it, so my guess is he was cursed." Mr. Wilks was waving around his fork while he talked, as always when he was excited. "If I can find out how to break this curse, I might be able to reverse-engineer it."

She really needed to reconsider her bring-work-to-the-home rules. It seemed to her that her husband needed a refresher. She just hoped her kids would never be in need of a psychiatrist. "Our daddy brought Death home for dinner once" would definitely do more than raise a few eyebrows.

Mr. Wilks was apparently finished with his dinner, as he put his fork down rather abruptly. She looked back at her husband, who over the course of the dinner had aged by almost 40 years, and his hands looked almost as skeletal as the ones of his guest. "I just hope I can figure this out before it spreads." Mr. Wilks laughed, his voice sounding like he had swallowed a lot of sand recently.

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