Skip to content

Tag: Roxie

Chapter 40 – So That’s It, Then

“She’s Death,” Charlie said coldly. “I’m so sorry. I can’t fight her, not again.”


She moved, almost too fast for me to see. A blur of motion, and then…

Nothing changed. Charlie stepped back, her face set in grim stoicism. Except I couldn’t feel anything. No more wind, no more cold. There was no sound.

I looked down at my feet, and saw myself. Dead. Charlie had made it quick, at least. Painless.

“You can go,” the blue-haired girl said. Charlie nodded, almost as if she could hear. She leapt off the roof.

The blue-haired girl approached me, a gentle smile on her face. She reached out towards nothing, and then she was holding a scythe.

“Hello, Veronica.”

“You look ridiculous,” I blurted out. She looked surprised, then laughed.

“The scythe is a bit much, isn’t it?” she said. “I wanted to look the part, but I think it just ends up being silly.”

“You’re really Death?” I asked, feeling like it was the stupidest question in the world.

I’d never really thought much about death. I didn’t believe in any God, or the idea of having a soul. I didn’t believe in an afterlife. I figured, when you’re dead, you’re dead. That’s the end. That’s what makes like so precious.

Apparently, I was wrong.

“Kind of,” she said. “I’m a Reaper. Not the only one. We collect souls, mostly.”

“For what?”

“To take you to Hell,” she said.

So that’s it? Just like that, I’m going to Hell? Some asshole decides I’m important, a psychopathic teenager with superpowers decides I need to die, and that’s that.

“Why?” I asked. “Is it the not believing thing? Did I break any rules? I mean, I wasn’t that bad of a person, was I?”

She smiled indulgently.

“Ah. I get this a lot. Look, it doesn’t work the way you think it does. The quick version is this: there’s no Heaven, Hell isn’t a punishment, everyone goes there.”

“So that’s it, then,” I said, staring at her in disbelief.

“Pretty much,” she replied with a shrug. “Look, it’s not as bad as you think. You just need a little perspective.”

Perspective? I wanted to wrestle that stupid scythe from her and beat her over the head with it. Instead, I took a deep breath.

“Then by all means, enlighten me. Can I still save my best friend?”

“Your best friend doesn’t need you to save her,” she said, dodging the question.

“So, no, then.”

“No,” she conceded. “Your time in this world is over. Time to move on.”

Time to move on? That was the line that was going to take me out of my mortal life, and into whatever comes next?

“And if I’m not ready?”

“I’m sorry,” she said, almost sounding sincere. “This is just how it goes.”

Just how it goes? I’m supposed to accept that?


No, fuck you.

Behind her, a young girl materialised. Deep purple eyes, long lilac hair, the sort of insufferable grin that only ever looks normal on a child’s face. Clothing that could have been from a sci-fi show with a moderate budget.

“Not necessarily,” the girl interjected.

“What?” the Reaper said, turning around. She tensed up immediately when she saw the child. “Oh, no. Not you.”

“Always a pleasure, Roxie,” the child said, unfazed. I decided not to comment on the fact that Roxie was a disappointingly common name for a Reaper.

“Friend of yours?” I asked, my eyes darting between the two of them. Blue hair, purple hair, it was like something out of an anime. Except for the part where I was literally dead.

Wait, no, there was probably an anime about that.

“Something like that,” Roxie muttered. “Meet the very definition of cheating death.”

“You’re being overdramatic,” the girl accused her.

“Can you blame me?” Roxie retorted.

“Somebody please explain what is going on here,” I begged, “because this is starting to get ridiculous.”

The two of them stopped to look at me, then at each other. Roxie rolled her eyes.

She can handle that, I think.”

“That’s probably for the best,” the child agreed.

“So explain, then,” I prompted.

The child smiled, sliding her hands into her pockets. The way she spoke, her body language, none of it seemed particularly childlike. After everything I’d seen, that didn’t surprise me in the slightest. She was probably the oldest of the lot.

“How about I put it this way instead,” she began. “Are you done with your life? Are you ready to leave it all behind? Are you satisfied with the impact you’ve made?”

What is this, a sales pitch?

“Of course not,” I said.

“That’s just the way things go,” Roxie interrupted, repeating herself.

“No, it isn’t,” the child said, calmly but assertively.

“Come on, don’t pretend you care about mortal lives,” Roxie snapped.

“I don’t,” the child agreed readily. “I care about the bigger picture. And I think she does too,” she added, gesturing towards me.

“She can’t even fathom the bigger picture,” Roxie argued.

“She will.”

“I’m still waiting for any of this to make sense,” I said sharply. The two of them could stand and bicker on their own time.

“Look,” the girl said, her expression suddenly very serious. “There’s a lot more going on than this pathetic little turf war.” She gestured around her.

“And there are already plenty of players on the board,” Roxie countered. “You don’t need more, Alice.”

What an appropriate name, I thought idly. Much better than Roxie.

“That’s not my name anymore,” the child said, bristling.

“It was when I came to collect your soul,” Roxie said, almost taunting the girl.

“Except you didn’t collect it.”

There was clearly a lot of tension between the two of them. A collector of souls and someone who apparently wasn’t all the way dead when they were supposed to be? Like it mattered. The only thing I was interested in was my own fate.

“Can we move this along?” I asked.

“Fine,” the girl said sharply. “I want to give you a chance to return to the world, and make a difference. In return, you need to make sure of a few things for me. Can you still do that?”

“Can I still save Sabrina?” I asked. It was the only thing I was capable of caring about. It was what had gotten me into this situation in the first place.

“Yes,” she replied.

“Then I’m in.”

“She’s lying,” Roxie said, and the girl glared at her.

“That’s enough out of you,” she said coldly. “You’re not needed here anymore.”

“No, I want to hear this,” I said. I was desperate, but I wasn’t stupid. If I was being tricked, I wanted to know.

“There’s not a damn thing you can do about your friend, Veronica,” Roxie said. “She’s beyond your influence. She’s beyond their influence.” She gestured towards the child.

“We don’t know that for sure, yet,” the girl replied, but didn’t deny it entirely.

“Explain,” I demanded.

“Veronica,” the girl began, “Sabrina isn’t… human, anymore. She’s…”

“This should be good,” Roxie muttered. The girl glared at her.

“Right now, she’s fighting a battle, with a power from another reality, and it’s going to consume her. There won’t be anything left of her.”

“No,” I said, my mouth moving before the thought had even formed in my head.

“No?” Roxie repeated, surprised.

“I’ll save her,” I said. “Somehow, I will save her.”

“Well, you can’t do that if you’re dead,” the girl said bluntly.

“Then I accept your offer, whatever conditions come with it.”

“You’ll regret this,” Roxie said.

“That’s fine,” I replied.

“You can leave us now, Roxie,” the girl said, her voice rich with condescension. “Veronica and I have a lot to talk about.”

Chapter 36 – I Can’t Fight Her

“So, what’re you still doing in the city, anyway?” Charlie asked, after making sure I swallowed her pill.

I debated whether it was worth telling her. Could I trust her? Probably not. Would it hurt? It was difficult to tell. I doubted she would care, and I couldn’t see how she’d use the information against me, but I wouldn’t put it past her.

On the other hand, she knew Sabrina. They’d been friends once, too. Kind of, anyway. Maybe she’d be sympathetic. Maybe she’d even help. She certainly had a better chance of helping than anyone else, since she actually knew who Sabrina was.

I decided it was worth the risk. Only barely, but Charlie had just saved my life. Probably. If I couldn’t trust her after that, well, I didn’t like what that said about me as a person.

“I’m looking for Sabrina,” I told her. “She’s… missing. Didn’t get evacuated with everyone else. Can’t help but feel like she’s gotten involved, somehow.”

“You’re sure she’s still alive?”

It was an honest question, not designed to discourage or hurt me. If anything, it felt almost hopeful. Was she looking for Sabrina too? Had she at least thought about her?

“Honestly? No, I’m not sure. But until I know for sure, I can’t give up.”

“I admire that,” Charlie said, smiling. “Seriously. I mean, you’re going about it in completely the wrong way, and look what’s happened to you. Still, you’re brave. Sabrina’s lucky to have your loyalty.”

The wrong way? What did she think was the right way? She was aware I didn’t have super strength or anything like that, right? What else could I possibly have been doing?

I’d spoken to five of the most powerful individuals in the city. I’d survived speaking to five people who could kill me as easily as crossing the street. I’d evaded gangs and gathered data about their movements, made predictions and calculations and assessments, and found my way to the heart of the city. What more could I possibly have done?

But I knew the answer to that. Plenty. I didn’t know what, but I was no closer to finding Sabrina than when I started. I could pat myself on the back all I wanted, but it didn’t change the facts. I had no idea what I was doing.

“I need help,” I mumbled, before I could stop myself.

“Well now, that is an interesting idea,” Charlie said. “Help you find Sabrina? Sure. I can do that. And why not? I’d love to see her safe and sound, and as far away from this city as she can get.”

Just like that? No, there was more to what she was saying. I waited for the other shoe to drop.

“On the other hand, it’s risky. I already have plenty occupying my attention, and if I let myself get distracted, people could get hurt. Is Sabrina really worth that?”

“Yes,” I said, immediately.

“Then let me make you a deal,” she said. “I know exactly where Sabrina is. I can tell you that she’s alive, even. And I do believe you can save her.”

“So what do you want from me?”

“Let me tell you what I think,” she said, not answering my question. “I think you’re important. I don’t know how, or why, but I have a feeling. I mean, you’ve come this far, survived this long, that’s gotta mean something, right? You keep finding yourself in the right place at the right time, or at least, the most dramatic place.”

She began to pace, walking to and fro in front of me.

“Do you believe in destiny, Veronica?”


Of all the things I’d expected her to ask, that certainly wasn’t one of them. Destiny? Her, of all people, asking me about destiny?

I had a horrible image of her, as the Vigilante, leading a vengeful crusade against the world, believing it to be her destiny. That was how dictators and supervillains began, right?

“No,” I said, almost choking on the word. “No, I don’t believe in destiny.”

She smiled, surprising me.

“Me either. Stupid notion, honestly. Depressing, too. My achievements are my own, and so are my failures. Anyway. That’s good. Next question, do you believe in coincidence?”

“Um, yes?”

“Guess you gotta fall on one side or the other,” she agreed, nodding. “Not me, though. I mean, I’m sure some things are coincidence, but not this. Not you.”

I didn’t know what to say, so I just stood there silently, waiting for her to continue.

“So, Veronica. If your being here isn’t because of destiny, and it isn’t because of chance, then what is it? What are we left with?”

I stayed silent.

“Come on, you’re smarter than this,” she said impatiently. “But alright. Fine. Someone’s behind this. All of this. Someone wants you for something.”

“Why?” I asked, without thinking. “Why me?”

“Who knows?” She smiled, but it was a grim, humourless smile. “Veronica. How much do you know about the Celestial?”

“Not much,” I confessed.

“Did you know he’s superhuman?”

“No, but it doesn’t surprise me,” I said.

“He can see the future,” Charlie said. “Or rather, he can see the futures. Possibilities, branches, chances and coincidence. He can see which insignificant elements can become world-changing.”

As a power, that seemed overwhelming, and more than a little terrifying. What could you do against a power like that? It could see everything coming, plan for every attack. No wonder the Stars seemed unbeatable.

But how could you use a power like that? How could a human mind process that much information? How far ahead could he see? To what degree of detail? What did it look like? Could he control it, focus on specific events or people?

“You think he’s using me?” I asked, my mouth suddenly dry. “You think he knows I’m going to be important, somehow?”

Charlie just nodded. I took a step back. The look on her face scared me.

Over her shoulder, I saw someone else appear. It was completely silent. One second there was nothing, the next, she was just there, leaning against the wall.

She looked kind young, maybe the same age as me, with electric blue hair, a long black trench coat, and skin as pale as a full moon. Most eerily, the wind didn’t seem to affect her at all. She was completely static.

You’re not who I was expecting, I thought to myself, without understanding why.

Charlie noticed me staring, and whirled around, guard up. The blue-haired girl didn’t move, didn’t react. Charlie stared at her, right through her, then turned back to me.

“What’re you looking at?” she demanded.

Should I say anything?

“There’s someone there,” I said softly.

“Describe them to me.”

No hesitation, no scepticism. She believes me completely. Why?

“Young woman, blue hair, black coat,” I said. “You can’t see her?”

Charlie’s expression went completely blank. She took a deep breath, not bothering to turn around and try to look again.

“Fuck,” she said, almost too quietly for me to hear. “I didn’t want to do that. I really, really didn’t.”

“Charlie, what’s going on?” I asked, still watching the blue-haired girl, who hadn’t moved at all. Was she smiling at me?

“The Celestial’s predictions get disrupted around people like me,” Charlie said. “And if he thinks you’re important, worth preserving, then…”

The pieces fell into place in my head. If the Celestial wanted me alive, then she wanted me dead. And if she wanted me dead, there was nothing I could do about that. I couldn’t run from her.

“And the girl?” I asked, failing utterly to hide my growing terror.

“She can explain it better than I can,” Charlie said. “I really am sorry. I didn’t think killing you was going to be necessary, but if she’s here, the choice has already been made. Fuck.”

Who is she?” I asked again, panicking. I was looking around for somewhere to run, even knowing it was pointless.

“She’s Death,” Charlie said coldly. “I’m so sorry. I can’t fight her, not again.”


She moved, almost too fast for me to see. A blur of motion, and then…