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The Reaper

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Morgan-the-five-year-old was too young to understand when her father died. All she knew was that everyone was very sad. She had no idea that recordings were all she had left of the person she was closest to for the first five years of her life. She didn't understand that day why people she had never met were crowding on the dock out back, and why they were putting that funny metal thing that Mommy loved in the lake.

Morgan-the-eighteen-year-old understood very well that she would never see her father again after that day. She understood that the thing her mother had put in the lake was Dad’s first arc reactor, and it kept him alive for years. She knew that the people she didn’t know that day out back all knew her father, and also loved him very much.

Morgan-the-eighteen-year-old also understood where her father went. And why. And she understood that he loved her. Even though he didn’t come back. That didn’t mean she didn’t want to see him again. So she could really appreciate him, aware of what he sacrificed. She understood why he did it, she just missed him.

It wasn’t the only funeral she had ever been to, but it was the only one she really remembered. It had always felt a bit strange, remembering something that happened so long ago, but she had memories even before then.

It was always memories of her father, only her father--

Snap!

***

Morgan was falling. She was falling down a snow-covered cliff, bouncing against the irregularities in the rock, leaving behind bloodstains in the snow with every bump.

Morgan was falling. She was falling alongside a dark gray cliff, thankful that at least this time the way down wasn’t so unpleasant. She knew that it was the bottom that would hurt. She fell for a long time.

Morgan was falling. She wasn't expecting to fall, but she fell anyway. They had waited for her on the other side. And now she was falling. Again. Morgan wondered if there was a bottom to hit this time.

Morgan was pushed. She struggled. An orange-eyed Morgan pressed a metal bar into the neck of a brown-eyed Morgan.

Snap!

***

Snap!

Morgan’s father passed through the barrier between life and death, surrounded by people who had fought alongside him.

Dad! No, not there! She didn’t want to see him like that!

Morgan knew she had been home that day, watched over by Uncle Happy. She wished she had gotten to say goodbye to him then, but she was a little bit glad now that she hadn't. She had never wanted to remember her father like this, hurt and lifeless. He was always strong and healthy in her memories.

Snap!

***

Morgan stood in a landscape colored orange. It was mostly empty. Just a few rocks. The landscape itself was interesting, covered in mountains and ravines. Morgans took a step further away from the chasm closest to her. She shivered, but out of fear. Not cold. There was no temperature in this barren, extraterrestrial landscape.

A staircase appeared in front of her. Smooth and white, not orange; and perfectly proportioned, other than the fact that they were floating and had no supports. It vanished into the orange sky.

She felt an urge to climb them. Morgan took the first step up the stairs. Then another one. And another one. She could hear something calling her name behind her, but didn’t look back. She needed to climb those stairs. More than she had ever needed to do anything in her whole life.

She climbed, and she climbed, and she climbed; resolutely keeping her eyes straight ahead, to avoid looking over the sides. Morgan climbed into the sky, leaving behind whatever it was she was leaving behind. She could feel her chest begin to ache, right in the middle. The pain grew until it felt as though someone had taken a scoop of flesh out of her chest. Aside from that, she felt empty on the inside.

Morgan continued to climb, until she could no longer bear the pain. She stopped for a moment, pressing her hands to the epicenter of the hurt, trying to stop it from radiating out into the rest of her body. There was nothing missing. It was as solid and as generally chest-like as ever.

She grew lightheaded as the pain increased even more. Suddenly, with a loud snap, the stairs disappeared from under her.

Morgan was falling. And she fell, and fell, and fell.

***

A girl laid at the edge of a snowy clearing, the ground around her curiously stained brown. Her clothes were also stained brown, which was a fair indicator that all the brown was really just old, dried blood. It didn’t seem to have come from any place, because the girl didn’t have a single wound deep enough to bleed on her. The uninformed onlooker might even assume that she had traded clothes with a corpse and laid down in the spot someone else had bled out in.

There were no onlookers though. Not yet.

The moon had just begun to rise, and cast strange shadows over the small, empty piece of land. They stretched over the girl, making her face look almost monstrous. As the moon continued to rise, the girl’s face was cast in light, illuminating the last vestiges of a massive scar on her forehead, as it disappeared completely.

She almost looked like she was sleeping, if not for the slightly uncomfortable-looking sprawl her limbs were engaged in.

Suddenly a snap ran out in the darkness. It almost sounded like a branch breaking.

A second snap rang out. The girl opened her eyes. Glowing orange eyes. There seemed to be nothing behind them though, as her gaze didn’t move from the black nothingness of space above.

The world was silent for a long moment, seemingly waiting for the girl to do something. And something she did. Her eyes continued to stare blankly towards the sky, but she began to get up, all the while focused on above.

She stood, back straight and feet planted firmly on the ground. Her head was tilted up to the sky, as she continued to stare.

Her eyes finally moved, still staring blankly, but seemed to search for something in the dark expanse.

A star flared orange for a moment, the girl’s eyes locking on it. As it went out, her eyes faded from orange to brown slowly. When the orange was completely gone, for a moment, her entire body seemed luminous, before it too faded out.

She fell like a puppet with its strings cut, if a puppet falls delicately on its back.

This time, she laid on the snowy ground in a position that looked fully like she was sleeping. Her eyes were shut tight, and her limbs were arranged perfectly parallel to her body.

The ravine was silent, and the moon was full and high in the sky. There was not a single cloud blocking the stars, and there was no wind at all. Everything felt extremely still. It felt as though the world was holding its breath. Waiting for something.