Death, Chaos and Destruction
I don’t come by night. Most people seem to think that I only show up once the sun is down, and towns are drenched in misty shadows and lurking creatures. This is nonsense. I‘ ve always preferred the late afternoon to the late night. It gives me time to take a leisurely stroll around the scene, before my work begins. My work happens at night, which is why people tend to assume that I too, come with nightfall. I don’t. I come, when the clock strikes four pm.
It really is a curious coincidence, that in some east Asian cultures, the number four is a sign of bad luck. They even have a word for it. Tetraphobia, the superstitious fear of anything to do with the number four. If fear is superstitious, than you lot can’t be superstitious enough. There used to be four of us afterall. And we are bad luck of the worst kind. In this case however, the appearance of the number four is truly, and merely, a coincidence.
I arrive at four a clock, because it suits my schedule. I can comfortably inspect the location, make some mental notes, and still have the time for a nice walk around town, before the night shift starts. You might be surprised to hear, that someone like me enjoys the occasional promenade. You would be even more surprised to learn, that you might have accompanied me on one of my walks. Unknowingly of course, and definitely not willingly. Though I’d like to think that, outside of working hours, I can be a rather pleasant company. Unfortunately all of my afternoons eventually come to an end, and I inevitably have to return to my duties. So if you’ve ever walked with me, you’ re probably not around anymore, to be surprised by it.
Rest assured though, I most definitely enjoyed your company. Humans are endlessly fascinating to me. Your kind are the most complex and twisted, yet surprisingly plain beings, I have ever encountered. I truly can’t get enough of you.
During my walks, I like to stop, to peer through a window, or an open door, or, when the weather is nice, over a garden fence. Those little glimpses of your lives never fail to entertain me. And no two scenes are ever quite the same. Although, I have seen my fair share of tea parties. Apparently four pm has universally been decided upon, to be the best time for drinking tea. I must admit, that due to their abundance, tea parties have lost a bit of their charm to me. I still do my best to enjoy them though. With a bit of practice, even the dullest of tea times can become an exquisite form of entertainment. You just need to look at them from the right angle and I am a master at finding angles.
Just a week ago, I was watching four crinkly old ladies, who were having cake and tea in a delightfully proper little garden. To anyone else, they would have seemed mind numbingly boring, and truly they were not very interesting. None of them had lived an extraordinary life, or gathered more wisdom, than you would find in an inspirational calendar. Yet I was mesmerized by their conversation. To me, those little ladies were riddles, waiting to be solved. While they were determined to hide their complexity behind idle chit chat, I was right next to them, listening to what remained unspoken, beneath all the talk. Those ladies did not pose much of a challenge, for a connoisseur of the human condition such as I am. But they were entertaining, nevertheless.
The little lady in the shabby yellow hat for example, Eloise her name, was a classic tale of disappointed life expectations. She had been part of wealthy family, like all the other ladies. In contrast to her company however, Eloise had not married an equally wealthy man. When she announced that she intended to marry for love and had already found herself a husband to do so, she might as well have stated the she intended to turn into a sparrow and had already found a bird to lend her his feathers. The bird was a nice young man from a town nearby and for a while, they really were in love. Soon after their wedding, Eloise’s family lost all their money through some misfortune or another. In my experience, this simply is the way of the world. For each blessing you are cursed with two misfortunes. Eloise was blessed with love, but paid for it with the loss of her fortune. That alone might not have broken her spine, but a second tragedy was already on its way. It came in a yellow cabrio, wearing a vine red hat a top of bleach blond hair. With time, she had lost the hat, but even in old age her hair shimmered an unnatural blond, which seemed especially shiny seated next to Eloise’s mouse gray curls. When Margeret Perry first came to town years ago, she arrived the way she intended to life: With great extravaganza. She was the newly wed wife of a the promising young heir to some kind of family empire (I rarely concern myself with details of such things. Whether its Oil or weapons or soda cans, your kind never squabble about the things that truly matter. You build empires, destroy empires, lose or make money. In every case, it is the end of you). When Margaret arrived, Eloise was buying apples in the towns general store. Through the store window, she saw the yellow cabriolet pull up, dust and jealous gazes trailing it. And it was that moment that made her go bitter like an uncooked chicory. The two young women soon became friends. For Eloise, Margaret was the access to a world, she thought she had lost. She accompanied her on social events and spent the afternoons in her luxurious parlor. Margaret on the other hand saw Eloise as a charity project, and enjoyed the company of such a willing subject. It is fair to say, that their friendship brought out the worst in them. Margaret became even more vain than she had already been and even developed a despotic edge. Eloise felt the humiliation of being pushed to the periphery of the rich and beautiful. She had been used to being at the front and center of society. Now it was only her attachment to Margaret that guaranteed her a seat at the dinner partys of the local high society. She felt awful, being overlooked by the people she had grown up with, ignored by everyone she had known her entire life, while Margaret quickly rose to be the shining star of society. And for a while Eloise thought about giving it all up. If she couldn’t have it all, she didn’t want any of it. And every time she stood at a buffet in a fancy yet tasteless living room, next to the shrimp platter, being prominently ignored by everyone she’d ever known, she thought about going home. There was a husband at home, and a not yet broken marriage. And if she went right now, grabbed her cheap coat from admits all the fur and Velvet and just left, maybe she could fix it. If she left right now, then maybe there would still be time. She thought about it a million times. She thought about it that afternoon at the tea table when I met her. Her fingers were stroking the expensive silverware in front of her with a unique mixture of jealousy and disdain. I assume she felt provoked by this shameless display of a wealth she didn’t have. So she complimented the shining cake forks and tea spoons as often as she could, which I have learned is as clear a sign of disapproval, as an outright insult. Margaret however appeared oblivious to Eloise’s behavior, having grown used to her friends silent bitterness. Plus she was much to busy with her newest charity project, which she was currently lecturing on the art of baking a perfect cheesecake. Tilda, the third in the group, apparently wasn’t much of a home cook. She fancied herself a modern woman, because she had read an article about independence twenty years ago. It inspired her to become financially independent from her husband, which meant that she became his secretary. He had first been reluctant, mostly because as a somewhat successful writer, he didn’t need secretary. Tilda on the other hand was dead set on the idea. Mostly because it meant, that he could never cheat on her with his secretary. The greatest fear of the suburban housewife. To everybody's surprise, Tilda made a pretty good secretary. Her husband still didn’t really need one, but she certainly made life easier. After ten years of this arrangement Tilda decided the time for her to retire had come. Not because she had grown tired of doing her husbands paperwork, but simply because it was the correct order of things. And all of her modernness couldn’t stop Tilda from following the correct order of things. She tried to convince her husband to retire with her, because this would have been the most correct of all orders. But as he pointed out, a writer couldn’t really retire, one couldn’t very well retire from being creative. Tilda accepted this explanation, the rules were different for the intellectuals. And her husbands work seemed to already consist primarily of typical retirement activities, such as solving crossword puzzles, taking long walks and mumbling into his nonexistent beard. It had been some time, since Tilda’s husband was even somewhat successful. They, as most of their company, lived of their inheritance. Yet his assumed creativity and her working past gave them enough of an edge to be considered as exotic. A fact often brought up by Tilda, and much resented by Margaret, who wasn’t used to be out shined. Her way of removing the threat was giving Tilda the same sugar bread and whipping treatment that had worked on Eloise. Unfortunately, Tilda proofed slightly more resilient than Eloise had been. The latent conflict between the exotic and the proper housewife threatened to flare up again, when Margaret allowed herself a snide comment about Tildas cooking skills. Her contribution to the last potluck must have been abysmal, since even the fourth Lady, a doddery old thing who seemed caught in a daydream, shuddered at its mention. Tilda never had and never would respond well to criticism. She said something to the effect of having been too busy living a life worthwhile to learn how to cook. Both, Eloise and Margaret were outraged. And while they squabbled, Edna, the tottery fourth Lady busied herself with smearing perfect cheesecake all over the prim white table cloth. By the time the others had settled their argument, the cloth on Edna's side of the table was drenched in sweet yellow paste. Of course Margaret was ready to launch herself into the next fight, but Edna acted the part of the forgetful old lady so well, no one really felt like arguing with her. Margaret made one last comment how she would have to spent all of tomorrow morning washing out the stain, then the matter was settled. I wondered if I was the only one who saw the amused glitter in Edna’s eyes.
Of course the next day, there was no time for washing out stains. Nor the day after that, or the day after that, or probably ever. Which was my fault. I admit, it is part of the job. I don’t regret that sun drenched afternoons will never be so golden again, after my visits. Regret is not part of my nature. Neither is mercy. I am an artist of my craft, and I have both a creative and a professional interest in your kind, but never mistake my interest for affection. By now you are probably wondering who I am. Some of you may think that I am Death. The Merciless reaper of souls. I am not. Death doesn’t have time to take their afternoons off. But your confusion is understandable, I’ve been told that we bear a certain resemblance. We are family after all. Death is my little brother, I am Chaos.
Another bloody day cleaning up the bloody mess my siblings have made. I suppose you’ve already met one of them. Chaos. You’d think they’d be the responsible of the bunch, being the eldest and all. But well, you’ve met em. Being the first born has gotten to their head. Now they fancy themselves a connoisseur of the human condition. Is just his nice way of saying that they laze around the entire afternoon. I suppose they’ve told you about his little afternoon walks. Won’t shut up about it. Always going on about some human they saw kicking a ball like its a fricking Michelangelo. I don't know much about art, but that Michelangelo fella knew what he was doing. Chaos is no Michelangelo. I told them not to follow you around like that. “Quit the perving”, I said “It makes you a regular voyeur”.
“You wouldn’t even know what a voyeur is, if it wasn’t for me and my little observations”, they replied, and they was right. Still, I don’t like em following you around like that. Personally, I don’t come near you if I don’t absolutely have to. Me and my siblings, we are bad luck of the worst kind for your people. I’d like to spare you our company as much as possible. Which, unfortunately, isn’t very often. Next time I told Chaos to leave you alone, they called me an insufferable misanthrope. Had no idea what it meant, but I damned sure wasn’t going to ask em. they just gave me that smug smile, they smile when they feel superior. It’s maddening. I don’t have time to learn pretty words, that make me look smart. I don’t have time for pretty things in general. Off course I would like to take afternoons off, maybe read a book, climb a mountain, finally get some sleep. Hell I’d be happy if I could get one free afternoon a month. But can you imagine the disaster my absence would cause? Probably not, because it has never happened, and will never happen. I am too responsible for that. Having two older siblings that are literally Chaos and Destruction gets you growing up quickly. My job has always been to take care of the mess my family has made. I am not complaining, It’s a necessary mess. But I get grumpy when the two take liberties. Eventually I found out what a misanthrope was, and I was vaguely hurt. Apparently a misanthrope is someone who hates humans. I don’t hate humans. Really, I don’t know how I feel about you. Maybe pity. I pity you sometimes. Not because I have to kill you, really killing you is mercy. But because you have to put up with my siblings even more than I do. The only reason I might appear cynical, is because I am a workaholic, who hates their job. Just because I know my work is necessary, doesn’t mean I like it. And there is so much of it. There is always someone dying somewhere. Or worse, someone who is supposed to die, but doesn’t. I’ve heard people say, they feel as if God has forgotten them. I don’t know about God, they have nothing to do with my business. But it is true. I forget people. They live on, in their sunken, shriveled, sometimes broken bodies, but they aren’t really alive. You can tell from the way they look around. As if everything is far far away. Reality is slipping away from them, and when its gone, they are left, alive but dead and forgotten. It is a terrible fate and I do my best to spare you from it. I have tried nearly every form of organization. Files, Sticky Notes, Flash Cards, I even tried digitalizing the data once. It was a total disaster which may or may not have resulted in the development of windows 95. The problem always remains the same: It is simply too much work for just one reaper. There are always too many sticky notes to keep track of, and no one notebook long enough to hold all your names. What I need is an assistant. Scratch that, I need a whole army of assistants. Maybe even a co owner, would be nice to lay off some responsibility once in a while. Instead I got stuck with two difficult siblings, to put it mildly. Chaos is a stuck up snob who uses every excuse in the book to lay off work, and Destruction...Well you haven’t met Destruction yet. Pray that doesn’t change. He is dangerous, unpredictable and most of all irreversible. We used to have a sister too. Her name was Desire, but we liked her so much that we ate her.
So now the three of us are left to deal with each other. Chaos, as I have mentioned is the eldest. We were born in order of occurrence. First came Chaos, setting everything in motion. They are the one who moves the pieces around. Wherever you are, be sure it was Chaos who threw the first stone, killed the canary in the coalmine, or sometimes simply ate the last cookie. Their work is sort of sophisticated, I gotta hand it to em. Sometimes the smallest things can cause the greatest trouble. Chaos finds those things. They need to understand all the delicate ways in which everything is connected, so they can make everything collapse with one swift motion. Enter Destruction. They well … well they are both blind and deaf, which makes it impossible to know em. I am not sure that they even know themselves, or are aware of their role in the cosmic scheme of, well everything. They just show up whenever Chaos is done and continues the work. I have no idea if they do it consciously, but when they are done, no stone is left standing.
Enter me. I really get too much credit, considering all I do is clean up after my siblings. Once Destruction is done, or bored, or whatever it is that gets em to leave, I arrive. I collect the souls from your broken bodies. Without me, you’d remain there, in never ending agony. As I said, I am merciful. Not everyone understands my mercy. Sometimes souls try to bargain. Sometimes the living try to challenge me. But unless you want to challenge the very concept of life and death, I suggest you accept death as a necessary sacrifice for being alive. And I suggest you stay alive for as long as possible. Because really, I’ve got enough to do already. Seems to me like this world is becoming deadlier by the second. Courtesy of my siblings no doubt. Usually we don’t question each others business decisions. Mostly because Chaos is too obnoxious to be argued with, Destruction is barely attached to reality and no one picks a fight with Death (That is me, in case you haven’t figured it out yet). But lately there have been irregularities. Or actually, they are regularities. I can almost see a pattern. We have never followed a clear path, since Chaos gets to pick the direction. He is the very definition of random, so him being predictable is dangerously out of character. I never questioned Chaos. Yes he is an insufferable git, but his way has always maintained the equilibrium of life and death. So I had no reason to complain. Lately, I am not so sure anymore. Chaos, Destruction and Death may make the world go round, but they can also destroy it. And I wouldn’t want to be around when it happens. Unfortunately I won’t have a choice.
Setting the Scene: An old beach promenade
Peter Ulrich is the only person in Wilhelmsburg, who likes the old beach promenade. It is a rather ugly promenade, he has to admit. But then again, most of Wilhelmsburg is quiet ugly. When you life there long enough, you just stop noticing it. Peter Ulrich has lived in Wilhelmsburg his entire life. He is 43, unmarried, no living relatives, no girlfriend. Somewhere else Peter’s life would be thought of as lonely. In Wilhelmsburg, he is one of the lucky ones. The city, like its beach promenade, has long given up on harboring any beauty. Wilhelmsburg has never been the sort of place where strangers like to spent their holidays and more importantly, their money. The people of Wilhelmsburg didn’t mind. There had always been other sources of income. During world war two the city experienced an industrial boom, because war ships were build here. The noise from the factories hung over the previously quiet town like a dark thunder cloud. Many factories needed many hands, and Wilhelmsburg prospered, while the country around it starved. Once the war was lost and over, the future started to look less bright. But not for long. A big typewriter producer realized that the large halls in which the ships used to be assembled could just as well be used to built typewriters. When the typewriters became extinct, the Fishing industry took their place. The harbor once again was bustling with busy men and women. Their work might have colored the sea black from waste and the sky grey with fumes, but the wealth of the town was secured. Wilhelmsburg has been saved by one industry or another over and over again. Only in the last few decades the Fishing industry has slowed down, and no other is stepping up to take its place. Factories close and move. Those who remain only offer demeaning and unsatisfying work. The people blame the globalization the politicians in Berlin, and the Hipsters in Hamburg. Maybe they are right. Peter doesn’t listen to their complaints anymore. He is too young to remember a time when Wilhelmsburg wasn’t poor and depressed. Or maybe he just stopped noticing that too. Plus, he has a job. He is a minister. It is a good job, solid pay, and doesn’t require him to stick his hands into fish intestines. So Peter considers himself lucky, despite being lonely. Once month he performs funerals in front of an empty church. Usually multiple at a time. He reads the names of people who no one remembers to an audience of empty seats. Then he buries them alone in the churchyard. The people in Wilhelmsburg seem to be engaged in a race to the grave. The ones who come in last have no one left to mourn them. Peter suspects that someday he will be one of those names read in an empty church and then buried in the backyard. He hasn’t quiet resigned himself to this fate, so whenever the suspicion becomes too strong, he goes for a walk on the old beach promenade. The promenade really is just a cemented boardwalk that splits the beach into two parts. On one side it is lined by frayed beach baskets. On the other side the grainy gray sand merges into greasy gray water. Not the kind of place where families like to come for a Sunday picnic or where lovers go for a romantic midnight stroll, but Peter likes it. Whenever he walks along the slowly disintegrating beach baskets, he has an inexplicable feeling of infinite possibilities. Somehow this forgotten place, gives him hope. Everyone he knows is mildly repelled by the old beach promenade. No one actively dislikes it, people just do their best to avoid it. There has never been an initiative to transform the Wilhelmsburg beach into something more pleasant and less faded, because just thinking about the beach, gives most people unpleasant goosebumps. Peter also gets those shivers, as if anytime he walks the promenade, someone in the corner of his mind, walks over his grave. But Peter enjoys these thrills. They are the only thrills his life has to offer.
Right now Peter is out on one of his beach walks again. He wears a gray whole hat to protect his increasingly bald skull from the harsh February Wind. The sky is dark from a foreboding storm. Peter takes a deep breath and stops to take in the view. He looks out on the grease-grey water and feels exhilarated. Facing the water, Death and Chaos stand a mere few feet away from him. Their gaze is also directed towards the sea. But they are looking at something entirely different.
Death and Chaos meet at the edge of the Universe
Death and Chaos meet at the edge of the universe, which overlaps with the Wilhelmsburg beach promenade. If you squint hard enough and stare at the water for long enough, you can see where the world starts to end and the end of everything starts to begin. Peter has come close to seeing the edge of the universe a couple of times. He has stared at the sea for hours, but he never thought of squinting while doing so. Other than Peter, no one looks long enough to catch even a glimpse of infinity. The edge of the universe is an unsettling place for most people. They might not be able to see it, but they can feel its presence. The universe with its black holes and supernovas is a terrifying place by any measures. But nothing compares to the terrors of the totally and utterly unknown which lies beyond. So Peter is the only one who walks along the beach promenade voluntarily. Everyone else does their best to forget the cosmic spectacle in their backyard.
This isn’t the first time Death and Chaos have met in Wilhelmsberg. They have had a lot of business here in recent decades. Of course the concept of space and time is not as rigid for the two of them, as it is for humans. Still, it’s much easier to meet at the same place and the same time. Now neither Death nor Chaos could tell what came first, their visits, or the edge. The edge of the universe too is not bound by the laws of space and time. It used to be more of a concept than a place. But frequent usage has made it more real. Now the edge is material enough to be a meeting place. It moves, and Death and Chaos can’t figure out why or in which pattern. Not that either one would admit that they’ve even tried. It is much easier to simply avoid a topic, than to admit failure. And Death generally avoids talking to Chaos about anything outside of work, because it would mean, that they’d never talk about work at all. Chaos is terribly easily distracted. Which is probably, why he is late. Again. By exactly fifteen minutes. Death is determined not to make a remark about it. Stoicism, he’s learned, is the best way to cope with Chaos.
“We meet again, my brother”, Chaos appears next to Death, the same way a wave appears out of water. Technically, they have been there the whole time, just now they decided to take shape. “You are late”, Deaths resolution to remain stoic in the face of tardiness vanished with Chaos appearance. They hate it when their sibling materializes out of thin air like that. Neither they, nor Destruction can perform the trick, which is precisely why Chaos enjoys it so much.
“Really? I didn’t realize”, Chaos is making an admirable effort to seem surprised. Though they look a bit too cheerful for someone who just unleashed Destruction on a french small town. “I just took a quick detour you know. There was a rendition of Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto at the Philharmonie de Paris. It would have been a crime to miss it. Martha Argerich was playing“.
Death has no idea who Martha Argerich is, or that she is one of the greatest pianists of all time and frankly, they don’t care:
“We agreed to meet right after you were done. You said you’d hurry. I’ve got places to be”.
“Oh you mean that little job in France? Don’t worry about it. Destruction was just getting started when I left. They should be at it for another hour at least. You should have seen them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so happy. You know, I even think I saw them smile.” Chaos voice walks the fine line between a good lie and obvious sarcasm, “There is no reason for you to hurry down there and ruin all their fun. We have plenty of time before your services shall be required”. They drop into a mock bow, under Deaths irritated gaze. Somehow they manage to make the bow look ironic and elegant at the same time. Chaos can do these things, absolutely ridiculous things, and make them look great. Of course Death knows that Chaos is one of the most ridiculous Characters in existence. But knowing isn’t the same as feeling.
“He doesn’t smile”, charming bastard or not, Chaos is full of shit and Death wont let him get away with it. For a moment, Chaos seems honestly confused. “I am sorry?”, he asks.
“Destruction”, The name always feels like thunder rolling off of Deaths lips, “Destruction doesn’t smile. Never has. So I find it a bit hard to believe, that after hundred thousands of years of existence, our sibling has chosen this very day, the same day you stand me up because you want to listen to some bebop, to grant us his first smile“
“Bebop Oh dear brother”, dramatically pressing his hand to his chest, Chaos is making a purposefully indignant impression, “You wound me with your ignorance. Such dismay that any sibling of mine should be so totally unacquainted with the brilliance of the classical masters. Why oh why won’t you let me take you out? One evening in Europe's finest concert house would do wonders for your miserable attitude.”
“Like I said, I’ve got places to be”, Death’s voice is but a low predatory rumble. The sort of sound that conveys a lot without saying much. Death is warning Chaos not to push them. Chaos isn’t the least bit impressed.
“Ah true, I forgot I was talking to the worlds most insufferable workaholic. Always busy is what you are. Well then Mr. Busy-Bee. Why did you call for this meeting? Must be about something awfully important if it manages to distract you from your precious work.”
“We need to talk”, Death says. He intended to say much more than that, but he should’ve known Chaos wouldn’t let him get to his point without further diversions. Like a big cat who spotted a particular juicy piece of bait, he leaps at the small pause in Death’s rhythm and once again seizes control over the conversation:
“Oh truly, you know I thought you called a meeting for the first time in a century, because you wanted me to teach you the art of expressive dance. I was a bit agitated, my moves are quiet rusty. But now that I know we are here to talk, I feel so relived. Talk away dear brother, I am all ears.”
The sarcasm in Chaos voice is thick as the black smoke from the fish factory that clouds the sky above them. Death braces himself, this will be a difficult conversation. He opens his mouth, to talk. Not quickly enough. “I must say, I am surprised. You are not a big talker. Sometimes you might as well be as deaf as Destruction, for you don’t contribute anything to a conversation. And now you call a meeting specifically for the purpose of talking. This must be truly dire, let me guess, did you reap one of these philosophers again? Did they make you question the meaning of life? Oh I do remember the Freud incident. That was fun. The guy really got into your head. For the Death themselves, you are surprisingly sensitive.” It is a known fact and a cruel joke among the siblings, that Death is more humane than Chaos and Destruction. Chaos, always eager to poke fun at his younger siblings is particular fond of the way Death screws up his face when he is called sensitive. If he took the time to reflect on his behavior, Chaos might come to the conclusion, that a part of him envies Death for their humanity. If the world changed direction so that the sun rose in the west, Chaos might actually consider taking time for some self reflection. Until then, their prevailing motif is their own amusement. “I didn’t call you to...This meeting isn’t about me,” Death is struggling to find the right words. Never, in the hundreds of centuries since their beginning, have the three of them questioned each other. Neither Chaos nor Death confronted Destruction when he tore Pompey to shreds. No one accused Death of negligence after Chernobyl, where the weight of all the souls had become too much and they just left, before their work was done. They had come back, of course, their conscience hadn’t allowed them to find rest, even miles away from the nuclear disaster sight. But when they returned, Chernobyl had turned into a ghost town, and there was little they could do for the little life that was left. Except ending it of course, but even a swift end can’t make up for previous agony. Chaos has gotten away with a lot more than both Death and Destruction combined. Mostly because their work is more complicated than both, Deaths and Destruct ions combined. They is the lifeblood of all existence, keep it breathing, keep it alive. Without Chaos there can only be stagnation. Imagine the world suddenly standing still, the moon and the tides no longer in sync, but simply seeping away into nothing. It would be the end. Chaos knows how important they are and it makes them insufferable. Even more insufferable however is the fact, that despite the responsibility bestowed upon them, they still manages to be incredibly lazy. Death is a hard worker, but they have made many mistakes over the years, many fuck ups, big and small. Chaos never even slipped. Like creating Chaos is their second nature. Of course it is actually their first and only nature. Death always feels inadequate when they think about Chaos’s flawless track record. They are Death themselves, reaping souls should be easy for them. Their sole purpose shouldn't be a challenge. So maybe Chaos gets away with so much, because they don’t make mistakes. Death may be wary of their decisions (getting Trump elected, really?), and who ever knows what Destruction is thinking. But when they forces themselves to consider the picture, they have to admit that Chaos has never let them down. For a second Death is doubting their instincts, which have been telling them that something is off for a while now. After all, this might just be another of Chaos questionable decisions that will eventually rectify themselves. Just another Julius Caesar. But then they remember the birds, and any shred of doubt is shredded into oblivion. “I called you, because I am worried”, Death allows themselves one more pause before finally revealing the true purpose of this meeting, “about you”. Chaos maybe for the first time ever, is silent. “There have been incidents,” Death continues, “Just yesterday, I was in Calais. A bunch of birds, all the birds, they had, I know it sounds unbelievably, but they drowned themselves. I heard the people taking about it when I arrived. And something similar happened in Dover, but there it were the bees and they flew into an open fire. All the bees...”, Death ends the sentence halfway before it can run off and become nonsense. “And you think those incidents are connected to me?”, Chaos asks calmly.
“Yes”, Death replies, equally calm. There is silence again, and Death directs their gaze at the ocean and the universe beyond. Death and Peter, who still stands a mere few feet away from two major cosmic powers, have one thing and one thing only in common. They both really like the Wilhelmsburg beach promenade. Of course neither of them is aware of this shared interest and both would be equally horrified if they ever found out about it. Death enjoys the melancholy of the scene and most of all, they like how much Chaos hates it. Chaos can’t stand Wilhelmsburg, the dirt, the people, the sadness. No amount of Chaos could make this place move again, and it all seems to accumulate in the rotting beach promenade. They are quiet upset that the promenade has escaped Destruction for this long. If they didn’t know better, they’d suspect Destruction was sparing the cemented piece of crap just to annoy them. Actually they don’t know better. As usual Chaos has absolutely no idea what Destruction is thinking. The silence between Death and Chaos stretches on, but Death is determined to let Chaos speak again first. They just broke centuries of serious silence. The least they can do is grant Chaos the time they need to process. It takes them another several beats if silence to realize, that Chaos is not using the granted time to process. Instead they make use of it by staring at Death in disbelief. In mocking disbelief. Death really should have seen this coming.
”Well and here I was, all these years, thinking you had no humor”, Chaos kicks a weed growing through a crack in the promenade, “what are you trying to say Death?”
“I was just...”
“You were just what? “
The word feels strange in Death’s mouth. Worried.
“Worried”, Chaos almost snorts.
“Look, it isn’t natural for bees to commit suicide. And frankly, this world can’t afford to loose any more bees. So yeah, I am worried.”
“So these things you’ve mentioned,” Chaos mouth twitches, “The birds and the bees, they worry you?”
Death actually rolls their eyes, “try to take this seriously please.”
“Oh I am taking it serious”, Chaos places his foot on the resilient weed. It quivers, “I am taking it, deadly serious, I am just trying to figure out what exactly it is you are saying.” They press a bit harder against the weed, but instead of crumbling, it grows. Green leaves sprout and spread over the stone, “because what I have heard and what you mean, can’t possibly be the same thing” Pushing the crack open wider a thick green vine appears and begins to grow its way down the promenade. “Because what I have heard sounded an awful lot like doubt. Are you doubting me now little brother?”
“I am just saying it isn’t normal”, Death shakes of a tendril which tried to creep up his leg.
“Normal? And since when are we normal?”, Chaos raises their hands, palms up to the sky, “I am Chaos, I’ve seen the fall of empires and the rise of dynasty's. I have set them in motion and I brought them down A million times. All the times.
I am the tide bringer,
The storm master.
And you ask me about normal?
I am the change in the winds.
the cracks in the foundation.
I am the firstborn force
and I am the last one standing.
And you ask me about normal?
I AM CHAOS.”
They shout their last words out onto the water and spread their arms wide, like a grim bird, waiting to take flight. The vine, which has made steady progress so far suddenly explodes, sending leaves flying everywhere. By the time the green haze has faded Chaos has disappeared, leaving behind nothing, that hadn’t been there before.
Death walks over to the twitching body of Peter Ulrich. A piece of vine is sticking out of his abdomen. It must have impaled him during the explosion. How a harmless weed turned into a six centimeter wide, deadly botanic spear is beyond Death. But that is Chaos for you, never playing by the rules. They crouch down next to Peter Ulrich. The vine quivers and wilts under their delicate touch. They leave a few minutes later, after cleaning up the mess. The beach promenade once again is just a cemented boardwalk splitting the beach into two parts. Frayed beach baskets line one side. Grainy gray sand merges into greasy gray water on the other. No one in Wilhelmsburg likes the old beach promenade.
What did I tell you? Another bloody day, cleaning up the bloody mess of my siblings. Saying that Chaos has a flair for the dramatic would be an understatement. They breath drama, maybe they actually are drama, I wouldn’t put it passed them to reincarnate behind my back. I will have leaves suck to me for days.
Of course I ended up late for the job in France. Destruction was long gone by the time I arrived.
I suppose I should have seen this coming. I suppose it was a couple of centuries overdue even. Although I truly didn’t expect the bees to give me away. After everything, the continuous destruction of the earth, two world wars, and at least four nuclear disasters, a couple of bees diving into an open fire made Death perk their hideous little ears. Some birds throwing themselves of a cliff aroused their suspicion. It reminds me of last time. It reminds me an awful lot of last time. But could this world cope without Death, as well as it does without Desire? I am not sure.
….Two cocked the gun, and pulled the trigger with it…
Trisha on 10 July, 2021
Please do write more!! Your story is very unique! Honestly I could truly get behind a whole fleshed out book about these characters. I love your story it’s fun and fresh!
Diana 2 on 24 May, 2021
This is awesome!!! Plz, write more.
Anne on 17 May, 2021
Wow, nice story, Franziska! Please write more! Your new fan Anne
Diana on 14 May, 2021