This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
Yesterday, his life was simple.
For ages, his day started the same. For centuries, his day ended the same. He got the list and he went to work. After hundreds of years, he had lost the ability to feel. Everybody was born, lived their life, however long they were supposed to, and then they died. It was not rocket science.
Feeling ready to burst out of his skin, Daimhin shoved the list across the wide wooden desk and took an agitated look around the room. “A kid!” He exclaimed.
His manager looked back at him, where he was seated at the top end of the long table. The large windows behind him, with a view of endless clouds, silhouetted him, turning his manager into a dark looming shadow. Daimhin could not see his expression, but he heard from his tone that he was amused. “Too good for you, Daimhin?”
“I have never had to do this before. A baby? Really?”
Daimhin heard Violet smirk, where she sat next to him. He swivelled the leather chair and faced her. “What?” He was feeling tense. He was not sure if he would be able to go out today and to collect a baby. A baby, for crying out loud. A baby who has not yet had the chance to live a full life. Did somebody higher up the chain of command make a mistake of sending this soul back to earth, and now they had to ‘pull the product’ because of some production error.
Daimhin felt as if the walls were closing in on him.
The other guardians stood up from their chairs and then in groups of two or three’s they left the room. Each one of them taking their own list with them.
Violet touched him lightly on his arm.
“No need to be rude to me, Daimhin. We have all had to collect babies from time to time.”
His edginess increased tenfold, driving him to his feet. He expected this morning’s meeting to be the same as every other morning – get his list and do his job. A job he never chose to do but had no choice in doing, because of the choices he made a long time ago when he was also one of the living.
His manager looked across the table at Daimhin. Daimhin saw a glint of light in his eyes – amusement mixed with boredom. Daimhin saw a flash of a smirk on his darkly shadowed face.
Daimhin had no choice. He leaned across the table and pulled the list, printed on parchment paper, names written with a fountain pen in an elaborate cursive, across the glossy surface.
With a quick defiant glance toward his manager, he folded the list in four quarters and pushed it into his denim pants pocket.
Violet followed him from the room. “I can go with you for this one.”
“No. I’ll be fine.”
“Taking your first baby is not easy. I can be there with you for moral support.”
“I said, no.” Feeling sorry for being rude to Violet, the only one who has ever tried to be friendly with him, he stopped and turned toward her. “Sorry. I know you only want to help.”
Curiously she asked, “How come this is your first baby?”
Daimhin shrugged. “Just been lucky, I suppose.”
“I had to fetch a baby after my first decade. I know newbies don’t collect babies because it can be emotional, but you have been here for – what?” Her eyes glanced at a point beyond his shoulder as she thought. “Three hundred years?” She looked back at him for confirmation.
“Almost three hundred,” he replied dismissively.
The first time he saw Taylor Fergusson she was cocooned in pink. Everything surrounding her was in shades of pink. He stood next to her cradle and he looked down at her beautiful, peaceful face. There was no way he could make himself reach out to touch her. She was so tiny, he could not justify it to himself why he should take her life, her soul with him when she had not even had a chance to live.
It was almost dawn and he was still standing next to her cradle, staring down at her, trying to convince himself to just do it. He left fetching her until last. Most people believed there was a set time when they are supposed to die, but the precise hour is of no consequence, it is the date which is of more importance than the actual second.
Her tiny fist curled up and her tiny pink lips started sucking on her fingers. She turned her head and opened her eyes. She looked up at him. Her clear blue eyes were framed by long dark lashes. A little frown formed between her eyes as if she was not sure whether she should cry or smile, and then a smile tugged at her pink mouth. A dimple sunk in on the side of her face. As Daimhin looked down at her, he could not help smiling at her in return.
He reached for her, to touch her when she let out a piercing yell as if to stop him. Her sweet little face pinched into a sad wrinkled prune as her mouth let out a sharp wail.
Her mother came rushing into the room and Daimhin had to step aside quickly before she moved through him.
Daimhin stood in the corner of the room as he watched the mother lift Taylor out of the crib carefully. He saw the radiant smile pass between them as their eyes met. He could actually feel the love in the room. He stood there, watching them puzzled until it was time for him to return to the meeting room to receive his list for the day.
When Violet saw him, as he walked into the meeting room, she smiled sympathetically, but she did not ask him outright if he collected Taylor’s soul. It was not negotiable. Every name on the list must be collected on the specified day, otherwise it confused the whole system.
Two years later, the name Taylor Fergusson appeared on his list again as the system tried to correct itself.
Again he left her soul until last. That afternoon when he stood next to her, he smiled when he looked into her eyes and saw recognition in them. She smiled widely up at him and pointed at him with her chubby fingers. Absent-mindedly her mum looked in his direction, but of course she could not see him. It shocked Daimhin that Taylor was able to see him.
They were sitting at a bus stop, she and her mother. Her mother kept looking down at her wristwatch, and Daimhin assumed the bus was running behind schedule.
There was no backrest on the seat they were sitting on, and then as fate would have it, she fell backwards. This was all in the plan. When she fell it would be the reason why she died, all Daimhin had to do was touch her.
Her mum grabbed her up from the floor before Daimhin reached her. Daimhin saw the panic in the mother’s eyes as blood gushed and ran in between Taylor’s light blonde hair in little rivulets.
Daimhin reached for her, smiling reassuringly at Taylor. Usually the souls he collected never saw him until he touched them, but Taylor seemed to be different. Maybe this was how it was supposed to be. Maybe little kids were just more susceptible to seeing ghosts or entities. After all Taylor was his first kid, and thanks to the system, still his only kid.
Taylor started crying, shaking her head and little beads of blood sprayed in an arch from the gash at the back of her head. She pleaded as she held onto her mother tightly, “No. No, take me. I scared.”
Daimhin stepped back, shocked. Her voice sent shivers down his spine. He felt an uncomprehending emotion clutch at his heart, his own soul.
He watched as her mother ran down the hill toward a little grocery store, clutching a little body clad in a frilly pink dress tightly to her chest.
Three years later, the system tried to correct itself again.
Daimhin appeared in the bedroom and saw a five-year-old girl with blonde curls framing her little cute face, jumping up and down on a large double bed.
He heard her mother’s voice from down the hall, “Taylor, stop jumping on that bed! You are going to hurt yourself.”
Then fate stepped in, as it is supposed to do. Her foot got stuck within a fold of the bedding covering the bed. Her body lurched forward.
Daimhin stepped forward protectively to catch her, just as her head bounced off the corner of the bedside table. Quickly he pulled back, away from her, as two shock filled aquamarine coloured eyes looked up at him and saw him. Her forehead was covered in a sheen of red blood. The blood flowed freely from the gash.
Her hand came up and touched it. In amazement, she looked at the blood coating her fingers and then she started wailing for her mother.
Daimhin berated himself. All he needed to do was step toward her and touch her. This was how it was supposed to happen.
She looked up at him and smiled, even with her tears mingling with the blood from her forehead, which covered one side of her face. “You cannot take me. I am all my mommy has. Come back later.”
Her mother came running into the room. “Taylor! What did I say about jumping on the bed?”
She scooped Taylor up into her arms and Daimhin followed them out to the garage. He got into the back of the car without having to open the door and went with them to the emergency room. The way the mother was speeding toward the hospital would no doubt cause an accident, and then he would take Taylor.
He knew he was playing with fire. As it was, he got this job because of his own lack of appreciating life. He was supposed to learn that you are not supposed to mess with the system and take your own life. He felt though that it was also not Taylor’s time to go. He felt it in his heart. It was an inexplicable feeling and it resonated in his soul.
In the emergency room, he stood in a corner as they stitched up the gash in her forehead. Her mother had to physically lie down on top of her to hold her down while Taylor screamed blue murder.
When at last the doctor wiped the last traces of blood from her cheeks, Taylor turned her eyes toward Daimhin and smiled gratefully.
A year later, her first day at school, she appeared on his list again.
He stood at the bottom of the stairs as he watched her walk up them to the next floor. He could already see how this was going to happen. He could see the heavy backpack pull back on her little frame.
As if in slow motion he saw the moment gravity and fate worked together as a team. He saw her tumble down the stairs. She fell down in front of him, sprawled in a bundle at his feet. All he had to do was lean down and touch her.
Her long blonde hair was tied up in two pigtails on the side of her face. Instinctively her left hand folded around her broken right arm.
She looked up at him and smiled widely. Her smile brightened her eyes. She pleaded, “Please I want to stay. I promise you can take me next time. It’s a deal.”
He leaned down to her, resting his palms on his knees. Softly he said, “Next time I have to take you with me. I am already going to be in a heap of trouble.”
He straightened shocked when she nodded up at him. Did she hear him? He shivered and stepped aside quickly when a teacher walked through him.
“Taylor, are you okay? You must have a guardian angel, my girl.”
Taylor smiled up at her and glanced toward Daimhin where he stood a few feet away from the commotion.
The teacher asked, “Can you stand up?” She leaned forward and lifted Taylor by placing her hands under her armpits. “Let’s phone your mum. Do you feel sore anywhere?”
Bravely Taylor replied, “My arm is very sore, Mrs. O’Neill.”
Daimhin turned away. He convinced himself that now he did not have to feel as if he was not doing his job the way he was supposed to be doing it. The next time her name appeared on his list, he would have to take her with him – they had a deal. If anybody found out that he never took her the very first time her name appeared on his list, his soul would be taken away from him permanently. He had been given a second chance after he committed suicide all those years ago. He had to collect souls so that he could understand how precious life is. He doubted there were any other opportunities beyond a second chance. There had been many people before Taylor who pleaded to stay and never did he consider not taking them with him. There was something about Taylor, a deeper meaning that evaded him.
Her name did not appear on his list again until this morning.
Samantha Speed: There were several punctuation, grammar, and missing word problems but it did not detract from the story. This story was very well done, enjoyable, and had an interesting enough plot. It took a while to finish. This story is not complete. I love it, but I want to see another book or have more cha...
Flik: Hi! ^.^ huge fan of yours on ff.net! When I saw the note about this contest on The Way We Smile, I couldn't help but rush over here, create an account, and vote! XD Seriously love this story and would recommend it to anyone! :D best FT fanfiction out there. Amazing story, amazing concept that wa...
SandraHan1: This story is very descriptive, with vivid scenes from the very beginning, which made for a good scene setting. I love the symbolism in names, such as “Naysayers”, “Hadd”, etc . The story itself is revolutionary, intriguing, emotional and exciting. I was very pleased to see that there is a happy ...
Shreya Biswas: Finally god...... I was tired of Charissa doubting Frederick's love... yes.. All's well that ends well.... i was getting really downright agitated at the author because the suspense was held really well on how things will work out in the epilogue and i just wanted them to have a happy ending.. An...
maewilde25: I am so in love with this story!!! captivated me till the very end, there wasn't a dull moment. Didn't particularly enjoy the lay out and some bits of info was missing along with how a 21 year old man amassed so much wealth that needed to be explained other than that and a few spelling errors, th...
Alani Foreigner: I absolutely loved how you created this story. It isn't like the other cliché stories I've ever read. I had just started reading it yesterday and just had to finish it. The main characters are grotesquely awesome and I fell in love with them. If you're into fantasy and stuff I can guarantee that ...
Ruby0h: Overall I thought your story was really good! It drew me in right away and kept me interested as the story progressed. I loved the character of Kayla being inserted into this story, and the way she affected and shaped the life of the original story into something totally new and interesting. I lo...
Hudson: Your story was fantastic Erin! The Rising Sun was one of the first stories I read on Inkitt, and I have to say I don't regret the three to four days I spent pouring through the story.Probably the biggest strength I see in your writing is your characterisation of Eliana, Oriens, and the rest of th...