Friday, 18 April 2014

The Reaper and the Ocean's Lost Souls

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The Reaper and the Ocean's Lost Souls
by Rebecca Fyfe
People who die never expect to see me. They expect someone in a long, black cloak wielding a scythe, or maybe angels with a bright white light and feathered wings. But never me. It sometimes helps that the dead I come across are in the ocean. They still don't expect to see me.

I am where the legends came from, those old tales about sirens who lure men to their deaths or mermaids who sing songs of enchantment. It's true that I look like a mermaid, but I don't lure anyone to their deaths. They are already dead when I find them.

The problem with dying at sea is that your body gets swept away by the currents, sometimes half-eaten by sharks or other predators and sometimes tangled in seaweed deep under the surface. The sea can go down for miles, and for many of the dead, that means their bodies are never found.

I'm built the way I am, with gills on my neck to breathe underwater and a fish tail on my lower half, to help me find those lost corpses. Because, until a reaper can touch the body, the soul remains trapped forever within it. And then death really would be a true death.

There are reapers who don't look like me. Some of them  look like angels, some of them look like businessmen or businesswomen, some of them look like tribal medicine men, and some of them look like the traditional black hooded reaper, nothing but a skeleton inside. We are created to serve our duties in whatever fashion works best for the environment we collect the souls from. Some of us are created based on the most common belief in the region that they serve.

I'm just one of many here in the sea, but we all have scales, tails, gills and fins. I can sense the dead. Well, actually, I sense the souls that are trapped within the dead. And I find them, so that they don't have to be lost anymore. The human world might never find their bodies, but their souls will never be lost as long as we reapers are around.

So I guess that makes me both a mermaid and a reaper. I'm not really alive in the traditional sense, but that doesn't really matter since everyone I meet is dead too. I just touch them, maybe grab their hand, and their soul leaves their body. Then I can take them to the portal to their afterlife.

Once in a very long while, a soul we grab isn't dead yet and the body is found in time to revive it. In those instances, we take the soul back. The only thing the soul remembers, on the rare occasion that they remember anything, is seeing a mermaid. And that is what started the legends.

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