The sharp tones of the telephone blast through my favourite song, “Victorious”. Hurriedly lowering the volume, I pick up the receiver.
“Hello?” I say in a tentative voice.
“Hello. Can I speak to Danielle? This is Death speaking.”
“Uhm, she’s not at home right now.” I manage to stumble out finally. “Can I take a message?”
“I need to speak to her, personally. No intermediaries, and of course, no one to stand by her side.”
“I don’t know when she’ll be back, though.” I think of some excuse. “She’s gone to Mauritius for a while.”
“Aah. Which airlines?”
“Uhm, I think she went there walking.” A complete dodo that I am, I can’t even think of a proper lie.
“I have a feeling that I’m speaking to you, Danielle.”
“No no. I’m Danielle’s friend.” At least this is true.
“So, is she sitting by your side, asking you to intercede on her behalf? There’s nothing that can stop me, you know. Unless she can go hide under my Helm of Darkness. Or wear Ignotus Peverell’s gift from me.” There’s a slight sting in his tone.
“No, she isn’t sitting by my side. She really is at Mauritius!” A thin film of sweat has formed on my forehead. What if Death has got some CCTV or something, and can see exactly where I am?
“How do you know that I’m not standing exactly behind you right now, or looking in through the window?” I can almost hear him rub his hands in glee.
“Because then I would have heard you, wouldn’t I?” I swat my right hand around, beating at the air, trying to grab a fistful of Death’s black cloak.
“Danielle is not in Mauritius. My man there has already scoured the place.”
“Maybe your man didn’t check properly?” I’m doing a horrible job at stalling the inevitable.
“Look, whoever you are. Danielle needs to listen to me. Please ask her to speak to me.” The voice seems too depressed and sad, totally unlike Death.
I look at Danielle, who’s busy reading a book. She isn’t even bothering to listen to the conversation. Or is it a monologue?
“She’s busy reading ‘Me Before You’. Give me your number. I’ll tell her to call you back.”
The receiver has grown hot all of a sudden. I shriek and throw it away from me. And then I hear Death’s icy voice explode. “You eejit, I’m not calling her up to speak about her imminent death. It’s.. it’s something else.”
Danielle still hasn’t bothered to find out the reason why I am screeching and blowing at my slightly scorched hand. Not even the usual, “You okay?”
“I’m sorry, but she doesn’t seem interested in talking. She isn’t even speaking to me.” I pick up an eraser from the table, and throw it at her. She looks at me for just a second, and raises her eyebrows quizzically.
“Death is on the line,” I whisper.
“Ohh.” And she goes back to reading her book.
“He says he wants to talk to you about something.”
She looks up again. Maybe my sweaty face and scared expression gets her attention.
She walks towards me, and picks up the slightly scorching receiver.
“What is it now?” She says it in such a bored voice. Add a bit of chewing gum, and she’d look exactly like those cliched cheerleaders.
I can’t hear Death’s reply, but Danielle’s reply to Death is weird.
“No, I don’t have any more Pomegranate seeds. Nor do I have any fertilizer. Or any medicine that will cure Persephone. I told you about the Golden Fleece, didn’t I? Go find it. Jason would be dying to help you. And besides, the Oracle warned me against taking this Quest. So, goodbye.” There’s so much sarcasm in her voice. I’m surprised that Death didn’t die another death.
She slams the phone down, and turns to me.
“Really, when will you start acting like a demigod?”