As I was lying in bed, listening to my hypnotherapy CD I was aware of a darker space in the darkness of my room and my earphones were gently removed with the tip of a scythe.
Hello, Death! Is it time?
NO OF COURSE IT ISN’T. I JUST HAD BUSINESS IN THE VILLAGE AND THOUGHT I’D SEE HOW YOU ARE DOING.
That’s nice. You don’t do that much. Did someone ask you?
THAT’S ALWAYS BEEN YOUR PROBLEM, OTTER. YOU ASK TOO MANY QUESTIONS.
Well, make yourself comfy. I suppose you won’t take coffee? You don’t usually. Prop your scythe in the corner next to my broom. Where’s Binky?
A FRIEND IS LOOKING AFTER HIM WHILE I VISIT.
Ah…. How is Sir Terry these days?
Yes, I know but is he happy?
OF COURSE, HE’S LIVING IN DISCWORLD.
Good! So he went to the Heaven he made for himself. Lovely. Erm…
NO! DON’T ASK.
OK, you knew I might. (giggle) I’m doing alright too now, thanks. That mega-depression I was in just lifted and I had a lovely offer from my publishers.
SO WHY THE HYPNOTHERAPY CD?
I’m improving my life (lighting a cigarette and padding across to put the kettle on for a nice cup of frothy decaff. Two sapphire lights twinkled under my visitor’s hood which meant he was amused.) And I want to stop smoking again. Managed it for over a month but the pills made me catastrophically psychotic.
Why they made me mental or why stop again?
WHY STOP AGAIN?
Well, saving your presence, they might kill me. No, they will kill me.
DEATH doesn’t laugh vocally but he shakes with it which makes a clattering noise as all his skeletal self rattles. We are old friends, me having taken so many animals who were in terminal pain to lay in his bony arms for final peace. I could understand why he found it funny
IF I HAD WANTED TO, OTTER, I COULD HAVE COME FOR YOU WHEN YOU WERE 15. I MIGHT HAVE SUNK YOUR BOAT WHEN YOU LIVED ABOARD, IT DID CROSS MY MIND. THERE HAVE BEEN SO MANY OCCASIONS WHEN I COULD HAVE TAKEN YOUR HAND BUT I DIDN’T.
Yes, but you really went out of your way to make me think about it over the last two years – two road accidents and a stroke? That was over-kill even by your standards! (both of us laughed at that stupid old pun)
LET ME READ YOUR FORTUNE?
OK That’s a first for me.
LET ME SEE – LOOKING AT YOUR PALM I CAN TELL THAT YOU HAVE BEEN SKIPPING AROUND UNDER MY FEET SINCE YOU WERE BORN. YOU WILL CONTINUE TO DO STUPID THINGS AND PUT YOURSELF IN DANGER, PARTICULARLY TO HELP OTHERS. YOU HAVE SOME FAIRLY TERMINAL HEALTH PROBLEMS TO LIVE WITH AND YOUR TIME IS ALREADY DECIDED. I DO NOT SEE THAT SMOKING WILL BRING YOU TO ME ANY FASTER. GLAD YOU STOPPED THE BOOZE THOUGH. I HAD HOLD OF THE OTHER END OF THE INTRAVENOUS DRIP SO I COULD SEE HOW MUCH CLOSER YOU WERE COMING TO ME.
And your advice, Honoured Sir?
BE POLITE TO YOUR BETTERS AND BE HAPPY. I TELL ALL MY CUSTOMERS THAT. GOODNIGHT OTTER, SLEEP WELL BUT DO WAKE UP, WON’T YOU?
Goodnight, Death. Don’t work too hard. Give my love to Sir Terry and Binky and…. yaaaaaaawn…. mmmmmm mphm yaaaaaaaawn … zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz