Death rolled over in his bed and tried to catch some sleep, but something seemed to nibble at his bones that he couldn’t quite place. Eventually he did get his hands around it. It was a puppy, one that no doubt belonged to one of the other guests on the cruise. The puppy had two beady eyes and licked at his hands hungrily.
“Hello,” Death greeted the dog.
It immediately paused, its tongue stuck out at the skull which spoke to it.
“You’re not going to do that anymore, right?” Death asked it and the tongue retreated back into the dog’s mouth. “Good, now let’s go find your owner.”
The cruise had just reached the end of its first day and Death was finding it curious how few activities there were. True, it was a world-wide crews, with plenty of stops, but he felt there would be more to do at night than return someone's dog. As Death wandered through the halls he soon came out into the open and stared at the ocean. It was as dark as ink, the sky clouded over so much that not even a hint of light reflected the waves and ripples of the ocean.
“No wonder you got lost,” Death noted. “Ha, get it? Death noted...hehe.”
Returning to the story, Death proceeded to the second set of cabins by climbing a set of stairs. He held the dog up to each door to see if it reacted in anyway, but it was blank faced.
“You know, if you want to help, you can shake your head or nod or something,” Death asked.
The next few doors were head-shakes, but soon there was a curt nod in front of one door. Death knocked on the door and the door opened revealing an elderly man. It took a moment for the man's eyes to adjust to the dark, so he squinted at death,
“You wouldn’t happen to own a small dog?” Death asked.
“Uh, yes, did he escape?” the old man asked rubbing his eyes.
“I think so, or maybe he snuck out when you closed the door. He seems a tricky type.”
“Indeed, which is why I will be glad to be rid of him.”
Death cocked his head to the side curiously.
“Ah, no, I don’t mean it that way,” the old man smiled. “I have a granddaughter at our next stop and I plan to give the puppy to her as a gift.”
“I see,” Death nodded. “I’m sure she will love it. Goodnight, Louis.”
“Goodnight, sir,” the old man nodded and watched Death walk away before closing the door. “Hmm...maybe...nah.”
Death returned to his room and climbed back into bed. It was far easier for him to catch some sleep without little teeth digging into his shin. As he drifted to sleep a storm began to rain down upon the cruise. The waters became difficult, but nothing to such a large ship. Most slept peacefully, but others were woken up by the loud thunder. Their strikes seemed light up the ocean with startling flashes.
It wasn’t until around two in the morning when one bolt struck the ship that Death woke up.
“No,” he whispered to himself. With the deepest sigh he climbed from the bed and made his way into the storm. The rain dripped from his bones by the time he returned to the second set of cabins.
He reached the same door that knocked on earlier and walked through it was if it were air. Laying still on the bed was the old man. His body was damaged, the window broken and already there were puddles of water forming on the inside of the cabin. Of all the people it had to be, it had to be the old man. Death walked up to the old man and shook him.
“Louis, it is time,” Death whispered.
The eyes of the dead man opened and the spirit sat up, leaving the body behind. Like most his age the old man seemed surprisingly calm.
“Oh, it’s you,” Louis told Death. “You didn’t have anything to do with this, right?”
“No,” Death replied. “It was just unfortunate.”
“I see. Well, I suppose there is nothing to be done...I would have liked to have met her though.”
Death was silent.
“Mph, I guess not,” Louis smiled, tears forming in his eyes. “Show me the way.”
Death took Louis hand and the spirit faded into the afterlife. As Death stood up to leave the puppy jumped onto the bed and walked up to the old man. Death watched it closely before deciding. He took the puppy up in his arms and carried him down to his room.
The puppy seemed more docile now, it knew that a human had died on board. There was a strange sadness in its eyes, but a sadness Death had seen so many times. He crawled back into bed and let the puppy sleep close by. There was nothing to be done. That phrase repeated in Deaths mind until morning.
The body had been found and the first stop was drawing in. The window was repaired and the crew kept the death of Louis a secret as to not alarm the other guests. It was all cut-and-dry, but that didn’t matter. Death left his room with puppy in hand and walked out into the sun. Their first stop seemed nice, but the day was rather humid.
Death walked down the gangplank and towards a couple who stood nearby with their daughter. The sight of Death didn’t seem to faze them in anyway, instead they outright ignored him. It didn’t bother Death, they were not the ones he came to speak to. He knelt down in front of the young girl and placed the dog at her feet. She stared straight into his empty sockets and tears began to well-up in her eyes.
“Why are you crying, darling?” the alarmed mother asked her daughter who held their new puppy close.
“I don’t know...where is grandpa?”
Death entered the town and began exploring.