Monday, September 24, 2007

Deadly Happenings

Bobby was sitting on the bus headed for home when he saw a billboard for a new tour company called Deadly Happenings. The sign said, “See death as it happens.” They listed a toll-free number and Bobby jotted it down on his PDA.

When he got home, he called them. “Hello, I would like more information about your tours,” he told the receptionist at the tour company. He provided his home address so they could send out a packet. She told him it would be arriving shortly.

He hung up the phone and there was a knock on the door. A delivery man was standing there with the packet. “Wow! Now that’s great service!” Bobby said. The delivery man responded with a grunt and was gone before Bobby could reach into his pocket for a tip.

Bobby opened the packet and started reading the brochures. They offered tours that took you back in time to see natural disasters, plagues, executions of famous people, assassinations, and famous murders. Bobby, who had always been secretly fascinated by all things macabre, was trying to decide which would be the most fun to go on when a slip of paper fell to the floor.

“Grim Reaper Special. Join the Grim Reaper as he goes around the world and watch as he brings lives to an end,” Bobby read. “This tour is not for the faint of heart. All candidates will be interviewed before acceptance. All tourists are required to sign a waiver. Failure to comply will result in dire consequences.”

This was exactly what Bobby had been looking for: a chance to witness all sorts of deaths as they were happening. He quickly filled out the application and faxed it to the company.

Within minutes there was a knock on his door. He opened the door and a very pale woman in a deep red business suit stood there. She had a briefcase in one hand and an umbrella in the other. He looked up at the sky and there wasn’t a cloud in sight. “Is it supposed to rain?” he asked.

“The forecast is for a whopper of a storm later. My name is Ms. Snelling and I’m with Deadly Happenings Tours,” she answered as Bobby stepped aside to let her in. Bobby smelled a hint of embalming fluid as she passed him.

She followed Bobby into the dining room. When they were seated she opened the briefcase and removed a pile of papers. “We’ve already done a background check on you,” she told him. “I just have a few questions to ask. Have you ever met the Grim Reaper?”

“If I had, would I be here?”

“Why do you wish to go on this tour?”

“I love watching death occur, which is why I work at a nursing home. People are always dying, and I can just watch it happen.”

“Very good. Please read the waiver fully before signing,” she said as she handed him a dusty sheet of paper and a pen. He brushed the dust away and quickly read the waiver. It simply stated that he agreed to never tell a living soul about the tour or what he saw there and would sign his life insurance policy over to them should he default on this agreement.

“Does that mean if I talk about the tour, you will kill me?”

“In a nutshell, yes.”

Bobby swallowed hard. He didn’t have anyone to tell really, but, then, how would they know? “Okay, I can agree to that.”

“We took the liberty of obtaining your life insurance policy so that you can change us as the beneficiaries,” she said.

“You’re certainly efficient!” Bobby commented after signing the documents.

“We pride ourselves with expedient service,” she replied. “When would you like to take your tour?”

“As soon as possible, I need to use up my vacation time at work.”

“How about next Monday for three days? Meet at our offices at midnight,” she wrote it down in her appointment book and a reminder card for Bobby. “The address will appear on the card no later than 11:30 p.m. on Sunday night. The non-refundable cost for the trip has already been deducted from your bank account.”

He escorted her to the door. “Thank you, Ms.Snelling, I am looking forward …” he started to say but she vanished into thin air.

Bobby shook his head. He wasn’t at all sure about this tour or the company, but it was done now. He just needed to call work to set up the vacation time and wait.

He called his boss. “Hey, Barb, I am going to be going on vacation next week. Can you put it down on the schedule?”

“Sure. Where are you going?” she asked.

“On a really dark tour about death,” he answered. Outside the clouds gathered and a torrent of rain fell from the skies. There was a clap of thunder then a streak of lightning.

“Sounds like your thing,” she said as she heard a loud zap like a huge static shock then silence. “Bobby? Are you there?”

She hung up the phone and dialed 9-1-1. They discovered Bobby on the floor. He’d been struck with lightning from the unexpected storm. The phone was still clutched in his hand. There was a pile of ashes where the Deadly Happenings tour brochures had been on the table.

The rain stopped almost as suddenly as it had started, and Ms. Snelling put her umbrella away. Her cell phone beeped telling her she had a text message. It was from her boss, the Grim Reaper: “Great work! That’s four deaths today! Expect a bonus in your paycheck this week!”

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