“skull” by loonytwin
I have another story with Tod as a character in it that I wrote some time ago, but I wanted to write this one as a sort of ‘origin story’ for him, I guess. He’s a character I’ve had tooling around in my brain piece for a while that gets occasionally poked at but is otherwise ignored… Poor Tod, ha-ha. Plus, this was my way of getting to come up with my own version of ‘Death,’ as well. 🙂 Unfortunately I’ve, like Tod, been influenced by too much pop culture… so I tried to force myself to banish the majority of it from my mind and start fresh. I like how he turned out.
His entire body seemed to absorb the little light there was in the room. No, body wasn’t the right word. Form, figure, entity? It was a body-like shape, but there was nothing else about it that could be described as human. Dread and despair seemed to ooze from the imposing form, and while there was no scent coming from him, there was almost the sense that the smell of decay and death hung in the air. It was cold and foreboding in this room.
Dark and ominous, the form appeared to be sitting in a chair in nearly the center of the room. And in the head-area of the humanoid dark form was an old, bleach-white human skull for a face. It slowly bobbed up and down in its designated area, even twisting and turning slightly, as if the empty sockets were glancing around the room.
Tod sniffled in the cold room, aching eyes trying to focus on the skull-head in front of him. It was always so difficult, though, what with the weird flowing blackness that was his father’s body.
“Come sit, Tod.” Tod moved quickly to obey, taking the small seat placed in front of Death. While he had phrased it politely, and Tod was typically a wild child, he knew his father well enough not to push him presently. The polite sentence was really more commanding than it sounded.
Tod cleared his throat and fiddled with the goggles on his neck. He had a sneaking suspicion what the following conversation was about, and wondered if he’d finally get to use the for-fun accessory he’d worn for years.
“Tod.” He glanced up from his lap, staring now at a muntjac skull with protruding fangs and sharp horns. While Tod knew his father’s ‘face’ gradually changed even when it was stared at, it was always a surprise to his siblings and himself to suddenly look at Death again and see a new face. “How are you? I’ve been busy and haven’t had a chance to talk with you.”
Tod shrugged. It was probably all the pop culture he’d absorbed regarding his father, but hearing such questions from him was just weird at this point. He saw more about him than he actually spoke with him. “Well enough, I guess. Mareth keeps me out of trouble when she’s here.” He smirked, getting a bit of his cheekiness back. “Well, as much as she can, anyway.”
“Hmph.” Now that Tod was looking and paying attention, the muntjac was slowly morphing into what looked like a stag. An arm-like appendage of the black mass stretched toward him, and a skeletal hand suddenly appeared and pointed at Tod. “I heard about the whole soul mishap. I was not pleased.” The jaws of the stag clacked together, as if his father were ‘tsk’ing in disapproval. “There were a lot there that had already been sifted through.”
“Really, sorry. In my defense, Hennard’s soul was totally taunting me–”
“Knowing you it was probably the other way around. Now focus, Tod. I do actually have something serious to speak with you about.”
Sobering and straightening in his seat, Tod nodded to show he was listening.
“You know Siwa has decided to leave.” Tod nodded again, a small frown coming to his face. Siwa, one of his many siblings, had found a human that she’d taken a fancy to. Their father was an understanding man–or, not-man–and so she had come to him saying she’d like to become a human, herself. The process for doing so was supposedly taxing and seemed like more work than it was worth (so he’d heard; no one really knew what it was until they’d done it). But Siwa was determined. In fact, last Tod knew, she was still undergoing the trial.
He still wasn’t sure how he felt about his sister’s choice. Wanting to become human? Though, how could he judge, when all he’d met were the souls of humans? Maybe they were different when they were alive. Most of the souls were whiny, in denial, or just plain rude and annoying.
“I will need someone to take over for her. And while you are still a bit rough around the edges, I think you’re at a point where you can handle it.”
Even though he’d been somewhat expecting it, Tod was still surprised. “Really? I actually get to leave?”
In his short time of existence as one of the children of Death, Tod had not once set foot outside of their realm. KD’s (or kid Death’s, the term he and his siblings had decided on) had few privileges unless Death himself had picked them to help in their duty. They were basically trapped at home unless summoned.
And today was Tod’s day. Now he was a bit more accepting of his elder sister’s choice…
“‘Leave’ in the sense that you will be working, yes.” The horse skull staring him down tipped up slightly, pointing at him with its chin. “It will not be all fun and games, Tod. This is our job, so to speak. I think you can handle it, but should you prove otherwise, you will come back here and remain here until further notice. You are a bit rebellious, but I think this responsibility will be good for you.”
Tod nodded eagerly. “I’m honored.”
“Excellent.” Death stood, and Tod followed suit. As Death stretched his skeletal hand forward and Tod took it in his own smaller one, he stared into the eye sockets of a lion as he felt a surge race through him at the touch. It was exhilarating, empowering. It stole his breath.
He suddenly found himself pushed back, and he landed in the chair he’d previously occupied, clutching the hand that had held Death’s to his chest. Tod blinked, and his blue eyes glowed for the briefest of moments before dimming back to normal.
“That is now yours.”
Blinking again, Tod looked down to his hand. He unclenched his fingers to find a small chain in his hand–a bracelet–with the only thing attached to it being a small charm. A tiny scythe, the same light-encompassing black as his father.
Shaking himself from his awe, Tod stood once again and looked into what served as his father’s eyes. “Thank you. I won’t disappoint.”
“I pray not.” The skeletal hand stretched out again and ruffled the blond mess of hair on Tod’s head. “No hat today?”
“You don’t wear hats to formal occasions, right? And I was meeting with you.”
Jaws clacked together again, this time in a laugh. “Go now. You’ll start tomorrow. I think your sister will be done by then, as well.”