~??? | DECIBITUS | LUCEMA REGINI
There was a time in his life where upon waking up, Aron would spend ten minutes staring at his patchy ceiling, silently convincing himself not to call in sick to work. To not skip the commute, to not take the day off to catch up on prestige TV or footy or some shit.
These days, things were… well, ‘better’ was a word up for hot debate. He was dead. His dear friends and family were on the other side of a crossable but unconquerable divide. On the other hand, no rent. Or utilities. No need to eat or sleep either. And, among a myriad of other hobbies, he’d taken up quilting. That was fun.
It had been two or three years since his passing but every now and then, he’d get a nostalgic little tickle of that workplace exhaustion returning. Like today, with his phone pinging incessantly during the last two squares of his latest quilt. Aron closed his eyes and breathed - wrestling, throttling the urge to ignore the message for another half hour to finish his crafts project. But sensibility won in the end, and he headed out.
Someone once described his afterlife skillset as ‘hauling ass real hard’. That, and the assumption that he’d be familiar with the area, apparently made him the perfect candidate for this retrieval. Fairly broad assumption, he would have said. A correct one, but still broad. Australia was a bloody big country. Being the good employee he was though, Aron kept his mouth zipped. And so, he headed through (not without a quick compliment to Siggy’s nails, of course) and charted a course up the mountain.
The search process ended up taking up most of the time compared to the retrieval. Arapiles’ routes didn’t go too high but it sure was a lot of surface area for one guy, even with his walking speed. At least his mission targets were cooperative. All Aron had really done was mentioned the time to Vorya, which was apparently very close to the pilates appointment he was about to miss, and the bloke practically zipped up the wall himself. Gali accepted his boost, because she was thoughtful that way. As Vorya hauled his own ass back to the campground, Aron and Gali enjoyed the leisurely route, talking of wisps and ghost hunters and proper abseiling methods.
Another job well done. With another assignment under his belt, it was just a matter of getting the little report done before he could head home and finally get that quilt done.
~8AM | MT ARAPILES | CAMP GROUND
Okay, that didn’t happen.
Sunnies on. A chilled Coke in his hand, snagged from an unattended esky. Aron was sat in a tree, taking a refreshing sip and watching over the morning bustle of the campgrounds. It wasn’t like he intended to slack off but, well, it was like his seniors always said. Do you know what hard work gets you? More hard work. If he went back now he’d probably just be handed another task, and that would keep him away from his quilt for even longer. No, he was going to space these things out.
Besides, it wasn’t every day he came back here. It was… nice. The familiar accents, the bustling campground, and that beautiful, wide open bush. For a moment, he could pretend he was back on vacation. As he hopped down to dispose of his empty drink though, he caught sight of a familiar gothic outfit.
Ah, there they were - another team scoping out the tents. The ones that looked like they were here for either a costume party or a conference. For a moment, Aron, in his cargo pants and Bintang singlet, felt underdressed, before he remembered he was at a campground. Ahem. Thanks to Lena’s work parties, he at least knew their names and faces, though some had reputations that preceded even those. Ogawa, Vera, Cath – all model employees. Dressed the part too, depending on what decade you wanted to refer to. And Lena. Everyone knew Lena. It probably would have taken Aron another several months to get to know everyone without her organised get-togethers. He could appreciate someone that took the initiative where he was too awkward to. Could appreciate them a lot, actually.
And then there was the one with the gun. Aron didn’t want to give anyone a bad rap but… the gun. More specifically: the bullets, and the subsequent furphies and complaints (mostly complaints) he’d hear around the office. They were… very difficult to miss. He was sure Amelia didn’t mean for most of those to happen. Hoped, at least. So there was no reason to stress about anything! She was grouped with four other very capable, very sensible agents who would rein her in and boot her down the right track. There would be no need to recount any tall tales of her bullets exploding trees, or buildings, or other Reapers, or herself, or telephone poles, or beloved natural monuments…
“H-Heyyy,” he greeted them with a raised hand, moving as naturally and speedily as the situation would allow. “ ‘s goin’ on? I, uh, guess you guys showed up for the lil ghoulie ‘round here?”