The first time that death had come was on All Saints Eve and Cruikshank had welcomed him with a rasping cough, a rasping cough was all the salutation he could muster. Outside, winter’s advance was marked by a biting wind that blustered past his front door carrying a Jetsam of fallen leaves. The leaves danced in the golden light of a street lamp along with a hawk moth whose misguided attempts to reach the moon were lost on all but the wind.
Children dressed in macabre costumes held pumpkins carved with good intention or plastic caldrons half full with the bounty already collected from well meaning neighbours. The laughter and chatter of children who passed his door was, to him, sweet reprieve from the howling, bone chilling cry of the wind. The children rapped occasionally upon his door; he would have opened it of course but feared his progressed state of decay would scare them into next week. His oft dishevelled appearance, raggedy clothes, a white shock of unkempt hair, skin sallow and wrinkled beyond his years was, he thought, made worse by the blood that he had just vomited over his crumpled shirt.
Slumped in an armchair that was, ever so slightly better dressed than himself he thought how fleeting his life had been. Always a person of ill health he gravitated towards a peaceful life of observation, to watch and often appreciate rather than actually be! He had, when pushed, admitted to himself that there are those who live by acting out their dreams and then there are those who dream of acting out their lives. He dreamed and felt happy to do so, and never felt short changed by those others who acted. Those who are drawn to acting need an audience, people to applaud them and fill them with encouragement, which was his role in life, a witness to the lives of others.
But of course he did live and he breathed and he loved many things, he loved craftsmanship however it was presented to him. A well written book, a meal prepared by benevolent hands, a picture painted or poem read with conviction, all had the power to lift his spirit, but above all things, he loved the sound of a violin. So much so that he believed it was only possible to reach perfection as a violinist if you played upon a violin crafted to be an extension of yourself. So that’s what he did, he made violins for violinist who wished to reach perfection in their craft.
Despite his contribution to craftsmanship Cruikshank’s life had passed him in a hurry, he was never really ready for it, and now, it was too late.
Between the blustering wind and the carefree cries of children Cruikshank, too tired to move, listened to the music in his head. Lost in the expression of a symphony written to forget he forgot his pain, physical or otherwise, his discomfort and the rasping, desperate breaths. His fingers tapped rhythmically upon the armchair, the grandfather clock, who had overseen many a mortal’s demise, ticked respectfully, counting down the seconds. In the corner of the room, a dank, dark, stale room, a row of sepia photographs were gathered on a walnut dresser, each one the portrait of a ghost. They leered at him in collective silence; anticipating, judging, disappointing, discouraging, pleading and sad. Soon he would join them: a sepia memory, a celluloid souvenir of the past clamped in a frame and frozen behind glass for someone to occasionally dust and perchance to wonder who this fellow was.
The three bar electric fire burned for all its worth in the small front room but its noble efforts could not keep Death’s icy benediction from touching Cruikshank’s heart.
The wind’s howl took on a deeper voice as the moments that passed between the pendulums swing slowed down. The music in his head began to fade and the tapping of his fingers came to rest.
The portraits glanced at one another…
‘I’m ready’ said Cruikshank to Death.
The clocks pendulum rested in Death’s bony grip like a set of old man’s testacies.
The clock faced away, tried to enjoy the moment.
‘Yeah, said Death to Cruikshank, ‘…about that.’
Cruikshank raised a curious eyebrow; it was all he could manage now. All he wanted was to be liberated from the pain his body had presented to him year after year, one painful, aching moment heaped upon another.
‘I have a proposition for you,’ said Death as he pulled up a chair and sat down next to Cruikshank. The pendulum stayed frozen in mid-swing; the old clock remembered the protocol and remained motionless. Time had stopped. Death was dressed in a pin-striped suit he’d acquired from a recently departed tailor. Incongruously, and at odds with his finely tailored threads he also wore a yellow florescent vest.
Once a year on Halloween, the dead, normally the recently departed can, if they wish to do so, visit their families. Death had to keep them in order and make sure that they all returned on time to their designated coaches. It was a rather busy night. On top of which he had to fulfil his regular duties and somehow find time to play a solo performance of ‘la danse macabre’ at the local cemetery! This year, to illustrate the impartiality of Death, the overall egality of dying, he thought he might summon a banker, a post suicide jihadist and a fourteen year old Brazilian rent boy.
The vest was part one of the ‘newer’ directives handed down from ‘them’ and even though he didn’t care for the vest at all, he saw the sense in it. He had managed to keep his entire group together and had not lost a single soul. It wasn’t all down to the vest though – the clipboard and whistle helped too.
‘I need a new violin,’ said Death.
‘Mine is getting rather tired you see and I feel the need of an upgrade. You make the best violins and it wouldn’t do for you to die just yet, not until I have been furnished with a bono-fide Cruikshank. In return for a violin I will grant you an extension of… let’s say, a year; a year where you will have nothing but the best of health. I’ll have to pull some strings; I have a few favours to cash in especially in administration. Those pen-pushers and archivists owe me a blind eye or two. How’s that for a deal?’ said Death smiling.
Sepia photos looked aghast…
‘Play for me,’ wheezed Cruikshank.
‘Well I wasn’t expecting to have to audition, but very well; the last request of a dying man and all that.’
Death conjured up a rather battered violin from the air. After taking great pains to tune it, he played a rendition of a concerto composed by an impoverished Russian Jew written for the Tsar’s coronation. The Concerto had been deemed too miserable for a coronation, rather than make obvious the majesty and overall benevolence of the Tsar it instead reflected the hunger and desperation of his subjects.
Death, having known a thing or two about misery, played the piece with such passion that the hawk moth outside redoubled his effort to reach the moon; a glorious sensation of the futility and brevity of life with all its despondency and sorrow, piercing wretchedness, lethargy in the face of acceptance, a brief reflection on the pathos of it all and finally death. The hawk moth lay dead on the pavement, leaving his family to grieve the loss of a spirited fellow who pursued his dream until the end.
Cruikshank was suitably impressed with The Reaper’s fervour and so raised a weary hand to signify his agreement and desire to enter into the covenant with Death.
Death, not used to pleasantries vanished.
Clock lost no time in righting his pendulum.
The collection of sepia portraits reserved the right to reserve judgement as the fire burned with a vigour renewed.
Cruikshank slept a dreamless sleep and, as promised awoke to full health. More health than he had ever had in fact!
In the year that followed Cruikshank lived! He crammed more life into one year than he had experienced in the forty nine that had preceded it. Within three months he’d met, fallen in love with and married a young soprano called Dorothy Trent who’s, until now barren belly, soon carried the consequence of their devotion. Woven between the living he kept up his side of the bargain and, based on the accomplished demonstration given by Death, Cruikshank crafted a violin to suit the personification’s requirements.
In that year Cruikshank never once lingered upon his inevitable demise, nor did he look back over all the seemingly wasted years; years that stretched behind him, fallow, uncultivated, fruitless and overrun with inertia. No, he lived in every moment! When Cruikshank ate a pear, he ate a pear: he tasted its sweet succulent flavour and witnessed every bite. No moment was wasted, given over to ignorance or dropped due to mishandling. Nope. Every sense, every sensation, every experience had his full attention. Cruikshank’s year of living became legendary to all those souls that had pursued happiness before him. Many had sought refuge in the temples of spirituality or worshipped at the altars of monitory wealth, power or gluttony only to find nothing but the conspicuous and acrid stench of bullshit lay there within.
Cruikshank’s approach to his one year of life was different in that he not only had the foresight to live it but also to just… well… be himself. This revolutionary approach to living had serious reverberations in the afterlife where billions of sheep and several wolves smacked their heads in recognition of the bloody obvious,
‘Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?’ became a common phrase amongst the dead.
Time marched on. Death finally arrived with a flourish (albeit a little out of breath).
‘That was cutting it fine,’ said Cruikshank. Death shot him a withering look,
‘It’s murder out there tonight. Bloody murder! I’m busy enough without having to play ‘catch-up’ with you. Come on. Time to go.’
Moments before Deaths arrival Cruikshank had stood holding his wife’s hand as she squeezed their baby out into the capable hands of midwife Henrietta Clod. Both parents glanced briefly upon the face of their daughter before Death, in his florescent jacket swept them both up and carried them off to be demobbed; consoled, counselled and initiated into the every growing body of the dead.
Fate rarely gets it wrong and is therefore not used to surprises. She does little weaving herself these days because of the ever growing number of lives that need to be woven. Therefore she oversees an ever growing number of trained minions to do it for her. But as all personifications of immortality know, the buck stops with them, and so, therefore one must keep a vigilant eye upon the happenings of the universe.
Imagine fate’s surprise when she caught sight of a thread that had been woven into the fabric of time that had no place being there! She had not ordered its existence, nor had a minion sewn it there, it had appeared seemingly of its own free will! And yet as Fate, more than anyone can tell you, free will does not exist. Just think of the chaos it would cause if we all just did whatever we liked? A life cannot just track its own course; a life is woven before the person living it is born! Mahatma Ghandi may have thought that he had control over his destiny, but really, as with all people, his fate had been written before he was even aware of it. Ghandi, as with all people was but a pawn. Free will cannot be tolerated…but you try telling free will that!
And yet here was a thread, a life that should not exist, should not be weaving itself and therefore interacting and influencing other threads, the whole thing could be thrown into utter disarray, a complete nightmare, a code red.
The thread was called Henrietta Cruikshank; given the name of the midwife that delivered her. Henrietta should never have existed, and would not have existed if Death hadn’t meddled with her father’s fate.
Eighty years, a blink of an eye to an immortal, is still enough time to cause some damage on Earth. Eighty years had passed since Cruikshank had handed Death his new violin, since he and his young wife had both tragically died, since Henrietta muscled her way into the world without prior consent.
A gusty, prevailing wind blew a squall from the sea over the land in waves. No childish imps dressed like ghouls haunted the streets tonight, only the dead dared to venture out. Impressive elm trees formed the first line of defence around the perimeter of the graveyard, shoulders slightly slumped and heads bowed like a row of messiahs pinned to a cross. The elms dug in their heels, well rooted beneath the rotting corpses; they held sway to no one.
A low murmuring hubbub ebbed and flowed, whistled and moaned through the graveyard as the headstones for the poor, tombstones for the rich endlessly recited the epitaphs bestowed upon them. Here lies Beloved. She walks in beauty like the night of cloudless climes and starry skies. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. Blessed sleep to which we all return. To un-pathed waters, undreamed shores. Life is not forever love is. Today she dances with angels. Tis not the whole of life to live, nor all of death to die. Now twilight lets her curtain down and pins it with a star. I told you I was ill.
Rain lashed against the grey stone of the stoic church like arrows shot from Beelzebub’s bow, but the church was impenetrable to attack, had withstood years of abuse. Now was not the time to give in to defeat, to the molestations of nature and all her wickedness. Now was the time to stand tall, look menacing and convey a certain arrogance and authority. Now was the time to see out the storm and show some respect, now was the time to…
‘What the hell was Death up to?’
From the eastern most corner of the graveyard Death stepped out from the protection of the Yew, rosined up his bow with aplomb and then tucked his violin under his chin. The gravestone gracing the grave he stood upon was devoted to Sally Winkleman: human rights lawyer, charity fundraiser, school fete cake-baker and psychopathic child killer.
Over the crash and clamour of the storm’s seemingly inexhaustible attack the sound of music rose on the night air. The dead began to stir, the elms swayed to the rhythm of the ‘Dance Macabre’ and the house of God, pious and loyal turned his back to the noise.
Sally stood by her gravestone, ‘Sally Winkleman. The final judgement is upon you’ and regarded Death with contempt.
Death ignored her and moved to the next gravestone to summon his next dancer, Ludwig Percival, considered to be a crippled orphan but was in fact only a cripple. Bastard child of Sir William Higgins, high court judge and member of the House of Lords, Ludwig died of malnutrition in a poor house on Christmas Eve, aged ten. Ludwig’s mother, a chambermaid, left him swaddled in a greyhound’s blanket on the steps of Smirk and Smirk solicitors. Neither parent looked back, neither parent cared.
Death thought that the child and the killer would make a good juxtaposition. His bow was poised, the wind took a breath, the elms stood frozen in anticipation, the church of God sighed just a little in resignation; Sally regarded her finger nails and…
‘Thanatos!’ came a cry from across the graveyard.
Death ignored the cry and attempted to continue. His concentration renewed he once again poised his bow in ready-ment. After all, this was his only performance of the year. He began to play slowly at first, picking up the pace once the child had arrived from his eternal slumber. Together the crippled boy and the child-killer began to dance to the tune of Deaths violin…
‘Thanatos!’ came the call again; closer this time.
Death lay down his bow in resignation and addressed the figure now standing before him.
‘Well what is it? What is so important that you feel the need to interrupt an inspired performance?’
‘That good eh?’
‘Have you not read the reviews?’
‘Can’t say I have.’
‘Well, shame on you!’ said Death trying to muster a little self-respect in the presence of such an old myth.
Themis,- Greek God of order had come out of retirement to…well… restore order. And she had every intention of revelling in her renewed capacity.
‘I have been requested to address you on a rather sensitive matter that seems to be of your own making.’ Death looked blank. Themis continued, ‘If you will humour me with your attention I think I can bring you up to speed. Then perhaps you can furnish me with a solution to the problem and we can all return to business as usual?’
Death suppressed his desire to retaliate with superior rhetoric in favour of an expediant nod of agreement.
And so Themis, wasting no time, began addressing her audience as if she were a lawyer stating the case:
Frederick Smith Howard landed at Gatwick Airport in a state of high anxiety and had every intention of remaining so. He thrived on pressure and needed the stress to combat the ever growing need to stop for a moment and actually think about the meaning of his existence. To keep himself sharp and edgy he drank copious amounts of coffee. This day was going to be a bumper cup day if he had any intention of winning the case for culpability against war-monger Timothy Greystone, Editor in Chief of the tabloid newspaper, ‘The Messenger’. The billionaire media mogul had, thought Smith Howard, bought and paid for the latest in a long line of foreign ‘interventions’ in the Middle East.
Today was the beginning of a long public inquiry that would, he hoped, lead to the collapse of a corrupt government and Greystone’s empire. Smith Howard’s evidence was a huge media bombshell about to go off, and today was the day he had been asked to present his allegations to the inquiry.
On his way through arrivals he passes a vending machine, he stops to give himself a shot of coffee. But the machine decides to give him ‘Cream of Chicken Soup’ because the machine can see that her customer is stressed and, in her opinion, needs something a little more wholesome than Arabica beans. Smith Howard takes a sip of the cream of chicken soup and is instantly transported back to his mother’s kitchen in Cambridgeshire; the hearth, the Aga, the family Dog Joseph curled up by his feet while mother sewed and Father dozed.
All of a sudden standing in front of the vending machine, empty plastic cup in hand, nothing mattered more to Smith Howard than finding the meaning of his existence. All the baggage- the cumbersome, superfluous distractions- faded away, oozed into the ether and dissolved. He felt renewed, reborn and afloat on a vast sea of exploration and discovery. It was up to him which way his life went from here. It was for him to decide on his own fate, to not succumb to the old seducers that had so craftily manoeuvred him from his first day in the cradle. It was almost as if his life had been planned out before he was even born!
Thus, Frederick, thanks to the intervention of a certain vending machine, inadvertently started World War III by capitulating to the evocative power of cream of chicken soup. Rather than attending the hearing that had taken him months of preparation Smith Howard took the first flight out of London. Six months later he bought an Alpaca farm in Patagonia where he made his own shirts, on a loom by the light of the Argentinean moon. He completely removed himself from his former life and never drank coffee again.
Susan Felicity Fulcrum landed at Gatwick airport with her new tits firmly in place and made it through customs without anyone finding the six grams of cocaine secreted in her anus. Her day should have presented to her a middle aged, German businessman who would snort the cocaine (once removed from its hiding place) while his companion, Wolfgang, fucked her for thirty minutes in a jacuzzi. But, rather than following Fate’s plan, essential to the equilibrium of the universe one should add, Susan took a detour. On passing a vending machine in arrivals she thought she might like a healthy snack; the vending machine thought she needed feeding up and dispensed a king sized confectionary bar.
Susan ate it all and then, riddled with the guilt that comes with indulgence, threw it back up into a toilet bowl. It was while she knelt on the bathroom floor staring at the contents of her stomach in the pan that Susan ruminated on her pointless, meaningless life. Her shallow existence had been built on the assumption that her physical beauty and her willingness to sell her body and soul would bring her happiness. She didn’t feel happy at all.
More important for the thread of fate however, was the missed rendezvous with Wolfgang; this liaison with Susan should have led to Wolfgang’s divorce, a peccadillo too far for Mrs Wolfgang. Mrs –was -Wolfgang should have gone on to invest her divorce settlement in stocks that would flourish, giving Wolfgang Junior the chance to pursue his dream of entering into the sphere of biotechnology.
Instead, when it finally dawned on him that Susan was a ‘no-show’ Wolfgang wasted no time in boarding an earlier plane to Saudi Arabia; a plane that was targeted by one of Timothy Greystone’s Missiles and promptly brought down somewhere over the red sea. Mrs Wolfgang was subsequently left penniless after spending everything she had on a corrupt lawyer whom she had employed to win a case for compensation against the airline. Wolfgang Junior ended up cooking meth in a Bulgarian slum before successfully blowing himself up and taking a dozen or more slum dwellers with him.
If, as planned, Wolfgang Junior’s father had had sex with an anorexic prostitute in a Jacuzzi in a swanky London hotel, Junior would have gone on to develop a biological breakthrough in cellular manipulation. This discovery would eventually lead to the first peace keeping mutant army, built from the orphans of refugees fleeing various Middle Eastern war zones.
Susan, rather than meeting her clients decided to go for a stroll in Hyde Park where she met Malcolm Bentweather, a liberal Quaker protesting against his country’s involvement in Middle Eastern conflicts. Malcolm was wealthy, single and charismatic and so when he invited Susan to a prayer meeting she thought, ‘Why the hell not?’
It was during this rather sombre meeting in the back room of a snooker hall that Susan had her spiritual awakening. The Hallelujah Moment coincided coincidentally with the moment that the Clingfilm containing the contraband narcotic gave in and the cocaine in her arse seeped into her blood stream. Devine intervention must have played a hand in her survival, because Fate certainly had no part in Susan’s miraculous escape from what should have been a fatal overdose.
Susan Felicity Fulcrum went on to become a poster girl for Quakerism and was responsible for a resurgence of the faith. The ever-growing numbers of pacifist Quakers led to the defeat of democracy in The West as no one wanted to fight for it.
Then there is Mr Oluwamakinde a student of economics at Oxford University. He landed at Gatwick airport after two months spent at home listening to theories of how Satanism was prevalent in The West: the elite ruling classes were in bed with the Devil and made blood sacrifices to their lord by bombing and killing Muslims around the world. That his own blood had been poisoned with the HIV virus was testimony to how far reaching and sinister the rulers were: the fact that he’d had unprotected sex with a prostitute in Lagos was over looked by all the harbingers of doom.
His position was clear: he had to finish his degree, keep his head down, avoid anyone but the most pious of people and get out before the Devil took him for a concubine.
On leaving the terminal he passed the vending machine and felt a great thirst so paused to buy water but the vending machine refused to vend. The vending machine didn’t like the look of Mr Oluwamakinde and reserved the right not to trade with those of whom she disapproved; she spat his money out.
Mr Oluwamakinde took the vending machine’s refusal to accommodate his request for water as a sign from God. He left the airport and made his way to Cromwell Green near Parliament. Here he calmly doused himself with lighter fuel and offered tourists the opportunity to set him on fire. Mrs Fengfang Fung visiting from Beijing said in her statement to the Metropolitan Police that she had thought Mr Oluwamakinde was a street performer doing a trick, which is why she not only obliged him in his request to set him on fire but also took a selfie standing beside the burning body of Mr Oluwamakinde.
Fate had originally made other plans for Mr Oluwamakinde! He was not meant to end up a chard piece of meat on a patch of grass covered in dog shit and fag ends. No, he had a destiny to fulfil, as did everyone. The very fact that his role had not been fulfilled caused great distress to Fate.
Of course Fate is a great believer in herself, and seldom has cause for doubt. But the very fact that these individuals, and more, were seemingly going off plan made her wonder what was going on? Free Will is like a virus – once it starts to spread it becomes exponential and then nothing but chaos rules. So in an attempt to quash it, to stamp it out before it’s too late, we found the source of the problem… which happens to be a vending machine in the arrivals hall in Gatwick airport.
At that point we came unstuck.
Having come to the end of her(somewhat lengthy) explanation, Themis the God of order, paused and looked Death in the eye,
‘Whatever inhabits that vending machine, whatever intelligence resides there within is not quite of this world! And as it turns out it has something to do with you, doesn’t it Thanatos? ‘It goes by the name of Henrietta Cruikshank – ring any bells?’
Death thought for a moment and then whipped out his clipboard. He thumbed through an eternity of parchment.
‘Now let me see… Henrietta Cruikshank you say?’
Sally Winkleman, now lounging on a churchyard bench dedicated to a Deacon of good repute, had been listening to Themis with a curious ear. Detached as she often was from the questionable activities of ordinary people this eloquent account stimulated her otherwise apathetic interest.
‘Are you saying that there is no such thing as free will?’ demanded Sally.
‘No. That’s not what she’s saying,’ said Death not glancing up from his clipboard. ‘They believe it shouldn’t exist. That’s not quite the same thing is it?’
‘It’s a virus we have to eradicate whenever it gets into the system that’s all’ said Themis smugly.
‘So,’ reasoned Sally ‘I’m not to blame for my own behaviour then? I was born to be a killer, a peddler of misery, a cold hearted bitch bereft of compassion and love?’
‘Yep,’ uttered Death.
‘So we have no authority over our own lives, no autonomy, no way of changing our fortunes? So there is no good and bad, no Heaven and Hell, no sin, there’s just puppetry and puppets?’ Sally looked to Death for an answer.
‘Apparently,’ he sighed contining to scroll though his records.
‘Seems a bit arbitrary! I mean what is the point of that? Is life just a whimsy, a game played for the amusement of Fate and her cronies? It all seems a bit futile doesn’t it? I mean if I have no sovereignty over my own fate then great I’m not to blame for my actions and I’m just doing whatever it is that I’m programmed to do. But to be honest, I’d prefer to believe that my actions were born of my own desire. OK I was a despicable person in life- or at least that’s how I will be remembered- but to think that I was obliged to kill, was indeed programmed to do so, seems even more despicable! Why?’
‘Hard to believe isn’t it? But what about this little fellow here?’ said Death pointing at the crippled boy, ‘No way could he overcome the circumstances of his birth. His fate was signed, sealed and delivered the moment he was conceived wasn’t it young man?’
‘Yes Mr Death sir; they was with no mistake’
‘But then one must beg the question, What’s the fucking point?’
‘Indeed,’ said Death.
Themis was getting fidgety, ‘To get back to the matter at hand Thanatos…what of this Henrietta Cruikshank?’
Death raised his eyes from the clipboard, ‘I don’t seem to have her on my list. But, yes of course I remember now she was born to the violin-maker and his wife. Her parents both died the moment she was born. She lived her life in shadows, barely registered at all until she took her own life about two years ago. She threw herself off a bridge suspended over an estuary while the tide was out. She got stuck in the mud, head first; only her boots were visible, very undignified. The fire brigade had to winch her corpse out during low tide with a crane, there was an audible pop as her body finally came free. She wasn’t on my list, had no exit visa, so I didn’t know what to do with her. I ended up stashing her soul in a vending machine until I could figure out how to get her to the other side…then promptly forgot about her. Truth is she was never really meant to be. I can only assume that her existence has torn enough of a rent in the fabric of reality to allow freewill to crawl in.
‘But if free will takes a hold on reality then what of Fate’s fate?’
Death consulted his list again. ‘You better tell her to pack her things, I’m on my way’.
‘But that’s ridiculous, Fate can’t die! What will happen? We need order; we need to follow the plan and avoid deviation!’ Themis said frantically clutching her heart. She was feeling a little faint, a tad disorientated as is the wont of ordered folk when Uncertainty rears his ugly head.
‘Yes well I’m afraid things will just carry on as if Fate never happened. I’m sure the mortals will adapt in time.’
‘But what will govern their lives, if not Fate? Free will doesn’t really exist, no matter what the mortals want to believe – it’s just an illusion. It’s nothing more than memes and genes and self delusion.’
‘Self delusion would imply a ‘self’ to delude would it not?’ asked Sally with aplomb.
No one answered.
Fate had foreseen her potential demise of course.
To avoid Death, she found a way back in. Fate would be reborn…as the child of a violin-maker (who had struck a bargain with Death) and his soprano wife. After many years of struggling with the burden of mortality she would kill herself in a spectacular way. Then, not knowing what to do with her soul Death would hide her from herself in a vending machine in Gatwick airport. From the vending machine she would start once more to govern the lives of mortals, but by doing so would introduce free will… or at least the illusion of free will… to the lives of those she touched.
Death continued to look everywhere for Fate but never found her.