Feedback appreciated. It's not entirely Grim Fandango, I have illusions of it being published one day. So I tried to keep it, for the most part, original.
The first part of many.
If it were any other day, this would have been a normal morning for Miguel Huesos.
As the sun rose to greet the day in a wave of yellow goldenness that would be enough to bring a tear to the eye of the Presidenté of any South American island dictatorship, Miguel’s mind wasn’t anywhere near the concept of normal. He wasn’t considering the poetic ways to express the sound of the birds in the park, or the blare of the horns of the early morning traffic, or even the biting cold of the fog as it snaked its way through the early morning streets of the gently slumbering city.
In fact, Miguel’s mind wasn’t even contained within a brain, which when you come to think about it, is probably the place where you would think you’d find it. But then again, the entire concept of the mind isn’t exactly a proven entity. If you cut a person’s brain in half, you can’t point to a grey squiggly area and say undeniably it’s a mind.
At any rate, Miguel’s mind wasn’t there.
Miguel Huesos was dead, but don’t hold that against him. Besides that fact, he was trying to enjoy the morning to his full capacity.
Thoroughly confused? That’s understandable. Something that has previously been stated needs to be explained, elaborated on, cleared up, and hung out to dry: Miguel Huesos is dead.
He can no longer remember exactly how long this has been going on for. But like everyone around him, death comes unexpectedly. You could be sitting down enjoying a nice cup of tea. The next thing you know, Death will come. He’ll open the door, shake hands with you, have a cup of tea… this is the sort of person death is. He tries to make the transition to the underworld somewhat easier than would normally be expected. The stereotypical view of being thrown in the deep end of the swimming pool without floaties doesn’t exactly hold well when held up to the light. Especially if the light is the aforementioned goldenness.
The second thing that requires clarification has only just been mentioned: Miguel Huesos is indeed in the underworld. He has been there all his life. Or perhaps that’s all his death. Anyway, he’s there, and has been for longer than he can remember. But not too long, of course. That would just be plain ridiculous.
This brings about a rather logical question – if being in the land of the dead is entirely normal, complete with a picturesque environment consisting of golden suns, tweeting birds, rolling fog and blaring horns, and the status of Miguel as a skeleton isn’t itself out of the ordinary, then which part of the entire picture isn’t normal?
Miguel was on his way to collect another soul for the Land of the Dead. Not exactly abnormal on this surface – but this soul was different: it was destined to be a permanent productive resident.
The Land of the Dead functions in a rather straight forward manner. Back in the formation of the Land of the Dead, it was decided by the powers that be that there should be someone who would guide the souls of the world to the land of the dead. This individual would preferably be a deceased employee of the travel industry, would receive the benefits of a parking spot right next to the elevator, and their own car and chauffer. The worldwide mythical fame was an added extra, and sick days were redundant due to the nature of being dead.
As a result Mr. Death was employed, mostly due to the fact that it was his mother who had a hand in creating the underworld. Mr. Death soon became world renowned thanks to both his fascination with gardening implements and his enjoyment of games, and more commonly became known as the Grim Reaper. Not even he is entirely sure where the ‘grim’ part came from; a skeleton has the unfortunate handicap of being limited in the facial expression department, so exactly how he managed to convey grimness is something to be admired.
And so Mr. Death found himself bringing souls to the underworld. Other skeletons like himself were privileged to be the first to experience the land of the dead, even if all they were capable of saying consisted of ‘Oook’ and ‘unga-unga-unga’ and for some inexplicable reason ‘prioritize’, but as the humans evolved from their furry ancestors (or in the case of the French and many managers, stayed exactly the same) the land of the dead became more populated. Mr. Death found that he had to take on more employees just to keep up with the workload. Among some of his more famous employees are War, Famine, and Pestilence. He also filed a request form to the powers that be to be allocated more employees.
They sent him Miguel Huesos. You see, even gods have a sense of humour.
Miguel was Death’s older brother, that much he is certain of. He’d been sent to the land of the dead to fill the employment gap, something that had always been around in the past. Most people just come to the land of the dead in some sort of transitional stage. Where they go to after this realm is not something that Miguel was entirely sure of.
Somewhere better, of that he was certain.
As Miguel neared the focal point of his assignment the energy ripples became stronger. When someone is about to die, a weakening between the barriers of this land and the living land form, eventually breaking through. Only a few beings could actually cross to the living land successfully, and not be seen in the process until needed. Miguel was one of these, and like all the others who could, a reaperman.
His mind flared momentarily as he crossed into the living land, the transition was no longer painful and disorientating, not to someone so experienced. He found himself standing on the ledge of a building, quietly witnessing events unravelled.
Murders happened. Murders were common. Miguel had seen many of them, and may have even been a victim of one, if he could remember. The ledge that he sat on at the moment provided him with an excellent view of a deteriorating alley. Always a favourite for murders and muggings. If you plan on emerging with all your parts still attached, an alley is definitely something to be avoided.
The victim was killed. There was no sound. No cries for help, no explosion of a weapon. Nice and quiet. The murderer was clearly well practised in his art. Miguel would undoubtedly see him sometime in the future… no one ever became that good at murder without having an extended stay in Tierra de los Muertos.
Miguel jumped down lightly from the ledge and padded over to the victim, his bony feet clicking quietly on the concrete. He peered down at the victim from under the hood, and almost on cue a dramatic fog arose in the morning light.
‘Tomas Encion?’ He asked in a stoic tone. ‘Nicknamed ‘The Red’, and stoolie for the cops?’
The young man shook his head in slow disorientation, sat up, and looked back at himself. ‘What’s happened?’ He asked slowly. ‘Who…?’
It was times like this that Miguel wished dramatic reverb would come naturally. ‘My name is Miguel Huesos. And you, my dear friend, are dead.’
They say that gods enjoy playing strange and disturbing games with mortal men. Who exactly ‘they’ are, and what makes them so qualified to make these observations on the gods themselves has never really been known, but they are essentially correct. Gods do play games.
They also cheat. You’ve never met a cheater until you’ve played twister or monopoly with a god. So if a god, such as Fate, decided to throw a mortal into the mix of Tierra de los Muertos just because he was bored and wanted to see what would happen, who would protest? It would be the same as kicking an ant’s nest – the ants can protest all they want, but in the grand scheme of things it won’t do any good.
As it turns out, Fate actually did throw a mortal human into the mix. A mortal human, who for lack of logical explanation, was named Number Two. If History were to look back through her records in the library of the gods, she’d find that the entire event occurred something like this:
‘Hello? Colonel O’Niell? Where the heck did the tour group go!? Someone answer me! I said someone answer me! You have to do what I say, you hear? You see this pass thingie? It says V.I.P., right here baby! That’s right! Sign, give me information… ‘Top Secret Stargate Facility. Please insert two dollars to ride the Stargate’. Errrr… hello!? Is anyone out there!? Does anyone have change for… no wait, wait… I have it. If there’s anyone out there who was going to give me change, it’s okay, don’t worry! One dollar… two dollar. Wow. Look at this. It’s all blue and swirly and… and… I don’t think I want to go through this Stargate thing AAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!’
‘Wait wait wait… when you say dead… you don’t actually mean…’
Tomas wasn’t exactly catching on as fast as Miguel had hoped.
‘Dead.’ He replied bluntly. ‘As in dead dead. Pushing up roses, past the life expiry date, whatever you want to call it. You’re it. I’m it. Get it.’
Tomas paused in thought for a moment. ‘Now when you say dead…’
Miguel cut him off. ‘Red, look around you. What do you see.’
The alleyway was beginning to light up in the midmorning sun, the dark colours giving way to a dismal grey. Debris littered the outskirts, decay hung from the surrounding buildings… it was not the most pleasant setting.
‘An alley.’ Tomas said calmly.
‘Now look down.’ Miguel instructed. ‘Now what do you see?’
‘Me.’ Tomas said obediently. ‘I’m dead.’
‘Good.’ Miguel said, folding up his scythe and putting it into his robe. ‘Glad we have that cleared up. I believe it’s time we left.’
‘Leave for where?’ Red asked, the calm shock seeping into his voice.
‘To begin the first day of the rest of your death.’