Death’s Apprentice – Part 78

‘Wake up!’ Agnes hit him again. ‘Wake the fuck up and tell me where my heart is!’

The violence was making Joe uncomfortable.

‘Agnes,’ said Joe quietly.

‘Tell me,’ she screamed.

‘Stop it,’ he said.

‘What?’ she screeched, rounding on Joe.

‘Let him go.’

‘Why the fuck should I?’

‘Because he didn’t steal your heart.’

Agnes’ eyes narrowed as she studied Joe. ‘What the fuck do you mean? If you’re having me on…’

‘I’m not having you on.’

‘Go on.’

‘He didn’t steal your heart because Death did.’

Agnes stared at Joe. This made Joe very uncomfortable and very nervous.

‘What?’ she finally managed, after what seemed like an eternity of uncomfortable silence.

‘The woodcutter doesn’t know where your heart is because he didn’t steal it,’ he repeated, ‘Death did.’

‘And,’ she said, walking slowly but purposefully over to Joe, you’re only telling me this now?’

‘I’ve only just found out myself,’ he replied.

Agnes stopped right in front of Joe. So close to him in fact, that he could feel her warm breath on his face.

‘And you expect me to believe you, because…?’

‘Look,’ he said, ‘I can prove it to you!’ He flipped open the book and looked at the page. It read:

You fucking idiot. I am going to fucking kill you when I get my hands on you. What part of don’t tell Agnes did you not fucking get?

Absolutely fabulous, thought Joe, how do I end up pissing off every single person that comes into my life? And why do they always want to kill me? The day was getting worse. And it hadn’t even started off on a good note anyway.

He offered the open book to the witch.

She snatched it from his hands and began to read. Her face turned from anger to confusion, to murderous rage in a matter of seconds. Agnes snapped the book shut and threw it back to Joe.

‘And what,’ she said, spitting out each word with poisonous venom, ‘the fuck am I supposed to do with that information? Why the fuck did she do that to me? And why the fuck is she talking to us through a book?’

Joe had no words to comfort her. He hadn’t got a clue what was going on himself.

Agnes turned to look at the woodcutter. She gave an agonised sob and collapsed onto the floor.

Death’s Apprentice – Part 77

‘I’m going to fucking rip your heart out!’ she screamed.

And just like that, thought Joe, we’re right back where we started.

‘Why? No. Agnes, stop!’ shouted the woodcutter as she descended upon him, the knife flashing silver in the air. He tried to jump his chair away from her, his eyes wide with terror. ‘AGNES!’

‘Where’s my heart you Motherfucker?’

‘Agnes, what? I don’t know what you mean. I -‘

‘THIS,’ she screamed, yanking her dress down to reveal the top of her scar, ‘is your handiwork. You couldn’t even stitch it up neatly. Look! LOOK!’

The woodcutter’s face took on a mixture of emotions that ranged from scared stiff to deeply hurt. ‘I…Agnes, that wasn’t me.’ Despite everything going on, he said the words with a dignified calmness.

‘Sure,’ she replied. She looked up at the axe and muttered the word, ‘Release!’ and the axe began to fall.

‘STOP!’ shouted Joe.

The woodcutter looked up, saw the axe falling, and fainted.

‘You fucking wimp,’ she screamed as the axe stopped within a centimetre from piercing his skull.

Joe felt his heart jolt inside him. That was fucking close.

She slapped the woodcutter across the face with her spare hand. It was a hard slap that left a big red handprint across his cheek. ‘Wake up!’ Agnes hit him again. ‘Wake the fuck up and tell me where my heart is!’

The violence was making Joe uncomfortable.

‘Agnes,’ said Joe quietly.

‘Tell me,’ she screamed.

‘Stop it,’ said Joe.

‘What?’ she screeched, rounding on him.

‘Let him go.’

‘Why the fuck should I?’

‘Because he didn’t steal your heart.’

Agnes’ eyes narrowed as she studied Joe. ‘What the fuck do you mean? If you’re having me on…’

‘I’m not having you on.’

‘Go on. I’m listening’

‘He didn’t steal your heart because Death did.’

Death’s Apprentice – Part 76

Joe read the words in front of him again. And again:

Don’t tell Agnes but I have her heart. Or, should I say, I “arranged” for it to be taken. DON’T tell her. You need her and the woodcutter. I don’t care how you manage it, just don’t let the fucking witch kill the woodcutter. And Joe?

Yes, thought Joe, in his head.

Cheer the fuck up. Everything is going to plan.

Hel asked, ‘Are you sure?’

‘Sure of what?’ Joe asked absentmindedly.

‘That the book has nothing? Nothing at all to help us get Agnes’ heart back. No clues as to where to start?’

‘No. There’s nothing at all,’ he replied snapping the book shut. He dropped it back into his bag. Why the fuck had he thought that was a good idea? Now what was he supposed to do? He knew who had Agnes’ heart. What he didn’t know was how or why, or even how to get it back. Not only that, how was he supposed to lie to two homicidal maniacs who would most likely rip him to shreds if they ever found out he was lying to them?

‘Are you sure about that Joe? You’re looking quite pale.’

‘No. I just thought it would help. That I could help, that’s all. But I can’t.’

‘So what now?’ asked Hel.

‘We return to Plan A,’ said Agnes yanking the knife from out of the floor. She rose up and shouted, ‘Weken!’

The woodcutter’s eyes flew open, the colour draining from his face as he saw Agnes.

‘Agnes? What…? What’s going on? Why am I tied up like a hog roast?’

‘I’m going to fucking rip your heart out!’ she screamed.

And just like that, thought Joe, we’re right back where we started.

‘Why? No. Agnes, stop!’ shouted the woodcutter as she descended upon him, the knife flashing silver in the air. He tried to jump his chair away from her, his eyes wide with terror. ‘AGNES!’

‘Where’s my heart, you Motherfucker?’

Death’s Apprentice – Part 75

‘Okay, look, I haven’t got much to offer but I’ll take a look at my book,’ he said, trying to diffuse the situation. Hopefully, it would buy him some thinking time because he didn’t know how he was going to get her heart back but he did know torturing the woodcutter was not the way to go about it.

Hel and Agnes looked at him with the are you fucking kidding me kind of look again. It seemed to just bounce off Joe now as he was so used to seeing it.

‘I know, I know,’ he said, palms in the air, ‘it’s probably not going to help but it can’t hurt to take a quick look, can it?’

‘I ‘spose not,’ said Agnes. She plunged the sharp point of the knife into the wooden floor. It remained upright and she began to flick the hilt of the knife with her finger.

Joe shrugged his backpack off his shoulders and unzipped the bag. He rummaged around and found the book hiding at the bottom. It seemed to thrum in his hands as he pulled it out.

‘Joe, how’s it going to know what’s going on? I mean you wouldn’t expect a book of the dead to know all the intricacies of life going on here, would you?’

‘No, you wouldn’t,’ admitted Joe. He absentmindedly stuck he tongue out as he tried to find the right spot in the book. ‘But this book is different.’

‘Different, how?’

‘I don’t know for sure but it seems to be able to respond to what’s going on,’ he said with a shrug.

‘Yeah right.’

But Joe ignored what Hel had said because when he opened the book a bad feeling descended upon him and a cold shiver ran down his back. It was like he knew something was wrong before it was even actually wrong.

There were no words on the page at all. Nothing. Not even a scratch of ink.

And then, slowly, words began to form.

Joe sucked in his breath as he read them.

Fuck, he thought. Fuck, fuck. FUCK.

‘What does it say?’

He exhaled loudly. ‘Nothing,’ he replied, hoping that they couldn’t hear the lie in his voice.

Joe read the words in front of him again. And again:

Don’t tell Agnes but I have her heart. Or, should I say, I “arranged” for it to be taken. DON’T tell her. You need her and the woodcutter. I don’t care how you manage it, just don’t let the fucking witch kill the woodcutter. And Joe?

‘Yes,’ thought Joe, in his head.

Cheer the fuck up. Everything is going to plan.

Death’s Apprentice – Part 74

‘Not right? Not right? I tell you what’s not right’, she screamed, pointing the large knife at Joe, ‘is having my heart ripped out by the man I love.’ All of a sudden she burst into tears and collapsed in a heap on the floor.

‘Joe,’ said Hel, ‘look what you’ve done.’

‘Me? What have I done? I just don’t think torturing the guy, even if he’s already dead,’ added Joe looking at Hel’s face, ‘is the right way to get Agnes’ heart back.’

‘What’s your suggestion then?’ Hel asked, bending over to pat Agnes on the head. ‘Go on, tell us.’

‘I…’

Hel tapped her foot on the floor, ‘I’m waiting.’

‘You…could just ask the guy where he’s put it.’

Agnes snapped her head up to look at Joe, her eyes were red and swollen. ‘Ask him? And where would the fun be in that?’

‘This whole situation isn’t fun, is it?’

‘I deserve blood,’ said Agnes.

‘No,’ said Joe, ‘you deserve better. You deserve your heart back.’ Although, he really was starting to question that way of thinking.

Agnes began to sob uncontrollably again.

‘And how…am…I,’ she said, between sobs, ‘going to achieve that? He’s not just going to tell me where it is, is he?’ She rubbed her nose on her sleeve, leaving a trail of snot, the knife still clutched tightly in her hand.

‘He might do.’

Hel looked at Joe with a are you fucking kidding me? kind of look.

‘Okay, look, I haven’t got much to offer but I’ll take a look at my book,’ he said, trying to diffuse the situation. Hopefully, it would buy him some thinking time because he didn’t know how he was going to get her heart back but he did know torturing the woodcutter was not the way to go about it.

Hel and Agnes looked at him with the are you fucking kidding me kind of look again. It seemed to just bounce off Joe now as he was so used to seeing it.

‘I know, I know,’ he said, palms in the air, ‘it’s probably not going to help but it can’t hurt to take a quick look, can it?’

‘I ‘spose not,’ said Agnes. She plunged the sharp point of the knife into the wooden floor. It remained upright and she began to flick the hilt of the knife with her finger.

Joe shrugged his backpack off his shoulders and unzipped the bag. He rummaged around and found the book hiding at the bottom. It seemed to thrum in his hands as he pulled it out.

‘Joe, how’s it going to know what’s going on? I mean you wouldn’t expect a book of the dead to know all the intricacies of life going on here, would you?’

‘No, you wouldn’t,’ admitted Joe. He absentmindedly stuck he tongue out as he tried to find the right spot in the book. ‘But this book is different.’

‘Different, how?’

‘I don’t know for sure but it seems to be able to respond to what’s going on,’ he said with a shrug.

‘Yeah right.’