Joe sunk into his chair. Yep, he was getting a really bad feeling about all of this.
‘And who’s Joe? Is he the Chosen One?’
‘Joe is Joe,’ said Mrs Crow ‘and no is the answer to the second question.’
‘Wouldn’t it be better to use the Chosen One? I mean,’ said Morana, with a patronising smirk, ‘that is what they’re for.’
‘No shit Sherlock.’
Mr Crow coughed.
‘The Chosen One is dead,’ said Mrs Crow.
‘Are you deaf?’ asked Mrs Crow.
Morana moved forward, her eyes narrowed. ‘What did you say?’
‘Dead. I said, the Chosen One is dead.’
‘How? How did he die?’ asked Joe. All eyes turned to him. Joe went even redder. He didn’t know why he’d spoken. He didn’t know where those words had come from.
Mrs Crow leaned over and gave him a patronising pat on the knee. ‘An unfortunate accident.’
‘He was murdered by my sister.’ She gave him a big toothy smile that made Joe think that this had actually pleased her greatly.
‘Why would your sister murder the Chosen One? And why was he the Chosen One? And what was he chosen for, exactly?’
‘Details, details,’ said Mrs Crow, dismissing his question with a flick of her hand.
‘No. Come on, Corvina, if…’ Morana looked at Joe, ‘…this…Joe is going to be sent to get the scythe you should really answer his questions. You can’t send the poor boy into the lion’s den, so to speak, completely blind, now can you?’
Mrs Crow let out a long hiss. ‘Okay, okay,’ she said sticking her hands up in the air. She turned to Joe. ‘What do you want to know? Anything? No? Good.’ She turned away from him.
‘Actually,’ said Joe, ‘I want to know everything.’
Mrs Crow slumped in her seat, her shoulders hunched up, her hands clamped onto the side of her chair. ‘O – fucking – kay!’ she screamed. ‘Here it is. The whole fucking lot. My fucking sister stole my scythe because she’s a fucking bitch, okay? Is that what you want to hear? How Death got done over by her own fucking sister?’
‘Well, actually -‘ But Joe couldn’t finish his sentence.
‘She came here. Stole my scythe. MY scythe -‘
‘What’s the scythe?’
Mrs Crow hissed again, louder this time. ‘For God’s sake, Joe! You don’t know what the scythe is?’
Joe shook his head.
‘It’s what I need to do my job properly. I use the scythe to cut the souls of the dead from their mortal bodies. I mean you wouldn’t send in a surgeon without his tools now, would you? And now she has it -‘
‘That’s why there’s been no deaths in England? But why hasn’t it affected the rest of the world?’
‘Because there’s more than one Death. Every country has its own Death. Humans do like to die.’
‘And kill each other,’ put in Marcus.
‘And kill each other. Morana here is the Overlord, the Big Boss, The Death, blah, blah, blah…and she,’ said Mrs Crow, looking like she was about to swallow a wasp, ‘doesn’t actually collect souls now, she just -‘
‘Corvina!’ warned Morana.
‘Corvina you should’ve got the promotion,’ said Febris, ‘that wasn’t fair. Not fair at all,’ said the old lady shaking her head before slipping her oxygen mask back over her face. She shrugged at Morana. ‘Sorry, but it’s true,’ said Febris through her plastic mask.
It was Morana’s turn at looking like she’d swallowed a wasp.
‘Sorry,’ said Mrs Crow, ‘I digress. We needed someone to get the scythe back as she’s taken it to the Underworld. I can’t go down there. Don’t ask why, because I’m not going to tell you. We advertised for a hero. Got loads of applicants.’
‘They all died on the trials, except one,’ added Mr Crow.
‘He doesn’t need,’ hissed Mrs Crow, ‘to fucking know that!’ She closed her eyes and sighed loudly. ‘As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, we found our Chosen One and my sister cut him down with the scythe before he’d even had the chance to enter the Underworld.’
This was crazy. He was going mad. Joe rubbed his eyes. This couldn’t be happening. This really couldn’t be happening.
‘And now we’ve got you, Joe. Well done! Congratulations!! You got the job!!!’ Mrs Crow began to clap. Slowly the whole table joined in with the clapping. There were murmurs of well done and congratulations rumbling around the table.
‘Hang on,’ said Joe, bolting upright in his seat, ‘I’ve got to go down into the Underworld?’