"And the winner is...Meg Griffin!"
Despite the occasional jeers and mean-spirited, half-hidden boos that floated up to her from small regions of the student audience during afternoon Assembly, socially hapless Meg Griffin couldn't help but smile as she strode on stage.
Perfunctory applause soon drowned the jeers, however, as she nervously reached out and shook the reedy CEO's thin, soft hand, feeling a sudden rush, and accepting his sealed envelope. The letter inside that would open the social world to her.
"Thank you, Mr. Ragg," Meg gushed. "You won't be sorry. I'll make your magazine proud."
"I have no doubts there, my dear," the executive said. "Now as you know, Pro-teen Magazine stands for excellence, so I'm sure you'll do your level best when you become our honorary advice columnist. Teens around the country will look to you to help them with their problems. Do you think you can you handle it?"
Meg took a confident breath and squared her shoulders, thoughts of her bathing in seas of warm attention made her eyes twinkle. "Yes, sir. I can."
The CEO nodded approvingly, then turned to the audience of partially interested teachers and more than a little indifferent students, and called out, "Let's give another round of applause for Meg Griffin! Pro-teen Magazine's newest star!"
The wave of half-hearted applause rose again as she left the stage in a bouncy march, smiling more to herself than to those children in the audience who, like her and her small cadre of equally looked-down-upon friends, were denigrated on a nearly daily basis by higher-ups on the social food chain.
Beside the CEO, resting on a tall stool and also watching her go, was The Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry's Sorting Hat, the deep dents of its eyes scrunching the face-like features of its weathered crown into a reluctant scowl.
"I still say she would have done well in Slytherin," it said grumpily.
"Oh, knock it off. You think everyone you meet does well in Slytherin," Mr. Ragg chided.
Meg walked back to her seat, beaming in the apathetic air of her classmates. What began as the start of a painfully dull period of Assembly, turned into a trip to Disneyland for her, and not even callous Connie D'amico, the school's popularity queen, could dampen her spirits today.
Meg took her seat, with Connie, from her own class, sitting beside her, more discomfort showing on her thin face now that she was seeing Meg happy. Just happy!
"You'll probably choke the second your first letter comes in, Meg," Connie said, injecting her usual venom into the conversation. "You're just lucky nobody else wanted in on that stupid little give-away up there."
Meg concentrated on the feeling she felt on stage and the envelope between her fingers. She closed her eyes and could imagine its importance so clearly. It was the missing blueprint to the mad scientist's doomsday machine, the crucial evidence needed to change the course of the trial of the century, the letter that proved her soldier lover was alive and had just escaped from enemy hands. All of these things she envisioned and so much more.
She knew she should have ignored Connie, just be happy with this victory and let the obnoxious blond stew in her own funk until the final bell, but after so many tries and failures at claiming the brass ring of popularity and acceptance, Meg decided easily that gloating was simply part of her long-awaited due.
"Ha! You're just jealous, Connie," explained Meg breezily. "You see, you just don't see things the way that I see things."
"And how's that? Like a dork? A geek? A spaz, maybe?"
Casually slouching in her seat, Meg simply chuckled at her, almost pityingly. "Try a fox."
Connie's face scrunched into an annoyed look of confusion at that. "A fox? Make sense for once, you fashion victim."
Meg felt like a teacher preparing to explain the simple to a simpleton. With a condescending laugh that she herself was often the victim of, she said, "It's very easy to understand, really. Teens all over the country read Mr. Ragg's book. Now that I'm the new honorary advice columnist, they'll all want to hear my opinions, and they'll read whatever I write." She then gave a falsely sympathetic shrug and added, "Whether it's helpful to them or not."
The understanding of what Connie had essentially threw away by not throwing her hat in the ring, dawned on her faster than morning on Mercury. Although her practiced poise allowed her to remain aloof looking, her slightly raised voice betrayed her realization.
"You mean...people are going to listen to whatever you say in the magazine? Just like that? But teenagers are-"
"Miserable, impressionable, fad-happy fruit-cakes," Meg finished for her. "But who better to know them than one of their own? Plus, they don't know me yet, so I'll be the new flavor they'll savor, Mizz D'amico."
Truly frustrated, Connie couldn't help but exhale through clenched teeth. In the past, the number of times Meg ever bested her in anything could be counted on one hand, but they still happened, nonetheless, and now it was happening again, in a big way.
"So, Connie," Meg pressed. "How does it feel to witness an overnight sensation, hmm?" Seeing Connie quietly stew was becoming darkly delicious to her.
"Go play in traffic, Griffin. I know you too well. You're not that conniving."
Meg gave her a confident stare that Connie didn't, or maybe, couldn't look away from. "Oh, you haven't begun to see the real me yet. But, maybe you should write to me, Connie. Get some of that emotional baggage off your chest. Don't worry though, I hear that all submissions are anonymous, so your secrets will be safe with me."
"If you think I'd write to you about anything, you're crazy, you loser." Connie retorted with an appalled chuckle.
"Maybe, but I do know this. Your name won't be in the magazine under the words, 'advice columnist.' That's for damn sure. Ha!" Meg crowed, almost catching the attention of a teacher, nearby.
"Whatever," conceded Connie in an envious huff.
Meg could see the auditorium's crowds start to thin. Definitely time to get in the last word.
"Well, I wish I could stay, but letters to write, a cult of personality to foster. Ciao!" sang Meg, as she and the rest of her class got the heads-up from their teacher, rose from their seats, and began filing up the aisle to their next class.
Connie leaned over to a friend in her clique and muttered to her, "Man, did you hear what Meg was saying about what she'd do when she wrote for the magazine?"
"Yeah," the girl agreed. "Who'd have thought the Griffin geek would be so ruthless, huh?"
"Yeah...I wanted to do that."
The limousine swam out of the quiet contrast of the school's parking lot and down the street, like an obsidian shark, after spending its time catching occasional glances by virtue of it being there, and stares due to the dog, cat, and people kill markers painted on the driver's side fender like an ace's fighter plane.
The CEO manipulated his headset and settled in the cozy gloom of the spacious back seat, contemplatively running his satisfied eyes along the black leather interior, the tinted windows and the small chrome accoutrements that shone throughout like stars.
He smiled to himself as his call came through, and a friendly voice welcomed him.
"Hey, there! How's it hangin'? It's great to hear from you again!" the voice said.
"I'm doing great. Just got through finishing my publication's advice column promotional."
"How'd it go?"
The CEO produced a cold smirk. "Well, let's just say that if all the teens who buy my magazine are anything like that geek who won the position, we wouldn't need a new advice columnist, we'd need a suicide councilor! Heh, heh, heh!"
"Ha! Ha! Way to stick it to 'em!"
"Yeah, well, you know what it's like," the CEO said with world-weary sagacity. "It's like the world's making teens dumber and dumber with each new video game and movie they make. No attention span, so they crap-out in school. No education, so they're barely wage-slave material, and no responsible, loving parents to support and guide them, so they end up liberals."
"Well, it's just the way of the world." the voice agreed soberly.
"Yes, yes," the CEO continued with equal sobriety, and then he perked up with a greedy smile! "Hey! Still, Marketing's getting a collective chubby over all of this unresolved angst. We advertise all sorts of fashion tips and expensive, electronic crap that all the cool kids want, and all the geeks think they need. If they bitch and moan and can't get it, they feel like road kill, and then they write to the column. Heh! The magazine winds up selling itself."
He wanted to finish on that note, but then he had to speak aloud in victorious pride, the mantra that gave him the guidance to become the mover and shaker he is today. "Teens. They're not a natural resource, they're a commodity."
"And that's why you're the CEO."
"So what do I owe the honor of this call?" the voice asked.
For the first time in the conversation, the CEO sounded pensive, anxious, but fought to conceal it. "Oh, I just wanted to know if our...uh...package had arrived? I can't wait to plug and play, if you get my meaning."
The executive's heart sank the second he heard, "Err...yeah. About that-" come over the headset.
"Aw, c'mon! Why are you doing this? I've been good and patient and now it's time for Santa to delivery on his end!"
"It's not that simple," the voice sighed. "Look, for you, I got the deluxe special edition kind. Sure, there are others on the market that could do the same as the ones I'm talking about, but none'll give you the longevity and quality that you need. That you deserve!"
The CEO refused to be sidetracked like a rube buying his first car. "I'm telling you! I need them, and I need them soon," he railed as he sat up as far forward on his black leather backseats as he could and rubbed his eyes. "I'm not getting any younger and this has to happen this week. Now how about it?"
The voice on the other end chuckled lightly, as if he delighted in hearing the anxiety being played out in his ear.
"Ragg? Ragg, buddy, how can you get them if you drop dead of a heart attack? You'd probably blame that on me, too. Now, just relax will ya?" the voice soothed. "Do you still have...the thing?"
"The VHS or the DVD with the Carpenter/Russell commentary?" the CEO asked, looking suddenly perplexed. "Because I still have Escape from New York, if you want to watch that."
...Snake Pliskin and The Duke of New York squared off, unarmed, in an abandoned roller rink in desolate downtown New York.
"You can't beat me, Snake," says the Duke. "I'm the Duke of New York! A-number one! All o' these bastards would die for me! What've you got?"
Unperturbed, Snake glares at his foe and growls, "Not much, pal. But I got this!" He quickly produces a long stemmed rose from behind and hands it to a surprised and very moved Duke.
As soon as the Duke holds the rose, he magically transform into a cleaned-up Duke, wearing the formal outfit The Beast wore in the dance scene in Beauty and the Beast.
Snake changes a moment later, no longer in his usual clothes, but now dressed like Belle in her ballroom gown, as the two waltz to the strains of "Beauty and the Beast" amidst the now disco-ball lit squalor and the dead bodies draped and festooned about the rink...
"No! No! You kidding me?" the voice on the other end scolded. "You know! The thing? The thing? The Sumerian thing?"
Coming down from his panic attack, the CEO remembered. "Oh. Oh, yeah! No problem. Heh, can't work without the...thing, can it?"
Ragg reached over and pulled a small, wooden case over to him. Feeling that darkly sweet, all-too-familiar rush, he opened it, looking longingly on the item stored within. An ancient amber object the size of his hand, looking like a great, frozen, yellow flame, topped a rounded base of smooth, gray stone, a thin string of equally ancient symbols ringing it.
"Okay," the executive said. "But what's the hold up?
"Eh, you know what it's like," the voice commiserated. "I got these sweet babies on back order, but there are some last minute legal issues to work out before I can get 'em. But don't you worry. That package will be in your hands in plenty of time"
"Positive. Look, I better get going. I have to see about getting my things in order before going to court. I'll talk to you soon."
"Alright, and thanks a lot. You're a real life saver."
After ending the call, the CEO was starting to feel like himself again, so pronounced was the lifting of the weight of fear from his heart. He began to wonder why he panicked in the first place, while he basked in the negative radiance of the object in his hand.
Still, he needed one more little thing to help take the edge off of the day. He leaned over to the car's intercom.
"Caruthers, let's take a spin over to the residential neighborhoods, if you please," the CEO commanded in a pleasantly wicked manner. "I want to see if anyone's walking their dog today."
Meg's mouth crooked in a weary smirk as she absently watched the familiar houses of her neighborhood of Spooner Street go by.
The day wiped her out, but she felt it to be a pleasant kind of weariness, and she was now passing the time while she walked up the street by mentally going through what she would say to the family when she got home.
Should she be subtle and wait until dinnertime to announce it? Should she just let out in a rush and have the emotion and the moment carry her audience along for the ride? She wasn't sure how to broach it, but she loved the adrenal exhilaration of her time running out as she neared her house, the suspense giving her a charge that seemed nearly sinful.
"Hi, guys!" she called out, as she opened the front door to the familiar knot of family sitting in front of the living room TV.
Lois, her mother, was the first to notice. "How was school today, Meg?" she asked in her calming, yet nasally voice, putting aside her magazine.
"Oh, nothing out of the ordinary, Mom," Meg said in as nonchalantly a tone as her happy, beaming face could convey. A look that was not lost on Lois.
"Okay, young lady," her now curious mother coaxed. "Out with it. What happened?"
Meg steadied herself. "Okay. I did it. I've hit the top. I've reached the peak of Mount Popularity, and I'm setting up a permanent outpost, yeah!"
"What do you mean?" asked Brian, the family dog, overhearing.
"What I mean, dear Brian," Meg said, while affecting a smug, faux-courtly air. "Is that I, Meg Griffin, will be the new advice columnist of Pro-Teen Magazine!"
"Oh, that's terrific, Meg!" Lois cheered. "People will come to you with their problems and you can give them emotional band-aids to placate their wretched existence. Oh, I'm so happy for you, sweetheart."
Stewie Griffin, Meg's youngest brother and the baby of the family, heard the exchange above him and gave Brian a quizzical look from his spot on the floor.
"Why on Earth would anyone from this...Protein Magazine want to have anything to do with Meg? My God, they must be desperate to solicit any sort of sexual advice from her. And what sort of tasteless name is Protein anyway?"
"No," Brian corrected him in a deadpan manner. "It's spelled P-R-O-dash-T-E-E-N. It's a teen magazine. The kind of protein magazine you want is sold in the all-male section of adult bookstores."
"Huh-huh-huh-huh." Stewie gave a quiet, mirthless laugh once he got the joke and broodingly returned to watching television.
"So when do you start?" Lois asked.
"Well, I have to bring a parent to the principal's office tomorrow to help sign the paperwork, and then it'll be done and superstardom will, at last, be mine," Meg explained.
"Boring!" her father, Peter sighed, signaling his wish for quiet while he vegetated in front of the television.
"Peter!" Lois admonished him. "Didn't you hear? Our little girl's going to be the next Ann Landers."
"Oh, whoop-de-doo, Lois," Peter scoffed loudly, then pointed out, "You might as well tell our daughter that they already got a nosey, Christian, goody-two-shoes neighbor that's envied by one of the main characters."
Lois, thinking that she should be used to his aimless, non-sequitor thought processes by now, took a moment to digest this latest nonsensical rant. Then, strangely enough, it clicked.
"Peter, I said Ann Landers, not Ned-" she sighed in unwelcome aggravation. "You know what? Never mind."
"Exactly," Peter agreed, seemingly to the possible conversation going on in his head as he stared dully ahead to the TV.
Lois turned back to Meg. "Well, anyway, Pumpkin, congratulations. You really deserve it.
"Thanks, Mom. Y'know, it's a good thing nobody else had wanted to do it, or else I don't think he would have called me. Connie D'amico was so jealous. I just loved seeing her squirm in her chair, the skank."
"Wait. Nobody signed up but you?" Brian asked curiously. "Don't you think that was a little too convenient?"
"Well, you see, Brian," Chris, her younger, overweight brother, spoke in pedantic tones he employed whenever he was going to explain something he actually knew well, which was rare, or something he thought he knew well, which was often. "Cooties, like all pathogens, need a carrier, and-"
"I don't have any cooties, you blond walrus!" Meg yelled, then sought to compose her self.
"Anyway, don't be so paranoid, Brian. Anybody could've put their name out there, too, if they wanted," Meg smoothly explained, "It's not my fault the CEO told everybody that the winner would also get extra-curricular credit for doing the column, but just wouldn't get paid. I guess they couldn't wait to get back to their Halo 3's and recording school fights on their phone cams."
"Well, it doesn't matter how you won, Sweetie," Lois soothed. "We're all very proud of you." She turned her attention to the rest of the family. "Aren't we, guys?"
An apathetic grumble of support rose up to meet the two women.
Meg closed the door to her bedroom, and then plopped herself on the bed, stretching out and luxuriating in the knowledge that she never realized how good it felt just to be horizontal for a while.
It was easy to forget the family downstairs. The males couldn't help but be snide, condescending, and a vexation to the spirit. Even Lois could mean at times. Yet, now, there was just herself, her room, her journal...and her thoughts of Kevin.
Despite her fatigue, she slid herself out of bed and padded to the window on the far side of her room that looked out over the land that spanned between her home and her neighbor's. She didn't expect to see him today, or any day since she sadly discovered from his father that Kevin died serving his country in Iraq.
She would hope sometimes that the reports of his death were wrong, but the odds didn't seem to favor it. Still, she had her fond thoughts of him and the fantasies that, oddly enough, actually reinforced her feelings about him.
With a bittersweet smirk of naughtiness, Meg relaxed and let her mind pull out a pleasant memory from the depths.
She was lounging in her bedroom debating to herself on whether to go to the mall or just invite her few friends over when she heard a slight noise from outside her window. She went to the window, but had to duck back slightly when she saw a shirtless figure sitting on a stool by the side of the house next door, gripping and lifting dumbbells in a strenuous rhythm. A familiar tingle lanced through her upon see him.
Although he seemed to slouch a bit forward, as if in thought, Meg could tell from any angle that the chesty, lantern-jawed teenager with the good looks was Kevin, the youthful spitting image of his father, paraplegic police lieutenant, Joe Swanson.
Meg carefully settled on her pillows by the windowsill, making sure not to make any large movements that could catch the boy's attention. Once comfortable, she continued to ogle in quiet longing.
"God, he is such a turn-on," she said to herself. "I wish he'd crush me in those arms."
Then she remembered the sound of his voice. It was no secret that Lt. Swanson was constantly trying to mold his son into a carbon copy of himself, right down to his voice. When they would talk, she could hear the clear, near-commanding enunciations in his tones, even when in light conversation. It gave her a secret thrill.
A thrill that opened her mind into a fantasy she was beginning to get lost in, as her eyes became half-lidded, yet her voice became ironically timid.
"Oh, hello, Mister Swanson," she sang in a quiet, obsequious tone. "I didn't expect the chauffeur to have you home so soon. I haven't finished dusting the furniture."
In the cinema of her fantasy, she was a comely maid, whose uniform and occasional bending over left very little to Kevin, the young master of the house's, imagination.
He lounged on the chaise in his bedroom robe, looking at her with a wolf's eyes, every desirous glance at her limbs and parts in between gave her a terrible shiver of anticipation.
"What was that, sir?" she asked. "You've locked the chamber door and you-you want me to step out of my uniform...slowly?"
Then she hit the pause button on her imagination. She didn't want Kevin to run away if he saw what she was contemplating. And yet, a part of her was desperate to have him glance up and like what he'd see.
In the end, naughtiness won out. The worry that he might actually look up and see her, turned from a liability to an asset. She would use the excitement of the possibility of detection as a heady spice to compliment the sexy scenario starting up again in her love-addled brain.
"But, sir," she "protested" in the weakest, meekest voice she could produce. "I must finish my work in here."
A slight gasp as an imagined reply was given to her.
"Oh, the scandal if it should get out, sir! Still, if you...want me, sir, I have no choice but to obey you and...submit to your...hot-blooded desire..." Meg said huskily, as she kept her eye on Kevin, and proceeded to do a little strip tease by the window.
Starting with her shoes, she kicked them off easy enough. Then she pulled her toque free from her head and shook her rich brown hair into a short, loose mane. She thumbed her pants, slowly rocking her hips side-to-side, and slid out of them, as a snake shedding its delicate skin.
Meg leaned over to the window again, watching Kevin's body move in smooth exertion, contracting in work and expanding in relaxation, as though he were demonstrating to Meg how he would look if he ever made love to her. In response, she unconsciously wiggled her rear end in a slow, satisfied wave.
"Y'know, if I were desperate enough," said the voice. "I might actually tap that."
Meg jumped so far forward in fright that she nearly crashed through the window. Instead, her head connected to the glass with a rap loud enough for anyone outside her home to hear.
Heart-hammering embarrassment dictated her every move. She took a fast, irritated look up to see her intruder, vowing internally and eternally, that if it was Chris, she'd see him hanging over the side an overpass, a human pinata for the eighteen-wheelers, come rush hour. She didn't expect who she saw.
Standing by the closed door, in his dark, tattered cloak, with his tall scythe in skeletal hand, was The Grim Reaper.
"Hey, Meg," he greeted her in his usually lively deadpan voice. "What's shakin', besides your back forty?"
"Wha-What do you want?" she sputtered in exasperation, wondering how he would know what she was doing in her thoughts. Then she remembered what was his stock and trade, and asked fearfully, "Wait, is someone going to die here?"
The laugh she got from him was as unexpected as it was unsettling. "No, kitten. No one's buying it yet, though your old man almost made this a business trip when you drowned last time."
"Don't remind me," Meg sighed, feeling a little more at ease that it wasn't a family member barging in on her, as she hopped back on her bed. Lying on her side, she asked, "Okay, what do you want?"
His body language and inflection communicated his faux-sincerity far better than his emotionless skull of a face ever could. Regardless, Meg felt a little wary of him and his wayward intentions.
"What? Can't a guy pay a visit to his favorite family of air-breathers? Besides, your family can't hear or see us if I don't want them to."
"Hey, if I'm lyin', you're dyin'," Death assured, not realizing that he didn't cloak Meg, so that anyone within earshot could now hear Meg's one-side conversation.
Brian, watching TV with Peter, pricked up an ear, then absently commented to him, "Meg's talking to herself again."
"Nice kid, huh?" Death said conversationally.
"The guy you were thinking about, pumping iron in the yard," he elaborated. "You were sweet on him, huh?"
"Kevin?" Meg smiled in spite of herself, disregarding Death's telepathic eavesdropping. "Yeah. What about him?"
"Oh, nothing," he said wistfully. "Just remembered that I almost had to pick him up one time when he was younger. Kid looked like he played tag with a Zamboni machine. Whoa! What a mess! I mean-"
"I'm sure you didn't stop from your busy day just to talk to me about my
former crush," Meg said steely.
"Oh, yeah," Death said, seemingly side-tracked. "I forgot. Uh, anyway, did you know some girl named Jennifer? Cute girl? Wayyy too happy?"
Meg frowned in thought as she went down the list of girls over the years that wanted to have anything to do with her, barring her immediate circle of friends. The paucity of persons overall, and her recall of Death saying that the girl was "too happy", finally made the connection click.
"Yeah, I remember now. We met in school. She wore a tracksuit, I think," she mused. "She invited me over her house once, and I met some old man in a white suit before Dad took me home to be with Stewie for his birthday. I guess we lost touch with each other after that. Why?"
"Well," Death went slowly, evident in his hesitation to hurt her with bad news. "She's dead, kid."
A profound numbness settled in the center of Meg's mind. True, she didn't know Jennifer long, compared to Kevin, but she felt, from the very day they met, she found the girl to be a kindly soul. A bright light that shown cheerily against the oppressive gloom of high school social tyranny, for however long. She found herself suddenly missing her.
"How? When did she die?"
"That day you and Peter left to go to Stewie's birthday party," Death explained matter-of-factly.
"But that was years ago!"
"Yeah. Well, those kids with her were members of some kinda youth cult, and she was a member, too. They all offed themselves just as you left the mansion."
"But...I thought Dad said they faked their deaths to get out of going with me to Stewie's party," Meg said.
"Consider the source, kid," Death deadpanned.
She did. Her father was shockingly stupid and rarely said anything that either made sense or was factually accurate. Why would then be any different than now?
"I stand corrected," she said morosely. "Wow. I'm really sorry that she's gone. I wish I had more time to know her, and I didn't even know she was part of a cult until the end, but what does this have to do with me?"
"Well, it seems that Jennifer and her buddies have been cooling their heels in Limbo for a while now."
Just then, Meg couldn't believe the depth and range of their conversation. Flowing naturally from empty chat one minuet, to the supernatural, the next. And she, keeping pace with Death, with nary a stumble. Typical for this strange family I was born into, she mused. Then, a troubling thought crossed Meg's mind.
"Wait. Limbo? If they all killed themselves, wouldn't they've-"
"All earn an E-ticket ride to the furnace room?" Death finished for her. "Yeah, I thought that, too, but somehow they all wound up in the ol' halfway house instead. Guess they were just lucky that Heaven's swamped with paperwork these days, and because theirs was, apparently, missing, they couldn't get processed right away."
"So the afterlife has a bureaucracy?" Meg asked, a little skepticism creeping in.
Death leaned his hooded head back and gave an exasperated little chuckle. "Kid, it's the only universal constant. Anyway, this Jennifer wanted me to tell you that she wants to talk to you tomorrow. I'll have to arrange and chaperone this one, since she's still a convict, if you get my meaning."
Meg suddenly felt her stomach grow tight as she hit a wall in the conversation, as though some nasty bit of personal news evaded her earlier, and now her brain, having snagged it, gave her a sense of dawning horror. The horror of socially suicidal inconvenience.
"What? No, no! I-I have something big happening tomorrow. Something that's going to net me some beaucoup popularity at long last, and now you're telling me to get ready for a haunting? You're Death! Can't you just, I don't know, tell God that they're good people, or something?"
"Sorry," Death said. "Not my department. I just take the souls where they need to go. I'm like UPS, except I got a cooler uniform."
"Well, what are we supposed to talk about? Vengeance from beyond the grave, or something?"
"Beats me," Death told her smarmily. "Maybe you two'll compare notes about how many boyfriends you had. Though with your record, she might just beat ya there. Heh! Heh! Heh! Eh, I'm just joking with ya."
Pressured with the knowledge that tomorrow might self-destruct in her face at school with this meeting, and now getting razzed by some Halloween cliché, Meg sat up in bed and gave Death a zinger of her own.
"Yeah? Well, I would say, 'drop dead', but your fashion sense beat you to it," Meg shot back, smirking.
Instead of sounding angry or put off by the insult, Death actually sounded impressed, as he raised his wrist to the dark area where his face was concealed and checked his watch. "Ouch! Good comeback, kid. You've been practicing. Anyway, I gotta go. Just got a call to pick up Uwe Boll's career." He then turned to the bedroom door and opened it, saying to her, "Say hi to the folks for me."
Meg reclined back onto her bed and pulled out her journal from its concealment under her pillow, trying to put her conversation with Death into perspective for immediate inscription.
"See ya," she replied quietly as the door closed behind him.