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CHAPTER 10:
HARD TIMES

Death rocketed backwards and away from Simon and Daisy. He came to a stop in a field behind the Watson Farm and, slowly lifting into the air, spread his arms apart. As he did, the ground beneath him rose up and created a hill, placing him firmly above the pair. The last remaining traces of sunlight disappeared from the sky as the moon became full overhead and the autumn wind whipped bitterly. Simon shivered and bent down to pick up the lantern, still soaking wet from his encounter with Old Scratch earlier, and--

Wait.

Old Scratch!

Up ahead Death raised his arms high into the sky as a storm cloud started to brew.

"I don't even need to do any of this to kill you, I just thought it would be really memorable for the little twerp!"

"HEY, DEATH," Simon shouted, waving the lantern ahead of him, "GUESS WHO I TALKED TODAY?"

"Who caaaares," Death shouted back, "can we just talk about how awesome it is that I'm going to squish your little friend like a bug with all this lightning and stuff?"

"OLD SCRATCH!"

"Oh shut u-- wait, did you say Old Scratch?"

The wind around Death suddenly died down as he slowly lowered back to earth, still high atop his hill.

"Where? Where was Old Scratch?"

"Down by the lake! He was looking for you, and he was maaaaad!"

"Well that doesn't matter, forget that guy, he doesn't have my... my..." Death patted his bony hands against the loose shapes of his robes, feeling himself up and down. "Doesn't have... the... uh..."

"Looking for this?" Simon raised his other arm, illuminating the Book of Life and Death with the lantern.

"UMM NO, BUT JUST FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT, GIVE ME THAT BOOK RIGHT THIS SECOND."

"No! Not until you promise to leave Daisy alone!"

"Hah, no can do, kid," laughed Death, "those are the rules. You gotta take 'em when they're ready."

"That's not true! You didn't have to take the raccoon lady and you know it! You just did it because you wanted to!"

"What raccoon lady? Wait, that crazy old bird Alma? HEY," Death suddenly sounded very disappointed, "you didn't read my Book, did you? It said it was private, right there on the first page, that's so messed up!"

"I did read it," shouted Simon, turning to face Daisy, "and I know that you can choose not to take someone!"

"That is SO messed up. You two are perfect for each other, you're a little snoop, and you're a little psychopath who would beat an old woman with a shovel, and-"

"No more, Death! You're done! Leave Daisy alone, go pick on somebody else!"

"Or what? What're you gonna do about it?"

"I'll give him the book," Simon said plainly. Death leaned forward slightly, straining to hear.

"I'm sorry, what did you say?"

"I said I'll give him the Book. Your book."

Death paused for a moment and appeared to be deep in thought. "I don't think you would."

"I would and I will! I'll tell him about all your book and the rock kid and the sailor ghost and the raccoons and everything!"

"Wow," Daisy interrupted, "sounds like you've had a busy day."

"I have," said Simon, "and it's not over yet. Not until this guy leaves you alone and never comes back. Ever. Got it?"

Death lowered his shoulders in a defeated pose. "I mean, I guess. Can I have the book back at least?"

"No. And I'll hold on to it. Just in case."


The next morning, the sun rose over Sunrise as it had a million times before. In time the forest was lost to farmlands, the mighty lake lowered and lowered into a shell of its former self, and the name Sunrise was lost to the world. But some say that Simon and Daisy are still out there somewhere, still in possession of Death's book, and still trying to avoid Old Scratch. Some say that there are still traces of their stories throughout our modern world. And some say there are still undiscovered stories to find, and more tales from before Sunrise.

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