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Fired!

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Death did not walk so much as casually saunter down to the corner of Fifth and Nelson. There he stopped, surveyed the scene with the careful, practiced eye of someone who has seen this sort of thing one-too-many times before, and lit up a cigarette.

An orchestra of sirens filled the air, and there was the faint scent of burning rubber still hovering near the intersection.

Death sighed and leaned against the stoplight pole, puffing thoughtfully on his cigarette.

There was movement, somewhere off to his left. His attention slid to the figure suddenly standing next to him, which appeared to have materialized out of thin air: a young, fair-skinned woman draped in a white toga. She was glowing a little, shimmering here and there whenever the light hit her just right, as if she had an aura made of glitter. There were two little wings, white and fluffy, poking out of her back, and they were flapping ridiculously fast, giving the impression of a hummingbird.

A smile crossed Death's cold, skeleton face. "Looks like you're out of a job," he told her.

The angel looked up at him, shocked. "I-it's not as easy as it looks," she insisted, beginning to wring her halo in her hands.

"Oh, really?" Death blew a smoke ring into the air.

The angel shot him a dark look. "Yes, really," she said.

The two of them stood there for a moment in silence, watching the scene play out before them. An ambulance skidded to a halt in the middle of the street. The doors on the back of the vehicle flung open, and paramedics leapt onto the site of the accident. They rushed back and forth, medical tools in their hands. Two pushed a stretcher. There was a lot of talking. Yelling. And the dull murmur of curious on-lookers, desperately trying to get a glimpse of the crumpled boy's body on the ground.

The angel looked up at Death, her eyes pleading. "He's not…?" She brought her halo up to her lips and squeezed her eyes shut. "He's not…you know…"

"What? Dead?" Death tossed a thumb over his shoulder. "This kid?"

The angel nodded, a nervous, hopeful kind of smile creeping over her face.

If Death had eyes, he would have rolled them. "Calm down. He's not dead," he said.

She heaved a sigh of relief. "Oh, thank God—"

"Yet."

"Wh-what?" The angel's hands began to shake so hard that she dropped her halo on the ground. She bent down to pick it up and said, "But I thought…"

"I said he wasn't dead," Death explained with a frustrated sigh. "I didn't say he wasn't dying. His time doesn't come for another—" He stopped and checked his watch. "—twenty minutes. I'll get him on the way to the hospital, probably."

The angel whimpered. Then she let out a loud, anguished cry and continued twisting her halo beyond recognition. Right now, it looked like some sort of balloon animal, except made out of light. Her wings were beating so fast, Death was surprised she hadn't created a hurricane.

"So," Death began slowly, trying not to seem too suspicious, "how did this happen, exactly?"

"I don't know," the angel admitted, placing a hand to her forehead. "Everything happened so fast. I mean, we were—" She took a deep breath and the rapid fwapfwapfwap of her beating wings slowed down. "We were in the bookstore. Then, he took a step outside, went to cross the street…" Her eyes glazed over, revisiting the memory. "There was a car-a screech. And then…this thud-and that stupid iPod went flying…"

"Uh-huh."

"The kid didn't even so much as scream. It was just…SCREECH. THUD! Over." She shivered and hugged herself.

"And where were you during all this?"

"Huh?"

"Where were you during all this?" Death repeated, flicking his cigarette onto the ground. He pulled a black pack with skull and crossbones from underneath his cloak and pulled out another cigarette, which he promptly lighted.

"Well…I was…" The angel scratched her pretty blonde head. "I was in the bookstore."

"Uh-huh." If Death had eyebrows, he would've raised one in disbelief. As it were, all he could do was puff on his cigarette and stare.

"I mean," the angel said quickly. "I mean, he had just come out of the bookstore. I was still inside because I was trailing him. I wasn't outside yet. But my eyes never left him!"

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