Death was a nurse. Not in the official sense with a handful of patients waiting for their morning pills. Death walked through the halls of Elm Street Cancer Treatment Center dressed in navy scrubs and dark trainers. Death stopped before a patient’s room: 283, Mary Colling. Death could feel it in the air, that pressure between the veils of this universe and the plane of comfort and eternity. 

Death slipped into room 283, opened the window, and approached Mary’s hospital bed. On the side table sat a plethora of cards and fresh flowers. Mary had just celebrated her eighth birthday the day prior, but all the cheer in the world could not hide the fact that her eyes were sunken and her skin was close to translucent. Mary was a strong girl, and Death could feel that her fight was close to over. On the bed, her mother slept next to her.

“Don’t you get tired of this,” a man crossed the room and joined Death in observation of the sleeping pair. Death looked beneath the man’s shell to confirm what they already knew. The cloudy charge of purple haze that writhed just under the layers of visible reality was unique to one being—Lucifer.

“Many things in the state you call reality change. You are not one of them,” Death returned their gaze to Mary. Her breath grew ragged. 

“Where’s Marcin.” Lucifer demanded. 

“How should I know?” Death said. 

“You were the last to see him,” Lucifer snapped.

“I do not control Marcin. Regardless of if I’ve perceived him or not, I do not know where he is now.” Mary shifted on the bed. Death reached for the plush teddy bear that had fallen to the ground some time ago and tucked it under Mary’s arm.

“Are you being deliberately obtuse?”

“Are you deliberately wasting your time?” Death smiled as Mary curled into her teddy bear and settled once more.

“I have eons left still to waste. Who knows, maybe you’ll never remove me from my ambitions,” he said.

Death looked to the window just as two crows perched on the sill. The birds leaned forward and melted into the vinyl floor, slowly oozing forward and lightening into a golden shimmer. After a few feet of shapelessness, the crows built themselves up again into the form of an elderly golden retriever. The hound was clad in a harness that read Therapy Dog

“Across all realities and all beings, even among those like you, that’s one thing that remains constant in some form,” Death beckoned the dog to Mary’s bedside and scratched behind his ears. “You always think you’re the exception.”

Death looked Lucifer in the eye and held up a hand to ward off the next useless thought that was to come out of his mouth. “All things living may do as they please with their time, but keep this in mind Morning Star, the only place where time has no meaning is the plane of comfort and eternity. You will meet me there one day. Then, maybe, we could talk freely.”

Death held out their hand over Mary’s body, and slowly, glowing fingers intertwined with Death’s own. Mary’s soul stepped off the bed and enveloped Death’s reaper, still in the form of a therapy dog. Death spared Lucifer one last pitying glance before leading both Mary and their reaper through the layers of the worlds just as the machines still hooked to Mary’s body started ringing.