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Challenge #01297-C202: On the Shoreline

1) Someone goes into labour in the vicinity of the grim reaper. Reaper panics. ("This is not my job! This is the exact opposite of my job!")

2) No seriously I'm not a magic tree I'm a creature that happens to be stuck inside a tree listen it's a long story do you have an axe -- Anon Guest

[AN: This brings the gap count down to 7!]

1)

Despite what various media might say, Death never takes a holiday. Ze can, occasionally, take a respite. It was a lovely sunny day and people were out doing their everyday things. Some people were strolling whilst others jogged. Some were sitting and reading. Some were sitting and doing things on their laptops.

On the smooth expanse of the emerald-green grass, children were playing together. Or at least, doing something that closely resembled playing together. They were not hurting each other enough for an adult caregiver to intervene.

The ducks were wandering about the pond. It was not time, yet, for them to practice their ninja bullying skills in order to monster bits of pastry off of the passing humans. And, for a perfect moment, everything was serene.

"Can I sit?"

Death looked up. The speaker was definitely... ample. She was red-faced and panting. She looked like she could be coming to see Hir in a few minutes. "CERTAINLY," said Death.

"...bloody cramps," she mumbled. And winced audibly.

Even Death could see her large belly tighten. This was not Hir best place. This was not an appointment Ze wanted to be present for. "I SHOULD CALL SOMEONE FOR YOU, YES?" said Death. "A HUSBAND? A BOYFRIEND?"

"Oh, I'm not with..." another audible wince, "...anyone."

"AND YET YOU ARE ABOUT TO HAVE A BABY," Death inched away. "I SHOULD CALL SOMEONE..."

"It's im..." she whimpered, this time, in the throes of another contraction. "...possible... the only man I've seen in two years is..." wince "...my therapist."

"YOU MIGHT WANT TO GET LEGAL AID ABOUT THAT." Death vacated the chair the instant her water broke. Ze brought out a phone - essential for communicating with mortals - and dialed up the emergency assistance number. "I AM AT PLEASANT PARK NEAR THE DUCKPOND AND THERE IS A LADY ABOUT TO HAVE A BABY. WHAT DO I DO?" Ze had to be calm and rational about this. Bringing a mortal into the world had to be easier than taking them out.

There was a lot less resistance. There had to be.

Other people around the bench heard the words 'about to have a baby' and fled the scene. Even the guardians hustled the children away as if the moaning woman were about to explode.

Cowards.

Death had been in plenty of birthing-chambers. For mother, for child, or both. For the sad little lives that only existed for seconds. But this was not Hir duty.

"THIS IS THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF MY JOB," Ze told the people on the other end of Hir call. But it didn't matter. Ze was there, and she needed help.

The baby came bare minutes before the emergency teams showed up, driving through the footpaths with their siren blaring. And the little boy was the first mortal to be wrapped in Death's cloak at the beginning of their life.

"I'm gonna kill my therapist," rumbled the new mother.

"DEATH IS TOO GOOD FOR HIM," said Death. "MAKE HIM PAY CHILD SUPPORT."

2)

The problem with floating, Steven decided, was weather patterns. Sure, it was great to go floating on a lovely, balmy night... but during severe storms?

He hadn't dared try to land until he could see where he was. And even then... he was really lost. On the plus side, there were lots of plants. One of them had to have fruit. Or a spare branch so he could make a spear or something.

"...hey!" said the tree he tried to tear the branch off.

Steven let go. "Sorry," he said. "I was looking for some fruit or a spear or... why are you talking?"

The tree turned around. "Uh... that's a long story..." the tree shook some fruits loose. "You might want to get comfortable..."

"Are you a Gem that got stuck in a tree? And now you have to be a tree?" said Steven.

"Er... got it in one," said the tree. "How did you know?"

"I'm a Gem, too," Steven showed his Gem. "Well. Half Gem. Uh... that might be a long story, too."

Three Days Later

With a little work, Amber the Gem-Tree could shapeshift her boughs and she and Steven had made a boat.

"Look! It's Beach City! I'm home!"

"That is a lot of buildings. Did humans make those?" said Amber the Boat. "How can Gems and Humans co-exist?"

"You'll see," said Steven. "But first - we gotta find you a chainsaw."

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