Savannah must have heard him wrong; she could have sworn he said wings. He placed his hand on her arm and the hospital room faded. As her vision adjusted, she found herself in yet another place she didn’t recognize. It appeared to be an unfurnished studio. She wanted to explore the area, but her back felt as if it were on fire. With enough thought to the man beside her to turn away, she ripped off the hospital gown that did little to cover her anyway, and tried unsuccessfully to reach the spot between her shoulder blades that caused her such agony.
“It will be over soon, I promise,” said Gabriel.
“As far as your changes go, this will be the most unbearable. I apologize for the inconvenience.”
A pain so strong it buckled her knees stemmed her scathing remark. Her teeth clenched and she sucked in her breath hard as the skin from her back ripped and new bones formed. She prayed for the darkness of unconsciousness that held her captive earlier that morning.
A hand stroked her face. She lifted her head to see Gabriel staring back at her. “It hurts.”
“It will be over in just a moment. I will make it up to you, I promise,” he said. She noted a sincerity that surprised her. He’d been standoffish until that moment. Another wave of pain ravaged her back and pushed the thought aside.
“That credit card better be platinum, buddy,” she muttered as she panted through the pain.
“Make it through the first week, and I’ll take you on a world–wide shopping trip. You’ll buy the best in Venice, in Paris, in New York City, in Los Angeles, and that’s just before lunch.” Gabriel said.
“You had better not be looking at my ass.”
“As perfect as your derriere is, it is not at all what I’m concerned about,” he replied. She thought she heard a hint of amusement. Despite the pain, she smiled at him calling her rear end perfect.
The sensation that had tormented her back ebbed, leaving a dull ache in its place. Savannah snatched the hospital gown and covered her front as she sat up. She wrapped it around her body as best she could. After she closed her eyes, she counted to ten, and looked over her shoulder. Folded black wings protruded from the area between her shoulders. She reached over, using her other arm to extend her reach and felt the outer edges of the dark feathers.
“I have wings,” she stated in amazement.
“Spirits aren’t bound by gravity, now, neither are you,” Gabriel said.
“How do they move?”
“The same way you move your arm, your leg, your finger. You just move them. They are limbs, appendages, extensions of your body,”
His answer irked her. She would like to see him automatically have the knowledge to use two large wings that appeared out of nowhere on her back. Questions streamed through her mind. How would she find shirts that could be worn over the wings? Could she lie on her back? Would she shed? She didn’t want to find feathers everywhere she went. Why were they black, weren’t wings white, like angel wings? Could they carry her weight and more? If so, how much more?
“The next step will give you telepathic abilities. I will answer all of your questions in due time. For now, we need to focus on your transformation,” Gabriel said.
“What?” she demanded.
“Your transformation from human mortal to a Soul Reaper, more specifically.” He explained.
“Of course, why wouldn’t Death’s assistant be known as a Soul Reaper? He’s the Grim Reaper after all,” she said, mildly amused at the term. “Soul Reaper is the best you could come up with? I mean, honestly, you get Angel of Death, Death, Grim Reaper, Collector of Souls. I get Soul Reaper. “
“Would you prefer a different title?” he asked. “This is the first trek I’ve made to the mortal realm in thousands of years. So, you will be the one they refer to as the Grim Reaper, the Angel of Death, and Collector of Souls.”
“Oh, well then, I find Angel of Death an acceptable title,” she said. “So, I’ll have wings and the ability to read minds. Do I have to do anything disgusting, like drink blood?” Her nose crinkled at the thought.
“You are a reaper, not a vampire. Please get your lore straight. Though there are similarities. You will not age beyond this point. You are immune from sickness and disease. Your strength will be superior to vampires, but you won’t be able to turn anyone into a reaper by biting them. Also, you are still technically mortal. A wound to a vital organ, extensive blood loss, broken spine or neck, things like that can still kill you.”
Savannah tried to pay attention to everything he told her, but couldn’t get past his insinuation that vampires were real. After a moment the rest of his words sunk in.
“What happens when I die?” she asked, genuinely curious.
“When you die, you’ll be sent back down to the waiting room, as you were before. Each time you die, you will be revived as a mortal and have to go through the transformation all over again.”
She refused to ever go through the wing thing again.