It is strange how I have been perceived as an evil force throughout the many long, weary years of my life. It is my curse to be seen like this. Even the most charming, beautiful, wealthy person in the human world would be viewed like I am if they were given my task, my place in life. I am wealthy, in a sense of the word. I have a wealth of knowledge, more than any man could hope for. Of course, no man could live as long as me. I make sure of that.
I take from the living and the dead alike. I take from the rich and the poor without thought for their differences. They are all the same to me.
I am Death.
To me, each day is dull and grey, as lifeless as those I take from the earth when their time comes. Occasionally, there is colour, something which catches the spark of my interest.
For many years, I had watched Friedrich Bauer and his numerous offspring with curiosity. In my lifetime, I have seen many parents with twelve children, yet few have managed to raise all of them and defy me. Not one of his sons or daughters found their way to the Underworld, and their candles burned bright and tall. It hurt my eyes. Herr Bauer was a hard worker, yet struggled for existence. I liked that. People like him usually came into my arms sooner than those who work little and gain much.
Then came the thirteenth child. Thirteen, my favourite number. Of course, a man only has a certain amount of friends to which he can turn to and ask for them to be a Godfather to his children. Herr Bauer had exhausted his supply of associates, and so he made his way to the highway, intending to ask the first man he saw to be the godfather to his newborn son.
What made this man different from the many hard working, child infested peasants like him was that the first person he came across was possibly one of the least likely people to be traipsing along a dusty, half abandoned highway in the middle of the German State. The Good-doer.
Or, as most people refer to him, God. It was a shock to see him on that road. I had seen neither hide nor hair of him for hundreds of years. Whilst I was condemned to a life in the Underworld, he lorded over Heaven. Of course, those that come to my home are either going to go to his, or to Hell sooner or later. Some call me God's servant. I hate that. I may collect the souls of people for him, but I hardly grovel at his feet. People ought to grovel at my feet, so I am not going to give him the honour. I have seen him sort through and choose a select few to go to Heaven where they will be treated well. The rest go to Hell, a place to burn for eternity. So much for forgiveness.
The meeting of God and Herr Bauer was far too interesting for me to miss, so I crouched and watched them. God already knew what the man wanted. Even from my vantage point, high in the clouds, I could see a warm smile slide over his face like the wax from one of my candles. As the two beings faced each other, I was amazed by how different they were. Bauer's cheeks were hollow and shaven, his eyes were dark pools in his skull, surrounded by bruise like marks from sleeplessness. I was reminded of a twig, easily snapped, and easily bent to your will. In comparison, God was plump. Rolls of flesh were wrapped warmly around his body. He had a silky white beard that swirled like the softest of clouds past his chest until it rested on the peak of his mountainous stomach. His head was, unlike his chin, devoid of any hair. It gleamed enthusiastically at the sun as if someone had spent hours polishing it. He stretched out his soft, stubby fingers and rested his hand on the man's shoulder in an overly friendly manner.
"Poor man, I pity you" His voice was like the sinister hiss of a snake. I could almost see it coiling around the man, engulfing him, owning him. I pity you. I am better than you. I am in a position where I can see your pain, yet not feel it myself. My blood boiled and I felt my lips draw back over my teeth in an involuntary snarl. Who was he to pity this man? My ears pricked as I tried to listen to what this serpentine God would say to ensnare Herr Bauer next.
"I will hold your child at his baptism, and care for him, and make you happy on earth." Such promises! He who had sacrificed his own son was now offering to hold the son of a simple peasant.
"Who are you?" asked Bauer, clearly awed at the promises of such a well fed, kindly gentleman.
"I am God" he said arrogantly. I could almost see him stand a little taller and puff out his chest. It did not have a particularly impressive result, although it did succeed in making his stomach seem larger than before.
Then came the reply that I was not expecting, although when it came, my respect for the human who stood below me increased dramatically.
"Then I do not wish to have you for a godfather. You give to the rich, and let the poor starve."
The look on God's face was utterly priceless. His eyes widened in shock, and his jowls drooped comically in a look of horror, yet the man walked around him, and continued on his way, either unaware, or uncaring of the rebellious move he had just made against the creator.