In the orange glow of the predawn sky, Marius hurried outside hopping on one foot while he tugged his boot on. He had overslept again for the third time that week. Dorin the foreman had promised a lashing if he didn’t make it by sunrise. It was Adrian’s evil eye that Marius feared most. With a glance, that old codger could weaken a man’s knees. Boots on, Marius ran for the tool shed.
The others were already out in the meadow mowing the grass. Even tubby old Robert, a heavy sleeper and obnoxious snorer, appeared lively swinging his scythe. Marius would show him, though, rocks in the boot to slow the sleeping dragon next morning.
Inside the shed, Marius looked over the two stalls where the scythes were kept. Empty. Had Robert played a trick on him? Stepping outside, he grabbed the lantern from the peg beside the door. Checking the horizon, he saw orange-yellow rays chasing the final three stars away.
In the second and third stalls, he looked at the empty rods overhead and trampled grass on the floor. No scythe. The remaining stalls held tools all in their proper places, everything perfectly organized meeting Dorin’s strict guidelines.
Twirling around, he splashed lantern light at the front of the shed illuminating a scythe wedged between the wall and the first stall. Grimacing, Marius stamped over and reached into the narrow opening. Robert would get more than rocks in his boot for this prank. Leaning into the corner, his fingers snagged the handle.
A waterfall of chills cascaded down, and he shook from head to toe.
Marius took the scythe and returned the lantern to its peg. Golden rays threatened to burst over horizon. Fearing the lashing, he scurried into the meadow.
Standing among the tall grass, Adrian appeared like a scarecrow. His narrow, evil eye gazed over the meadow. Marius trembled as he approached. Standing a meter behind Adrian, Dorin held his lashing wire.
As Marius approached the two men, expecting their usual derogatory remarks, he began apologizing, but stopped short. The two men stood there without saying a word. Strangest of all, that evil eye of Adrian didn’t even notice Marius. They seemed to stare right through him at the shed!
Waving his hand, Marius tried to get their attention. Nothing. They continued watching the shed. Although he didn’t want to; he knew he had to—something was terribly wrong—Marius reached out and squeezed Adrian’s arm.
The old man collapsed into a heap in the grass.
Face wrecked in worry, Dorin dropped to his knee and shouted at the old man.
Marius stepped around to the side to get a better look, and found that evil eye of Adrian had been replaced by serenity. Dorin cried. Trying to get a better look, Marius crouched placing his hand on the foreman’s shoulder.
Dorin the foreman crumpled over, dead.
Marius leapt back and stared in bewilderment at his hand. Had his touch been cursed? He examined the scythe noticing its superior craftsmanship, much nicer than any tool he’d seen before.
“Right,” said a man.
Spinning towards the voice, Marius found a handsomely dressed older gentleman strolling into the tall grass.
“I apologize for this unfortunate event,” said the man. He held out his hand. “Now, if you’ll be so kind to return that scythe to me.”
Following direction, Marius gave the scythe to the gentleman.
A whirlwind of smoke consumed the gentlemen, and in a puff, he was gone.
Noticing the workers coming his way, two of them shouting his name, Marius decided to flee while his legs could still carry him.
Inspired by Eric J. Krause’s Speculative Writing Prompt #155: “You hoist a scythe from an old tool shed, and it turns you into the Grim Reaper.”
As a challenge, I wrote what came to mind without thought or planning. Edited for spelling only. Not quite a six-minute story (I think it took closer to ten), but it’s the least amount of time I’ve ever spent on a story.