Grim Reapers Opening Scenes part 2


Well-Known Member
Sep 11, 2017
OK, continuing on, here is the later half of the story. In between the last moment and this, the Dullahan goes to collect a soul only to find that the angel of death Azrael has turned up for it already. Queue moment of squabbling and bickering between psychopomps. The dead woman, Alice, then turns down both of them in favour of travelling the world as a spirit.

I'm a bit worried about this as I feel it ends a bit preachy and the story is a bit light on plot.

If anyone wants to read the full thing, message me and I'll be happy to send it over.

Grim Reapers cont.

“What do you mean ‘no thanks’?” The Dullahan said. “You are dead. This is the end. It is time for you to move on.”

“And what if I don’t?” She said. “Because I have to say, neither of you make it sound too appealing.”

The Clurichaun coughed. “Well, sometimes your soul will be blown around the world by the winds. Or you will walk all over the Earth without rest. Traditionally, people carry an ember in a turnip to light their way, which always struck me as a damn waste of a root vegetable.”

Again Alice looked thoughtful. Then she nodded. “Alright, I’ll take that.” She turned and walked towards the door. “I don’t suppose I’ll need my coat will I? Seems a bit strange to travel for eternity in my pyjamas.”

The two entities of death stared after her. Then they turned and stared at each other. Azrael blinked. The next second, the Clurichaun had to dive out of the way as they each tried to make it out of the door first, getting stuck in the frame in a mass of black wings and coat tails.

“What do you mean ‘You’ll take that’?” The Dullahan cried after her.

“Just what I said.” Alice said, striding down the hall. “Should I lock up after myself, do you think? I swear, you didn’t have to burst all the doors open and leave the place like this. Thieves could get in.” She stopped mid-stride and a slow smile spread over her face. Then she turned ninety degrees and stepped out through the wall.

“Learns fast, that one.” Noted the Clurichaun. He sighed as, once again, Azrael and the Dullahan tried to race after her, only succeeding in getting in one another’s way. He followed the squabbling pair out into the street, searching around his person in case he happened to have another bottle.

“But you are bound for paradise.” Azrael called after Alice, who was now floating an inch or so above the tarmac road. “Why would you turn away from that to wander the Earth forever? It is a curse, a torment to be so cast out and forgotten.”

Alice paused. She turned slowly in the air and the look on her face brought all three of the beings following her up short. “I’ll tell you what’s a torment.” She said, her voice low and dangerous. “To be born into this world, so full of amazing things and places and people and food, to be born here, and then have no way to experience it.” She spread her arms out to the sky and twirled in a circle. “In all my life, short as it was, I only ever went as far away as Paris. Once. When I was five. Now I’m free. Free from finances and time and people and responsibilities and you tell me to walk away from that opportunity? That I should go to my rest content?” She jabbed a finger up at the sky. “I’ll go when I’m good and ready. In the meantime, which way is America? I’ve got a Grand Canyon to see.”

She rose up in the air, but before she could go much higher than the first floor of the surrounding buildings, a pair of wings, their feathers as dark as the night sky, opened before her.

“You would spurn me!” Azrael thundered. “I am an angel! Your time has come and you will come to your rest!”

Alice looked at him, unimpressed. “Make me.”


“I said, make me.” Alice crossed her arms. “I don’t think you can, can you? Mr high and mighty. You’re just a functionary at the end, ferrying us all from point A to point B. You’re like an uber driver, really. You can’t exactly tie me up and force me to take your taxi. Although I admit, I have met drivers who would probably be willing to give it a try.”

“Miss O’Neil.” The Dullahan said, rising up to join them, his coat flaring out behind him. “You must come with me. If you do not take your place aboard my coach, you risk becoming sluagh. A mindless spirit of hunger, driven in torment upon the winds.”

For a moment, Alice looked pale even for a ghost. Then her jaw tensed and she looked back down at the Clurichaun. “You said there are other grim reapers, yes?”

“Hmm? Oh yes, tons. They’re all over the place.” The Clurichaun said.

She nodded. “Very well. When I get tired of this world, when I am ready to move on, I’m sure I won’t have trouble finding one who can help me.”

“You would forsake your right in favour of another deliverer?” The Dullahan gasped.

“You would forsake a guardian of the righteous?” Azrael said, similarly stunned.

She patted Azrael on the cheek and tried to do the same for the Dullahan, but settled for a hand on the shoulder instead. “You two seem to think it’s the journey that’s the important part.” She said. “But you can’t forget, the destination is the reason you went in the first place. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a few destinations in mind myself. Cheerio.”

The Dullahan and Azrael descended back to the ground, watching as the shade of Alice O’Neil disappeared into the night time sky. Neither of them looked at each other. After a while, Azrael began to fidget.

“The higher ups won’t be happy about this.” He said.

“I’m going to be the laughing stock of the fey.” The Dullahan said. He made a half-hearted attempt to straighten his coat, but gave up.

“What do we do now?”

“Lads, lads, lads.” The Clurichaun walked up to them and clapped them both on the back, or as high up as he could reach, which caused Azrael to jump. “You’ve both been turned down by a lady. In such cases, there is only one thing left to do.” He grinned up at their confusion. “Allow me to introduce you to a few spirits of my acquaintance.”

The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
Staff member
Nov 10, 2008
nearly the New Forest
I was only going to bump this, in case my moving this extract to a separate thread had caused potential critiquers to lose sight of it, but I've had a quick read through, and while I won't do a full nit-pick, I will just follow up on the dialogue punctuation which Jo commented on in the original thread and which you've not corrected in this one:

“The higher ups won’t be happy about this.” He said. is not punctuated as it should be. When dialogue is followed by attribution aka a dialogue tag showing who is speaking (ie "he said") the tag itself has to start with a lower case letter. That means dialogue which would otherwise end in a full stop, now has to end with a comma. So it should be “The higher ups won’t be happy about this,he said. (I'd also put a hyphen in there in "higher-ups".)

If the dialogue ends with an exclamation or question mark, then that stays -- ie it isn't converted to a comma -- but the tag still has to start with a lower case letter. So “What do you mean ‘no thanks’?” The Dullahan said. should be “What do you mean ‘no thanks’?” the Dullahan said. (I'd also give the 'No thanks' a capital, especially if that's how it's rendered when she says it.)
I don't know if you've come across The Toolbox yet, but it has quite a few posts on this matter, the most comprehensive of which is this one of Jo's which I'd recommend you read and get to grips with The Toolbox The rest of the thread may well be of interest, too. And just a gentle hint, but another time if you are given good advice on things like punctuation on one Critique extract, it is best to act on that advice by making appropriate changes before putting a second one up, as otherwise it might lead to a feeling among critiquers that their advice has been overlooked/ignored, which I know you wouldn't want to be the case here.

As to the ending, it didn't seem too preachy to me, and I thought it was actually quite a lovely idea that Alice wants to see the world now. I'm not sure how old she is, nor how wealthy or otherwise, but I wasn't wholly convinced she would have been taken to Paris when she was 5 but then never went abroad again, but no doubt you have good reasons why that's the case. I'd also expect her to be a bit less laid-back about dying and/or a bit more anxious/upset about family/friends/pets she is leaving behind, if there are any, but presumably you've got that covered in the bit missing between the two extracts.

Overall if these two excerpts and the missing middle are the totality of the story I'd agree it does seem a bit lacking in plot. There also seems no reason for the involvement of the Clurichaun, who simply acts to pad the whole thing out, and therefore dilutes what plot there is. But if you're writing a collection of stories in which he's involved, and this is just one vignette, then it might still work on its own terms.

In any event, good luck with it.


Well-Known Member
Sep 23, 2017
Hi SPoots,

I only have a couple critiques under my belt, here, and two under my belt, via personal email--thus, I'm wanting to learn how to do this, and hope you will be patient with me.

My overall impression as a reader was that I enjoyed how upbeat it was. This surprised me. I click to read a story called, Grim Reapers, and can't tell you how much the laughter you created in me sneaked up and surprised me. This made it all the more enjoyable, for me.

I read what the Judge wrote, and agree, yet will add: sometimes it feels hard, for me anyway, to make those corrections, because sometimes there is a flood of things suggested, and in my case (Point of View), I simply could not comprehend how to do what was suggested, no matter how hard I tried.

Yours seem easy enough to fix, though, and I'd recommend following what the Judge said.

I don't necessarily have the same feelings about the nonchalance of Alice, as did the Judge. It was part of what made the entire piece delight me! She'd baffled those who were there to dismay and baffle her (death is such, heh). It was her glib reaction--in the statement, "Alright, I'll take that."

I was already laughing over what the Clurichaun had said about the damn waste of a root vegetable it was when folks would carry an ember in a turnip to light their way...then, Alice's response suddenly had me surprised, and smiling, again.

You are strong in conveying a sense of well-placed comedy that is perfectly timed--I wish I had that gift. It is great to have a knack at making people smile. And, you obviously have this gift.

Your wording can be clever, as well. I loved the part where Alice says, "You two seem to think it's the journey that's the important part...But you can't forget, the destination is the reason you went in the first place..." I just loved that remark. And, that she was speaking to otherworldly beings, who were there over her death, when she glibly stated this. I thought this wording was clever, as I sat enjoying your excerpt.

I apologize I don't have a hard critique to offer, and fear what I've offered may not even be useful. I just wanted to let you know that half of what my critiques have said to me I still cannot even comprehend, so it just feels I haven't the background to be offering any advice, just yet. I just have a long way to go--I, too, thought the full stop was correct, and not the comma or with an exclamation or question mark, the lower case. I had to go take three classical books from my shelf, and see for myself, and sure enough--the Judge is leading us in the right direction when he points us to that toolbox:) He is spot on. I don't know how it is for you, but for me--it is super hard for me to catch everything when so much is posted in critique of a post.

I have learned one thing. I'm enjoying reading other people's stuff, such as this excerpt.

Bottom line for me: You made me smile, today.



Well-Known Member
Sep 11, 2017
Thank you both for the feedback!

Aye I know I still haven't changed the dialogue, my plan was to get all the feedback together first and then go in to make the changes.

Don't quite know what to do about the Clurichaun being superfluous as he is the main comedic voice. May have to see if I can find a way to beef out the plot a bit.


Well-Known Member
Sep 11, 2017
Just read over the toolbox. That clears things up a lot, thanks.