She Kindly Stopped For Me by Manchester
Disclaimer: Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, its characters, stories, and settings are property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy Productions, and 20th Century Fox. The Endless, Sandman, and related titles, characters, settings, and stories are property of Neil Gaiman, DC Comics, and those other entities with legitimate ownership interests. No copyright infringement is intended.
Waiting patiently on her seat in one of the city’s parks, Death mused on exactly how to characterize the coming event. It certainly wasn’t unique, but then, virtually nothing in her ongoing existence could be called that, after so long. Rare, or extraordinary? No, not quite. After a few more moments of reflection, the pale young woman wearing black clothing perked up at finally realizing the correct word for what was just about to happen.
Uncommon, that described it perfectly.
Cocking her head, the second oldest of the Endless heard a loud noise break the previous silence of the park, where the usual inhabitants of squirrels and birds had hastily decamped some time ago, accompanied by the usually more obtuse humans who’d finally paid attention to their instincts urgently telling them to leave, NOW.
Listening to an internal-combustion engine laboring at its top speed, Death placidly watched as a yellow school bus barreled along the road by the park, with this vehicle being closely followed by an immense, onrushing cloud of dust. Just as the bus passed the seemingly-empty park (not that the riders were particularly in the mood to pick up anyone else), Death became engulfed in the dust cloud, and right after that, she felt her park bench suddenly drop out from under herself.
The long, backless seat that had been graciously donated to the city by one Richard Wilkins III, in memory of his beloved father Richard Wilkins II (and if any nosy parkers at the bestowing ceremony had wondered what exactly had happened to this older man that had never been seen in the company of his presumed son, they’d been discreet enough to keep their mouths shut lest they appear in tomorrow’s edition of the newspaper obituaries), now started in its long fall downwards, as a still-seated Death sighed, and then she stood up.
It was the sheer principle of the thing, really, mused Death, as she floated in mid-air several hundred feet above the still-collapsing sinkhole. She certainly wasn’t going to be influenced by gravity. Gravity was influenced by HER, if this mutual force of attraction between all particles or bodies that had mass knew what was good for it.
Dismissing this idle thought, Death peered down with eyes that saw far more than the simple mortality of a single Passeridae. Nodding in calm satisfaction, the young woman knelt down, still at her spot in the air high above the crumbling ground (gravity was now hastily saluting and gabbling, “Whatever you want, ma’am!”), and she stretched out her arms that had infinite reach and capacity, to then gently grasp and hold a certain entity.
Getting back up to her feet without the slightest strain, a hovering Death cradled her burden, and smiling at what was in her arms, she cooed, “Hey there, kiddo! I know you’re feeling kind of upset now, but don’t worry. I’m going to take you to a place that’s so much better than here, and you’ll make lots of friends there. Especially once you start telling all the stories about what happened to you, since it’s not like they can top those. Still, you and the others will have a lot of fun together, all of you. Won’t that be nice? Just you, and Port Royal, Saint-Pierre, Yungay, Gorham….”
As Death paused, to again smile down at the soul of the entire physical town of Sunnydale that she still cuddled in her embrace, the surge of terror from this frightened entity that the Endless had been soothing now lessened, as instead the spirit of that magic-infused small California municipality began to convey its eagerness to be with others of its kind, those other places destroyed in the past by seemingly natural forces, so that it would never again be alone.
“And you won’t,” murmured Death in her soft promise, as she and her lovingly-carried burden then departed from the world, on their way to a joyous gathering of vanished cities that had once lived, holding all the races of men going around their daily business, until one day, disaster had struck….and Death had come. Come, and gone….with the souls of the places themselves that had been called by their inhabitants “home,” which was a word having actual magic in that declaration. Magic that had unknowingly caused the creation of something new in the universe….and brought a tender smile to the pale face of she who would be there for the beginning and ending of all things.
Death took Sunnydale home.