Czern clumsily held the sharpie marker and etched his name on the My Name Is nametag before pressing the adhesive to his dilapidated gray robe. The letters were crooked but he was satisfied with his handwriting. It had taken him nearly a month to learn to print the five letters. Still, despite his progress in learning to write, Czern was frustrated with having to wear the nametag. It completely stole away the significance of attending the group called Scythes Anonymous.
The group leader began speaking while Czern made his way to his seat, "Please, everyone, come and find your seat in the circle of trust. After six long weeks, we are finally at the end of our little meetings. Who would like to start?"
A brawny fellow stood from metal folding chair, gripping his scythe in one hand and the white sheet that barely clung to his waist with his other, "My name is Cronus or Saturn, depending on what text you read. I didn't sleep with my scythe for the first time last night."
The male next to him with bright golden hair and a set of fluffed, white wings clapped enthusiastically.
"Cronus, I am glad to hear your progress, but," the group leader said, "I have told you for over a month to wear real clothes to these meetings. You cannot strut about in a sheet. It is not allowed in the twenty-first century."
"Please tell me we aren't going to play Twister again?" an elderly man in a pitch black robe shivered uncomfortably next to Czern. "I still don't know why you made us do that!"
"No, Father. Of course not, and it was a test of resilience."
"I am still having nightmares..."
Cronus shrugged, adjusting his sheet, "I thought it was rather enjoyable."
Father glared at the god, once a Titan, "You didn't have someone's testicles resting on the back of your neck when the spinner jammed."
Cronus returned the pinned look, "Hey! Need I remind you that I castrated Uranus and threw his testicles into the sea with this scythe?"
"Might as well," Czern mumbled, "You tell us every week."
The blonde clapped again with the same excitement as before.
"That did not need an applause, Samael." The group leader shook his head gravely.
"The hell it doesn't," Cronus bawled, "That act alone gave birth to Aphrodite, who has blessed this planet for centuries with her beauty."
"I am well aware," the leader muttered.
"Now might be a good time to mention that I actually did not sleep at all last night, so when I said that I did not...uh...sleep with my scythe -
The leader stared blankly at Cronus with disbelief, cutting the god off from completing the sentence. The leader blinked a couple of times before turning his attention to the angel. "Samuel, why don't you go next?"
The angel leaped to his feet, "As you know, I am Archangel Samael and I also have a scythe that I wield when the Lord God commands it," he smiled cheekily, "I have not flown with my scythe all week!"
"That is impressive!" Father croaked in disbelief, "How did you manage that?"
"I walked!" Samael exclaimed. His grin could have split the Red Sea.
The leader sighed heavily, having nothing to say to the angel, "Father?"
"Why are we introducing ourselves every week? We know who each other are already. We are practically the same person, really."
"You continue to make strides in your walk to recovery, Father. From what I have heard, you may be the only one. Please, indulge us one last time," the leader directed with an even tone.
The Father squinted his aged eyes, wrinkles forming upon wrinkles, barely seen under his dark hood, "I am Father Time and I shoved my scythe up a boy's rectum this morning."
The serenity of the group leader disappeared instantly, "Goddammit! Why did you do that?"
"Blasphemy!" Samael shouted
"Because," Father sneered, "He called me the Grim Reaper."
"But you are the Grim Reaper!" the leader reasoned, ignoring Samael.
"But the little shit did not have to say it. I wasn't always perceived as evil, you know? I was once well respected and welcomed when death was knocking. It was that damn Plague during the Dark Ages. It ruined my reputation!"
"I am going to have to report this to your parole officer, Father."
Father waved his hand despondently, "Don't bother. It was his son."
"Oh, calm down already. The boy will live. Just will have a bad case of the runs for a couple years."
"Something like that -
Samael was standing, wings spread, scythe raised. His grin was replaced with a stone face, "Next time you speak the Lord's name in vain, I will send you to Hell!"
"Actually, I do that," Father said. "I have been doing that since before Moses was a baby."
"Really, I have been doing that before the both of you," Cronus said. "I sent folks to Hades long before Hell was even a place."
"Just stop! Stop! This is a circle of trust! For the love of..." the leader raised his hands. He turned his eyes quickly to Samael, who eyed him warily, "Zasalamel. We do not need another argument about whose scythe is the largest!"
The room fell quiet.
"Czernobog," the leader started again, taking deep breaths, "You have existed long before any of the others. I sincerely hope you have made some improvements this week. If you will enlighten us?"
Czern adjusted his stone crown and clutched his scythe protectively. He eyed the small group of Scythes Anonymous, choosing his words carefully. "I am Czern and I have existed for a long, long time, always honoring the scythe. The scythe was never meant to be a weapon, but a simple farmer's tool for harvesting the crop."
The man shook his head sadly beneath his robes before resuming.
"I watched mankind make the scythe a powerful symbol through Cronus. Then, I watched them instill fear with the scythe with Father Time. Lastly, they made the scythe a symbol of justification for their ridiculous actions through Samael. If I have learned anything, I know that men make mountains out of molehills, using deities as their excuses, pitting human against human. They even claimed I had a twin brother so that they could claim I was evil and wage wars!"
The group leader was astonished, "That is terrible!"
"Our Lord God will see them to justice," Samael pronounced.
Father Time chimed in, "We should infect them all with another disease. I hear zombies are a popular choice!"
Cronus nodded, "Castrate them all!"
"No!" Czern cried. "That is what they want! Just take your scythe in peace and use it for what it was intended. Stop this madness!"
"Are you really suggesting," the group leader swallowed hard, barely believing what he was hearing, "that everyone should go back to simply farming with their scythe?"
"Christ! That would ruin so many video games and movies. That's -
Samael beheaded the group leader with a single swipe of his scythe. The headed toppled to the floor before the body collapsed.
Silence filled the room for a moment as the rest of them gawked at the decapitated corpse.
"In my defense, I did warn him," Samael shrugged.
"Shit!" Father hissed. "What - what do we do?"
Cronus had the worst solution possible, "Twister?"
Joshua Robertson is an award-winning author in epic, dark fantasy. You may recognize him as the dude whose dragons were said to destroy George R.R. Martin's and Christopher Paolini's dragons in a very biased Twitter poll. His first novel, Melkorka, was released in 2015, and he has been writing fantasy fiction like clockwork ever since. Known most for his Thrice Nine Legends Saga, Robertson enjoys an ever-expanding and extremely loyal following of readers. He currently lives in North Carolina with his better half and his horde of goblins. Learn more at http://www.robertsonwrites.com or connect with him on Twitter or Instagram @RobertsonWrites.
I am an award-winning fantasy author, known best for the Thrice Nine Legends Saga. Please take some time and explore the website, and feel free contact me. I love getting mail!