It was Fabian’s day off, and he was up early to train at the dojo. He crept out carefully to be sure he didn’t disturb Zahra while she slept. Mad Science was taking more out of her these days, and she needed her beauty rest.
Fabian was going to test for his red belt, and he wanted Charles to be wowwed by his moves. He threw his all at the training dummy. But all of a sudden, something felt wrong.
Lisette Williams wouldn’t take her eyes off him. He wanted to believe that he was a hot stud muffing all sweaty and working out, but he was too old and wise for that fantasy. “What are you looking at?” he demanded. But the words came out strange and hollow….
Then he realized what was wrong.
The air grew cold, and he felt icy breath on the back of his head. He turned around to face the Grim Reaper.
Well, that kind of wrecked the mood. Fabian looked the dread apparition up and down. “Aren’t you a little young for a soul collector?”
“Hey,” the Reaper growled. His voice was the sound of breaking glass. “We have to start someplace.”
This was it. Fabian thought of Zahra. He’d left her sleeping sweetly in their bed. And Ada. She was getting married tomorrow, and it had never occurred to him that he wouldn’t be there to give her away. This was so sudden. It wasn’t fair. A moment ago, he felt more alive than ever in his life. And now it was over?
“Please!” he cried, falling to his knees. “Please let me have just a little more time! I want to be a better a better father and husband! You didn’t give me time to make my mistakes up to Zahra!”
The Reaper tapped his foot impatiently. He was probably rolling his invisible eyes. “If you haven’t made good on your life by now, it’s too late to start,” the Reaper said. “You done now? I have a schedule to keep.”
Thus Fabian Branch Sample was called to the Netherworld.
Zahra felt it immediately. Mad Science had raised her awareness of the invisible forces that surround us. Something cried out in the fabric of the universe and was suddenly silent.
The roaring emptiness nearly knocked her out of her chair.
“Your step-grandfather is gone,” Zahra told the triplets. He chest was so tight and aching that she could barely get the words out.
Charles also felt it. This was the first person close to him who had died since Granddad Lance when he was a teenager. This was different. He felt it like a like a burning flash across his connection to the Netherworld.
And how did he feel? Fabian hadn’t been a perfect father-figure, but he was the only father figure Charles could remember. The void he left in Charles’s life was large and aching.
The time that followed was rough. Fabian hadn’t been a perfect man, but he’d been enough. He’d touched the lives of his family.
Zahra pulled weeds until her hands were sore.
Charles tried to fill Fabian’s shoes. He was clumsy at best.
(Dude. Your spoon is *upside down*.)
After a while, the ache became a little less. Fabian had led a good life. He’d reached his career ambition. He’d managed not to destroy his marriage. He had a beautiful and talented daughter. He’d done all right with his life, really.
The Samples started letting themselves have a bit more fun again.
So long, Fabian. You have a complicated afterlife ahead of you.
[Missing picture of Cycl0n3 and Fabian’s gravestones, with a space between them for Zahra’s.]
OK, what’s with Grim going around town dressed up to graduate from high school???
Blast it, Fabian had just gotten a new belt. I was going to cancel his training so that he would show it off and pose for a picture. Then I played some of the rest of the household, and looked up to see his thumbnail had disappeared from the display. I’d’ve liked to get him with a belt other than white. Sim Fu really was his passion there at the end. His queue was filled with wishes to train and exercise.
It’s amusing how everyone in the household starts grieving instantly, no matter where they are.
Fabian died at the age of 93 with 160 happiness point.