Day 81: You are the Grim Reaper. Write three different openings for your autobiography, trying out very different styles.

The hooded figure hunches over the typewriter, glaring with hollow sockets at the blank piece of paper in front of him. ‘Stupid thing.’ He leans back, cracks his fingers (a particularly impressive feat, having no synovial fluid surrounding his joints) and sets to work again, a chorus of maracas with an occasional ding.

A Resident’s Guide to The Sunless Country, by The Grim Reaper

Come and join the hero of this tale as he sits and writes. His is a life of richness and variety. Life begins at death, as our hero well knows. He is the guide to the sunless country, tiller of the rich soil of the dead. He deals in stories, trades in tales. He is the Captain, he is the Keeper. He…

‘This is bloody rubbish.’ He mutters to himself, each word falling like a tombstone. He tears the sheet of paper from the typewriter, screwing it up and hurling it into the black, iron wastepaper basket to join its brethren. Everything is black here, a monochrome landscape. He reaches for the black antique telephone as it begins to ring.

‘Yo, G, you gonna have my book to me by next week, yeah?’ The Grim Reaper lets the words wash over him, taking his time before responding.


‘Excellent! I’ve got the publicity tour all ready to go man, we’re gonna start with a signing at the pearly gates, a Q & A down in the Fields of Elysium and you are at The Heaven/Hell mixer on Monday. Everybody is hyped for it man! Anyway, I’ve got Gabriel on the line, he’s wondering why he’s got to stay as Monday’s angel. Catch you on the flipside, G Man!’ The line went dead. Well, dead is a relative term in the Sunless Country. He groans and leans back on his chair, slumping down into it. He sighs.

This Is Your Eternal Life, by Grim

‘In the world, there’s a TV show called This Is Your Life. I had a great chat with Eamonn Andrews when he came down here and we talked a lot about it. I’ve had an interesting eternal life since my appointment back… Well, a long time ago. Time works differently here. 

But hey, I’ve got to say. It’s been rich. It’s been rewarding. I’ve met the best of the best and the worst of the worst. And I hate to say it, but the worst of the worst know how to party.’ 

He stopped again. Slammed his skull into the black desk once or twice. ‘This. Is. Hopeless.’ He stopped. ‘I don’t create! I just collect!’ He rips the paper, hearing it crunch under the fingerbones as he screws it up. He wheels his chair over to his other desk, the hourglasses for the day lined up in a neat row, silver and gold in the overwhelming darkness. He picks up the smallest, barely three inches high and looks at it for a long time. Stares with the emptiness in the eye sockets, an eternity in the void. He stops, and puts it back down. He picks up the black fountain pen that lies on the desk and begins to write, a flowing cursive script on the fresh white paper.

Borrowed Time, by The Grim Reaper

Mine is a lonely experience. I meet everybody, but nobody stays. I have never known people for longer than a day and that’s only because one of them escaped for a bit. But I found them. That’s what I do. I find, and I collect. It is lonely. It is difficult. It is a job I have to do. But occasionally… Occasionally someone deserves more. Those are the times to remember. 

And he reached out, picking up the tiny hourglass. ‘More time. You get more time. Make the most of it.’

He turns it over.

The Idiot in Tin Foil


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