Like any significant career move, this one happened by accident. Karen spent a lot of time planning what she was going to do with her life, but Fate had other plans for her, as she often does for most of us.
As a single mother who’s struggling to make ends meet, Karen stumbles into the worst job on earth: transporting souls into the afterlife. To make matters worse, she is contractually bound to continue the job indefinitely, and her difficult employer is none other than Fate. It doesn’t take long for Karen to learn that Fate may be fashionable, but she’s also heartless.
In bondage to Fate, but in love with Fortune, Karen struggles to find a way out.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I enjoy thinking about concepts such as Fate and Fortune an how we perceive the concepts – that’s why I personified them in this book. I also tour cemeteries and enjoy looking at the gravestones. All the pictures in the book were taken by me at different cemeteries around the world.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I wanted female lead because woman face a lot of challenges that men don’t. This adds interest to the story and an element to which other women can relate. Fate and Fortune are the other two main characters and I create them based on our perceptions of the concepts. Fate appears harsh while Fortune appears seductive.
Karen studied the coffin she had just uncovered. The lid, once a shiny lacquered surface, was now partially decayed and fell apart as Karen pried it off. Bits of wood turned to dust on her hands as she worked diligently to make an opening. Her arms were tired from digging and the fatigue made it more difficult to be gentle with the rotting wood. She paused to shake her arms vigorously and relax the tension in her muscles and upper body. As she breathed in the chilly night air, she could smell her own sweat mixed with the fragrance of the rich earth and decaying wood. She took a few more deep breaths and turned back to the task of opening the grave. She worked patiently to handle the lid with care and managed to remove a large chunk that was nearly a third of the entire lid. Through the hole she had made she saw the top half of a well-dressed skeleton.
The grave was on the edge of the cemetery, in a neglected corner that looked as if it could be part of the adjoining land. The gravestone had fallen over years ago and weathered so much that it looked like an ordinary limestone rock. A few days earlier when Karen recognized that it was actually a grave, she decided to rob it. She was hoping that no one had gotten to it before her.
This particular plot was an older grave from a time when individuals placed ancient coins over the eye sockets of the corpse, although the coins weren’t ancient when they were buried. Most of these graves had already been robbed, but due to the location and lack of distinct marking or some other mystical reason, this one had gone unnoticed by robbers until now. It was almost as if the grave had been hidden until the right person came along. Karen wasn’t the typical grave robber, and perhaps the corpse found this attractive. Regardless of how the grave had remained unspoiled for so many years, Karen was the one who finally opened the casket and plucked up the coins. It was at that moment that Fate appeared.
“You have three days to finish the task,” someone said as soon as Karen had snatched the coins and a few other small trinkets from the corpse. Karen jumped when she heard the voice. It had a rich, mellow tone and resonated with authority. Karen turned around and briefly thought about running, but she decided to stay put when she saw a woman staring her down. The woman had come out of nowhere and appeared to be alone.
The woman was, if nothing else, fashionable. She was very fit, toned but not bulky in stature, and wore clothes of the finest quality. Her boots were Italian leather and the jacket and pants looked like something from a Chanel boutique.
Karen slowly put the coins into her pocket, along with the gold watch she had taken from the breast pocket of the skeleton’s suit, and addressed the woman. Other people might have felt intimidated by the situation. Karen was ready to fight.
“What task?” Karen demanded. “Who are you?” A pocket of night air brushed past and gave her a chill as she waited for an answer. However, she would not let her discomfort show.
“I am Fate, of course. You took the coins intended for the Ferryman. The work is now yours. You’re hired.” The woman stood with one hand on her hip as she spoke with confidence.
“To do what?” Karen glanced around to see if anyone else was nearby. Surely Fate was not alone in the graveyard at three in the morning. Karen had chosen the time based on her experience of when graveyards were most empty. She’d learned a lot since she started grave robbing and knew that the time between when the bars close and the coffee shops open are the most vacant hours of the night.
“This gentleman paid for safe passage to the next life. Your job is to get him there,” Fate explained. “And you’re already late.”
The novelty of the situation wasn’t lost on Karen. She knew the legend of the Ferryman and about how people would be buried with coins on their eyes or lips to pay for a successful journey into the afterlife. She also knew that there were very few graves left where the gold coins were still in place. Karen was unlucky enough to find and rob this particular grave when Fate was nearby and looking for someone to do her bidding. Fate probably just liked the look of Karen. There were few women strong or daring enough to rob graves, and that probably worked in Karen’s favor. She was also physically strong for a woman her size and had a determined appearance in the way she carried herself as she moved. Whatever it was, something had attracted Fate, and once Fate has her eye on you there’s no getting away. Of course, Fate always has a way of putting someone into a situation and then leaving, which is what she did with Karen. Some people would call this poor management. Others call it being smart.
Fate abruptly vanished and Karen saw the ghost that had been standing behind Fate. He was dressed in a black suit with a starched white shirt, a black vest and red tie. His shoes were polished and glowed. He certainly seemed less solid than everything else in the graveyard. Looking at him made Karen’s eyes water, as if she was watching heat coming from a flame. Everything about him was wavy and unstable. He took a step forward.
Amy Neftzger is the author of fiction books for both adults and children. She has also been published in business and academic journals, as well as literary publications. A few of her favorite things include traveling, books, movies, art, the Oxford comma, and gargoyles.
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