1. Best Friends Forever
The Grim Reaper appeared before the two children and the hamster. His face - in fact, all of his features - were completely shrouded by the robe of woven darkness he wore. Only his scythe was visible, and the blade seemed too thin, as though it weren't entirely there.
"I am here," the reaper spoke, "for a...Mr. Jiggles?"
"NO!" the boy said, crying and simpering. "You can't take Mr. Jiggles!"
"He's right," the girl said. "I need him for a school project. You can't have him."
The Grim Reaper looked over the two children defying him. "Really?" His voice seemed a hissing of steam from unknowable depths of time. "And what do you intend to do...to stop me?"
The girl looked up at him. "How about a game?"
"And what are the terms?" he asked her, interested.
"We fight. You win, you get the hamster."
"I get him anyway. What's in it for me to accept your challenge?"
"You get us, too," the boy spoke up.
"Shut up, Billy!" the girl snapped.
"I accept your terms of defeat," the Reaper said. "Now, what are the terms of your victory? Obviously, if you are willing to risk your lives, you must want more than just the hamster."
The girl - Mandy - thought for a time...then smirked. "If I win...then you will be my best friend...forever."
The reaper tilted his head. "Really?" His voice was different this time. It had almost...human qualities. "I accept your terms." The world shifted. "Welcome to Limbo."
"Alright," Mandy said. "What's the game?"
The Reaper chuckled. "The game...is darkness. In every heart, there is darkness that seeks to dominate and consume you. If the two of you can prove stronger than the darkness in your hearts...then you win. If not, the darkness will consume you, and you will be destroyed."
"And what will you be doing?" Mandy asked.
"Watching. Keep in mind, to achieve victory, both of you must win." he Reaper snapped his fingers with the sound of bone on bone.
Billy's shadow rose up out of the ground and faced him. They squared off for a time, and then the shadow subsided without taking form. "Did I win?" Billy asked.
"Interesting..." The Reaper watched Billy for a time, then turned to Mandy. He snapped his fingers again.
Mandy raised her eyebrows. "Well?"
The Reaper chuckled. "Well, well, well...it is not often even the Grim Reaper stares into the face of absolute evil."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means that there is no light inside you for the darkness to fight. How intruiging. It appears...I have lost."
The world shifts back.
A few hours later, Mandy was sitting on the couch. "Grim, get me a sandwhich."
Grim leaned indolently on the scythe. "Mandy...what were the terms of our deal?"
"If I won, you'd be my best friend forever. Now get me a sandwich."
"Do you know what it means to be a friend?"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Grim leaned forward, staring into her eyes. From the depths of his hood, twin blue lights, glowing like small suns, stared out at her. "It means, among other things...either learn to say please, or get your own bloody sandwhich."
Mandy stared at him for a time. Then she spoke up. "Billy, get me a sandwhich."
"Yes, Mandy." Billy ran to the kitchen.
"Grim," Mandy said, "Do you think...you could make sure he doesn't screw it up?"
Grim stared at her for a time. "Yes...I suppose I could." He turned and spoke over his shoulder. "It's a learning curve, I know...but you'll get the hang of it."