Godwin could smell the culprit running away. They always left the putrid smell of fear in their wake. The pursuit, giving chase. That was what he was famed for. Sergeant John Godwin. There were those who loved doing it. Running after the bad guys, doing the right thing. Getting all the credit. The glory. Godwin hated it. His talent made him a lot of friends. All the victims. All their families. It made equally many enemies. All his victims. And their families, especially when capital punishment would follow. There is no caution when running at full speed after some low-life. Through backstreets and alleyways, who knows what might jump out at him? And then there was the matter of catching versus overpowering. People sometimes forgot that the two weren't quite the same. Coming quiet was something that only happened in text books. If anything, he wanted to end it as soon as possible. It was probably why he was so good at this particular game. Ahead of him, crates were crashing, women were screaming. A dog barked. He was still hot on the trail. Across Baker street it went, up Tanner's alley. Then, a left across the fence onto Lord Mallett Square. That could only mean one thing to Godwin. A right, with the guts to pass the police station and into Queen's park. It was funny. Rightly adjacent to the police station, there was this park. It was decent – if somewhat pungent – during the day. Queen's park had the habit of swallowing you whole during the night. And it would spit you out variably naked, bankrupt, dead – in whole or neatly diced – or, occasionally, unscathed. But wholly corrupt. At night, you never came out quite the same as you went in. As such, police didn't go there, didn't visit its neighbour during the night. And that was a given. “Bloody fool”, Godwin said to himself in quiet and redoubled his effort. This one must be desperate seeking refuge in that hell-hole. He wasn't to let this one get away, however. No one drew a knife in the bank after hours. No one threw a knife at Godwin. During his shift. And get away with it. He ducked in time, it was a near miss. But that was hardly the point. He was gaining. The gait of tiredness was overcoming the gallop of this one. Godwin ate up the cobbles underfoot, in the certainty that this would be over soon. It would be close, though. Closing up to the station he saw several members of the force outside the entrance doing a ***. Godwin saw Johnson, Troy, Dorett and a few he couldn't make out from the back. As usual, they didn't quite realise what was going on. Hope for help was pretty futile. The heavy wrought-iron gate of the park was adorned with two golden Qs and a latin motto, of which he could only make out one word. Mort. Godwin always thought of it as a fair warning, whatever it actually said. It was a close call. There were still yards separating him from Knife Thrower. But the distance between him and that large green gate was decreasing much faster. Godwins heart was throbbing in his throat, he could taste the blood in the back of this throat. Don't give up! The culprit made it to the gate first, though, touching the handle. In the confidence the heavy gate wouldn't give, he jumped. He jumped with all force left in his body, surely crushing his prey. Brave sergeant Godwin's heart missed a beat. It didn't. With a loud creak of metal on metal, the gate swung open and the two of them disappeared through. To his utter surprise and terror they were swallowed into the dark of Queen's. It took a second to compose himself again, having landed on the back of his assailant, who was already trying to wriggle himself out. Godwin got to himself and grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and pushed Knife Thrower's head in the dirt. “Nicked, you scum!” Godwin roared, hoarse and out of breath. The man under him was also clearly out of breath, but somehow, Godwin noticed something resembling a laugh. Resembling, but not quite. “I made it, Sarge. Do you know where you are? This is Queen's, this is!”, he sunddely shouted ecstatically. With that, the man turned from under Godwin. A short silvery flash caught his eye. Too late. A sting in his side. And a vortex of pain. Footsteps left the scene, running. Godwin could only act as a witness to the scene. With some effort, he crawled back to the gate and made it out. Suddenly, his world went very cold. There was a small gathering around the gate, no one really quite dared to do anything. This was Queen's park after all. The onlookers noticed the Colour draining from Godwin's face. Godwin noted the colour draining from the rest of the world. Certainly, everything went quiet in a very loud way. A man clad in dark hooded robes made it through the crowds. Yes. Sergeant Godwin decided that was the best way to describe his approach. He tried looking up into the hood, but it didn't yield an identity. “John Godwin?” it said. Nonplussed, but slightly irritated and with regained strength, he replied: “That's Sergeant Godwin for you”. “Me? No. You must be mistaken. All humans are of equal rank to me. That, John, is one of the quirks of my job.” Realisation sank in. Queens park had taken another victim. “Ah, like that heh? Just like that. I'd always imagined that I'd go out with explosions, fire and the works.” said late-sergeant Godwin. “Or, preferably, long after I'd have retired”. Fat chance of that I had, he added in the privacy of his thoughts. “You made it out of Queens park alive, John. You, of all people, must realise that I come here frequently. This talk, the one I am having with you right now, is usually on the other side of the fence. If only for that, John, you will be remembered.” said the robed figure. “Well piss to that. Doesn't make it any better, now, does it?” “I am given to understand that you would rather not have died?” “Hell, what do you know about all that?” scowled Godwin. “I respect your character, but I hold reasonable grasp over 'all that', John. But speaking of which, I personally was looking forward to meeting you. Many a man has cursed your name shortly after my presence was required. And a few females as well, I remember. Many had to be cut down before I could help them further.” the robed figure tapped his scythe. Of course he had a scythe. “Well, they must have deserved it, then”, said Godwin. “I am not the one to judge, John. My job is simply to tidy up after the fact, so to speak But I hear there's no remorse?” “What of it? And what of those curses? You're not going to hold all this against me, do you?” “Not that, John. Today, I am here to tidy up after you. And please do stand up, John. There is no sense is staying down there.” John stood up, although that expression would not give credit to the fact that he could see himself lying down. He looked at his hand, held it before his eyes. A hand-shape spectre only slightly obstructed his view. “Huh” he said in vague recognition. He looked up. Still the hooded figure, less looming but still quite a bit taller than he was. He looked back at his body again and knelt at his own head. “Your body will not support life anymore, John. It's over.” said the robed figure behind him. “No bargaining then heh?” said John “No” “No game of chess” “No” “Good thing, I'm not much good at that game anyway”. John stood up and turned round. “What next?” he asked, eyes fixed on the scythe. “Well, if you insist, we can do it that way. But usually, we just shake hands” “Ah. I see” said Godwin. There was a slight pause. “Then what?”, he added. “Then, John, I am alone again” said the robed figure. “Huh. And, for sake of reasoning, what happens if I don't take your hand?” “Then I use the scythe” “Like that heh? But ehm. What happens to me when we shake on it?” said Godwin “I cannot answer you that question.” “Heaven? Hell? Any hints at all? Anything?” “Part of my job is that I don't know. I don't judge. I don't take account. I just do the tidying up. In that sense, we are the same, John.” “Bummer. Right. Here goes, then” Sergeant John Godwin extended his arm. A bony hand reached from under the robe. “Looks nasty, that. You should have someone look at that.” exclaimed, whilst he firmly grabbed it. Death was alone again. He had high hopes for John Godwin. He had respected the man, as far as respect goes with Death. Not many men understand his job. He felt confident that, after all the disobedient people John had caught in his life, John would come closer. But, as it turned out, even John Godwin was rather shocked by the confrontation of his own mortality. It happened, Death knew. There wasn't much time to linger on the thought. Three hospitals with a cholera outbreak – and Death was attending.