Mosby the red panda stood at the top of the stairs guarding the door.
The gates to the underworld had once been guarded by a three-headed dog. Then there had been a raven and for a brief period of time a koala. When Koala had been caught hitting on the shade of a deceased supermodel all the animals had come together to draw straws and determine who would be the next guardian of the underworld. Mosby the red panda had drawn the short straw. He was fairly certain that Coyote had tricked him.
Being the underworld’s guardian meant that every day was exactly the same. He mostly leaned against the Black Gates, playing Tetris on his cell phone while waving all the shades through. Mosby did get to meet every celebrity who passed through but most of then were in pretty foul moods since they had expected to live forever.
One day Mosby was sitting on the steps furiously tapping his cell phone when a voice announced, “I demand that you let me enter!”
One of the long vertical blocks dropped down and the game ended. “Come on!” Mosby shouted. “I was up to 147 Lines!” He looked up and saw a young man standing in front of him. The young man was still alive. “What do you want?”
“My name is Albert. My girlfriend, Nadia, was just killed by a drunk driver. I’m here to get her back.”
“Right.” Mosby started a new game of Tetris.
“What are you some kind of raccoon?”
“I’m a red panda and the guardian to the realms of death and come hell or high water I’m getting up to 150 lines!”
Albert looked up at the black metal gates. “So you don’t mind if I just go on through then?”
Mosby yawned and intoned, “No living creature may pass. If you want in so badly go home, eat fifty Slim Jims and come back here when you’re dead.”
“But Nadia was the kindest person I’d ever met. She was always working at soup kitchens and fostering animals. Can I at least visit her? Tell her I’m sorry that she died because I asked her to go to the store and pick up more Cheetos?”
Mosby paused his game. “Look kid, you’re not the first person to try to get back a loved one, but let me tell you something, it never works out. Your girlfriend sounds like she was wonderful but she’s moved on. Even if she could come back what makes you think she’ll want to? Now the best thing you can do is live as good a life as possible so when it’s your turn to go through these gates you’ll end up in the same place with her.”
Albert opened his mouth to argue but closed it. He turned and slunk away back down the stairs.
Mosby tried to go back to his game but groaned and shouted, “Way to make me feel like the bad guy! I didn’t make up these rules, you know! I got shafted with this shitty position!”
Albert turned on him. “You think your position is shitty? I work reception for an insurance company and now I don’t even have anyone to come home to!”
“At least your job lets you talk to people!” He held up his cell phone. “I get terrible service out here and they won’t even get me a PSP.”
“If I had your job I wouldn’t just sit around playing stupid video games! I’d finish my screenplay and read every great book on the planet!”
Mosby jumped up. “If you want my job so badly why don’t you just take it?”
Albert stared at him and looked up at the gates of death. “This seems like a pretty big deal.”
“All you have to do is turn away people trying to break in and discourage Goth kids from hanging around.”
“Can I bring my futon and lap top?”
“Can I keep my bamboo at your place?”
And so that is how Albert became guardian to the gates of death and Mosby the Red Panda became the Lord of Reception at Mooney’s Life Insurance.