The High Cost of Living last edited by pikahyper on 03/27/19 03:49PM View full history

Mad Hettie sits in in Didi's apartment; imagining what it will be like once Didi has found her heart. She decides that she wants some tea, but all Didi has in her cupboards is coffee. She goes to knock on Mrs. Robbins' door and asks her if she has any tea.

Elsewhere, Didi and Sexton are still locked up in the dark room with Theo's dead body. Sexton asks her why she thinks she's Death, and she replies that it's because she is. When Sexton refutes her by telling her that she's only Didi whose family was killed recently, Didi tells him that's true also. Sexton asks how that can be, but she's not sure. Things are beginning to become somewhat murky and confused for her. She quotes:

One day in every century Death takes on mortal flesh, better to comprehend what the lives she takes must feel like , to taste the bitter tang of mortality.

Sexton asks her what the quote is from, but she can't remember. She suddenly notices her ankh is missing, and Sexton has to remind her that The Eremite took it. Sexton goes looking through some of the boxes in the room, to see if there's anything in them to help their escape. He finds a Russian doll, and jokes about whomping the Eremite upside the head with it. Tossing the doll to Didi, he continues rummaging and finds a bunch of marbles. He places them on the ground in front of the door, in the hopes that if their blind captor returns, he'll slip and fall. Weary from their long night, both he and Didi fall asleep.

They're awakened by the sound of Mad Hettie entering the room and falling flat on her backside. She chastises Sexton for leaving marbles all over the floor. Mrs. Robbins follows her in from behind, and Didi asks them what they're doing there. Mrs. Robbins explains that Mad Hettie read their location in the tea leaves. She notices the dead body on the floor and asks Didi about it. Mrs. Robbins finally decides against calling the police; figuring that it would just create more trouble. Didi apologizes to Mad Hettie for not finding her heart yet, and asks Mrs. Robbins if she can continue searching for it. Mrs. Robbins acquiesces, but tells Didi to stop by her store later to get chewed out. As Didi and Sexton leave, Mrs. Robbins smiles and remarks how Didi "will be the death of me..."

Later, Didi and Sexton stop at a restaurant to get some breakfast. Didi is mentioning how much more fun food is than photosynthesis, when suddenly the Eremite appears at their table. He asks how they've escaped, especially since he has her sigil of power, the ankh. Didi asks if she can have it back, but of course, the grizzled old man refuses. The owner of the restaurant notices the Eremite harassing them, and quickly makes them leave. When Sexton and Didi finish their breakfast, the jovial owner lets them leave through the back door, and also let's them have their breakfast for free due to the trouble.

Outside, they stop at a table selling cheap jewelry, and Sexton asks her about the ankh. Picking another silver ankh up from off the table, Didi tells him that it's the most important thing in the universe. Didi asks the seller how much it is, and despite Sexton's prediction that he's just going to give it to her, he tells her that it cost ten bucks. She pays; leaving her with only two cents left. As they walk away, she places her new ankh around her neck.

They talk about various things, including Sexton's mom and what happens when people die. In contrast to the sullen youth in the first chapter, Sexton smiles and remarks how much better everything seems after a good breakfast. Didi tells Sexton that she's going to Central Park, and asks him if he's going to go on home. Sexton chooses against it, deciding that after everything that's happened he wants to see how it ends.

Walking through Central Park, Sexton reveals that he stopped believing in magic after his parents got divorced. They stop at a fountain, and Didi tells him that she had a really good time. Sexton sits down and Didi hands him the Russian doll from earlier and tells him to give it to Mad Hettie. She also gives him her remaining two cents. Didi kisses him on the cheek, and tells him thanks for the wonderful night. She stands on the edge of the fountain. For one brief, triumphant moment; she stands there with arms outstretched, soaking everything in.

Suddenly, she grabs her heart and cries out. She falls backward into the water. At first, Sexton doesn't think everything of it, and tells her that swimming with your clothes on isn't very bright. He looks back, and climbs in the fountain after her. The Eremite walks up and drags her body from the water. Sexton threatens him, but the blind man informs him that she is beyond his reach now. He orders Sexton to give him the two pennies, and places one on each of her eyes; telling Sexton that's the price of a life. The Eremite shuffles off slowly, vowing that one day he too will die.

The fountain and everything fades away, leaving Didi lying on the ground. She stands up and removes the pennies from her eyes. Death, who looks exactly like Didi(except maybe paler), asks her how everything was. Didi responds that it was WONDERFUL, and laments the fact that it had to end that way. Death tells her that there's only one way to stop living; even if you're only alive for a day. She smiles and takes Didi's hand. Didi fades away, leaving Death alone.

Later, Sexton sits talking to his neighbor Billy and examining the Russian doll. We learn that afterwards, Mrs. Robbins had told him of Didi's heart condition and that Mad Hettie hadn't been seen since. Sexton pushes Billy's wheelchair, and mentions that he had ALMOST begun to believe that Didi really could be Death. About how it would be good if Death really was someone like Didi. No longer suicidal, Sexton decides he's going to live for a while. He places the Russian Doll in Billy's lap and goes back to his apartment.

Sylvia, Sexton's mom, informs him that Hazel had called for him while he was out. There was someone from the club who wanted to see him again. Sexton thinks that it's probably the record scout, until his mom tells him that Hazel said something about gloves. Recognition passes across his face, and Sexton smiles.

Meanwhile, Mad Hettie comes up to Billy; still talking about Didi. She takes the Russian Doll from the boy's lap and opens it up. Inside, is a golden heart-shaped necklace. She gives the doll back to Billy, and begins walking off. Talking to herself, Hettie says that Death is the only one of her family that she would give money for, and how if she had stuck around she could have given her some advice. But, as Mad Hettie says, give her time; she'll be back....

General Notes

There exists a free version released due to a printing error, the error is claimed to be Page 19 & 20 were reversed but they weren't. However, they do appear to have been meant as a two-page spread which is not how they were published in the original. Ironically, the first issue did have a printing error with two pages flipped.



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Story Arcs

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