All was well in the Miskin household. Montague was a rising star in the comedy world. Myron had similarly risen through the ranks, and was now a laboratory leader. Mordecai had started school, and Rebekah was expecting her second child. Serenity reigned, and everyone was happy.
One morning, as Rebekah washed the breakfast plates and Mordecai scurried off to the school bus, Myron sat reading in the living room - but he felt... strange. He seemed short of breath, and a lot more tired than he usually was at that time of day. Perhaps he was falling ill?
Montague, snug in his study and working on his comedy routine, was suddenly disturbed by a loud thud - followed by a blood-chilling scream.
The comedian leaped to his feet, rushed out... and saw Rebekah, trembling, as she stood over the body of Myron, who had collapsed onto the carpet.
"Dad... oh, God... please... no..."
Now, Montague didn't know it, but his eccentric insanity granted him a special gift. The veil between life and death was thinner to him than it was to "normal" people. Thus, when the Grim Reaper arrived to claim Myron's soul, Montague was able to see the terrifying spectre before him. Desperately, he fell to his knees.
"Please, sir..." he begged, "don't take my father away from me."
"And why should I spare him, mortal?" came the cold reply.
"My wife is expecting a baby," Montague told him. "For weeks now, he's been longing to meet his new grandchild. If you take him now, he never will. It won't be long now. Please... just give him a little more time. I beg you."
The Reaper pondered for a moment.
"Are you willing to pay the price for this?"
"What must I pay?"
"Your first son, Mordecai..."
"My God, you wouldn't - "
"No, mortal. This is the price. The years will see him grow into an unconventional outsider. He shall shy away from the usual professions, and spend his days in silly dreams. You think you are strange? Oh, mortal... just wait until you see what your heir will become!"
"I have just one question, sir."
"And what is that?"
"If I accept this deal... Mordecai... will he be happy? With the life he will lead?"
Eerie silence followed.
"Answer me!" Montague screamed in anguish.
The Reaper chuckled.
"That is a question only time can answer."
Montague looked towards his father. Drawing a deep breath, he turned back to the Reaper... and nodded.
"I accept," he said solemnly.
The Reaper slowly outstretched his hand. In a glow of ethereal light, Myron rose up, opened his eyes, and breathed one more.
As Rebekah stood there, open-mouthed in shock, Montague rushed up to his father, embracing him tightly.
"I thought I'd lost you," he whispered.
"Well," Myron replied, "looks like there's life in the old dog yet!"
Their tender moment was broken by a groan from Rebekah. Montague, still shaken from his encounter with the Reaper, turned to her hastily.
Rebekah looked at him: half-grinning, half-grimacing.
"The baby's coming."
As night fell, Myron stood over the cradle of his new grandson, Matthias - cooing and waving at him with loving pride. Montague watched from a distance... knowing he could never tell his father what he had done to allow this moment to happen.
Following his "funny turn", as he called it, Myron swore to devote his remaining days to his family. He retired from his job, and spent as much time as he could with both Matthias and Mordecai.
As the older Miskin child and his grandfather began to bond, both remained blissfully unaware of how Montague had sold the future of one to give a future to the other. For now, they didn't have a care in the world.