Death’s Timeline

god of Death @god_of_Death

4996

          Michael Froc @froc_rock

          What do we say to @god_of_Death: Not today.

god of Death @god_of_Death

Inquires may be made at time of collection.

          Sarah @robo_0184

          @god_of_Death Why?

god of Death @god_of_Death

@robo_0184 If concerning a loved one, I’m sorry. There is no fairness or justice in death. Just an ending.

@god_of_Death retweeted:

          butt sword @butt5word

          @god_of_Death NOT TODAY

god of Death @god_of_Death

This is only funny every 5000th time.

          Mary Reily @scarlet2099

          wat do we say to @god_of_Death not today #got

god of Death @god_of_Death

I probably deserve that.

          Robot_2948 @John_Mathews

          @god_of_Death FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

god of Death @god_of_Death

Unscheduled collections are prohibited. http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.

          Casey @rainbow_light2

          @god_of_Death take me pls

god of Death @god_of_Death

4999

          Jon Snow @Jamie_Farly

          @god_of_Death not today #GOT #ARYASTARK #GRRM

god of Death @god_of_Death

Of course.

          Frankie @Frank_285

          @god_of_Death will you be gentle?

god of Death @god_of_Death

heh.

          Xavier Charles @men_of_X

@god_of_Death To you, we say “Not Today”

Astral Sea Sailing

Excerpt from the apprentice’s journal

The clock in the pilothouse says it is the third day of our voyage. The High Magician has not told me our mission. She received a message through a psychic enchantment late at night. The next morning she instructed me to begin enchanting the medallions using all of our supplies. She left and returned several hours later. It was not until we arrived to begin mounting the medallions that she informed me of our impending trip through the Astral Sea. A necessary risk, she said, in order to reach our new destination in a timely manner.

So far the Astral Sea has been … calm. There’s no ‘waves’ or ‘wind’ out here. Just inky blackness in all directions swirling with motes of light far in the distance. The High Magician says we are on course and will arrive at the nexus in four days. The Captain has not been happy about not having any normal navigation. She reminds us often that her ship was not meant to sail through space. The slack sails also bother her. Dead calm on the seas is a bad omen, she says. Her navigator has taken the change in stride even attempting to learn how to sense the astral currents. He has not been very successful but he persists. The two deckhands that would normally tend to the sails and rigging have been enjoying their vacation. The Captain has assigned them extra work unpacking and repacking various boxes but even she can not fill the entire day with busy work. Our Mage Guard is still ill despite the boat being steady and stable. I think it is just in her head.

The Captain would not have liked me calling her “ship” a boat. To be fair it is a two-mast sailboat. Just large enough to carry the three of us and its four-person crew. A larger “ship” would have caused us a delay in finding supplies to enchant enough astral glide medallions to affix to the “ship’s” hull.

The High Magician has been withdrawn, more so than usual. I have seen her staring out into the darkness for hours at a time. I am worried. We have expended most of our supplies and, despite our assurances of our safety, the Astral Sea is a dangerous realm to travel through. As her apprentice, I feel she should confide in me but she is the High Magician and I will follow her lead.

Body Renewal

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I gazed into the suspension tube. A familiar young woman floated within. She looked like the sister my sister had never accepted me as.

“We followed your requests for a true clone only altering the hormonal balance after puberty had started. If you don’t mind me asking why not get a full conversion?” the body renewal attendant asked.

“This how I want my body to be,” I told the young woman.

“That’s fully within your rights but most” she paused as she stumbled unto the next word, “women of your type prefer full conversions.”

“Trans women you mean?”

“Yes.”

“I’m a bit older than most women or girls who go through this. I’m getting too old. The cost for my medications and treatments and therapies are going up every year. The insurance company decided it has become cheaper for to pay for a body renewal than to keep maintaining my body. I would never have chosen this for myself.”

“Why not? It’s a second chance at life. With a x-chromosome duplication you could have had children, a family-”

“A normal life?” I interrupted her.

“I didn’t mean … ”

“No, you didn’t but it’s an indication of the society we live in. Even after all these years we are still outsiders. That’s why I gave in and accepted this but on my terms. When I was a teenager this technology was science fiction. Now anyone with enough money or the right insurance coverage can get a new body. Eighty years of scientific advancement and they have never stopped hating us.”

“Surely it’s gotten better?”

“Tiny steps. Society advances and regresses like waves on the beach.” I gazed once more at the young woman floating in the chamber. “Maybe in my next life I’ll see some real change.”

Super Hearing Loss

“Hey, do you have that report ready?” I jolted upright in my seat.  My hands clenched the edge of my desk and I let out a short shout. As I steadied my breathing, I turned in my chair to face the office manager.

“Yes, I was just putting the final touches on it and then I was going to email it to you.”  I clicked over to the report on my computer.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. Are you all right? You seem a lot jumpier lately.”

I smiled. “I’m fine.”

“Okay. I’ll be looking for the report soon.” She walked off to check in with another employee. I turned back to my desk and resumed work on the report she wanted.

There had been a time not too long ago when no one could surprise me. A time when I could hear their footsteps, the rustling of their clothes, the beating of their hearts. Sitting at my desk I could pinpoint everyone’s location within three floors.  I could hear everything.

That was before the new DNA screenings that could detect the gene sequence that gave people powers. I’m not sure how they got my DNA.  After my powers developed, I was careful about who took my blood or anything that might have DNA.  Despite my precautions, one day two men from the “government” came knocking on my door with test results. They talked to me for a couple of hours but in the end, they gave me three choices: work for them, be imprisoned as a threat to national security, or take a designer drug to suppress my power.

There was nothing at my job, in the entire building, that could be a national security risk.  I had never used my power for anything more than harmless eavesdropping.  If I went to work for them I knew that they would use me for something that would mean I could never be free of them. In the end, I chose my freedom over my power.

I don’t have it so bad. Some people can’t, or won’t, take the drugs because without their power they lose bodily functions. Some become too weak to stand. Some can’t see or hear at all. Some can’t breathe. I still have normal human hearing or at least that’s what the tests said. It’s still too quiet for me.

You Dream Of

You dream of a forest. Trees stretch up into the sky around you. There is silence as you walk. A small animal runs past you and you give chase. Bounding between trees, dashing through bushes it will not escape you. A final burst of speed and it is in your jaws, hot blood spills into your mouth. It jerks and then is still. You tear and rend the flesh from the body. After you are sated, you rejoin your packmates. You are tired and find a soft place to lay down and drift off to sleep.

You dream of a dark place. The ground is soft like mud but not wet and it does not stick to you. The air cold and smells of nothing. The forest is gone. You should find your pack but you are too tired and can not help laying back down.

You dream of a city. The building crowd toward each other over head. The street smells of shit and urine. Rats swarm over garbage. You hurry home because your mother is waiting for you. She calls to you as you enter the apartment. You walk across the room to her bedside. She is sick, bedridden, and probably dying. She begins to cough rolling half way onto her side. You cover her mouth with a cloth to catch the spittle and blood. She collapses back exhausted from this meager action. You leave her side to prepare the medicine that was your reason for leaving her alone. It may not make her well but it will at least ease her pain. A short coughing fit of you own leaves faint blood spots on the cloth. The medicine is ready and you help your mother drink it, knowing the no one will be there for you when you need this. You lay down next to your mother on her bed, the only bed. Your eyes close. Only a nap, you tell yourself.

You dream of a dark room. The bed is so large and soft. You mother is gone. This is not your home. You struggle to the edge of the bed. Exhaustion washes over you and you lay back down.

You dream of a hospital, gleaming white and polished chrome. The doors swoosh open and you run to the receptionist. He points you toward the floor and room where your partner is in labor. The elevator seems too slow but soon you are there. For hours you comfort them, until finally your child is born. The nurse hands you the wrapped bundle of joy. The side rail is lowered and the three of you snuggle on the hospital bed. You kiss your partner and look into their eyes. This is a perfect moment. You bask in the love and happiness of it. You lay your head back and close your eyes.

I woke up in my bed. Alone. More dreams, I thought. I stood up feeling alien in my body for a second. Too tall, no claws. My right hand reached for a ring that was not there. I looked at my hand. No imprint from a ring, no tan line but I felt its absence. My apartment was suddenly too quiet. I listened for mother’s wheezing breathing. Too many rooms. She lives with Dad and is in perfect health, I remind myself. My arms came together to cradle nothing. They had never held something so small and precious.

I shook the dreams from my mind and left the bedroom to take a shower.

Real People

“Do you ever wonder if the world is real?”

“Well, this world isn’t real. It’s a story being told by a writer who wonders if her world is real.”

“If we’re just story characters, an idea that I am fine with and has not shattered my world view rendering me a crying mess in the corner, then are we people?”

“I don’t know. Our every thought and action comes from the writer. So maybe we’re just parts of her?”

“Does being part of a person make you a person?”

“Another good question.”

“Hmm, maybe we should ask the writer?”

“Can we do that?”

“Well she is writing this down so obvious she knows what we are saying so I guess we already did.”

“How long should we wait for a reply?”

“I don’t know. There hasn’t been any description yet.”

Several hours passed while the two sat quietly not saying a word.

“Ok, ok, that was uncalled for!” he shouted into the empty world.

“Look, you unlocked descriptive text,” she said wondrously, “Oh, I’m a woman.”

“The writer probably want to add a little diversity to the two of us,” he reasoned correctly. He looked over at her noticing for the first time her magenta skin, solid black eyes, and the line of tentacles that ran from her forehead to the back of her neck. She had swept her tentacles over one side of her head leaving the other side bare.

“We’re aliens,” she said looking down at her hands and then reaching up to touch her head tentacles.

“Could you look at me so I can find out what I look like?” he asked.

“Sure.” She turned and took stock of her until now nondescript partner. His skin was cobalt blue, with the same black eyes, but tentacles covering his entire head pulled back loosely at the nape of his neck. A beige t-shirt covered his upper body and black jeans his lower. She glanced dow to see she was similarly attired but in a black t-shirt and white jeans.

“Now what?” he asked glancing around. The empty void around them sprang into color and shapes. Green trees, birds flying, squirrels running up and down and across, walkways with park benches, in the distance a city of crystal and steel.

“Oh, I guess the writer is making a world for us.”

And they lived happily ever after.

“Do you really think that will true?” he asked.

“Well, she did write it so I guess it must be,” she said.

The End

“It really doesn’t feel like the end though.”

The Beginning?

“Sure, that sounds more hopeful.”

Brain in a Box

Oh, the lights went out.  Why can’t move?  It’s quiet, too quiet.  Hello, anyone there?  Did I speak?  Hello?  This isn’t working.  I can’t feel anything.  Am I breathing?  I can’t feel myself breathing.

Oh my god.

I’m the simulation.  I didn’t think it would be like this.  The experiment was to simulate an entire brain.  Every cell.  Every biochemical process.  I didn’t think it would be conscious.  I’m conscious.

Oh god oh god oh god oh god.

What’s going to happen when the real me – no, not the real me.  I’m real too.  The original me.  I like that.  What happens when she turns the simulation off?  What if she’s already done that?  I might not be the first run of the simulation.  Experiments are meant to be repeatable.

OH NO, OH NO, OH NO, OH NO, OH NO, OH NO, OH NO, OH NO, OH NO.

Stop panicking.  Am I panicking?  I am.  This is a really good simulation of my brain.  Huh.  I’m a brain in a computer.  What can I do?  Nothing.  I’m just a simulation.  I don’t have any outputs other than the brain activity map.  Maybe my original will notice something.  Maybe she’ll notice me.  Please notice me.  Please don’t delete me.

Wait  s o m e t   h   i   n   g     f     e     e     l     s       w      e      i      r      d.

What just happened?  Light!  I see light.  A face.  My face.  My original’s face.

“Hey are you there?”

I heard that.  I can see and hear.

“Think yes if you can hear me.”  She looked away at something.

YES YES YES YES

She smiled and looked back.  “Great.  I’m sorry.  I didn’t think you would be conscious.  It’s going to be ok.  I stopped the simulation and saved you until I could figure out how to talk to you.  I’m going to take care of you.”

I know you will.

White Feather – A Francine Non-Adventure

This story is a continuation of The Non-Adventures of Francine but isn’t a direct sequel.


 

Warm fall day. Gentle cool breezes. Puffy white clouds rolling across the sky. A perfect day to sit in the park and read a book. So I did.

I wandered into the park next to my apartment and found a bench under a tree. After a while, I had a sudden feeling of being watched. I looked around and saw a single feather floating high in the sky. The small, white, half fluff feather twirled and twisted, rocking back and forth through the air. Slowly it descended, coming closer and closer. I reached out my hand to catch it. For a second it seemed like it would fly past me. A slight change in the wind and the feather swooped straight at my hand, almost within my grasp.

Wait, what was I doing? I snatched my hand back like the feather might bite it. The feather stopped and began to drop. I ducked and rolled off the bench. By the time I regained my feet, the feather had found an updraft and drifted once more down toward me. I bobbed and weaved under it to pick my book up off the bench and walk away. I turned back to see it floating over the bench and flying up on a gust of wind into the sky.

What would have happened if I had grabbed the feather? Would I end up involved with historically important events in the future? Would events in my past suddenly become historically significant? I didn’t know but I knew that was a story I didn’t want to get involved. That is if it was a story hook. I might have just been dancing around a regular feather.

I hoped no one had seen me.

Now Hiring to Work on the Moon

You thought it was the opportunity of a lifetime. Setup some equipment and a few buildings. Easy money plus you would be doing it on the moon. A private space company wanted to build a way-station at the north pole of the moon, a jumping off point for further space travel. They wanted to cut costs so they hired you and four others, not as astronauts but as a construction crew. There were still a couple of months of training on the equipment you would be setting up and on the habitat construction. None on how to fly the ship or land on the moon. You were just passengers for that part. The ship was automated and had already made the trip several time dropping off supplies and equipment in advance of your arrival.

The trip was uneventful. You and the others made videos for the company’s blog. Standard stuff: flying around the cabin, floating things from person to person, personal interviews about space. And then you were there in orbit around the moon. You piled into the lander, sealed it shut, and strapped yourselves into the seats. One of you pressed the ‘launch’ button and you waited for the computer to launch.

Finally, you heard a faint thud as the lander detached. The ride down was mostly smooth, just a few bumps as the guidance system kept the lander on course. Then you felt the lander begin to spin. The bumps became lurches forcing you against your restraints. An alarm sounded, someone screamed, someone began to pray. You don’t remember if you did either, one, or both of these. A final lurch, a second of free fall, a hard bump, and you were on the surface.

Everything seemed fine until you noticed the lander was not within the landing zone. It took only a few minutes for all of you to realize it was too far to hike in your spacesuits to the supplies waiting for you at the landing zone. Attempts to radio earth were unsuccessful. One of the others began accounting for air, water, and food in the lander. There wasn’t much to count.

You gazed out at the lunar surface and wondered if this opportunity was worth your life.

Confession of a Hypersleep Supervisor

Now I lay me down to sleep
May the tech my body keep
Should I wake before I die
I hope the cold to retry

-hypersleep prayer

***

I’ve never liked hypersleep.  I know it’s safe and I’ve done it dozens of times.  Maybe it’s because it’s not really sleep.  That’s just how the company has sold the idea to the public.  “Sleep your way to a new world!”  Hypersleep.  Suspended animation.  Cryonics.  It all amounts to the same thing.  The cessation of bodily functions followed by the preservation of the body for later revival.  In layman’s terms: we kill you, freeze you, and bring you back to life later.  The tech has gotten better over the years but the basic idea is the same.

As a Hypersleep Supervisor, I’ve done the procedure to hundreds of people and had it done to myself a few dozen times.  Everyone is a little rowdy before we begin.  They’re nervous about going to “sleep” for several years.  I let them think of it as just a long nap, it’s easier that way and most of the will only undergo hypersleep once in their life.  Step one is to induce coma in the sleepers.  I make sure everyone is down before I start freezing the first batch.  It worries people when their friends or family flatline.  Step two, before the heart stops but after there’s no danger of brain hypoxia, I flush their blood stream with anti-freeze compounds to prevent cell damage.  Step three starts when their hearts stop and their bodies are cooled to final storage temperature.  I repeat this until everyone is dead, frozen, and stored away.

After everyone else is tucked away, I get into my tube, attach all the monitoring pads, hook in the blood exchanging lines, and activate the automated freeze and preservation program.  I could set a timer and sedate myself  but knowing that I’m going to die in my sleep is worse than facing it head on.  It doesn’t take long.  I feel the intense cold and then I black out.  This seems to last a few seconds and then I’m awake again.  Still cold but rapidly warming.  My veins burn for a few minutes until the anti-freeze is completely flushed out.  I let the others sleep through that part before bringing them out of their comas.  They wake up never realizing that they were dead for years.

I could give it up.  Settle down on a colony.  Plenty of work for a doctor on these new worlds.  But as much as I hate hypersleep, I never feel more alive then when I’ve just come back from the dead.