The Interview is Death

The producer counted out, “Three, two,” and then signaled one then pointed.

Marsha Kingsman turned her professional smile up to eleven.  “Welcome back folks.  This is a unique opportunity that we are broadcasting world wide live.  We are here today with an exclusive interview with someone no one wants to meet, but everyone will at least once in their lifetime.  My guest tonight is Death.”

Death straightened his scythe.  He tried to put on a calm smile, but since he didn’t have a face, it didn’t really come off on camera.

“How are you tonight?” asked Marsha.

Death cleared his throat.  “I have one foot in the afterlife,” he said, “but then again, that’s an occupational hazard.”

Marsha gave her ‘that was cute, but don’t try to upstage me’ laugh.  “I can imagine.  So tell me Death, why now?  Why do you reveal yourself today?”

“If I had two silver pieces for  I heard that line,” Death said. ”I could afford to own River Styx front property.”

Marsha quickly covered her surprise.  “Okay, who knew Death had such a sense of humor,” she said.

“Have you seen how people die these days?  I mean the Darwin Awards are my personal top ten list each year,” Death said.

Marsha leaned forward, trying to make the interview more intimate.  “You’re the one who puts those out each year?  That is amazing. Does that mean you know Wendy Northcut personally?” she said.

Death laughed.  “No, I’m just pulling your leg.  Wendy does some awesome work, and I have posted on her website in the past.  I’m her biggest fan, and I can’t wait to meet her someday.”  Death looked at the camera.  “Don’t worry Wendy, hopefully it won’t be for a good long while.”  Marsha was about to speak, but Death cut her off.  “Back to your question Marsha.  I need the sense of humor because each death is sad, but I need to do my job to help the dearly departed get to where they need to be in the afterlife.  People have just lost their lives, so a bit of humor helps them get their bearings.”

“I can see where that would help,” Marsha said unconvincingly.  “But once again, why are you showing yourself now.  I mean, you, or your kind, have been around since the beginning of humanity.  Why show yourself to the living now?”

Death laid his scythe across his lap.  He then placed his hands together, palms not touching, but bony fingers touching their counterparts.  “Belief makes my job easier.  Right now your kind had been moving more and more into a place where you don’t believe in an afterlife.  That makes my job hard.”

Marsha relaxed.  Now she was getting somewhere.  “How does not believing in an afterlife make your job difficult?” she asked.

Death leaned in close, making it more intimate.  “Let’s say you have just died.  I’m there to help usher you to your spot in the afterlife, but lo and behold, you don’t have a place.  You have no belief system I can use to help you to your final destination.  I then have to interview you, bring you around, show you the different neighborhoods.  It can get frustrating.,” he said.

“So what do you do when no place seems to fit?” Marsha asked.

“Well I could tell you that, but then I would have to kill you,” Death said.

Marsha leaned back and placed her hand on her chest.  “Really?”

Death laughed.  “I’m joking again, Marsha.  Sorry, I couldn’t help it.”

Marsha laughed uneasily.  “That was a good one,” she said.  “You really had me going there.”

“Yeah, well, in reality I would have to kill you, then I could tell you.  I just figured you didn’t want that right now,” Death said.

Marsha began to panic.  “No, no, not at all,” she stammered.

“Good, because I pick no soul before its time,” Death said.

Marsha took a drink from her water and spilled a bit on herself because her hand was shaking.  She was so frazzled she didn’t even notice.  Still, she was a professional, so she continued on script.  “So a question I always was curious about was how do you keep motivated?  I mean, you’re around the dead and dying all the time.  You must get depressed,” she said.

“Well, I keep myself motivated by playing a game,” Death said.

Marsha broke out in a weak smile.  “Like in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey?” she asked.

“’Nope, I think of it more like Pokemon.  I’ve got to catch them all,” Death replied.  The silence following that was punctuated by the falling of the boom microphone as the sound guy ran from the room.  Death bent down and grabbed the microphone.  “I’m sorry everyone if I scare you.  It is just I have gotten so close to you all, that it is a shame that my life’s work is about to end.”

Marsha’s eyes bulged.  “What did you…”

The blast of gamma rays from a nearby supernova hit the earth, incinerating the half that was facing the supernova, and ionizing so much of the atmosphere all life, larger than a mouse, was pretty much gone.

“The overtime is going to kill me,” said Death as he held out his hand to Marsha.  “Get it, overtime, kill me?  See how the humor helps?”

“Oh my God,” said Marsha.

“And the interview worked.  You believe in God.  That limits a bunch of options.  Now come along Marsha.  I need to show you this remarkable place.  You’ll love spending eternity there.“

Rogue Mental State

Jackson Pettigue straightened his tie and made sure his jacket was unbuttoned.  He wanted to look serious, but not too serious.  Looking in the full length mirror attached to the back of the hotel door he was extremely satisfied with his appearance, dark, handsome and dangerous.  Tonight was his night to shine and put his critics in their place.

There was a polite knock at the door. Jackson was about to answer, but then he saw a stray thread on his sleeve.  He managed to snap the offending cotton at the hem.  This was definitely going to be his night.  He opened the door with the sweep of his hand.  There he saw the Claudia White.

“Hello, Miss White.  Thank you for meeting me here,” Jackson said showing his perfect white teeth.  Some said he was elected because of those teeth.  He always laughed them off, knowing it wasn’t true, but it still felt good.  “I know it was inconvenient, but it is almost impossible for me to get away from here lately.”

Claudia smiled weakly.  “Well, I’m the one who wanted to talk to you, so it was the least I could do.  May I come in?” she asked.

Her smile took a bit of the edge off Jackson’s confidence.  Infuriating woman!  Didn’t she know this was going to make her career?  Still, Jackson knew this was for the greater good.  To that end he put on his billion dollar charm and stepped back, pulling the door wide open.  “But of course Miss White,” he said.  “Please come in and make yourself at home.  It isn’t much, but I enjoy it as a home away from home.”

“Thank you Jackson, and please call me Claudia,” she said entering the room.

Jackson let the door swing closed as he reached for her jacket, but Claudia either didn’t see the gesture, or chose to ignore him.  Why again did he agree to this?  Oh yeah, the cause.  Do anything for the cause.  “Can I get you something to drink?” asked Jackson.  “I don’t have much, but what I have is at your disposal.”

Claudia pulled out the chair that sat at the small table by the closed window.  “No thank you,” she said.”  I would rather we begin.”

Jackson almost let escape an exasperated sigh, but he pressed on.  The sooner his message was out there, and this woman as well, the better.  And to think he was going to offer her a gin and tonic.  “Let’s do so.  Do you want to take pictures first?” he asked.

Claudia shook her head.  “I don’t that that will be necessary,” she said.

She seemed to magically pull a pen and pad from nowhere which caused Jackson to blink.  Why did they have a magician come interview him?  Jackson was getting even more confused.

Claudia seemed to pick up on this and continued.  “So you told my boss you had a new proposal?”

Jackson paused, trying to organize his thoughts, but they seemed scattered across all the planes of existence.  “I, I don’t remember,” he said as he closed his eyes.  Here in his personal dark he could see lights flashing at all around him, following invisible paths that sometimes tied themselves in knots.  He could almost make out a new level of understanding.  It was right there in front of him.

“Jackson, are you okay?” Claudia asked.

Her voice collapsed all those lights into one blob of putrid thought that Jackson purged immediately from his consciousness.  Understanding was for those beneath him anyhow.  Jackson had a higher calling.  That’s right, now he remembered.

“I want to propose legislation banning altered states of reality,” he started.  “These states can be dangerous to the human subconscious.  Especially in the long term.  Especially with respect to incarceration.”

Claudia smiled and placed the pencil down on the table.  Why did she do that?  How was she going to record the interview now?  Jackson balled his hands involuntarily, but managed to calm himself within two heartbeats.

“Jackson, what brings you to that?” Claudia asked.  “That isn’t what you said last week.”

Jackson silently counted to ten before continuing.  Need to keep the anger at bay.  “Said last week?  Woman are you daft?  We did not talk last week.  I was on the Panama Canal handing out quinine to the locals.  Unless you were part of my bikini team we did not talk.”

Claudia pursed her lips.  “Jackson.  I think it is time for us to adjust your medication.”

Jackson closed his eyes and saw those lights again.  “Medication is for those that are looking for an altered state.  I want to eliminate them.  That and the virtual realities the young ones are messing around in.  We need to be grounded in reality less we lose ourselves to the madness.”

Jackson could feel Claudia step up to him.  Her breath smelled of elderberry wine and defeat.  “You are lost already.”

The anger spike and Jackson opened his eyes and reached for Claudia’s throat.  As his fingers brushed against her yielding flesh she disappeared from his grasp, his room, his world.

 

Claudia jacked out and blinked her eyes.  One of her assistants helped her stand.  “Are you okay Miss White?”

Her mind was still working out the real world after the virtual reality dump.  “I’m fine…”  She needed to get them name tags.  She could never remember any of their names.  “How are his vitals?” she asked as she looked at Jackson’s prone body.  The man seemed to be in a dream, his eyes flashing back and forth.  The only thing betraying this illusion was the cord coming out of the base of his neck.

“He seems to be fine, though his CAT scan seems more erratic then before,” said the intern.

What was his name?  I have a PhD.  I should remember the little people’s names.  Claudia put on her best billion dollar smile.  “Keep me posted.  I’m going to go home and get some sleep.”

The intern shook his head.  “You know you can’t leave Miss White.”

Claudia closed her eyes and counted to ten, watching the lights flashing behind her eyes.