This was an original piece written for a competition.
Death needed to be brought up to date. Why on Earth did death need to be brought up to date? Everyone died, even the creatures who dealt in death died. No one was really immortal, no one. Life was one big cycle; you died, you moved up and if you were lucky you got another job higher up. You died there and moved up another place or moved on and when you moved on, when that door appeared for you there was nothing on the other side. You disappeared. Soul returned to the Earth and you were reborn, and so, the cycle began again.
Why on Earth then would it need bringing up to date? Death was the same archaic thing it had always been. It didn’t need a makeover, a rebranding, it didn’t need a flashy executive. It didn’t need to be more effective and efficient.
Death was death.
And Death, like Life and Fate and all those things was part of a multi-planial corporation. Like all corporations, change was coming. Death Inc. had recently been taken over by a much younger suited and booted Agent of Death who had ideas to vastly transform the company. Ideas that he felt would ensure that targets were hit, that quotas were met.
Kevin couldn’t think of anything worse. Dealing in death wasn’t just about plucking names out of a hat, it took careful consideration. As an agent of death he’d spend weeks liaising with other departs to build a case for why old man Fitzwilliam deserved three extra days and seven year old Macey didn’t.
Death wasn’t just about random chance. It took careful cooperation with other departments; discussions about people’s life spans. About their impact on the world and the people around them. About how their death would impact others. Eighty-percent of the people who died had been carefully chosen the other twenty percent was a result of mortals deciding to take things into their own hands; usually pre-meditated murder or suicide.
It often made Kevin laugh, that mortals thought Death was just one cloak wearing, scythe carrying man. That he had complete control over everything. That people died because it was their time. It amused most agents of death that some humans took comfort in the idea that death was entirely chaotic. Not an administrative form or number in sight.
Kevin drummed his fingers on his computer. They all had to increase their mortality yield by 20% and he was struggling. The fact was, there were too many mortals living to be too old. The Earth couldn’t cope. Ackley, the new head honcho of Death Inc. had informed them all in a meeting the previous week that they needed to stop being sentimental. They were in the business of death not happiness. People, beings, they had to die. No matter what other departments said.
”If they ain’t changin’ the world they can get the chop.” Were his exact words. ”No more dallying around about impacting 20,000 lives. It ain’t enough, that world down there is chocabloc and we’re growing slack. We’re Death, we can change fate and time and life just by wiping someone out and I think it’s about time we remembered that.” Ackley’s words had certainly roused the forces. Everyone had left the meeting ready to be ruthless with the lists of billions of people and creatures before them. The Spectral teams were moved into cracking down on those members of the Spectral Society who refused to move on. Everyone improved almost immediately. Everyone except Kevin.
Kevin had left the meeting unmoved and disappointed. He was always very fond of the personal touch his work afforded him. Still he realized that he would have to move with the times, or, be deemed ineffective and be forced to move on through his door. There was no way, after all, that he would be promoted and there was no way he wanted to step into the unknown.
Kevin was absent mindedly scrolling through the list of people in his account range when an idea struck him. Maybe moving into modern times had it’s advantages, maybe Death Inc. did need a small update to bring it in line with the world below. Kevin’s fingers moved quickly across the keyboard of his computer and though it was prohibited, he accessed the mortals internet. Maybe he could make this work for him, maybe he could raise his quota and still manage to do what he imagined would be a good job.
He’d read about certain social media sites in one of the e-zines that came through to his work email. The article had been about how Agents had been able to dispatch of people more quickly because the mortals were never off their phones. Constantly engaging with the electronic devices in their hands and forgoing their own safety. According to that article, these phones were an untapped market which could help the Moirai get to better grips with humans in all departments, not just death. Kevin thought there was something in that, something worth investigating.
Thirty minutes into his perusing of the mortals internet, of rifling through a variety of social media sites a thought flitted through his mind, leaving as quickly as it had entered. An elusive thought that Kevin, were he to catch it, knew would lead to a genius idea.
After 3 hours of trawling through pages and eventually settling on one site in particular, he had a list of at least 3000 people he could wipe out. Each one more deserving than the last judging by their news feeds, what they chose to share and the godawful, most of the time, racist, homophobic and misogynistic shit they posted. Every person was as ignorant as the last. All mortals could do was comment angrily but Kevin could feel the rage there. He could feel the collective anger of the internet towards these people. The hate was almost visceral and the usually mild mannered agent found himself getting angrier as he read more comments. He was fascinated enthralled and so giddy his head felt light. He was angry too, angry that these mortals were allowed to just continue. His outlook on his work, on the people he’d gotten sentimental over was rapidly changing.
How had nobody thought of this before? How had nobody thought to look into this. This was the jackpot. This was the future of how they could decide. This was the future of how they could give one man, one more hour with his wife. This is how they could reduce the ghost and poltergeist population.
Kevin felt giddy. This would warrant him a promotion for sure. He stood cracking his spine back into place, trying to remain calm despite the adrenaline now rushing into his ears.
He was halfway to Ackley’s office, spring in his step when he slowed suddenly in front of a long wall awash with pictures. The wall of fame was littered with agents who had caused thousands, if not millions of people to die. Dieses, genocide, war. The creature that had caused the plague was a personal favourite of Kevin’s.
Kevin’s steps came to a stop, a full stop and he just stared at the wall as his brain started to whirr.
Maybe he shouldn’t share this just yet, maybe he should keep this too himself. This was after all something huge. Ackley could steal the idea for himself and then Kevin would remain just Kevin all his life rather than the decorated hero of death he was imagining he could be. After all with the right idea, which was currently forming, this could be utilised in a similar way to the plague. This could be the modern plague.
With several eyes on him, probably due to the grin spreading across his face, Kevin turned and walked straight back to his desk. He pulled out pen and paper and began to furiously scribble down ideas.
The modern plague, with the right help from the right departments they could make it so the biggest social networking site on the planet was transformed into a virus capable of culling the human race.