Death Co. (Cheating Death)
8. Cheating Death
Saving someone’s life can be as simple as knocking a peanut cookie out of their hand, protecting them from the deadly allergens lurking beneath its benign surface. Once you’ve already crossed over, it becomes a little more complicated. From the moment I saw his name on the list I knew there were very few options, and no time to act on any of them. A wrong move wouldn’t spell death (for me at least), but it had the potential to make the afterlife even more unpleasant.
Navigating around death is no easy task, there are fail-safes, ensuring that every agent who suddenly finds a rapturous sense of compassion can’t ‘save’ the world. When a requisition order isn’t completed, another agent is sent to follow up. If it turns out to be the fault of the first agent they are brought to tribunal. If they don’t come willingly it becomes more of a trial by combat scenario. It might seem like a fair fight, but the second agent is always given a bigger gun. The ending is always the same. The agent in question is brought to tribunal (be it in bloody chunks, or reasonably whole).
Tribunal is a misnomer. The name implies justice, jury, perhaps even a fair trial. The reality is a room with a group of ex-warlords and despots who didn’t get their fair shake at proper world domination. They’re cantankerous and have never allowed a single appeal to pass through their office. Their office of course being a long marble room flanked by high backed, gilded chairs, with a large chute in the middle (it leads exactly where you think it does). They enjoy throwing people down there a little too much.
All this is to say that I was left with very few options, but the persistent knowledge that I had to act. The situation was an awkward one. I was new to having a conscience and didn’t much like how it affected my decision-making skills. Every part of my being wanted to just kill the kid and get it over with, maybe even have a nice laugh about it on my next break. But a fiber had unwound deep within my cortex, causing the morality neuron spindle to misfire (or maybe fire for the first time). Logic dictated that I keep my head down, but logic was not something I prided myself on.
I’ve said that cheating death is difficult, but not impossible. It’s a matter of hiding the person in question from the system, which can have interesting repercussions. Ever hear a story about someone whose parachute didn’t open and they just bounced? Physics can make explanations all they want, but that shit just doesn’t happen. Taking a human from terminal velocity to happy ending isn’t impossible, it’s just very difficult (and involves lots of rubberbands).
Hiding is just as difficult as it sounds. Omnipotence tends to come with, well, omnipotence. It’s a matter of finding an area of the world that The Big Guy has momentarily given the cold shoulder (pun very much intended). Antarctica is often a popular choice. Reincarnation as a penguin is one of the more popular options. Sure it’s cold, but it beats the alternative (Running from bears on a treadmill, in a gym, that only plays Cher). Let’s just say there are a lot of mob bosses and crooked cops sitting on egg clutches and dodging the angry advances of famished harp seals and lecherous research assistants (Morgan Freeman failed to mention that little factoid).
Something about this kid told me that he’d rather go to hell than serve out the rest of his time as a flightless, aquatic bird (seriously evolution, what the fuck?). He also didn’t seem the type to hide out in Florida (God’s Blind Spot), which left me with one option. I was going to have to make a deal, one that would likely see me on the very treadmill I had worked so hard to avoid. Luckily we have an express train for these sorts of things.