I’ve gone back and fixed up the first chapter of Death Co., giving it a proper ending, and fixing some grammar. Take a look, let me know what you think, and subscribe if you like it! Also follow me on Twitter / Facebook
Let’s see, job qualifications: 1. Must be dead, they’re a real stickler about that one. 2. Preferred to have some legal experience, they’ll let that one slide occasionally if you’re a ‘people person’. 3. Must be just desperate enough to live forever, but also apathetic enough to spend that forever doing paperwork. 4. This one’s the most important of them all, must have a strong constitution when it comes to blood, otherwise the first day would be a real drag.
I don’t even know where to start. What I did, what I still do in a way, is quite a lot to take in. The topic of death tends to conjure images of eternal rest and the infinite abyss, not so much an office building just on the edge of time. Years back they had the aesthetics redone to look a bit more imposing, but honestly, it’s all a bit Wall Street for me.
The origin of the supernatural mega conglomerate known to most as Death, is a simple one. When shop was first opened all those eons ago, there was only one. The world was a lot smaller, and the dawn of man a much simpler time. Let’s just say the primitive Neanderthal brain didn’t have a handle on writing, much less appeals paperwork. I didn’t come on the scene until much later, but it’s important to know history so that we don’t repeat ourselves.
Before the dawn of man there wasn’t much need for death. Don’t get me wrong, it still happened quite often, but there wasn’t a need for the abstract concept of it. To be frank, God didn’t give much of a shit about the dinosaurs, see: Giant asteroid, molten rain, etc., and as a result, their afterlife was almost non-existent. That worked well for a while, unless you were one of the pea-brained brontosauruses floating in the inky blackness confusedly chewing their last pieces of grass.
Whatever your opinion on the subject, dinosaur rights advocates need not apply, the system worked. Things didn’t get messy until humans came on the scene. Higher order brain functions led to higher order questions. Suffice it to say, the powers that be: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, have never been very good with questions. Rather than answer them, they voted to create a buffer. It was the only way to keep a watchful eye on the humans while still managing to get uproariously drunk at the inter-departmental parties.
The first question humans asked that the divine sought fit to answer was a simple on. It’s the same question that drives many to the brink of insanity and the cusp of creativity. What happens to us after we die? Ever since the inception of humanity, questioning what lies beyond infinity has been one of our driving characteristics. The truth is rather sad; it involves a lot of math on the part of the divine and they’re too busy mucking about with climate change to bother explaining.
As a result, the institution known as Death, now incorporated, was formed. The first employee in the company of Death was a simple man by the name of Ug. He wasn’t a man of many words, being of the Cro-Magnon persuasion, but could follow orders exceedingly well. God found Ug after he had fallen off a cliff after an unfortunate mammoth drive accident. When the creator found him, Ug had broken just about every bone in his body and was drowning in gore.
This was understandably not a great way to go. Understandably, Ug, unable to express his complex questioning of the creator, but could do no more than scream bloody murder and wave his hands. God happened to be paying attention to Ug that day, he had caused the mammoth drive to go south, and honestly felt quite embarrassed by the situation. Rather than deal with the awkwardness that was hearing out a primitive’s complaints, God appointed Ug as Death. This solved the problem of all the unresolved questions surrounding the end of life, and left God free to work on his concept of warring, dogmatic religions.
Ug was snapped back into shape, rather painfully I am told, given a black cloak, and made immortal. God tasked Ug with the job of acting menacing, collecting the souls of the recently deceased, and answering one question from each of them before the end. Whether Ug understood this was beside the point. Before he could utter so much as a confused grunt, God was gone, and Ug was left to his morbid job.
For the first few centuries, he was a terrible death. The powers of the divine were difficult to master, and as such, more than a few deaths slipped through the cracks. This led to the half-dead returning to terrorize the living, and more than a few zombie outbreaks that put ethereal egg on the creator’s face. Still, this arrangement continued to function for a few hundred years, and eventually, as time wore on, Ug got better at it. He learned to teleport to the location of death, the secrets behind freezing time, and the most painless way to escort the soul from the land of the living, to the realm beyond.
The real problems started when civilization continued to grow, something that none of the powers at be had expected. Humans were created as incredibly combative and prideful creatures, and it surprised everyone when they began to cooperate with one another. This in turn led to wars, which increased Ug’s workload significantly. Purgatory literally overflowed, raining bits of decomposed flesh and bone into both Heaven and Hell. This led to the expansion of Purgatory, which should be finished in another hundred million years when the contracts go through, and Death getting a horse.
Why the high angels decided it was a problem of transportation and not understaffing is something we may never know. Ug, who had since learned a few basic words, named his horse Buttercup, and the world continued to spin for a little while longer. Unfortunately for the heavens, Earth’s population continued to grow exponentially, and things got complicated.
At our present pace, we get about 155,000 souls a day. That’s quite a few, and with the demands of our newly technological society, the demands of the dead have become complicated. Needless to say, it was far too much for poor Ug to handle by himself. At one point, he tried to kill himself, but when you’re already dead, that doesn’t do a whole lot. In the end, it made an awful mess, Ug was retired, and the corporation we know today.
The first team was a group of recently deceased therapists, but they talked to much and fell behind schedule. It was a nice sentiment, trying to help the dead cope and move on with their afterlife, but ultimately, it’s not our job. Mostly, the recently dead are stuck in the bargaining stage until they realize that the agents of death have no true authority. That’s when they tend to get uppity.
Speed is a prized commodity in the realm of death, as long lines of the deceased tend to smell. So, the corporation needed a group of people who were good at paperwork, divorced from their emotions, and ruthless. That’s where I come in. My name is Jon, I’m an ex-lawyer, and I’ve been dead for about sixty years. My business is death, and business is good.