Author : Scott Hatfield

Nobody needs to die anymore.

Science has made amazing strides in the last couple of decades. Everyone gets to about 27 or 28 realyears and then simply stops aging. They sell packages if you want to be older or younger, taller or shorter, prettier or uglier, or a different sex. Or both.

All priced appropriately, of course.

And because you don’t need to die, you can try them all eventually (assuming you can afford all the combinations). You’ll see great great grandparents looking younger than their great great grandchildren, children originally born around the same time varying wildly in their personal preference of how old they feel they should be, spouses taking a -80 honeymoon back to when they were youthful – and there’s a discount package for that, too. Just talk to an Aging Consultant, they give you the injections, and your sleeping tube at home does the rest in about a month.

But why am I telling you this? You already know all that, you just asked about my job. I’m only 278, but I carry on like I’m 700. Sorry.

We call ourselves the Death Dealers. Not in public; death is still a taboo subject as you well know. There are the Aging Consultants, and we’re the Beyond Consultants. We sell inhumation packages (get it? It’s exhuming when they’re pulled out… sorry, industry joke) for everyone from the poorest slob to the richest conglomersecutive. Death isn’t good for profits, you see, and self-inhumation is taken very seriously. It reminds me of the Drugs War waged back in the 1900s…

What? I’m surprised you’ve never heard of it, though I guess I am a bit of a history buff. People weren’t allowed psychoactive drugs… Yeah, it is weird, isn’t it? Anyway, the families of self-inhumers face stiff penalties and fines if one of their own chooses that reckless path, so we’ve kept it down in the triple digits. Nothing to worry about at all.

And that’s where we come in.

Another joke: we have four departments, named after the classic War, Pestilence, Famine, and Death. As annoying as an F-inhume is, many cultures still find it keeps them closer to their long-lost ancestors. I mean, who would want a death like that? Everyone gets all the nutrients they need in their daily injections, and it just seems silly to me. But it’s cheap, so the Famine Department keeps going strong.

The Pestilence Department handles all the diseases, cancers, and other microbial inhumes. Along with curing all these mean-n-nasties, we’re able to replicate them at will. A basic long-term cancer package is remarkably affordable for anyone past 400 and only takes twenty to twenty-five years to run its course, and drugs can keep you away from most of the pain in the last half. Remember Ebola? They have a remarkably fast-acting strain that’s very chic these days. Very chic, and very expensive. The chance of spreading is very low now that we’ve tinkered with it, and they’ve been able to vaccinate most of the collaterals in time.

Over in Death Department, they get all the people who have a bit of money, but can’t spring for a WarI. Inhume on the spot, and it includes cremation. A traditional ceremony is only about 20% more for the replication of wood for the casket. Not very exciting over there, but they keep posting steady numbers.

Now for my department. I’ve wrangled a position here in War, and it’s great. They still call it War because of the four horses thing, even though nobody knows what a war is anymore. Or a horse. Can’t get away from tradition, can we? Well, in the War Department we get all the cool ones… and the biggest sales. With death being the last stop (science can do a lot, but we haven’t figured out how to bring them back yet), the last great adventure to take in a full life, the people with the most money want the biggest bang – sometimes literally – for their buck. Want a high-profile assassination? We can do that. The classic chainsaw murderer? A favorite that your family will be talking about for generations, and we can do that too. Just about anything interesting you can think of that isn’t that damned Ebola craze is our specialty.

So, since we’re friends… I can get you a great deal on a freak hover coaster accident. It’ll be the next big thing, I swear.

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