Author : Rollin T. Gentry

Jay poked his head through the open doorway and glanced around.

Standard fare: coffee pot in the back, whiteboard up front, A-is-for-Apple, Z-is-for-Zebra signs all over the walls. If not for the small poster on the outside of the door, he might have mistaken this for an AA meeting, or maybe anger management. But no, tonight was “Loving Our E-ternal Loved Ones”.

He was in the right place.

As he took a seat in the circle, Jay found his client, Marcy, sitting opposite him. The man sitting next to her, a middle-aged man wearing a white shirt and striped tie, was finishing up a rant about the injustices of uploads in general and his real-piece-of-work father specifically.

“Goddammit,” the man said, pounding a fist on his knee, “it’s not fair. If ever there was a bum that needed to be six feet under, and for good, it was my old man.” Jay tuned out at this point, reviewing the last message he’d received from Marcy. He’d heard it all before. The people that came to these meetings all had the same story, more or less.

“And then,” the man continued, “just when his day of reckoning comes, just when that fat bastard’s ticker finally goes out, my mother — saint that she is — runs to the local E-ternal branch office, puts the house up as collateral, and has him uploaded. Now, she expects me to sit across the dinner table from this … this holographic monstrosity and act like everything is wonderful, like he never did a thing wrong his whole life.”

When the meeting adjourned, Marcy made her way over. “So, what now?”

“There’s an empty room down the hall. After you.” He motioned toward the door.

In the empty classroom, both stood with their phones out, and Marcy asked, “So, how does this work?”

“It’s all very simple,” Jay said. He swiped and tapped his phone. “You should be seeing something on your screen now. Services rendered: Full retirement of one Carl Jenkins. Double check his social, please.” She nodded and tapped. “OK. Deletion of all active instances, plus all on-site and off-site backups. And you purchased a sim to be run during shutdown, correct? Something traditional?”

“Yeah.” Marcy looked unsure. “How long does it last? Real-time, I mean. Your ad said it feels like forever?”

“My sim guy says it’s the closest thing to a real, medieval-style Hell on the market. It’s a little trick with CPU cycles. Five minutes real-time feels like millions of years inside the sim. And I told you about the sim viewer, didn’t I?” Marcy nodded.

Jay’s phone beeped. The transaction was complete. “Well, I suppose I’ll leave you to it then.”

As he slid out the door, Marcy called out, “Hey, turn off the lights.” He flipped the switch. Her furrowed brow glowed pink in the light of the big red button. He eased the door closed.

Jay had known clients who pressed that button and simply walked away.

But that wasn’t Marcy.

Jay had seen the rage simmering behind her eyes the first time they video conferenced two weeks ago.

She was going to pause, rewind, and replay eternity over and over until her batteries and her Uncle Carl were thoroughly and properly dead.

But in the end, she’d get satisfaction. They always did.