Author: David C. Nutt
I saw the black limo outside our cottage. I knew why the angel of death was here. It was for my partner Andrew. He hasn’t looked well for over a week. What’s more, he’s been grumpy- as grumpy as his actual age of 337, rather than the 42 he presents here in the Home.
The Home. Once they were actual, physical, warehouses for the aged and infirmed, the Alzheimer’s, and the ones forgotten by their relatives. Thank the stars those are no longer issues for us but even so, humans still eventually wear out. In this case, our neural paths degrade after a time so not even our perfect VR simulation will work anymore. I’m sure one day science will figure out a way to keep us alive indefinitely through VR, and then the debate will be “who wants to live forever?” I think at age 204, the age I came to the home, plus the additional 136 years I’ve lived here, I could go anytime without making a fuss. 16 careers, four spouses, 232 descendants (can’t keep track of all the grandkids, but love ‘em all and they visit.) I think when my time comes, I’ll be ready.
I turned up the walk of our Block Island simulation cottage. On my wrist set, I dialed “showered” and chose “gray suit, business formal.” Andrew was so stuffy. He was always overdressed and insisted that I was perpetually underdressed. I got a little misty. I knew this day would arrive I just thought we’d have a little more time- but then, isn’t that what we all say in the real world as well?
I met the Angel of Death at our door. Dressed in a black rifle rock coat and bolo tie, he was young- looked to be in his twenties. Only his eyes gave away his real age- while they were clear and bright, there was a depth that told me this was no twenty-something.
“Mr. Philip Sinclair?”
“Yes, I’m him.” Before he could speak, I cut him off, “Does Andrew know?”
Death, or rather, the death notification avatar from the Home nodded. “He’s been made aware.”
“How’s he taking it?”
“About as well as can be well as can be expected.” Death opened the door for me. I sighed and walked in. The French doors in our vestibule were shut and when I opened them our cute little cape was transformed into what can only be described as a wedding venue- lots of white, strings of lights, champagne, hors d’oeuvres and all my relatives- oh. This is not Andrew’s time. It’s mine.
I turned to Death. “Not Andrew. Me.”
There was a look of shock and then sadness. “I’m sorry sir. I thought you understood. Death only meets with the decedent. It’s made very clear in the brochure.”
I nodded. “May I ask what’s happened?”
Death nodded. “Neural cascade failure. Our techs figure out we can loop you for no more than 30, possibly 40 minutes.”
I nodded. “Well, let’s do this shall we?” I winked at Death and he smiled. Andrew took my hand. I kissed him on the cheek and dried his tears.
Death walking ahead of us, our relatives all around us, we reached a set of doors and stopped.
“This is as far as we can go.” Death said solemnly.
Andrew was weeping. It broke my heart. He hated it when he lost control like this. I kissed him again.
Death opened the door. I squared my shoulders, took a deep breath, then stepped through the door into a blinding white light.