The living shadow wanders the void between the stars, thinking nothing.
It exists just to wander, floating in the endless cold and dark.
No memory of where it came from, and no thought as to where it goes.
A week? A year? A century? A millennium?
It has no idea, and does not care.
There is nothing to see it, so it has no form.
There is nothing to hear it, so it makes no sound.
You might think that I’m telling a ghost story, imagining things.
But the living shadow is there, drifting in the vastness of empty space.
We don’t merely encounter death at the end of our lives.
He is everywhere at all times, watching and waiting.
All that lives will eventually die.
From the tiniest bacteria to the greatest fish in the sea, death comes for them all.
Rolling across the land and the waves and the sky, striking all down in a never-ending storm of destruction.
Some quickly, others slowly… and painfully.
None can escape Death’s unrelenting grasp.
Sometimes at night, I listen for death.
Instead, I hear the barking of the goddamned neighbor’s dog.
And I can’t wait for death to come for it.
Every so often, the girls who stock the vending machines will remove all of the expired candy from the supply closet and leave it out on the table.
I obsessively sort it all out into baskets.
Considering my weight and my blood sugar, that’s as much as I should be doing with that stuff.
I love the aroma of it though.
So, every so often, I’ll put a Snickers bar on a warming plate and let the aroma fill the air.
I close my eyes and remember Halloween evenings, sorting out candy, years before I learned that I wasn’t immortal.
Before the accident, she was the most beautiful woman in the world.
A brilliant actress, an amazing singer, and a spokesmodel for nearly every product and service.
What the paramedics pulled from the wreckage, doctors did their best to put back together.
It took over a year of surgeries, 3-D printer, and a little Hollywood magic to get her to walk again.
But she didn’t do much else.
She does voice work for cartoons and video games now, watching her radiant digital ghost shine with beauty.
And trying to hide the resentment and bitterness in her heavily-filtered voice.
Billy got beaten up a lot in school.
He begged his parents to do something.
So, Billy tried to bring a knife to school.
The metal detectors caught it, and he got sent home.
That’s when Billy built the robotic exoskeleton in his basement.
“All ceramics,” said Billy, as he walked through the metal detectors cleanly.
Instead of Billy’s underwear ending up on the flagpole, the bullies ended up skewered on it.
Along with the teachers and principal.
The police stormed the school and killed Billy.
Which is for the best.
Because Reform School is even more brutal.
They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Lining it are trees watered by crocodile tears.
And under them, all the people you’ve ever wronged, they line up to watch you make your way to hell.
Some will scream at you.
Some will spit at you.
Some will pull stones up from the road and throw them at you.
I think back to all the people I’ve wronged.
That road’s going to be a long one.
And maybe if I wrong a few more people, that road will be so long, I’ll be walking that road forever.
Remember the Build A Bear stores in the malls?
You could pick out a bear skin, fill it with stuffing, and add clothing to make a bear.
Or a monkey. Or a kitty. Or other animals.
You could even add a sound recording that it could play.
Well, they’re expanded.
Now you can build a baby.
Spit into a tube, scan the DNA, and make a few changes…
Five minutes later, instant baby.
Just make sure that you don’t eat or drink anything before you spit.
A little bit of hamburger, and you’ve got a baby man-cow.
… and they’re delicious!
Every Halloween, Linus Van Pelt stayed up late to wait for the arrival of The Great Pumpkin.
Every Christmas, he stayed up late for the arrival of Santa Claus.
Every New Year’s, he stayed up late for the arrival of the Baby New Year.
Every Valentine’s Day, he stayed up late for the arrival of Cupid the Cherub.
Every Easter, he stayed up late for the Easter Bunny.
Linus stayed up a lot, waiting for various mythical figures.
His parents took him to a psychiatrist, who prescribed anti-psychotic pills and said “Stop drinking so much coffee, you stupid little kid!”
They take snapshots of everyone’s memory every hour.
A backup, in case of accident. Or emergency.
What they can do with those backups, well, not much.
They can’t exactly put you back in your body. Or a new one.
They’ve tried to upload them to a brain simulator.
We can ask them questions, they answer.
But are they alive in there? Like they would be in a body?
Nobody is sure unless they’re in there themselves.
We ask them, and they say yes.
They are blind, deaf, unfeeling.
Endless though, and nothing else.
We shut them down as a mercy.
Apparently, if you are in imminent danger and you can’t openly call 911, you’re supposed to call 911 and order a pepperoni pizza.
This is a secret signal to 911 that you’re in imminent danger, and that they should send help.
Unless the imminent danger is a pack of Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Because they like pepperoni pizza, and you can offer them the pizza.
Then, while they eat the pizza, you can run away.
Of course, it takes up to thirty minute to deliver the pizza.
So, in the end, you’ll end up feeding the assholes who killed you.