A Pair of Dice
“OK, Death. Tell me why me. Everyone seems to ask that question when they die young. Heck, I didn’t do anything. No sex, no smoking, no drugs. I don’t even have my driving lesson yet. I didn’t steal anything, I didn’t kill anything or anyone. So, give, man!”
“Allow me to check my list, please. One moment is all it will take…ah, I have time…. Ah, I see you are to be returned in a few days? You will be returned as a dog. Surprising, considering this life of yours was so unblemished. Now, young sir, you have me intrigued. One moment while I check….”
“Ah, screw it, man. Why do you have to check everything? All I wanna know is why me? C’mon, Death, why?”
“Patience, young man. I am not only intrigued, but by the rules of reincarnation I just check. Only after I check may I determine whether I may tell you anything. Now will you please hold your peace?”
“Rules of reincarnation? Reincarnation has rules? Yeah, right. There’s no such thing as reincarnation. That’s just mythology from some place over by China. So why me?”
“Oh, alright. Bummer.”
“Ah, I see. So, um. Yes. Alright, young man. I’ll answer your questions now. I am permitted to tell you. I’m surprised at the reasons in your life-string, but I must warn you that there are rules that apply specifically to cases such as yours. Rule one is that I’m not allowed to volunteer anything. Rule two is that I’m restricted to answering only three questions. Further I am required to warn you that any phrasing that remotely resembles a question I am permitted to accept as a question if I provide any answer in return to it. Is that clear? Your questions start now.”
“Um, yeah. I got it. Why am I being sent back as a dog, assuming that I accept that?”
“Your life this time was not enough to properly pay your negative Karma balance from the life before.”
“My negative balance? Uh, wait, don’t answer that!”
“Regrettably, I must. That was a clear question and it was completely asked. However, I shall give you a full reply in return. In your last life episode you were a woman, and you completely wiped out your entire family, consisting of your parents, your sister and her family, your brother and his family, your in-laws, your brother-in-law and his family, your husband, and your three kids. In short, you ended two lineages.”
“I wh…I wish…never mind. I need to think.”
“One more question then I have to claim you and finish processing you. As it stands, you’re dead now but your spirit is still unprocessed. Time grows short. Ask.”
“Wh…How…lemme think, I gotta figure out how to phrase it…OK, um, I got it…careful now…OK, now…How was I…no, wrong phrasing…Do you..no, not that either…oh, God, so simple a question so hard to phrase…ah, ok, let’s try this one then. How do you know who to take?”
“I have a quota to meet. By agreement between the two majors, the number is fixed. And I select whom. And my method, in an attempt to be impartial, is this. Come, now, let us be gone.”
In Death’s open hand lay a pair of dice.
This story was written as part of a regular practice of writing based on some single word or item, randomly picked from a dictionary, magazine, book, or some such.
The word for this one was “a pair of dice”.
Originally written 4.12.95 the actual story and words have not been changed in any way. The only changes made have been to fix any typos and to format it better.