“Excuse me, sir?” I’m usually more resilient when it comes to strangers with clipboards, but I couldn’t bring myself to look away from her perfect, silver eyes. “Do you have a moment to spare for the immaterial?”
“Sure,” I replied, despite my certainty of the regret to come. “How can I help?”
“My name is Lora,” she began. “I died back in March, after having an adverse reaction to one of those magnetic life-extension rings. Upon death, I found myself unable to secure a new body for reincarnation, as my attempt to achieve immortality has apparently placed me in violation of the laws of transmigration. Now, I need five-hundred signatures to appeal the court’s decision. If my appeal is successful, I’ll be allowed to drink from the River Lethe and live again. Would you consider being one of my signatories?”
“Of course I’ll sign for you.” Though I wasn’t quite sold. “But those rings don’t even work. Why would they bother regulating something like that?”
“I was wondering that, too. As it turns out, every attempt to extend life actually drains life from the universe, whether or not it succeeds. Everything from eating food to taking medicine comes at a price to our surroundings. Most of this is considered okay, so you’re not going to end up like me just because you started jogging or eating Cheerios. They specifically care about and regulate methods that don’t work, or fall outside the natural order, as these reduce the net amount of life in the cosmos.”
I paused for a moment. “So, if I sign this petition to extend your life, what life will then be drained from the universe in return?”
A sad look crossed her face. “You will sign, won’t you?”
Death can be a very bureaucratic matter.
Eventually, she may get her second chance by other means.
Even in the worst case scenario, Hell isn’t so bad these days.
North of Reality is an explorable fiction space written by Uel Aramchek. You can receive these pieces overnight via email by signing up here. This is entry #216. Learn how you can receive secret stories via physical mail here.