Saturday, December 18, 2021

A conversation with the reaper

 You’re sitting down on damp grass in the morning sun. You look ahead at your bare, dirty feet and sigh. It’s late springtime (maybe May?), and the chickadees, doves, and warblers are having an intellectual debate in the trees. A warm plane of daylight, given permission to shine by a slowly retreating cloud, moves to touch your leg (the ultraviolet light penetrating the outermost layers of your bare skin, damaging your DNA as you enjoy the great outdoors).  

You scratch your scalp as you stare out into the great big clearing you’re in. You are waiting, patiently, for something. For someone, actually. You’re not sure who, but you know you won’t be alone much longer.

Minutes pass, then hours. The cool air of the morning turns into a chill noon breeze. You’re growing impatient, and tired. Finally, your consciousness slips, and you turn your head to the ground, the soft grass cushioning your body.

In your dream, you are lying down just as you are now. But there is an animal next to you, lying on its side. It’s a dog, you think. She is sound asleep--her stomach slowly rising and falling--her breath gentle and rhythmic (like the sound of a waterfall when she exhales). Not a muscle in her long body is tense, but she doesn’t appear weighed down by gravity. Her mouth is agape, tongue lolling  in her sleep. You prop yourself up with your elbow and lean over to kiss her on her head. You study how the sunlight hits her smooth black hair, when all of a sudden, you hear a rapid whooshing sound from above. Just in time as you look up, you spot it-- a large green apple (perhaps 100 feet above), rapidly in free fall, headed straight to collide with the dog. You tense up, study its trajectory, and prepare to catch it. It sails into your hands. It’s even bigger than you thought. You take a bite.

Your eyes open. The apple is red, and the beast is gone. You’re so cold you’re shivering. You know He’s behind you.

Turning around slowly, you cautiously take a peak at the figure. His face is in an expression between disgust and… smugness? He has very chiseled features, and pale eyes. His light brown hair is combed to one side. He’s got the “I work at Goldman Sachs” look-- the sleeves of his light blue dress shirt are rolled up halfheartedly, his khaki shorts draped legs (business casual) are kicked out lazily on a recliner chair.

You can already tell that you’re going to do a lot of the talking here. He motions you to the stiff wickerwood chair planted next to his. You get up, groaning, and trek over to your uncomfortable seat.

“I know you but I don’t.”

He ignores you, his affect unchanged. He’s looking out at the clearing just like you were many hours ago.

“What do you want?”

“I want to negotiate,” he says in a resonant baritone.

Your brows scrunch up in confusion for just a second, then it clicks. You look at him again. Now he’s fully smirking. You’re at a loss for words.

“I want a deadline.”

You feel the rage build up inside. Since the inception of life, there’s been Him. Everything ever birthed in this world has been ended by him.

“No. No way. I would never want to work with you. You stand against everything that is good. You don’t bring anything into this world. All you do is take away!” Your voice stays calm despite your passion.

He laughs a bit, surprisingly in a bit of a humble way. He shakes his head a bit and looks back at you.

“There’s a lot you don’t know about me, so I can understand why you think you’re right...” A moment of contemplation for what next to say. 

“...but I’m here for a reason. There is a reason for what I do.”

You don’t answer immediately, because you don’t know how to answer back. But then you do.

“All good things must come to an end, youthinks?”

Back to that condescending smile. “Not only that, but the second law of thermodynamics makes me inevitable. I’m also inescapable, infallible, incurable-- the list goes on. All life must rot; all life must die; all things must perish. It’s just the rules.” 

Your turn to laugh.

“So what do you want me to do? If you are so infallible, why are you threatened by me?”

He sighs. “You don’t get to play God. Live your little life and be happy with what you have. Forget about me, even. But let me do my job.”

“A hundred billion human lives have been lost to your whims. Countless consciousnesses snuffed out, for what? You are my personal apocalypse. A scourge that few fear in concept, but that all suffer from in reality. But you can be finished, just like how you finish us. You too will age, rot, and die, because you underestimate the power of human will.”

He studies you very closely. Maybe for a minute. His eyes are beams of cold, calculated, deterministic void. Then he extends his hand out to shake yours.

Instead, you put the apple in his hand, and it turns green again. He takes a big bite and gets up. He walks out of the clearing. Out of sight, out of mind, out of spirit. You laugh and think to yourself what a peculiar life you have.