Some of you might have met me, many of you call me “near Death experience”.
That is my actual worktitle.
It is a long time as an apprentice before you get to become a full-fledged death for humans, I am at my 753th year. Granddeath says that I have at least a century left before I can become a summer temp and another 500 years before I can get my own area to take care of. It feels like the old fart will never retire but when you are an immortal like us, retirement is quite abstract. In my opinion Granddeath should let other get a chance and not being so terribly controlling.
The only tool I am allowed at the moment is this ridiculously small sickle. The only reason is that I happened to use the scythe a bit to diligently during my first internship. All I wanted to do was to impress Granddeath but all he got was grumpy instead. I waved a little with the scythe but it was stronger than I could imagined, maybe you heard of that little incident. I think you call it the Blackdeath and it lasted for almost 400 years and since then I am not allowed near the scythe. Ok today I realize that I don’t need much strength to wield the scythe but when I see Granddeath do similar or worse things, why is my mistake so bad?
You say that Neardeath is not an occupation, it most certainly is or I would not exist. But there is so much that you humans are not aware of or you try to ignore the things you don't understand. If you only knew how many different kinds of deaths there is, Smallanimaldeath who takes care of all small animal and bugs mainly because nobody wanted to be called and known as the Bugdeath. Oceandeath takes care of everything in the oceans and has quite big responsibility since he takes care of all kinds of life in the oceans, everything from plankton to whales and also the plantlife that live in water. Oceandeath is the only death that takes care of both animals and plants. There is so many more both mentionable and unmentionable deaths.
It is only Granddeath that are allowed to take care of humans for the reason that you are such complicated creatures and are one of the few creatures that know that you have a limited time to live even if most of you try to deny the fact that you will die one day. Granddeath, Neardeath and all other deaths is not our names it is our working titles and our parents and the person itself knows the real name, yes the person because there are more immortals and not just deaths. Deaths is death in plural not the verb and that's the end of that discussion.
Do you have parents as an immortal? Is it not obvious, we must come from somewhere. You might wonder that then there must be an infinite amount of immortals but it seems to be governed by some kind of universal law so that there won’t be to many immortals. I don't know to sure how it works, do I look like some kind of lawyer? The only kind of death that don’t exist, though that would have been something extraordinaire is “Immortalitydeath”. Now that's what I would call the title of titles.
What I have been thought is that we immortals don’t die but instead we fade away if we don’t have a task to do. Last time I heard of someone that faded away was when the Dodo-bird got extinct and the Dodobirdfeathercollector didn’t have a task any more but didn’t want a new task either. There have been some others as well but no one that I cared about.
But why do I stand here and waffle about our history when it was my work I was supposed to talk about. Let’s start all over.
Hi, I am Neardeath and some of you have met me. To be honest some of you have met me more times than it is good for your and my health. Some of you should have met Granddeath instead of me but I don’t get to take those decisions yet. Those of you that I have only met once or twice I usually don’t remember.
I see it as my task to remind you properly that your life is not endless and some of you are better pupils than others. Everyone I have been in contact with, I will know how long life you got and if my visit was to some good. There are some studies that shows that some of you got longer life's thanks to me and my visit, you stopped caring about petty things that don’t mean a thing in life. You started to appreciate every day thankfully and tried to fill your life's with things that matter and gave you happiness and pleasure.
Then we have those that I meet or have met countless times but for some of them it is not by their own fault or control. Some have a disease that forces me to visit them often, others are forced to unsafe working conditions or other circumstances that makes us meet. I don’t always see the purpose or need but that’s a part of the job.
Then we have those that I call the idiots who never learn or just don’t get it. I mean you might fly of the road in 110mph once but ten times, come on. I just say “fucking muppets” and you are so thick that you don’t even realize that you met me. YOU ARE NOT IMMORTALS!! is that so difficult to understand.
We have other kinds of stupidity that I have a hard time to understand, such as rock climbing just because it happens to be a mountain there not that you need to climb it to save your life. Or those nitwits who practice cave diving and almost don’t get out, do you have a clue how hard it is for me to reach you. If I was Granddeath I could get anywhere and any time in the universe but as Neardeath I don’t have those abilities's and have to squeeze my body to size so that it fits to the cave and I can promise it is not comfortable.
Others that I often meet is the type of persons that engage in the activity called “parkour”, do you see what you did I had to learn a new word instead of calling them for what they are, IDIOTS!!
I mean what's the point of jumping between high buildings, very high up. Not that I am afraid of heights but still.
Several of the idiots that met me gets away with the sheer horror of the incident but I try to make a good impression with the hope that we won’t meet again. Others don’t get away that easy and gets a memory that will remind them all their awake time that what they did was really stupid.
Oh my, I am getting all overexcited but I sometimes I get very annoyed at the idiots and it seems that they are increasing lately.
I don’t need to worry to become idle with so many idiots that are around at this moment but I rather meet someone only a few times and see that they have done something with their lives. It is quite fascinating to meet so many that was more living dead until they met me and after we met how alive they became. When someone I met and who changed their lives after that encounter dies it gives me a good feeling that they got something good out of their lives. Your time as living is so incredible short compared to us immortals and you have the nerve to go through life bored. To quote an idol of mine who is a fictive death from your world.
“Human beings make life so interesting. Do you know, that in a universe so full of wonders, they managed to invent boredom. (Death)”
Terry Pratchett, Hogfather”
What’s my point rambling about all this? Well it might bee this that if you get a visit from me contemplate what's going on in your life. Sometimes you can’t influence what’s going on in your life but you can change the way you see the situation even if it is hard. If it’s fair or not when I come to visit you is out of my control, take it with the universe but I suspect that you won’t get that many answers but the only answer you might get is the one that you give your selfs.
I just want to remind you that you only live for a short while so take good care of that time and hope that we don’t meet to often. Do want makes you glad and feels meningfull without hurting others consciously because you humans hurt each other unconsciously also, sometimes mentally and sometimes bodily.
With all this I wish you well and maybe one day I will become Granddeath but when that time comes you who are alive today will be long gone and you will not be collected by me. I hope that from time to time you think about us deaths and when Granddeath comes for you that you have an understanding that your time is up.
Written by Jari Rajala
Background to the story. I wrote this as an monologue but i think it works as a short story.