Danny Arkin: New Death

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Before beginning this tale, it is important to note that the human's concept of death is misunderstood, and often placed inappropriately in a dismal scene featuring darkness and evil. Death is also falsely construed by this world's chronic hopefuls as a step forward into a new, better afterlife. The truth is that death is an event filled with mystery and intrigue. It is indefinable. Many trivial aspects of history and life involve the inexplicable science of death. For example:

Of the twenty-two people present at the opening of King Tut's tomb, twenty-one were dead within ten years. Elephants often die of broken hearts. If an elephant's mate dies, it will refuse to eat and lay down, shedding tears and refusing human help until dead. The only animals that can contract leprosy are humans and armadillos. By law, all executed criminals in the United States of America have to have an autopsy performed on them.

The reason these facts are relevant is to establish the conjecture that death isn't as sad and tragic an event as is commonly believed. It is, for lack of a better word, interesting. Death is what you make of it. If one expects death to be an eternal blackness, that's what you'll receive. If one expects death to be a happy occasion compromised of the reuniting of family generations, that is what will happen. Danny Arkin didn't know what to expect.

Danny opened his eyes and saw an endless blank void. He stood up, realized that he was naked, and quickly glanced all around him to ensure that he was alone. All he could see was nothing. The sky, and the ground he was standing on, were all a color he had never come across before. It was the brightest of white, and yet at the same time it was the darkest of black. If there were an opposite of gray on the color chart, Danny felt this was it. It made him feel at peace. He wasn't sure what to do, but he knew standing around wasn't helping.

After a few hours' walking, Danny paused to rest. He wasn't tired, but he knew he should be. He was tall and slightly overweight. Big, but not fat. His dark complexion, eerie brown eyes, and wavy jet-black hair gave him away as an Australian Aborigine, to those who knew the difference. After staring at his feet for a few minutes, Danny looked up and around, not expecting to see anything out of the ordinary. To his great surprise, Danny saw a shadow approaching him from the distance. He started towards it hurriedly. He didn't know it yet, but Danny was walking toward Death.

Death is not a hooded individual with a sickle. He is simply a mediator with a title. Over the course of eternity, there have been many Deaths. The Death at the time of Danny Arkin's demise was a scrawny, bald old man wearing a sweatshirt and gym shorts. He stood a little over a foot shorter than Danny, and yet Danny was intimidated by his presence.

"Daniel Arkin?" Death asked rhetorically in a broken voice.

"Yes, that's me," Danny stated. "What's happening?"

"Isn't it obvious?" Death replied, grinning. "You're dead, Daniel."

"Well that makes sense." Danny thought aloud. "So does that make you Death? And why are you smiling?"

"Actually, my name is Carl, but you can call me whatever you see fit. I'm smiling because the look of shock you've struck on your face reminds me so much as myself at this same moment of my existence."

"Okay Carl, what do you do with me now?" Danny asked intently in a calm voice. Carl smiled again.

"Come, walk with me, Daniel. I have to get you prepared to take over my job. Oh, and put some clothes on."

"I feel stupid asking, but how am I supposed to do that?"

"Just think about it." Carl said matter-of-factly.

Danny thought about what Carl had just said, and then thought about what he was wearing at the time the lightning struck him, and in the blink of an eye he was wearing blue jeans and a tank top. Deciding this wasn't what he wanted to be wearing, he thought about the time he went to his brother's wedding. He settled on a black tuxedo with a white vest and bow tie. Danny smiled, enjoying this new power.

Once Danny was decent, Carl pointed his finger to their side and a hole appeared. They began their walk through, and found themselves in a lighted tunnel, much like those of Danny's Earth life. Inside the tunnel was an impossible crowd of stiff human beings; not moving, not speaking, not alive. The crowd shifted out of the way of Danny and Carl, sending a shiver down Danny's spine. It reminded him of an old zombie film. Danny thought about how in the world this many people managed to make room for them, but then he realized that he wasn't in the world.

Danny finally asked the inevitable question, "So why me?"

"Because you, Daniel, did not fear death," Carl began, "Those who do not fear death are the ones who construct it. I've waited a very long time for this, Daniel. The woman who trained me into this position told me that she had only served to carry eleven people out of the secular world. I stopped counting for myself once I hit ten thousand. It isn't bad work, but there is more for me to do beyond this."

"And what is that?" Danny wondered, intrigued.

Carl smiled with a pleasant grin that showed how much he was looking forward. "I become God of my own universe." He uttered quietly. "We're here."

Carl showed Danny into a room of the same extra-ordinary color as the area where Danny had found himself in the first place. The only exit beyond the door they came in was a set of dark stairs with light poking out in only the faintest amount. All of the lifeless humans seemed to be lined up to get into this room. Carl sat in an enormous padded armchair that was centered directly in the middle of the room.

"Now Daniel," Carl began, "The work is quite simple. Your job will be to create the next world for all these people. Do you remember how you got those clothes?"

"Yes," Danny replied, "I imagined them."

"Right. It's conceptually the same thing. You'll take these peoples' visions of the afterlife at the time of their deaths and create that for them. But rather than try and explain further, I'll just show you."

Carl beckoned towards the open door and a short Caucasian man stepped through towards the two. Carl stared deep into his lifeless eyes. Suddenly, the room around the three of them transformed into a beautiful garden, with a fountain in the middle and a bench, on which were seated a beautiful woman and her infant child. The vision disappeared and the room turned back into the radiant color it was before. Carl snapped his fingers for Daniel to pay attention, because what had just happened had put him in a trance. Carl pointed his finger and a portal much like the one they had used to get to the room appeared. The Caucasian man's eyes turned from a lifeless pale to a glimmering glisten.

"This way, sir," Carl said and moved his hand in a motion to the portal.

The man smiled and stammered, "Th-thank you sir!" and walked in an excited fast pace to the bench that seated the woman and child.

"Do you understand, Daniel?" Carl asked as the portal closed.

"I do." Responded Danny.

Carl grinned briefly and said, "It only took me one example too. There's an unlimited amount of dead, and they have no clue how long they've been waiting so don't rush yourself." As he said these words he made his way toward the staircase. "You'll know when your replacement has come. Well, goodbye and good luck, Daniel,"

"It's Danny,"

Carl smiled again, this time showing his teeth. "You'll do well Danny. I'll see you when you get done here." And with that, Carl began up the staircase, with a renewed youthfulness and excitement.

Danny smirked, let out a little chuckle, and sat in the armchair. He knew this is where he was supposed to be, for now. He had always known. After thinking to himself for a minute, Danny beckoned toward the door.

Do not worry about death. It's an inescapable factor in the life of a human, so embrace it and know what you want from it. Know your own personal heaven or hell.

Created: Jan 23, 2012

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