“You’re dead,” he said, kindly.
“You must be mistaken,” she laughed. “I don’t feel the slightest bit dead.”
“It can take some getting used to.”
“I seriously doubt that. I mean if I can’t tell the difference between being alive, or being dead, I think there’s a problem with your set-up.”
“Yes,” he muttered, rubbing his chin. “Several others have mentioned that, as well. But there’s nothing to be done about it. Admittedly, being alive and being dead may seem to be similar, but there’s a matter of position. By that I mean being on the earth in a body and being dead, seemingly in a body, can be rather confusing.”
“I feel exactly the same as I always do,” she said, straightening her blouse.
“It’s an illusion.”
“What’s an illusion,” she asked.
“Everything,” he said, taking a sip of Mountain Dew.
“Wait,” she said. “You’re drinking Mountain Dew and you expect me to believe that I’m dead?”
“What I am ingesting, has nothing to do with you being alive or dead, but I promise you that you are completely dead.”
“I don’t believe you,” she said, primly. “Not at all. I would like to see your superior.”
“Hey, Bob,” he called. “One of them wants to see my…superior,”
Bob appeared and said, “What now?”
“She doesn’t believe she’s dead.”
“So? Tag her and keep going.”
“She asked to see my superior.”
He looked at her. “You’ve seen me,” he said, holding out his arms. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“You’re kidding, right? That’s it?”
“What were you expecting? Show tunes?”
“Do you know any?” she asked.
“One or two,” he sighed. “Your species tends to sing a lot. Too much, if you want my honest opinion..”
“And what does your species do?”
“We process dead things.”
“I’m going home,” she said, standing up.
“There is no home, at least not in the literal sense. There are simply different places.”
“You mean we’re never finished?” she said.
“Finished with what?” asked Bob.
“There’s nothing else to do. Not really. Why? Did you have something in mind?”
“Maybe a nice vacation on a beach somewhere,” she said. “But how should I know? Humans are kept completely in the dark. We have no idea what’s going on.”
“Look,” said Bob. “There isn’t any home base, if that’s what you mean. If some place feels familiar, it’s only because you just came from that lifetime. Naturally, that’s the life you’ll remember best. But that will happen when you die in each of your lives. You never stop living, there’s nothing else to do but live. Everything is alive. When you die, you’re just a different kind of alive. And yes, a vacation on a beach somewhere can probably be arranged, if that’s what you really want.”
“I don’t believe any of this.”
“It doesn’t matter what you believe,” he said. “You don’t have control over anything, but I can offer you a menu.”
“I’m not hungry, but thank you.”
“Not a food menu,” said Bob, clearly frustrated.
The man behind the desk snickered and she growled at him. He quieted.
“A menu of what?”
“Of where you’d like to go next. What you’d like to be, and all that good stuff. An alternative would be to sit here and stare at Mr. Smith for a few million years.”
“I don’t want to do that,” she said quickly. “Please don’t take that personally, Mr. Smith.”
“I never do,” he said, grabbing a paperback from his desk drawer, removing his bookmark.
“This is a weird place,” she said to Bob.
“No maybe about it.”
“Would you like to be Samoan? German, Swedish, African, Danish, Scottish, or a lizard? You can be rain, a planet, a tree, or a tzzilap. You can be whatever you like.”
What’s a tzzilap?”
” A tzzilap is a small leaf like creature that becomes invisible at dawn. It is highly poisonous, kills when it feels like it, and eats constantly. It lives on a very small planet just past Pluto. Think of it as a mini black hole, only more dangerous.”
“Why would I want to be that?”
“No idea. It was just a suggestion, but please hurry up, my program starts in nine minutes.”
“Program? Minutes?” she scoffed. “Tell me there’s a difference between life and death.”
“I will, if you truly want me to. But you won’t like it.”
Mr. Smith cleared his throat.
“Hit me with it, Bobby,” she said, leaning back in her chair. “How bad can it be?”
“The difference between life and death is that when you’re dead,” he said, softly, “you can no longer be with those you love and leave behind.”