Category Archives: Death Envy

The Price of Family

The next day at work, Yardrite found Brian day dreaming of Stephanie, while mindlessly wiping circles in the same spot of the same button for half an hour.

“You’re going to get me divorced,” Yardrite started, “and that normally wouldn’t be so bad, if it wasn’t for the fact that I might actually love your sister.

Brian stopped wiping. He’d never heard anyone admit to loving his sister before. “You do?”

“I dunno. Sometimes I think do. I know I’m interested enough to see out the remaining year on this marriage contract, and maybe even reconsider a renewal, who knows? But now she’s blaming me for you not coming to dinner.”

“Sorry about that, I got tied up.” Brian smiled, thinking of his night with Stephanie.

“I’m sure it was a lot better than the night I spent with your sister picking at me over every little thing, so here’s the deal, if you stand us up one more time, you’re fired.”

Brian stopped wiping, “What?” he looked up.

“Yeah, my marriage is worth a lot more than your job to me, so if that’s what it takes to save it, there it is: if you stand up your sister and me one more time, you’re fired. Jube jube?”

Brian was offered a box of processed candy he did not reach for. “No, I’m good.”

“Yeah, you’re good. And you’ll be good and unemployed with rotting teeth if you miss one more dinner at our place. You sure you don’t want a jube jube?”

“No, thanks. I’m sorry about that, it was just a crazy night.”

“That’s ok, you don’t need an excuse, you’re family. But if you pull that shit again, you will be unemployed family. Last chance for a jube jube.”

“No, really, I’m good.”

“Alright, then, more jube jubes for me.” Yardrite flashed Brian a smile before leaving his brother-in-law to get back to the business of wiping down buttons.

“That’s easy for you to say, you’re dead!” Brian barked at the body in the button. “When I’m dead I won’t say or worry about anything either. I’ll be so dead I’ll never even know I was ever alive. I’ll forget all about cleaning your button and saying the right things to people all the time, or worry about keeping this stupid job. I’ll be dead and I’ll be perfect. And I hope, if they ever do find a cure to the common death they give it to you before me, so you can get on your knees and wipe my button clean, you dead dumb son of a bitch!”

Brian walked away to clean another button before he went berserk and broke in to strangle the dead. Had Brian not been seeing red, he might have seen the dead man in the button making fists, getting ready for a fight.

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Clocking In At The Company Bar

Brian got six hours of wiping done in five. It was Friday, and Brian knew they never inspected on Friday, so he could afford to rush. He used his extra hour to clock in to the company bar, looking for Stephanie, who had gotten there ahead of him and was standing flanked by four guys in various poses and postures trying to pick her up.

He sat on a stool between two women he had never seen, but, with 10,000 employees, it was not rare to be sitting with strangers, especially in the company bar. He liked the company bar so much he found he rarely needed to go out, he could do all his mingling at work.

Brian found new lust and energy since his divorce. His latest sex partners are too busy having orgasms to know that during his marriage, Brian was a lousy lay. It just got real old real quick for Brian, so it didn’t take long for his (ex) wife to tire of him, too.

Beauty was the first thing to attract her to him and beauty had been the first thing to go after exchanging wedding firecrackers. He blamed himself, because he had lit his too soon, before the minister had said, “You may now light the fuse,” and his firecracker had gone off in her face, leaving a nasty burn mark across both cheeks. She recovered, of course, but, after seeing her so damaged, it was hard for Brian to see her any other way.

The woman to his right wasn’t much to look at, but the woman to his left was rather attractive, so he turned his focus to her.

“Hello,” he started small. The woman sucked on her little red straw, not biting on such a little word. Brian had had enough success with women lately not to give up so easily. “Did you hear if it’s going to rain this weekend? I hope it doesn’t affect my skydiving lesson.”

She bit. “Skydiving lesson? You’re learning to skydive?”

“I teach. Most Saturdays. It’s a lot of fun. Can I buy you a drink?”

“Sure,” she said.

Brian saw Stephanie’s four suitors had all left, leaving her extremely approachable.

“Here,” Brian handed the woman some money, leaving her alone, to take the stool next to Stephanie. “When are we getting out of here?” He asked her.

She smiled. “Where are we going?”

And then he remembered dinner at his sister’s. “Would you like to have dinner at my sister’s tonight?”

“No,” she said.

“You don’t like my sister?”

“I don’t know your sister. She could be very nice. I just think you should take me some place outside this place before you take me to dinner with your family.”

“Ok, forget dinner at my sister’s. Let’s go back to my place.”

“Well, you’re going to have to take me to at least two places before you get to take me back there.” Both laughed, but neither was joking.

“I’ll take you to two places tonight.”

She got off her stool. “Let’s go.”

The first place he took her was the pharmacy.

“What are we doing here?” she asked as his car pulled up in front of the drug store.

“First stop, pick up some essentials.”

Stephanie laughed. “What do you think you’re picking up?”

“You,” he said, before shutting the the driver’s side door, leaving her laughing alone in the passenger seat.

Dying to Quit

The dead have it easy, everybody knows that. The dead have it easy, that’s why the living envy them. Brian wasn’t dead, so he was on his knees, wiping down the button, wishing he was dead.

‘It must be so great being dead,‘ he thought, peering in through the thick glass, ‘having every body work for you,’ he sighed, reminding himself how many more years he had on the clock before retirement. ‘Twenty-two more years then I’ve got some poor soul outside wiping my button, and then who’s laughing?’

Brian had been counting down to his day of retirement since his first day on the job four years ago. Though, being a button-wiper was still a real step up from his last job, body-fluid-remover. He owed his good fortune to his brother-in-law, Yardrite, who was on the hiring board. He hated that he owed his brother-in-law anything, because he hated his brother-in-law.

And speak of the devil, there he came walking into the chamber.

“You still coming over tonight?” Yardrite was a peculiar dresser. He mixed colors and fashions in ways others would never dare dream, let alone, realize. Today he had on a sharp red one sleeved L-shirt on top of a pair of orange balloon pants. Casually formal is how Brian would classify Yardrite’s ensemble. And tacky, incredibly tacky.

“Wouldn’t miss it,” Brian smiled, showing off a healthy dental plan. “Should I bring anything?”

“Just you and your lovely wife, whatshername.”

“Oh, I just got a divorce.”

“Ok, good thing I didn’t bother learn her name.”

“Yeah, when the marriage contract was up for its weekly renewal, neither of us were in the mood for signing.”

“It’s always good to follow your better instincts.”

“My better instincts are telling me that I’d better get back to work finishing wiping down the last three chambers so I can get off so I can come tonight,” and not wanting to end on such an obvious sexual innuendo, Brian added cliche, “work is play.”

Yardrite chuckled. “Thanks for making me look good,” patting Brian on the shoulder. Brian hated the shoulder patting more than anything else Yardrite did.

“Yeah, well, thanks for the opportunity.” The only thing Brian hated more was the sound of his own voice sucking up to his brother-in-law.

“You’re welcome,” Yardite said, giving Brian another shoulder pat. Yardite then dismissed himself, leaving Brian alone with the dead.

You think you’re so big, you say you’re welcome after I say thank you?’

Brian set to work wiping down the next button, looking through the thick glass at the dead man inside.

“Lucky bastard,” mumbled Brian. He had been raised not to mock death, but hope to reach it, still, he found the older he got, the more resentment he had towards the dead. “Having fun in there? I know you’re not really dead, you’re just faking. You can tell me, between you and me, what’s it like?”

Brian was too preoccupied with his own death to notice the finger twitch of the dead man in the button. Little did Brian know that the dead were about to rise to answer any and all questions he might have.

Death Envy: One Horny Zombie

“Know any girls we could call?” Michael asked between mouthfuls of mashed potatoes. Brian had never seen anyone attack their mashed potatoes with such gusto before. He took mental note: the dead love mashed potatoes. While he was taking his mental memo, Michael was waiting for his answer. He gave up and tried his question again, “Do you know any girls we could call?”

Brian thought of Stephanie, but, knew she had an affinity for the dead, so, out of jealousy, answered, “No.”

“That’s too bad, I’m as horny as I am hungry and I’m absolutely starving. So, if you have any ideas, they’d be most appreciated.” Michael returned his mouth to the downing of potatoes.

“What’s it like, being dead?” Brian was fascinated.

“I dunno,” he said, cheeks bursting with potatoes.

“But, weren’t you there? You were just dead.”

“But I don’t remember anything.”

“Nothing?”

“No.”

“Oh,” Brian sat back, disappointed. He thought the least he could get out of this assignment was a little enlightenment. “What’s the last thing you remember?” Brian wasn’t sure if Michael was chewing on the answer or just chewing on the potatoes, for he chewed in silence a long time, before he spat out,

“Dying.”

“How?”

“It’s really quite embarrassing, actually.”

“Come on.”

“No. That’s too personal and pathetic, so, no, you die and tell me about it, and then we’ll talk.” Michael used his bare right wrist to wipe any extra potato from his lips and cheeks.

“I haven’t died yet,” Brian said, stupidly.

“No? Good for you. It’s not a fun experience, let me tell you. It’s pretty scary, and like I said, pretty pathetic… if you go like I went.”

“How’d you go?”

“Forget it. Death was not my choosing, technically, but, my life is, so that’s where we’ll leave it.”

“So, when you say you don’t remember death, you mean everything?” was the best Brian could come out with.

“I don’t remember anything,” Michael said sharply, wanting to kill all discussion of his death.

“Wow, that’s a huge part of your…” Brian eventually gave up searching for the perfect word and settled for, “existence unknown to you.”

Both men let that lay where it was. This was the only man Brian had met to awake from death, but, he was unimpressed with their kind already. Were the dead always such jerks? He hoped no more of them came back. It seemed when you died, the art of conversation died right along with you, Brian figured. He eventually asked, gamely, “Tell me about your life before you died. What did you do, back when you were alive?”

“I am alive,” Michael was starting to think the man across from him was an idiot.

“Yeah, but, as soon as you finish your potatoes, you’re going to go back to being dead, right?”

“No.” Now Michael was sure the man was an idiot.

Brian licked his lips, eyes bulging in disbelief. “We can’t afford for everyone just to die whenever they want, off schedule.”

“What do you mean, ‘off schedule?’ People die on schedule?”

“Of course. There’s a queue and you die according to your number. There’s only so many buttons and so many people to look after the buttons, that if we allowed people to die here there and everywhere, there wouldn’t be enough to look after the dead, and then what would we do? It’d be a disaster. Chaos.”

“What if you die early?”

Brian blinked, not sure if he’d heard him clearly. “You can’t die early. There’s a strict schedule to follow. If not, there’d be more dead than we could handle.”

“Well, what about accidents and suicides and stuff like that. There must be some of those.”

“Dying by accident really puts you back of the button line, cause, that’s your fault, so, you can’t expect a button to just be ready for you, because you died by accident. So, there can be some kind of decomposition before you get put in a button, so, it’s never advised to die by accident. And suicide, well… that’s your choice, just like it’s our choice not to put your impatient ass in a button.”

Michael realized he’d awoken to a crazy world. There didn’t seem much to say. Did everyone think like this guy? He supposed they did. These were the manifests of a society gone completely ape shit. “Hey, do you still have baseball?” he asked, hopefully.

“Baseball?” Brian said the word for the first time.

“Yeah, baseball. Tell me we’ve still got baseball.”

“Sorry, what’s baseball?”

Michael wondered if there was anything left to live for. “So, you sure, you don’t know any girls we could call?”

Death Envy: Alive and Thirsty

The dead man sitting up’s name was labelled clearly: MICHAEL RADICKS printed in red letters across the glass of the button. He was hungry. Worse, he was thirsty and so he was knocking on the button’s window to get out and get himself a drink of water. But, no one was answering him. They were looking at him, a whole team by this point, staring at him as though he were the main attraction in a zoo or circus. Michael Radicks had no idea how long he’d been dead. Now that he was alive, he forgot that he had ever been dead in the first place. Death was as irrelevant as life was thirsty, and, man alive, was he thirsty.

“Hello!” he called to the gawkers on the other side of the glass. “Hello! Hello, I would like to get out, please, hello?” His voice was muted, broken by the thick glass, so that the people on the opposite side heard only muffled mumbling.

“I wonder what he’s saying?” someone asked from the dumbfounded crowd.

“Does anyone read lips?” asked another of the dumbfounded.

Such was the environment that Brian entered. He recognized most of the throng surrounding the button as co-wipers and co-cleaners, along with some of his superiors. He walked to the front of the crowd to catch his first glimpse of the dead man who had rejected retirement for life. Brian stood as dumbfounded and as gawking as the rest. The dead man in the button continued to knock on the inside button’s glass, coiling his hands to fists and banging at it with impatient urgency. It was weird to hear anything coming from the dead. They were known for being such a quiet bunch.

“I’m thirsty! Come on, open up, I’m thirsty!” Brian heard, though, everybody else heard just a muffled shout.

“He’s thirsty,” Brian announced to the crowd of dumbfounded onlookers, who gasped at Brian’s bold prognosis.

“How can you know that?” asked one of his supervisors, Vince, who, approached, stepping forward from the crowd. Vince’s mouth was open.

“I heard him,” said Brian, followed by a collective gasp, followed by,

“He speaks with the dead!”

“He has supernatural powers!”

“He is the link between this world and the next!”

The crowd folded in on itself, with Brian as its center. Brian had never felt so important in his entire life. The man in the button kept pounding at the glass in desperation to be let out.

“Now what’s he saying?” the crowd asked its newly minted celebrity.

“He says he’s thirsty and he wants to get out,” Brian reported.

“That’s what he said last time!”

“The dead have a limited vocabulary!” the crowd declared.

The pounding continued. The mob turned to Brian to interpret what it all meant.

“His pounding indicates frustration of not being allowed out to drink,” Brian surmised. It made sense to the nodding throb of people, though, no one made a move to let the poor man out of the button. Brian actually felt sorry for the guy in the button, but, he was hesitant to suggest letting him out, for fear of losing his new found power of acting interpreter between the living and the dead. Vince was the one to make the suggestion.

“What do you think, should we open the thing, or what?”

It was the first time any superior had ever commissioned an opinion from Brian in all his years working there. He realized he was indeed in a special position. His very answer could determine the rest of his life, or, at least, the length of his line of power.

“We’d be opening up to a new kind of world. Maybe we should consider exactly what it would mean to open it up and let him out. With the overpopulation problem we’re already facing.” Brian was stalling.

“There are too many people. But there are even more dead people. Maybe we should open up and get this guy to work.” Vince, who had had no direction before opening his mouth, had found direction upon closing it. He had convinced himself, he would open the button. “Right, open the button up, let’s get him out of there.”

Brian went to work pressing buttons on the side of the button. The glass top slid neatly and silently away leaving the button topless. Benjamin stood up. The crowd gasped collectively. Maybe someone fainted. Someone’s always supposed to faint at times like this, but, this narrator can’t really be sure, because he took his eye off the crowd to check and see that it was in fact time for bed.

Death Envy: What do you get the soon to be dissected?

Brian stood in front of the display case not knowing what to get his friend who was getting dissected. What do you get someone who’s stepping up by stepping out and will be too dead to ever truly appreciate what you give them? A tie, he figured. He could get dissected in it, if he wanted. Maybe keep his head together with his neck. Brian paid ten for the tie and left the store, bumping into Stephanie.

“Oh, hi,” she said, startled.

“Hi. How’s it going?”

“Fine. Yeah. I suppose you heard about Sven,” she said, looking at her plastic see-through shoes.

“I was just getting him a gift,” he said holding up a gift store bag.

“Oh, what’d you get him? I have no clue what to get for a dissection.”

“I got him a tie. A blue one.”

“Blue, huh? A tie?”

“It’s all I could think of. Can never have too many blue ties.”

“So, maybe I could also get him a blue tie and that would be alright?”

“You can get him whatever you want. I think Sven’s going to be dissected in the morning, he probably won’t even notice what we get him.” Brian tried to be encouraging, but, even he heard his tone as sarcastic. Stephanie looked at him, not knowing what to say, so, Brian said more, “I didn’t know you knew Sven.”

“Oh, sure, Sven and we used to hang out all the time. We were even married for awhile, some time ago, I can’t remember, it was at least a couple years ago.”

The thought of Stephanie married to Sven made Brian slightly nauseous. Since their night together he had thought of her as easy, but never so easy as to marry Sven. “You married Sven? Did he have some sort of dark secret on you, or something?” Brian attempted to say jokingly.

“Actually, come to think of it, he did threaten to kill one of us if I didn’t marry him, but, until now, I never thought of that as any more than a coincidence.”

Brian had never thought of Stephanie as an idiot until now. Suddenly her beauty was ugly and her words were paper cuts. He wanted to cut her back but he didn’t know how. “Say, do you have a date or anything to this thing? You want to go together?”

“Actually, I’m going with Sven. I’m seeing him before for supper, and we’re going to try and work out some things that are left over from our marriage. We never did settle who got the kids.”

“You have kids?” Brian was astonished. “With Sven?”

“Just a couple, yeah. But neither of us wanted them, so we put them in one of those, what do you call those places… orphanages. But, we never did agree on which orphanage, so we just tossed one in each. We’re going to try now to get them back together, cause that would probably be better for them, being with family.”

“You have kids with Sven.” Brian was still trying to compute all her information.

“Not any more. I told you, the kids are in an orphanage. Orphanages. I had kids with Sven, but, that’s all over and done with now, just the logistics remain.”

“Kids can be a lot of work.” Brian didn’t know what he was saying, he was just saying the first words that fell out of his mouth, hoping to sound supportive.

“Oh, have you had some?”

“No, but I was one and I was a lot of work.”

“I’m sure you still are,” she winked at him. “I gotta get going. I’m supposed to be monitoring some tests on plutonium right now, I really shouldn’t be here, but, I’ll see you tonight?”

“Sure.”

“Great,” she said, inspiring them both to take a Great and feel Great waving goodbye.

Away in warehouse section 85-G and without any notice from anyone, one of the dead stirred. It was a slight stir, a twitch of an index finger, minor, if it hadn’t been the first instance in the dead coming back to life since the myth of Jesus, I wouldn’t have even mentioned it.