The fedora man stared at Martin’s arm for a few seconds before apologizing about the damage. “It had to be done. No other way to spread the curse, disease, or in your case, probably a lifeline. It doesn’t really matter what you want to call it. There’s no avoiding what’s been to you. You can fight against it, but I promise that will only make your life go even more haywire.”
“I don’t understand,” Martin interrupted. “Are you saying you’ve infected me with something.”
“I believe I said no talking.” At this, Martin sat back in his seat and crossed his arms. The cut one didn’t seem to notice the contact. In fact, he didn’t actually remember feeling pain. It was mostly the shock of the incident and the resulting blood loss that had landed him in the hospital. Maybe the doctors had administered a really good numbing agent. Although it didn’t feel numb. It didn’t feel like anything.
“Now,” the stranger continued, “there’s an order of mostly unseen people in this world. We perform a very important role, making sure everyone meets their timely death—not before and not after. When people don’t die when they are supposed to, things get a bit weird. Slowly at first, but then the madness starts to go worldwide until chaos reigns. All those crazy points in history where a lot of people died. That’s death trying to claim what it’s owed. Unfortunately, death is more of a cosmic metaphysical being and sees us as germs that have to be terminated when they get out of hand. Anyone goes in these scenarios.
That’s where we come in. We see when people are going to meet their end. The visions aren’t the most helpful. Usually, only a vague image of where and you can usually get a good idea of when by the person’s age. If you’re really lucky, you’ll see a calendar or a phone with the time. When you know a person’s time is coming up, you have to find a way to end their life by the deadline.”
Although the man had stopped speaking and was now staring at Martin, presumably for him to give an acknowledgement that he had heard all that, he could only stare back mouth agape.
“You still with me? Where did I lose you?”
“You didn’t lose me,” Martin managed to expel. “I… I… don’t know what I’m hearing. This is all crazy. This whole day has just been one insane event after the next.”
“Am I dreaming?” Martin interrupted. “That has to be it. I just haven’t woken up yet today, and I’m having one very long, maddening nightmare.”
The man in front of him began to chuckle. “I mean… no, but I can understand why you’d rather that be the truth. I promise, though. This life isn’t half bad if you give it a chance and learn the rules.”
“What life!” Martin yelled, getting the attention of the on-duty staff.
“What life did you have before?”
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