My Digital Life: Death’s Tears

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I had a lot to think about in the early days. I wondered about wish-fulfillment: I would desire something, a bubble-blower, for example. I’d hear a few clicks, and then never-used items (mirrors, extra chairs, end tables, and lamps) would disappear. Life would freeze for an instant, and when the freeze thawed, the object I desired waited somewhere in my apartment. I hadn’t mastered manifestation: Sometimes it worked, more often not. Sometimes, even the wish itself disappeared with a click.

I encountered Death within the first week. As luck would have it, I was in a bar, ordering my first drink, when it happened.

Lilith Vatore caught fire.

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Spontaneously combusted is more accurate. She collapsed a mere few feet from the entrance to the bar. It was too late for help.

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Grim Reaper materialized through the mirror, stuck half-in, half-out.

I sipped my Dim and Gusty. Music played.We waited. And we experienced the first glitch this world had seen. I didn’t realize it was a glitch. It felt rather like the frozen pause during manifestation. Except not all was frozen. Time still ticked. We could talk. I could drink my Dim and Gusty. But Grim was stuck, and I couldn’t leave the lot. Death was in progress.

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We waited suspended. I finished my drink.

A series of rapid clicks, and the sombre chord sounded again. Grim materialized before Lilith’s urn and wept.

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“Excuse me?” I said. “Mr. Grim? I hate to intrude, but… you see. I’ve always wanted to meet you.”

“Damn,” he said. “Be right back. There’s her brother. Wasn’t expecting a two-fer. This really sucks.”

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Sure enough, just as the sun set, Caleb Vatore collapsed a few yards away, right before our eyes.

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“Please, Mr. Grim!” I pleaded. “It’s nearly night! The sun’s set! He’s so close. Don’t take him. Spare him, please.”

Grim refused. “Can’t be done.” He wasn’t angry, only resigned to his task.

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We gathered in a circle, all the Sims I’d met that day, and we wept. Some cried for a sister and brother departing within minutes of each other. Some cried for unspent youth. Some cried from dread. I wept at irony–so close to shelter from the sun, yet so far.

“Oh, hi, everyone!” said the bartender, joining our circle too late to be a witness. “Drinks on the house!”

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Grim and I remained outside while the others filed in.

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He wept before Caleb’s urn.

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“It’s not your fault,” I told him. “You were just doing your job. It was just a tragic mistake, or something.”

At the time, I felt even sadder to see Grim’s tears. I realize now that this was his first reaping, too. The first time has to be hard, especially when it’s siblings, and it seems so needless.

“I’ll be OK,” he said, as his tears continued to fall.

“If anything,” I said, “it was my fault. If I hadn’t come here, they wouldn’t have showed up, right? They’d still be safe and sound wherever they were before they popped up here.”

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“Don’t be so sure,” he said. “Even when you stay inside your apartment, others materialize on the sidewalks, in the square. You can’t stop it. With your arrival, we get life, and with life, we get me, part and parcel.”

Grim left with smoke. I felt too sad for company. I headed home.

That night, I opened my blog and wrote. Here’s an excerpt from my entry from that day:

I learned Death’s name today, and he learned mine.

I thought that witnessing death would make me sad. And it did. But what made me sadder was seeing Death’s tears.

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I felt better after writing.

The next morning, Salim dropped by as I was finishing up breakfast. I told him what had happened.

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“I have never seen a dead body,” he said.

“Or an urn?” I asked.

“Or an urn!”

“These ones had bat-tops,” I said “Little cast-iron carvings of bats on the top? Kinda cute, if it wasn’t so sad.”

“But the undead cannot die!” he exclaimed. “It is an impossibility!”

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Pondering the death of the undead led us through the esoteric.

“What do you think happens when a person dies?” I asked Salim. “Do you think they end up back in the Blue-Green Density?”

“The where?” he asked.

“You know. Where we all started.”

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He didn’t know what I was talking about. I described the blue of the sky and the green of the ocean and the merging in light. I talked about the single point in space and the timelessness and the complete absence of wish or desire that can only be called bliss.

He looked at me like I’d been smoking bubbles.

“I have no memory of this place,” he said.

“No, no,” I insisted. “You must! Before you came here. What’s your earliest memory?”

“Fruit cake,” he said.

“You mean your grandma’s fruit cake? When she used to make it for you?”

“Not that,” he said. He squinted his eyes, looking back into the past. “When I stood in the hallway, right before we met, and held the plate of fruitcake in my right hand while I knocked on the door with my left.”

“That is your very first memory?” I asked.

He nodded.

When I thought about it later, I explained it to myself by figuring that he must have experienced traumatic memory loss. I could understand that. The experience in the Blue-Green Density, without time, or space, or desire, is so close to paradise–such total, complete oneness. Leaving that and finding oneself here in a world that makes even Death cry, that would be trauma enough to block the sweetest of memories.

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My theory brought me a sense of gratitude. I would do everything I could to keep my memory intact. Little did I realize then that the memory of that bliss was mine alone.

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Vampire Code: Rocket the Vampire Slayer

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Eyes store power. Even babies know this. Watch them track the gaze of an adult. They understand it’s through our eyes we shoot energy, and they haven’t forgotten that energy is pure light.

Cathy returned from her conference with onezero’s one thousand mothers carrying the knowledge that her and Brennan’s son Rocket had come here for a reason. When worlds connect through rifts in oak and granite or lines forged from steel, sometimes an unexpected hero answers the call.

It would likely be years before he’d be pulled into action, this she understood, but nevertheless, it was time now to get him ready for what would come.

Cathy spent hours each day with him. While the twins formed their own universe of stories, jokes, and make-believe, Cathy taught Rocket to dance, sing, talk, count, name the birds, chase the crickets, and follow trails in the morning dew.

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He required extra sleep each day to absorb all he was taking in.

While Rocket napped, Cathy spent time individually with Sparkroot or Florinda. Even then, the conversation often turned towards Rocket.

“Can you guess what he do, Ama?” Sparkroot asked.

“He who, Sparkie?”

“He Rocket. Know what he did? He climbed the tree.”

“Mmm. I’m not sure that’s such a good idea.”

“Naw. It was fine! He climbed up and then he climbed down again, and then he climbed up and down.”

“Did you ask him what for?” Cathy asked.

“Yeah. He said ‘High’s good.’ He likes to go up.”

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Sparkroot took his big brother duties seriously. He read to Rocket from his homework book while Rocket slept, “so he’ll get a head start on history.”

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He held long, involved conversations with him, somehow managing to decipher Rocket’s invented language.

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One afternoon, when Cathy needed to take Sparkroot in to San Myshuno to pick out a new violin, Brennan offered to watch Florinda and Rocket.

“That would be great,” Cathy said. “Give you a chance to see your other kids.”

Brennan, who made no secret that Sparkroot was his favorite, spent little time with his daughter and youngest son.

“We’ll have a blast,” Brennan said. “I’ve got it all planned out.”

He didn’t tell Cathy he’d be taking his children to the Rattlesnake Lounge for Guys’ Night Out.

She got the story from Florinda the next day.

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“We had a blast, Ama!” Florinda said. “There was this guy with no face in the monk’s robe. And Jade was there! He’s got a cool hat. Do you think Rocket should get a hat like that?”

“He could if he wanted,” Cathy said. “So what did you do there?”

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“Oh, I told jokes. You know Little Green’s uncle J.P,? He was there!”

“And did they like your jokes?” Cathy asked her daughter.

“Oh, sure. I told the one about ‘How did the vampire die? He accidentally ordered stake and eggs for breakfast!'”

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“That’s not a bad joke, Flor.”

“Well, Jade thought it was stupid. ‘They don’t die by eating,’ he said. Then the no-face guy said the undead can’t become dead but they can become nothing, and J.P. said nothing is worse than death.”

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“He’s got a point,” Cathy said.

“Then, I asked the no-face guy how someone becomes undead, and he said, it wasn’t really the kind of question a little girl should be asking, but if I wanted to check back with him in ten years, he’d be glad to explain.”

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“And where was your ada during all this?” Cathy asked.

“Oh, he was at the bar, laughing with guys,” Florinda answered.

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“And where was Rocket all this time?”

“Oh, I didn’t see him when No-Face and I were talking. I think maybe he was outside running around. But No-Face told me something interesting. He said my little brother was the one who understood better about undead, dead, and nothing than anybody. And if I really wanted to know, I could ask him, once he learned how to talk. But when I asked him how he knew my little brother, he wouldn’t answer. He said some mysteries best stay mysterious. What do you think, Ama?”

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“I think I should call your ada and have a word or two. I’m not sure about Rocket running around unsupervised.”

“But he wasn’t unsupered all the time!” Florinda said. “He came inside and said, ‘Aba too kay’ to Ada, and Ada understood and got him milk in a sippy cup!”

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“Well, that’s something,” Cathy said.

“Then Rocket came and sat by me and Anderson–you know him, right? He’s a friend of Little Green’s mom from way back.”

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“Sure, Anderson, Wade, and Jade were the park boys,” Cathy said. “And did Rocket behave?”

“Oh, yeah! He told us a story about something. I could only understand ‘Quacker doo-doo’ and ‘puffer stuffy.'”

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“It must have been a troll story,” Cathy said.

“Yeah, that’s what I figure,” said Flor. “So Ada came with his coffee and I told the story about the troll under the bridge, and everybody loved it!”

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“Did you have fun, though, Flor? It sounds like kind of a weird evening.”

“Oh, Ama!” replied Flor. “I had so much fun! I never had funner! And Rocket had fun, too, even though he was outside running around half the time. I told Ada that I want me and Rocket to come to every Guys’ Night Out, and next time, you and Sparkie can come, too, and we can have the Stuckey-Tea Family Night at Guys’ Night!”

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“Well, that could be our new tradition, I suppose,” Cathy said.

“And maybe No-Face and J.P. will be there,” said Flor, “and all the guys. And it’ll be just as great as it was last night.”

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