Thursday, November 25, 2021

Microstory 1764: Phoenix Industry

I’ve had a monopoly in my industry for the last two years. I had to hire a team of lawyers to protect me, so the government couldn’t come in and confiscate my property. Back when I was just a crematorium operator, I gave my administrator the task of finding me a new furnace. When the machine came in, I assumed she had bought something without going through me first, but it wasn’t long before I learned that she had had nothing to do with it. She’s trustworthy, but as lazy as I am, so she hadn’t even gotten around to starting her research. We never did figure out where the new furnace came from, and that’s kind of a big deal. Not only is it weird—and worrisome that someone had the ability to charge my company credit card without authorization—but it also appears to be unique. They call it the Phornax, which after I used it, I realized was a combination of the Latin word for furnace, fornax and phoenix. You see, it brings people back to life. It doesn’t matter if they’ve already been cremated, or if they’ve been dead for a long time. Any dead person I place in here will come out brand new in a few hours. There doesn’t even appear to be any side effects, like an insatiable hunger for human brains, or neurological issues. In fact, they usually return healthier than they were when they died. It cures them of all maladies and other medical conditions. The only caveat is that I do need all of the remains. I’ve tried to bring back someone with only a portion of their ashes, because part of it was spread into the ocean. It did not turn out right. I’ve seen a lot of disgusting things in this business, but I retched the most I ever had the day I opened that door, and found a horrific pile of boney goo of a man with incomplete cremains. Since then, I’ve been adamant about doing my due diligence.

I do charge for my services, but even though no one else can do what I do, I think I keep my prices fair, and I base them off of tax brackets. The rich pay handsomely, and that supplements the loss of income from my discounted rates, and my pro bono work. I work hard at this, and it’s not easy. I only take Saturdays off to rest. I shouldn’t even be in the office right now, but my administrator is on vacation, and there are a few records I have to verify. As I’m standing at her desk, trying to figure out her filing system, a man walks in. The door was supposed to be locked, so I’m not sure what happened there. Somehow I know that this is him. This is the man responsible for my furnace gift. I don’t know if he just works for a secret cabal, or if he’s straight up the devil, but I can tell that he’s involved. He confirms as much when he recites the full serial number of the Phornax, which he wouldn’t have known if he was just some rando off the street. I ask him why he did this, and he claims that this was all a test run. He and his people needed a way to assess whether my species was ready for the privilege of immortality. This was a great way to do that, because the process is irreproducible, so I’ve not been able to get around to helping all of the over hundred billion people who have died in history. He tells me he doesn’t like the results, and that he’s taking the furnace back. I beg him not to, that we deserve a second chance, but he refuses. I’m not a violent man, but I feel compelled to try to stop him physically. In the struggle, I somehow end up inside the Phornax. “Fine,” he says, before switching it on. I scream in pain as the fire overwhelms me. I break myself out hours later. I had always wondered what would happen if you put a living organism in here. It appears to give people superstrength. What else, though?

No comments :

Post a Comment