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How to Get Ahead in Life
by Michael S. Collins

A man walked down a street, then his head exploded.

The man’s name was George Smith, and he was upset: which was understandable, as he hadn’t expected his head to explode. It was out of the blue. It was as unexpected as waking up to see a tiger on your doorstep. And, to those readers in Bengal, where such an occurrence might be expected, it was like walking down the street, whereupon you are hit on the head by the moon on a vacation from its orbit. The head exploding was a similar surprise.

He now had to explain why he had ascended to the valleys of free internet access three decades too early.

"It’s not my fault", cried Mr Smith, "I didn’t ask for my head to explode!"

Death looked solemnly at the former banker.

"Well, you must have done something. People's heads don’t just explode like that. Did you press the self-destruct button?"

"I don’t believe I did."

"Good", said Death, "Because it states in the manual clearly that people who press the self-destruct button should be wary of the consequences."

"What self-destruct button?"

Death looked bemused. "Have you been playing around with your primary cortex plug?"

"My what?"

"The part of the brain we plug into the life force. It’s simple. Every created human has their brain connected to the database, which supplies memories, hobbies, religious faiths, etc. When someone has run their life, we disconnect them from the system. All very efficient."


"What did you expect, that I would walk around with a scythe and black cloak stopping people's hearts?"

George had to admit that he expected Death to look like a skeleton with a scythe in a black cloak.

Instead, this teenage girl sat in front of him, wearing a loose fitting T-shirt and short skirt.

"No worries", said Death, "I think I can see what the problem is here."

"I've gone insane?"

"No no", laughed Death, "one of your cortex fuses overheated, and you blew it."

"I blew a fuse?"

"Yes, and quite messily. Well, we'll soon sort that out, have you back to normal"

"Do I have to be back to normal?"

"What would you prefer? Would you like to be the Dalai Lama? Or a crocodile hunter?"

"Anything other than a banker."

"Make your mind up", noted Death, “I need to get ready for my date tonight!"

"You have a date?"

"Yes, Craig from Newcastle. He's so hot!" Gushing slightly, she composed herself. "Don't look so shocked. I'm immortal, bored, and unable to resist all those hot guys on Earth."

George had no honest idea how to respond.

"No worries", reassured Death, "I wonder if Craig's pal would join us. He's not too bad himself." She paused. "I’m just teasing, but we’re wasting time and I want to look my best for later. I can’t believe I let you see me without my makeup on!"

George Smith had no time to utter a single complaint. You just don’t argue with Death, even if she was attractive. Alternatively, maybe, you just do not argue with Death because she was attractive.

Ten seconds after his head exploded, George Smith sat up again, complete with head. Everyone rejoiced. Except for one youth, who had left his camcorder at home.