Time of Death
“Definitely back home,” Steve said. “I know I’ve travelled a huge amount but when my time comes I want to be at home. Back in the area I grew up in.”
“Really?” asked David. “I’d like to end it all laying on a beach somewhere really hot. On an island ideally.”
John grinned at the other two’s words through an alcoholic haze. This was the type of discussion that could only get started after a really serious amount of drinking. When the time comes, where do you want to die?
“How about you, John?” asked Steve, swaying slightly in his seat.
John thought for a few moments, then grinned as a great answer came to him.
“I want to die somewhere in orbit around Alpha-Centauri.”
“What? Why on earth… or I suppose off earth… would you want to die there?”
John smiled brightly. “Because no one is going to get there for hundreds, if not thousands of, years. Possibly even longer. If I’m going to die there then that means I’ll be around just as long. So I want to die around Alpha-Centauri, which means I get to live a really long life.”
Steve grinned at the logic, while David grumbled about it not being a proper answer. John didn’t notice. Something strange was happening. His skin tingled, both icily cold and scaldingly hot at the same time.
The world around seemed to be wavering, even more so than the alcohol could explain. He felt sure he would throw up as the feeling intensified. Then with a sudden flare of blinding light it felt as if his entire body was wrenched sideways.
The next handful of seconds were a lesson in torturous agony for John. He was surrounded by cold so intense it dragged the heat from his body in moments. The breath was pulled from his lungs and his eyes were locked open as the liquid in them froze. The agony left him no room for wondering what had happened or where he now was.
It was all over almost as soon as it had begun. John’s frozen corpse would continue to orbit Alpha-Centauri for many centuries, but he had gotten his wish. He had indeed died in orbit around Alpha-Centauri.
* * *
The being that had helped John felt a burst of satisfaction, then went on its way. It had only barely occupied the dimensions John had occupied anyway, now it left them completely.
It had been pure chance it was passing through just as John made his wish. The being had sensed his desires imperfectly, but it had pulled out his wish to die around a nearby star and an awareness of just how long that would take, of how unlikely it would be for him to live to see it.
Feeling a sense of pity the being had helped out. Shifting John’s form to the nearby star had been child’s play for it. A small favour it had been happy to supply.
John got his wish, if not in the way he had hoped. As the old saying goes… be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.