Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers by Grant Naylor
Version 1.0, if you find errors, typos, whatever, fix them and increase the version number by .1
and redistribute (Yes "ageing" IS a word in Britain!)
Scanned, OCRed and proofread by RastaJew.
Your own death, and how to cope with it
'DESCRIBE. USING DIAGRAMS WHERE APPROPRIATE, THE EXACT
TO YOUR DEATH.'
Saunders had been dead for almost two weeks now and, so far, he hadn't enjoyed a minute of it.
What he wasn't enjoying at this particular moment was having to wade through the morass of
forms and legal papers he'd been sent to complete by the Department of Death and Deceaseds'
It was all very well receiving a five-page booklet entitled:
Your Own Death and How To Cope With It
. It was all very well attending counselling sessions with the ship's metaphysical psychiatrist, and
being told about the nature of
Being and Non-Being, and some other gunk about this guy who was in a cave, but didn't know it
was a cave until he left. The thing was, Saunders was an engineer, not a philosopher - and the way
he saw it, you were either dead or you were alive. And if you were dead, you shouldn't be forced
to fill in endless incomprehensible forms, and other related nonsensica.
You shouldn't have to return your birth certificate, to have it invalidated.
You shouldn't have to send off your completed death certificate, accompanied by a
passport-size photograph of your corpse, signed on the back by your coroner. When you're
dead, you should be dead. The bastards should leave you alone.
If Saunders could have picked something up, he would have picked something up and hurled it
across the grey metal room. But he couldn't.
Saunders was a hologram. He was just a computer-generated simulation of his former self; he
couldn't actually touch anything, except for his own hologramatic body. He was a phantom
made of light. A software ghost.
Quite honestly, he'd had enough.
Saunders got up, walked silently across the metal-grilled floor of his sleeping quarters and stared
out of the viewport window.
Far away to his right was the bright multi-coloured ball of Saturn, captured by its rainbow rings
like a prize in a gigantic stellar hoop-la game. Twelve miles below him, under the plexiglass
dome of the terraformed colony of Mimas, half the ship's crew were oft planet leave.
No planet leave for Saunders.
No R&R for the dead.
He caressed his eyelids with the rough balls of his fingers, then glanced back at the pile: the
mind-bogglingly complicated Hologramatic Status application form; accident claims; pension
funds; bank transfers; house deeds. They all had to be completed so his wife, Carole - no, his
, Carole - could start
a new life without him.
When he'd first signed up, they both understood he would be away from Earth for months on
end, and, obviously, things could happen; mining in space was dangerous. That was why the
money was so good.
If anything happens to me,' he'd always said, I don't want you to sit around, mourning.' Protests.
'I want you to meet someone else, someone terrific, and start a new life without me.'
What a stupid, fat, dumb thing to say! The kind of stupid, fat, dumb thing only a living person
would ever dream of saying.
Because that's what she was going to do now.
Start a new life - without him.
Fine, if he was dead dead. If he'd just taken delivery of his shiny new ephemeral body and was
wafting around in the ether on the next plane of existence - fine.
Even if there was no life after death, and he totally ceased to be - then again, absolutely fine.
But this was different. He was dead, but he was still here. His personality had been stored on
disc, and the computer had reproduced him down to the tiniest detail; down to his innermost
This wasn't the deal. He wanted her to start a new life when he was gone, not while he was still
here. But of course, that's what she'd do. That's what she had to do. You can't stay married to a
dead man. So even though she loved him dearly, she would, eventually, have to start looking for
And... she would sleep with him.