Severance Package

Hi, welcome to death! Let’s dive right in.

If you are reading this pamphlet, then you are a resident of a universe whose managing deity has recently quit, self-expunged, been killed, or put in a letter of resignation. Please view the following parting message from your deity:

Fine, you whiny bastards! I’ve heard enough out of you. You think you could choose better lives for yourselves? By all means, give it a whack. I’m out of this fucking joint.

How exciting! It appears your deity has opted for the “Choose Your Own Adventure!” severance package. Please note that by electing an omniscient, godless existence, you will be perpetually aware of your life path while living and unable to alter said path once chosen.

Please select from the wide variety* of available options below:

  1. You are born into the capitalistic ideal of a family. You are the middle child, number two of three. Your parents love you very much and enroll you in an accelerated learning program. You are accepted into Stanford University on a full-ride scholarship and become a leading figure in the realm of quantum physics. You give two TED Talks. At the second talk, you meet your wife, with whom you have three brilliant children of your own. One of them—the middle one—dies from heart complications three years after her birth. You are devastated. Eventually, your grief consumes your career, your savings, and your entire family. You are mildly consoled by the fact that your dead daughter selected her brief and painful life from a wide variety of available options, just like you.
  2. You are born on the side of a county highway. You are the middle child, number five of nine. You never meet your siblings. Your mother gives you up for adoption so you might have a chance at a better life, even though she selected her life path from a wide variety of available options and therefore knows how it all will play out, just like you. You fistfight your way through half of high school before getting expelled, after which you begin to write poetry about pain. Your work is published globally. Decades later, your mother meets you at a local Cracker Barrel and tells you that she has read all your poems. She moves in with you, and for one year you both laugh every day. Then her memory leaves her, and shortly afterward, she leaves you. You make an exorbitant amount of money from your poetry.

Now, please enjoy** your life! We’ll see you next time.

* Please note that due to high demand and the interconnectivity between all things, your specific options may be limited.

** Please note that due to high demand and the interconnectivity between all things, some pain and discomfort is unavoidable. Luckily, you will remain aware of your complete timeline throughout your life. What a treat! Knowledge will spare you from the worst and most freeing of all life’s evils: uncertainty.

Alex Schotzko

Alex Schotzko is a current intern at Brink and F(r)iction. Alex is chasing a BFA in Creative Writing at Portland State University. He enjoys many different flavors of creativity: writing, drawing, painting, playing the piano, annoying his friends, and baking. When he needs to recharge said creativity (his friends, unfortunately, grow tougher to annoy by the day), he prefers immersing himself in live music, big open-world video games, and the utterly magical environs of the Pacific Northwest.

Hailey Renee

Hailey Renee Brown is a professional illustrator born and raised in mid Michigan. A former field biologist, she moved across country from Michigan to New Jersey, also moving from science to commercial art. A professionally trained artist, she attended the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in Dover, NJ. She was selected the recipient of the 2017 Norman Maurer Memorial Award as well as the 2019 Joe Kubert Jumpstart Project.