South Park fanfiction.
Everyone looks (understandably) scared at the sight of Death, except me. I look at Death with determination. Why should I be afraid? What more can he do to me? The time has come for answers.
"There is no need to fight anymore," Death says. It only now occurs to me that, while I had heard him laugh before, I have never heard him speak until just now.
I get straight to the point. "Why?"
"So you could understand me. So you could become familiar with death, and all its subtleties and nuances. So you could learn more about your world."
"Really?" I ask, not quite believing it; dropping a piano on someone isn't very subtle. "You sure it wasn't that you were just trying to screw around with me?"
"You shouldn't screw around!" someone calls out.
I groan. "Thank you, Mr. Adler." Hopefully the peanut gallery could keep quiet for just a little while. To Death, I continue, "Why's it so important that I 'learn more' about death? I don't think I've really learned anything."
Death cocks his head. "Oh, really?" After a pause, he quickly asks, "Who are the only people who go to Heaven?"
"Mormons," I answer automatically. "Although there have been a few exceptions, like Saddam Hussien, and—" Wait a minute…I had forgotten that the whole Mormon thing isn't common knowledge. Everyone looks at me in shock.
"Only…only Mormons go to Heaven?" Mr. Mackey asks.
I nod. "Yeah."
Kyle backs me up. "It's true. Everyone else goes to Hell."
"Dude…" Stan breathes.
"You see?" Death says. "You know that because you've seen it. Even if someone were told something like that, many of them probably wouldn't believe it."
That's probably true. "But, still, why do I need to learn it?"
"Isn't it obvious?"
Death finally makes his announcement. "Kenny, you were given your powers because you're going to replace me. You're going to become the new Reaper."
"I've had my job as the Reaper for many thousands of years. 'It was an easy assignment,' they said. 'All you have to do is arrange for people to die.' And it was simple, certainly.
"But as the millennia went on, I grew bored. It was all the same, after all. Sometimes, human ingenuity allowed me to be a little more creative with how I caused people to die, and that could make things more interesting for a while. But then it just went back to being a repetitive job.
"It's also very lonely. The only time I get to really interact with people is when someone has to die or when I have official business in Heaven or Hell. And that just gets depressing.
"Finally, I decided that I had had the job long enough; I was going to determine my successor. I picked the location at random: a quiet little redneck mountain town called South Park. After glancing around the town for a little while, I decided that, based on how your life would play out, you would be the best candidate for the job.
"Since I had never trained anyone to replace me before, I had a very difficult task ahead of me. I decided that the best way to prepare for your role as the Master of Death was for it to become natural to you. And the only way to do that was through experience: a great deal of experience. And so every time you died, death became a little more integrated into your life.
"Soon however, I realized that only dying a few times wouldn't make that big an impact. After all, how likely is it that a little child could wander into dangerous situations time and time again? So I…"steered" you into accidents, hoping to move your development along faster.
"During this time, I found myself in a bit of a dilemma. Because of my initial investigation of this town, I became more and more attached to the people of South Park. This became problematic, since I could never visit Earth unless I was on duty. And so, in order for me to see the people I had come to feel as though I really knew, the balance of deaths shifted; fewer and fewer people began dying outside of South Park, and more and more began dying inside. That way I could visit more often. To help avoid suspicion, I tried to steer many of these deaths towards you; sometimes, sometimes, I got worried that I went too far.
"I also took steps to ensure that no one knew you had this power. If it had been common knowledge, people from the government would have likely come and performed experiments on you. And you were suffering enough as it was. I couldn't hide it from everyone, of course; those who embraced my own talents were able to see through my deception.
"Tonight you completed the final step; during your escape, the true depth of the powers that were instilled in you from the beginning emerged. You are indeed in control; you are ready to become the Master of Life and Death."
Wow…that's a lot to take in…
"So when you say "the powers that were instilled" in me, do you mean that I could have ended my curse at any time?" I ask.
Death considers this. "In a way. But you couldn't have brought Dylan back to life or ended your own 'curse' without mastering the kind of control you showed tonight. But the power was always in you to do it, yes."
"What exactly was it that made you choose me?"
"It was a tough decision, but eventually I had it narrowed down to five soon-to-be born children: yourself, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman, Stan Marsh, and Butters Stotch. I could see how your lives would play out, and I decided you would be the best candidate."
"Over all the others?" I ask.
"Yes," Death continues, "Eric would have used his powers for evil purposes, and that was unacceptable. Stan would have been too weak-willed to deal with the curse, and it would have destroyed him from the inside out. You, Kyle, and Butters were all good choices…until I looked at your parents. Kyle's parents and Butters parents were too severe; they wouldn't have been able to give the support or unconditional love that your parents gave you, Kenny, and that was important in keeping you going. And so you were given a burden that would have consumed your friends had it been given to them."
I sit down on the ground and look at my hands. "It just seems so unfair."
Death shakes his head. "It is what makes you you. That may seem unfair to you, but being special for someone is a gift not bestowed on many. Take your friends, for example; they are special in other ways. Stan is a representation of the average person, so everyone looks at him to emulate."
Stan blinks. "So, I'm special because I'm average?"
"Yes, like Everyman."
"Well, that doesn't make any goddamn sense."
Death gives him a look that says "deal with it" and continues. "Kyle is special because he is a Jew."
Kyle's face fell. "Wait, the thing that makes me important is that I'm Jewish? It's not that I'm smart, or that I get good grades, or that I am diabetic?"
"Nope. Just because you're a Jew."
Kyle's fists clenched. "That's a bitch…"
"Butters," Death goes on, "wasn't much of anything at first, but now he's kind of a wimp, and he has such low self-confidence that he always blames himself."
"Really?" Butters asks. "I guess I just have to do better. I need to get a hold of myself." Then he frowns as he realizes he's just proved Death's point. Cartman chuckles.
"And finally, Eric," Death announces. Cartman's ears perk up.
"You're well known for being manipulative…"
"GODDAMN IT, I DON'T WANT TO BE SO SPECIAL!"
Death laughs again. "You see, Kenny? That's the other reason I chose you; to give you a chance to be important. If it weren't for your powers, you would have been just 'that kid in the parka,' mumbling in the background. You would have been like him (he points at Kevin Stoley) or him (then at Jason), or maybe even him (his finger lands on Dogpoo). Sure, they may become important later, but right now? They're nobodies! I knew that you deserved a better fate than that."
I nod. "So, it's all come to this?"
"Yes, Kenny. You're ready to take my place."
This is it; the inevitable fulfillment of my life. This may not have been what I most hoped for, but I decide that, after all this, it is time to embrace my destiny.
"May I say goodbye to my friends first?"
"Of course," Death says. "Take all the time you need."
I turn to the crowd. Obviously, I should start with my parents. I run to them and hug them. "I'll miss you guys," I say.
"We'll miss you, too, Kenny. We're sorry we couldn't have given you a better life," Mom says.
"You guys did the best you could, given your circumstances."
Dad shakes his head. "We're just glad that you've found your calling. There's been a reason for it all."
Next is Stan. "Goodbye, dude."
He looks at the ground. Wendy is leaning on him, so I turn to her next. "Wendy, if there were words to express how sorry I am—"
"It's fine, Kenny," she says. "Damien explained everything; I understand. As painful as it was for me, I can't imagine how difficult it must have been for you." Her eyes have that pitying look in them, again.
"I still owe you an apology, nonetheless," I insist.
She smiles weakly. "I accept."
Stan finally looks at me. "Well, if she can forgive you, I guess I can, too." He extends his hand. "Goodbye, Kenny."
I see Cartman trying to avoid my eyes. "You going to miss me, fatass?"
"Nope," he says. "What's one less poor person in this world?"
"Yeah," I smile, "I hate you, too."
He stares at me for a second, then breaks down and gives me a bro hug. "Ok, I guess I will miss you, Kenny. You're the—the only real f-friend I ever had."
"I know," I say. "Maybe you'll be able to meet some more."
He actually starts sobbing; that's just a little bit scary. "Now, you be nice to Kyle," I continue.
Good, it's still Cartman in there. Next is Lizzy. I give her a hug and a kiss, all the more passionate because I'm aware that now I'll never have the chance to have a real relationship with her.
"I'm sorry I didn't have the chance to know you longer. We could have been quite a pair." She's too choked up for words, so I caress her, and then look at the rest of the crowd. "That goes for all of you; my time here has been too short to know many of you as well as I would have liked. I'll miss all of you." I let go of Lizzy, and I'm happy to see that she's smiling beneath all her tears.
Just one more person to address personally. "Kyle…"
"NO!" Kyle marches up to where Death is standing. "You can't do this!"
"It was simply meant to be," Death insists.
"No, I get that," Kyle says. "But, you see, I've learned something today."
Ha, it's great to know Kyle can still pull a really sentimental speech out of his ass. He has that "I'm surrounded by idiots" look about him, and he seems irritated that he has to resort to these age-old tactics.
Kyle goes on. "You've asked Kenny to take your place, after having spent his whole existence dying over and over again. But that's not really fair. You say that you put the curse on him so he could understand death, but he hasn't really seen the other side. You haven't given him a chance to live yet.
"Don't you see? If he takes your place now, without having had a full life, then he'll just be like you, and in a few million years, he'll just have to put some other poor shmuck through the works to replace him. But if he takes over after living a life he was satisfied with, then he may be able to avoid making the same mistakes that you've made."
"…Yeah," Stan agrees.
Wow…that actually makes a lot of sense. And I'm not saying that Kyle never makes logical arguments, but sometimes it seems that he can change literally anyone's mind no matter what he says in his "gay little speech (as Cartman often puts it)."
"You know," Death says, "he's right. I haven't given you a chance to see what life is like without a curse." He waves his hand. "You, and this town, are both released from your curse. You probably won't see me again for a long time, but when you see me next, it will be for the last time."
With that, Death disappears, along with Satan and all his demons. The town looked no different than it did after any of our typical exploits. Everyone started to disperse, but Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Lizzy stayed behind.
No more curse. I look down at my newly mortal body. I don't know when I would see Death again, but I'm already used to living every moment as though it could be my last. And I am going to make the most out of whatever life I had left.
"Come on you guys," I say to my friends. "Let's start living."