The Overpayment

“Thank you for calling Human Existence, my name is Afriel, how may I assist you today?”

“Hi, I received a notice today informing me that my LIFE (all in capital letters) under my current case will be DISCONTINUED (in capital bold letters) beginning September 10, 2022.”

“May I please have your name and LIFE Case Number for verification purposes?”

“My name is Jody Christensen but I don’t know my case number.”

“You will find your LIFE Case Number in the upper right-hand corner of the notice.”

“Are you talking about the symbols and squiggles? I can’t read those.”

“You can. It is the basis for all languages in the universe. All you need to do is look at sigils, soften your focus and let your subconscious do the rest.”

Jody sighed but she did as instructed and after a long moment, her mouth began forming shapes on its own accord and her vocal cords issued a series of squeaks and tones not heard since Existence was in its infancy.

“Thank you. One moment, please, as I take a look at your account,” Afriel said, and after a brief silence, returned to the line. “According to our records, the discontinuation of your LIFE Case is due to the fact that you have received LIFE as part of another Case. Notice of this LIFE change was sent to you under separate notice.”

“I received no such notice.”

“I do apologize for that. We can have the notice resent—”

“Can’t you just explain it to me while I have you on the phone?”

“Of course, one moment, please,” Afriel said over the sound of typing on a keyboard. “Here we go. It appears that your former LIFE case was closed when you choked on a piece of steak at 7:56pm on September 10, 2022. When you were revived, a new LIFE case was opened for you.”

“When I was revived? I remember choking at dinner but I performed the Heimlich—”

“Pardon me, but for legal reasons, it is now referred to as abdominal thrust.”

“Okay, then, I performed an abdominal thrust on myself and dislodged the food.”

“Be that as it may, our records indicate—”

“Your records are wrong. I was conscious the entire time, otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to perform the maneuver on myself.”

“I see,” Afriel said and after a lengthy silence, “Then that presents a new problem.”

“What sort of problem?”

“Well, if your former case was never closed—”

“If I didn’t die, you mean.”

“That is not a term we are allowed to use, Miss Christensen,” Afriel said. “If your former case was never closed, and you were issued a second LIFE case—”


“That means you are in receipt of a LIFE overpayment.”

“I have an extra life? Like in a video game?”

“This is not a matter to be taken lightly, Miss Christensen. I need to advise you that if the overpayment is not paid back immediately, it will be referred for collection, and you do not want that, trust me.”

“What, are you going to send some repo man to take back the extra life?”

“Not a repo man, a reaper man. And I can guarantee it will not be pleasant.”

“But why is that necessary? This is your screw up! Why not just close the new case and cancel it out?”

“Because we cannot be certain that in canceling your new case, will not cancel you in the process, which would place our establishment in legal liability.”

“Well, before my account goes into repossession—”


“Whatever, don’t I have the right to ask for a Conference or a Fair Hearing, or something if I don’t agree with your decision?

“A reapersession notice was automatically placed on your account the moment the LIFE overpayment was spotted. The only way to halt that process is to make immediate repayment.”

“But how do I do that? I can’t just shake extra life out of my pockets!”

“I cannot assist you in that matter, Miss Christensen. All I can do is inform you that if you are unable to make the repayment at this time, you will receive a notice indicating the date and time of a reaper’s arrival.”

“Let me speak to your supervisor.”

“I assure you that I am able to assist you with any concerns you might have.”

“You can’t stop a reaper from coming to steal my life from me so how the fuck are you able to assist me?”

“If you continue to use language like that, I will end this call. I am doing what I can to help you, but if you speak to me like that again, I will end this call.”

“I apologize. Can you please put your supervisor on the line?”

“I assure you that I am able to assist you with any concerns you might have.”

“Stop the customer service bullshit and put your supervisor on the phone! This is my fucking life we’re talking about here!”


“Hello? Afriel, are you there?”

Not. The. End.

12 responses to “The Overpayment

  1. You always leave the reader wanting for more. I’m afraid this is the way of our world and imagine your story being the truth of the future. I’ll just shrink away to a dark corner and mind my own business. Great story, Rhyan. Couldn’t help laughing at the end. 🙂


  2. Oh, if individual existence became a corporate-run entity, the world would be more chaotic than it already is, and we’d all be filing for extensions, trying to get rebates and refunds on unfilling lives…

    Cheers for making time to read and comment. I appreciate the effort. Really.


  3. Pingback: The Week in Review – Iris Carden, Author

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