Digital Death : Scary Stories – Short Horror Story

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The Gardener, a grey haired, stooped figure, brushed the residue of a newly printed tree. It would grow in time, but now it was ready for the seed.

The glass door squeaked as his assistant entered carrying a tray with a single white nanopad.

“Jennifer is ready for you. Her family is waiting in the Oasis.”

With wrinkled hands, he plucked the nanopad from the tray, smiling as the assistant stepped out. Gardener placed it on the base of the fledgling tree. It came alight with a shower of colours, then a steadily green dot centred on the stem.

“Download and install.” The light blinked and then settled again.

Gently, he lifted the new tree and carried it, with bones cracking, to a waiting push cart.

“Now, Jennifer, can you hear me?”

The tree’s leaves wiggled slightly like a newborn’s sporadic fingers.

“Take your time to settle in. I know this is quite a change from your old body.”

The tree flickered. Gardner smiled. As he straightened, he became aware of a presence. That smile played up, making his crows feet deepen.

“I was wondering when I was going to see you.”

Death stepped around the printing machine. His tailored suit dazzled with cosmic fabric.

“I have come to warn you, Gardener. You are melding in realms you should not.”

Gardener eased back against the push cart. “Do you not agree that we can live on?”

“A life is a life. No more, no less,” boomed Death.

“A life is a life, I agree. Who says you have to go when you do not? Walk with me.”

Gardener eased himself off the cart and with Death’s arm, they walked the rows of fledgling trees, as Death pushed Jennifer.

“Each of them has a soul?” Death asked, inspecting the array of blinking lights.

“Not yet, but they will. When more chose to live a digital life. Old age,” he mused. “Accidents. The choice is an easy one.”

The walkway ended at a double glass door.

“This is not right,” Death felt the souls within. Ached for them to be released so he could do his duty.

“Right. Wrong. Who can tell? How long have you existed?”

“Aeons.”

“Precisely. And why are you any different?”

Death stopped. “I have never been asked that before.”

Gardener placed the new tree in Death’s hands and cracked the door.

As the doors opened and the artificial sunlight doused the two figures, Death saw hundreds of couples and families gathered around trees that held the ones they loved.

“And where would you go…”
Death took a step forward, holding Jennifer and Gardener let go.

“… If you weren’t needed anymore, old friend?”

“I will always be needed,” Death opened his robes to show an abyss beneath. But, nothing happened, until suddenly, the trees started to scream. One by one until it became a chorus of wails.

The hundreds of downloaded souls were trapped, knowing that their decision was wrong. That Death’s call wasn’t the final death, but the start of new life.

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