Functionary

A person who functions in a specified capacity, especially in government service; an official.

Ella sat quietly waiting for something to happen. She would have accepted anything. The phone was quiet, the computer was locked on an inbox with nothing new, the clock on the wall had stopped entirely. She had no other means of communication, after the two bright lights rushed to meet her, she had simply noticed she was here, and here without anything in her pockets. Before that, things were getting blurry. Perhaps she hadn't been wearing her glasses.

Deciding she must have lost her handbag, she looked about the room for what seemed like and might have been the thousandth time. The computer sat on a cheap wooden table next to the rotary phone. Wallpaper peeled, but was not noticeable to anyone other than a girl forced to stare at it for an indeterminable amount of time. She briefly entertained the idea she had simply traveled back in time to the late 1990's, which was why her phone had disappeared.

At last, the phone rang. Forcing herself to grab it rather than stare in disbelief, she picked it up on the first ring and resisted the urge to ask where the Hell she was.

"Hello?"

"Welcome to the Afterlife."

"What?"

"Can you start Monday?" The voice was a woman's, businesslike; perhaps a little older.

"What?"

"Do you need to check your schedule? I had been under the impression you were currently unemployed."

"Unem- I work at a rest-"

"Yes, and you were recently released with the recent development of your death. You will not be required to report in tomorrow."

"My what? Is this a joke?" The voice audibly sighed before responding and Ella mutely stared without looking.

"I would have assumed you had figured it out by now. You were struck by a bus. You are dead." A short silence but for the tone passed.

"How is that even-"

"Look, I don't have all day. We have work to do and you're about to find yourself out of an offer."

"No, wait, I'll take it!"

"You will?"

"Yes, anything!"

"Excellent. You start Monday. We don't need any of your information, and you are clear to work for eternity."

"Eternity?"

"We do not provide retirement benefits that last for eternity, so many of our employees take this option."

"What's the alternative? What else is there besides this room?"

"I don't know. I'm just like you, in another room."

"Are we paid here?" She asked the question before considering whether or not it was meaningless.

"Of course, Osiris is very fair. Speaking of the fairness of Osiris, your hearing will be in thirty minutes. Be sure to brush up on the Book of the Dead, which we now have in .pdf format for your convenience." Scanning the bottom bar of the screen, she clicked on the blank, presumably meaningless icon that was surprisingly not locked. A file opened and pictures of hieratic script on what might have been some sort of canvas appeared before her. There was a depiction of a man kneeling before what appeared to be a god with old timey scales. A woman knelt on another page, holding up what looked like short sentences for all to see.

"Uhh... thanks. Do you have any idea of what is going on here?"

"Absolutely not, have a nice day!" The phone made a click and she listened to the tone for a few seconds before hanging up. Unsure of what else to do, she refreshed the inbox, deciding it had at least been a few minutes. There were no emails. She sighed, stretching and sitting back in the wooden chair. There were no cameras in the room. Would anyone have any idea whether or not she did her job? The room had no door, but since she had an upcoming trial, Ella expected there would be some way of leaving. Exhaling deeply, she waited while lost in thought.

The phone rang again. Well, praise Osiris.

"What the fuck am I doing in this taxi? Who's this guy in the back?"

"Sir, I don't know about any taxi. How did you get this number?"

"Number? You don't need a number with a radio, retard. There isn't any tuning, I just pressed the button and now I'm talking to some stupid-"

"Please be patient. Do you have an assignment?"

"Well, this guy said I have to take him to Cleveland. Why? Why am I here? Who the fuck are-"

"You're dead. You probably just died." The man on the other end said nothing for a moment. "Please keep your eyes on the road and do what you're being asked." Again he said nothing before at last responding.

"Why?"

"I don't know, but it'll be worse if you don't. I'm trapped in a room answering a phone for eternity, but that's better than having nothing to do. I don't know what the alternative is, but before I had this job I thought I was going to die of boredom but now I know I'm already dead and I don't know if you can die again in whatever religion this is, I can't even remember who Osiris is-"

"Hey."

"Yes?"

"Stop freaking out. Look, I'll call you in a bit, maybe. I don't know how this works. Just don't freak out." The phone rang again.

"I probably have to take this. Thanks, okay?" Before he could answer, she clicked the button and listened to the voice interrupt her thoughts.

"Hello, I need authorization for the death certificate of one Sam David Ethan?"

"Authorization?"

"Yes, just patch me through to authorization. He's being commuted from the fourth level of punishment as a measure of pity from Ra."

"It's my first day. Try pressing 0."

"Nope, didn't work."

"Okay, try pressing 1."

"I pressed 1 to get here."

"Okay, don't fucking press 1, then, press 2."

"Pressing 2 takes me to shipping."

"Have you tried 3?" The voice stopped and Ella waited for him to come back and tell her the path didn't work, but after staring blankly for what seemed like a few minutes, it was likely he had found Authorization, whatever that was. Thinking on it, the job sounded worse than what she had, since, knowing this employer, it was most likely exactly as it sounded. A voice came from behind her.

"Come with me." She spun around and fell over, remembering too late it was a wooden chair. Reaching down, a powerful hand grabbed her collar and dragged her.

"What the fuck are you doing you-" Her captor dragged her through a doorway before waving a hand and the doorway was never there. "How'd you just fucking do that, why the-" As he dragged her down a hallway, she got a better look, seeing some sort of dog head. "Who the fuck are you, you filthy asshole, what you want with me fucking dog weirdo-" She winced as he slung her around a corner, bumping her against a wall. "Ouch godfuckingdammit, what the fuck are you doing watch where you're-" An elevator opened automatically and he slung her inside, where she began to rise. "I don't even know what's going on, where the fuck are you taking me-" The head turned around and snarled. "Don't you fucking snarl at me, what are you going to do, I'm already dead-" They went several stories down, stopping sharply to allow a normal looking man to enter, interrupting her.

"Hi, how are you?" He bore a cheerful expression for a dead man.

"Not good, this asshole's dragging me all over the place."

"Oh, he's Anubis. He's free for a moment, so he's taking you to your trial."

"Oh, you just all know each other down here, don't you? Who are you then?" Before he could answer, Anubis interjected.

"He is named Sam David Ethan."

"Why are you being commuted?"

"Funny you should ask, I don't know. One of his agents did it, I'll bet. Might have been my old public defender." They stared at the god of Preparation for the Land of the Dead.

"He argued insufficient mercy was shown at the trial."

"Why does he deserve mercy?"

"He has three first names." They rode the rest of the way up in silence.

The courtroom looked frightfully standard. The jury box was filled with the dead, but that was to be expected. The judge dressed like any other, but did neither hide his green skin nor leave behind his scepter and scales. They appeared to finish up with the previous trial, a man and a woman.

"You have plead not evil. I have weighed your heart against the feather of truth and found it filled with lies and greed. You may appeal this decision through He-Who-Kills-While-Smiling, alternatively, you may report to your appointment with the Ammut, during which your heart will be devoured. If you do not understand this decision, we have translators by the names of Athoris and Jack the Ripper." Still evidently confused, the man was dragged out of the courtroom by a crocodile headed pig. Does this religion just have a thing for animal heads and dragging people?

"Excuse me, your honor, I am unfamiliar with the process." The woman began. Ella looked about the room, seeing more depictions, only in wall hangings rather than painted on the walls, as she would have expected.

"Fear nothing." came the response of Osiris. "You have done your job faithfully. Did we neglect to mention that your trial would take place after the first millennium?"

She shook her head with her eyes closed.

"I see. Well, it's time for your trial."

"Osiris, please don't take out my heart, that would be weird-"

"Oh, no, you're a woman! You say all the bad things you didn't do." Wait, is that what the woman was doing in the depiction?

"Oh, right, well... I never cheated... well, it's been a long time since I've lived, you know. Additionally, I believe I started to forget things as soon as I died-" Osiris made a firm cough. "Right, yes, I never killed anyone, or if I did it wasn't murder." The last few words came out slowly as if she were judging the god's reaction.

"Is that all you did not do?"

"No, no your honor, not by any means. I never... stole from Warren Buffet, I never blew up the Eiffel Tower, I never-"

"Those are all very unlikely."

"Well, I didn't do any of them."

"Say something- you could have done!" He ordered, keeping his voice down.

"I never bought a coach ticket, switched to first class, and then hurt the feelings of a child?" That is almost as good of a trick.

"Actually, you did. I shall not trust a liar. Your earlier statements are invalid."

"Wait, what's happening?"

"You will now be sent to the fourth level of punishment awaiting sentencing." Anubis reached out, seized her, and took her to the elevator. Ella walked forward nervously at a hand motion from Osiris. "Good day. Will you represent yourself?"

"Is there a... public defender available?"

"Soon there will be. Otherwise, you may participate in a bench trial."

"A bench trial? Wait, I just got here, I don't know what-" All at once the doors flew open and in walked a man in a black jacket.

"Questioning the defendant without an attorney! Mistrial!"

"Damn, not you again. Well, it looks like your court date's being moved." Osiris shuffled papers around as more got off the elevator and walked through the doors. "Meet back here in 1000 years. You should receive an email about this." In the confusion of being dismissed and making her way through the crowds, she found the public defender meeting a new client.

"Sir, please, I need to speak with you."

"I am afraid I am a busy man. I don't have eternity."

"Well, can you please have my name changed within 1000 years?" He looked off into the distance for an instant, as if checking an imaginary schedule.

"Call authorization. They approve name change forms." Men and women passed her, some rushing, others trudging. I wonder how many of them know what's going on here. Oh well, at least I have a plan. I think.