The Randomizer This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

December 9, 2008
Jeff glanced at the piece of paper in his hand once more, as if to confirm that he had found the correct office. It was so confusing here – all the identical white halls made this branch of Heaven seem like a labyrinth. At last, Jeff decided that this was the right place, and he cautiously opened the door.

The room was not especially large, but it was impressive nonetheless. The walls were just as white as every other room in Heaven, but they seemed to have a subtle apricot tinge. Distributed evenly throughout the room were six identical white desks, each with two people (one on each side). On each desk was a large screen displaying various statistics. In the center was another workstation with multiple small screens. The spotless marble floor reflected everything perfectly, except where a perfect red circle had been painted, along with the words, “That which lives must die.”

A man seated at the center desk stood up as Jeff entered the room, while everyone else looked up to see what was happening. He grinned and said in a deep, loud voice: “This must be the new techie! Hello to you. I’m Aldric, the head of the Mortality Department.”

“Hello to you too,” Jeff responded hesitantly. “My name is …” he paused. “Jeff. That’s right.”

“Oh, you must still be disoriented from your arrival,” Aldric observed. “You don’t look like you could be older than, say, your teen years, so you must have had an unnatural death. That may have made the confusion worse – but it will pass after a while.”

“I guess that’s good. I don’t really know why I’m here. Someone just handed me this paper and told me to come to this office.”

“You’ve been assigned to the Mortality Department as a tech specialist. The note I received tells me that you were quite the computer aficionado in life. You must also enjoy it quite a bit, or you’d never have been assigned to this job. You’re going to be caring for one of the most important machines in existence!”

“Really?” Jeff’s face lit up.

“We call it the Randomizer, and it is the technological masterpiece that runs everything you see around you.” He raised his hand as if to indicate the strange screens, the endless streams of data, and the large monitors on the walls that displayed maps of the globe. “The Randomizer is the dealer of death. It ­determines when it is time for a living human to die.”

“You mean it just picks that at random?” Jeff asked, incredulous.

“Nonsense! It requires careful calibration almost constantly. We tweak the machine to favor certain demographic groups when it selects who dies. For instance, the elderly are more likely to be selected. Someone near a burning building ­instantly has a much higher chance of death by fire. A smoker has a higher chance of fatal lung cancer. And all of this ­data is carefully tweaked every minute of the day.”

Aldric led his new protégé around the room, showing off the technology. The screens on the desks each showed a continent, listing the names of the deceased in rapid fire. The sixth desk handled island nations and the few souls living at the poles. Larger displays on the walls showed the overall mortality rate for the world and various countries, as well as which causes of death were most common. In the center was that circular desk with the open interior, where a swivel chair rested. More screens were positioned on all sides of this desk.

“This is where you’ll be working,” Aldric explained, beaming. “I’ve been manning it since our last techie retired, but now it’s all yours. I’ll show you the ropes and then you can start working right away – adjusting the probabilities to accommodate the constant changes in the world and such. All the information you could ever need is here on the screen – the rest is left to your wit and skill.”

“Hang on a second – there’s a manual override or something, right?”

“Pardon me?”

“I mean, if God needs to take someone for some reason, whatever his reason is. I know you can’t question that – he can do that, right?”

“Whatever for?” Aldric asked. “That system was revised centuries ago, and even then it didn’t work. We had to discard it outright. It hasn’t been practical since medieval times. With so many people in the world, it’s all that the Randomizer can do to even keep track of them. How can you expect God to sift through all that each day? Besides, when he got bored … let’s just say we had to take that little toy away from him.”

“Well … then there’s some kind of probability rule that favors good people, right?” Jeff asked. “Aren’t bad people more likely to die?”

“What difference does it make when they’ll have an eternal afterlife anyway? No, it’s totally random. No one dies for reasons like that anymore. Not everything can have purpose like that – when humans are so numerous, you have to leave it to chance, you see?”

“To … chance? But … but what if ….”

“Hold on! I guess I wasn’t clear enough, was I? We sometimes target particular people, if it’s really necessary.”

“Oh,” Jeff sighed, some color returning to his face.

“Take your death, for instance. We needed a new techie!” Aldric laughed heartily. “So … does that about cover everything?” Aldric waited for an answer, but none came – his replacement had fled the room.


The blurriness in his mind had begun to clear, and Jeff had remembered the moment of his death. As it flashed through his head, he had turned and run from the room. Now, as he sprinted down the deceptively white hallways, the scene replayed over and over. He remembered the pain in his limbs, the scattered textbooks he had been taking to school, the shattered windshield … and his father kneeling beside him, ignoring his own wounds, as life faded from Jeff’s eyes.

“It’s okay, son,” his dad had said through his tears. “God had his reasons … God must have had his reasons ….”

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

Join the Discussion

This article has 143 comments. Post your own now!

MagicJoker said...
today at 12:06 pm
Wow. Just a big old wow.
ArtsyAuthorThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 6, 2016 at 6:55 pm
No wonder that this got into the magazine!
melindagong_This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Nov. 22, 2015 at 12:13 pm
Great story!
Icithra This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 8, 2014 at 8:29 pm
Lol is overused, and its real meaning is usually forgotten, but when I got to the second to last paragraph, I laughed out loud, so hard. Really well done, it almost didn't need the last couple of paragraphs about the death.
WilliamN said...
Jun. 9, 2014 at 4:51 am
I'm an atheist, and I really found your view on God in this story quite interesting. I felt that it was a necessary view to point out. Even the "greatest being of all time" can have his down-sides.
PuppyLove16 said...
Mar. 8, 2013 at 1:27 am
Even though this story is thouroghly depressing because it basically made God seem shallow and selfish, I loved it. I loved that you really made your reader think about their values and ideas. Very well written too :)
Emme498 replied...
Jul. 2, 2013 at 3:53 pm
i agree, your words are amazing, brilliant imagery and emotion. i am not a fan of the idea but i do admit it is a interesting one 
Miniterror said...
Feb. 21, 2013 at 3:26 pm
It is a good story. The only problem is that I'm Christian and take some offence to how God is reffered. But I guess that doesn't matter. It's an extremely good story. The randomizer does seem almost realistic.
Nicholas M. replied...
Mar. 25, 2013 at 7:42 pm
Keep religion out of good books, you're creating drama where there isn't any.
a.e.always said...
Nov. 3, 2012 at 2:52 pm
this was so good! every aspect was perfect. and so original!
a.e.always said...
Nov. 3, 2012 at 2:52 pm
this was so good! every aspect was perfect. and so original!
Prose said...
Aug. 13, 2012 at 3:50 pm
So original...
Caesar123 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 7, 2012 at 4:06 pm
Amazing! My only disappointment is that I didn't think of it first.
SexyCobraKiller said...
Apr. 19, 2012 at 8:41 am
Awesome. Love how you talk about today's society versus the past, and how we don't have much an idea of fate anymore. It references how, if things really do happen by chance, than life is just futile. It leads the reader to avoid the psychologically frustrating standpoint that all of this is pointless... and rather, even though your story says the opposite, to think along the lines that there is not a randomizer, and the father is right. cool
Miniterror replied...
Feb. 24, 2013 at 2:36 pm
You confused me with this comment, but I see what you're getting at.
KDgirl101 said...
Jan. 22, 2012 at 9:26 pm
That is so stupid! Not the story, the story was fantastic, but I would HATE if that were true. Congratulations for creating an amazing writing piece. Worth ten starts!
Billybob20222 replied...
Oct. 29, 2012 at 12:02 pm
Yeah you are right this artical is amazing.
billybob20222 replied...
Oct. 29, 2012 at 12:04 pm
I can't beleive how amazing this artical was!
GemValley250 said...
Nov. 12, 2011 at 3:38 am
This is an excellent and very clever piece, well done!
illtellyousomething replied...
Mar. 6, 2012 at 8:58 pm
Yes, I agree the idea for this post was clever, and the writer definitely has talent. However, this piece wasn't as good as you say. Basically, its someone explaining that death is random and then a father thinking God has his reasons. And, burgerman, i think it would be 7 cents.
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