The Randomizer MAG

December 9, 2008
By Aviel Steinberg, Tucson, AZ

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 ….”



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This article has 143 comments.


JacobC GOLD said...
on Apr. 22 2010 at 3:45 pm
JacobC GOLD, Belgium, Wisconsin
10 articles 4 photos 69 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Am I indecisive? Well, yes and no." -Anonymous

Wow.       

on Apr. 16 2010 at 12:45 pm
PrimaryColors SILVER, Tacoma, Washington
6 articles 0 photos 9 comments

a geinious description of the probability of death

 


on Apr. 15 2010 at 12:13 pm
meganleigh122 GOLD, Greeneville, Tennessee
13 articles 0 photos 81 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass... It's about learning to dance in the rain."

i agree. yes, i'm Christian and it kinda bugs me, but i kno it's not real. and it's a really good story. I think you should expand it :) can you check out some of my work?

on Apr. 13 2010 at 7:32 pm
FussyCashew BRONZE, Pickerington, Ohio
1 article 0 photos 18 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I hold the line,
as if a soilder,
I will not stop,
I will not rest,
untill I've done my very best."

Very good! I really like the irony in it. But being the critic I am, I have to say the ending ruined it. I would have been more than satisfied without it. But still good job! 5 stars!

on Apr. 13 2010 at 12:11 am
Ben Taylor BRONZE, Naples, Idaho
4 articles 0 photos 2 comments
Kind of spartan when it come to the character's feelings and actions. Otherwise, it is quite an ironic piece.

on Apr. 4 2010 at 8:38 pm
tallgirl1222 SILVER, South Pasadena, California
5 articles 0 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Actions make character. If you never do anything, you never become anyone." An Education 2009

The idea of a randomizer controlling people's deaths is intriguing.  Your detail provide a clear setting for the story, and your word choice is great!  KEEP WRITING!!!

bigsmooth said...
on Mar. 16 2010 at 5:44 pm
bigsmooth, Denver, Colorado
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
The Randomizer has a setting that is intriguing because even though it’s fiction, it’s not hard to believe that this could be real. The story is spoken based off a perspective on life and makes the reader think about their own life and its purpose and meaning.

This story takes place in Heaven, or what some people might think Heaven is like. A place with white everywhere, except for one spot. I found this information from the text in the first and second paragraphs’: “It was so confusing here – the identical white halls made this branch of Heaven look like a labyrinth (1st paragraph).” “ Distributed evenly through out the room were six identical white desks, each with two people (one on each side)…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.’” This gave me a scary feeling from the view of the main character. Reading that circle would’ve scared me because when I think of Heaven, I think of happy thoughts and paradise, not signs that talk about dyeing. Later in the story it goes to explain what this place does. The Randomizer is a machine inside the room that calculates the chance of someone dyeing, and then chooses randomly the next person to die, not a funny subject. Like me, the main character Jeff was terrified. I thought after reading this that life in this story didn’t really matter. If the Randomizer wants you dead, you can’t do anything about it. This is the perspective I think that the author is telling the story in.

I think that this story takes place in the present day time frame because in the text it explains different situations of which people can die, and thy seem like the reasons people can die today that you can hear about on the news or the papers. “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.” All of these are common things in society today, which is why I think this story is told in the present.

Now onto what I think changes and affects a story the most, social context and constraints. As explained earlier, this place is all white, which sort of gives me the idea of heaven, perfect and pure. But I also think that also the purest or in this case, naive people that don’t think this place is weird get power or responsibility over other people, or other people’s lives. This place sort of prioritizes people to certain situations. Just like how the randomizer works. This is just an inference, but by what this story gave me I think that this is one of the social context and constraints. This also made me think about life in general. If you live a good life and don’t get yourself into trouble, you’re aloud to stay on earth. And it makes me think whether life matters at all, why do we have life? But sometimes you can get ripped off like the main character in this story did in this quote, “’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 all have eternal life anyway? No it’s totally random. No one dies for reasons like that anymore. Not everything can have purpose like that 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. ” This makes me want to do the same exact thing as Jeff, “this place is crazy, I’m getting out of here.” This story’s social context and constraints really made me think about purpose and meaning behind everything I do.

Through the setting, specifically the time, place, and social context and constraints, the author builds an article that has the reader wondering about life. I’m very interested in hearing the rest since this was just an article. However I think the author already hit a good point that he/she doesn’t even need to write anymore of the story.

JeanGrey GOLD said...
on Mar. 11 2010 at 1:49 pm
JeanGrey GOLD, Mason City, Iowa
10 articles 0 photos 258 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying."-Oscar Wilde

Very well written and interesting. A bit terrifying to! I am a Christian so naturally your views on God in this story would'nt appeal to me but other than that it was very well written and original. It makes you think and I like that...

on Feb. 27 2010 at 3:01 pm
biggerinfinities SILVER, Superior, Colorado
7 articles 0 photos 356 comments

Favorite Quote:
“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

ahhhhhhh! thats horrid! i mean, the story is clever and everything, but.... its all just RANDOM! and then his dad... still, the writing is very good and its very clever

on Feb. 26 2010 at 11:49 am
alwayswriting14 SILVER, Northport, New York
7 articles 1 photo 38 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Everything makes sense yet nothing makes sense."

That was amazing. It was so interesting...i loved it. Write more!!

on Feb. 26 2010 at 7:22 am
DIVOted2MuSiC SILVER, Bolingbrook, Illinois
5 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A wise girl kisses but doesn't love, listens but doesn't believe, and leaves before she is left." - Marilyn Monroe

Wow :o that was amazin love the twist at the end, i want to read the next one!!! :)

on Feb. 19 2010 at 12:04 pm
pampalooga PLATINUM, Natick, Massachusetts
30 articles 0 photos 20 comments

Favorite Quote:
"We all can't be heroes. Somebody has to sit on the sides and clap as they go by." "In the end, they're just more words."

that was an incredibly original idea, and very well written. i absolutely loved it. Do you write like this often? because you do a very good job. :)

Riffyburger said...
on Feb. 16 2010 at 12:28 am
Riffyburger, Spokane, Washington
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I'm more of a man than you'll ever be, and more of a woman than you'll ever get."
-Angel Dumott Schunard, the lovely fellow in my avatar

Wow...that was excellent. Really makes you think. I, for one, appreciate and agree with your views on God, but this is probably because I don't believe in him for about the same reasons as the story illustrates - good people die for seemingly no reason, while bad people become rich and succeed, and a "loving creator" would never allow that to happen. So in conclusion, an agnostic heathen thought your story was excellent in every possible way. (Oh yeah, and everyone else, please don't hate on me for my beliefs, kthxbai.)

on Jan. 28 2010 at 1:21 pm
Ebony_Rose PLATINUM, Hot Springs, Arkansas
21 articles 0 photos 54 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The simplest way that i can understand therapy is that we're born a certain
way, we're taught to be something different, and we spend our whole lives
trying to unravel it and ultimately align ourselves with who we really are." ~Billy Corgan

I LOVED it!!! It was very interesting and held my attention...

on Jan. 27 2010 at 3:43 pm
NikitaBliss PLATINUM, Galion, Ohio
21 articles 0 photos 26 comments

Favorite Quote:
The more you wait, the more it sucks.

I really liked it... are you going to write anymore soon??

KK2013 said...
on Jan. 22 2010 at 1:09 pm
Oh my, that was brilliant! just a small note: in the beginning, the Aldric guy said something like, it must have been unnatural, you look young.... but he actually knew.... i dont think thats completely correct. but i LOVE this story. its my favorite type of Sci-Fi

on Jan. 21 2010 at 1:23 pm
MayaElyashiv PLATINUM, Ramat Hasharon, Other
37 articles 4 photos 196 comments
I know this is a very cliche sentence on this website, but I have to say it: I literally had chills from the last paragraph! I knew that there would be a twist at the end, and I knew that that Jeff would have been 'killed' in some horrific/tear jerking way, but even though I was braced against it his dad's voice seemed to reverberate in my head...this story definitely makes a person think.

Kudos!!! Keep writing!!!

on Jan. 15 2010 at 2:15 pm
fantasyfreak294 BRONZE, Somewhere Cool, Texas
3 articles 0 photos 16 comments

Favorite Quote:
it's not what you say you do that matters, it's what you show you do.

reeled, like pulled in, u know?

T3on0y BRONZE said...
on Jan. 15 2010 at 1:26 pm
T3on0y BRONZE, Esperance, New York
2 articles 0 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
"As athletes, we're used to reacting quickly. Here, it's 'come, stop, come, stop.' There's a lot of downtime. That's the toughest part of the day."

u realy wat me into the story

T3on0y BRONZE said...
on Jan. 15 2010 at 1:22 pm
T3on0y BRONZE, Esperance, New York
2 articles 0 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
"As athletes, we're used to reacting quickly. Here, it's 'come, stop, come, stop.' There's a lot of downtime. That's the toughest part of the day."

teen ink rocks yo




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