The Randomizer | Teen Ink

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.

M.K.Slate said...
on Oct. 20 2010 at 6:31 pm
M.K.Slate, Granbury, Texas
0 articles 0 photos 10 comments



OleanderBrew said...
on Oct. 20 2010 at 8:59 am
OleanderBrew, Cortez, Colorado
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
“Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.”
Terry Pratchett

Everything but the ending was wonderful.  liked the ending, but something about it felt rushed and off.

on Oct. 14 2010 at 3:25 am
AussiMusicLover BRONZE, Central Coast, Other
4 articles 1 photo 42 comments

Favorite Quote:
When you are in Love you can't fall asleep because reality is better than your dreams
The hottest love has the coldest end.
Love begins with a smile, grows with a kiss, and ends with a teardrop
Falling in love is awfully simple, but falling out of love is simply awful.

Hey.. i like how youve written it.. but your descripction of how god choses people to die is SOOO WRONG! i disagree with what what youve said about god our father... 

on Oct. 9 2010 at 10:54 am
wow that was.... creepy and disturbing and very well written, like InkDance said. One of the most moving things I've read on this site. 15/10

slkillo said...
on Sep. 16 2010 at 6:34 am
slkillo, Glenwood Landing, New York
0 articles 0 photos 5 comments
wow. this is so creative, something i've never heard of before. the writing's really good and the story line is amazing. wow.

on Sep. 3 2010 at 9:35 pm
juliam PLATINUM, Windermere, Florida
21 articles 4 photos 60 comments

Favorite Quote:
All of us learn to write in second grade. Most of us go on to greater things

Wow. I'm not even religious and this is touching me, both in a heart-breaking way and an open-minded way.

Just... wow

on Aug. 12 2010 at 12:13 pm
DreamInspired GOLD, Nevada City, California
10 articles 7 photos 29 comments

Favorite Quote:
Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you ,strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
-Harriet Tubman

wow. This was so touching. I really enjoyed the story as a whole. One spot that could use some improvment is the trasition between him fleeing and the memory. Great work, keep it up :)

on Jul. 21 2010 at 11:05 pm
ElizabethBlack PLATINUM, St. Louis, Missouri
40 articles 7 photos 15 comments
I really liked your story.  The transition between him running out the room and remember his death is a bit awkward, though, because one happens in the physical story, and the other happens in his mind/memory; the two settings aren't connected. But I really like the ending sentence.  I think it is great how you not only wrote about death but embraced it as the center and idea of your story.

Emily-G SILVER said...
on Jun. 24 2010 at 9:20 am
Emily-G SILVER, River Falls, Wisconsin
8 articles 0 photos 10 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Lives can do amazing things when the odds are against them."

-The village Elder in 'Sight Seeing'

VERY well written! It was a very moving story, and didn't have to be lengthy to impact the reader. Wonderful Job!

on Jun. 14 2010 at 9:10 pm
InkDance PLATINUM, Sylvania, Ohio
31 articles 0 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
The only difference between highschoolers and preschoolers is that preschoolers get naptime.

Wow. That was creepy and disturbing and very well written. I usually don't post, but this story really impacted me. I love how you tied in the ending there, it made everything so much more emotional. 

bobun16 SILVER said...
on Jun. 12 2010 at 4:09 pm
bobun16 SILVER, Mesa, Arizona
7 articles 0 photos 60 comments

Favorite Quote:
is this a trick question or what?-Calvin and Hobbes

I agree w/ shadow_kissed. I disagree with your position of God, but otherwise, this is amazing.

on Jun. 7 2010 at 4:50 pm
horse95lover BRONZE, New York, New York
4 articles 9 photos 14 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read" - Groucho Marx

so good!

coly33 BRONZE said...
on Jun. 7 2010 at 3:44 pm
coly33 BRONZE, Lyndhurst, New Jersey
4 articles 0 photos 76 comments

a lot of ppl r saying this is scary but for some reason it wasn't scary for me pretty strange 6though but i really liked it!


on Jun. 7 2010 at 2:09 pm
i_am_nobody SILVER, Belgrade, Montana
7 articles 0 photos 85 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Be yourself, don't take anyone's sh*t, and never let them take you alive." -Gerard Way

very, very creepy and disturbing

on May. 24 2010 at 12:35 am
struck-by-llamas, Eureka, California
0 articles 16 photos 53 comments
Beautifully constructed. Spectacular work.

Eilatan GOLD said...
on May. 18 2010 at 5:53 pm
Eilatan GOLD, Old Greenwich, Connecticut
11 articles 1 photo 307 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Nobody is normal. Everybody in the world is a weirdo freak. Except you, which makes you a weirdo freak."

oh dear....       

on May. 16 2010 at 6:14 am
MayaChristine GOLD, Stocksfield, Other
11 articles 0 photos 28 comments
great idea, I've always loved stories about the afterlife. I personally wasn't offended at all by the ending, and I think you could really expand this into like, a full story. Awesome :D xxxx

on May. 10 2010 at 12:09 pm
xxtrident13xx SILVER, Dexter, Michigan
7 articles 0 photos 8 comments
great idea

on May. 9 2010 at 5:06 pm
AelitaReloaded PLATINUM, Scottsdale, Arizona
22 articles 0 photos 179 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The pen is mightier than the sword" author unknown (to me)

I liked the story overall- it had amazing concepts, but I agree with a lot of people on the ending.  It was clever, but not really necessary, and might offend people of ceartain religions.

on Apr. 26 2010 at 8:54 pm
shavemybaby BRONZE, Chesapeake, Virginia
1 article 0 photos 2 comments
very clever.  The bit at the end strikes me as unnessecary, I would have ended with "his replacement had fled the room"  But still very well done.