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.

on Jan. 1 2010 at 11:24 am
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.

wow! you really reeled me into this story. Nice explanation, dialogue, conclusion.. everything! You are a master!

on Dec. 8 2009 at 3:40 am
AzureGal BRONZE, Malacca, Florida
1 article 0 photos 14 comments
It's so awesomely crafted. I LOVE IT!! Thank u.

on Dec. 4 2009 at 9:11 pm
kiwisunshine BRONZE, Park City, Utah
4 articles 0 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
Life is not mesured by the number of breaths you take but the number of moments that take your breath away!

This is an amazing story. I love it and hope to see more of your writing in the future.

erika4964 said...
on Dec. 3 2009 at 5:38 pm
Wow that is on way at looking at death. But I hope that is not true that they pick death randomly. I think everything happens for a reason. Even if you don't know what it is ever or right away.

on Dec. 3 2009 at 1:55 am
UncertainlyClear BRONZE, Haikou, Other
4 articles 1 photo 8 comments
Awesome. Youre good.

on Nov. 21 2009 at 11:43 pm
AnyseCruorem SILVER, La Habra, California
7 articles 2 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"Love is love which alters when it alteration finds"
-William Shakespeare

this is so sad... but it is brilliant.

on Nov. 21 2009 at 11:28 am
ariwrites94 GOLD, Deltona, Florida
17 articles 4 photos 59 comments

Favorite Quote:
"At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet." ---Plato

Awesome! great job!!! u r a very talented writer! i enjoyed your article very much!!! If you have time could you read my article "Held Hostage" and rate and comment? Thanks and keep writing!!!

on Nov. 21 2009 at 10:42 am
LavenderStone BRONZE, Athens, Georgia
4 articles 0 photos 18 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It's never too late—in fiction or in life—to revise." -Nancy Thayer

I really loved this piece! The Heaven you made up was interesting and how Jeff reacted made a lot of sense. It's believable in a way, and that's why I like it. Great job.

evie428 BRONZE said...
on Nov. 17 2009 at 9:10 pm
evie428 BRONZE, Ontario, Other
4 articles 1 photo 88 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Writing a novel is not merely going on a shopping expedition across the border to an unreal land: it is hours and years spent in the factories, the streets, the cathedrals of the imagination."

Wow, really well developed characters, plot, everything! Anyone can tell you worked really  hard on  this . . . really good!!

evie428 BRONZE said...
on Nov. 17 2009 at 9:08 pm
evie428 BRONZE, Ontario, Other
4 articles 1 photo 88 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Writing a novel is not merely going on a shopping expedition across the border to an unreal land: it is hours and years spent in the factories, the streets, the cathedrals of the imagination."

Really well developed characters, plot, everything! Great job! Anyone can tell you worked  hard on  this! Awesome!

Poems BRONZE said...
on Nov. 16 2009 at 12:28 pm
Poems BRONZE, Denver, Colorado
3 articles 0 photos 17 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Stepping into an ever expanding field of ignorance..." Richard P. Feynman

I was curiuos about this since it kept popping up as one of the best on the site. Now i know why. GREAT STORY!!!

Would you mind critiquing my story? A Writer's Solilquy. It'd mean a lot to me:)

Inkling BRONZE said...
on Nov. 13 2009 at 9:04 am
Inkling BRONZE, Cape Coral, Florida
4 articles 0 photos 20 comments
This was amazing! The plot is very creative. Aldric's character is well developed. It seems like business as usual for him. ^_^

MiRawr BRONZE said...
on Oct. 30 2009 at 4:11 pm
MiRawr BRONZE, Bloomington, Indiana
1 article 1 photo 7 comments
Very well done! I love the plot idea, and the characters are great!

on Oct. 27 2009 at 9:02 pm
rain-rain111 PLATINUM, Roselle, Illinois
28 articles 0 photos 43 comments

Favorite Quote:
He offered her the world but she said she had her own.

Perfect!! This made my heart hurt for Jeff. I am glad it wasoublished this is an amzing article!!!!

Error BRONZE said...
on Oct. 8 2009 at 9:03 pm
Error BRONZE, Plano, Texas
3 articles 0 photos 56 comments
This is an incredible story and very well told. I don't believe you could possibly have done anything better. Perfect! Do me and everyone else who appreciates good writing a favor and get it to a magazine or something.

on Oct. 5 2009 at 7:08 pm
Kitten111 SILVER, Watanobbi, Other
6 articles 0 photos 48 comments

Favorite Quote:
Knowledge is knowing that tomato is a fruit ..... wisdom is not putting it in fruit salad :P

OMG speechless THAT WAS AMAZING :) I tell lots of people they are good writers but your writing just makes my mind spin its abosolutely AMAZING. Can't wait to see what else you come up with :) I wanna be able to write like you.

shira<3 said...
on Sep. 17 2009 at 1:01 am
I loved this. wows. ending was amazing! :DD ahhhhhhhhh. so good!!!

ToDDAS said...
on Sep. 15 2009 at 12:40 am

I loved this story when I tore it apart in Fiction. And I still love it now XD

We'll be famous buddies and run around killing characters!

on Jun. 24 2009 at 4:56 am
GreenDayFan SILVER, Phoenix, Arizona
7 articles 3 photos 134 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Every story has an end, but in life, every ending is just a new beginning."
-Uptown Girls

yeah this is a really good story!! great job!


on Jun. 24 2009 at 12:12 am
this was realllyyyyyy good!!!! i love it this author really put a diferent perspective on hevan and what it looks like. keep on writing! but onee thinggg.... y did they what him?