I am now working on the sequel to my novel Blood Justice (which I know you’ve read and are therefore jonesing for the sequel.) As Justine, Simone and Teresa begin their search for Antonia they came upon some unexpected creatures called Oracles. Now Oracles look and act just like people. They are long lived, but not immortal (There are maybe 500 in the world.) As the name implies they can see the future, as well as the past. Some can only see a day or two ahead, maybe only a few hours. A few can see further, much further. All can see their own death, whether it’s coming tomorrow or in a couple hundred years.
Like Justine, I struggle with what my answer would be if one of those powerful, I’d hope it wasn’t a weak one, Oracles asked me if I wanted to know when I was going to die. For free-gratis, no obligation. If I wanted to know, they’d tell me, and walk on by. Decisions decisions. What would you choose?
There’s upsides and downsides to knowing: Did I mention that they only see what WILL happen, such as your death? No A Christmas Carol sentimentality here. What they see, an hour or a century ahead, CAN NOT BE CHANGED.
Upside – You can plan your own funeral. Make sure you get the rousing send off you deserve. Or make sure you don’t get any sendoff.
You can plan for success. If you knew you had 35 years left, wouldn’t you live a bit differently than if next month you’re out. 35 years is plenty of time to start another career. Or that business, or family you’ve been thinking about. That’s plenty of time to start taking care of yourself so those last years will be good ones. The Oracles can’t give you the details of what happens just before or after you die. They might say, “You’ll die at 9:30 p.m. on June 23, 2028, but what your life was like leading up to that time they can’t, or won’t, tell you. So you’d better start taking care of yourself now.
On the other hand, more upside. If you’re time’s up next month, why bother, indulge, Baby. Eat, Drink and make Mary. You can easily plan to spend your last dollar a minute before you go. You can’t take it with you!
So much for yourself, (you selfish twit you) what about seeing what will happen to other people? Their deaths, births, successes, who they really married. You could make a fortune working for life insurance companies or…(see IDEAS below.) If you could focus on celebrities you’d be king or queen of the gossip set. A little side bet on the Oscar winners anyone?
If you were a good (non greedy) person like we all (well, most of us) are, or an especially good friend, knowing when something bad was going to happen you could be there to ease the hurt. What would you do with a little real clairvoyance? Good or evil? Helpful or hurtful? Resist the temptation to do bad things, or give in, or give in and use the ill-gotten gains to do good. St. Peter will buy that, don’t you think?
Who knew there so many upsides to knowing when the Reaper was coming to touch you with those long boney fingers?
What if you knew when the Grim reaper was coming and you set a trap? And you caught him. No more death! Everybody’s immortal. And unlike vampires (though there is some debate on this in the think tanks and the higher intellectual circles) everybody could breed as they do now. What would that do to the Earth? How long before it’s, “Stop the world I want to get off!” (Hasn’t that been done?) Put your own twist on it? Maybe you trapped the Reaper and sent him, or her, into space on a ship traveling an out-of-galaxy course. That would get us into space. The Great Reaper Hunt. Maybe they could only send vampires? Of course then they’d have to send something for them to eat. Oh well, that might diminish the surplus population. Though the Earth might be so crowded they’d have to have a lottery to choose who got to go as Vamp food. It might be worth it!
What if you worked for a Life Insurance company? If you knew when a person was going to die you could tell if they were a good risk. On the other hand, if you knew when a person was going to die, why not buy a life insurance policy on them? Wait a few months and bam, collect. A million dollar policy a year and you’d be set. Unless some hot insurance investigator figured out what you were up to and bought a policy on you, and made you look ahead to your own death, at his hand.
What if you were say 30 years old and you knew with certainty that the earth would be destroyed on your 65th birthday? Unless, you sacrificed at the maximum, your life, or at minimum, you had to leave the planet and never return without even being able to say goodbye. Nobody would ever know of your sacrifice. Which would you choose? How would your life so far affect your decision? What if you had had a shitty life, unhappy, unappreciated, unloved with little prospect of it turning around? What if you were totally happy, successful, loved by one and all? What other things in your life would affect your decision?
What if you could see in the future some great calamity happening to the woman/man you loved from afar, though they were oblivious to you? You didn’t know if you could change that future. Would you try? What sort of abuse would you take from him/her before you said the hell with it, you didn’t care anymore?
If I had consulted an Oracle and known how hard this topic would be I might not have taken it on. I’d love to see your story ideas for this topic.