At the Annual Meeting of The Representatives of The Dead

Realm of Dead

Antipas wasn’t nervous. What was left of his head ached, but he’d handled forty-three consecutive Grand Councils without much issue, and while the puffery and soap boxing was to be expected, his job as Gaveleer was a fairly simple one. As always, there was only one question on the docket. There was hardly ever any debate. After centuries of deciding the amount of pain and suffering in the world of the living, everyone had mostly found their corners, only poking their heads out occasionally to remember the sounds of their own voices.

The arguments typically fell into two camps. The oldest group had very little vested interest in the living world, and stayed conservative out of inertia. The world they knew was harsh, and they didn’t carry much imagination into the next.

Then there was spite. Those who wanted others to suffer solely because they had. The victims of Fate’s bullying who had become hardened by the dirt-deep knowledge that they controlled whether life was peaceful or horrendous for everyone on the breathing side.

There were a few who voted for peace, but their influence was minuscule, and Antipas loathed the futility of their scheming.

For his part, this was Antipas’ least favorite element of the gathering. The sole reason they were meeting at all had become a perfunctory annoyance that stole time away from visiting with his friend Serk — the longest-serving member of the Council — and meeting the newest elected officials. He was fascinated by them. In life, he had been an engineer, and now he utilized his positions as First Period Second Century Representative for Asia Minor and Great and Exalted Gaveleer for the Congregation of Representatives of the Dead, Exemplary and Plenipotentiary, as a means to have his brilliant mind challenged with each new generation. He was able to dream larger in death than he ever had while living.

Helicopters were particularly fascinating. He loved to watch the rotors spin.

That’s what he was thinking about when Darshak and Rebecca declared they’d met quorum.

“We’ll now open the floor to debate.” His voice boomed alongside the tock-tock-tock of his gavel, but no one in the chamber was eager to step up. A million voices, held silent so they could get to the convention center before happy hour. It was just like last year. Then, to the collective eye roll of the entire group, a tiny, sibilant noise rang out.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t hear that,” Antipas said.

For a moment, silence was poured back into the hall like old honey wine.

“Just like I showed you,” came a whisper. The sibilant voice grew louder.

“The First Period Twenty-First Century Representative for Brazil would like the floor.” It was a voice of sweet, earthy Brigadeiros. It was a voice of only three feet, four inches. It was a voice that didn’t belong. For as long as he’d served, and as many conversations with the humanoid Serk that he’d relished, Antipas had never heard of a child being elected to the Council, yet his great tactical mind understood immediately the angle at play.

He smiled. You had to admire this kind of ingenuity.

“The Representative is so granted,” he said with a bit more stentorian slang than he meant.

The little voice climbed up on a pair of shoulders that looked like they might be Feiyan Fa from where Antipas was standing, but it was hard to tell. She was skinny as a cyrilla stick with big bug eyes that seemed to leap from her face.

“My name is Beatriz Costa, and I just wanted to say thank you for letting me be part of this group and to vote on such an important thing.”

With that, the four-year-old spirit hopped back down and melted as much as she could into a transfixed crowd.

“Are there any others who would take the floor for debate?” Antipas boomed, recognizing a cool shift in the wind. The room filled with a blunt roar, but no one spoke up with any singularity.

“Since there is not,” the Gaveleer shouted, “let’s now begin the vote.”


Copyright retained by author. Reproduction or reuse of this work of fiction is not permissible unless approved by author.