everybody he knew, decided finally to off himself. There was no problem, in the circles where he
hung out, in putting an end to yourself; you just bought into a large quantity of reds and took them
with some cheap wine, late at night, with the phone off the hook so no one would interrupt you.
The planning part had to do with the artifacts you wanted found on you by later archeologists. So
they'd know from which stratum you came. And also could piece together where your head had
been at the time you did it.
He spent several days deciding on the artifacts. Much longer than he had spent deciding to kill
himself, and approximately the same time required to get that many reds. He would be found lying on
his back, on his bed, with a copy of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead (which would prove he had
been a misunderstood superman rejected by the masses and so, in a sense, murdered by their scorn)
and an unfinished letter to Exxon protesting the cancellation of his gas credit card. That way he
would indict the system and achieve something by his death, over and above what the death itself
Actually, he was not as sure in his mind what the death achieved as what the two artifacts
achieved; but anyhow it all added up, and he began to make ready, like an animal sensing its time has
come and acting out its instinctive programming, laid down by nature, when its inevitable end was
At the last moment (as end-time closed in on him) he changed his mind on a decisive issue and
decided to drink the reds down with a connoisseur wine instead of Ripple or Thunderbird, so he set
off on one last drive, over to Trader Joe's, which specialized in fine wines, and bought a bottle of
1971 Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon, which set him back almost thirty dollars--all he had.
Back home again, he uncorked the wine, let it breathe, drank a few glasses of it, spent a few
minutes contemplating his favorite page of The Illustrated Picture Book of Sex, which showed the
girl on top, then placed the plastic bag of reds beside his bed, lay down with the Ayn Rand book and
unfinished protest letter to Exxon, tried to think of something meaningful but could not, although he
kept remembering the girl being on top, and then, with a glass of the Cabernet Sauvignon, gulped
down all the reds at once. After that, the deed being done, he lay back, the Ayn Rand book and
letter on his chest, and waited.
However, he had been burned. The capsules were not barbiturates, as represented. They were
some kind of kinky psychedelics, of a type he had never dropped before, probably a mixture, and
new on the market. Instead of quietly suffocating, Charles Freck began to hallucinate. Well, he
thought philosophically, this is the story of my life. Always ripped off. He had to face the fact--
considering how many of the capsules he had swallowed--that he was in for some trip.
The next thing he knew, a creature from between dimensions was standing beside his bed looking
down at him disapprovingly.
The creature had many eyes, all over it, ultra-modern expensive-looking clothing, and rose up
eight feet high. Also, it carried an enormous scroll.
"You're going to read me my sins," Charles Freck said.
The creature nodded and unsealed the scroll.
Freck said, lying helpless on his bed, "and it's going to take a hundred thousand hours."
Fixing its many compound eyes on him, the creature from between dimensions said, "We are no
longer in the mundane universe. Lower-plane categories of material existence such as 'space' and
'time' no longer apply to you. You have been elevated to the transcendent realm. Your sins will be
read to you ceaselessly, in shifts, throughout eternity. The list will never end."
Know your dealer, Charles Freck thought, and wished he could take back the last half-hour of
A thousand years later he was still lying there on his bed with the Ayn Rand book and the letter to
Exxon on his chest, listening to them read his sins to him. They had gotten up to the first grade, when
he was six years old.
Ten thousand years later they had reached the sixth grade.
The year he had discovered masturbation.
He shut his eyes, but he could still see the multi-eyed, eight-foot-high being with its endless scroll
reading on and on.
"And next--" it was saying.
Charles Freck thought, At least I got a good wine.