Humanity has always occupied itself with the question, what happens to the soul after the death of the body – reincarnation, Heaven or Hell, Valhalla, the Big Nothing? Is the soul real to begin with? If yes, what are its properties, who made it, or was it made by someone or something at all? Why was it made or created? What is it’s goal? Is it possible to capture, enslave, influence or destroy a soul? How would you do it?
All valid questions and at least the whole scope of the issue made it possible for a very large number of people – who were allergic to physical labour but in need of a comfortable lifestyle – throughout the millennia to find an occupation and a job in a respected manner. And the sought after nice lifestyle without the need to strain muscles. All without being born as a noble, and/or having to rally a host in defence of King and Country (and other Nobles or just to wage some “war” against the best friend in the next castle over to occupy the minds of the soldiers. Or just got bored. Or because why not).
Look, I get it. It’s much, much, MUCH easier to sit in a (for the given time) top-of-the-line apartment and theorizing about what a soul is, does and such while getting at least three warm meals a day than doing heavy agricultural things outside and starving. Or die fighting some random folks coming to conquer the country. Or die invading another country. No judgement here.
The other result of the whole field were a huge number of Humans who, because of the physical interactions stemming from the scientific debate between opposing schools of philosophic thought, got to know the answer to the The Question first hand. Unfortunately for the general populace and fortunately for the people with work-allergy (hey, would you want to lose your comfortable job because of a scientific breakthrough and retrain yourself into an excrement displacer? Of course you wouldn’t. I don’t like shovelling shit either) those in the know after the interaction rarely went back to their folks telling them what the deal is.
Or maybe they did, but the protocols are locked behind so much Concrete and Steel you could build the Atlantic Wall three times over. NOT losing the comfy job? Check. NOT making waves and NOT get burned on the stakes? Check. Moving on. When is Dinner ready? Yes we absolutely need that fortress with those catacombs! It’s essential for our research of the soul, Random Higher Authority, Sir. No, we won’t pay for it ourselves, that’s why we have peasants!
So the mystery of the Soul remained just as that for the Earth-Humans: a mystery. And a comfy job for folks, but that’s beside the point. Everyone has the right to believe what he wants, has the opportunity to get killed off by folks with different beliefs, and get the opportunity to kill off folks with different beliefs.
As for our Main Character, he was never interested in the whole issue. If time comes, he will know for sure, and till then it’s no use to get stressed out for no apparent reason. You get in when you got it. Ferenc – or as everyone called him, Prof – lived in an absolutely average Central European country. Yes Central European, since – in contrast to Westerners – everyone East of the Oder-Leitha-Line knew Eastern Europe is the Ukraine and Russia, thank you very much, and not the Balkans either. Please stop insulting the folks. Thank you.
So, he lived in an average country’s absolutely average town, as a member of the (slowly dying out) absolutely average Middle Class, having an absolutely average job, hobbies, needs and wants. He drove an absolutely average car – used, imported from the wealthy West, but paid for in cash, since he didn’t believe in consuming on loans – and still lived with his parents in their absolutely average home despite being thirty-five.
Of course, still living with the parents was quite average for an average Central European, getting paid shit for the same work as in the West, assuming you didn’t want your grand-kids inherit some colossal debt, but I digress. And, since his parents were retired, it was beneficial for everyone to share the bills. Ferenc, or rather Prof – short for Professor, the name having something to do with someone having an accident opening a beer-bottle while being drunk and some hastily applied first aid (and being a wise-ass about it. Not the accident but the first aid) – had an absolutely average girlfriend – at least as long as she didn’t dump him for a guy driving a not so frelling average (meaning: less boring and more trendy) Mercedes – bought on credit – to relocate to Germany and making a career of washing dishes. For some strange reason even that felt average.
Prof didn’t have any non-average hobbies, instead of jumping out of airplanes with only a few square meters of textile he watched movies. Instead of being a street racer – heh, his average car was out-accelerated once by a rusty minivan – he did some reading (books about history and fantasy novels). Instead of going to the shooting range (which was almost impossible to begin with, since the country he lived in didn’t allow citizens to own, use or look at guns) he met his average friends once a week to drink some beers, rant about the political situation, talk about the newest movies, music and novels. And stuff.
Instead of having a Black Belt in some martial arts, he played Role Playing Games with his friends. Sometimes. When they could put together a party which was able to play more than once a year. To make it clear: Instead of being some highly trained Spec Ops Guy or a handyman, he was the average wage-slave toiling about day in and day out.
Can you get any more average? Don’t think so. If you can endure an absolutely average life like that without slitting your veins or go shooting up folks, you are either named Al Bundy or live in Central Europe. Bob Hope and Mr. Johnny Cash left the building. At least Steve Jobs is around somewhere. Go figure.
I could describe his days at the office, how he pushed files from one side of the desk to another, how he talked to customers, how exciting it was to commute to his working place or back home. But, I have the feeling most of you doesn’t care, you want to read about his heroic exploits in a whole new world, and not the everyday grind at the office.
The only thing that happened to Prof that wasn’t absolutely average, happened on an absolutely average winter day while walking to work (no, not driving, since gas costs a lot and you need to keep the car for a few more years).
And so the tale begins: Once upon a time there was an absolutely average raven, who after getting hold of an absolutely average ring landed on an absolutely average high voltage line (hey, can you call a high voltage line average? Just checking). The Evil Sorcerer A.G. Bell – or was it Edison, Jedlik, Tesla, Siemens or Westinghouse? Eh, call it the Evil Cabal – cast an Evil Spell of Lightning onto the line that fried the Raven (still holding the pilfered ring in its beak) real good. Charcoal good.
The carcass, missing a lot of complex cultural significances fell down to the street – and not killing Prof, not making Prof to get killed by truck-sama and not making Prof get killed while saving a random bystander from truck-sama. Instead, the Raven’s carcass crashed into the windshield (of the average car) of an average retired public servant. Not killing him. What killed him was the fright. And the semi-trailer on the opposite lane he steered his car into because of the sudden fright and loosing control of his vehicle.
You may expect the crash directly causing Prof’s death so we can continue with the story. Sorry, no. The crash didn’t kill Prof in any way. He was not hit by debris, he was not flattened by the trailer getting lose, and neither was he killed by the high voltage line falling onto his head because the semi flattened the pole (which it did. Flatten the pole I mean).
What did kill Prof was the cat. And the ice. And some rebar laying around.
How Cat + Ice + Rebar = Death you ask? How can you combine the three things to make a non-average death possible, you ask? What does the formula Raven + High Voltage Line + Retired Public Servant + Semi-trailer link into Cat + Ice + Rebar, you ask? Let’s clear the formulas from the back: the raven was fried on the other side of Prof’s town a few hours ago, as did the accident happen. However, by flattening the pole, the accident managed to call the Disaster Relief (and the Electrical Company) into action.
And relieved they did. The town of electricity. By cutting the main electrical grid of the town to fix the completely separate High Voltage Line. So, we have a town without electricity and public lighting. In Winter. Early in the morning. Hmmm? Hmmm? YES! It’s cold and dark in the early hours of a Winter day! You got it the first time! Congratulations!
OK, that still doesn’t explain the next formula: Cat + Ice + Rebar = Non-Average Death. No, not cat-flavoured ice cream on rebar. Don’t be gross! We have standards. Said standards means, that if Public Service A does some public work, it’s not their job to clear the debris after the work is done, but Public Service B’s (or Public Service A just doesn’t care. Work hours are over, get frelled, the bar is open. Let’s get wasted!). The split responsibility (and don’t giving a frell-attitude) means... sometimes… that the debris (let’s say that includes rebar for whatever reason) is left on-site for a few… days… weeks… month… years… OK, let’s call it an undefined time frame between one day and eternity.
The “ice” part is probably self-explanatory. It IS Winter. Cold. No one cleans up fallen precipitation – it’s on common ground, so it’s the Job Of Someone Else, and it’s Cold Outside.
You probably figured out already: because some overzealous folks cut the lighting and some under-zealous folks didn’t clean up after their work was done, and some carefree citizens with an over-abundance of… me-time… didn’t clear the side-walk of ice, the Evil Cat scared our poor Main Character into slipping and impaling himself.
No, you are wrong. Not about the slipping and impaling part, THAT you got right. Actually, Prof liked cats, and they are not Evil to begin with. Mostly. Mostly they are just opportunistic and have barely domesticated their Humans.
So, Cats and Rebar and Ice… As Prof was walking along a side-walk (in the dark and cold), he noticed an Innocent Cat (kitten, more likely) mewing next to some indistinct pile and wanted to pet it. The kitten, not the pile. Voila, formula resolved! There were two things going through Prof’s head at this moment. The first being, that his ex-girlfriend would probably never encounter an indistinct pile on the roadside in the dark and cold while building her dish-washing career in Germany. Those folks (the Germans, not the dish-washers) are for some reason allergic to random piles on the roadside, to un-cleared side-walks and lighting-less streets – and would pester someone in time to clear it up, shovel it free, heat it up and light it properly. Or put up warning signs. The someone doing the stuff most probably being a unrespected Central European guy.
Well, and the other thing was rebar.
And so Prof got to know the answer to the question plaguing Humanity for a couple of Thousands of years.