By Natalie Parker:
The following conversation is a transcript of the eighth episode of the third season of the hit interview podcast, You’re Only Listening To This Because You Need Something To Bore You To Sleep. This episode features an interview between our intrepid host, Chirpy Girl With A Vague British Accent, and the man, the myth, the enigma, the one and only Death. Note: Death goes by many names and an attempt has been made to refer to him by each name in turn.
Host (Chirpy Girl With A Vague British Accent): I’m so glad you could make it today!
Death: Wow, that’s a new one.
Death: Well, most people are usually quite frightened and upset when I drop by. I’m generally no fun at parties. [distant sound of screams from tortured souls]
Host: That’s a shame. I’m having a good time here right now. Aaaaaanyway, what should I call you? Just Death? Mr. Death? Sir Death? Or maybe Dr. Death? Your job sounds so monotonous— ruining lives endlessly and whatnot—that I wouldn’t be surprised if you got a Ph.D. just out of sheer boredom.
The Master of Demise: I have many names. You may use whatever you wish. I do have a Ph.D., though.
Host: Ooooh, where from?
Death: Wesleyan University. My degree is in accounting and financing.
Thanatos: Hey, transporting souls to the afterlife—or to the endless chasm of nothing, whatever floats your boat—requires strong organizational skills and clever financial maneuvering.
Host: I can imagine. Speaking of souls, I can hear some of them in the background. They make such entertaining ambience!
Souls in the Background: NOOOOOOOOO NOOOOOOO NOOOOOOO AHHHHHHH NOOOOOO AHHHHHHHH ARGHHHHHHHH ARGHHHHHHHH NOOOOOOOO!
Lord Hades: They do indeed. They’re very lively for dead people.
Host: [chortles] Gee, Death, you do make me laugh!
Death: Just be sure not to say that in public.
Host: Ha. Noted. Now, it’s time to move onto the real questions. Are you ready?
Anubis, the jackal-headed god: I was born ready.
Host: Were you born at all?
Pluto, a.k.a. bargain-bin Hades: Good question. A lot of people disagree about that. I prefer to believe that I was belched from the pre-Big Bang chasm of the Universe.
Death: My theory is more or less equally as viable as anyone else’s.
Host: Good to know. Maybe this information will influence a new major religion.
The Great Terror: I hope not. Then I’d have to abandon it and create a new idea all over again. It’s such grueling work to come up with something that is both preposterous and ambiguous enough to be believable.
Host: [chuckles] Okay. Anyway, here’s my first question. Why did you take my grandfather?
Host: I mean, he was too young to die, only seventy. I’m sure some people think that’s old, but he was a well-off white man with no long-term health issues. Seventy is under the average lifespan for that demographic. So, why’d you take him?
The Grim Reaper: I think that we should maybe move on to the next question.
Host: Are you sure? I have it on good authority that many people sorely desire an answer to that last question, namely me and my family. I bet it would boost your popularity ratings a whole bunch.
Death: I prefer to do that by rebranding. I’m sponsoring a new shampoo. It’s called “Extra Gentle for Babies,” and it has a picture of me on the bottle. I’ve put a lot of money into this investment and I think it’ll really pay off. Can we talk about that instead?
Host: Hmmm, I have nothing here about your new shampoo, so we can’t talk about that, but we can move onto the next question if you really want.
Chernobog: [sighs in a way that sounds like the breathing of Darth Vader mixed with the shriek of someone who has just accidentally stepped on their pet turtle] That would be nice, thank you.
Host: All right, here’s my next question. Where is my dog, you big black piece of shit?
Death: I think I liked the other question more.
Host: We can’t backtrack, silly. That would interrupt the flow of the program. So, where’s my dog, you hulking vulturine monster?
The Only Permanent Thing Other Than Taxes, according to that one dad joke: Uh...He’s at a farm upstate where there’s lots of grass and he can play and run around with other dogs to his heart’s content.
Host: That checks out with what my parents told me. You know, maybe you are a credible source after all.
Death: Now, can we talk about baby shampoo?
The Final Stop Before Eternity: How about my other investments? I’ve recently put some money on this new life-saving drug. I directed the commercial. It starts with this lovely mountain picnic scene with these old people, and then it says, “Are you suffering from a terminal illness? Try this new drug, sponsored by Death himself—”
Host: Yeah, yeah, whatever. Let’s move on. I have a couple questions from some orphaned children about the whereabouts of their parents.
“The end of a life of a person or organism”—Dictionary.com: I can’t do this, I’m sorry. It’s improper.
Host: Ugh. Party pooper.
[from somewhere nearby comes the sound of a reality TV show star with poor emotional regulation skills overturning a table]
Host: What’s that?
Death: That’s the Doom Alarm. It means that I’ve slacked on picking up a soul.
Host: Well, I don’t want to keep you from your job. Who’s the soul?
A Vague Personification of the End created so that We Pitiful Humans have an easier time comprehending the Nothingness that Lies Before Us: You.
[The Rick Astley song “Never Gonna Give You Up” fills the audio, with an audible undercurrent consisting of a vague wind-tunnel noise and someone beating an out-of-tune organ with a sledgehammer. But Astley’s smooth vocals soon overcome all other noise, and the song continues on a loop for the following eight hours.]
Tune in next week, when our persevering host interviews the ghost of Elvis Presley, which haunts a rundown 7-Eleven off of I-70. Until then, enjoy the premiere of our sister podcast, where a group of rich white children attempt to recreate the sound of smooth jazz with only a rubber band and a hundred plastic sporks. That’s all for now.