A planet devoted to the afterlife. A game called the contest.
Heaven and Hell. Who will win?
James woke up from one of the worst dreams he had ever had. His head was hurting, and he realized that the base's alarms were going off, loud enough to wake the dead. He throws his cashmere blanket off his body and then erects himself. His bed is one of a hundred beds out of a hundred barracks out of a hundred bases. He is already dressed and doesn't need food. He is an angel of the SSA. The Seraph Soul Acquisitions company acquires good souls for the contest.
He joins in the steady flow of agents heading toward their assigned spaceships. The line formed, and the prattle began.
"What's the winning criteria for the contest?" said the agent before him.
"Percentage Win. The winner has the most souls," said a woman in a skirt suit with a white blouse.
"BT's. Biological Transmutation is the venue and then Annihilation," said another information officer wearing the exact same skirt suit.
"No rapture?" said another agent.
"No," said the IO, the information officer.
"Zombies, I hate zombies. It takes too long for the contest to end, and you're always getting killed," said a man behind him.
He hated that term: Zombie. He just called them BTs. That's what they were. They were just a means to acquire people.
"Soul ratio is now 62% Good, 48% Bad," said the IO.
They weren't like those companies that have board meetings. No, we get intel on the contest in a long line on the way to the planet.
The population's sins have already been estimated. It looks like the good side, the Seraphs, has an advantage, but that changes when you add zombies into the equation. People do evil stuff when they are fighting for their lives.
"Norman Acquisition with Personnel Consumption," added the IO.
A wall of groans came from the line. Officers and Agents who die typically get sent back to the base for reincarnation. But this time, they will be counted with the dead and sent to the winner. This is a simple way of saying that it's retirement time.
After a three-hour wait, James entered into his large space transport.
The trip to the planet Etermis was time-consuming, even for how advanced the race of gods they worked for was. The planet was over twelve, stodgy hours away.
James sat down in his assigned pedestrian chair and leaned back. His mind was racing about what to do to prepare for the afterlife. He looked at his cell phone, reviewed his to-do list, and found nothing. He had nothing to do. Nobody would miss him.
"Pathetic," said James to himself.
"You sure are," said a man with small horns in a black suit. He sat down next to him. James looked over and saw it was Carl: Carl, his adversary from DSR or Diabolus Soul Retrieval company.
"Hey, Carl," said James.
"Terminus this time. How about you?" said Carl.
"Yes, Personnel Consumption," said James as he looked on, thinking it was too early in life to be counted.
"Well, let's hope we don't go to...what did you call it, heaven?" said James with a smile.
"Heaven's better than your Hell," said James.
"That's what you have been saying for the past five centuries. I'll stick with my Hell. The people I send there are much more convivial than your acquisitions," said Carl.
"My acquisitions are upstanding, ethical people," said James.
"Exactly, sounds boring," said Carl, placing a sleep mask over his head.
James closed his eyes. Every time, it's the same old argument with Carl. Heaven vs Hell. The contest never changes.
The large ship landed with a thud on the ground. Carl shook James awake and smiled. "See you in the afterlife!"
James shook his head up and down. Carl was way too happy, given the circumstances.
He walked out of the ship. Planet Etermis was an industrial planet with antiquated technology that kept them from leaving into space, making them an easy target for the contest. The people mainly lived in cities, making it easier to acquire them.
They were unloading the Cyclopeian Demons from the back door of his ship. We shared ships with the DSR. The Demons were one hundred feet tall and nasty fellows. James had the IFF badge on so that they couldn't touch him. James still shuddered and felt sorry for the acquisitions that those giant demons would eat. They were indiscriminate in who they acquired. Good or Bad.
An information officer was handing out the locations and areas for each agent. He grabbed a pamphlet from her and looked at it. It was over four miles away. He looked back towards the officer and said, "You got one closer?"
She frowned and handed another location to James. He opened it, and it was six miles away. The IFF badge did not work on BT's. They attacked anyone who got near. The farther he had to go, the more chances he would have to be attacked and eaten.
He turned again to get another location paper, and the IO was gone.
He started walking in the direction he was appointed. He walked into the city and snuck around, not wanting to get attacked by the BTs.
He jumped into a basement window and started walking to the staircase. A crying girl was heard in this supposedly empty building. He looked over and saw a family of five hiding in the corner. They never advised on how long the zombies have been on this planet. These people could have been hiding here for weeks or months.
He held his hands and said, "I'm not here to hurt you. I'm here to help you."
"Do you have any food?" said a small voice.
"I do, around the corner, at my house," said James. He had an affable smile and personality. It was part of his job.
"We need to get food; we have no choice. God might have sent him to us," said a mother.
Carter climbed the stairs, looked out the front window, and saw many BTs walk into a small dead-end alley. The front of the alley had a small chain-linked fence that had been opened. He looked back at the family, who were walking up behind him.
"We'll go with you, mister, but I have a gun, so if you try to do anything," said the father. He showed him a revolver loaded with two bullets.
"No problem, I'm just around the corner down an alley," said James.
He opened the door and looked around. He moved his hands in the gesture of "come here" toward the family. They followed behind him until he got to the alley.
A small group of BTs walked around the corner where they just were. It scared the family, and they took off down the small alley.
James walked up to the chain-linked fence and closed it. He found a loose lock attached to the fence and locked it tight.
The group of BTs that was behind him wandered in the other direction, so he was safe now.
Screams came from the alley as the family pressed themselves against the fence. "Open it up! They are behind us," said the father.
A loud noise came from behind them, and they turned around. James didn't like watching them get acquired and started walking down the sidewalk to the next street. The echoes of the family screaming filled the streets. It was over as fast as it began.
"They were such a good acquisition. Five more good souls for the winning side," said James.
"Four souls, James," said Carl. Carl pointed at James and said, "That's the man who killed your family!"
James turned around and saw Carl holding the hand of the teenage daughter. She was covered in blood and was holding the revolver.
"I couldn't leave her in that alley. I helped her over the wall but didn't get to her family in time," said the slick-talking devil.
"You killed my family!" screamed the crying teenage girl. She lifted the heavy revolver up and fired the two bullets at James.
He fell to the street, mortally wounded. The blood rushed to his ears and silenced the whole city. He couldn't even hear the BTs coming up from behind him.
He woke up in a massive building with the words, "Acquisitions, line up according to your sins."
He was in a long line of hundreds of thousands of people. Each soul was being pulled to the line that matched their sins: good or evil. He was with a small group that was in between the lines.
"Mister? Where are we?" said a small voice behind him. He saw the dark soul of the teenage girl who had just killed him. She was being pulled over to the evil soul line.
"Afterlife, my dear," said James to his teenage killer.
Her family ran to her and hugged her as the force of their sins started to separate them.
"Crummy zombies," said a voice from behind James. He turned around, and there was Carl.
"I hate that word," said James.
BT - Biological Transmutations (Zombies)
IFF - Identify Friend or Foe
SSA - The Seraph Soul Acquisitions Company
DSR - Diabolus Soul Retrieval Company